Pixel Tracker

Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 6:43 am | Fog/Mist 43º


Mark Shields: Clearing the Desk in Last Column of 2015

Here are a few admittedly random opinions and thoughts, more or less collected from my bedside table and pants pockets.

» If the country in 2016 is to actually debate about whether to send Americans into harm’s way in combat in the Middle East, let’s remember the words of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who candidly wrote in The Age of Turbulence, his 2007 autobiography, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq War is largely about oil.”

» Memo to presidential campaign folks and media people: National campaigns are not about the candidates; campaigns are — and should be — about the voters and the people.

» Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said it best: “I don’t see why a good teacher should be paid less money than a bad senator.”

» Every presidential debate is a job interview, and the voters are the boss who hires or denies the candidates applying for the job.

» There is something really wrong about our national priorities when presidential candidates repeatedly promise to eliminate any federal taxes on unearned income from stocks or dividends but have absolutely nothing to say about the national shame of looking the other way while more than 16 million vulnerable American children — an increase of about 3 million in just five years — live among us in poverty, with inadequate food, shelter and guidance. The United States has one of the highest child poverty rates among developed nations.

» There is a big difference between fame and success. For example, consider Kim Kardashian and Mother Teresa.

» Why are Iowa Republicans — who in the past have flocked to the religiously and culturally conservative candidacies of televangelist Pat Robertson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — so different from New Hampshire voters, who, just a week later, gave a cold shoulder to each of those candidates? One explanation: Almost four times as many Hawkeye voters as Granite Staters in the most recent presidential election identified themselves as “white born-again Christians.” According to the Gallup Poll, New Hampshire residents rank 49th in weekly church attendance, whereas Iowans are tied for 23rd.

» As war is debated or recommended in this campaign year, let us remember what the late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf said when he was repeatedly praised for his leadership of U.S. troops in 1991’s successful Gulf War: “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”

» If Las Vegas is so darn smart, then why is it in a place where the average daytime high temperature in July is 106 degrees?

» My personal Oscar pick for best actress — for her heart-touching portrayal in Brooklyn of a young, homesick Irish immigrant in the 1950s — is Saoirse (it’s pronounced SEAR’-shuh, honest) Ronan. Do yourself a favor and see her.

Let’s all agree to seek out and visit a forgotten friend, to keep a promise, to make a child laugh, to speak our love, to be grateful.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >