Back in the 1950s there was a TV commercial designed to induce headaches in viewers in order to increase demand for the product the commercial was hawking — a pill to cure headaches, of course. The same strategy is often practiced in politics. A story in this morning's New York Times about California Congressman Darrell Issa ("Obama's Annoyer-in-Chief") mentioned that the Republican gadfly "was charged with two long-ago auto thefts before eventually making a fortune selling car alarms...."

The Last Airbender is M. Night Shyamalan's ninth directorial effort and is an imaginative and wonderfully visual film — as long as no one is talking. For a director on his ninth feature who has shown that he is capable of eliciting an academy award worthy performance from child actor, Haley Joel Osment, in his breakout film The Sixth Sense, there is absolutely no excuse for the excruciatingly hackneyed child performances in this film.

I used to think you had to have a sense of humor to survive in politics. I am now becoming convinced that a great many politicians have a tin ear for humor-or at least for irony. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, has called Russia on the carpet for that country's invasion and "continued occupation" of Georgia. Maybe I have a warped sense of humor, but I think that's funny. Maybe not laugh-out-loud (or lol in techy talk) funny, but rich in irony nonetheless. And I'm pretty sure Mme. Hillarious doesn't get it.

Pick your peeve: illegal immigrants, toxic television with its pornographic programs, second-hand smoke, ballooning budgets. Even the smallest of small-government advocates sometimes assume that fixing such entrenched or annoying problems requires laws, compulsion, fines, prison – in short, the State’s “help.” But does it?

Bob ConferThe June jobs report issued by the Labor Department noted that total employment was down by 125,000 jobs for the month and that the 83,000-worker growth in the private sector was much smaller than expected. Despite the drop in employment, the unemployment rate dropped as well, to 9.5 percent.