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Top of the Ticket Political commentary from David Horsey
Palmyra: Islamic State seeks to obliterate vestiges of ancient civilizations

There seems to be no limit to the cruelty of the marauders who call themselves Islamic State (ISIS). Beheadings, crucifixions, mass slaughter, rape, enslavement; these fanatics are like an unleashed death cult conceived in the scariest Hollywood horror movie — except these monsters are real.

Human history overflows with examples of the brutality some men are willing to commit against their fellow humans. The most odious killers, though, are those driven by an ideology that demands not just the death of innocent people, but that insists that those people’s stories, their art, their culture, their beliefs must also be obliterated. The strange cabal of religious zealots, adventurers, idealistic fools and social misfits that fill the ranks of ISIS have been brought together by just such an ideology.

Their atrocities against human beings rank with the worst in history, but ISIS is taking it even further by trying to destroy history itself. Driven by a malignant form of Islam that demands destruction...

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CEO salaries defy gravity and any sense of shame

How much money would it take to make you feel properly compensated for your work? I enjoy my job so much that, often, I feel like I’m getting away with something by getting paid for it. Still, I like being valued for what I do and I can imagine I would feel especially appreciated if someone wanted to give me $1 million a year. (If my publisher is reading this, I’d settle for half a million, by the way.)

Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it — a million bucks for just a year of work? Well, I can assure you, I get by on far, far less. I’m down there with all the rest of the solid middle class. I earn enough to finance a comfortable life but still have frequent days when I need to juggle accounts and cut back to keep the bills paid. If I had an annual million, though, I don’t think I’d have any worries, other than figuring out how to spend such an ocean of cash.

Some people, though, look at $1 million as chump change, a gratuity, an insult. Those people are corporate CEOs.

Five years ago,...

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Don Draper is, in the end, just a baby boomer's dad

Matthew Weiner, the creator of "Mad Men," brought his melodrama of 1960s America to an end Sunday night, closing with an intriguing riddle involving Coca-Cola and the show's central character, Don Draper. Fans will be parsing those last couple of minutes for days, if not years, to come.

Over seven seasons, Weiner wove an addictive tale that, quite refreshingly, did not involve cops, gangsters or an endless trail of murders. Instead, he got us hooked on the very complicated personal and professional lives of men and women working in the advertising game on Madison Avenue, setting his story amid a very detailed and very real backdrop of one of the most tumultuous decades of this nation’s history.

For baby boomers, much of the fun of following the series came from picking out the guideposts that marked the progression of our childhoods. There were the news events, usually seeping into the narrative from a radio report or a news alert on a fuzzy black-and-white television screen — the Kennedy...

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Missouri House speaker's sexting scandal is good comic relief

There’s nothing like a little sex scandal to restore one’s faith in politics as the greatest source of trashy entertainment. So, thank you, Missouri Speaker of the House John Diehl for wrecking your career by exchanging a string of cringe-worthy texts with a 19-year-old female intern.

Yes, I know this is not big national news. It is not in any way a novel phenomenon in the long history of human folly. But, with the grindingly dull stalemate in Congress seeming to be a permanent fixture in American politics and the premature start of the 2016 presidential campaign bringing few surprises, it’s fun to be distracted by a fresh twist on the classic bimbo eruption.

Until his resignation from office on Thursday, the 49-year-old Diehl had been a hard-charging player in his state’s politics. As the leader of a dominant Republican majority, the speaker was counted as Missouri’s second-most-powerful state politico, next to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. Not at all surprisingly, the married father of...

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Saudis want a NATO-type alliance with U.S.; Obama should say no

This week, President Obama is meeting with foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states who are urging him to create a NATO-like security agreement that pledges the United States to defend all of them in the event of an enemy attack — with Iran being the most likely antagonist. Obama does not seem inclined to make that commitment, and that’s a good thing.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in 1949 to place an American nuclear shield between the Western European democracies that had been devastated by the Second World War and the Soviet Union that had already set up Communist vassal states throughout Eastern Europe. American protection and assistance allowed France, Britain, West Germany and other allies to rebuild and, eventually, reunite with the rest of Europe when the Soviet system finally collapsed.

NATO saved democracy in Europe and created the space for development of the European Union. It has been the most enduring alliance in history, and one measure...

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Texas Gov. Abbott coddles right-wing conspiracy kooks

For a politician, standing up to terrorists is easy. Standing up to the paranoid kooks who vote for you is much harder. Just ask Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the junior senator from the Lone Star State, Ted Cruz.

The latest freak-out on the conservative fringe is in reaction to the Pentagon’s plans to conduct special forces training exercises in Texas and six other southwestern states. The military calls the operation “Jade Helm 15,” but the right wingers call it a nefarious scheme to occupy Texas and lock patriotic citizens inside interment camps conveniently located in empty Wal-Mart stores.

Texas-based right-wing radio ranter Alex Jones has been raising the alarm about this on his program for days. He says an Army map of the fictitious battlefield proves that Utah and Texas have been identified as enemy territory. Soon, federal troops will swarm out of secret underground tunnels and establish martial law, according to his scenario.

“Texas is listed as a hostile sector,” Jones warns. “Of...

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