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Preview: Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate

Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate



Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber.



Last Build Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2018 23:34:28 -0800

 



What Is a Good American? for 01/19/2018

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

The president of the United States apparently believes that some people are less worthy of becoming American than others, especially those who come from countries he deems dung holes, to use a euphemism for what credible sources tell us he said. But the president's formula doesn't say much about what it means to be American, any more than his mantra "Make America Great Again" does. The question of what constitutes American greatness, indeed what makes one an American, is something that I have thought a lot about over the years as one who proudly proclaims American exceptionalism and believes that you don't have to be born an American to become a great American.

My old boss Ronald Reagan famously said: "You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won't become a German or a Turk." But, he said, "anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American." Of course, it is not quite so simple. There is a proper process, and to be fully American in every sense of the word, that process entails more than filling out the paperwork. So, what does a newcomer need to do to become an American, beyond the formalities? What are the ideals that Americans aspire to, the habits of mind and behavior that shape the American character?

Updated: Fri Jan 19, 2018




The Roller Coaster That Is the Trump Administration for 01/05/2018

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

We are not one week into the new year, and it's already a roller coaster. The Dow Jones industrial average is up, breaking 25,000 on Thursday; President Donald Trump is down and dirty tweeting about his, ahem, great big nuclear button; and Steve Bannon has taken us around the curve, ending his BFF status with Trump by hinting that the president's eldest son may be guilty of treason. How this particular episode of "As the Donald Turns" will end is anybody's guess, but it looks as if we're in for a thousand thrills. Meanwhile, the show must go on.

There is actual serious business to get done in the coming days and weeks, not least of which is a fix for the 700,000 or more young people who entered the country illegally as children and are about to lose work authorizations and their protection from deportation. Trump has been all over the place on the fate of these worthy young people, more than 90 percent of whom are gainfully employed, pay taxes and/or are enrolled in higher education or the military. He's said he wants to show "heart" to the kids, many of whom came as babes in arms. But he also has to contend with his own past statements to deport these so-called dreamers on day one of his administration. Most Trump voters — 70 percent, by some polls — support a solution that provides legal status, but a small minority of his supporters want them gone, pronto. Among the latter are some organizations that couldn't care less about this issue but want to use it to drive down legal immigration and hope for a bargain that would trade legal status for this small group if they could obtain long-sought decreases in overall legal immigration.

Chief among these groups are the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies, all of which favor drastic reductions in the population of the United States by whatever means they can get away with. These groups, as I have documented over the years, are headed by population control extremists, who support abortion and coerced sterilization and who are driven by alarmist worries about the environment, viewing people (no matter where they hail from) as pollution personified. Unfortunately, these groups dominate the debate on immigration issues within the GOP, making strange bedfellows with pro-life members of Congress. They will push for any legislative compromise on the dreamers to include limits on future legal immigration, which any right-thinking conservative knows would hurt America's economy. But it remains to be seen whether President Trump will go along.

Updated: Fri Jan 05, 2018




Happier New Year 2018 for 12/29/2017

Fri, 29 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

It's that time of year again — to look back on the past in hopes that we've learned something we can apply to the new year. I'm at the age where there's a lot more past than future to look forward to, but that also means many more lessons have been learned. Instead of the usual New Year's resolutions, with promises to pass up desserts and exercise more or be nicer to those around me, I've taken the time to look back on my columns this year to plot a better way forward. So, here's my shortlist of do's and don'ts based on what's missing or overdone in my columns from this past year.

1) Spend less time venting. People have largely made up their minds about President Donald Trump, and my dozens of columns criticizing him probably haven't persuaded many fans to abandon him. It might be more fruitful to uncover what makes the roughly third of the country stick with him despite his faults, foibles and forced errors. So for every three columns attacking Trump I write in the next year, I will write one that tries to understand the concerns of his base, because you can't change minds unless you understand what makes them tick in the first place.

Updated: Fri Dec 29, 2017




Giving Credit Where It's Due for 12/22/2017

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

President Donald Trump managed his first major legislative victory this week with the passage of a massive tax overhaul. It was no mean accomplishment. But watching the spectacle of senior members of Congress verbally prostrating themselves before him on the lawn of the White House shortly after final passage of the bill made my skin crawl. Let me be clear: I favored the bill, even with its many shortcomings and its failure to deliver a big tax cut to the middle class as promised. I did so because I still believe that economic growth is the best way to advance the fortunes of all Americans, rich and poor, old and young, and everyone in between. The corporate tax cut was the heart of this legislation, and I expect it will deliver on the promise of incremental growth in gross domestic product as companies invest their savings by expanding.

Nonetheless, the obsequiousness of members of Congress at the White House celebration was creepy. For Sen. Orrin Hatch — for whom I have had the deepest respect for some 30 years, ever since I got to know him during my days in the Reagan administration — to suggest Trump may go down in history as the nation's greatest president nearly brought tears to my eyes. But Hatch wasn't alone. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and nearly a dozen others felt it necessary to heap effusive praise on Trump. It was a scene that would have seemed fitting in Pyongyang, where even ordinary citizens must prove their devotion once a year by placing flowers at and bowing beneath the statues of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, and his son the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, on Mansu Hill. Trump should have been embarrassed by it, but instead he basked in the glory.

Updated: Fri Dec 22, 2017




The Future for Republicans for 12/15/2017

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Senate Republicans breathed a big sigh of relief Tuesday night when Roy Moore went down to defeat in the Alabama special election — even though it halved their already razor-thin majority. Alabama voters rejected a man who was totally unfit to serve as U.S. senator, not just because of numerous allegations that he preyed on young girls when he was a local district attorney in his 30s but because his reverence for the Constitution was as phony as his 10-gallon hat.

But the race might have turned out differently had it not been for the courage of my home state's junior senator, Colorado's Cory Gardner, who announced that the National Republican Senate Committee, which he leads, was pulling its financial support after The Washington Post printed stories detailing Moore's alleged abuse. The Senate Leadership Fund, run by former members of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's staff, followed suit, drying up funds for the Moore campaign and signaling to donors that contributing to Moore was toxic. The Republican National Committee briefly froze its joint fundraising efforts on Moore's behalf but jumped back aboard the Moore train after President Donald Trump, eight days before the election, tweeted, "We need Republican Roy Moore to win." Once Moore lost the race, however, Trump pretended he was never in Moore's camp, reminding everyone he had supported Moore's runoff opponent in the GOP primary, Luther Strange, because Moore wouldn't "be able to win the General Election."

Money can't always win an election with a bad candidate, but had the NRSC and other Republican political action committees poured the $5 million they could have into the race during the last weeks of the election, Moore might have squeaked through. Despite the serious and credible allegations against him, Moore still only lost the vote by 1.5 percentage points. White women overwhelmingly voted for Moore — 63 percent, according to exit polls — including a slim majority of college-educated white women. But as surprising — shocking, given the allegations against Moore — as those numbers might be, they reflect lower support than Republican candidates usually garner in Alabama. Had Moore done as well among all white voters as Republicans in previous elections, he'd be riding his horse up to the Capitol, which is why the decision by Sen. Gardner and other Republicans who put country before party mattered.

Updated: Fri Dec 15, 2017




Why Are Republicans in Bed With Anti-Population Groups? for 12/08/2017

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

A government shutdown has been temporarily averted this week with the passage of a two-week spending bill, but one group that may be left out in the cold when Congress takes up the spending bill again Dec. 22 is DACA recipients. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gave young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children — more than half of them before they turned 7 — temporary permission to stay and work, provided they met certain criteria, including enrolling in higher education or the military, passing a background check and paying any back taxes owed. But unless the White House and the GOP leadership embrace a solution for the more than 700,000 current DACA recipients to remain in the U.S. legally, we could soon see these young people lose their jobs and face an imminent threat of deportation. Some have already lost their status, and many more will do so unless Congress acts now.

The fate of so-called dreamers has been a political football for more than a decade, with many Republicans and virtually all Democrats once supporting legislation to give them a chance to earn the right to be here legally. But bills that passed one house of Congress died in the other, and the prospects for enacting a permanent solution for people who came here illegally as children seems elusive once again. Republicans who continue to block legislation that would fix the problem claim they are obliged to do so to honor their constituents' wishes and to curb illegal immigration. But the truth is that they are simply beholden to radical special interest groups that have made millions of dollars stoking anti-immigrant fears among a minority of Americans.

Updated: Fri Dec 08, 2017




Can We Stop Sexual Harassment? for 12/01/2017

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

With each new revelation of sexual misconduct by a powerful man, I ask myself, "When will this end?" How is it that so many men have behaved piggishly — illegally — and the women they abused remained silent for fear that the humiliation they endured would only be worse if they came forward? How is it that powerful organizations, including those media companies we trust to uncover stories of such wrongdoing, turned a blind eye? And that question is the one that stops me dead in my tracks. Am I part of the problem, too?

For years, I've said that I've never faced sexual harassment. But it may be no accident that I've been spared such an ordeal. I grew up at a time when it was assumed that men were sexually aggressive and it was up to the woman to apply the brakes. My father was very protective of me; he once chased two teenage boys halfway across Denver because they whistled at me when he picked me up at the public swimming pool. I learned early not to make eye contact with strangers of the opposite sex, to dress modestly and to be reserved. It was no accident that after being chosen by my class to be prom princess, no boy asked me to the dance and I ended up going with a classmate whom the nuns assigned to take me.

Updated: Fri Dec 01, 2017




His Day in Court for 11/17/2017

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary," James Madison argued in Federalist 51. But he went on to say, "If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." These words were written to argue for a system of checks and balances in our Constitution, but they have some relevance to the controversy over Alabama Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Roy Moore.

The people of Alabama may well choose Moore as their senator, despite continuing allegations that Moore engaged in predatory behavior toward young girls when he worked as an attorney in Gadsen, Ala., and, in two instances, may have sexually assaulted underage girls. Moore's supporters disbelieve the women who have come forward and blame the media and so-called establishment Republicans for a witch hunt. Moore's wife has spread false rumors that the accusers were paid to tell their stories, and others have defended Moore's actions by comparing the then 30-something attorney to the Biblical Joseph and his betrothed Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. That devout Christians are not sickened by such comparisons speaks worlds about the state of our politics today.

If Roy Moore were a decent man, he would step aside. But I said the same thing about Bill Clinton in 1998, when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, and we all know what happened. Instead of doing the manly thing, Clinton clung to power and put the nation through the spectacle of semen-stained dresses and "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." Clinton's defenders were liberals, including feminists who saw nothing wrong in a 51-year old commander in chief engaging in sex acts with a 21-year-old intern in the Oval Office. Their defense was that his policies were good for the country, never mind his "private" behavior. Moore's supporters say much the same today.

Updated: Fri Nov 17, 2017




Cynicism Isn't a Winning Strategy for 11/10/2017

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Republican Ed Gillespie lost his bid to become Virginia governor this week by running one of the most cynical campaigns in recent memory. Gillespie is no racist, but he appealed directly to racism during the campaign. In a state with a growing Latino and immigrant population, four of his campaign ads focused on MS-13, a violent Latino gang, with the words "Kill, Rape, Control" flashing across the screen. But Virginia has one of the lowest violent-crime rates in the country, and the images used in the ad weren't even MS-13 members, much less Virginia residents, with the most frightening photos of heavily tattooed men taken in a prison in El Salvador. Not content to try to scare Virginians into voting for him, Gillespie dog-whistled a favorite alt-right meme as well, promising to protect "our" heritage, by which he meant displaying Confederate statues on public grounds. But Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis aren't exactly heroes to the 20 percent of Virginia voters who are African-American.

Gillespie's campaign advisers convinced him that such appeals were his only chance of winning. They were wrong, but even if they had turned out to be right, is winning the only thing that matters today? Gillespie once embraced the notion that reaching out to Hispanics and others who are not part of the traditional base of the GOP was badly needed, even championing a path toward legal status for undocumented immigrants. When Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore lost in 2005, Gillespie, who had just finished his first stint as Republican National Committee chair, blamed a series of anti-illegal-immigration ads for Kilgore's defeat. But with the siren call of Trumpists beckoning, Gillespie sailed to defeat on even more egregious ads than Kilgore's.

Updated: Fri Nov 10, 2017




Policy Can't Trump Undermining of Democratic Norms for 11/03/2017

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0700

For conservatives who support much of President Donald Trump's agenda but find his character and commitment to democratic norms and the Constitution lacking, a week such as this one is challenging. On the one hand, the president has succeeded in spurring the House of Representatives to introduce a major tax overhaul that will be good for the economy and will benefit both families and businesses, fulfilling one of his major campaign promises. For many conservatives, this is enough to justify supporting a man who has no ideological ballast and whose behavior makes most of the country cringe. As one dear friend of mine — a former state legislator and a man of real character and faith — put it to me when I challenged his criticism of those, like me, who don't think Trump is fit for the office he occupies: "Policies, bingo, you said it. ... I can't find a reference in the Constitution to the chief executive as a moral exemplar." But is policy all that matters? And if principle doesn't drive policy, how can we know whether we can trust that it won't change when expediency or political advantage dictates?

This week also displayed the president's glaring defects. When a terrorist struck New York this week, killing eight people and injuring a dozen others, President Trump was quick to blame the justice system and immigration policy for the horrific attack on innocent people biking and walking along a path in lower Manhattan. He also suggested that he'd have the suspect, who was injured by police and in custody, shipped to Guantanamo Bay, though he backtracked later, probably when someone explained to him that the man's legal permanent resident status and the fact that the crime took place on U.S. soil would make that option difficult. But the president followed with calling for the attacker to be put to death for his crime — before he had even been charged.

Updated: Fri Nov 03, 2017




The Shaming of George H.W. Bush Is Obscene for 10/27/2017

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

The recent allegations against former President George H.W. Bush for "sexually assaulting" young women who stood next to him during photo shoots are obscene — but not because of what the president did or did not do. Enough is enough. President Bush is 93 years old. He sits in a wheelchair, and anyone who witnessed his appearance last week when all the living former presidents gathered to help raise funds for hurricane victims can plainly see that he is much diminished, physically and mentally. Unlike former President Ronald Reagan, who publicly announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, neither Bush nor his family has talked much about his declining mental capacity — but it is clearly there.

President Bush did not assault young women when his hand, which rests at a lower level because he cannot stand, touched their bottoms and he covered up his awkwardness with a bad joke about his favorite magician, "David Cop-a-Feel," as they allege. His behavior is perfectly consistent with what doctors who treat patients with dementia call sexually disinhibited behavior. The risk of developing Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia increases with age, doubling every five years after age 65. At age 80, 1 in 6 people will have developed the disease. By 85, it goes up to 1 in 3, and by 90, 85 percent of people lucky enough to still be alive are likely to have some dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Society.

Updated: Fri Oct 27, 2017




The Republican Establishment Strikes for 10/20/2017

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

In remarkable speeches this week, two members of what skeptics like to call the "Republican establishment" took on President Donald Trump and his brand of nationalist populism. Neither man mentioned the president by name, but their criticisms were unmistakable. Speaking in Philadelphia, where he received a Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center, Sen. John McCain said of the current president's policies, "To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."

Former President George W. Bush, speaking on Thursday, followed suit: "Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication," he warned. "We've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. ... We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism — forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America." Bush has been reluctant to take center stage since leaving office more than eight years ago, withholding criticism from his Democratic successor, President Barack Obama, even when the latter did not return the favor by calling out the Bush administration in his first inaugural address for "greed and irresponsibility." But apparently, Bush felt compelled to say something now, perhaps because he sees President Trump as destroying the Republican Party, as well as harming the country.

Updated: Fri Oct 20, 2017




Some Americans More Equal Than Others for 10/13/2017

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

"We will support you today, tomorrow and the day after," President Donald Trump promised those devastated by Hurricane Harvey. "When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. When we see neighbors in need, we rush to their aid. We don't ask their names or where they're from. We help our fellow Americans every single time. This is the spirit of America," he said way back on Sept. 1. But that was then, and the Americans in question were mostly from Texas — a state that had voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

On Thursday, he had a very different message to 3.4 million other Americans, more than 80 percent of whom have no electricity and many of whom have no access to potable water. Many of their homes and businesses were destroyed, and many can't get to work because so many roads are still unpassable. "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" Trump tweeted angrily, just three weeks after the worst disaster to hit Puerto Rico in history. Trump did what he's best at doing — cast blame on others: "Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend," he tweeted as the House was preparing to vote on a $36.5 billion aid package.

Updated: Fri Oct 13, 2017




The Swamp Gets Deeper for 10/06/2017

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Tom Price resigned his post as secretary of health and human services because the president didn't like the optics of his using taxpayer money to fly in private jets to venues easily accessible by commercial flights — or even by car. But plenty of others in the administration have exercised similar bad judgment and are still on the job.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to commandeer a military plane for his honeymoon but was refused. However, he used a government plane to fly to Kentucky during the solar eclipse in August, with his wife in tow, ostensibly to visit Fort Knox. Mnuchin is worth nearly $400 million; if he wants to avoid commercial travel, he can afford to pay for private jets. That's what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos does. She owns her own plane, which she uses for official travel, and doesn't charge the government a cent. Not so with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who is under investigation for chartering a private plane so he could fly from Las Vegas to his hometown in Montana and another one to fly between Caribbean islands to attend a ceremony honoring Denmark, even though commercial flights were available in both cases. And Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin took his wife along for a 10-day trip to Europe that included both government business and several days of sightseeing, with the taxpayers footing the bill for the secretary's wife's travel and per diem. Zinke and Shulkin are relative paupers among Trump's Cabinet; Shulkin is worth about $17 million, and Zinke is worth just under $2 million. Forbes magazine estimates the Cabinet's total net worth at $4.3 billion, the richest in modern history.

Updated: Fri Oct 06, 2017




Trump Tweets While Americans Suffer and Wait for 09/29/2017

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands drowned while President Donald Trump tweeted. It is hard to conclude otherwise. On Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria — the second major hurricane in less than two weeks — hit the islands, which together are home to some 3.5 million American citizens. Yet for a week following the devastation, the president found it somehow more important to focus his personal attention on tweeting about football players and the owners of their teams than he did on his job as commander in chief.

The only possible way to save lives and restore order on the islands was to order a massive deployment of U.S. troops to help their fellow Americans immediately after the hurricane hit, but it took almost a full week for that to happen. Army Brig. Gen. Rich Kim did not arrive until Sept. 27 to take control of some 5,000 active-duty forces operating on the ground and 2,500 National Guardsmen, but far more troops are needed. Some experts have suggested that 50,000 is a more realistic number.

Updated: Fri Sep 29, 2017




Not the Art of the Deal for 09/15/2017

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Who the heck knows what's going to happen to the "dreamers," immigrants who came illegally to the U.S. as children, despite all the talk in Washington? Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — at the White House's direction, presumably — leaving dreamers targets for deportation if Congress fails to act in the next six months. Quickly, the president seemed to have second thoughts, tweeting and making offhand comments about his great "love" for dreamers while suggesting that if they get left out in the cold, it will be Congress' fault. Then, on Wednesday, he invited congressional Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to dinner at the White House and seemed to acquiesce in a deal to pass a version of the DREAM Act granting protection from deportation as long as it is coupled with beefed-up border security. But none of the parties present can agree on what was actually decided — and Republicans in Congress are balking at any deal cut without their involvement. The "Art of the Deal" this is not. It's more like The Three Stooges at the White House.

Except for the most rabid immigrant restrictionists, most politicians and their constituents have no interest in kicking out young people whose parents brought them illegally as children but who grew up here and contribute to their communities by working, going to college or serving in the military. Polls show that two-thirds of Donald Trump voters, along with even larger majorities of other Americans, want the dreamers to stay. Nonetheless, the Republican Party has made being tough on illegal immigration the sine qua non of conservatism, which makes it difficult to put together legislation that can garner enough GOP votes to get a bill to the floor of the House and, if passed, secure the 60 votes needed in the Senate to avoid a filibuster. With a different president — one with real leadership skills, not the reality TV version Trump embodies — it might be possible. But does anyone who has watched this president operating over the past eight months have much faith that he will rise to the occasion?

Updated: Fri Sep 15, 2017




Use Bipartisan Opening to Protect Dreamers for 09/08/2017

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

President Donald Trump's decision this week to remove protection for 800,000 immigrants who came here illegally as children was both cruel and thoughtless. Pressed by hard-liners in his administration and hemmed in by his own campaign rhetoric, the president punted. Rather than announce the decision himself, Trump sent beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions out to announce an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But in characteristic fashion, the president quickly undercut his own policy by tweeting that if Congress doesn't act to fix the problem, he will revisit his decision. It was pure Trump — all impulse and no thought.

The ball is now in Congress' court — where it has always been. President Barack Obama's decision to protect so-called "dreamers" through executive means was fraught with danger. It was never a permanent fix; it was just a way to ensure that those who had violated U.S. law through no fault of their own could remain in the country they called home without fear of being deported, as long as they obeyed the rules. As I argued at the time, President Obama was well within his authority to decide that these young people were not a priority for deportation — but to provide real security to these young immigrants, Congress needed to pass legislation.

Updated: Fri Sep 08, 2017




While No One Was Looking for 09/01/2017

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700

With all eyes focused, rightly, on Texas and the victims of Hurricane Harvey, it is easy to overlook the grave threat to constitutional democracy the president issued when he pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week. On its surface, the pardon looks like just another nod to rabid anti-immigration forces. Arpaio is best known for his aggressive — and unconstitutional — tactics in Arizona against anyone he or his deputies suspected to be an undocumented immigrant, even if the person had committed no crime. Under Arpaio's orders, deputies could stop and demand proof of legal status of anyone they chose. A federal judge ordered the practice stopped because it violated the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process to everyone, but Arpaio defied the order. The judge found that Arpaio's actions showed contempt of court and would have sentenced the 85-year-old next week, but the president's pardon intervened.

The Constitution provides that the president can pardon anyone who has committed a federal crime and do so for pretty much any reason he chooses. Bill Clinton infamously pardoned billionaire financier Marc Rich — a fugitive who had been found guilty of racketeering, wire fraud and income tax evasion, among other crimes — after Rich's former wife made large donations to Clinton's re-election campaign. But though the pardon stank of corruption, it proved to be more a stain on Clinton than on the Constitution. The Arpaio pardon is different. Arpaio's crime directly defied a court order intended to enforce constitutional protections and therefore was a direct assault on the Constitution itself. It is not just that Arpaio committed illegal acts against individuals, refused to obey a lawful court order and used his position as a police official to deny others their constitutional right to due process.

Updated: Fri Sep 01, 2017




Build Relationships, Not Walls for 08/25/2017

Fri, 25 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

Donald Trump staked his presidential candidacy on building a wall along the Mexican border and won. He promised repeatedly throughout the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, a promise he cannot enforce. So now he wants American taxpayers to foot the bill, and this week he threatened to shut down the entire government if Congress doesn't include wall funding in a debt ceiling bill that must be signed into law by Sept. 30, when the government's authorization to spend money runs out. The president issued his warning at a rally in Phoenix this week before a crowd that cheered wildly. I wonder how happy those same people would be if Trump were to follow through on his threat, seeing as large numbers of them, judging from the audience pictures on live TV, wouldn't receive their Social Security checks in the mail.

Building the wall isn't about controlling illegal immigration; there are more effective and cheaper means to do so. And illegal immigration is at historically low rates now anyway. The peak in illegal crossings occurred between 1995 and 2000, when more than 1.6 million people were apprehended trying to enter the country illegally. Since then, the numbers have declined steadily, with a couple of upticks, and declined most dramatically after the Great Recession. In 2016, the number of people caught was about 409,000 (in the same range as the early 1970s). And the figures have dropped even more in the first six months of 2017 — a fact Trump has repeatedly taken credit for, claiming, misleadingly, a 76 percent decline since he was elected.

Updated: Fri Aug 25, 2017




Unfit to Lead for 08/18/2017

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." — Edmund Burke, "Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents"

Edmund Burke's admonition in 1770 should be taken as a warning to us today. The president of the United States this week came to the defense of torch-carrying white-shirts, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who marched last weekend on the campus of the University of Virginia. There were two white supremacist marches in Charlottesville — one at a park on Saturday, which ended in the killing of one woman and the injury of 19 others, and one Friday night at UVA, the one the president referred to when he said at a Trump Tower news conference, "You take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee." The president babbled on at length, referring repeatedly to the "fine people" who marched on the UVA campus: "I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue."

Updated: Fri Aug 18, 2017