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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: Mon, 19 Mar 2018 04:36:06 -0700


Luck of the Irish for 03/16/2018

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700

Green has never been my favorite color, but I happily wore it each March 17 growing up. Attending Catholic school in the 1950s and '60s meant celebrating St. Patrick's Day with shamrocks and green, even if you weren't Irish. I doubt that many of my classmates, with names such as O'Connor and Moynihan and Ryan, ever imagined I was Irish. But two of my great-grandparents, Catherine Dolan and Michael McKenna, were Irish through and through, with both families hailing from County Mayo, one of the poorest on the west of the island. As I grew older, I became quite proud of that heritage, falling in love with Irish literature and music. Being of Irish descent in America is so commonplace — 34.5 million Americans list themselves as primarily or partly Irish — we rarely think of the Irish as particularly distinguishable from others of European descent. It wasn't always so.

The Irish who came in the 19th century, including my family, weren't exactly welcomed with open arms. Most were fleeing poverty and famine. They traveled across the Atlantic in the most unhealthy and dangerous conditions. As my friend and colleague Jason Riley wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal, 19 percent of Irish emigrants died on their voyages in 1847, more than twice the average death rate of Africans on British slave ships: "Slave-owners had an economic incentive to keep slaves alive. No one had such an interest in the Irish." Discrimination once the Irish got here was widespread, though it may have been based on antipathy toward Catholicism as much as ethnicity. "No Irish Need Apply" signs may not have been so endemic as collective memory serves, but prejudices against the Irish were common in the largely Protestant America of the 19th century. The Irish started their lives in America on the bottom rungs and had to work to move into the middle class and acceptance by those of native stock.

Updated: Fri Mar 16, 2018

Trump Should Come Clean About Stormy Daniels for 03/09/2018

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800

After many Democrats largely dismissed Bill Clinton's Oval Office romp with Monica Lewinsky as a "private matter," it's harder for them to make a case that Donald Trump's alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels a decade before he was elected president really matters. Of course, it might have made a difference to some voters, evangelicals perhaps, if they'd known about the relationship before they cast their votes, but they forgave the "Access Hollywood" tape and Trump's reference to "grabbing women by..." well, you know. Trump's voters also chose to ignore the nearly two dozen women who said that Trump did more than talk about sexually assaulting women — that he actually did it to them. But the new wrinkle in the reality TV star/president's actions is that Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid off Daniels to buy her silence just days before the election. We learned this in January, but the story disappeared quickly in the wake of the scandal-du-jour nature of this White House. Now it's back on the front pages, in part because Cohen started threatening the actress when he learned she might tell her full story despite the fact that she signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $130,000 in October 2016.

It says a great deal about whom we have become to note that virtually no one is surprised that our president, while married and with a new baby at home, had a relationship with a woman whose claim to fame is acting in, writing and now directing pornographic films. It wasn't all that long ago that being divorced was an impediment to becoming president, never mind advertising your affairs on the front pages of tabloid magazines as Trump did in 1990 in the midst of his breakup with the mother of his three eldest children, Ivana Trump. Sure, other presidents may not have been saints, but for the most part, they had the decency not to flaunt their behavior in the public's face, or they wouldn't have been elected in the first place. Call it hypocrisy that the press stayed silent on President Franklin Roosevelt's longtime relationship with Lucy Mercer, his wife's onetime secretary, and President John F. Kennedy's dalliances with a mobster's girlfriend, among others. But the old adage about hypocrisy's being the tribute vice pays to virtue at least recognizes that public appearances matter because most of us know the difference between right and wrong and prefer the former.

Updated: Fri Mar 09, 2018

Trump's Dangerous Trade Game for 03/02/2018

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800

President Donald Trump's decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum may be the most dangerous thing he has done since assuming office — and that is a high standard, given his many reckless policies. The president made the decision at a hurriedly put together White House meeting in which he invited CEOs from the nation's biggest producers, despite warnings from his own economic advisers that the plan could be dangerous, and without the usual preparation for detailing how the policy would be implemented. The stock market reacted swiftly, falling 500 points by midafternoon, and many in Congress watched in disbelief that Trump would make such a decision without taking their concerns into account, much less the effect on the broader economy the decision was likely to provoke. It was vintage Trump: Act first; think later.

But if Capitol Hill and Wall Street were surprised, they shouldn't have been. Trump's protectionist fervor was central to his politics long before he decided whether he was a Democrat or a Republican, a New York liberal or a heartland conservative. "Make America Great Again" was all about protecting what he saw as threats to American greatness: everything foreign, whether it be people, goods or values he saw as not homegrown. His idea of America is a closed society, one in which American workers (whom he seemingly envisions as only those whose ancestors came from Europe) make our own products, which we are happy to sell to the world but not if it involves treaties that allow us to buy cheaper, non-American goods from foreign producers. It's a view that sells well in parts of America that have seen manufacturing job losses. At least the rhetoric appeals, even if the impact — having to pay more for foreign-produced goods that consumers have grown accustomed to buying at lower prices — hasn't quite sunken in yet.

Updated: Fri Mar 02, 2018

Don't Honor Abusers of Human Rights for 02/23/2018

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800

With the attack last week that killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida, it is easy to miss the humanitarian crisis that occurred across the globe in Syria. On Tuesday, hundreds of civilians, including children, died when Syria's government and its allies executed a direct strike on a rebel stronghold in eastern Ghouta — where Syrian forces used sarin in 2013, killing an estimated 1,500 people. The bloody faces of small children are all too familiar in this vicious war by Bashar Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies, who are intent on keeping him in power. More than 5 million people have fled the regime. Another 6 million have been displaced within Syria. And hundreds of thousands of people have died in the civil war.

Though this carnage has drawn condemnation from the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, as long as Assad's partners in crimes against humanity, Russia and Iran, continue to supply arms and fighters to the region, the killing will not stop. The United Nations has been impotent to impose meaningful sanctions because Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has veto authority to stop them, which it has used seven times so far. But what of Iran's role? Why has the international community not done more to focus on Iran's activities in the region? And more importantly, why are U.N. bodies inviting members of Iran's government to participate in human rights councils at the very time Iran is helping Syria massacre civilians?

Updated: Fri Feb 23, 2018

Stop the Killing for 02/16/2018

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Guns don't kill people; people do. We've heard it time and again, usually after some horrific shooting like the one that occurred in a Florida high school on Wednesday, which left 17 people who had been about to leave school on Valentine's Day dead. Of course, a person pulled the trigger, allegedly a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school. But without an AR-15 at his disposal, a deranged young man would most likely not be able to wreak the kind of carnage we saw here. The Second Amendment was not meant to put such lethal weapons in the hands of individuals intent on killing their fellow citizens — and it's time we quit pretending otherwise.

I own guns. As someone who has often lived in remote places, far away from police in an emergency, I appreciate the right to be able to protect myself. But I am also willing to accept that my right does not extend to amassing an arsenal or purchasing weapons more appropriate for military use than self-protection or sport. Most Americans, I suspect, agree with me, even those who own guns. So why do politicians refuse to consider even sensible restrictions that might keep guns, especially the most lethal ones, out of the hands of would-be mass murderers?

Updated: Fri Feb 16, 2018

What Is Going On in the West Wing? for 02/09/2018

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Something is rotten in the West Wing, and the man brought in to provide order and decorum is now part of the problem. Like many conservatives who support much of President Donald Trump's policy agenda but abhor the man, I was hopeful when John Kelly replaced a weak Reince Priebus to become a strong chief of staff to an undisciplined president. But this week, I've been stunned at Kelly's behavior. His words and actions have left me shaken.

First, the chief of staff was recorded musing that some of the young people who failed to apply for relief under President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program did so because they "were too lazy to get off their asses." Kelly, like me, grew up in an era when a sombrero-wearing peasant taking a siesta under a cactus was the universal symbol of Mexican sloth. "Lazy" and "Mexican" were considered nearly synonymous in large swaths of America. But times have changed, or so I thought. Now the most frequent charge against Mexicans, especially immigrants, is that they "steal" American jobs by working harder and for less pay than others. So why would Kelly blurt out this racist stereotype against "dreamers" — those brought here by their parents illegally when they were children — 80 percent of whom were born in Mexico? And why would he not have the decency to apologize after the fact? In any previous administration, a blatantly bigoted remark like Kelly's would have brought quick outcry and swift retraction, if not harsher consequences. But not in Trump world, where cheap shots, even racial slurs, have become normalized, starting with the president.

Updated: Fri Feb 09, 2018

The Republican Memo Doesn't Spotlight the Real Scandal for 02/02/2018

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800

If the president hoped that the memo by Republican staff on the House Intelligence Committee would end the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, he's more deluded than many of us thought. The controversial memo — released on a strict party-line vote by the committee with the approval of the president against the objections of the Justice Department, the FBI and others in the intelligence community — isn't the bombshell promised. Taken at face value, it claims that the renewal of a warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to intercept communications between Donald Trump campaign operative Carter Page and alleged Russian agents was based on flimsy evidence that there was probable cause to continue to surveil Page's communications. The gravamen of the argument against the surveillance is that the FBI failed to alert the court that the Hillary Clinton campaign had paid a research firm to come up with a report, the so-called Steele dossier, documenting Trump's and his campaign staff's ties to Russia. And, according to the memo, Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, was also suspect (even though he may not have known who was ultimately paying for the research he did) because he was biased against Trump.

Of course, the White House would like everyone to forget that the surveillance had nothing to do with revealing some of the most damning elements in the Russian investigation — namely, that the president's son, son-in-law and campaign manager met with Russian operatives during the summer of 2016 to get "dirt" on Clinton promised by an intermediary who also claimed that the Russians were trying to help Trump win the election. Nor does the warrant have anything to do with uncovering a far-reaching campaign by the Russians to spread disinformation via social media or to try to break in to voting machines with the likely intent to sabotage the election. It also doesn't explain why the president has been so reluctant to want to get to the bottom of Russian interference in the election — or even to acknowledge that it took place despite nearly universal agreement among intelligence officials and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that it not only occurred in 2016 but is ongoing. That, to me, is the real scandal. Why doesn't the president or his team care that a hostile foreign government is trying to subvert our electoral process?

Updated: Fri Feb 02, 2018

Forget About Trump and the Dreamers for 01/26/2018

Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

If you want to know what is in the president's heart when it comes to "dreamers," you need look no further than the ugly ads his campaign put out last week during the short government shutdown. "I'm Donald Trump, and I approved this message," the ad concluded after claims that Democrats would be complicit in every murder committed by an undocumented immigrant going forward. Most Americans — 70 to 80 percent, according to recent polls — look at dreamers, whose parents brought them here illegally when they were children, and see students, workers, members of the military, taxpayers, indeed fellow Americans except for the unfortunate circumstances of their arrival. Trump looks at them and sees an opportunity to beat up on immigrants, as he has been doing since the day he announced his presidential run with talk of Mexican rapists and criminals bringing drugs across the border. Never mind that immigrants — those here legally and those here illegally — commit crimes at far lower rates than the native-born.

Forget about Trump's big heart. Forget about looking for a Trump-led legislative compromise. If the dreamers gain permanent legal status under a Trump plan, he will take his pound of flesh from their parents and from those from Latin America, Asia and Africa who want to come here in the future legally. Trump's price for allowing some 800,000 dreamers to stay will be to slam the door shut on most everyone else who lacks an advanced degree or doesn't have enough money to invest in a Kushner family business scheme. "I'll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans," Trump said barely more than two weeks ago in a meeting with a bipartisan group of legislators, which millions of Americans watched on live TV. But with Breitbart calling him "Amnesty Don" for having the temerity to suggest that dreamers shouldn't be on the next bus to Mexico, Trump is looking for a way to show he's as anti-immigrant as ever, and what better way to demonstrate his bona fides than to run ads of rabid cop-killers? With only about a third of Americans still in Trump's camp, he's afraid of losing a single immigration hard-liner.

Updated: Fri Jan 26, 2018

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