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Preview: Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate

Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate



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



Last Build Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2018 13:45:51 -0700

 



Touching the Nation for 04/21/2018

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700

She was born into comfort in Manhattan and raised in Rye, a leafy, exclusive suburb in New York's Westchester County. She would leave college before graduating to marry. She never had a career beyond wife, mother and citizen. But her death, in her 10th decade, evoked an almost spontaneous national yearning for what she and her husband had personified: the endangered values of noblesse oblige, that unwritten but real moral obligation for those born to privilege to act generously and compassionately toward those not so advantaged, an enduring commitment to family, to country and to duty.

According to Kate Andersen Brower, in her book "The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House," among the permanent White House staff — the butlers, the painters and the engineers — President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush were "by far the favorite." Not just because the Bushes knew their names and the president played horseshoes with them as equals but because he, according to Secret Service agents and Air Force One pilots, knew their children's names, as well, and where they were in school.

Updated: Sat Apr 21, 2018




Paul Ryan Is No Margaret Chase Smith for 04/14/2018

Sat, 14 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700

Shortly after Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union and I was still a semi-young wiseguy, smugly sure that a celebrity candidate whose prospective campaign had sparked public interest would become a serious White House challenger, a grizzled political reporter brought me up short with this practical advice: "If a candidate gets measurably louder applause from the crowd when he's introduced to speak than he does when he's finished speaking, that candidate is overrated and will not be a winner." Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan — who is getting much less praise on the way out than he did on the way in, when he was called a leader of "character and values," a person with "energy and vision" and the "intellectual leader" of the Republican Party — is the most recent evidence of the wisdom of that old political adage.

To his credit, Ryan, unlike too many withdrawing politicians, almost certainly means it when he speaks of going back to Wisconsin to spend time with his family, to whom he is devoted. But his legacy, beyond a tax law that lightens the burden on those most capable of paying, the truly advantaged, and, according to the respected Congressional Budget Office, sentences the nation and Ryan's Janesville neighbors — in a time not of wide-scale war or painful recession but of celebrated economic prosperity and low unemployment — to annual federal budget deficits of $1 billion-plus.

Updated: Sat Apr 14, 2018




Republicans and Patriotism for 04/07/2018

Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700

The election night words of the long-shot Republican candidate after his upset victory remain with me to this day: "I learned long ago that serving only oneself is a petty and unsatisfying ambition. But serve a cause greater than self-interest and you will know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of fame and fortune."

That leader was summoning those within the sound of his voice to self-sacrifice. Contrast that with another leader's explanation, some 25 years after the fact, on why he, a Yale alumnus, had chosen not to answer his country's draft call to serve in the U.S. military and join his contemporaries then fighting and dying: "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost."

Updated: Sat Apr 07, 2018




Helpful Hints for Candidates for 03/31/2018

Sat, 31 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700

Successful politicians, those who have won election and re-election to office, almost always have an extra olfactory nerve that somehow endows them with the ability to smell which way the political winds will blow in a given election year — and whether a gale-force blast is forming that might sweep them out of office in November. That could explain why more Republican House members have already announced that they will not seek re-election in 2018 than in any year since 1930 — when, we recall, after the collapse of the stock market, the nation's unemployment rate had more than tripled in less than 12 months, heralding an election in which Democrats would capture 52 House seats from the GOP.

I have a confession to make: I like people who dare to run for public office. For most of us, our lives are made up of quiet victories and quiet defeats. If you and I are the two finalists to become the national manager of Rocky Mountain Sunscreen and you are chosen, when the hometown paper announces your promotion and success, it does not include a line such as, "Shields was passed over because of lingering questions about his expense account and his erratic behavior at the company Christmas party." But for the political candidate, the results are right there for everybody — everyone he has ever carpooled with, dated or baby-sat for — to see, whether he won or, more likely, he lost.

Updated: Sat Mar 31, 2018




Liberal Conscience AWOL? for 03/24/2018

Sat, 24 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700

In one of the most closely watched 2018 congressional campaigns, avidly followed nationally as a potential predictor of November's midterm elections by both increasingly apprehensive Republicans and guardedly optimistic Democrats, there was only one candidates debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, between the challenger — the favorite of many national liberal groups, which generously backed her candidacy — and the more conservative seven-term incumbent, supported by the unions of cops, firefighters and steelworkers.

During the debate, the liberal challenger, first-time candidate Marie Newman, made her case against incumbent Dan Lipinski with this remarkable assertion (which went almost totally uncovered by the press and uncriticized by the challenger's liberal allies) about the solemn responsibility of a member of Congress: "We can't vote our own conscience as (Lipinski) likes to say. We have to vote how our constituents want us to vote."

Updated: Sat Mar 24, 2018




Losers Blame the Voters for 03/17/2018

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700

On Nov. 4, 2008, American voters faced the happy task of choosing between two popular presidential nominees, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, both of whom, according to the last pre-election Gallup Poll, about 3 in 5 Americans regarded positively. In stark contrast, the 2016 Election Day exit poll of voters revealed an electorate forced to pick between, as one Democratic wiseguy put it, "the evil of two lessers." Voters in 2016 gave Democrat Hillary Clinton a 55 percent unfavorable rating and just a 43 percent favorable rating, but even more negatively regarded was Republican Donald Trump, who received just a 38 percent favorable rating and a 60 percent unfavorable rating.

It is fair to say that in the 2016 election, if Trump had been running unopposed on the presidential ballot, he would have lost. The only reason he won is that he was running against Clinton. Nearly 1 in 5 voters in 2016 admitted they held unfavorable feelings toward both Trump and Clinton. So Trump won the White House by carrying 60 percent of those voters who did not like him personally but who apparently liked Clinton even less.

Updated: Sat Mar 17, 2018




50 St. Patrick's Days Ago for 03/10/2018

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800

After a lifetime spent in the company of the rogues, the rascals and, yes, the phonies of politics, I have concluded that American voters are searching for one of two presidential types: a warm conservative with a generous heart or a tough liberal with a steel backbone. As the late wise conservative leader Jeffrey Bell once said admiringly of Robert F. Kennedy, who began his tragic run for president on the eve of St. Patrick's Day a half-century ago, since RFK, "no liberal leader has come close to uniting blacks and northern working-class whites."

Never was that special Kennedy appeal more visible than on May 6, 1968, when RFK, in an open convertible, was cheered by crowds on the streets of Gary, Indiana, a city that was no stranger to racial tensions. On one side of the candidate sat the hometown hero to so many in Gary's Eastern European community, former middleweight champion Tony Zale, and on the other was Richard Hatcher, the city's first African-American mayor.

Updated: Sat Mar 10, 2018




Ronald Reagan and Nancy Pelosi: 2 Real Professionals for 03/03/2018

Sat, 03 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Former President Ronald Reagan is hands down the most electorally successful American politician of the post-World War II era. As the outsider nominee of the nation's then-decidedly minority party, nobody has ever come close to matching his back-to-back 44-state and 49-state landslide White House victories. Acknowledged as a conviction conservative, Reagan succeeded in forging alliances, as governor and as president, by practicing what he preached: "Remember, the fellow who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is your friend and ally, not 20 percent traitor."

The Gipper understood completely: A wining political party is not an exclusive private club with its own admission and litmus tests that a person must first pass to join. No, a successful party, by definition, is a coalition of many different people who come together to support policies on which they mostly agree. But liberals and many Democrats (whose party is now weaker in the Washington minority and state capitols than at any time since 1928) insist that unless someone is an uncritical supporter and endorser of legal abortion, he or she cannot be a Democrat in good standing.

Forget that when the Gallup Poll asked, as it does each year, whether people "personally believe that in general it is morally acceptable or morally wrong" to have an abortion, 49 percent of Americans answered "morally wrong" — almost identical to the 2008 response, the year Barack Obama won the presidency. The reality is that after dramatic changes in the public acceptance of same-sex marriage and gay rights, Americans' conflicted ambivalence on abortion continues to be simultaneously pro-choice and anti-abortion. Voters, sensitive to the painful decision a pregnant woman might make after consulting her conscience, her pastor and her physician, have no appetite for criminalizing the woman for her choice. But those same voters also know that an abortion is not a tonsillectomy, that what is involved here is either potential or actual life. Nobody is going to win a contested election in 2018 on a platform of "what this country needs is more abortions."

Updated: Sat Mar 03, 2018




Underestimating the Voters' Intelligence -- and Paying for It for 02/24/2018

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Politics can be both cruel and unsentimental. Consider the case of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., known on Capitol Hill — since his first election to Congress in 1972 — for his civil and amiable treatment of others, irrespective of party, and, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for securing federal billions for his small, poor state. Having recently been hospitalized twice and confronting multiple health challenges, Cochran, 80, has learned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, his colleague for 33 years, has admitted to The New York Times' Jonathan Martin that though it's "premature" to analyze a possible Mississippi special election to replace Cochran, McConnell and President Donald Trump have separately met with Mississippi's Republican governor, Phil Bryant, to urge Bryant — should the Cochran seat become vacant for any reason — to appoint himself to the Senate.

Here's my unsolicited advice to Bryant: Do not, in your own self-interest, appoint yourself to the Senate. As my sainted precinct committeewoman used to tell us, "do not overestimate the factual knowledge of voters, but never underestimate the intelligence of voters." Voters who are not able to list the member nations of NATO are still wise enough to see through any staged, counterfeit ritual in which a governor "resigns" his office only to have his hand-picked successor then appoint him to a vacant Senate seat.

Updated: Sat Feb 24, 2018




Finally, a Unifying Theme for 2018 for 02/10/2018

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Democrats whom I talk to confess privately that despite President Donald Trump's unpopularity and the fact that nearly all polls show their party with a lead over Republicans when it comes to the upcoming midterm elections, they are increasingly nervous about 2018. Fueling the Democrats' anxiety is the growing perception that their party is without any overarching and unifying vision or theme. The Democratic Party too often is seen as a bizarre collection of single-cause or special interest groups, with the whole actually being less than the sum of its parts.

You want evidence? How about your self-consciously inclusive Democratic event that features only gluten-free, vegan-friendly appetizers and especially welcomes all agnostic cross-dressers who prize sensitivity to an earnest community that remains smoke-free, salt-free and humor-free? To spare members of what was long known as the party of Jefferson and Jackson (before both erstwhile Democratic heroes were expelled retroactively for not championing same-sex marriage and other policy positions unbecoming to a 21st-century liberal) from their increasingly joyless search for an elusive galvanizing idea, here is a nationally unifying theme for 2018:

Updated: Sat Feb 10, 2018




False Humility Is Better Than None at All for 02/03/2018

Sat, 03 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Thanks to the reliable American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which keeps careful track of such information, we know that in 2000, President Bill Clinton gave — at one hour and 28 minutes — the longest State of the Union address. In marked contrast, to deliver his own 1986 State of the Union, President Ronald Reagan took only an estimated 31 minutes. President Donald Trump's 2018 address, which, according to CBS News research, drew 110 rounds of applause and more than 70 standing ovations, took just over one hour and 20 minutes, making it the second-longest in history.

The reactions to Trump's speech were mostly predictable. Unsmiling Democrats, many of whom were captured on TV cutaway shots looking as if they were suffering from an outbreak of dyspepsia, were not impressed, while euphoric Republicans appeared to love it. But what most post-mortems of the speech have overlooked were Trump's own obviously positive reactions to the very speech he was delivering. This was repeatedly evidenced by the president's enthusiastic willingness to initiate — or to happily join in — applause for the particular point he had just so tellingly made. This, let it be noted, is a genuine presidential first; all of the previous 41 chief executives who gave a State of the Union speech apparently lacked either the self-confidence or the self-sufficiency to be able to do.

If only President Abraham Lincoln had dared, after so eloquently speaking of this "new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," to pause, turn to those in his Gettysburg crowd and urge them to "give it up for all men being created equal!" Isn't it too bad that President Franklin Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, after testifying to his "firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," somehow lacked the sense of history to insert "everybody put your hands together"? President John F. Kennedy's exhortation to his fellow Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you (but) what you can do for your country" would have worked so much better if a more self-assured JFK had then instructed his audience, "Let's have a big hand for self-sacrifice."

Updated: Sat Feb 03, 2018




Patriotism On the Cheap for 01/27/2018

Sat, 27 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

For the first two centuries of U.S. history — while Americans were proudly winning a war for independence, founding a nation, abolishing slavery, settling a continent and winning two world wars — the patriot was that admirable fellow citizen willing to sacrifice his own individual well-being for the common good or to sacrifice her own personal security for the security of the nation. Patriotism was earned, not just asserted.

That definition would effectively be altered in 1973, when President Richard Nixon, who had just won a landslide re-election victory but was facing rising public opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam, became the first American president to wear an American flag in his lapel. Nixon got the idea, according to historian Stephen E. Ambrose, from H.R. Haldeman, his chief of staff, "who had seen it done in a movie called 'The Candidate.'" Nixon then had the word passed to his staff: Seeing as he was wearing a flag, many of them might want to do the same to show their support for him and the country. Gerald Ford, who succeeded the disgraced and resigned Nixon, had earned 10 battle stars as a World War II naval officer and was apparently comfortable in dropping such "flag lapel patriotism."

Updated: Sat Jan 27, 2018




'Always Proud He Was My President' for 01/13/2018

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who created the international scholarship program that bears his name and that has produced 59 Nobel Prize winners among its estimated 360,000 alumni, was not, for entirely legitimate reasons, a humble man. Admitted to the University of Arkansas at 15, he would become a star halfback on the school's football team and a Rhodes scholar. He also studied at Oxford for three years before being named president of his alma mater at 34.

By the time of his last Arkansas campaign, in 1974, when I worked for Fulbright, he had already won national attention as an outspoken critic of Sen. Joe McCarthy's anti-communist witch hunts and for, longer than anyone in U.S. history, chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he conducted, much to the anger of President Lyndon B. Johnson, nationally televised hearings opposing the U.S. war in Vietnam. During that 1974 campaign, Fulbright chatted late one evening about the six U.S. presidents who had served with him. What I remember today was Fulbright's description of John F. Kennedy: "Whenever I went to the White House for any occasion during his administration, I was always proud, as an American, that Kennedy was my president."

Updated: Sat Jan 13, 2018




A Prophet Who Deserves a Little Honor for 01/06/2018

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800

Anyone who cannot resist the temptation to offer public predictions about public events invites and can expect public ridicule.

Even pre-eminent 20th-century American columnist and public intellectual Walter Lippmann, who was courted by presidents and prime ministers, is regularly remembered for dismissing in print then-New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt for being "no tribune of the people." Lippmann wrote: "He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President."

Updated: Sat Jan 06, 2018




Our Sore President for 12/30/2017

Sat, 30 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

During his winning campaign to capture the White House, Democrat Barack Obama was harshly critical of the White House record of his predecessor George W. Bush. But once in office, Obama — like nearly all presidents before him — heeded the sage advice of a great chief executive also from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who, when faulted for speaking kindly about the South during the Civil War, countered, "Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

President Obama said about Bush: "To know the man is to like the man, because he's comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. ... He takes his job seriously, but he doesn't take himself too seriously. He is a good man."

Updated: Sat Dec 30, 2017




Resolutions and Predictions for 12/23/2017

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

The calendar reminds us that it's that special time of the year to make reckless predictions and fleeting resolutions. So let us do a little of both.

I predict that with history and national poll numbers warning them daily that 2018 is shaping up as a truly bad year electorally for Republican candidates, there will be a sharp increase in the number of GOP incumbents announcing that rather than seek re-election, they have decided to spend more time with their families. Before doing so, each would be wise to check with David Letterman, who, having retired after his career as the longest-tenured late-night host in TV history, explained that he was now leaving his two-year retirement to return to work: "Here's what I have learned: If you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first."

Updated: Sat Dec 23, 2017




Normal Speech for 12/16/2017

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Contrary to what my beloved junior high coach taught us, defeat does not build character. However, defeat can often reveal character. So, too, can victory reveal character, as it seemed to do late on a December Tuesday night in a raucous ballroom at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.

There we saw a happy winner who declined to pump his fist in self-congratulatory pleasure but rather insisted on giving credit to others. He would not stop thanking — by name — family members, friends and campaign staffers for the win. He was optimistic, repeating his belief that he and all those either listening or not have more things in common than they have issues that divide them, adding, "This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which ZIP code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life."

Updated: Sat Dec 16, 2017




Francisco Franco and the 2018 Republicans for 12/09/2017

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

To understand the discouraging plight for Republicans heading into the 2018 midterm elections, it might help to recall a joke popular in Spain in 1975, when Generalissimo Francisco Franco, that nation's long-ruling and ruthless dictator, lingered for endless weeks on his deathbed.

Alejandro: "There is good news, and there is bad news."

Updated: Sat Dec 09, 2017




Understanding Republicans for 12/02/2017

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

It's important for us to remember that even though President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, successfully lobbied the nation and eventually signed into law the historic civil rights laws a half-century ago, a higher percentage of congressional Republicans than congressional Democrats voted for those bills. By then, the Republican Party, which was born to preserve the union and abolish human slavery in the United States and had elected Abraham Lincoln, had come to stand for smaller, less intrusive government, lower taxes and balancing the federal budget.

Then came 1980 and a charismatic Republican presidential nominee from California, who offered a painlessly appealing prescription for the nation's malaise: He would double defense spending, cut Americans' taxes by one-third and balance the federal budget. A 10-term Republican congressman, John B. Anderson of Illinois, also ran for president in 1980, first as a Republican and then as an independent. Anderson chose candor over cant and effectively burned his bridges with fellow Republicans who preferred to believe in the "tooth fairy" approach to political policy when, in a nationally televised debate, he dared to say: "How do you balance the budget, cut taxes and increase defense spending at the same time? It's very simple. You do it with mirrors."

Updated: Sat Dec 02, 2017




'Punching Up' Is American; 'Punching Down' Is Not for 11/25/2017

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Americans have traditionally responded more positively to humor that "punches up" rather than "punches down." To "punch up" means to make a joke at the expense of those who have more power, privilege or property than the audience or the humorist. "Punching down" is the opposite — mocking or disparaging someone or some group that is less influential, privileged or affluent than are the mocker and his audience.

When you're president of the United States or even a presidential candidate, you're pretty much at the top of the social heap, which makes it difficult, when being humorous, to punch up believably. The record does show that popular American presidents have effectively used self-deprecating humor to make jokes at their own expense. The message to an audience is clear: I am not self-important; I do not take myself all that seriously; I am one of you.

Updated: Sat Nov 25, 2017