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Ideas & Voices


Liberals wrong to always equate conservatism with racism

The confirmation hearings of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, provided plenty of drama that can help explain why racial tensions never seem to go away in America. This was particularly evident in the concluding panel of the hearings, which consisted of six black men, three opposing Sessions’ nomination and three supporting him. The three...

Technology, history and our future

Reader Bill Brown wrote in about our discussion a while back about history, English majors and the modern day. “Technology allows us to accomplish tasks faster, cheaper and more efficiently. Great … except when it’s not. Humans are flawed creatures. We have many wonderful traits, and we also have some really nasty ones. Students of history know how both sides of the human coin and...

Depressed pilots

From Smithsonian: “Being a pilot for a commercial airline has its perks — travel to exotic places, a cool uniform and those breathtaking views of the sky. But that job can come with a side of something much more sobering: depression. As Melissa Healy reports for The Los Angeles Times, the mental health of airline pilots is coming into sharp focus with the revelation that nearly 13 percent...

How to cover Trump? Literally and seriously

Facing the looming realities of President Donald Trump, media outlets have been chewing nervously on an unusual question: How do we cover this guy? Of course, although one would be hard-pressed to name any president who has made the reporter’s life easy, none until now have been known to taunt the press — and urge their supporters to join them — as eagerly and unpredictably as Trump...

‘America first’ isn’t a Trump creation

President Trump is something of a paradox. He roots himself in nostalgia for yesteryear — “Make America great again!” — but is remarkably unconcerned with history. He ransacks the past for rhetorical baubles but declines to carry their historical baggage too. In 2015, a Washington Post reporter had to remind Trump that his use of the phrase “silent majority” had...

ACA repeal must include replacement, hospital fix

Bryan J. Bucklew serves as President & CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. The Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA), which represents 29 hospitals and health organizations within 11 counties in southwest Ohio, along with many health-care providers, patients and legislators on both sides of the aisle, is deeply concerned about the possibility that Congress will repeal the...

Why we swear

From The New York Review of Books: “Neurologists have learned a great deal about the brain from studying how brain-damaged people use swearwords — notably, that they do use them, heavily, even when they have lost all other speech. This suggests profanity is encoded in the brain separately from most other language. While neutral words are processed in the cerebral cortex, the late-developing...

National VA archives a vital piece of our history

Attorney Merle F. Wilberding is one of our regular community contributors. It became official last week, the day before President Obama left office. The head of the Veterans Administration signed an agreement that will put the Veterans Affairs National Archives at the local Dayton VA Medical Center, a project expected to generate an investment of about $20 million. It is expected to bring capital...

Millennials and marriage

Are Millennials the most studied and written-about generation in American history? Feels like it, sometimes. The latest came from staff writer Max Filby, in a story about how many in the Millennial generation are getting married much later in life than their parents or grandparents. “The median age at first marriage for women has risen from around 20 in the 1950s to just over 27 today. For men...

Bureaucracy disliked, but necessary

Rob Baker, Ph.D., teaches political science at Wittenberg University and is one of our regular community contributors. In 1887, Woodrow Wilson penned a famous essay calling for a new effort devoted to making American government more effective in its day-to-day administration. Modernity, immigration, and technological advancement had caused the pace of change in society and the economy to quicken rapidly...

The Anti-business businessman

We’ve been instructed not to take our new president literally but instead seriously (in the felicitous phrasing of Salena Zito). Throughout his career, Donald Trump has been consistent on two issues: trade and admiration for strong men. He departs from the consensus about American leadership in the post-World War II era. Rather than seeing the United States’ security guarantees and promotion...

Looking at secret Facebook groups

Sure, you’re on Facebook — but are you part of a secret group? Plenty of people are; an interesting piece in Wired talks about the pros and cons of these hidden corners of social media, which seem to be growing “amid the partisan rancor of the 2016 election and its aftermath. “This flight behind figurative closed doors is at odds with the internet’s promise of open dialogue...

Mistrusting statistics

From The Guardian: “In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on. Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms in western liberal democracies. Rather than diffusing controversy and polarisation, it seems as if statistics...

He’s taken the oath, but Trump’s not ready

Betsy DeVos, whom Donald Trump has nominated as education secretary, doesn’t know basic education terms, doesn’t know about federal statutes governing special education, but thinks school officials should carry guns to defend against grizzly bears. Monica Crowley, selected as deputy national security adviser, withdrew after it was revealed that much of her past writing was plagiarized...

Cooperstown must decide if it’s a museum or a shrine

WASHINGTON — Many Americans are more thoughtful when choosing appliances than when choosing presidents, but the baseball writers whose ballots decide who is “enshrined” — more about that verb anon — in Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame are mostly conscientious voters struggling to unravel a knotty puzzle: How to treat retired players who are known or suspected to have...

Whatever happened to Ohio’s ‘one-subject’ rule?

If there’s anything in the world more elastic than Silly Putty, it’s the Ohio Constitution’s “one-subject” rule. The rule aims to prevent logrolling – when the General Assembly passes bills based on the Statehouse’s Golden Rule: “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” One brazen example, noted here before because of its pro-fracking features...

Just another vicious cycle?

Everyone’s favorite topic, red-light cameras, have been been in the news recently, as the Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments about the state ban on them. Here’s what reader Robert L. Lindsey had to say: “Camera’s installed; city gets some money; company gets money for installing them; accident rate goes down (drops 30 to 60 percent); lives saved and injuries prevented; drivers...

Knowing the indescribable

From Aeon: “We know many things without being able to express them, and there is nothing mysterious about that at all. I know how to play the violin, but my explanations about how to hold the instrument and move the bow would not be enough to impart this knowledge to you. You would have to acquire ‘knowledge-how’ to play a violin yourself, through practice. Similarly, I could try...

How to get young people involved in history?

David Shumway is one of our regular community contributors. Historical societies everywhere are seeking to expand membership and involvement to younger generations. But such societies too often conjure up images of dusty old people doing dusty old things; no one seems interested in history until they have lots of history behind them. This is particularly a problem with local history. The young and...
Rekha Basu: Obama let us in; Trump is anyone’s guess

Rekha Basu: Obama let us in; Trump is anyone’s guess

Nearly 10 years ago, Barack Obama sat down with a group of Des Moines Register writers and editors to pitch his credentials for the Democratic nomination for president. It was June 18, 2007, and Obama was a first-term U.S. senator from Illinois. His demeanor was youthful, and his closely cropped hair was black, both underscoring his relative lack of experience. But it was another prominent feature...
Charles Krauthammer: Obama’s self-revealing final act

Charles Krauthammer: Obama’s self-revealing final act

Barack Obama did not go out quietly. His unquiet final acts were, in part, overshadowed by a successor who refused to come in quietly and, in part, by Obama’s own endless, sentimental farewell tour. But there was nothing nostalgic or sentimental about Obama’s last acts. Commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning, one of the great traitors of our time, is finger-in-the-eye willfulness. Obama...

Plenty of circus reactions

We got a bit of mail about the demise of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. From Nick Lubbers: “Yes, I will miss the circus. The circus could have done better keeping up with the market share of family entertainment today. But today, what kills traditions the most? The abuse of the First Amendment. Too many minuscule groups, fueled by free speech, dictate changes for 99 percent of...

Using TV to get the word to Trump

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. He wrote this for InsideSources.com. Through the nation and across the world the liberals, the centrists, the traditionalists and the orthodox are in shock: Donald J. Trump is America’s 45th president and they don’t like that one bit, or like him at all. I have some advice for those who are beating...

A modest electoral proposal

Dr. James E. Sayer is a professor emeritus at Wright State University. The 2016 Presidential election was notable for several factors, not the least of which was the acrimony that so filled both the primaries and the general election. It was a political campaign that made many people both sick of the process and very happy that it finally came to a conclusion. However, the most striking aspect of...

Reagan and Trump: American nationalists

Since World War II, the two men who have most terrified this city by winning the presidency are Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. And they have much in common. Both came out of the popular culture, Reagan out of Hollywood, Trump out of a successful reality TV show. Both possessed the gifts of showmen — extraordinarily valuable political assets in a television age that deals cruelly with the uncharismatic...

Welcome to carnival culture and its fools

King David was most compelling when he danced. Overcome by gratitude to God, he stripped down to his linens and whirled about before the ark of the covenant — his love and joy spilling beyond the boundaries of normal decorum. The early Christians seem to have worshiped the way David did, with ecstatic dancing, communal joy and what Emile Durkheim called “collective effervescence.&rdquo...

Feeling a sense of inauguration consternation

Why is this inauguration different from any other? Let’s start with the fact that most Americans are not happy that Donald Trump is about to become president. The Washington Post/ABC News poll this week found that Trump enters the Oval Office with the lowest favorable ratings since the question has been asked. Only 40 percent view Trump favorably. That compares with 62 percent for George W....

When Backpage.com peddles schoolgirls for sex

As a 16-year-old high school sophomore living in Boston, Asia Graves was sold on the internet “like a pizza,” she recalls, handed over to be raped by strange men every day. Along with thousands of other girls, she was sold through what amounts to an online brothel called Backpage. It dominates the online sex trade and is implicated in almost three-quarters of the reports of child trafficking...

Christian persecution thriving in left-wing America

Actress Meryl Streep’s political diatribe at the Golden Globes awards isn’t the only surprise attention-getting provocation from the event. Nominee film “Hidden Figures,” a box-office hit about the true story of three black women mathematicians who played important roles at NASA in the early days of the space program, is also generating unexpected controversy. The controversy...

Goodbye to one selfie president, hello to another?

On Feb. 12, 2015, President Obama made a selfie-stick video for BuzzFeed. You may remember it — or perhaps not — because if there’s one thing Barack Obama delivered during his eight years in office, it was plenty of celebration of himself. The country was treated to Obama slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon, sharing his Final Four brackets, fantasizing about what superhero powers...

Jesus was right about the mouth revealing one’s heart

How about if we let Jesus answer Kellyanne Conway? Donald Trump’s indefatigable apologist was at it again on CNN, defending her boss against, of all people, Meryl Streep. The Oscar nominee got under Trump’s famously thin skin with a speech at the Golden Globes. In it, she chastised him for, among other things, mocking Serge F. Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter who has arthrogryposis...
Gail Collins: Sex and lots of whining at Trump’s first news conference

Gail Collins: Sex and lots of whining at Trump’s first news conference

Finally, Donald Trump held a news conference. I know you want to hear the sex-in-Russia part. The world learned this week about memos from a retired British intelligence officer on relations between the Trump campaign and the Russians. They included some speculation about whether there were compromising videos of Trump cavorting in a Russian hotel that might explain his enthusiastic support for Vladimir...

Our foreign-policy future in a Trumpian world

It’s becoming clear that for the next few years American foreign policy will be shaped by the struggle among Republican regulars, populist ethno-nationalists and the forces of perpetual chaos unleashed by Donald Trump’s attention span. The Republican regulars build their grand strategies upon the post-World War II international order — the American-led alliances, norms and organizations...

Not surprisingly, Trump proved Obama’s point

Sen. Ben Cardin used one of the oldest saws in politics to lay out an imperative for the coming Trump era. “It cannot be business as usual,” Cardin said. He was talking primarily about Russia, but his statement stands on its own. Under the 45th president, it cannot be business as usual for the media, for Congress or for any citizen who values our liberties. We are in for a very dangerous...

The Republicans’ health care hoax

This week, President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans began to dismantle Obamacare, and here are the details of their replacement plan: —— —- —- —- - —— —- —— —- - —- —- — —— —- —— —- —- —- — — - - - - —— —- —- &mdash...

Spinning fake policy, ignoring the real kind

The U.S. economy is huge, employing 145 million people. It’s also ever-changing: Industries and companies rise and fall, and there are always losers as well as winners. The result is constant “churn,” with many jobs disappearing even as still more new jobs are created. In an average month, there are 1.5 million “involuntary” job separations (as opposed to voluntary quits)...

The real obstacle to peace

Shortly after Benjamin Netanyahu won his bid for re-election as prime minister of Israel in March 2015, I wrote a column describing President Barack Obama as being ”on track to go down as more hostile toward Israel than any president in the past 68 years.” I warned that President Obama was so anti-Netanyahu that administration officials were signaling the president might change U.S. votes...

Media must take a moral stand

“Five minutes for Hitler, five minutes for the Jews.” That, according to legend — and a Facebook page for alumni of The Miami Herald — was the routine response of an ’80s-era editor whenever some hapless reporter was working overly hard to bring “balance” to a story where none should exist, where the moral high ground was clearly held by one side or the other...
Krauthammer: Cold War relic, present day threat

Krauthammer: Cold War relic, present day threat

You can kick the can down the road, but when Kim Jong Un announces, as he did last Sunday, that “we have reached the final stage in preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket,” you are reaching the end of that road. Since the early 1990s, we have offered every kind of inducement to get North Korea to give up its nuclear program. All failed miserably. Pyongyang managed...
Collins: Reality politics, starring Donald Trump

Collins: Reality politics, starring Donald Trump

Two big political events this week. A new Congress started work and “The New Celebrity Apprentice” arrived on TV. “Celebrity Apprentice” is now hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former action movie star who became a governor and is now recycling back into entertainment. He is replacing Donald Trump, a former reality TV star now preparing to move into the White House. Trump&rsquo...
The Snapchat presidency of Donald Trump

The Snapchat presidency of Donald Trump

Normal leaders come up with policy proposals in a certain conventional way. They gather their advisers around them and they debate alternatives — with briefing papers, intelligence briefings and implementation strategies. Donald Trump doesn’t do that. He’s tweeted out policy gestures in recent weeks, say about the future of America’s nuclear arsenal. But these gestures aren&rsquo...

Will Trump let Obama go quietly?

Will Donald Trump deprive President Obama of what we have come to think of as a normal post-presidency, the relatively serene life of reflection, writing, philanthropy and high-minded speeches to friendly audiences? In recent decades, we have become accustomed to the idea of ex-presidents who leave political combat behind. They might occasionally speak out on behalf of their party: Bill Clinton was...

Can Trump and Putin avert Cold War II?

In retaliation for the hacking of John Podesta and the DNC, Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and ordered closure of their country houses on Long Island and Maryland’s Eastern shore. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that 35 U.S. diplomats would be expelled. But Vladimir Putin stepped in, declined to retaliate at all, and invited the U.S. diplomats in Moscow and their children to...

Lessons from the media’s failures in its year with Trump

The last year has not been the news media’s finest. Despite some outstanding coverage, overall we misled many people into thinking that Donald Trump would never win the Republican nomination, let alone the White House. Too often we followed what glittered, yapped uselessly at everything in sight and didn’t dig hard enough or hold politicians accountable for lies. In 2008, the three broadcast...

Snatching health care away from millions

If James Comey, the FBI director, hadn’t tipped the scales in the campaign’s final days with that grotesquely misleading letter, right now an incoming Clinton administration would be celebrating some very good news. Because health reform, President Barack Obama’s signature achievement, is stabilizing after a bumpy year. This means that the huge gains achieved so far — tens...

Obama knows all about standing ‘idly by’

Secretary of State John Kerry used the word “conscience” over and over again as he attempted to explain and justify the Obama administration’s decision not to veto a one-sided U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel. He added that the U.S. could not “stand idly by” while Israel torpedoed any hope for a two-state solution. The Obama administration knows all...

Journalism’s hard year draws to a close

This has probably not, in fact, been the worst year in the history of American journalism. But you’ll forgive me if it feels that way just the same. It was, after all, a year in which the country firmly entered the post-factual era, led by an incoming president who has no time for intelligence reports, yet is a devotee of a conspiracy website that claims symbols on a pizza menu are used by pedophiles...

Krauthammer: Obama’s final, most shameful, legacy moment

“When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.” — Barack Obama, AIPAC conference, March 4, 2012 The audience — overwhelmingly Jewish, passionately pro-Israel and supremely gullible — applauded wildly. Four years later — with his last election behind him, a month to go in office and with no need to fool Jew or gentile again — Obama took the measure of...

Collins: A year-end quiz

ANSWERS: 1-B, 2-C, 3-C, 4-B, 5-A, 6-A, 7-B. 8-C, 9-C, 10-A, 11-B Happy almost New Year! Wow, we’ve been through a lot. Let’s take a look back at 2016 and see how much of the silliness you remember. We’re not going to talk about Hillary Clinton. Too sad. But here’s an end-of-the-year quiz: 1. It’s been a long year for Chris Christie, but he made history when … A)...
Some of the best essays of the year

Some of the best essays of the year

Perry Link once noticed that Chinese writers use more verbs in their sentences whereas English writers use more nouns. This observation is at the core of his New York Review of Books essay “The Mind: Less Puzzling in Chinese?” which is the first winner of this year’s Sidney Awards. I give out the awards, named for the philosopher Sidney Hook, to celebrate some of the best long-form...

Since when is democracy a ‘fetish’?

My colleague George F. Will’s recent column in defense of the Electoral College offers an excellent opportunity to make a case that has nothing to do with the election of Donald Trump. After all, Will, admirably and eloquently, insisted Trump was unworthy of nomination or election. So our disagreement relates entirely to his insistence that we should stick with an approach to choosing presidents...

Farewell to a media voice who pushed policy over personalities

On Dec. 19, radio host Charlie Sykes completed his last broadcast in Milwaukee. His last hours on the air were adorned with encomia from some whom his show had helped to incubate: Reince Preibus, Scott Walker, Ron Johnson and Paul Ryan, among many others. For 23 years, Wisconsinites got the Charlie Sykes catechism: free markets, rule of law, school reform, free speech (and anti-political-correctness)...

Real populism, and phony populism

Authoritarians with an animus against ethnic minorities are on the march across the Western world. They control governments in Hungary and Poland, and will soon take power in America. And they’re organizing across borders: Austria’s Freedom Party, founded by former Nazis, has signed an agreement with Russia’s ruling party — and met with Donald Trump’s choice for national...

How to make Dems a party of transcendence, rebirth

Robert Koehler is a Chicago-based journalist and writer. Leonard Pitts’ column returns soon. As we think about the election — what went wrong, what’s been unleashed and what we should do about it — please, please, let us expand our vision beyond some technical fix or updated “message.” Even if we’re talking about the Democratic Party. James Zogby, founder...

New defense chief has challenge of balancing security, spending

“To change anything in the Navy is like punching a feather bed. You punch it with your right and you punch it with your left until you are finally exhausted, and then you find the damn bed just as it was before you started punching.” — Franklin Roosevelt, 1940 SAN DIEGO — What the former assistant secretary of the Navy said is descriptive of the entire military. Each service&rsquo...
Collins: The Senate bathroom angle

Collins: The Senate bathroom angle

We are sorely in need of some cheerful news out of Washington, so I’m going to tell you Barbara Mikulski’s story about the Senate bathrooms. Almost every veteran woman legislator, in every level of government, has a story about the shortage of bathroom facilities at work. Mikulski, 80, has served in Congress longer than any other woman in history. She’s retiring this month after...
Krauthammer: Aleppo and American decline

Krauthammer: Aleppo and American decline

The fall of Aleppo just weeks before Barack Obama leaves office is a fitting stamp on his Middle East policy of retreat and withdrawal. The pitiable pictures from the devastated city showed the true cost of Obama’s abdication — for which he seems to have few regrets. In his end-of-year news conference, Obama defended U.S. inaction with his familiar false choice: It was either stand aside...

The real saboteurs of a Trump foreign policy

The never-Trumpers are never going to surrender the myth that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee to defeat Clinton and elect Donald Trump. Their investment in the myth is just too huge. For Clinton and her campaign, it is the only way to explain how they booted away a presidential election even...