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Ideas & Voices


Thoughts from Pinker

One of our favorite thinkers is the Harvard-based psychologist Steven Pinker, who recently answered a few questions for the UK magazine Prospect. Here are a few bits worth sharing: Are people better off today than 100 years ago? “Unquestionably! Rates of death from war, homicide and genocide are far lower, even if they’re still too high. Globally, people are longer-lived, healthier, richer...

Critics getting it wrong

From The Chronicle for Higher Education: “What are the underlying intellectual, creative, and aesthetic issues that can cause even brilliant critics to misfire? An answer can be found in the tension between what we might call literary time and critical time. Critics, of course, have deadlines. A given review or essay must appear by such and such a date. But as Terry Eagleton points out in &ldquo...

Is there really an American ‘Deep State’?

Long before Donald Trump became president and his top national security adviser Michael Flynn was accused of treason, there was concern about a “deep state” in the United States. “The phrase ‘deep state’ is popping up ever more in public discussions,” wrote libertarian Jeffrey Tucker in 2014: “It refers to the apparatus of the state that thrives completely...

Engineers make good things happen

National Engineers Week is this week, Feb. 19-25. Established in 1951, it aligns with the birthday of President George Washington. He is considered our nation’s first engineer because of the surveying work he did early in his career. Engineers use their technical, analytical, and critical thinking skills to solve problems and impact all aspects of our lives. The contributions that engineers...

Trump a leader of nationalism, not patriotism

National Review has sparked an important debate about nationalism. As someone who has been accused throughout her life of excessive love of country, I feel a bit awkward rebutting anything that travels under the name “Love of Country.” Nevertheless, I must join Jonah Goldberg, Yuval Levin, Ben Shapiro and others in demurring from Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru’s defense of nationalism...

The history of facts

From History Today: “The concept of ‘the fact’ first appears in Renaissance Latin, but the word only entered common usage in the 1660s. The Royal Society, founded in November 1660, was dedicated to experimental knowledge and declared that it would concern itself with ‘facts not explanations.’ ‘Facts’ became part of a modern vocabulary for discussing knowledge...

A bit of farming future

A look at agri-business of the future? Our staff writer Mark Fisher, who covers food and dining, wrote last week about a family in Beavercreek Twp. that grows fish and veggies in the same space. The “aqua farm,” he reports, “will allow them to sell pesticide-free, chemical-free vegetables, fruit, fish and crayfish year-round. Oasis Aqua Farm founders Kimball and Stephanie Osborne...

The ups and downs of congressional districting

In 1980, when Ronald Reagan carried Ohio, he drew about 51.5 of the state’s vote, and Ohioans sent 23 people to the U.S. House of Representatives. Thirteen (or 57 percent) were Republicans, 10 (or 43 percent), Democrats. A few months ago, Donald Trump carried Ohio. He drew about 51.3 percent of the state’s vote, and Ohioans sent 16 people to the House. Of those 16 House members, 12 (or...

An adult voice amid pandemic childishness

WASHINGTON — In his 72 years, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, who was raised in segregated Richmond, Virginia, acknowledges that he has seen much change, often for the better, including advances in the 1960s. But in his elegant new memoir, “All Falling Faiths: Reflections on the Promise and Failure of the 1960s,” he explains why...

An open letter to our so-called president

Dear Mr. So-Called President: So let me explain to you how this works. You were elected as chief executive of the United States. I won’t belabor the fact that you won with a minority of the popular vote and a little help from your friends, FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The bottom line is, you were elected. And this does entitle you to certain things. You get...

Cursive is our history

More strong feelings about teaching cursive to today’s students. From Janet Whallon: “When you stop teaching cursive you are losing human history. What if you want to make a recipe your mom use to make? You can’t make it because you can’t read it. What if you want to learn about some past relative? You can’t read the land grants, baptism records, birth and death records...

Minorities and math

From The New York Times: “Even as movie audiences celebrate ‘Hidden Figures,’ the story of black women who overcame legally sanctioned discrimination to perform critical calculations in the race to put a man on the moon, educators say that new, subtler obstacles to higher-level math education have arisen. These have had an outsize influence on racial prejudice, they contend, because...

Independents and the value of political talk

Talking politics with family and friends who don’t agree with us is always a dicey proposition. Taking a chance that a nice family meal or vacation with friends might be ruined with a heated exchange understandably keeps many of us from wading into those waters. To be sure, some anecdotal reports of familial ruptures owing to the recent presidential election and its aftermath underscore the...
Charles Krauthammer: The case of the cover-up in search of a crime

Charles Krauthammer: The case of the cover-up in search of a crime

It’s a Watergate-era cliche that the cover-up is always worse than the crime. In the Mike Flynn affair, we have the first recorded instance of a cover-up in the absence of a crime. Being covered up were the Dec. 29 phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador to Washington. The presumed violation was Flynn negotiating with a foreign adversary while the Obama administration was still...
Gail Collins: Well, Trump watchers, things could be worse

Gail Collins: Well, Trump watchers, things could be worse

I know a lot of you were saying in December that this administration wouldn’t last a month. But I’ll bet you didn’t actually have “worry about collapse of the government” written down on your schedule for February. Americans who went into a state of shock after the election are now floating in new, hitherto-uncharted realms of worry. We’ve learned that Donald Trump&rsquo...

On keeping cursive

Ohio is considering requiring students to learn cursive before it disappears altogether. Your thoughts: From Carolyn Reams Smith: “Cursive writing is an instrument of thinking — one that has few distractions. Once a student has cursive skill, that great trio — the pen, the hand, and the page—activates the brain and offers opportunities for storytelling, organizing, self-reflecting...

Bringing sense, education to the drug war

Have you ever heard of someone constantly doing something the wrong way with the expectation of eventually getting different results? That philosophy seems to be practiced by the authorities in charge of the 40-year “war on drugs.” After wasting $1 trillion on a failed zero-tolerance agenda, the powers that be have created the largest incarcerated population in the world. The U.S. has...

Is the Left playing with fire again?

To those who lived through that era that tore us apart in the ’60s and ’70s, it is starting to look like “deja vu all over again.” And as Adlai Stevenson, Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey did then, Democrats today like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are pandering to the hell-raisers, hoping to ride their energy to victory. Democrats would do well to recall what happened the...

Local leaders working to boost civics education

Alarm bells have been sounding for several years about the lack of effective civics education in the nation’s schools, and though Ohio is no exception it has spurred Buckeye action. One of the recent examples of national concern was last year when then-U.S. Secretary of Education John King called for strengthening civics in the K-12 social studies curriculum. This was just the latest of many...

Trump’s war on the courts, the press and the states

With congressional Republicans in the majority in Congress and unwilling to cross Donald Trump, the job of containing Trump’s incipient tyranny falls to the three remaining centers of independent power: the nation’s courts, its press and a few state governments. Which is why Trump is escalating attacks on all three, seeking to erode public confidence in them. After federal Judge James...

Husbands are deadlier than terrorists

With the President Donald Trump Reality Show, it’s easy to be distracted by ANGRY ALL-CAPITAL TWEETS or Oval Office tantrums. But resist, and stay focused on matters of life and death. Consider two critical issues: refugees and guns. Trump is going berserk over the former, but wants to ease rules on the latter. So let’s look at the relative risks. In the four decades between 1975 and 2015...

Fighting for cursive

Time to come to cursive’s rescue? Much has been written about the not-so-gradual demise of handwriting in our fast-rushing, constantly typing digital age. It may soon disappear. Now, the state of Ohio may try to do something about it. Our statehouse reporter, Laura A. Bischoff, writes: “Some Ohio lawmakers want elementary school student to be able to print letters by third grade and write...

Finding the right fit

From the New York Times, a few tips on how to hire the right person: “1. Be creative. Every candidate will be prepared for commonplace interview questions. Find new ways to truly understand how a person thinks. 2.Be challenging. Put the candidate in situations where they are more likely to show their true selves. 3. Allow your employees to help. You are not the only person who is going to have...

A bipartisan look at child care aid

With Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress, many expect major tax reform to pass this year. One provision almost certain to be included is child care assistance for working families. Not only did President Trump make it a focus of his social agenda on the campaign trail, but child care assistance is often viewed as a bridge issue between conservatives and progressives — conservatives...

Chicago still eager to hear from you, Mr. Trump

As one who loves Chicago, I hope President Donald Trump is not toying with my affections. So far, the native New Yorker had been treating Chicago like the weather; he can’t stop talking about it, but is there really much he can do about it? He’s been talking about Chicago’s violence epidemic since a June 29, 2015 meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, which he addressed...

GOP, Trump shouldn’t pour money into black colleges

The topic of historically black colleges and universities came up in the recent “listening session” at the White House with President Trump and his internal team of black leaders, as part of Black History Month. Reportedly, this piqued the president’s interest, with presidential aide Omarosa Manigault announcing to the media that she is working on an executive order to help the HBCUs...

Get ready for the inevitable fire

What will you do when terrorists attack, or U.S. friction with some foreign power turns into a military confrontation? I don’t mean in your personal life, where you should keep calm and carry on. I mean politically. Think about it carefully: The fate of the republic may depend on your answer. Of course, nobody knows whether there will be a shocking, 9/11-type event, or what form it might take...

Another kind of resistance in Illinois

There is no way to prove this, but see if you agree with me: The average American parent would be glad to see his public high school celebrate Martin Luther King Day with tributes to the Civil Rights movement, lectures on the history of slavery and Jim Crow and discussions of the challenges faced by blacks and other minorities in America today. Actually, it’s not really a guess, because curricula...

‘I am not your negro’ a work of brilliance

Death has this way of making truth-tellers seem harmless. Alive, Martin Luther King provoked a president and divided a nation with his truth. Dead, he is an image on a commemorative place mat, his words safe enough for recitation by children. This also holds, albeit to a lesser degree, for Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. Dead, they were no longer dangerous. “We took out all the radicality of their...

The North Korean red line

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Cold War was waged and won in many places, including this beach city, home to the RAND Corp. Created in 1948 to think about research and development as it effects military planning and procurement, RAND pioneered strategic thinking about nuclear weapons in the context of the U.S.-Soviet competition. Seven decades later it is thinking about the nuclear threat from a...

Charles Krauthammer: The travel moratorium is a hopeless disaster

Stupid but legal. Such is the Trump administration’s travel ban for people from seven Muslim countries. Of course, as with almost everything in American life, what should be a policy or even a moral issue becomes a legal one. The judicial challenge should have been given short shrift, since the presidential grant of authority to exclude the entry of immigrants is extremely wide and statutorily...
Gail Collins: Elizabeth Warren persists

Gail Collins: Elizabeth Warren persists

It’s a dark and dismal time for American liberals. Except for the part where the opposition keeps shooting itself in the foot. We will now pause to contemplate the fact that this week the Senate Republicans attempted to forward their agenda by silencing Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts while she was reading a letter from Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow. In explanation, Majority Leader...

Steve Bannon vs. Pope Francis?

Steve Bannon disrupted American politics and helped elect Donald Trump as president. Will he disrupt the Roman Catholic Church by joining forces with right-wing Catholics who oppose Pope Francis? Bannon’s dark vision contrasts sharply with the sunny disposition of a pope who has chided “sourpusses” and “querulous and disillusioned pessimists.” Bannon believes that &ldquo...

Moral supremacy and Mr. Putin

Is Donald Trump to be allowed to craft a foreign policy based on the ideas on which he ran and won the presidency in 2016? Our foreign policy elite’s answer appears to be a thunderous no. Case in point: U.S. relations with Russia. During the campaign Trump was clear. He would seek closer ties with Russia and cooperate with Vladimir Putin in smashing al-Qaida and ISIS terrorists in Syria, and...

Canada, leading the free world

OTTAWA — President Donald Trump’s harsh travel ban reflects a global pattern: All around the world, countries are slamming the doors shut. One great exception: Canada. It may now be the finest example of the values of the Statue of Liberty. This isn’t just because Canadian leaders are particularly enlightened, although there’s some of that. It’s mostly because the Canadian...

Mercy for the ‘Dreamers’ must be tempered by justice

In 2012, President Obama signed an executive order to protect those who arrived illegally to the United States as minors. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals provides a two-year window to shield these people from deportation and allow them to work. They must have been under 16 when they arrived, be in school or have completed school, and have no criminal record. The order produced consternation...

Out of control, and it keeps getting worse

For the past couple of months, thoughtful people have been quietly worrying that the Trump administration might get us into a foreign policy crisis, maybe even a war. Partly this worry reflected Donald Trump’s addiction to bombast and swagger, which plays fine in Breitbart and on Fox News but doesn’t go down well with foreign governments. But it also reflected a cold view of the incentives...

Where Justice Scalia was wrong

WASHINGTON — With an asperity born of exasperation, Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote, “If you want aspirations, you can read the Declaration of Independence,” but “there is no such philosophizing in our Constitution,” which is “a practical and pragmatic charter of government.” Scalia was wrong, and much depends on Neil Gorsuch not resembling Scalia in this...

Trump’s travel ban is a national embarrassment

I have never been more embarrassed for this country. Under the rubric of protecting Americans from terrorism, the Trump regime last week banned travel into the United States by people from seven majority-Muslim nations. And never mind that experts, including the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, say the combined U.S. death toll in terrorist attacks from citizens of those nations is zero since...
Gail Collins: Meet Neil Gorsuch — the presidential pet

Gail Collins: Meet Neil Gorsuch — the presidential pet

The world was a-swoon over Donald Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court. And the way Trump announced it. “How normal!” enthused a CNN commentator. Yes! Trump managed to introduce Judge Neil Gorsuch to an audience of supporters without bragging about the size of the crowd. Gorsuch is what they call an originalist: a judicial breed that cynics define as people who believe that if...
Charles Krauthammer: Thank God for Harry Reid

Charles Krauthammer: Thank God for Harry Reid

There are many people to thank for the coming accession of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump for winning the election. Hillary Clinton for losing it. Mitch McConnell for holding open the high court seat through 2016, resolute and immovable against furious — and hypocritical — opposition from Democrats and media. And, of course, Harry Reid. God bless Harry Reid. It’s...

Republicans have struck a devil’s deal

Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don’t particularly admire him as a man, they don’t trust him as an administrator, they don’t agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he’ll sign their legislation and they certainly don’t want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives...

Basking in the GOP’s Supreme hypocrisy

You want bipartisanship on Supreme Court nominations? Let’s have a consensual moment around Sen. Ted Cruz’s idea that having only eight Supreme Court justices is just fine. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” the Texas Republican said last year when GOP senators were refusing even to give a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland...

Trump handles his first firestorm of presidency

That hysterical reaction to the travel ban announced Friday is a portent of what is to come if President Donald Trump carries out the mandate given to him by those who elected him. The travel ban bars refugees for 120 days. From Syria, refugees are banned indefinitely. And a 90-day ban has been imposed on travel here from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Was that weekend-long primal...

President Trump, meet my family

This newspaper has periodically, to its shame, succumbed to the kind of xenophobic fearmongering that President Donald Trump is now trying to make American policy. In 1941, The Times cautioned in a front-page article that European Jews desperately seeking American visas might be Nazi spies. In 1942, as Japanese-Americans were being interned, The Times cheerfully suggested that the detainees were happily...

Some marchers have long been walking for life and our future

I wonder why when hundreds of thousands of women show up in Washington to demonstrate for what one Wall Street Journal columnist called “everything under the progressive sun,” the press goes bonkers with coverage. Yet, when similar numbers of pro-lifers reportedly show up for the March for Life, as they have been doing every January since the Roe v. Wade decision in January 1973, , they...

Mona Charen: Fences and neighbors

There is much to cheer about President Trump’s first decisions as president. Conservatives are almost certainly going to love his Supreme Court pick, his stepped-up efforts to deport criminal aliens, the approval of two oil pipelines stubbornly blocked by the previous administration and more. Trump remains a potential time bomb, however, both because of his genuine, anti-trade beliefs and because...

Trump’s trade policies will make the Rust Belt rustier

Donald Trump will break most of his campaign promises. Which promises will he keep? The answer, I suspect, has more to do with psychology than it does with strategy. Mr. Trump is much more enthusiastic about punishing people than he is about helping them. He appears serious about his eagerness to reverse America’s 80-year-long commitment to expanding world trade. On Thursday the White House...

An excess of intellectual emptiness

WASHINGTON — In 2013, a college student assigned to research a deadly substance sought help via Twitter: “I can’t find the chemical and physical properties of sarin gas someone please help me.” An expert at a security consulting firm tried to be helpful, telling her that sarin is not gas. She replied, “yes the (expletive) it is a gas you ignorant (expletive). sarin is...

Trump’s ‘running war’ is with the truth

This president lies. Granted, every president tells the occasional politically expedient untruth. But this guy is different. He lies constantly. He lies about relatively unimportant things. He lies when the truth can be easily verified. None of this comes as a surprise, of course. It’s been obvious since long before Donald Trump took the oath of office on Friday. Still, it is disheartening to...
Krauthammer: Trump’s foreign policy revolution

Krauthammer: Trump’s foreign policy revolution

The flurry of bold executive orders and of highly provocative Cabinet nominations — such as a secretary of education who actually believes in school choice — has been encouraging to conservative skeptics of Donald Trump. But it shouldn’t erase the troubling memory of one major element of Trump’s inaugural address. The foreign policy section has received far less attention than...
Gail Collins: Pence pulls Trump’s strings

Gail Collins: Pence pulls Trump’s strings

Do you think Donald Trump is just Mike Pence’s puppet? Interesting idea, right? Particularly since the very idea would make our new president totally nuts. Hehehehe. And it’s possible. Trump is not a man who concentrates on policy issues. So far, the parts of the job that have obsessed him most are crowd size and vote size. And yeah, the wall. But there has to be somebody behind the scenes...

Trump: America for the Americans!

As the patriotic pageantry of Inauguration Day gave way to the demonstrations of defiance Saturday, our new America came into view. We are two nations now, two peoples. Though bracing, President Trump’s inaugural address was rooted in cold truths, as he dispensed with the customary idealism of inaugurals that are forgotten within a fortnight of the president being sworn in. Trump’s inaugural...

In search of the truth about Trumpism

Is Trumpism a scam? And if so, who is Donald Trump scamming? Or is the country confronting something even more troubling: a president unhinged from any realities that get in the way of his impulses, unmoored from any driving philosophy, and willing to make everything up as he goes along, including “alternative facts”? Of course, there’s another possibility: that there’s a method...

Marches won’t be enough to stop Trump

The women’s marches were an important cultural moment. Most everybody came back uplifted and empowered. But these marches can never be an effective opposition to Donald Trump. In the first place, this movement focuses on the wrong issues. Of course, many marchers came with broad anti-Trump agendas, but they were marching under the conventional structure in which the central issues were clear...

Why 2017 may be the very best year ever

There’s a broad consensus that the world is falling apart, with every headline reminding us that life is getting worse. Except that it isn’t. In fact, by some important metrics, 2016 was the best year in the history of humanity. And 2017 will probably be better still. How can this be? I’m as appalled as anyone by the election of Donald Trump, the bloodshed in Syria, and so on. But...

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...

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...

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...
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...

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

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) The National Governors Association voted him “Least Likely...
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

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 of the Arab American Institute and a longtime member of the Democratic National Committee, discussing...

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...
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