Ideas & Voices


Opinion: America’s unsustainable empire

Before President Trump trashes the Iran nuclear deal, he might consider: If he could negotiate an identical deal with Kim Jong Un, it would astonish the world and win him the Nobel Peace Prize. For Iran has no nuclear bomb or ICBM and has never tested either. It has cameras inside and inspectors crawling all over its nuclear facilities. And North Korea? It has atom bombs and has tested an H-bomb....

Opinion: Macron on Trumpism — Non!

WASHINGTON — The early story line about President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron focused on their “bromance” and Trump’s puerile claim to dominance when he brushed what he said was dandruff off Macron’s suit. But on the last day of his state visit on Wednesday, Macron showed he will not be trifled with. He used a speech to a joint session of Congress to engage...

COMMENTARY: Ohio voters get to weigh in on gerrymandering

There is little debate about whether Americans are dissatisfied with their government. The latest Gallup polling shows about six in 10 Americans disapprove of the job being done by the president we elected fewer than 18 months ago. And Congress fares worse: More than four of every five Americans disapprove of the job being done by their elected representatives. Congressional approval, in fact, has...

Opinion: The shameful silence of the CEOs

Congressional Republicans would be more willing to stand up to Donald Trump if their major financial backers — big business and Wall Street — had more backbone. Ever since 1971, when then-future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell urged corporations to mobilize politically, corporate money has flooded Washington — most of it into Republican coffers. Today, big corporations and Wall...

Opinion: U.S. not as intolerant as we make it out to be

I don’t normally watch the GLAAD Media Awards. Not that there’s anything wrong with them. GLAAD, by the way, originally stood for “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation” before the organization declared that GLAAD was its name and not an acronym. But I did see a video of Britney Spears’ acceptance of GLAAD’s Vanguard Award last week. “I feel like our society...

Opinion: Educational fraud continues

Earlier this month, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka The Nation’s Report Card, was released. It’s not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math...

Opinion: Remembering Barbara Bush, grieving mother

My mother and Barbara Bush were contemporaries. Despite coming from very different backgrounds — daughter of a Kansas farmer and daughter of a New York City businessman — they had a common experience, a very human link. It’s a sad connection that I suspect also has many a woman feeling fondly toward Bush, who died Tuesday at 92. Both women were born in the 1920s, an era with far...

Opinion: Paul Ryan is the ultimate party man

The mistake about Paul Ryan, the one that both friends and foes made over the years between his Obama-era ascent and his just-announced departure from the House speakership, was to imagine him as a potential protagonist for our politics, a lead actor in the drama of conservatism, a visionary or a villain poised to put his stamp upon the era. This Ryan-of-the-imagination existed among conservatives...

Opinion: Foes of renewable energy increase risk of climate catastrophe

Peter Thiel, Facebook investor and Donald Trump supporter, is by all accounts a terrible person. He did, however, come up with one classic line about the disappointments of modern technology: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” OK, now it’s 280, but who’s counting? The point of his quip was that while we’ve found ever more clever ways of pushing around...

Opinion: Trump’s Syria strike was meant to project strength

WASHINGTON — In 2013, after Syrian dictator Bashar Assad crossed President Obama’s red line and used chemical weapons on innocent civilians, a U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times that Obama’s retaliatory strike would likely be “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would elicit a response from Iran and Russia. In the end, Obama backed...

Opinion: Our gold-leaf presidency

Let’s talk for a minute about Mar-a-Lago. Donald Trump was there this week, hosting a get-together with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Important stuff to be discussed — North Korea, trade. The two men held a brief press conference on Tuesday, at which the president revealed: “Many of the world’s great leaders request to come to Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach. They like it;...

COMLMENTARY: Sadly, old-time Major-Leaguers getting short-changed

Given his success as a college head coach, a lot of people may have forgotten that former Wright State University Raiders head baseball coach Ron Nischwitz, who turns 81 in July, was once a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers. He is also one of 644 retirees who do not receive Major League Baseball pensions because of a change in the vesting requirements that occurred over the 1980...

Opinion: Trump — prisoner of the War Party?

“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay.” Thus boasted French President Emmanuel Macron Saturday, adding, “We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.” Is the U.S. indeed in the Syrian civil war “for the long term”? If so, who made that fateful...

Opinion: Nikki Haley’s SOS to the nation

WASHINGTON — “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” These eight words from Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will go down as among the most powerful indictments of the rancid governing culture President Trump has fostered. They may also shed light on one of the great mysteries of the moment: Why is it that Trump regularly backs off when it comes...

Opinion: ‘Little Pink House’ speaks truth to power

Coming soon to a cinema near you — you can make this happen; read on — is a bite-your-nails true-story thriller featuring heroes, villains and a history-making struggle over … the Constitution’s Takings Clause. Next Feb. 24, “Little Pink House” will win the Oscar for best picture if Hollywood’s political preening contains even a scintilla of sincerity about...

Opinion: What happened in Starbucks isn’t really about Starbucks

I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t boycott Starbucks. But I wouldn’t if I could. Yes, I understand — and share — the national anger over viral video of last week’s arrest of two African-American men at one of the company’s Philadelphia stores. The men, who have yet to be identified, were reportedly doing nothing more threatening than waiting quietly to be joined...

Opinion: While China picks winners, Trump picks losers

“It’s nonsense that there’s a beautiful free market in the power industry,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said recently as he pushed for a government bailout of coal-fired power plants. Republicans, who for years have voted against subsidies for solar and wind power, arguing that the “free market” should decide our energy future, are now eager to have government subsidize...

Opinion: Choosing animals over people

BAYANGA, Central African Republic — The cutest primates on earth may be Inguka and Inganda, gorilla toddler twins who playfully tumble over each other here in the vast Dzanga Sangha rain forest, one of the best places to see gorillas, antelopes and elephants play. The only risk: They are so heedless and unafraid of people that they may tumble almost into your lap — and then their 375-pound...

Opinion: More regulation would likely raise Facebook profits

Here’s a bet: Congress will end up “cracking down” on Facebook with “tough” regulations that Facebook will probably protest quite vigorously. And then Facebook profits will go up. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, withstood two days of questioning in Congress this week. You could tell Zuckerberg took it very seriously, not least because he shed his traditional...

Opinion: Ryan’s hopes, dashed by the age of Trump

Although he leans about as far to the right as I do to the left in political beliefs, I’ve always had a soft spot for Paul Ryan. Our common ground was the late, great Jack Kemp, the pro football quarterback-turned-congressman who, until his death from cancer in 2009, mentored Ryan and other bright young think-tank conservatives of the Ronald Reagan era. Kemp was a leading although sometimes...

Opinion: A mayor’s most important job

When World War II ended, Washington D.C.’s population was about 900,000; today it’s about 700,000. In 1950, Baltimore’s population was almost 950,000; today it’s around 614,000. Detroit’s 1950 population was close to 1.85 million; today it’s down to 673,000. Camden, New Jersey’s 1950 population was nearly 125,000. A similar story of population decline can...

Opinion: Testimony reveals truths about sex assault victims

By now, anyone with a prurient taste for political scandal has read the investigative report engulfing Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. It’s 24 pages of testimony describing a series of sexual assaults Greitens allegedly committed before he became governor — a far cry from the “affair” the married governor has admitted to. The report was released Wednesday by a special investigative...

Opinion: Don’t rush to impeach Trump

A few days ago, which is to say an eternity in our Trump-dilated time, there was a story on NPR about anxious evangelicals’ seeking a meeting with the president. The subject of their agita, not entirely surprisingly, was the Stormy Daniels affair, in which the president’s lawyer-fixer, Michael Cohen, appears to have averted a possible October surprise by buying the silence of a porn star...

Opinion: The meaning of Ryan’s departure

I’ve always felt a kinship with Paul Ryan. Maybe it’s the fact that we are both Jack Kemp acolytes. Maybe I have a soft spot for upright family men who are attracted to public policy by the desire to do good. Maybe I love conservative wonks. But Paul Ryan’s fate over the past several years is as good an indication as any of how far our politics have fallen. Ryan’s departure...

Opinion: Obamacare’s very stable genius

Front pages continue, understandably, to be dominated by the roughly 130,000 scandals currently afflicting the Trump administration. But polls suggest that the reek of corruption, intense as it is, isn’t likely to dominate the midterm elections. The biggest issue on voters’ minds appears, instead, to be health care. If Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress, we can safely...

OPINION: ‘I’m sorry for the Facebook unpleasantness. Well, kinda, sorta’

Rejected first draft of Mark Zuckerberg’s belated apology for the mass data invasion that affected at least 50 million Facebook users: To all devoted members of the worldwide Facebook family, I want to say how sorry I am that some of your personal information got mined, tracked and re-deployed by Cambridge Analytica (and God knows who else) during the last U.S. election cycle. Most CEOs would...

OPINION: Republicans and Democrats just did something big together

Washington seems to be in the grip of hyperpartisan gridlock these days. Important bills are passed on party-line votes (when they are passed at all) and the investigative committees of Congress appear to be sideshows, unable to agree on basic facts. Many Americans despair that Republicans and Democrats seem incapable of coming together to do anything important. Take heart — the two parties...

Opinion: How should America respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons?

On April 22, 1915, chlorine gas, wafted by favorable breezes, drifted from German lines toward enemy positions held by French troops near Ypres, Belgium. This was the first significant use of chemical weapons in a war in which 100,000 tons of chemical agents would be used by both sides to kill almost 30,000 soldiers and injure 500,000. The injured would include a German corporal whose voice, bearing...

Opinion: Shaun King might be controversial, but he’s no terrorist

Shaun King is a controversial guy. As an activist and journalist, he’s been prominent in the Black Lives Matter movement, defended the Palestinians and attacked the Republican Party. On Monday, apparently as a result of his politics, King was briefly detained at JFK Airport by an agent of U.S. Customs and Border Protection while returning home from Egypt. In a series of tweets and a telephone...

Opinion: How to win an argument about guns

Tragically, predictably, infuriatingly, we’re again mourning a shooting — this time at YouTube’s headquarters — even as the drive for gun safety legislation has stalled in Washington. Polls show that nine out of 10 Americans favor basic steps like universal background checks before gun purchases, but the exceptions are the president and a majority in Congress. Usually pundits...

Opinion: The dangers of an untethered Trump

The petulant adolescent in the White House — who has replaced most of the adults around him with raging sycophants and has demoted his chief of staff, John Kelly, to lapdog — lacks adequate supervision. Before, he was merely petty and vindictive. He’d tweet nasty things about people he wanted to humiliate. Now his vindictiveness has turned cruel. After smearing FBI Deputy Director...

Opinion: King belongs to the ages — and to every American

One of the best things about the passage of historical time is how the partisanship of a given moment melts away. If you’ve seen the musical “Hamilton” (or paid attention in civics class) you’d know that long before George Washington left office, the Founding Fathers were bitterly divided into rival partisan camps, now largely forgotten. There are many reasons why time wears...

Opinion: Black political power means zilch

It’s often thought to be beyond question that black political power is necessary for economic power and enhanced socio-economic welfare. That’s an idea that lends itself to testing and analysis. Between 1970 and 2012, the number of black elected officials rose from fewer than 1,500 to more than 10,000. Plus, a black man was elected to the presidency twice. Jason Riley, a fellow at the...

COMMENTARY: Arming teachers is smart, safe, necessary

Re: Lance Salyers’ April 1 guest column, “We need a debate before we arm teachers.” It was well written and thought-provoking. In Ohio, the time for debate was over five years ago. That is when the FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) was born. Since then, this program has trained more than 1,300 school staff from 225 school districts across 12 states...

PERSPECTIVE: The tornado warning that brought a small parenting lesson

Lately it’s becoming increasingly difficult to drop my kids off at school without saying a quick prayer that they’ll be safe all day and the staff will protect and love them as if my children were their own children. I realize that’s a tall order to ask of teachers who already have enough on their plates, but let’s be honest — every parent wants that. What choice do we...

Opinion: When $63M doesn’t buy working toilets

When 450 students arrived at Anacostia High School in the District of Columbia’s southeast neighborhood on April 4, they found that few of the sinks or toilets were functioning and the cafeteria was flooded. They were advised by the Department of General Services to use the facilities at a middle school two blocks away until repairs could be completed. Exasperated teachers organized an impromptu...

Opinion: Boomers keep tight grip on American culture

The remarkable ratings success of the rebooted “Roseanne,” a show that last aired when I was 17 years old but commanded a larger audience in its return than any sitcom now on network television, has unleashed a thousand takes about the show’s political significance. Who’s going to win “Roseanne” voters in 2018? Can Hollywood entertain Trump country without betraying...

Opinion: What’s the matter with Trumpland?

These days almost everyone has the (justified) sense that America is coming apart at the seams. But this isn’t a new story, or just about politics. Things have been falling apart on multiple fronts since the 1970s: Political polarization has marched side by side with economic polarization, as income inequality has soared. And both political and economic polarization have a strong geographic...

COMMENTARY: In Ohio, it’s the lobbies that are beating local rule

Regulation of assault weapons isn’t the only home-rule power that the General Assembly yanked from Ohio’s cities and villages. Earlier, in 2004, the legislature denied Ohio’s 900-plus cities and villages any authority over the “permitting, location, and spacing of oil and gas wells.” You don’t want someone fracking in your neighborhood? Don’t waste your breath...

Opinion: Have you been paying attention?

April is here, an excellent reminder that the country is now a quarter of the way through the second year of the Donald Trump presidency. Hang in there, people! To see if you’ve been paying attention, here’s a quiz. 1. To start off the new year, Trump boasted that compared with North Korea’s leader, he had … A. “Much smarter” foreign policy advisers. B. A &ldquo...

Opinion: Trump tried going big on DACA

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s tweet promising “NO MORE DACA DEAL” was an Easter gift to Democrats, letting them off the hook for their failure to seriously negotiate an immigration agreement. Rather than pulling the plug on any Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals talks, Trump should offer Democrats a simple deal: He would agree to codification of President Barack Obama&rsquo...

Opinion: What striking teachers teach us

WASHINGTON — To “reading, writing and arithmetic,” we can now add “solidarity.” The new teacher activism — born in West Virginia and spreading to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona — is not a flash in the pan. And it’s about more than the demand for higher wages and benefits. It is a revolt against decades of policies that gutted public institutions. More...

Opinion: How Trump’s presidency will be judged

On many issues — naming Scalia-like judges and backing Reagan-like tax cuts — President Trump is a conventional Republican. Where he was exceptional in 2016, where he stood out starkly from his GOP rivals, where he won decisive states like Pennsylvania, was on his uniquely Trumpian agenda to put America and Americans first — from which the Bush Republicans recoiled. Trump alone pledged...

Opinion: Government gets larcenous with civil forfeiture

After two years of stonewalling about its theft of Gerardo Serrano’s 2014 Ford F-250 pickup truck, the government suddenly returned it. It sparkled from having been washed and detailed, and it had four new tires and a new battery. The government probably hoped that, mollified by the truck’s sprucing-up, Serrano would let bygones be bygones and go back to Kentucky. This was another mistake...

Opinion: Racism killed King and now waters down his legacy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Martin Luther King’s men had a different question. At least, according to his aide, Andrew Young, they did. When the first reports went out that King had been gunned down while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in this city, America and the world demanded to know one thing: Who did it? Who was the sniper who shot him from a flophouse window? Who killed Martin...

Opinion: Putin leads world charge toward authoritarianism

Who is the most influential human being on the planet? My vote goes to Vladimir Putin. Putin has established himself as one pole in the great global debate of the era: the debate between authoritarianism and democracy. He has a coherent strategy to promote his authoritarian side of that debate. He’s able to humiliate and disrupt his democratic rivals at will and get away with it. He’s...

Opinion: Dollars for decency

Last week, Laura Ingraham, Fox News’ queen of snark, tweeted that David Hogg — a 17-year-old who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and has been among the eloquent advocates for gun control — “whines about” being rejected by four universities to which he applied. She linked to an article from the Daily Wire calling him a “gun rights provocateur.&rdquo...

Opinion: These kids could tutor world leaders

NDONGA, Central African Republic — This remote village doesn’t have an official school, and there’s no functioning government to build one. So the villagers, desperate to improve their children’s lives, used branches and leaves to construct their own dirt-floor schoolhouse. It has no electricity, windows or desks, and it doesn’t keep out rain or beetles, but it does imbue...

Opinion: Myths destroyed in ‘Discrimination and Disparities’

I don’t mind saying that this column represents a grossly understated review of “Discrimination and Disparities,” just published by my longtime friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell. In less than 200 pages, Sowell lays waste to myth after myth not only in the United States but around the globe. One of those myths is that but for the fact of discrimination, we’d all be proportionately...

Opinion: The racial soul of America

Some days the White House, in one brief statement, reminds us just how far we’ve drifted. How much the presidency has changed from the days when comments on race were laced with insight and historical context and infused with a knowledge gained from life experienced as a black man in America; President Barack Obama’s experience. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered...

Opinion: Hawk takes flight in Trump’s inner circle

Now that John Bolton has finally ascended from the limbo of the green room to the Valhalla of the White House, we need to settle the first question of his tenure: Is he a “neocon” or a “paleocon”? I have seen both terms used to describe Donald Trump’s new national security adviser. But they’re both misdescriptions, and explaining why is a useful way of putting Trump&rsquo...

Opinion: This is what you call a conservative budget?

Donald Trump woke up on Friday, March 23, and realized that a deficit-ballooning $1.3 trillion “omnibus” spending bill was awaiting his signature. The law increases defense spending but otherwise completely fulfills the spending priorities of the Democratic minority. Some have even said that the omnibus was “Barack Obama’s budget.” Suddenly distressed by the “crazy&rdquo...

Opinion: Putting the ex-con in conservatism

In 2010, an explosion at a coal mine operated by Massey Energy killed 29 men. In 2015 Don Blankenship, the company’s former CEO, was sent to prison for conspiring to violate mine safety standards. In 2018, Blankenship appears to have a real chance at becoming the Republican candidate for senator from West Virginia. Blankenship is one of four Republicans with criminal convictions running for...

Opinion: A season-opening quiz for baseball fans

“There’ll be two buses leaving the hotel for the park tomorrow. The 2 o’clock bus will be for those of you who need a little extra work. The empty bus will leave at 5 o’clock.” — Dave Bristol, Milwaukee Brewers manager, 1972 Everyone needs extra work to prepare for the season. So, name the player or players who: 1) Is the fourth (the others are Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron...

Opinion: Balancing gun rights with common-sense restrictions

So there you are, cowering under your desk. From the hallway, you hear the pop! pop! pop! of gunfire, along with the shrieks of the terrified and moans of the dying. The good guy with a gun? Maybe he’s crouched outside the building. Maybe he’s dead in the break room. Whichever, he’s not there. And now, horribly, the doorknob to your classroom begins to turn. What do you do? You throw...

Opinion: It’s not the job of Cabinet officials to be ‘check’ on president

WASHINGTON — In the wake of President Trump’s decision to appoint John Bolton as his national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, a consistent criticism has emerged: Trump will no longer have any “adult” supervision in the national security decision-making process or any Cabinet-level “checks” on his own worst instincts. This view is not only...

Opinion: Trump’s visitor from outer space

Which would you rather have, a Donald Trump Wall or a Donald Trump Military Parade? No fair saying neither. Trump’s been pushing hard for both, and sooner or later the man has to win something. So if you had to choose, which way would you go? I’ll give you an advance hint of how it’s working out: The wall option is toast. Congress passed its big spending package last week, and the...

Opinion: Is Trump assembling a war cabinet?

The last man standing between the U.S. and war with Iran may be a four-star general affectionately known to his Marines as “Mad Dog.” Gen. James Mattis, the secretary of defense, appears to be the last man in the Situation Room who believes the Iran nuclear deal may be worth preserving and that war with Iran is a dreadful idea. Yet, other than Mattis, President Donald Trump seems to be...

Opinion: Our big political cheating scandals

WASHINGTON — Cheating isn’t winning. We try to teach this to our children, but politics provides the opposite lesson. Political cheating allows those who engage in it to amass far more power than they have a right to in a constitutional democracy. Its most sophisticated form isn’t ballot-box stuffing but the use of indirect means by those in authority to perpetuate themselves in...

Opinion: I’m worried now, as before the Iraq War

“We will be greeted as liberators” upon invading Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney counseled in 2003 on the eve of the war. He had already relayed a prediction that the streets in Basra and Baghdad are “sure to erupt in joy.” President George W. Bush declared that there was “no doubt” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said...

Opinion: How ignorant we are

Here’s a question for you: In 1950, would it have been possible for anyone to know all of the goods and services that we would have at our disposal 50 years later? For example, who would have thought that we’d have cellphones, Bluetooth technology, small powerful computers, LASIK and airplanes with 525-passenger seating capacity? This list could be extended to include thousands of goods...

Opinion: When justice becomes vengeance

“Sometimes I just feel like I’m leaking grief from my pores.” The comment, a poetic admittance of emotional exhaustion, came as Cheryl Pilate awaited a phone call from the U.S. Supreme Court on March 20. The call would either spare the life of her client, a death row inmate, or it would not. She knew the wait well — this wasn’t her first execution. The clock hit 5:35...

Opinion: A hawk takes flight in John Bolton

Now that John Bolton has finally ascended from the limbo of the green room to the Valhalla of the White House, we need to settle the first question of his tenure: Is he a “neocon” or a “paleocon”? I have seen both terms used, the former more promiscuously, to describe Donald Trump’s new national security adviser. But they’re both misdescriptions, and explaining...

Opinion: A little too much reality in the show?

Watching the parade of porn stars, reality TV contestants and former Playboy models lining up to lambaste the president of the United States, as well as the daily trove of stories of wife beating, naked nepotism, gambling and official corruption among his Cabinet members and White House staff, I was reminded of a story Bill Buckley once told. He had been nominated by the Nixon administration to serve...

Opinion: Trump and his team in thrall to zombie ideas

Almost four decades have passed since Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously declared, “Of a sudden, the GOP has become a party of ideas.” And his statement still holds true, with one modification: These days, Republicans are a party of zombie ideas — ideas that should have died long ago, yet still keep shambling along, eating politicians’ brains. The most important of these zombies...

Opinion: Parkland kids are rewriting the playbook

Something came awake in them. That has to be the explanation. As they cowered in closets, as they said goodbyes and waited, with gunfire echoing down the halls, to die, something inside stirred itself. And when they didn’t die, when these teenagers left the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland alive — something 17 of their classmates and teachers did not do — this...
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