National Columnist

The media, the mob and the desire for the rule of law

August 21, 2014

Those of us who admit that we were not there, and do not know what happened when Michael Brown was shot by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, seem to be in the minority. We all know what has happened since then — and it has been a complete disgrace by politicians, the media and mobs Read More

Political scandals hiding in plain sight

August 20, 2014

The laboratories of democracy are blowing up. A rash of relatively convoluted, thoroughly unsexy political scandals involving governors is moving through the country. So many of them involve Republican presidential hopefuls that conspiracy theorists could argue they must be manufactured, or at least overhyped, by wily Democratic strategists. At least one Democratic governor has also Read More

Random thoughts on our justice system, world events

August 19, 2014

Random thoughts on the passing scene: I don’t know why we are spending our hard-earned money paying taxes to support a criminal justice system, when issues of guilt and innocence are being determined on television — and even punishment is being meted out by CNN’s showing the home and address of the policeman accused in Read More

In a stew over inversions

August 15, 2014

Barack Obama, presiding over an unusually dismal post-recession economy, might make matters worse with a distracting crusade against the minor and sensible business practice called “inversion,” more about which anon. So, consider his credentials as an economic thinker. Obama, who thinks ATMs and airport ticket kiosks cost America jobs, gave a 2013 speech regretting that Read More

Why Hillary got it right

“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” — Hillary Clinton, The Atlantic, Aug. 10   Leave it to Barack Obama’s own former secretary of state to acknowledge the fatal flaw of his foreign policy: a total absence of strategic thinking. Mind you, Obama does deploy grand words Read More

U.S. use of force in Iraq could backfire

August 14, 2014

This far into the human story, only the historically uninstructed are startled by what they think are new permutations of evil. So, when Russia sliced Crimea off Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry was nonplussed: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.” Read More

A’s for everyone

August 12, 2014

Grade deflation is dead. Long live grade inflation! Starting around the mid-20th century, a pandemic of meaninglessly high grades swept the nation. Steadily, the Gentleman’s C was replaced by the Gentleman’s B-pluses. Soon even B-pluses’s grew ungentlemanly, with more and more grades compressed into the narrow band spanning from A-minus to A-plus. College administrators and Read More

School supplies needed, says SA

Sign on front door of Colorado brewery: Unattended Children Will Be Given Candy and a Kitten. •••••• Recommended reading…… A few years ago, while in Las Vegas at a newspaper meeting with Susan and Ryann, we were strolling along the Shops at Caesar’s Palace and I spotted him: Pete Rose, the “Hit King” and baseball’s Read More

CIA shouldn’t get away with redacting torture report

August 8, 2014

If the CIA spends half as much energy finding terrorists as it has spent fighting Congress, we should feel very safe. The spooks, taking a break from the mundane work of protecting the nation, have lately been turning their spycraft against the lawmakers who are supposed to be overseeing them. The not-so-secret mission: To block Read More

Holes in the welfare hammock

“Some of my friends are destitute. Some of them are beggars / But, for me, there’s a subsidy if I spend my whole life preggers.” That was one of the more memorable rhymes in an off-Broadway show I saw a few months ago, titled “Greed: A Musical for Our Times.” The revue was primarily populated Read More

Obama hopes amnesty will save Democrats

President Obama is impatient. Congress won’t act on immigration, he says, and therefore he will. The White House is coy as to exactly what the president will do. But the leaks point to an executive order essentially legalizing an enormous new class of illegal immigrants, perhaps up to 5 million people. One doesn’t usually respond Read More

The reason for Watergate?

August 7, 2014

At about 5:15 p.m. on June 17, 1971, in the Oval Office, the president ordered a crime: “I want it implemented on a thievery basis. Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.” The burglary he demanded was not the one that would occur exactly one year later at Read More

Stop the campus rape numbers game

August 6, 2014

One in five? Yeah, right. Sounds way too high. That’s a common reaction to the oft-cited statistic about the share of women who experience an attempted or completed sexual assault during college. The number can’t possibly be right, the Doubting Thomases (or, less frequently, Doubting Thomasinas) argue. It’s based on a small sample of schools, Read More

Is thinking obsolete?

August 5, 2014

Some have said that we are living in a post-industrial era, while others have said that we are living in a post-racial era. But growing evidence suggests that we are living in a post-thinking era. Many people in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are staging angry protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza. One of Read More

Sherrod Brown — a progressive with punch

August 1, 2014

If Ohio’s senior senator were named Sharon Brown instead of Sherrod Brown, progressives would have a plausible political pin-up and a serious alternative to the tawdry boredom of Hillary Clinton’s joyless plod toward her party’s presidential nomination. Drop one of Brown’s consonants and change another, and a vowel, and we might be spared the infatuation Read More

An upending of reason in the House

After conservatives on Thursday brought down House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address the border crisis, the new House Republican leadership team issued a joint statement declaring that President Obama should fix the problem himself. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action,” the Read More

Kerry has legitimized Hamas’s criminality

John Kerry is upset by heavy criticism from Israelis — left, right and center — of his recent cease-fire diplomacy. But that’s only half the story. More significant is the consternation of America’s Arab partners, starting with the president of the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas was stunned that Kerry would fly off to Paris to Read More

Taking a middle course on foreign policy

July 31, 2014

With metronomic regularity, there is a choreographed minuet of carnage. Israel is attacked. Israel defends itself. Perfunctory affirmations of Israel’s right of self-defense are quickly followed by accusations that Israel’s military measures are disproportionate. Then come demands for a cease-fire, and the attackers replenish their arsenals. The accusations and demands are ascribed to something fictitious, Read More

Oregon’s Monica Wehby may make a house call on the Senate

July 29, 2014

“Are you kidding?” This is Monica Wehby’s amiable response to people who wonder whether she will be able to bear the pressures of office if she wins her race as a Republican Senate candidate. For 17 of her 52 years she has been a pediatric neurosurgeon, holding in steady hands sharp steel and the fate Read More

The vacant presidency

July 25, 2014

The president’s demeanor is worrying a lot of people. From the immigration crisis on the Mexican border to the Islamic State rising in Mesopotamia, Barack Obama seems totally detached from the world’s convulsions. When he does interrupt his endless rounds of golf, fundraising and photo ops, it’s for some affectless, mechanical, almost forced public statement. Read More

Limousine liberalism’s good works

July 24, 2014

Is it hypocritical for a really, really rich person to object to rising inequality? I’ve been thinking about this in light of the derision the Clintons are facing for charging six-figure speaking fees while pontificating about income polarization and the plight of the poor. Other high-income, high-net-worth figures have been similarly mocked for expressing concerns Read More

Barry Goldwater 2.0

Fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco, in the unfortunately named Cow Palace, the Republican National Convention gave its presidential nomination to Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who knew he would lose: Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months. Besides, his don’t-fence-me-in libertarian conservatism was ahead of its time. Read More

Elizabeth Warren for president?

July 23, 2014

It was one of those important-but-dull Senate hearings that don’t get broadcast even on C-SPAN 3. An obscure subcommittee was taking expert testimony on patient safety Thursday, and only four of its 14 members bothered to show up. Several of the public seats were empty, too. But Elizabeth Warren was in her element. The committee’s Read More

Bordering on madness

July 22, 2014

In a recent confrontation between protesters against the illegal flood of unaccompanied children into the United States and counter-protests by some Hispanic group, one man from the latter group said angrily, “We are as good as you are!” One of the things that make the history of clashes over race or ethnicity such a history Read More

Why women are far more likely to vote than men

July 18, 2014

In their denouncements of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have been accused of pandering to single women — the so-called “Beyoncé voter” demographic, as one Fox News commentator sniggered. But you know what? If you were running for office, you’d be wooing us single ladies, too. After all, we Read More

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