WASHINGTON -- Those who want to understand how Democrats manage to scare the hell out of vast sections of the country need look no further than the story of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and the Knights of Columbus.
In considering the confirmation of Brian Buescher to a federal judgeship last month, Harris and ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- What happens when immense bigotry gets lodged in a small mind? Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is what happens.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, King asked, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization -- how did that language become offensive?" It is a question that could only be posed by a bigot. And ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- So far: President Trump has announced a crisis that isn't actually a crisis, requiring a wall that is not really a wall, funded by Mexican pesos that are really American tax dollars, to keep out murderous migrants who are (as a whole) less violent than native-born Americans, leading to congressional negotiations that involve no ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- In the carnage of American civic culture, some of the damage is obvious: the dehumanization of political opponents, the devaluation of truth, the rise of conspiracy thinking. But other less evident shifts are no less troubling. One concerns the use of the word "authenticity."
Most recently, we have seen the defense of vulgarity as...Read more
WASHINGTON -- By all indications, the reluctant support by white evangelicals for Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton in 2016 has solidified into something like devotion.
In his analysis of the 2018 midterm-election results, political journalist Ron Brownstein found many groups plagued by second thoughts about their support of Trump. But not ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Republicans used to shut down the federal government with the intention (generally) of curbing public spending. Donald Trump's GOP, in contrast, shuts down the federal government with the goal of constructing a continent-long wall of dubious utility that will require (by one estimate) three times the concrete poured in building the...Read more
WASHINGTON -- On no real evidence but with absolute certainty, I would submit that the defining emotion of our time is anxiety.
Some anxiousness, of course, is natural to a species whose ancestors were hunted on the savannah. But now the economy seems to manufacture it. Rapid cultural change encourages it. The media amplifies and monetizes it. ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- As Mueller time approaches, it is likely that President Trump's defense will consist of two phrases: "But that is not illegal" and "But that is not impeachable."
It is a strategy that prevails by the lowering of standards. Because Trump did not plot election fraud directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin by Skype, and ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Cleveland has written the latest chapter in the unfolding scandal of the American criminal justice system.
A report by the U.S. Marshals Service details a series of failures and abuses in Cleveland's jails: Overcrowding. Frequent lockdowns to make up for understaffing. Food denied as punishment. Pregnant inmates sleeping on the ...Read more
FLORENCE -- A tourist in Florentine museums is like a skipping stone above unfathomable depths. Here a Botticelli. There a Donatello. A single room at the Uffizi that would reward a lifetime of study gets five hurried minutes before lunch.
I have no intention of performing art criticism without a license (a capital offense here in Italy). But a...Read more
FLORENCE, Italy -- It was here in 1614 that Tommaso Caccini preached a sermon in the church of Santa Maria Novella denouncing Galileo and other scientists who held the heretical view that the Earth circles the sun. This was one of the main triggers that brought Galileo to the attention of the Inquisition.
There are many monuments to Galileo in ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- They wander the halls of public buildings and haunt receptions like the ghosts of the GOP past -- the cohort of Republican senators and House members who will be leaving office with the arrival of the new Congress. Some chose retirement because they did not want to do what is necessary to keep office in Donald Trump's party. Others...Read more
WASHINGTON -- All the talk about the attributes of this or that generation is usually overblown. But there is an exception when a cohort of young Americans shares a massive, overwhelming experience of depression or war. A certain view of their country is often formed and fixed.
This can be said of John F. Kennedy, the commanding officer of PT-...Read more
WASHINGTON -- President Trump recently tweeted: "Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime?"
It is usually a bad idea to raise a rhetorical question when the answer is both obvious and unfavorable. In the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, there are at least three offenses that could lead to indictment or ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The new History Channel documentary on the Watergate scandal may not be great art, but it is timely as heck. It describes (and, unfortunately, re-enacts) the downward spiral of Richard Nixon's administration into paranoia, criminal conspiracy, self-delusion and ruin.
Ken Burns it is not. But the problem is not the actors; it is ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- One of the worst things about our awful political moment is its historical forgetfulness. Many Europeans seem to have forgotten where chauvinistic nationalism and the demonization of minorities can lead. Many Americans seem to have forgotten that a foreign policy of America First allowed international malignancies to grow that made...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Republicans who are thinking about opposing President Trump in the 2020 primaries are facing the hardest of political choices.
Toppling a sitting president of your own party is a maneuver with the highest degree of difficulty. The most relevant historical model is probably Eugene McCarthy's race against Lyndon Johnson in 1968, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Those of us who participated in the 2000 presidential election are getting political PTSD from the current gubernatorial and senatorial recounts in Florida. President George W. Bush was eventually declared winner in the Sunshine State (and thus the election) by 537 votes out of about 6 million cast. But for 35 long days of counting...Read more
WASHINGTON -- In the spirit of the political season, I want to claim credit for the most STUPENDOUS, INSIGHTFUL and POWERFUL political strategy since Pericles bound the DELIAN LEAGUE into an empire to resist THE PERSIANS. I urged voters to support reasonable Republican candidates in the Senate, and to vote for every Democrat in House races. And ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- In Donald Trump's closing argument of the midterm elections -- an attack on birthright citizenship -- he has again targeted the children of migrants.
I say "again" because it is something of a theme. There was the use of family separation as a punishment for illegal immigration -- effectively using the traumatization of children ...Read more