Politics, Moderate





It's Not About Trump, It's About His Voters

In Election 2016, Democrats seemed to assume that the unpopularity of Donald Trump would be enough to keep him out of the White House. It's true that most Americans viewed him unfavorably, but the same was also true of Hillary Clinton. Given such an unappealing choice, millions of voters decided that Trump was the lesser of two evils.

In a ...Read more

By all means, take issue with 'The Bell Curve.' But read it first.

CHICAGO -- When "The Bell Curve" by Charles A. Murray and Richard Herrnstein was published in 1994, I was a junior in college and didn't know anything about the book except that it had my white literature professors in an uproar. A few of them inveighed against the book's premise -- the very notion of intelligence as something people possess in ...Read more

The perils of over-lending

WASHINGTON -- Among the many things it does, the federal government is one of the nation's largest lenders. It lends to farmers, homeowners, students, small businesses, exporters and rural electric utilities, among others. Altogether, there are more than 100 loan programs administered by 20 agencies overseeing lending worth $3.4 trillion in ...Read more

Can words be lethal?

WASHINGTON -- Words matter, journalists are fond of saying.

This comes lately in the context of presidential tweets that conceivably could have serious repercussions. Otherwise, we seem conflicted about how much words should matter when used in a potentially consequential way among everyday people.

Political correctness, or ignorance, ...Read more

The play's not the thing

WASHINGTON -- The show must not go on.

So sayeth some of President Trump's most ardent fans, who spent the past week and a half attempting to shut down a production of "Julius Caesar" with a Trump-like character in the title role.

These Trumpkins -- part of a bloc known for mocking political correctness, safe spaces and undue efforts to avoid ...Read more

Googling has created a nation of faux experts

Politics, Moderate / Rex Huppke /

I decided to build a pond in the backyard.

That information is not, on its face, interesting to anyone but me and, perhaps, some frogs who live nearby. But I beg you to stick around, as this might eventually make sense.

First off, "pond" may be an overly generous term for what I'm building. It's more of a slightly-larger-than-a-bathtub body of...Read more

America's postindustrial blues

WASHINGTON -- Ever since Donald Trump's election, a cottage industry of politicians, journalists, scholars and commentators has sought to understand what motivates Trump supporters. Theories have ranged from globalization to a rebellion against Washington elitism to racism. But the true cause may have been overlooked: the "postindustrial ...Read more

Our new life in the dugout

WASHINGTON -- Kelley Paul had gone to bed Tuesday night as usual, with her cellphone set on "Do Not Disturb," except for family and close friends whose calls would always go through.

That's why, when Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul tried to reach his wife early Wednesday morning using a borrowed phone, the call went straight to voicemail. Paul had left...Read more

Kindergarten is the new first grade

CHICAGO -- Recently, I spent some time observing two math classes -- one kindergarten and one second-grade -- comprised of students who were performing on the low end of the spectrum relative to their peers.

The shocking part was not that many of the kindergarteners had difficulties with creating correct number sentences when provided with an ...Read more

Don't count on millennials to save the West

PARIS -- Will millennials save the West?

Many commentators seem confident that the answer is yes -- that young people's left-leaning values will be a moderating influence on their insular, xenophobic, right-wing parents. But this complacency may be misplaced.

Young people -- or at least a large swath of them -- do appear to be growing more ...Read more

When there's a family quarrel in the Middle East, 'let Rex handle it'

WASHINGTON -- The sudden embargo on Qatar pushed this month by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia has peeved the State Department and Pentagon, drawing sharp criticism of those two close Gulf allies.

The Qatar flap has also opened a fascinating window on the inner workings of the Trump administration's foreign policy. It's a rare ...Read more

Venmo Is forcing big banks to innovate

Back in the 1960s, banks were not allowed to operate in more than one state. In fact, many states didn't even allow branch banking, so there were lots of small local banks around the nation. Since then, of course, the rules have changed and the industry is dominated by a handful of very large national banks.

Despite public uneasiness about the ...Read more

Rather than heading to the silver screen, take a moment this summer to look inward

CHICAGO -- Last week, I packed my husband and two sons off to enjoy their much-anticipated viewing of the new superhero movie "Wonder Woman."

I used to partake in such outings to the summer action blockbuster, but by the time "Wonder Woman" came out, I was already sick and tired of being browbeaten by countless feminine-power "hot takes" and "...Read more

Trump's NAFTA delusion

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is determined to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- which created a single market from Mexico's southern border to the Yukon -- but the main political appeal of this policy rests on a popular myth: that "fair" trade requires the United States to have a surplus or balanced trade ...Read more

In his head, not ours

WASHINGTON -- In one of Walker Percy's brilliant novels, "The Second Coming," protagonist Will Barrett keeps falling down for no apparent reason. He also suffers trances during which he contemplates existential questions.

Barrett comes to mind in the era of Donald Trump.

I'm not falling down on the golf course yet, as Barrett did, but I ...Read more

Trump would be wise to ignore his friends and leave Mueller in place

WASHINGTON -- Forewarned is forearmed. So perhaps the country is lucky that President Trump's allies have floated the possibility that he might fire special counsel Robert Mueller. This speculation allows citizens to reflect on the consequences of such an action.

Trump has already taken the country to a darker place than even his sharpest ...Read more

Dad said when you're gone, you're gone. He was wrong.

Politics, Moderate / Rex Huppke /

My father was never what you'd call a people person.

He preferred being on his own, puttering around his workshop or relaxing in the recliner, pondering the world's mysteries and searching for ideas no one else had considered.

When I went home to visit, we would spend time together, but he would eventually drift off to be alone with his ...Read more

Trump isn't destiny

WASHINGTON -- It's time to take a brief break from Donald Trump. Whatever you think of him, there's no denying that he dominates the news cycle. We seem to assume that the nation's future depends on Trump's fate, for better or worse. The reality is otherwise: The nation's future also hangs on larger economic and social trends that no president ...Read more

Latinos tend to look on the sunny side, including about education

CHICAGO -- It is often said that Hispanics suffer from fatalism -- the belief that whatever happens to them is inevitable. But far less often acknowledged is that Latinos also tend to look on the sunny side of life.

Over the past decade, various national surveys have shown that U.S. Latinos have a positive view of their lives and the future, ...Read more

Macron attempts a feat that Trump wouldn't dare

PARIS -- The newly elected French president is attempting a feat that the newly elected American president wouldn't dare: leadership.

Emmanuel Macron, the youngest French head of state since Napoleon, has stolen many American hearts thanks to his moving defense of the Paris climate accord, gutsy news conference with Vladimir Putin and, of ...Read more

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