Politics, Moderate





Trump Proving Politicians Not As Important As They Think They Are

Shortly after World War II, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to assume responsibility for managing the economy. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy claimed that government stewardship was responsible for the post-War economic boom. In those heady days, there was even talk about how economists had learned to fine-tune the ...Read more

A painful read wrapped in irresistible charms

CHICAGO -- Ta-Nehisi Coates' new book, "We Were Eight Years in Power," focuses on the complexity of the maxim every immigrant and minority has had ground into him or her: You have to be twice as good as white people to get a fair shot in this country. By Coates' reckoning, it's a false promise.

"The argument made in much of this book is that ...Read more

North Korea's cyber army

WASHINGTON -- It turns out that North Korea isn't just a nuclear threat. It's also a cyberthreat, and in some ways, this may be more frightening. Launched largely anonymously, cyberattacks can cripple essential infrastructure -- power grids, financial networks, transportation systems -- and inflict social disorder and political anarchy. ...Read more

How might Trump's Asian hosts sketch his personality profile?

WASHINGTON -- As President Trump prepares to head to Asia next month for his most important overseas trip yet, foreign intelligence services are undoubtedly trying to assemble personality profiles to explain this unconventional, risk-taking, domineering president to the leaders he will meet.

How will they describe Trump? Probably not with the ...Read more

#MeToo: Tipping point, or outrage du jour?

WASHINGTON -- Depending upon one's distance from all things Twitter, recent revelations of sexual harassment in Hollywood are either the tipping point we've been waiting for -- or just another shark attack until the next one.

If you're former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose book, "Be Fierce," was released just as Harvey Weinstein was ...Read more

Trump's tax proposal won't actually help the middle class. Here's what would.

President Trump campaigned on helping the little guy. His latest tax proposal, he says, is about helping the middle guy.

"It's a middle-class bill," Trump promised an audience of truckers last week.

Other administration officials and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have also claimed that their primary objective in reconfiguring the tax code ...Read more

A series of unfortunate consequences for Kurdistan in Kirkuk

WASHINGTON -- In this week's crisis over Kirkuk, Iraqi Kurds are experiencing a painful version of Newton's Third Law: In Middle East politics, as in physics, every action creates an equal and opposite reaction.

The initial action was Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani's decision to push ahead last month with a controversial independence ...Read more

Bernanke's anxiety

WASHINGTON -- Ben Bernanke is worried -- and perhaps we should be, too.

As chairman of the Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014, it was Bernanke who, along with others, prevented the worst recession since World War II from becoming the Great Depression 2.0. Now he fears that, should another sharp recession occur, the Fed won't be able to contain ...Read more

A dearth of virtue and the death of hypocrisy

WASHINGTON -- Hypocrisy, one of the most damnable sins, has been rendered obsolete. When everybody's a skunk, nobody smells the stench. Or, more to the point, when everyone's slurping from the same trough, who's a pig?

Today, hypocrisy is the smirk on Harvey Weinstein's face as he pursues therapy and asks forgiveness for his sexual ...Read more

There are no winners in Dreamers debate

CHICAGO -- It's unclear whether a deal will be reached to ensure that the young, unlawfully present immigrants known as "Dreamers" can stay in the country. What is sure is that, either way, Americans' faith in their government will suffer another blow.

Let's face it: Anyone who really believed that passing a limited, smallish measure on ...Read more

Trump's Obamacare order could destroy the health-care system

WASHINGTON -- President Trump has made a lot of promises on health care.

Somehow, though, I don't remember him promising stadiums of cheering fans that he'd take away protections for pre-existing conditions, increase deductibles, spike premiums, eliminate basic coverage requirements and, more generally, destabilize the individual health-...Read more

At the crux of the U.S.-Turkey dispute is a gold dealer facing trial

WASHINGTON -- At the center of the increasingly bitter dispute between the U.S. and Turkey is a demand by an irate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that American prosecutors free a Turkish-Iranian gold dealer who's about to go on trial on money-laundering and fraud charges.

The confrontation sharpened Thursday, as Erdogan protested in Ankara that...Read more

The gun control debate is not about guns

Every time a horrific event like the Las Vegas massacre takes place, it is followed by a frustrating and futile debate about the merits of gun control. People on both sides of the debate trot out talking points and talk right past each other without listening.

Much of the frustration comes from the fact that everybody would like to do something...Read more

No one wins the oppression Olympics

CHICAGO -- The Pew Research Center recently polled Americans on their belief in white privilege, and the results should surprise no one: Though a majority (56 percent) of people of all races and ethnicities believe that white people benefit either "a great deal" or "a fair amount" from their race, only 46 percent of whites say they benefit at ...Read more

Yes, build the wall!

WASHINGTON -- It's time to build the wall -- and, in doing so, prevent an estimated 690,000 DACA "dreamers" from being deported from the United States. It's a fair deal that could be scuttled only by intense and self-serving partisanship from the White House and the Republican and Democratic congressional leadership.

As almost everyone knows by...Read more

Trump's foreign policy is plagued by a lack of clarity

WASHINGTON -- Critics have complained about President Trump's bombast on foreign policy, but some GOP insiders worry about a less visible problem -- a hollowed-out bureaucracy that has been slow to develop and implement strategy.

Skeptics say that on major issues -- Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Russia -- the Trump administration hasn't ...Read more

How Roman emperors dealt with government officials abusing travel budgets

WASHINGTON -- At least seven Cabinet-level officials, and a smattering of aides, appear to have abused their access to publicly funded travel. Collectively, these bureaucrats billed taxpayers for millions of dollars worth of private jets, military flights, spousal travel and other questionable expenses.

Yet so far just one of them, former ...Read more

Dairy Queen ambassador's first act: Let's talk about teen suicide

Politics, Moderate / Rex Huppke /

I am now the proud ambassador of a Dairy Queen. (Please hold your applause.)

The title was bestowed upon me recently during a private ceremony in Naperville, Ill., at a Dairy Queen tucked in a humble strip mall.

A column I wrote back in July trumpeted my love of ice cream and desire to advocate for "simple, traditional frozen-dairy delights." ...Read more

Economic cannibalism

WASHINGTON -- The spoils society advances.

The "spoils society" is a phrase I coined some years ago to illustrate a basic problem of wealthy societies, including, of course, the United States. After all, our annual GDP (gross domestic product) is approaching $20 trillion. The problem is that, as societies become richer, so does the temptation ...Read more

Distracting ourselves to death

WASHINGTON -- When President Trump said a few days ago that now isn't the time for a debate about gun control, presumably he meant that we should respect a decent interval of time for mourning after the Las Vegas shooting before launching into a political discussion that historically has led nowhere.

If that's how he felt, it would have been ...Read more