Politics, Moderate





Sanders is a refugee from the 1930s

WASHINGTON -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, is a man from the 1930s. If you didn't believe that before, you certainly should believe it now. Sanders last week gave a powerful speech at George Washington University defending his identity as a "democratic socialist" and endorsing ...Read more

The gift of laughter and a father's legacy

WASHINGTON -- My father died with a smile on his face. But, of course, he would.

A few days earlier, as his wife, my sister and I gathered around his bed in the intensive care unit, I said, "I'll bet he's thinking right now, 'I wish these broads would go away and leave me alone.'"

Immediately, his face creased into his Hollywood smile and he ...Read more

Recognize your unalienable right to fly a Baby Trump balloon

Politics, Moderate / Bob Franken /

Let's not get too excited over the plans of the protesters to bring over the hilarious "Baby Trump" balloon from London and put it aloft during the president's Independence Day speech at the Lincoln Memorial. First of all, shouldn't we remember the nation from whom we declared independence? Duh! July Fourth celebrates the self-evident truth that...Read more

A Republican finally reveals the truth about the GOP tax cuts

Breaking: A Republican accidentally told the truth about tax cuts.

Almost. At least if you count Rep. Kevin Brady's (Tex.) recent equivocation about whether the GOP tax overhaul will really pay for itself.

Way back in the first year of President Trump's administration, Republicans made a bunch of promises about their tax law, nearly all of ...Read more

Is the Iran-U.S. tinderbox about to ignite?

WASHINGTON -- As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of "unprovoked attacks" near the Strait of Hormuz, video screens behind him showed thick black smoke billowing from the two tankers that were struck Thursday. It was the dramatic imagery that sometimes precedes armed conflict.

Pompeo didn't offer hard evidence, and Iran denied the ...Read more

The twin pillars of health care reform are pretty clear

Seven out of 10 voters rate their health insurance coverage and the medical care they receive as good or excellent. Despite that, only 34% give our nation's health care system positive reviews. Not surprisingly, therefore, health care reform has consistently been a top voter concern election after election.

Broadly speaking, voters have two ...Read more

The fate of Japan -- and everyone else

WASHINGTON -- If you want a peek at the future, try looking at Japan. It's a sobering exercise. Here's how economist Timothy Taylor, managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, describes the country's outlook:

"[Japan] is facing a situation of a declining population and workforce, and the share of the population that is elderly is ...Read more

Rapists' rights defy reason

WASHINGTON -- In Alabama, where a new law denies abortion to women even in cases of incest or rape, a rapist may still pursue custody rights of a child conceived during his assault.

I'll give you a moment to digest that sentence. It gets worse.

In a recent case, a young woman in Alabama sought help when she said her step-uncle, who raped her ...Read more

Trump's latest scapegoat: The Federal Reserve

Not this again.

Faced with any sort of self-inflicted crisis, Trump cycles through a series of scapegoats. Among the usual boogeymen (and boogeywomen): immigrants, China, NFL players, Hillary Clinton, House Democrats.

But lately -- and alarmingly, for anyone who cares about the long-term health of the U.S. economy -- the Federal Reserve has ...Read more

Nothing's too tacky for Donald Trump

Politics, Moderate / Bob Franken /

Surely we can agree that the people at NASA are showing some true ingenuity with their plans to allow tourists to visit the International Space Station. Starting next year, private citizens will be able to book space (pardon the pun) for up to 30 days at a rate of $35,000 a night. Contact your travel agent for a special deal on transportation ...Read more

The Democrats are running a fairy-tale campaign

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech, Jan. 20, 1961

WASHINGTON -- Watching the Democrats' presidential campaigns, it's hard not to be struck by the huge gap that has opened up between Kennedy's goal and what ordinary Americans ...Read more

Terminate abortion, please

WASHINGTON -- The abortion issue is more divisive than ever, thanks to extreme anti-abortion legislation recently passed in some states and, lately, to Democratic presidential candidates seemingly vying to be the most pro-choicest.

The newest controversy swirls around the 1976 Hyde Amendment, named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., which ...Read more

Do computers in schools help kids learn? It's complicated.

CHICAGO -- As a teacher who's been around to witness schools "go 1:1" -- meaning one laptop, iPad or Chromebook per student -- I can attest to the dystopian sight of classrooms full of young children with their eyes glued to glowing screens.

Those first weeks of the transition to technology are harrowing. I watch every moment that used to be ...Read more

The game show should be called 'Serious Jeopardy'

Politics, Moderate / Bob Franken /

Let's play "Jeopardy," where the answers are questions. If Alex Trebek were to ask contestants to specify "A glaring contrast between Queen Elizabeth II and President Donald Trump," the correct response would be "What are class and crass?"

Of course, there are other differences between the two. The player says, "I'll take 'Liz and Don' for $400...Read more

Everyone's got a climate plan. So where's the carbon tax?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has a big, bold, multitrillion-dollar plan for addressing climate change. So does her rival Joe Biden. Likewise former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke. And, of course, Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., whose entire campaign is structured around the climate crisis.

These candidates, to their credit, have offered ...Read more

Trump's words celebrate D-Day, but his actions disdain postwar architecture

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France -- President Trump spoke the right words in commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, but did he mean them? So far, his presidency has been about defying the postwar order that was based on shared values and global partnership, rather than cementing its legacy.

Trump spoke here Thursday at what he rightly described...Read more

It's More Than the Economy

For more than a generation, James Carville's campaign maxim, "It's the economy, stupid," has been held up as an essential truth of American politics.

There's no denying that a strong economy is an incumbent president's best friend. Seventy-three percent of voters currently rate the economy as a very important issue. As a result, if the ...Read more

Picture book offers clearer portrait of gender identity

CHICAGO -- What I like best about the new children's picture book "It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity" is that there's no sad child who magically overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to have a happy ending.

As a teacher for grades K-4, I read a lot of picture books with important messages about respect, understanding ...Read more

Trump's Mexico tariffs are nasty, restless

WASHINGTON -- President Trump's latest foray into trade policy is notable for its economic recklessness (it could tip Mexico into a recession, followed perhaps by the United States), its gratuitous insults of a close ally (Mexico) and its rank opportunism (it would shift power to the White House from Congress).

For anyone who missed Trump's ...Read more

Swamp things storm the palace

WASHINGTON -- If there was "great love all around" during President Trump's state visit to the United Kingdom, as he tweeted Monday, the participants royal and decidedly otherwise were deceptively discreet.

From the coverage, one might have thought that Madame Tussauds had teamed up with George Lucas to create a charade parade of mechanized wax...Read more