Politics, Moderate



The GOP's mad dash to pass a tax bill proves that haste makes waste

WASHINGTON -- Of all the follies of 2017, the most tawdry may be the GOP's headlong rush to pass a tax bill that even its proponents don't understand. What's especially sad is that otherwise sensible Republicans seem to be capitulating to the tax-cut frenzy.

Political desperation is the mother of this legislation. Despite Republican control of ...Read more

Despite Trump's rancor for the global system, the world economy is surging

WASHINGTON -- A year ago, with the election of a U.S. president who had fulminated against the international trade and financial systems, some analysts worried that the engine of global prosperity might soon be sputtering. But that's not what happened.

The global economy has surged forward this year, significantly outperforming expectations. As...Read more

Can the U.S. stop North Korea from becoming a nuclear power?

WASHINGTON -- The U.S.-North Korea confrontation is nearing another tense inflection point, with North Korea signaling that it could be ready for negotiations with Washington soon, even as it moves toward becoming a full nuclear-weapons power.

When such diplomatic standoffs get resolved, it's often by allowing each country to claim it's ...Read more

State Department shift would signal more hawkish foreign policy

WASHINGTON -- The bad marriage of President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to be nearing an end, probably to the relief of both. The question is how the new national-security team that appears to be coming will change American policy.

Tillerson for months has been a target of bad-mouthing from the White House, reflecting Trump...Read more

As America steps back from the global stage, China pursues a starring role

WASHINGTON -- The friendly words exchanged between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping this month softened the edge of a Chinese economic and military buildup that a recent study commissioned by the Pentagon described as "perhaps the most ambitious grand strategy undertaken by a single nation-state in modern times."

At the Beijing summit on Nov. 9,...Read more

How to protect against fake 'facts'

WASHINGTON -- Amid the slithering mess of problems that emerged in 2017, the one that bothers me most is that people don't seem to know what's true anymore. "Facts" this year got put in quotation marks.

All the other political difficulties of the Donald Trump era are subsumed in this one. If we aren't sure what's true, how can we act to make ...Read more

A beleaguered Tillerson is still at the table

WASHINGTON -- A funny thing happened to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the way to the exit door: He didn't leave. He may be "Dead Man Walking," as many Washington analysts assume. Yet he's still pursuing the same list of quiet but mostly correct diplomatic goals as when took the job 10 months ago.

Tillerson has had a catastrophically bad ...Read more

Saudi political explosions risk collateral damage

WASHINGTON -- Nearly two weeks after the double political explosion that rocked Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to be doing damage control in ways that may help stabilize Saudi Arabia and the region.

The first bombshell was the Nov. 4 arrest on corruption charges of 201 prominent Saudis, including princes and government ...Read more

As Trump returns from Asia, America retreats from the world

WASHINGTON -- As President Trump ends his Asia trip, he might sum up the 12-day journey with a revision of the remark attributed to Julius Caesar: Veni, vidi, blandivi. I came, I saw, I flattered.

Trump's trip was closer to a pilgrimage than a projection of power. The president rarely explained details of U.S. policy. Instead, he mostly ...Read more

Could the ambitious Saudi crown prince unleash a storm across the Middle East?

WASHINGTON -- Saudi Arabia risks committing the original sin of modern Middle East politics -- fighting its regional wars in Lebanon and driving that fragile country once again toward civil strife.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's target in Lebanon is Hezbollah, the nation's dominant political force, which is backed by the Saudi's ...Read more

Saudi crown prince shows his iron fist in risky power play

WASHINGTON -- Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says he's cracking down on corruption. But the sweeping arrests of Cabinet ministers and senior princes Saturday night looked to many astonished Arab observers like a bold but risky consolidation of power.

MBS, as the headstrong 32-year-old ruler is known, struck at some of the ...Read more

Trump's hunger for Russia projects lasted decades

MOSCOW -- An ice-blue 14-story office tower called Ducat Place III is the building that President Trump might have constructed here. But like so many other Trump adventures in Russia, this one proved a tantalizing but futile dead end.

Trump is angrily dismissive when questions are raised about his Russian contacts. He calls the investigation by...Read more

Mueller is unraveling Russian manipulation. Let him finish his job.

WASHINGTON -- Has there ever been a covert action that backfired as disastrously as Russia's attempt to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign?

Granted, we know all the reasons Moscow is gloating: Donald Trump is president; America is divided and confused; Russia's propagandization of "fake news" is now repeated by people around the ...Read more


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Ken Catalino Steve Benson Mike Lester Signe Wilkinson Andy Marlette Gary Varvel