Politics, Moderate





Think there's been a productivity boom? Think again.

WASHINGTON -- Let's travel back in time to 1995. Most Americans still remembered the calamitous inflation of the late 1970s (prices rose 13 percent in 1979). Many federal benefits, including Social Security, were (and are) tied to inflation. But was the inflation overstated, as many economists thought? If so, the economy might be doing better ...Read more

Veterans in Congress know what it means to put country first

WASHINGTON -- Heading toward the midterm elections, President Trump is playing the politics of division more recklessly than ever. But there's a movement taking root in both parties this year that seeks to unite the country by building on the bedrock values of military service.

This coalescence of young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may be ...Read more

Uncle Rudy rattles the rafters

WASHINGTON -- Thank God for Uncle Rudy.

You know Rudy -- the eccentric, sometimes batty, uncle who lives in the attic? One thing about Rudy, he always seems to know when family gatherings are becoming tense and descends to the rescue with some gibberish to lighten the mood.

What would we do without him?

Uncle Rudy used to be New York City ...Read more

A winning theme for Democrats? Kids.

Democrats have been casting about for a winning theme this November. Here's one suggestion: Kids.

After all, despite once declaring themselves the party of family values, Republican politicians have more recently ceded this territory. The GOP is now the party of state-sanctioned child abuse, of taking health care away from poor children, of ...Read more

The Fed's strange "independence"

"The Federal Reserve is meant to be independent of parochial political interests. But it's got to operate -- I think of this as a kind of band, sometimes wide, sometimes narrow -- within the range of understanding of the public and the political system. You just can't go do something that is just outside the bounds of what people can ...Read more

If you're lucky enough to be an American, stop trying to derail birthright citizenship

CHICAGO -- Everything old eventually becomes new again, and the call to end birthright citizenship is no exception.

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, suggested that we have been deliberately misreading the 14th Amendment to the Constitution -- the one that ...Read more

The economy's great. That doesn't mean Trumponomics is.

WASHINGTON -- Economic growth surged last quarter. Unsurprisingly, President Trump and his supporters were quick to crow that this means Trumponomics has been validated at last.

But that probably is the exact opposite lesson Trump, and everyone else, should take from the numbers.

On Friday morning, we got an update on how the U.S. economy, as ...Read more

This is not your grandfather's KGB

WASHINGTON -- Looking at Russia's competing spy services, their overlapping operations against the U.S. and their sometimes careless tradecraft, some CIA veterans are wondering if the Russian spooks actually want to get caught.

The truth is, President Vladimir Putin probably doesn't mind that his intelligence activities are so blatant that they...Read more

Americans have a hard time separating facts from opinion

CHICAGO -- In a recent discussion about policing fake news, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg alarmingly remarked that he doesn't block Holocaust deniers on his social-media platform because they aren't "intentionally getting it wrong."

The sad truth is that Zuckerberg is right: People aren't great at understanding history or current events, and...Read more

Understanding the ETF debate

WASHINGTON -- Can we make sense of ETFs?

If you're in the investing class, you doubtlessly know that ETF stands for "exchange-traded fund." Along with index mutual funds, they track a given stock or bond index. The best-known ETFs mirror the Standard and Poor's 500 stock index. If the S&P 500 goes up, so do various ETFs tied to the S&P 500 ...Read more

Trump thinks he's his own best foreign-policy adviser

WASHINGTON -- For the last 18 months, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other top national-security officials have mostly kept their heads down in public as they tried to quietly counsel President Trump. But this low-key consultation process seems to be weakening, as a headstrong president becomes increasingly insistent about his judgment.

The ...Read more

In defense of poodles

WASHINGTON -- It didn't take long after the Helsinki summit for European and American media publications to declare Donald Trump Vladimir Putin's pet dog.

Britain's Daily Mirror used "Putin's poodle" in its next-day coverage. Other European and American outlets referred to the president as "weak" or "submissive."

CIA Director John Brennan said...Read more

NRA sues Seattle over dangerously sensible gun-storage ordinance

Politics, Moderate / Rex Huppke /

Like most gun enthusiasts, I've had it with the so-called government trying to take away my constitutional right to keep perfectly safe and highly lethal firearms wherever I want.

That's why I cheered and went around high-fiving all my guns -- one on the mantle, one under the couch, two on the kitchen table and seven others in undisclosed ...Read more

Economic nostalgia's false promise

WASHINGTON -- We Americans have long been obsessed with economic growth -- "prosperity" in everyday lingo. The idea that we have some sort of special aptitude for invention, wealth creation and economic self-improvement is part of our imagined national character. It's who we are. Not only that, but prosperity plays a crucial political role. It ...Read more

Born to fly, bound to run

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- Republican Ashley Nickloes is the only woman in a seven-way primary race to fill a congressional seat held by one family for five decades. She's also the only military pilot in the race, running against a litany of odds, including the strong possibility that she'll lose to a popular career politician who hunts Bigfoot and ...Read more

The Senate Protects Our Freedoms

Based upon census bureau projections, 69 percent of all Americans are projected to live in the 16 largest states. Given the uncertainties of predicting how people will live in an era of self-driving cars and other cultural changes, the precise numbers may be a bit off. But, it is certainly true that a handful of large states will hold the bulk...Read more

Phone cameras are a double-edged sword

CHICAGO -- It's both the greatest social-justice opportunity and the worst privacy-gutting curse of our times: a high-powered video camera in nearly every human hand.

It's up to us to know how to use it as a tool instead of a weapon.

A few weeks ago, a young woman graciously agreed to switch seats on an airplane with a fellow traveler named ...Read more

The coming welfare wars

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration may have declared it over, but a new War on Poverty is coming anyways. It will be fought largely over the "work requirement" -- should the government require welfare recipients either to get a job or to train for one? It's a philosophical as much as a practical question.

A work requirement addresses a ...Read more

Helsinki hath no fury like a nation scorned

WASHINGTON -- Surely, now, we can concede that letting Trump be Trump has exhausted itself -- even among the smugly credulous.

For a year and a half, we've heard his supporters say: Watch what he does, not what he says. Sure, he's rude and crude, they said, but he's going to make America great again.

No, he's not.

Nor was he ever, ...Read more

An apology to Putin: Sorry I ruined U.S./Russia relations with my 'foolishness'

Politics, Moderate / Rex Huppke /

I would like to apologize to the people of Russia, and in particular to President Vladimir Putin, for being foolish and stupid.

It is clearly my fault that America's relationship with Russia is so bad and, as a known purveyor of foolishness and stupidity, I have to acknowledge that the buck stops here. I'm really sorry.

My complicity in the ...Read more