Politics, Moderate





Avoiding a debt crisis

WASHINGTON -- The Congressional Budget Office last week released its annual budget and economic outlook report, and although the news was gruesome, the report was greeted in Washington with a giant yawn. The assumption among Republicans and Democrats is that the political rewards for curbing runaway budget deficits are too meager to justify the ...Read more

The dogs of war are howling

WASHINGTON -- As sabers rattle ever louder across fields, plains, oceans and deserts, President Trump's words from earlier this year haunt the stable mind:

"I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity," he said. "Without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do. But I would like to do it ...Read more

'The Pale King' is the 'Moby-Dick' of taxes

CHICAGO -- This year, we get two extra days to file our taxes. Due to a combination of April 15 landing on a Sunday and Emancipation Day in the nation's capital on Monday, the deadline is the 17th.

It's the end of a long slog for those whose tax season starts in the middle of January, when the tedium of receipt-sorting, document scanning and ...Read more

A balanced-budget amendment is always stupid. Right now, it's a joke.

A balanced-budget amendment is pretty much always a stupid idea. But you know when it's stupidest?

When you've just blown a multitrillion-dollar hole in the deficit, and also, umm, don't even really plan to pass a budget.

House Republicans voted Thursday to make deficits unconstitutional. There is no universe in which this would be good policy...Read more

The consequences of a Syrian strike

WASHINGTON -- After fulminating about retaliation for the latest Syrian chemical weapons attack, the Trump administration cooled off long enough to consider the dangers of such a strike. That's to the credit of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who favored a measured response, and also of President Trump, who tempered his initial bellicose language ...Read more

An epic power struggle: Government fights tech industry

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill is merely the latest round in an ongoing power struggle between official Washington and the tech industry.

It's a struggle that stems from a core reality identified years ago by Harvard's Nicco Mele. "The devices and connectivity so essential to modern life put unprecedented power in the ...Read more

We can all be guardian angels to vulnerable neighbors

CHICAGO -- There's an elderly gentleman in my community who is known by most of the gas station attendants, baristas and store managers as "Ray."

If you drive along any of the streets within about a three-mile radius of my house, you'd know Ray if you saw him: He's a tall, gray-haired man who walks up and down the road -- rain or shine, ...Read more

It's Sputnik all over again

WASHINGTON -- Call it the Sputnik Syndrome.

Ever since the launching of Sputnik in October 1957, Americans have feared that their economy, which at the end of World War II dominated the globe, would be overtaken by some other country. First was the Soviet Union. Remember (or maybe you don't) that the-then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ...Read more

The internet has a bigger problem than the Facebook fiasco

WASHINGTON -- A word of advice for Congress as it ponders new schemes for internet regulation after the "perp walk" this week of Facebook tycoon Mark Zuckerberg: Don't do it.

Zuckerberg is a very tempting target. His serial apologies show how Facebook became so entangled in its corporate mission to "bring the world closer together" that it ...Read more

The downing of a president

WASHINGTON -- We've seen this movie before.

It would seem but a matter of time before the president of the United States is asked a question under oath and gives a false answer. A lie, in other words. In the prequel, starring Bill Clinton, impeachment followed.

When the FBI, after a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, raided the ...Read more

A 'dreamer' traveled to Mexico. Now he can't get home to his husband.

LOS ANGELES -- "Dreamer" Marco Villada Garibay left the country on the U.S. government's promise of a possible green card. Now he's trapped in Mexico and might never be allowed to return.

Villada, 34, came to the United States -- the only country he knows -- illegally from Mexico at age 6. This is where he went to school; where he worked and ...Read more

Children vs grandparents

WASHINGTON -- To those paying attention, the recent strikes for higher teachers' pay in West Virginia and Oklahoma are a harbinger of things to come. You can attribute the strikes to the stinginess of the states' political leaders. After all, average annual teachers' salaries in these states ranked respectively 49th lowest (Oklahoma at $45,276) ...Read more

To mock or mentor, that is the question at Marquette University

WASHINGTON -- There are few sympathetic characters in the landmark lawsuit between Marquette University and a suspended professor that's heading later this month to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The professor, John McAdams, is suing the university for indefinitely suspending him without pay, allegedly in violation of a contractually binding ...Read more

You don't have to speak Spanish to be Latino

CHICAGO -- Way to guilt-trip me about my parenting choices, Pew Research Center!

According to their newest report on language acquisition, 85 percent of Latino parents say they speak Spanish to their children, but only 71 percent of U.S.-born Latino parents with at least one immigrant parent of their own do so.

It's small comfort to know that ...Read more

Americans, it's time for some extreme vetting

WASHINGTON -- My fellow Americans, it's time for some extreme vetting.

Not of Muslims, refugees, "dreamers" or any of the other usual scapegoats. We need more vetting of the scoundrels and swamp creatures running our country.

President Trump has repeatedly accused Senate Democrats of slow-walking his picks for key administration posts, forcing...Read more

Snapshots of soldiers on the front lines of Syria

WASHINGTON -- One face of the war in Syria that Americans don't often see is the U.S. Army trauma surgeon, standing in the midday sun on the outskirts of Raqqa, taking a brief break from her near-constant duty in the operating room treating Syrians whose limbs have been shattered by bombs and booby traps.

The doctor is a lieutenant colonel ...Read more

Iowa leads the way on Obamacare reform

Lawmakers and bureaucrats in official Washington often act as if their decisions lead the nation forward. News from Iowa this week, however, shows once again that the culture leads and politicians lag behind.

Kim Reynolds became Iowa's Governor last May when her predecessor (Terry Branstad) resigned to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China. ...Read more

Why does the media ignore when bad things happen to black people?

CHICAGO -- The irony of the diverse and wide-ranging #neveragain movement to reduce gun violence is that -- even as it has captured the nation's attention -- it has underscored racial stereotypes about victims and survivors.

Why did the country have what countless media commentators called "a watershed moment" after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas...Read more

Stocks boomerang on Trump

WASHINGTON -- What is the skittish stock market telling us? Its recent declines have been blamed on many causes: fears of a "trade war" between the United States and China; growing controversy over the power of Facebook and other tech giants; general worry about the Trump administration's behavior. But the true explanation may be a broader ...Read more

How the courts -- not Congress -- could protect Mueller's investigation

WASHINGTON -- If President Trump fires Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, that won't necessarily be the end of his investigation. Power to continue the probe, and report on its findings, could also rest with Beryl Howell, who as chief judge of the federal district court here oversees the Mueller grand jury.

To prepare for the crisis that ...Read more