Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 20 Feb 2019 01:07:54 -0800 Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate c9f38c9f789181ccbf93bdbc822da996 A Monument to Presidential Power for 02/15/2019 Fri, 15 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Mitch McConnell seems to have found a way to allow President Donald Trump to eat his cake (Mar-a-Lago chocolate, no doubt) and keep it, too. On Thursday, the Senate majority leader announced that the president would sign compromise legislation hammered out in the wake of the 35-day government shutdown over funding for additional barriers along our southern border. In return, McConnell will support the president's declaration of a "national emergency" that will allow the administration to use military dollars to build more fencing than Congress has appropriated for that purpose. Expect much of the country, including many in Congress, to choke on McConnell's appeasement.</p> <p>No matter how many times or in how loud a voice the president says it, there is no emergency at the border requiring flouting the separation of powers, which gives Congress control over the purse strings. The United States is not being flooded with dangerous criminals and job-stealing immigrants from south of the border. Immigrants, including those who have come here illegally, are less likely to commit crimes than people born here. El Paso, Texas &#8212; where the president visited this week to show off what happens when you build a wall &#8212; was safe long before the wall was built and is one of the safest cities its size in America today even with a large population of immigrants, documented and undocumented. And even the president has now admitted that we need more immigrants &#8212; not fewer, which is what he had been proposing since his campaign &#8212; to fill jobs that no one else is taking.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 15, 2019</p> a88ea651df93acf20e5ad24c7ac96b32 Why Not Just Be 'an American'? for 02/08/2019 Fri, 08 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Sen. Elizabeth Warren's insistence that she is Native American has drawn racial taunts from President Donald Trump, who frequently refers to her as "Pocahontas," as well as reprimands from tribal leaders, who note that tribes themselves determine tribal membership. She has frequently said that she grew up believing she had Native American ancestors and occasionally claimed her family is Cherokee and Delaware, even offering a recipe for a cookbook titled "Pow Wow Chow." Earlier this year, Warren released the results of DNA tests that showed she did have a very distant relative &#8212; in the neighborhood of six to 10 generations ago &#8212; who was Native American, but that is hardly the impression she has tried to give over the years. This week, The Washington Post revealed a handwritten document, submitted in 1986 when Warren became a member of the Texas state bar, in which she listed her race as "American Indian." This latest controversy in Sen. Warren's identity politics threatens to complicate her bid for the presidency.</p> <p>Why should it matter what race or ethnic origin Sen. Warren claims? Under usual circumstances, it wouldn't. Looking at Sen. Warren &#8212; with her fair skin, blue eyes and blond hair &#8212; one would assume she is of northern European ancestry. But <span class="column--highlighted-text">because she has taken it on herself to assert that she is not what she appears but is rather a member of a group that has long faced discrimination in America, the claim takes on significance</span> &#8212; especially in the Democratic Party. The field of Democratic candidates who have announced their candidacy for president or are about to is a veritable rainbow of minorities. From former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, whose grandmother was a Mexican immigrant, to Sen. Kamala Harris, whose parents were born in Jamaica and India, to Sen. Cory Booker, a man whose ancestors include both blacks and whites, as noted in an episode of "Finding Your Roots," to Tulsi Gabbard, born in American Samoa to a white mother and part-Samoan father, the Democratic candidates are the most ethnically diverse in the history of U.S. presidential politics. There is much to be applauded in such an ethnically and racially broad group of candidates, but more because of what it says about success and assimilation in the American model than it does about discrimination.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 08, 2019</p> fc30ec37fa5c257c0768e8b2ab8a6025 Frederick Douglass and Voting Rights for 02/01/2019 Fri, 01 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>I have been reading &#8212; more accurately, listening to &#8212; David Blight's new biography, "Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom." It is a welcome respite from the day's news but also a sober reminder of a racial history that still scars America. Douglass emerges in the book as a far more complicated, occasionally unlikable hero of the anti-slavery movement. Brilliant, self-taught in the arts of literature and rhetoric, Douglass was a fugitive slave who became one of the most famous and important men of the 19th century. But it is Blight's descriptions of Washington, D.C., during the Civil War that most moved me. The city became a muddy tent town when thousands of former Southern slaves emancipated in January 1863 fled north with nothing but hope, a group of their children learning to read in a smokehouse-turned-school on Robert E. Lee's estate in Arlington, Virginia. Government buildings became temporary hospitals filled with sick and dying Union soldiers, amputees who might never be able to support themselves or families. And Douglass, facing this human tragedy, became all the more convinced that such suffering and bloodshed could be justified only if blacks &#8212; former slaves and freemen alike &#8212; were given full and complete rights of citizenship, most importantly the right to vote.</p> <p>For Douglass, the Civil War was necessary to expiate the sin of slavery. Until the slave-supporting South was mercilessly defeated and the black man granted his rightful status as an equal in every way before the law, America would never be truly free. Douglass locked horns with Abraham Lincoln over the issue of equal wages for black soldiers &#8212; 180,000 of whom fought in the Civil War but were paid less than their white counterparts and did not receive commissions as officers &#8212; and, more importantly, over granting all black men the right to vote. Without the right to vote, Douglass correctly predicted, blacks would be subjected to continued discrimination and would never be truly free or equal. Douglass understood that especially in the South, whites, with fresh memories of the cruelties of war, would seek vengeance on blacks.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 01, 2019</p> 610ab37084c267352796a18d5a4f57f9 You Can't Always Get What You Want for 01/25/2019 Fri, 25 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Donald Trump's new slogan &#8212; "Build a wall and crime will fall" &#8212; may excite Ann Coulter, but it reveals the desperation of a man who is losing even his base. Facts never get in the president's way, but crime (like illegal immigration) has been falling for decades. According to the FBI, which gathers data on crimes reported to the police in some 18,000 jurisdictions nationwide, violent crime was down 49 percent between 1993 and 2017 (the last year for which full data are available). A different measure of violent crime, one based on Bureau of Justice Statistics' surveys of a representative sample of Americans 12 or older, shows that the violent crime rate fell by 74 percent during that same period.</p> <p>Would keeping out undocumented immigrants eliminate crime further? Maybe, but it's not nearly so straightforward as it might seem. By definition, if one extra crime is committed by a person who shouldn't be in the country, preventing that person from coming would eliminate that one crime. But it wouldn't automatically have a one-for-one effect on the crime rate, which is measured against the population. The numerator of crimes committed would go down, but so would the denominator of population. Because immigrants here illegally commit fewer crimes than the native-born, the denominator could potentially fall more steeply than the numerator. So in communities with very high proportions of undocumented immigrants, eliminating these people would make the crime rates go up. But Trump's goal is not to lower the crime rate. It is to make good on a foolish promise he made as a candidate.<p>Updated: Fri Jan 25, 2019</p> de470d04cce91883303776d637660245 Abnormal Times for 01/18/2019 Fri, 18 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In normal times, the killing of four Americans and wounding of three others on foreign soil would prompt a quick response by the president of the United States. A normal president would publicly express his sincere condolences to the families of the killed and wounded and vow that the attack would not go unanswered. But we do not live in normal times, nor do we have a normal president in the White House. When an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated a device in Manbij, Syria, this week &#8212; killing and wounding Americans &#8212; President Donald Trump chose to rant about other subjects, most importantly the wall he wants to build on our southern border. The vice president did speak about Syria and the Islamic State (aka ISIS), just hours after the attack, in a speech to senior U.S. diplomats at the State Department. But the purpose of his remarks was to parrot the president's oft-repeated claim: "The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated." He said not a word about the dead Americans.</p> <p>Some Republicans, notably Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, have warned that the president's decision to abandon Syria, announced via tweet just a month ago, has emboldened the Islamic State. Estimates are that some 20,000 to 30,000 fighters still remain in the region. The irony, of course, is that the rise of the Islamic State occurred precisely because a former president made a similar mistake, precipitously pulling U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. Republicans &#8212; and even some Democrats &#8212; warned President Barack Obama that he was jeopardizing the gains in Iraq won with American blood and treasure by not leaving sufficient U.S. troops in Iraq to maintain the peace. President Obama eventually had to respond to the crisis that ensued in Iraq as the Islamic State took over major parts of the country, including the cities of Mosul and Tikrit and even the outskirts of Baghdad, as well as territory in Syria. Obama ordered a bombing campaign to assist the struggling government of Iraq and began sending U.S. military advisers back into the country. We now have about 5,000 U.S. military personnel there, and Trump says they will stay &#8212; for now.<p>Updated: Fri Jan 18, 2019</p> 0d3fd12d7d3d1c57e4834223a92c85e0 The Border Wall or Bust for 01/11/2019 Fri, 11 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump's Oval Office address this week was a total bust. His visit to the border fared no better. Trump predicted that his words and actions wouldn't "change a damn thing" when he spoke to news anchors before the speech. He's right &#8212; but not for the reasons he thinks. If Congress were to appropriate the $5.7 billion Trump wants for a wall &#8212; steel slats, bollards, alligators in a moat or whatever else he comes up with next &#8212; little, if anything, would change with respect to what's happening at our southern border.</p> <p>Although illegal immigration is dramatically down, as is the size of the undocumented immigrant population living in the U.S. &#8212; by more than 1.5 million since its peak in 2006 &#8212; the number of families and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum has risen sharply over the past two years, reaching about 160,000 last year. But no matter how hard this administration tries to portray these people as criminals, they are simply following U.S. law. Most are fleeing extreme violence, much of it the direct result of U.S. demand for illegal drugs that are grown or processed in their home countries.<p>Updated: Fri Jan 11, 2019</p> bb232fc17a415cb19d9e5bbe2936b2e5 An Agenda for 2019 for 01/04/2019 Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump began the new year with characteristic bombast, blaming others for perceived failures, taking credit for non-achievements or those accomplished despite him, and dispensing misinformation like candy on Halloween. In his first Cabinet meeting, the president riffed for an hour and a half on his petty grievances rather than do the business of setting the agenda for the year with his appointees, several of whom are in an acting position because their predecessors resigned or were pushed out the door.</p> <p>Seeing as the president seems unable to come up with a plan to actually govern in 2019, here are a couple of items on my wish list &#8212; a list that reasonable conservatives and some liberals might even be able to agree on.<p>Updated: Fri Jan 04, 2019</p> 42d30dbf76f64dad051e1c074c03a32e Trump's Delusional ISIS Policy for 12/21/2018 Fri, 21 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Donald Trump has vanquished the Islamic State group, and it is time for American troops to come home from Syria &#8212; or so the president claimed by tweet this week. The problem is, as with much of what the president tweets, there is no basis for his braggadocio. Currently, the U.S. has about 2,000 ground troops in Syria. Their mission is to support Kurdish fighters and whatever democratic Syrian opposition forces that remain in the fight against the Islamic State &#8212; frequently called ISIS &#8212; and to serve as a brake against Bashar Assad's murderous military assault on his own people. Neither mission is complete. ISIS, though pushed back by some 200 artillery strikes and airstrikes in a one-week period in December, remains a threat not just in Syria but in neighboring Iraq. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS fighters are in the Iraq and Syria area and pose a threat not just to those in the region but to the West in general.</p> <p>ISIS will see American withdrawal as victory. So will Iran and Russia, whose own presence in Syria will most likely increase. Our allies will see it as betrayal. The U.S. military knows this, which is why Trump's advisers have been unanimous in their opposition to early withdrawal.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 21, 2018</p> 9f16f01dc9e4f049bb655e22bd73e93c Senate Rebuke of Trump for 12/14/2018 Fri, 14 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>In what may be the most stunning rebuke to date of the Trump presidency, the Senate voted Thursday &#8212; unanimously &#8212; to rebuke Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his being responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi-born U.S. resident. With a 56-41 vote, the Senate also passed a resolution to withdraw U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today, with 12 million civilians in danger of starving. These votes occurred in a Republican-controlled Senate, and those who voted for the resolutions included some of President Donald Trump's usually reliable allies, including Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Is this a shot across the White House bow?</p> <p>It is important to remember that this comes not long after President Trump sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis to try to convince members that there was no evidence that MBS, as the crown prince is known, ordered or was complicit in the killing of Khashoggi. Both men embarrassed themselves and hurt their reputations by misleading Congress when the CIA had confidently concluded that MBS did indeed order the killing of the journalist, basing the conclusion on intercepts and other concrete evidence. When CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed selected members at Congress' insistence, she reportedly confirmed her agency's conclusion. The president, of course, has access to the assessment, though he may well not have read it, as he reads very little, according to White House insiders, but his willful ignorance comes at a price.</p> <p>The president is entering a dangerous moment with Congress, with Democrats about to gain control of the House. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Trump no longer can count on lackeys and sycophants on key House committees to shield his worst instincts and ignore evidence of wrongdoing.</span> Though Democrats have to walk a fine line between conducting proper oversight and turning Trump into a victim of partisan score-settling, there is no question that the Trump administration will face tremendous scrutiny on past and current behavior. But the Senate's actions Thursday suggest the president may face hurdles even in the body his party still controls.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 14, 2018</p> b48912598967ff87d65307d36f66226e Deserving the Leaders We Choose for 12/07/2018 Fri, 07 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>There is not much to say about President George H.W. Bush that has not already been said in the days celebrating the late man's heroic and honorable life. But as the nation mourned, one could sense a great longing for a return to the civility and integrity of a previous era. More than nostalgia, it was an acknowledgment that our national life has become bitter and crude. It is easy to blame the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is our downward spiral began long before Donald Trump became president. Our current politics reflect this decline, but it is the larger culture that shares much of the blame. And in that sense, it is not just elites who set trends but the population that follows and embraces them.</p> <p>I was struck on the day of President Bush's funeral that The Washington Post featured an op-ed bemoaning the decision by the social network Tumblr to ban pornography and most nudity. "The site's announcement on Monday that it would remove 'photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations' from its public-facing platform was greeted with a mass display of mourning," wrote Molly Roberts. Mourning? It says something that smut has become so mainstream that a major newspaper would publish an article decrying a decision by a private company to ban it.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 07, 2018</p> 9bfc5037896950a44156c49679241d7a All About the Money for 11/30/2018 Fri, 30 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>From the beginning of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, I have believed that Donald Trump's greed would provide the key to his relationship with Russia. It never made sense that Trump was a Manchurian candidate intent on betraying America's interests for ideological reasons. Trump has no ideology as usually understood, his "America first" pronouncements notwithstanding. Trump is all about the money, accumulating it any way he can, whether through defrauding wannabe real estate moguls at Trump University, slapping his name on mediocre steaks and vodka or building and licensing glitzy hotels and golf courses around the world. Now it turns out that what Trump wanted from Russian President Vladimir Putin well into the presidential election in 2016 was a Moscow Trump Tower he'd been dreaming about since the 1980s.</p> <p>On Thursday, Trump's longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, testified that contrary to everything Trump has said until that point and despite Cohen's sworn testimony to Congress, Trump was trying to secure a deal until the eve of his nomination. Cohen admitted that he was in contact with Russians on Trump's behalf as late as June 14, 2016, even though then-candidate Trump said repeatedly he had no business dealings with Russia. But Cohen may not be the only person in Trump's circle who was pursuing Trump Tower Moscow. Trump's children Don Jr. and Ivanka were also involved in trying to realize their father's dream.<p>Updated: Fri Nov 30, 2018</p> 1fdffdab30db4627db270696fc566d68 The Meaning of Thanksgiving for 11/23/2018 Fri, 23 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Thanksgiving weekend should be about more than Black Friday sales, leftover turkey sandwiches and football. For most of us, the holiday symbolizes what America is all about: thanking God for the good fortune of living in America. The Pilgrims certainly felt that on the first Thanksgiving, having fled religious persecution in England to found colonies in the New World. Successive waves of immigrants have felt the same thing, whether they left home seeking freedom and opportunity or they were driven out by poverty and violence. And for much of our history as a nation, we have taken in these newcomers, sometimes grudgingly because we needed their labor. But eventually, we accepted them, even embracing many in our families, intermarrying and giving rise to a true hybrid American.</p> <p>Although the anti-immigrant rhetoric from the president and many others on the right suggests this pattern may be changing, I remain optimistic that it is not. Sentiments against immigrants are no worse now than they were at previous points in our history; indeed, they are less vile, or at least less openly so. That is not to say that the effort to restrict not just illegal immigration but legal immigration will not continue to rile American politics, but it, too, will run its course. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The inescapable fact is that the United States needs immigrants now as it has through much of its history.</span><p>Updated: Fri Nov 23, 2018</p> e02d1fa59c655c68a660febf5694df2d We Need to Believe Election Results for 11/16/2018 Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Democracy is a fragile thing. Ours has lasted nearly 250 years, but there is no guarantee that it will last forever. One thing is certain, however. If the people's trust is undermined, democracy cannot survive.</p> <p>President Donald Trump has done much to sow seeds of doubt among his followers. The most recent example was his claim that people who are ineligible to vote routinely do so: "People get in line that have absolutely no right to vote, and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It's really a disgrace what's going on." It is the same point he has made many times, even creating a commission to investigate the millions of votes he claimed were cast by noncitizens in the 2016 election. The commission dissolved when it could find no evidence that such massive election fraud had occurred. Indeed, there have been only a handful of cases brought throughout the country against people for voting while ineligible. But the effect of the president's words and actions is to make many of his supporters distrust the outcome of elections.<p>Updated: Fri Nov 16, 2018</p> 9ec26abcd78734bc0b88aaa817fa0b22 Americans Don't Like Mobs for 11/09/2018 Fri, 09 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The midterm elections proved one thing definitively: We are a deeply divided country. Though the Democrats' victory in flipping the House of Representatives was significant, it might have been even bigger had President Donald Trump not been able to use the caravan of Central American migrants to stir fear and motivate his base. The left doesn't get it, blaming unalloyed racism. No doubt, there was plenty of racism to point to in the president's ads and his invocation of an "invasion," but the truth is that the hard-line restrictionists who were motivated by Trump's rhetoric about the caravan aren't all racists.</p> <p>I am an unabashed advocate for immigrants and immigration reform that would make it easier to come to the United States. That has been my position for more than 30 years. But I also understand the anxieties that large-scale immigration provokes among many Americans. Some fear competition from immigrants, who will often work for less (which is what a free market allows and capitalism encourages, to the benefit of the larger economy). Others worry that immigrants will change the culture, feeling pressure to accommodate new languages and customs rather than seeing newcomers being expected to adapt to the common culture. And no amount of evidence that immigrants of this generation and their children are doing what every group before them has done &#8212; learning English, improving their educational and economic statuses, and intermarrying with those outside their own group &#8212; can convince these skeptics when they have to "push 1 for English" on the phone or show up to vote and see ballots printed in Spanish. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Until Democrats recognize that the multiculturalism they have pushed for a generation actually hurts their case for remaining a country that welcomes large numbers of immigrants, they will have a hard time broadening their appeal to blue-collar and rural Trump voters.</span><p>Updated: Fri Nov 09, 2018</p> 1992bbbcc2056db1cbf064934f207473 The President and the Constitution for 11/02/2018 Fri, 02 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In the days leading up to Tuesday's midterm elections, President Donald Trump has chosen to wheel out the boogeyman that helped him win the presidency: immigration. It is an act of desperation that will only work if it motivates people to vote on the basis of ignorance, fear and hatred. There is no immigration crisis facing America right now; illegal immigration is at a 50-year low, with the population of undocumented immigrants down 1 million from its high and remaining steady. Nonetheless, a caravan of would-be asylum-seekers hundreds of miles away from the border has garnered attention recently. The president hopes to convince his base that we are about to be invaded by criminals, "Middle Easterners," gang members and disease-ridden women and children. In response, <span class="column--highlighted-text">he has ordered the Pentagon to dispatch as many as 15,000 active-duty troops to the border, the worst abuse of the military for political purposes in my lifetime</span>.</p> <p>Not content to make illegal immigration the focus of his scaremongering, Trump has also announced that he will issue an executive order to deny birthright citizenship to millions of Americans. Let's be clear: The president does not have the authority to do this. Birthright citizenship is enshrined in our Constitution. The 14th Amendment reads, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Executive orders cannot overrule the Constitution; it takes an amendment passed by two-thirds of each house of Congress and ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures to change the Constitution. Imagine the uproar if a Democratic president decided to limit the Second Amendment in a similar fashion.<p>Updated: Fri Nov 02, 2018</p> f2f93cf69f195bf0c072e17fad86e549 The Dystopian Election for 10/26/2018 Fri, 26 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Having just returned from a three-week trip to Asia, I feel as if I've landed in the middle of a dystopian nightmare. Some maniac is mailing pipe bombs to President Donald Trump's enemies list: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, George Soros, John Brennan, Eric Holder and Robert De Niro. In the past few weeks, the stock market, which the president touts as proof that he is good for the economy, has seen almost all of its gains from 2018 wiped out. And the president is deploying 800 more troops to the Mexican border (joining the 1,600 National Guard members already in border sectors), claiming a "National Emergency," as a caravan of families, still about 1,000 miles away, treks on foot across Mexico seeking asylum from the violence in their home countries and better lives for their kids. It's enough to make me wonder whether we've all lost our minds.</p> <p>Americans, who have never had to deal with deep ideological divides in our history, have always been mostly centrist on policy issues. We believe in capitalism and the free market, but we've ensured a safety net for those who fall through the cracks, hoping it will be temporary until they get back on their feet. We register as Republicans or Democrats or independents, but we've never before made those identifications paramount in how we regard and treat one another. Now, thanks in large part to what has happened at both ends of the ideological spectrum, partisans loathe and mistrust one another.<p>Updated: Fri Oct 26, 2018</p> 75d02cae87d52cacf9cfc8c736d1ddf6 The Saudi Challenge for 10/19/2018 Fri, 19 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Jamal Khashoggi's murder &#8212; and no one now questions whether the Washington Post contributor was killed by Saudi agents in the kingdom's consulate in Turkey &#8212; has far-reaching implications for the Trump administration. President Donald Trump appears to want to help sweep the incident under the rug, providing cover for the Saudis' ludicrous suggestion that the killing was a rogue operation or an interrogation gone awry. And he's enmeshed the highest officials of his administration in the mess by sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh, where the secretary was photographed, all smiles, sitting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who most likely ordered Khashoggi's murder. The administration is giving itself little leeway to take serious measures to protest the killing, signaling to the world that the U.S. cannot be counted on to stand up against bloodthirsty autocrats, even when a U.S. resident and member of the American press is the victim.</p> <p>I doubt that Trump understands &#8212; or cares about &#8212; what message he's sending. Wealthy Saudis, including members of the extended royal family, have been his patrons for years, buying his distressed properties when he needed money. In the early 1990s, a Saudi prince purchased Trump's flashy yacht so that the then-struggling businessman could come up with cash to stave off personal bankruptcy, and later, the prince bought a share of the Plaza Hotel, one of Trump's many business deals gone bad. Trump also sold an entire floor of his landmark Trump Tower condominium to the Saudi government in 2001. During the campaign, the Trump Organization registered more than a half-dozen limited liability companies in the kingdom, in anticipation of cashing in on Trump's enhanced renown. When Trump actually won (which apparently he didn't think he would at the time), someone must have explained he couldn't move ahead with new business there as president, because he withdrew the registrations. Of course, <span class="column--highlighted-text">a little thing like benefiting from the office of the presidency hasn't stopped the Trump Organization, run by the president's two eldest sons, from accepting Saudi largesse since the election. With many Trump properties and brands losing customers in today's highly polarized political atmosphere, Saudis are spending lavishly on Trump properties in Washington, New York and even Chicago as many others avoid them.</span><p>Updated: Fri Oct 19, 2018</p> 008d380d73539997306abc4a54cc9ece Enemy of the People for 10/12/2018 Fri, 12 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When President Donald Trump called the press the "enemy of the people," he wasn't only speaking to his pep rally audience. Autocrats and despots around the world were listening. Right-wing governments from Poland and Hungary to Turkey and the Philippines have cracked down on freedom of the press over the past two years, with little worry that the Trump administration would raise a fuss. But last week's disappearance and presumed murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad in Turkey should alarm even this tone-deaf White House that words have consequences.</p> <p>Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who was born in Saudi Arabia, wrote frequently about his native country with the fearlessness any opinion writer for an American newspaper enjoys. He called shots as he saw them. When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent to his father, King Salman, led economic reforms and lifted barriers to female driving, Khashoggi praised the moves. But he was also a critic of the crown prince's autocratic methods. Writing in the Post last year, Khashoggi said, "The crackdown on even the most constructive criticism &#8212; the demand for complete loyalty with a significant 'or else' &#8212; remains a serious challenge to the crown prince's desire to be seen as a modern, enlightened leader." Such criticism of your country's leader might get you disinvited from dinner parties in Washington but can get you killed in many places in the world. What is unusual about this case is that the assassins thought they could act with impunity against a permanent U.S. resident who expressed his views in an American paper.<p>Updated: Fri Oct 12, 2018</p> 34939f0e482a3063021f4a4e69341899 I Believe Judge Kavanaugh for 09/28/2018 Fri, 28 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Thursday's hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, was an almost perfect Rorschach test: Democrats and much of the mainstream media saw Ford's testimony as credible, authentic and emblematic of the mistreatment of women by privileged men. Republicans saw a decent man with an unblemished record being accused of the most heinous criminal acts in a last-minute attempt to derail his confirmation.</p> <p>I watched the hearings transfixed. I am a conservative who generally supports Kavanaugh's judicial philosophy, but I also believe the GOP bungled this process. I would like to have heard, in person, from Mark Judge, who Ford claims was in the room when the alleged attack took place. I believe it was in everyone's interest &#8212; including Kavanaugh's &#8212; to ask the FBI to reinterview witnesses after the allegations were made. <p>Updated: Sat Sep 29, 2018</p> bf6bcb2a5114fd71d567a55bbf59fe9c Kavanaugh Hearing Should Go Forward for 09/21/2018 Fri, 21 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The great psychodrama playing out in the Senate this week over the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has riveted Washington. The revelation of a psychologist in California alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers in suburban Maryland now threatens to derail the judge's confirmation. We don't yet know whether the accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, will appear at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Monday. Initially, she agreed to testify and said what she was seeking was a chance to be heard. Kavanaugh has agreed to come before the committee and testify under oath about the alleged incident. Democrats, however, have said that the hearing itself is premature, should follow an investigation into Ford's allegations and should include other witnesses. The Republican leadership says the nomination will go forward to a vote, with or without Ford's testimony. </p> <p>As usual these days, both sides have dug in. The Democrats want to delay the confirmation &#8212; for partisan as well as substantive reasons. Republicans want Kavanaugh in place by the time the Supreme Court's new session begins on Oct. 1. Republicans say they are accommodating Ford by agreeing to have her testify under whatever circumstances she chooses, including allowing her to do so in private and in California. They claim they aren't trying to shut her up or ignore her serious allegations; they also want to be fair to Kavanaugh and move his nomination along for a vote.<p>Updated: Fri Sep 21, 2018</p>