Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 23 Oct 2017 13:06:40 -0700 Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate 07f66502b1a19fc314df233928e01eb1 The Republican Establishment Strikes for 10/20/2017 Fri, 20 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In remarkable speeches this week, two members of what skeptics like to call the "Republican establishment" took on President Donald Trump and his brand of nationalist populism. Neither man mentioned the president by name, but their criticisms were unmistakable. Speaking in Philadelphia, where he received a Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center, Sen. John McCain said of the current president's policies, "To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."</p> <p>Former President George W. Bush, speaking on Thursday, followed suit: "Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication," he warned. "We've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. ... We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism &#8212; forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America." Bush has been reluctant to take center stage since leaving office more than eight years ago, withholding criticism from his Democratic successor, President Barack Obama, even when the latter did not return the favor by calling out the Bush administration in his first inaugural address for "greed and irresponsibility." But apparently, Bush felt compelled to say something now, perhaps because he sees President Trump as destroying the Republican Party, as well as harming the country.<p>Updated: Fri Oct 20, 2017</p> d421e610a89635a64cd237aa37d448c4 Some Americans More Equal Than Others for 10/13/2017 Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"We will support you today, tomorrow and the day after," President Donald Trump promised those devastated by Hurricane Harvey. "When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. When we see neighbors in need, we rush to their aid. We don't ask their names or where they're from. We help our fellow Americans every single time. This is the spirit of America," he said way back on Sept. 1. But that was then, and the Americans in question were mostly from Texas &#8212; a state that had voted for Trump in the 2016 election.</p> <p>On Thursday, he had a very different message to 3.4 million other Americans, more than 80 percent of whom have no electricity and many of whom have no access to potable water. Many of their homes and businesses were destroyed, and many can't get to work because so many roads are still unpassable. "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" Trump tweeted angrily, just three weeks after the worst disaster to hit Puerto Rico in history. Trump did what he's best at doing &#8212; cast blame on others: "Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend," he tweeted as the House was preparing to vote on a $36.5 billion aid package.<p>Updated: Fri Oct 13, 2017</p> 635643aef16afececa03fc260d5301c7 The Swamp Gets Deeper for 10/06/2017 Fri, 06 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Tom Price resigned his post as secretary of health and human services because the president didn't like the optics of his using taxpayer money to fly in private jets to venues easily accessible by commercial flights &#8212; or even by car. But plenty of others in the administration have exercised similar bad judgment and are still on the job.</p> <p>Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to commandeer a military plane for his honeymoon but was refused. However, he used a government plane to fly to Kentucky during the solar eclipse in August, with his wife in tow, ostensibly to visit Fort Knox. Mnuchin is worth nearly $400 million; if he wants to avoid commercial travel, he can afford to pay for private jets. That's what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos does. She owns her own plane, which she uses for official travel, and doesn't charge the government a cent. Not so with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who is under investigation for chartering a private plane so he could fly from Las Vegas to his hometown in Montana and another one to fly between Caribbean islands to attend a ceremony honoring Denmark, even though commercial flights were available in both cases. And Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin took his wife along for a 10-day trip to Europe that included both government business and several days of sightseeing, with the taxpayers footing the bill for the secretary's wife's travel and per diem. Zinke and Shulkin are relative paupers among Trump's Cabinet; Shulkin is worth about $17 million, and Zinke is worth just under $2 million. Forbes magazine estimates the Cabinet's total net worth at $4.3 billion, the richest in modern history.<p>Updated: Fri Oct 06, 2017</p> 298cf938818f682c3986abeb72b5fb8d Trump Tweets While Americans Suffer and Wait for 09/29/2017 Fri, 29 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands drowned while President Donald Trump tweeted. It is hard to conclude otherwise. On Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria &#8212; the second major hurricane in less than two weeks &#8212; hit the islands, which together are home to some 3.5 million American citizens. Yet for a week following the devastation, the president found it somehow more important to focus his personal attention on tweeting about football players and the owners of their teams than he did on his job as commander in chief.</p> <p>The only possible way to save lives and restore order on the islands was to order a massive deployment of U.S. troops to help their fellow Americans immediately after the hurricane hit, but it took almost a full week for that to happen. Army Brig. Gen. Rich Kim did not arrive until Sept. 27 to take control of some 5,000 active-duty forces operating on the ground and 2,500 National Guardsmen, but far more troops are needed. Some experts have suggested that 50,000 is a more realistic number.<p>Updated: Fri Sep 29, 2017</p> 9f8b27e2c51c29f1ad10343e88d45fcb Not the Art of the Deal for 09/15/2017 Fri, 15 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Who the heck knows what's going to happen to the "dreamers," immigrants who came illegally to the U.S. as children, despite all the talk in Washington? Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program &#8212; at the White House's direction, presumably &#8212; leaving dreamers targets for deportation if Congress fails to act in the next six months. Quickly, the president seemed to have second thoughts, tweeting and making offhand comments about his great "love" for dreamers while suggesting that if they get left out in the cold, it will be Congress' fault. Then, on Wednesday, he invited congressional Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to dinner at the White House and seemed to acquiesce in a deal to pass a version of the DREAM Act granting protection from deportation as long as it is coupled with beefed-up border security. But none of the parties present can agree on what was actually decided &#8212; and Republicans in Congress are balking at any deal cut without their involvement. The "Art of the Deal" this is not. It's more like The Three Stooges at the White House.</p> <p>Except for the most rabid immigrant restrictionists, most politicians and their constituents have no interest in kicking out young people whose parents brought them illegally as children but who grew up here and contribute to their communities by working, going to college or serving in the military. Polls show that two-thirds of Donald Trump voters, along with even larger majorities of other Americans, want the dreamers to stay. Nonetheless, the Republican Party has made being tough on illegal immigration the sine qua non of conservatism, which makes it difficult to put together legislation that can garner enough GOP votes to get a bill to the floor of the House and, if passed, secure the 60 votes needed in the Senate to avoid a filibuster. With a different president &#8212; one with real leadership skills, not the reality TV version Trump embodies &#8212; it might be possible. But does anyone who has watched this president operating over the past eight months have much faith that he will rise to the occasion?<p>Updated: Fri Sep 15, 2017</p> adaad5cd3023d6cee21b4a3b69934434 Use Bipartisan Opening to Protect Dreamers for 09/08/2017 Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump's decision this week to remove protection for 800,000 immigrants who came here illegally as children was both cruel and thoughtless. Pressed by hard-liners in his administration and hemmed in by his own campaign rhetoric, the president punted. Rather than announce the decision himself, Trump sent beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions out to announce an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But in characteristic fashion, the president quickly undercut his own policy by tweeting that if Congress doesn't act to fix the problem, he will revisit his decision. It was pure Trump &#8212; all impulse and no thought.</p> <p>The ball is now in Congress' court &#8212; where it has always been. President Barack Obama's decision to protect so-called "dreamers" through executive means was fraught with danger. It was never a permanent fix; it was just a way to ensure that those who had violated U.S. law through no fault of their own could remain in the country they called home without fear of being deported, as long as they obeyed the rules. As I argued at the time, President Obama was well within his authority to decide that these young people were not a priority for deportation &#8212; but to provide real security to these young immigrants, Congress needed to pass legislation.<p>Updated: Fri Sep 08, 2017</p> a2aba2bf9dc03ba296f456d1d7aba383 While No One Was Looking for 09/01/2017 Fri, 01 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>With all eyes focused, rightly, on Texas and the victims of Hurricane Harvey, it is easy to overlook the grave threat to constitutional democracy the president issued when he pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week. On its surface, the pardon looks like just another nod to rabid anti-immigration forces. Arpaio is best known for his aggressive &#8212; and unconstitutional &#8212; tactics in Arizona against anyone he or his deputies suspected to be an undocumented immigrant, even if the person had committed no crime. Under Arpaio's orders, deputies could stop and demand proof of legal status of anyone they chose. A federal judge ordered the practice stopped because it violated the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process to everyone, but Arpaio defied the order. The judge found that Arpaio's actions showed contempt of court and would have sentenced the 85-year-old next week, but the president's pardon intervened.</p> <p>The Constitution provides that the president can pardon anyone who has committed a federal crime and do so for pretty much any reason he chooses. Bill Clinton infamously pardoned billionaire financier Marc Rich &#8212; a fugitive who had been found guilty of racketeering, wire fraud and income tax evasion, among other crimes &#8212; after Rich's former wife made large donations to Clinton's re-election campaign. But though the pardon stank of corruption, it proved to be more a stain on Clinton than on the Constitution. The Arpaio pardon is different. Arpaio's crime directly defied a court order intended to enforce constitutional protections and therefore was a direct assault on the Constitution itself. It is not just that Arpaio committed illegal acts against individuals, refused to obey a lawful court order and used his position as a police official to deny others their constitutional right to due process.<p>Updated: Fri Sep 01, 2017</p> 19453a014be4b45f475dccacfcbb3ef3 Build Relationships, Not Walls for 08/25/2017 Fri, 25 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump staked his presidential candidacy on building a wall along the Mexican border and won. He promised repeatedly throughout the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, a promise he cannot enforce. So now he wants American taxpayers to foot the bill, and this week he threatened to shut down the entire government if Congress doesn't include wall funding in a debt ceiling bill that must be signed into law by Sept. 30, when the government's authorization to spend money runs out. The president issued his warning at a rally in Phoenix this week before a crowd that cheered wildly. I wonder how happy those same people would be if Trump were to follow through on his threat, seeing as large numbers of them, judging from the audience pictures on live TV, wouldn't receive their Social Security checks in the mail.</p> <p>Building the wall isn't about controlling illegal immigration; there are more effective and cheaper means to do so. And illegal immigration is at historically low rates now anyway. The peak in illegal crossings occurred between 1995 and 2000, when more than 1.6 million people were apprehended trying to enter the country illegally. Since then, the numbers have declined steadily, with a couple of upticks, and declined most dramatically after the Great Recession. In 2016, the number of people caught was about 409,000 (in the same range as the early 1970s). And the figures have dropped even more in the first six months of 2017 &#8212; a fact Trump has repeatedly taken credit for, claiming, misleadingly, a 76 percent decline since he was elected.<p>Updated: Fri Aug 25, 2017</p> 6979d95abfc777ee52e77174f91c1ca6 Unfit to Lead for 08/18/2017 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." &#8212; Edmund Burke, "Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents"</p> <p>Edmund Burke's admonition in 1770 should be taken as a warning to us today. The president of the United States this week came to the defense of torch-carrying white-shirts, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who marched last weekend on the campus of the University of Virginia. There were two white supremacist marches in Charlottesville &#8212; one at a park on Saturday, which ended in the killing of one woman and the injury of 19 others, and one Friday night at UVA, the one the president referred to when he said at a Trump Tower news conference, "You take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee." The president babbled on at length, referring repeatedly to the "fine people" who marched on the UVA campus: "I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue."<p>Updated: Fri Aug 18, 2017</p> 3993dc22d4aad6c17179f8957118363e The President Is Provoking His Own Crisis for 08/11/2017 Fri, 11 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump assured us during his campaign, "I know words. I have the best words." But are "fire and fury" and "locked and loaded" really the best words for a president to use in an increasingly volatile international crisis involving nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles? No question, North Korea precipitated this crisis with its aggressive pursuit and testing of a nuclear delivery system capable of reaching not only America's allies but also our very shores. Kim Jong Un's bellicose threats (that he would "blow the U.S. from this planet," and other such claims) upped the ante, but should the president be responding in kind?</p> <p>U.S. policy toward the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has been a failure for decades, under both Republican and Democrat presidents. Neither diplomacy nor economic sanctions have deterred North Korea from building and testing nuclear weapons &#8212; and, most recently, miniaturizing a nuclear warhead &#8212; or the missiles to deliver them. Even former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice admits that U.S. efforts to denuclearize North Korea have failed &#8212; though her advice is to learn to tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea. <p>Updated: Fri Aug 11, 2017</p> 981f7672a8296ba1bfc351f939cd55fb Immigrants a Convenient Scapegoat for 08/04/2017 Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The administration rolled out its new immigration policy at the White House Wednesday during a week when nothing has gone well for the president. President Donald Trump has failed at health care reform. His poll numbers have slipped to 33 percent approval in a new Quinnipiac poll and 36 percent in Gallup's latest. And Congress forced the president to do something he's been avoiding for months: punish Russia for its meddling in last year's presidential election by sending him a veto-proof Russia sanctions bill. No wonder the president tried to change the subject by trotting out his favorite scapegoat. </p> <p>Immigrants make easy scapegoats, a truth the president exploited all the way from Trump Tower to the Oval Office. First, it was illegal immigrants, whom the president blamed for a nonexistent spike in violent crime in the United States. Now it is the legal immigration system in general, which the administration is blaming for lowering wages for American workers and burdening the welfare system. But immigrants, especially those here legally, aren't the problem, and cutting their numbers in half will do great harm to the economy. <p>Updated: Fri Aug 04, 2017</p> 3ff74d1cd88f9f66d86d0db939c805fa Twitter No Way to Issue Orders for Commander in Chief for 07/28/2017 Fri, 28 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Serving in the U.S. military is a privilege, not a right. Not everyone who wishes to serve can be allowed to do so, for a variety of reasons &#8212; age, physical and mental fitness, education, and legal status, to name a few. The purpose of the military is not to advance a social or political agenda but to defend the nation. These simple truths seem to be lost in the debate stirred by President Donald Trump's clumsy and ill-timed announcement via Twitter that transgender individuals are no longer allowed to serve in the U.S. armed forces.</p> <p>The decision to allow transgender people to serve in the military in the first place was barely 2 years old &#8212; unthinkable even a decade ago. In 2015, President Barack Obama's secretary of defense, Ashton Carter, announced that the Pentagon would move to allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. But perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Obama administration's stance was the announcement in June 2016 that the military would provide medical treatment for those service members seeking hormone treatment and plastic surgery to change their sex.<p>Updated: Fri Jul 28, 2017</p> 5f3d545c52cd9cbe2476c7d36c810a71 The 'Recognizing America's Children' Act for 07/21/2017 Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump may not yet have built his "big, beautiful wall" along the southern border or figured out a way to make Mexico pay for it, but immigration is one area where the president seems committed to keeping his campaign promises. Illegal immigration, which was already at a 40-plus-year low when the president was sworn in, has fallen even further in his first six months in office. The administration has stepped up immigration arrests, averaging over 13,000 a month since February, abandoning the policy in effect under several previous presidents that concentrated on rounding up criminals and recent arrivals. And the administration is intent on punishing cities and states that are insufficiently cooperative on immigration enforcement, though its efforts to withhold federal funds from such jurisdictions is being challenged in the courts. </p> <p>You'd think this would be enough to satisfy immigration hard-liners, but some are still grousing that President Trump has yet to pull the plug on the Barack Obama-backed program that gave temporary protection from deportation to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children or young teens. The so-called "dreamers" seem to be the only foreign-born residents for whom President Trump has a soft spot (save his wives and seasonal visa holders on the payroll at Mar-a-Lago). The president has, so far, refused to rescind the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but now several states are threatening to sue if he doesn't suspend the program, which currently gives some 800,000 dreamers the right to live and work in the U.S. provided they are enrolled in college or serve in the military, pass a background check and have no criminal record. What President Trump should do instead is get behind legislation introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.: the Recognizing America's Children Act, which currently has 17 Republican co-sponsors in the House. <p>Updated: Fri Jul 21, 2017</p> e8fe4853919829588426a0e601fcb3f9 Trump Jr. May Have Killed Tax and Health Care Reform for 07/14/2017 Fri, 14 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In a week in which all political eyes should be focused on health care reform, the Trumps dropped another bombshell. First son Donald Trump Jr.'s release of emails between himself and a go-between for a Russian operative seeking access to the campaign, ostensibly to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton, in July 2016 definitely puts lie to repeated denials by President Donald Trump and his operatives that Russia was interfering in our election. The Russia story is not "fake news." Russia attempted to influence the outcome of a U.S. presidential election by hacking state voting systems, by releasing damaging emails from Hillary Clinton's private server and her close associate John Podesta and by a sophisticated targeting of social media with disinformation on Clinton. Russia may well have done more &#8212; or tried to, at least &#8212; and Trump Jr.'s emails show that he was eager to receive anything damaging to Clinton, even from a foreign adversary. </p> <p>Trump and company have tried to defend the meeting between a Russian lawyer with close Kremlin ties and Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort as politics-as-usual. "Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent... went nowhere but had to listen," Trump Jr. tweeted. Really? The emails show not only that he was willing to listen; he was eager: "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer." <p>Updated: Fri Jul 14, 2017</p> 2668a37cc899361eb257721ddf2423a8 Voter Integrity or Intrusion? for 07/07/2017 Fri, 07 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>President Donald Trump's obsession with proving he won the election has gone from the slightly ridiculous to the dangerous. Rankled that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, Trump decided that only massive voter fraud could explain why reliably liberal California would tally 3.4 million more Democratic than Republican votes &#8212; and, he would assert on the basis of no evidence, many of those voters must have been immigrants here illegally. Now he has appointed a special commission to try to uncover the evidence to prove his paranoia. But in the process, he is asking states to turn over information on individual voters that could become an unprecedented trove of personal data subject to potential widespread abuse. Paradoxically, <span class="column--highlighted-text">some of the same people who balk at the idea of a federal registry of gun owners have no problem with the federal government's compiling information on their voting habits</span>.</p> <p>Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff warned this week in a column for The Washington Post that collecting names, birthdates, places of birth, addresses, party affiliation, voting history and the last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers in one location poses a national security risk. "We know that a database of personal information from all voting Americans would be attractive not only to adversaries seeking to affect voting but to criminals who could use the identifying information as a wedge into identity theft. We also know that foreign intelligence agencies seek large databases on Americans for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes," Chertoff wrote. While President Trump downplays Russia's meddling in the election, he can't deny that hackers intruded into voting systems in as many as 39 states. In large part because our system is so diffuse, hackers most likely were unable to do harm in the actual vote tally &#8212; but imagine what havoc they could wreak with all the data in one place.</p> <p>Many states, including those that voted for Trump, are refusing or limiting the information they give to the new commission. Ironically, the commission's vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, cannot by state law provide all the information he is seeking from other states. But the real issue is, what is the point of this exercise?<p>Updated: Fri Jul 07, 2017</p> 86d9f88a51c0aad78d342ba97352b659 A New Iran Policy for 06/30/2017 Fri, 30 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Five-plus months into the Trump administration, the outlines of a new foreign policy remain unclear. One of Donald Trump's frequent applause lines when he was a candidate was his promise to "rip up" the Iranian nuclear agreement, which Trump and other critics claimed was one-sided because it lifted crippling economic sanctions yet allowed too much room for Iran to pursue development of nuclear weapons. In April, the Trump administration certified that Iran was narrowly living up to the agreement to halt the development of nuclear weapons, but the administration nonetheless slapped new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program and state-sponsored support for terrorism. This new approach might not be so aggressive as hard-line opponents of the Iranian nuclear deal hoped for, but it does deliver a needed shot across the bow to an Iranian regime that continues to threaten regional peace and suppress its people.</p> <p>But what happens next? Iran continues to play an important and destructive role in Syria, backing the Assad regime in its murderous campaign against its own people. This week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned in congressional testimony that Syria's apparent preparation for another chemical attack could have grave consequences. "The goal is, at this point, not just to send Assad a message but to send Russia and Iran a message," Haley said: "If this happens again, we are putting you on notice." She continued, "My hope is that the president's warning will certainly get Russia and Iran to take a second look, and I hope that it will caution Assad." But if the U.S. response were to be another limited attack on a Syrian airfield, that message would most likely be ignored.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 30, 2017</p> 86c3a745908687bdf92a877fa71ac767 Stopping Kim Jong Un for 06/23/2017 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Otto Warmbier's death is one of hundreds of thousands at the hands of the most brutal regime in the world, North Korea's. The American student went to North Korea on a tour in 2016 and did something foolish: He tried to steal a propaganda poster from the wall of his hotel, an act captured on surveillance cameras. For his "crime," the North Koreans sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. The scene of his tearful confession in his sham trial is the last picture we have of Warmbier alive. We will probably never know exactly what happened to him, but we do know that the healthy young man lapsed into a coma shortly after his trial and that his brain slowly died. By the time the North Koreans shipped him home, his brain was so damaged he would never recover, and he died within days.</p> <p>But what happened to Warmbier happens every day in North Korea. The cameras that captured him ripping a penny poster from a wall are everywhere, as are government loudspeakers in every apartment, house and building, part of a surveillance and communication system intended to keep tabs on every one of North Korea's 25 million people. For "crimes" as innocent as commenting on the health of any member of the Kim dynasty, which has ruled the country for almost 70 years, one can end up in a political prison camp. Once in the camp, starvation rations, torture and brutal physical labor &#8212; as much as 16 hours a day &#8212; quickly kill off most prisoners.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 23, 2017</p> b2b512cfebbb62e60c3617d6676e5feb Ballots, Not Bullets for 06/16/2017 Fri, 16 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>This week's shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others at an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field where dozens of Republican members of Congress and staff were attending a practice for a congressional benefit game shocked the nation. Even more horrifying was the nature of the assault. This was a targeted, ideologically motivated assassination attempt on Republican members of Congress by a deranged fanatic who planned his mission over days and weeks.</p> <p>It is hard not to conclude that the current political divide is at least partly to blame. The bitter irony for Scalise (who at this writing remains in critical condition) was that had he not been there, the shooting would have turned into a killing field. Because he is a member of the House leadership, Scalise was accompanied by a small Capitol Police security detail. Two of these officers were also shot when they engaged and helped bring down the assailant, who later died of his injuries. Without the presence of these armed officers from the Capitol Police, the shooter could have mowed down everyone present.</p> <p>How have we come to this? Has American politics become so toxic that some decide now to settle their differences with bullets? This is a problem that affects the left every bit as much as it does the right. The shooter in this incident was an outspoken progressive who posted regularly on social media his hatred for Republicans. He volunteered in Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign last year, prompting the senator from Vermont to issue a statement from the Senate floor condemning what he called a "despicable act."<p>Updated: Fri Jun 16, 2017</p> 4638502dc978788ec9d44e64e43a6757 Political Cynicism and Religious Hypocrisy for 06/09/2017 Fri, 09 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>While most eyes in the nation were focused on former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, some 1,500 evangelical Christian activists gathered in a Washington, D.C., hotel ballroom to listen to President Donald Trump tell them, "We are under siege." It was Trump's way of keeping his most loyal supporters fired up to fight the "forces of evil" that many of them believe are trying to take him down. One YouTube viewer commented online after the speech, "And the winner is: Our Glorious President Trump! with God's help."</p> <p>In a lifetime in politics, I can't recall a more disturbing display of political cynicism and religious hypocrisy. How is it that a man who is a walking advertisement of the seven deadly sins &#8212; pride, anger, lust, covetousness, envy, gluttony and even sloth, when it comes to learning what he needs to know to govern &#8212; is a hero to those who consider themselves devout Christians? <span class="column--highlighted-text">And how can these acolytes follow a man who lies as easily as most men breathe?</span><p>Updated: Fri Jun 09, 2017</p> 0e50987aea3e076956c5c44596829c88 Clinton's Tin Ear for 06/02/2017 Fri, 02 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Hillary Clinton may be the most tone-deaf politician in modern history. Repeatedly over the course of a 41-year career as a political wife, candidate and appointee, she's said and done things that alienated voters. Who can forget her acerbic comments during the 1992 presidential race? "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas," she told one reporter on the campaign trail in describing her decision to continue her legal career while first lady of Arkansas. And then there was her response in defending her husband from allegations of extramarital affairs: "You know, I'm not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." More recently, there was her testimony in front of the committee investigating the attacks on a U.S. post in Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador: "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?" And of course, there was this infamous claim during the presidential campaign: "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables." She described these people as irredeemable, "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic &#8212; you name it."</p> <p>But Clinton's tin ear hasn't improved with age or experience. This week, she told a California audience, "I take responsibility for every decision I made &#8212; but that's not why I lost (the presidential election)." She went on to blame the Democratic National Committee, saying that after she became the party's nominee, she inherited nothing from the Democratic Party: "It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it to keep it going." She didn't bother to mention that DNC operatives were alleged to have helped her secure the nomination in the first place. She portrayed herself as a victim, even using the word to describe why the assumption she was going to win hurt her. And of course, she blamed the Russians &#8212; not without some justification, given their alleged role in hacking her emails and using WikiLeaks to dump them at the height of the election &#8212; and former FBI Director James Comey's investigation of her private email servers.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 02, 2017</p>