Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:48:39 -0700 Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate 79d3cbcce12e72ff5dbb08ab56fc4edf Humility In the Face of Nature for 09/14/2018 Fri, 14 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>With rain inundating the mid-Atlantic states and a hurricane barreling down on the Carolinas, President Donald Trump took the occasion to pat himself on the back for his handling of Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico last year. It was an "underappreciated great job," he said in an Oval Office interview, giving himself an A+ for the "incredible, unsung success." Not content with bragging about an event that cost an estimated 3,000 lives, the president then took to Twitter to question the death toll, blaming Democrats for inflating the numbers: "This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"</p> <p>Those with memories longer than the president's last tweet may remember that he claimed Maria was nowhere near a "real catastrophe like Katrina," which inundated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005. Sitting next to Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello two weeks after Maria hit, Trump said only 16 people had died. He might be forgiven for not having accurate information at the time &#8212; Puerto Rican officials were loath to admit they had no handle on how many people had died as a direct result of the storm or its aftermath, which cut off whole communities from emergency health care, clean water and electricity. But there is little excuse today for the president's willful ignorance.<p>Updated: Fri Sep 14, 2018</p> 28c526ff3a4cc1da04cc49b8c3c4238d Mutiny on the Ship of State for 09/07/2018 Fri, 07 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Bob Woodward is the gold standard in investigative journalism. For the past 45 years, his byline has ensured the accuracy of whatever story has followed. His reporting has not been free from controversy over the years, but no one in the national media has a better record of getting it right. So, what to make of Woodward's new book about the Trump presidency, "Fear," which has yet to be released but excerpts of which have leaked into stories this week?</p> <p>The reaction in the White House was predictable. The president wants Congress to rewrite libel laws. Some figures who appear in the book (based on first-person accounts of people who witnessed the events) have denied they said the words quoted. And some administration and White House officials have taken to calling the book fiction.<p>Updated: Fri Sep 07, 2018</p> a33fbe19f63775349316700f78d2d7fc Don't Like What I Write? Deport Me for 08/31/2018 Fri, 31 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The email looked innocuous enough, sent to my personal account and with a real name attached to the sender: Asher Thompson. But the first few sentences told me that something was awry: "Israel is building a wall, refusing refugees, deporting Africans. Yet, you are silent about this. You only demand Third World immigration and refugees for the USA and Europe. Why not demand the same for Israel? We both know why."</p> <p>The why, no doubt, is that I am a longtime supporter of Israel and I happen to be married to a Jew, something my alt-right critics often point to in questioning my allegiance to the United States. But Asher &#8212; if that is his real name &#8212; added another explanation: "Your hatred of whites and Western Civilzation (sic) really shows through." Right. That would be a surprise to my critics on the left, who often accuse me of being Eurocentric, and Latino radicals, who often describe me as a coconut. But it was the writer's last sentence that I found most chilling: "I just wrote Trump a letter asking that he arrest and deport you."<p>Updated: Fri Aug 31, 2018</p> 28018805e91a7777aebd52420120e105 Toady's Revenge for 08/24/2018 Fri, 24 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Hell hath no fury like a toady scorned. Michael Cohen, to all appearances, seems a hapless sort &#8212; a lawyer with no clients, a millionaire whose wealth from New York taxi medallions faced diminishing in the Uber age, a Donald Trump loyalist who received no appointment to a government job, a fixer who would "take a bullet" for a man who disdained and finally discarded him. You can feel almost sorry for the fellow &#8212; until you remember what he's done to others on Trump's behalf. Now he's willing to own up to some of his misdeeds and point the finger at his unindicted co-conspirator, the president of the United States.</p> <p>There has been nothing quite like this week in U.S. history, with two of the president's men, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, guilty of crimes growing out of an investigation into the Trump campaign. And I say that as someone who lived through Watergate, having worked as a young staffer at the Democratic National Committee at the time of the break-in (even encountering one of the burglars earlier in the day) and as a member of the professional staff of the House Judiciary Committee during Richard Nixon's impeachment hearings. The difference between then and now says much about our politics, leaders and culture.<p>Updated: Fri Aug 24, 2018</p> b5074c4f361950fe96391a4d1a1fced0 Time for Another Reformation for 08/17/2018 Fri, 17 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Few words can describe the horror that comes from reading a Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic priests in state dioceses over a 70-year period. At least 300 priests used their roles within the church to prey on the innocent. They groomed their victims with special favors, sometimes mixing church ritual with their depravity, passing around their child victims to other priests, even recording sex acts to create pornography they could share and indulge in long after. One priest targeted an entire large family of young girls, raping siblings successively over the years. These priests were men respected in their religious communities, welcomed into the homes of the faithful, entrusted with the spiritual care of believers. But most importantly, they never were punished, even when their transgressions became known. When their superiors learned of the priests' behavior, many bishops sought ways to cover up the criminal acts. Because our criminal justice system imposes limitations on how long after crimes are committed the acts can be prosecuted, nearly all of the men who are still alive face nothing more than embarrassment for the destruction they wreaked. The church will face financial penalties, robbing the contributions of the faithful to pay settlements to victims. But no matter how large the sum, settlements will never undo the harm done. Can the Roman Catholic Church survive this crisis?</p> <p>The Pennsylvania story of priestly abuse is only the latest scandal to rock the church. In the United States alone, the church paid out some $4 billion between 1950 and 2015 to victims of sexual abuse. And it's not only here but around the world that these cases have come to light; Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Ireland and other countries have experienced major scandals involving Catholic clergy. Meanwhile, the Vatican has done little but issue condemnations and occasionally remove bishops and cardinals who either covered up or were participants in the abuse, the most striking case involving Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who resigned from the College of Cardinals after allegations that he had abused both minors and several seminarians over the course of decades. Pope Francis, who has a mixed history in terms of how he has handled abuse cases, has so far remained silent about the Pennsylvania study.</p> <p>Something must change &#8212; and it must happen soon, or the church risks losing its flock and its influence. It may well be time for another Reformation. It has been more than 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg. What followed was not just a schism in the church that created Protestantism; the Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church itself came, too.<p>Updated: Fri Aug 17, 2018</p> 3464584ff4d94f06a9ce792ed93894f4 The First Family's Chain Migration for 08/10/2018 Fri, 10 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Given the foolish consistency that comes with being the hobgoblin of little minds, there was no chance that our big-brained president would be consistent on the issue of "chain migration." In November, President Donald Trump decried the practice of immigrants sponsoring other family members for permanent residency: "CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!" When the White House released its proposed framework for immigration reform in January, the president's sentiments were clear: In the future, immigrants would be able to sponsor only spouses and minor children for permanent residency. No more parents or siblings. But the president's distaste for "chain migration" apparently doesn't apply to his extended family.</p> <p>On Thursday, the president's in-laws, Amalija and Viktor Knavs, became naturalized U.S. citizens, thanks to the sponsorship of their immigrant daughter, first lady Melania Trump. Good for them &#8212; and good for Melania for bringing her parents to America and helping them become Americans. This is the story of our great country &#8212; generations of immigrants looking for better lives in a land of opportunity and then helping parents, sisters and brothers, and others to join them.<p>Updated: Fri Aug 10, 2018</p> 47199d119fca95603b2f6bdbe13335c0 There Is No Russia Witch Hunt for 07/27/2018 Fri, 27 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We should all breathe a collective sigh of relief that Vladimir Putin will not be coming to Washington this year, despite President Donald Trump's invitation issued just last week. Why the about face? According to the president's national security adviser, John Bolton: "The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year." The statement is ludicrous &#8212; and wrong on several counts.</p> <p>There is no "Russia witch hunt," despite President Trump's and his minions' repeated efforts to convince Americans otherwise. What there is is incontrovertible evidence that Russia intervened in the 2016 election by using fake social media accounts to spread disinformation and hacking the Democratic National Committee's servers and the personal email account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta. We don't yet know the full extent of Russia's activities or whether anyone in the Trump campaign wittingly or unwittingly assisted in those activities &#8212; which is what the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller is intended to uncover. Nor do we know how extensive Russia's current activity is in the upcoming congressional election. President Trump urged us to believe that any Russian interference is intended to help Democrats. "They will be pushing very hard for the Democrats," he said this week. <p>Updated: Fri Jul 27, 2018</p> fa5cabec922d1e675106818e75f04b9d How to Explain Trump's Behavior for 07/20/2018 Fri, 20 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We may never know what took place behind closed doors in Helsinki between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, but we know enough from public pronouncements on both sides to be worried. Very worried. For perhaps the first time in U.S. history, we have a president whose loyalty the American people cannot trust, even in dealing with an adversary. I know there are many conservatives who distrusted President Barack Obama &#8212; and I was one who believed that Obama lacked the visceral belief that America has been an unequivocal force for good in the world. But until Trump took office, we'd never had a president who was willing to take the word of a murderous thug over that of his own intelligence community and advisers. Trump has repeatedly done so, and this week's performance was the most blatant.</p> <p>The president, under nearly universal pressure from his own appointees and Republican members of Congress, has tried to walk back some of his most egregious statements backing Putin's denials of interference in U.S. elections in 2016 and currently, but Trump's efforts have been as laughable as Putin's lies were transparent. As many commentators have noted, Trump's Cabinet room reading of a script that attempted to gloss over as a mere misstatement his acceding to Putin's denials looked and sounded like a hostage tape. It reminded me, as a study in contrasting motives, of former Sen. Jeremiah Denton's televised interview as a POW in North Vietnam during the war. Denton, who was held for eight years, blinked out a message to the world &#8212; "T-O-R-T-U-R-E" &#8212; in Morse code to alert viewers that he was being forced to condemn U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Trump made sure his body language, stiff delivery and asides telegraphed to Putin that despite the words he was reading, he doesn't believe that Russia tampered with our elections, regardless of the evidence. Denton loved his country; Trump loves himself.<p>Updated: Fri Jul 20, 2018</p> 476a86b0760a04f0df4415b9ef0ff26c Don't Play Politics With Kavanaugh Appointment for 07/13/2018 Fri, 13 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court is a welcome move. As readers of my column know, I am no Donald Trump fan, but in this instance, the president has done well. Kavanaugh, whom I've worked with in the past, is a serious jurist with one of the most impressive backgrounds of any Supreme Court nominee in recent history. His record speaks for itself, and senators will have ample opportunity to question his past opinions and decipher his legal doctrine before confirming him to the high court. But <span class="column--highlighted-text">what they should not do is attempt to play politics with the nomination. Unfortunately, Democrats are doing just that in a tit-for-tat attempt to stop Kavanaugh's appointment.</span></p> <p>Their first line of attack was to claim that President Trump should not have the right to get his choice confirmed before the midterm elections, claiming the same logic employed by Republicans when President Barack Obama tried to get Judge Merrick Garland appointed before the 2016 election after Justice Antonin Scalia's death. I didn't agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's refusal to bring up the nomination of Garland for a vote. In my view, presidents should be given maximum leeway in appointing justices, provided they are qualified, and the Senate has an obligation to act on a nomination and vote to confirm or deny the appointment. But even though the Republicans' pausing because of a pending presidential election was a thin reed, that is no justification for not voting in advance of a midterm election, especially in a year in which control of the Senate is exceedingly unlikely to change.<p>Updated: Fri Jul 13, 2018</p> 8fccedd65d1137175511f39582200413 How to Protect Democracy for 07/06/2018 Fri, 06 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There was a time in recent history when conservatives understood the dangers of an imperial presidency. I, along with most conservative commentators, railed against the overreach of the Obama administration in everything from health care to environmental policy. Even when I agreed with the goal, e.g., giving protections to undocumented immigrants who had come to the United States as children, I argued that the method President Barack Obama used &#8212; an executive memorandum, in this case &#8212; was flawed.</p> <p>Like most conservatives, I support separation of powers and believe that neither presidents nor the courts should try to legislate. Today, unfortunately, all too many conservatives have given up on the idea that Congress makes laws, the president's role is to implement them and the courts are charged with ensuring that laws enacted conform to the Constitution and are implemented as written.<p>Updated: Fri Jul 06, 2018</p> a9a2222ee2389dc9bdbafb4c54c00096 Trump's Executive Order Doesn't Solve the Problem for 06/22/2018 Fri, 22 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Apparently, the pictures and audio of crying babies, toddlers and older children separated from their parents at the border was too much even for Donald Trump's rock-solid base of supporters. Many religious leaders &#8212; from Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelical minister Billy Graham, to Jentezen Franklin, a megachurch pastor from Georgia &#8212; condemned the administration's policy of taking children away from asylum-seekers and immigrants alike when they crossed the southern border illegally. Finally, President Trump succumbed to pressure and signed an executive order to change direction going forward. He still plans on prosecuting as criminals those individuals who cross the border without permission &#8212; which is a misdemeanor civil offense unless the person has been caught doing so previously &#8212; but now his administration will detain parents and children together.</p> <p>It isn't immediately clear whether this practice will be deemed legal. After a suit filed in 1985, the government agreed in a federal court settlement in 1997 to release juveniles caught at the border to relatives or legal guardians or to place them in facilities that provided the least restrictive conditions. The Trump administration abandoned this practice by detaining and charging the parents as if they were serious criminals and placing their children in federally supervised custody. The better approach now would be to go back to what the government has been doing for years &#8212; quickly processing asylum-seekers and immigrants who have crossed the border illegally, jailing dangerous gang members and drug and human traffickers, and releasing others until their cases can be heard by a judge, attaching monitoring devices to keep track of them.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 22, 2018</p> 0eddf9c83750e8c11cf7d9c16ac6824c Don't Make Matters Worse When Fixing DACA for 06/15/2018 Fri, 15 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>For more than a decade, Congress has refused to deal with a broken immigration system. Year after year, members of Congress complain that our immigration laws are outdated, are poorly enforced and no longer serve our needs as a nation. But despite repeated efforts to pass bills to fix the problem, nothing happens. Although illegal immigration to the U.S. has been very low over the past few years &#8212; down to a level not seen since the early 1970s &#8212; it has shot up again in the past few months as the U.S. economy has gone into high gear. We currently have more open jobs than workers willing and able to do them, which is why we are seeing a flood of new migrants trying to cross the border. So what are the Trump administration and Congress doing to solve the problem? All the wrong things.</p> <p>The administration's entire focus has been on eliminating illegal immigration and limiting legal immigration. Unable to get his "big, beautiful wall" and make Mexico pay for it, President Donald Trump has instead turned his attention to removing as many immigrants who came here illegally &#8212; and even some who came here legally &#8212; as he can. First he announced that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave temporary protection from deportation and permission to work to those whose parents brought them here illegally as children and who are currently in school, working or in the military. Although the courts have put on hold Trump's plans to remove the protections and ultimately deport DACA recipients en masse, Congress has failed to act, so their status remains precarious. The administration has also announced it will remove temporary protected status to some Haitians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Sudanese who are here because of natural disasters or war, so they, too, will be subject to deportation. In all, we are talking about well over a million people.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 15, 2018</p> 892a310ce0e977e06cf3b5c3a9294468 The Harebrained Summit for 06/08/2018 Fri, 08 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Not since President Franklin Roosevelt sat down with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin after World War II has a meeting posed such a danger for American values as the coming week's summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. The outcome of the Roosevelt-Stalin meetings (which also included British Prime Minister Winston Churchill) was the loss of half of Europe to the communists for a half-century. The stakes are not so high in the upcoming summit between Trump and Kim, but the parallels are still a sober reminder of how easily we can lose our way when dealing with ruthless totalitarians.</p> <p>North Korea has suffered under three generations of Kim rulers, and the youngest member of the dynasty has shown himself to be as cruel as any before him. He came to power after his father, Kim Jong Il, died, and he executed his own uncle shortly afterward, using artillery shells to kill him in an open field. He ordered two women to assassinate his half brother, and they did so by administering a nerve agent at an airport in Malaysia. But most importantly, he has continued to imprison North Koreans by the hundreds of thousands in concentration camps, where they are starved, tortured and worked to death. The system, known as the kwan-li-so, includes camps hidden in the mountains and camps near cities, and entire families suffer for the purported sins of individuals. Following the dictum of his grandfather and founder of the communist state, Kim Il Sung, that the "seed" of "factionalists" and "enemies of class" must be "eliminated through three generations," Kim Jong Un even puts infants and grandparents in the camps. And though Kim looks as if he's never missed double servings at meals, many of his citizens suffer from severe malnutrition. Food shortages born of disastrous central planning and corruption continue even after a famine wiped out hundreds of thousands of North Koreans in the mid-1990s.<p>Updated: Fri Jun 08, 2018</p> 04c0720d9e97716c613e00c0ab524de4 The Disinformation Campaign for 06/01/2018 Fri, 01 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The human mind can focus on only so much &#8212; and President Donald Trump has been exploiting this truism to his advantage since taking office. Each week in this highly unconventional presidency, scandals, missteps, policy incoherence and sheer incompetence have made it difficult to focus on what is really important. This week alone, the administration reignited a broad trade war on aluminum and steel with our closest allies; broke off and then restarted negotiations for a summit with North Korea, the outcome of which no one can predict; dangled pardons for political hacks and a TV personality who were convicted of federal crimes; tried to blame the Democrats for the inhuman policy of separating children from their mothers who were seeking asylum at the border; and continued a disinformation campaign that would have made the Soviets proud, alleging that the previous administration placed spies in his campaign during the 2016 election. Because each of those stories requires careful attention, all of them get lost.</p> <p>Most Americans have little appetite for politics. They pay attention (not enough probably) at election time and then tune out the rest of the time. They focus on their day-to-day lives: Is my job secure? How are my kids doing in school? Will I be able to afford to retire someday?<p>Updated: Fri Jun 01, 2018</p> 377b84a44d2e09389afce02a965c4b6b Asians Face Ceiling in College Admissions for 05/25/2018 Fri, 25 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Asian-Americans are among the most successful groups in the United States, but we often forget the discrimination they faced in getting where they are, as well as the challenges they still endure.</p> <p>No immigrant group faced as great a barrier to entry into the United States as Asians did. Chinese laborers began arriving in the mid-19th century to fill jobs, largely in the West, building railroads, mining and planting and picking crops. By the 1880s, however, animus against them was so high that Congress passed the first legislation restricting immigration. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred entry of Chinese laborers for 10 years (which was later extended and made permanent in 1902) and made Chinese immigrants ineligible for U.S. citizenship, a prohibition that remained in effect until 1943. In 1917, Congress passed other restrictions on immigration from the so-called Asiatic Barred Zone, which included the Far East, the Philippines (at the time a U.S. territory) and other Pacific islands. Not until the 1960s did Congress lift all the racial restrictions on immigration (1965) and prohibit national origin discrimination in employment (1964).<p>Updated: Fri May 25, 2018</p> a9ace5256e87d2e17e4d7e6c7bd896c8 Truth Is Best Antidote to Prejudice for 05/18/2018 Fri, 18 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The man yelling in a video that has gone viral this week threatens employees at a New York deli that he will call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he overheard employees speaking Spanish: "If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money &#8212; I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they can do &#8212; the least they can do &#8212; is speak English." <span class="column--highlighted-text">It was an ugly episode, but should it surprise us when the president of the United States feels free to call some unauthorized immigrants "animals" and the White House chief of staff says that today's immigrants from Latin America "don't integrate well" and "don't have skills"?</span></p> <p>The deli incident revealed what a lot of Americans believe about immigrants, that they come here to take advantage of welfare, that they cost Americans without benefiting the country. Chief of staff John Kelly made much the same point, though in less inflammatory language. And the president? Well, we know he thinks Mexicans are rapists &#8212; a comment he made during his announcement of his presidential candidacy and repeated in April, alleging, without any evidence, that on their journeys to the border, "women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before."<p>Updated: Fri May 18, 2018</p> ccd10b7d4c7a6b8ac537fd05362be3ec Paul Ryan's Moral Compass for 05/11/2018 Fri, 11 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is playing politics with the lives of some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that the Trump administration has been relentlessly trying to end. Some Republican members of the House are fed up. Led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., 17 Republicans (as of Thursday) have signed a discharge petition to allow a vote on a resolution to put immigration bills on the House calendar to a vote without the speaker's assent. The hope is that once confronted with actual legislation to protect DACA recipients, enough Republicans will vote for a reasonable compromise bill that can actually pass the House. But final passage under this scenario would require &#8212; horrors &#8212; bipartisanship. Ryan has been adamant that he will only allow a bill to get to the floor that can be passed entirely with Republican votes. Why? Fear.</p> <p>Opposition to immigration &#8212; legal and illegal &#8212; is fast becoming the sine qua non of the Republican Party. It is an ugly turn of affairs &#8212; and one that is inconsistent with the history of the party, going back to Abraham Lincoln. Until Donald Trump became the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, immigration was one of those issues on which a range of views existed within the party. There were free market Republicans like me, who favored changes in immigration law to allow more immigrants into the country, both because we believed it would be good for the economy and because we thought it to be the best way to reduce illegal immigration. There were also those who believed that we should allow only high-skilled immigrants and should seek more punitive measures to discourage illegal immigration, including harsher penalties for employers hiring undocumented immigrants. But few Republicans favored drastically reducing legal immigration, much less punishing young men and women whose parents may have brought them here illegally when they were children but who have lived exemplary lives ever since.<p>Updated: Fri May 11, 2018</p> c02a5544b8d5de74549728394f1ae321 The Latest Dumpster Fire in Trump World for 05/04/2018 Fri, 04 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>You have to question the timing, not to mention the content, of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's revelation in the ongoing saga of the president of the United States and a porn star. On Wednesday, Giuliani, now a lawyer for President Donald Trump, chose Sean Hannity's eponymous TV show to announce that Trump had indeed paid off Stormy Daniels during the waning days of the 2016 election to keep her from revealing that she'd had sex with him in 2006. The money's route, through the office of Trump's longtime fixer and attorney, Michael Cohen, was circuitous and delayed, but according to Giuliani, the $130,000 Cohen paid Daniels (whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford) came out of Trump's bank accounts. Giuliani is trying to clean up a mess, but he's making an even bigger one in the process. Giuliani should know better. He's a respected former U.S. attorney.</p> <p>According to Giuliani, Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 hush money by putting him on a $35,000-a-month retainer, apparently starting in February 2017. Giuliani explained it this way: "Everybody was nervous about this from the very beginning. I wasn't. I knew how much money Donald Trump put into that campaign. I said, '$130,000? You're going to do a couple of checks for $130,000.' When I heard Cohen's retainer of $35,000 &#8212; when he was doing no work for the president &#8212; I said, 'That's how he's repaying it &#8212; with a little profit and a little margin for paying taxes.'" It will be fascinating for prosecutors to discover how Cohen billed this "reimbursement," if he even bothered.<p>Updated: Fri May 04, 2018</p> 25019d0e58ad65a74c2b816619c73c22 Still the Safest Way to Travel for 04/20/2018 Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>For white-knuckle flyers like me, this week's tragic accident aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Texas reinforces our worst fears but also reassures us that flying remains the safest means of travel within the United States. I fly 100,000 miles a year, despite my phobias, and have encountered everything but an actual crash or loss of life aboard the many flights I've taken &#8212; last-minute aborted landings, engine failure, lightning strikes, fires in the galley, loss of the hydraulic system, geese sucked into the engine during takeoff. Some of these incidents required emergency landings with runways foamed for possible fire. My automatic response has been to grab for my rosary and say my prayers. The only times I wasn't absolutely terrified were when I was expected to help on landing because I was seated in an exit row or, once, when an elderly couple sitting next to me said they had never flown before and needed comforting. But every time that something scary happened, as soon as the pilot spoke, I felt reassured.</p> <p>Passengers aboard Southwest Flight 1380 report the same thing. It was the pilot's voice that kept them from becoming hysterical. It was not the deep baritone (often with a Southern drawl) that I've experienced during emergencies but a woman's voice &#8212; steady, calm and professional. The pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, had a distinguished, path-breaking career in the U.S. Navy before becoming one of the few female commercial pilots flying big jets. Just 4.4 percent of commercial jet pilots are women, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Shults flew F/A-18 Hornets and trained others to fly combat missions (she was excluded as a woman from doing so herself) before leaving the Navy in 1993. Commercial airlines have benefited greatly from being able to hire military-trained pilots, though they rely less on veterans today than in the past. It's not just that military pilots already have the flight hours and training to handle complicated aircraft. More importantly, they have learned to keep their heads clear in the most challenging environments. Most commercial aircraft today practically fly themselves once in the air, which is why we don't gasp when we see the pilot or co-pilot leave the cockpit during flight. Yes, there's another person in control of the aircraft, but autopilot does much of the job once the plane is safely at cruising altitude. Except when disaster strikes.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 20, 2018</p> 9923c3751cb60687ddd4191197dd7361 Firing Mueller Would End Trump's Presidency for 04/13/2018 Fri, 13 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The genius of an Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson would be insufficient to juggle the multiple crises facing the current president over the past week: a poison gas attack in Syria; a looming trade war with the world's second-biggest economy, China; a criminal probe involving both the president and his longtime personal lawyer; and the resignation of the Republican speaker of the House, the man chiefly responsible for passing the president's signature accomplishment, tax reform. How much worse, then, that President Donald Trump is no Lincoln or Jefferson but a narcissistic, impulsive man who knows little history, refuses to take advice from those who do, gets his policy briefings from Fox News talking heads and uses Twitter as his preferred method of issuing policy directives and executing foreign policy.</p> <p>We live in dangerous times, grown exponentially more dangerous because no one in President Trump's orbit is willing to take him on. He has fired much of his national security team and picked replacements based on their willingness to flatter him and defend him on TV. In the balance hang peace in the Middle East, a nuclear threat from North Korea and a potential economic crisis if he persists in his trade war folly. We have never been in such a perilous place with someone so inept in dealing with complexity. And all of this is taking place against a backdrop of an investigation into whether candidate Trump or his campaign, wittingly or unwittingly, encouraged or assisted efforts by Russia to influence the presidential election and whether the president has obstructed justice in attempting to shut down the investigation.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 13, 2018</p>