Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:56:39 -0700 Linda Chavez from Creators Syndicate 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> 79fcee28b292114d72906662df6c0bf8 When Beating Up the Press Gets Physical for 05/26/2017 Fri, 26 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>By the time this column appears, the voters of Montana will have decided the fate of GOP candidate Greg Gianforte in his quest to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, but Gianforte's alleged physical assault on a reporter the night before the election should concern all of us, regardless of the outcome. Witnesses and an audio recording depict Gianforte assaulting a reporter who was asking a legitimate question about the candidate's stance on the American Health Care Act, which was recently passed by the House. As reporters do when a politician evades answering, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs asked the question a second time. Jacobs' tone was respectful, not badgering as Gianforte's campaign suggested in its statement about the incident. In response to the question, Gianforte, according to witnesses from Fox News Channel, put his hands around the reporter's neck and threw him to the ground, punching at him.</p> <p>The audio recording refutes the campaign's insistence that the reporter was asked to lower his phone recorder and that he was asked prior to the alleged assault to leave the room. Instead, what we hear is a scuffle and the reporter saying he's been "body-slammed" and his glasses broken and Gianforte screaming, "I'm sick and tired of you guys!" Gianforte then repeatedly told Jacobs to "get the hell out of" there while the reporter, according to the witnesses, was struggling to his knees. What makes this case more than a one-off by a perhaps unhinged candidate is that it has occurred at a time of unrelenting hostility toward the press by the right, exemplified and encouraged by the president. This is unhealthy for democracy and an attack on our civic institutions &#8212; the kind of thing you'd expect in Venezuela or Russia or Turkey, but not in the United States.<p>Updated: Fri May 26, 2017</p> 6aced409b13ae1acb647df2d9ecbd8a5 The World Is Watching for 05/19/2017 Fri, 19 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>I take no glee in the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether the Trump campaign had ties to Russia &#8212; and I say that as a consistent critic of Donald Trump's from the day he announced his quest for the presidency. I have watched too many of these investigations, of both Democrats and Republicans, go bad. Whitewater, which started out as an inquiry into whether the Clintons had received improper financial favors in a land deal, morphed into inquiries into the president's sexual behavior with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, which resulted in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, though he was not convicted. The Iran-Contra affair began as an inquiry into whether Oliver North, a midlevel National Security Council staffer in the Reagan White House, had facilitated arms sales to the Iranians as part of an effort to release American hostages and then used funds from the sale to finance the anti-communist guerillas fighting in Nicaragua; it ended with indictments of officials who had little or nothing to do with the scheme and the overturning of North's convictions because he had been given immunity by Congress to testify on the issue.</p> <p>Who knows how Russiagate will turn out? No one. But it will damage this White House, impede the president's agenda and sully everyone it touches. The only hope is that the investigation can be concluded quickly, but that hope is slender. This is a complex investigation &#8212; perhaps the most complex we've ever seen &#8212; because of the man at the center of the inquiry. Donald Trump's empire is built on secrecy, properties, assets and partnerships shielded in layers of limited liability corporations whose finances are likely to be anything but transparent, even if we had Trump's tax records (which special counsel Robert Mueller may subpoena). The best forensic accountants will have trouble following the money trail, even if some paths lead to Russian oligarchs and financial institutions.<p>Updated: Fri May 19, 2017</p> 973e33bdd349380aad20d90ba20e5e0b Shut Up and Govern for 05/12/2017 Fri, 12 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The comparisons between the investigation into Russia's nefarious involvement in the 2016 presidential election and Watergate aren't perfect, but there are important lessons Republicans can learn from the latter. We don't yet know whether anyone in the Trump campaign, knowingly or unknowingly, assisted the Russians in their effort to disrupt the democratic process, but we do know that President Donald Trump is obsessed with stopping a thorough investigation into the matter. His latest ham-fisted effort was to fire FBI Director James Comey a week after Comey testified on the matter.</p> <p>Trump apparently thought Comey's firing would be greeted with applause from both sides of the political aisle. He was disastrously wrong. Whether his actions were motivated by an intent to cover up wrongdoing or simply to get an unflattering story about his campaign off the front pages, we don't yet know. But even the more generous interpretation should set off alarms in GOP circles. The road to Watergate started with a presidential preoccupation with bad news coverage and ended up with obstruction of justice.<p>Updated: Fri May 12, 2017</p> 23e2c67cebbd15349db8510336a622c4 Health Care Promises Will Be Hard to Keep for 05/05/2017 Fri, 05 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump has achieved his first major legislative success this week with the passage of health care reform in the House. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate and is no one's idea of a perfect solution to repealing and replacing Obamacare. But it's a start. The biggest challenge to actually getting a law in place, however, may be the president, who keeps promising more than he can deliver. Like President Barack Obama's promise to Americans in 2010 &#8212; "If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor" &#8212; President Trump's assurance that coverage for pre-existing conditions in the GOP bill will ensure that no one gets knocked off the rolls is a bit of a stretch. Yes, pre-existing conditions will be eligible for coverage, but not necessarily at the same price those with current individual coverage now pay.</p> <p>The laws of economics &#8212; not necessarily the GOP &#8212; are the problem. Republicans aren't being honest and upfront. They need to explain why no law could fix the current problems with Obamacare without allowing insurers to adjust premiums to recognize that some individuals are more expensive to insure than others. Will fewer people end up uninsured under the GOP proposal as it stands? Probably, though over time the hope is that as the insurance market adjusts, more options will be available for plans that cover at least costs for catastrophic events at a price individuals can afford.<p>Updated: Fri May 05, 2017</p> 2e00a05063965aea823760842b7c7fe8 The President Needs to Focus for 04/28/2017 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump wants to have it both ways: He has had the most successful first 100 days as president in the history of the republic (or at least since FDR, depending on which day he makes the claim); or the 100-day standard is more media-concocted fake news, and we shouldn't even be looking at it. </p> <p>In fact, the 100-day test is mostly meaningless, but that doesn't mean that we don't have some sense at this point about the way President Trump governs, and on that score, the results are decidedly mixed. <p>Updated: Fri Apr 28, 2017</p> 0be5fa0af86332a4f9061ed36b0744ac Fox's Sex Appeal Problem for 04/21/2017 Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Bill O'Reilly's downfall has led to plenty of schadenfreude in the media, but I'm not sure the right lessons will be learned out of this sad episode. First, I should mention that I appeared on O'Reilly's show dozens of times over the 15 years I was a Fox News Channel contributor, and he was always respectful and professional. Obviously, he wasn't always on such good behavior, as attested to by the many complaints of sexual harassment over which he and the network settled in the past number of years. But one thing became clear to me over the many years I was on FNC: Looks mattered. A lot. The emphasis on glamor and a certain look at FNC grew obsessively over time. And the standard applied exclusively to female on-air personalities.</p> <p>I started doing television back in the early '80s, appearing regularly on cable and broadcast news as a guest, as a commentator and occasionally as a host on CNN's "Crossfire" and on FNC's old "Hannity & Colmes" show. Getting to the studio early enough for makeup was always important, but the dress code was strictly business back then &#8212; a suit, preferably (so that technicians could attach a mic to the lapel), and solid colors that wouldn't make the cameras go haywire. Jewelry was always understated &#8212; no dangling earrings that would move as you talked, nothing too big or clunky that might bump the mic. Hair was to be well-coiffed but not too long. And there were as many brunettes as blondes on-air.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 21, 2017</p> c4e09306f05453a2584e537a38a834c2 No to a Deportation Force for 04/14/2017 Fri, 14 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump has been flip-flopping right and left recently &#8212; much of it for the good. He's abandoned his promises to label China a currency manipulator, withdraw from NAFTA, repeal Obamacare and stay out of Syria. But he seems to be digging in on his pledge to create a deportation force to rid the country of people who are illegally here. A decision memo leaked this week to The Washington Post outlines the administration's plans to hire new Customs and Border Protection officers quickly by abandoning the usual safeguards, such as polygraphs and physical fitness tests, in some instances and deploying local police to enforce immigration laws through agreements with dozens of cooperative police departments. The memo also says that the Department of Homeland Security has found some 33,000 beds to supplement its detention facilities.</p> <p>If ever a policy deserved reversing, this is it. But will Trump have the courage to change course? Immigration hard-liners in and out of the administration are counting on an anti-immigrant backlash to stiffen the president's resolve, but when the roundups start, a far different backlash is likely to occur. The majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have lived among us for more than a decade, are in families that include American citizens, work at jobs that are vital to the economy, pay taxes and spend their incomes in communities, which depend on their contributions. The idea that we can round up 11 million people &#8212; or even a fraction of that number &#8212; without harming American citizens is a pipe dream.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 14, 2017</p> 125a96fe21720149327289b6179a3b74 End of Filibuster Not Good for Either Party for 04/07/2017 Fri, 07 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Back when I was a young staffer in the House of Representatives, we viewed the Senate with some disdain. Senators &#8212; and more so their staffs &#8212; were imperious. They viewed themselves as being in the higher chamber and employed arcane rules, most notoriously the filibuster, to block actions they didn't like. But I've learned a thing or two in the more than 40 years since I left my job on the House Judiciary Committee, and I've changed my mind about those Senate rules. Sometimes we need a brake, judiciously applied, to give politicians and the country the time to come together.</p> <p>I was still in high school when Democrats filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 60 days, but I remember it as an ugly affair that nonetheless couldn't stop the U.S. Senate from doing what was right. In the end, the Senate mustered the votes of two-thirds of the chamber to move the landmark bill forward, but not before Sens. Robert Byrd, Strom Thurmond, Sam Ervin, Richard Russell and William Fulbright (some of whom later became liberal icons for other reasons) talked around the clock to try to kill the legislation.<p>Updated: Fri Apr 07, 2017</p> 5d552ba0ba0a3501c5bbee0791580ac4 The Great American Divide for 03/31/2017 Fri, 31 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If you keep your eyes focused on Washington, D.C., you might think the great divide in America is partisan. I admit: I'm often guilty of doing just that, even though I live 1,500 miles outside the Beltway. But the more disturbing divide that is ripping the nation apart is a cultural one, complicated by economics and education. </p> <p>I grew up in a working-class family with a father who had a ninth-grade education and was often unemployed, and a mother who worked in restaurants and retail. I escaped that world thanks to education &#8212; in part funded by federal grants, loans and work-study jobs. But many of my extended family members did not. When I read about the opioid epidemic, the chronically unemployed, and the explosion in disability programs and food stamps, I recognize the stories because I've seen them play out personally. I've lost in-laws and relatives to drug overdoses and alcohol abuse. Some of my family members live hand to mouth, dependent on disability payments, Medicaid and food stamps. I look at them and say, "There but for the grace of God." But I also wonder why things are so different from when I was growing up in conditions that could have led to the same outcome.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 31, 2017</p> 95719188598ff744375b96811ffca48c Hyperpartisanship Is Hurting the Country for 03/24/2017 Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Hyperpartisanship is destroying American politics. The announcement this week that Democrats will filibuster Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch &#8212; who is eminently qualified &#8212; puts them on a dangerous collision course that jeopardizes the confirmation process itself. Similarly, Republicans' willingness to pass a major overhaul of the health care system without a single Democrat vote follows in the disgraceful path set when President Obama shoved the Affordable Care Act down the country's throat without a single Republican vote. As of this writing, it is unclear whether there are even enough Republican votes in the House to pass health reform, despite their 44-seat majority, but the point remains: In an already polarized country, partisans on both sides of the aisle are doing more harm than good.</p> <p>The same applies to Congress's oversight responsibility. The week began with testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence by FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers. The testimony was the first open hearing on the government's investigation into meddling by the Russians in last year's election. But instead of focusing on something Republicans and Democrats &#8212; indeed, all Americans &#8212; should be deeply concerned with, the hearings turned into a referendum on whether President Trump was truthful when he tweeted almost three weeks ago that former President Obama was secretly spying on him just before the election. <p>Updated: Fri Mar 24, 2017</p> bf22b9d0cd29e6b78d888acf5ec82c13 No Free Lunch in the Health Care System for 03/10/2017 Fri, 10 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The health care reform bill that has now passed two committee hurdles in the House still faces an uphill battle to become law. Many tea party Republicans have already said they won't vote for a bill they call Obamacare Lite, and it is likely that very few, if any, Democrats will cross over to support the GOP bill on the floor. But President Donald Trump says he will do what it takes to get the legislation passed, though it is unclear exactly what that means. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The biggest problem, however, is not Republicans breaking ranks but the fact that despite Obamacare's many flaws, Americans now feel entitled to guaranteed health insurance but don't necessarily want to pay for it.</span> Something has to give.</p> <p>Anyone who believed that we could expand health care coverage to more people, insist that those with pre-existing conditions be covered, mandate that more procedures be paid for by insurance and impose one-size-fits-all policies for the young and healthy and for the elderly and sick and not see premiums explode doesn't understand basic economics. Insurance, by its nature, is about shared risk. When a driver goes to buy auto insurance, his driving record, age, sex, type of vehicle and location are all factors in determining his premium. A 16-year-old boy with a new BMW living in New York City is going to pay higher premiums than a 40-year-old woman living in Sioux City who drives a Volvo and has never had a speeding ticket. What's more, the premiums also depend on what kind of coverage you want. Do you want to be covered for damage to the vehicle or just liability in case you or someone else gets hurt in an accident? And what deductibles are you willing to absorb? No auto insurance policy I know of offers maintenance as part of the package, either; you pay out of pocket for oil changes, brakes, tires, tuneups, etc. The same theories apply to homeowners insurance. You pick how much coverage you want and what deductibles you are willing to pay, and your premiums are based on these factors, as well as where you happen to live.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 10, 2017</p> 7a91ca26e1603f4b898e722dbdfab743 Don't Overlook Trump's Immigration Announcement for 03/03/2017 Fri, 03 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In the Trump era, good news rarely lasts a full 24-hour news cycle. The president's well-received Tuesday speech has already been overshadowed by revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice during the presidential campaign with the Russian ambassador, despite the fact that Sessions testified otherwise under oath during his confirmation hearings. The AG has now recused himself from the ongoing investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and transition team and Russia. Nonetheless, it would be a shame to let this latest drip-drip of Trump team/Russian contacts drown out important policy pronouncements in the president's speech. One that has gotten too little attention is the president's prescription for immigration reform.</p> <p>The day of the speech, President Trump met in an off-the-record discussion with major news anchors over lunch. According to sources who attended &#8212; and later confirmed by White House officials &#8212; the president raised the possibility of pursuing immigration reform that would eventually lead to legal status for some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., as long as they have not committed serious crimes. Even more hopeful, the president said he thinks "dreamers," whose parents brought them here illegally as children, should have a path to citizenship. The president then suggested to staff present that maybe the speech he was about to deliver that evening to Congress should include a reference to his thinking on this issue.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 03, 2017</p> 94b844f2397cc1fb6171792781d2e0b0 Trump Moves Mexico Left for 02/24/2017 Fri, 24 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The United States has benefited for more than 160 years from having a friendly neighbor to its south, Mexico. But that may be about to change. This week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly visited Mexico to begin talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and on President Donald Trump's aggressive new immigration enforcement orders. But Mexico is in no mood to play nice.</p> <p>Mexico is still smarting from candidate Trump's canards about Mexican immigrants, accusing Mexico of "not sending their best. ... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." It has only gotten worse since President Trump took office. He continues to claim that Mexico will pay for the wall he intends to build on the border &#8212; which estimates now predict will cost more than $20 billion. And the plan to step up deportations of undocumented immigrants falls most heavily on Mexicans, who account for about half of the undocumented population in the U.S., some 5.5 million people. But perhaps the biggest insult of all is the administration's plan to dump non-Mexican deportees across the border in Mexico.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 24, 2017</p> 14bfc6e1fc7a419735a46e5e0f88da97 The White House Bubble for 02/17/2017 Fri, 17 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail. The White House may be in chaos; Congress may be struggling to deliver on a promised rewrite of Obamacare; our NATO allies may be wondering whether they can still count on the U.S. to defend them; the Russians may be so emboldened they've parked a spy ship off Connecticut and sent their warplanes to buzz U.S. destroyers in the Black Sea; but President Trump is heading for a pep rally in Florida this weekend. Will it work? Does it matter?</p> <p>The biggest temptation in any White House is to lock yourself in a protective bubble. I've been there. I've seen it happen. If you're a senior staffer, as I was in the Reagan White House, you drive through the White House gates shortly after dawn and don't leave until well after sunset, sometimes late at night. You don't go out for meetings. People come to you, mostly those who already support your mission or want favors you're in a position to grant. You eat most of your meals in the West Wing basement mess, where you're treated like royalty. If you must venture out, a chauffeured car drives you.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 17, 2017</p> b3af93ef43378bc9a5fe99ffad4560a9 Put Aside Petty Grievances, Mr. President for 02/10/2017 Fri, 10 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>At no point in my life have I ever felt as alienated from politics as I do now. Three weeks into the Trump administration, I find much to agree with &#8212; proposed tax cuts, deregulation, good Cabinet choices &#8212; but even more that makes me uncomfortable, indeed fearful. Despite the apocalyptic rhetoric of the election, the United States is in relatively good shape. We have an economy that is growing, albeit sluggishly; a crime rate that is historically low, though it has ticked up over the past year or so; the strongest military in the world and perhaps the most experienced, if overtasked, service members in our history; and the most educated population we've ever had.</p> <p>With one party in control of the executive and legislative branches of government, the nation is poised to make progress on several vexing problems, including reforming health care and improving our immigration system. But much of my optimism that it is possible to get important things done is tempered by a White House that seems more interested in settling scores than in moving forward to improve the lives of all who live here.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 10, 2017</p> f9027a74e3cdb4813b94c0659d4f65c4 Continuing in Obama's Path for 02/03/2017 Fri, 03 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>For eight years, conservatives &#8212; rightly, in my view &#8212; railed against the imperial presidency of Barack Obama. When he couldn't get what he wanted through the ordered and deliberative legislative process, he used other means, issuing regulations and executive orders that accomplished his goals without having to convince the people's elected representatives of their wisdom. Even Obama's signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, became law without a single Republican vote.</p> <p>The deep polarization that resulted from President Obama's ham-fisted approach helped lay the groundwork for the election of Donald Trump. But in his first two weeks in office, President Trump has shown no signs of throwing off the imperial mantle of his predecessor. Instead, he's ignoring even members of his own Cabinet, not to mention Congress, to draft orders and directives that will dramatically alter not just policy but, in the case of proposed immigration changes, the very composition of the American population. In doing so, he jeopardizes one of the most important features of American democracy, stability.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 03, 2017</p>