Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 20 Nov 2017 07:40:07 -0800 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate ee01d159fe6cd9d05d999b4fac2cf3a2 The Powerful Waging War on the Weak for 11/18/2017 Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>The story is as timeless as it is ugly. The names of the actors change, but the plot remains the same. The powerful &#8212; whether the undocumented maid's employer, the factory owner who signs the teenage worker's paycheck or the producer who can cast an aspiring actress &#8212; are in control, and the weak are, too often, at their mercy.</p> <p>Henry Kissinger was wrong when he said, "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." No, instead of being some magical love potion, power has too often been some bulletproof E-ZPass for the powerful, admitting them to the private club of entitlement, where they can sexually exploit less powerful human beings who lack the resources or the status or the self-confidence to stop such abuse. Power has been the powerful's get-out-of-jail-free card.</p> <p>Power has been almost always male. But not always, as I wrote some 36 years in The Washington Post: "The Boss was famous, influential, rich and married. The young woman was none of the above and 23 when she became the Boss's secretary and lover (some nine years earlier). ... There were trips, and there were gifts, and whether there were legally enforceable promises, made by the Boss, may be decided in a courtroom. That's where Marilyn Barnett is seeking financial support from her married ex-lover and ex-boss, Billie Jean King."<p>Updated: Sat Nov 18, 2017</p> a33756181fa2d8405394db0cab740e23 First 'Pre-mortem' of the 2018 Elections for 11/11/2017 Sat, 11 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>American voters, almost invariably dissatisfied with the political status quo, generally endorse change. In 2016, Donald Trump was certainly the candidate of change, and Hillary Clinton, seeking a third consecutive Democratic term in the White House, represented continuity. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Voters' enthusiasm for change, in the abstract, often cools when they're actually confronted with the specific changes that the winning change candidate seeks to impose once in office.</span></p> <p>Recall the smashing and historic 2008 victory of the classic change agent, Democrat Barack Obama, who, as president and with his party in control of both the House and the Senate, pushed hard &#8212; and eventually successfully &#8212; to enact national health care, which his party had long championed but which had never been realistic as long as Republicans controlled at least one side of Capitol Hill. During the 2010 midterm elections, voters, unsure about the economy and the actual changes wrought, gave President Obama only a 44 percent favorable job rating and took 63 House seats &#8212; and the majority &#8212; away from the Democrats.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 11, 2017</p> 8121a6e937625356813b53fd476f79a7 To Be a Great President, You First Have to Like Politics for 11/04/2017 Sat, 04 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On the consensus list of the most significant American presidents following George Washington, there is a common trait. Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Harry Truman &#8212; each of these great leaders was first a very good politician who actually enjoyed politics.</p> <p>Lincoln, who served four terms in the Illinois Legislature, where he helped to move the state's capital from Vandalia to Springfield, conveyed to people that he understood their struggles and he stood squarely on their side, in contrast with Woodrow Wilson, who professed his love for mankind in the abstract but preferred to avoid the company of ordinary human beings, who frequently sweat and burp.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 04, 2017</p> 03c5e47bfaf31ea01d4529d022b61867 An American President and the World for 10/28/2017 Sat, 28 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The release by the Trump administration of thousands of pages of classified documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy brought to mind two anecdotes about the 35th president and his legacy.</p> <p>After the shock of Dallas, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was then an assistant secretary of labor and would later become a significant U.S. senator, said to his friend and fellow Irish-American journalist Mary McGrory, who would become the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually." According to Moynihan, McGrory said, "We'll never laugh again." Moynihan replied, "Heavens, Mary, we'll laugh again. It's just that we'll never be young again."<p>Updated: Sat Oct 28, 2017</p> e028599f7cf857a927763647874b40d9 Who Will Not Be the 2020 Presidential Nominee for 10/14/2017 Sat, 14 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In 1963, the legendary Russell Baker, writing in The New York Times, explained how we in the press, years before the nation's next presidential campaign, are miraculously able to agree upon who qualify &#8212; and, perhaps more importantly, who do not qualify &#8212; as plausible White House contenders. Baker identified the "Great Mentioner" as the mythical author of this list. (We say such things as, "Sen. Striving and Gov. Driven are frequently mentioned for the national ticket.")</p> <p>Even though the next presidential election is more than three years away, the Great Mentioner has already come up with a roster of challengers, which includes, in addition to current and former officeholders, more than a few outside-the-box private-sector possibilities: the billionaire CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg; the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban; former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Here I will venture one categorical guarantee (but understand that this comes from the same sage who, in 2000, confidently predicted that "President" John McCain would not seek a second term in 2004): <span class="column--highlighted-text">The 2020 nominee will not be an outsider, a non-politician who has achieved professional success and personal celebrity.</span><p>Updated: Sat Oct 14, 2017</p> 0332c980ac48ed9246c950336f90b47e War Is Not a Spectator Sport for 10/07/2017 Sat, 07 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On Oct. 15, 2010, a father who knew from painful personal sacrifice the terror and the loss of combat, wrote to his son, who was at that moment leading a Marine platoon enduring almost relentless combat: "I know you guys have taken some licks in the last few days. ... Robert you will likely lose one or more of your precious Marines if you haven't already. Do not let the men mope or dwell on the loss. ... Do not let them ever enjoy the killing or hate their enemy. ... Combat is so inhumane; you must help your men maintain their humanity as well as their sense of perspective and proportion."</p> <p>Just over three weeks later, at 6 a.m., that same father would answer the doorbell at his home at the Washington Navy Yard. There, in Marine Corps dress blues, stood the father's friend Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who was there to tell Gen. John Kelly, who is currently White House chief of staff, that his 29-year-old son, Lt. Robert Kelly, had, after stepping on a land mine, been killed in southern Afghanistan. John Kelly &#8212; who, as a Marine officer, had himself written hundreds of letters of condolence to families after the deaths of their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers &#8212; now had to wake Robert's sleeping mother to tell her the awful news.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 07, 2017</p> 1175f67f390e948a6077bfac519a59e2 Democrats, Don't Blame the Voters Who Are Not Racist for 09/30/2017 Sat, 30 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>One of the great fringe benefits of working around American politics during the past 10 American presidencies has been the colorful characters I've gotten to meet. Characters do not come more colorful than Dick Tuck. Having just learned that he had lost a California state Senate primary, he was asked by a Los Angeles radio reporter for a statement, and without missing a beat, Tuck offered an original concession: "The people have spoken, the bastards."</p> <p>A half-century later, that witty one-liner has been misconstrued by some contemporary Democrats into their rationalization for their party's 2016 presidential defeat. While conceding that their nominee and her campaign were imperfect, these post-mortems &#8212; woefully lacking Tuck's humor and insight &#8212; attribute Donald Trump's victory and Hillary Clinton's defeat to the mental and moral deficiencies of the nation's voters.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 30, 2017</p> 5c27ec6d75cde16e1b35ea92ced7a9b4 3 Men Who Saved Baseball From Itself for 09/23/2017 Sat, 23 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>From Aug. 10, 1994, to April 25, 1995, Major League Baseball went on strike. The 1994 World Series was canceled. Fans, furious at both management and the players, voted with their feet by staying away afterward. Average attendance at games fell by more than a fifth, and &#8212; of more urgent concern to the owners &#8212; total revenues dropped by one-third.</p> <p>To remedy its money problems, baseball made a bargain with Lucifer by illegally and immorally sliding into a prolonged dark night, when players who "juiced" on performance-enhancing steroids and human growth hormones grew bigger and bigger before all our eyes. When these chemically enhanced Paul Bunyan look-alikes began hitting more and more home runs, fans came back to the ballparks, paying higher prices for their seats. There were 40 percent more home runs hit in 2000 than in 1995. Occasionally, some player's drug abuse would be exposed, and appropriately, the baseball owners and the baseball commissioner would be "shocked" and vaguely pledge that there would be increased testing.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 23, 2017</p> a36647201f99ed9d90a24fe340a5909b The Vietnam War 2017 for 09/16/2017 Sat, 16 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Three aging U.S. veterans of the war in Vietnam, each of whom still bears the scars of battle, took their seats on the stage of Washington's Kennedy Center on a cool September evening. They were there to discuss Ken Burns' historic 18-hour PBS project, "The Vietnam War," which will deservedly earn the nation's attention. The three &#8212; John Kerry, a former presidential nominee, U.S. senator and secretary of state; Chuck Hagel, a former secretary of defense and U.S. senator; and John McCain, a former presidential nominee and current U.S. senator &#8212; received a sustained standing ovation from an unimpressionable Washington crowd.</p> <p>Kerry credited the Burns film for teaching that "we should never confuse the warriors with the war" and that it can "take a long time for a family to get to a place where they can say, 'My brother, my son did not die in vain. They served our country. They are patriots.'" But it was McCain who made this comfortable room more than a little uncomfortable by reminding his fellow citizens of an abandoned American value &#8212; the need for shared sacrifice.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 16, 2017</p> 653c0f1c5fdbc4237225458a0f6a2041 Happy New Year for 09/09/2017 Sat, 09 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Labor Day has already come, and summer is all but over. Autumn &#8212; with shorter days, cooler nights and a new school year &#8212; is upon us. Now &#8212; in beautiful September and not in the dead of winter, overshadowed by Christmas &#8212; ought logically to be New Year's Day, which means resolutions and predictions.</p> <p>I personally resolve to break my bad habit of stupidly assuming that every other driver on the road who is driving faster than I am must be a certifiable lunatic and of stupidly assuming that a driver who is driving more slowly than I am driving has to be a moron.<p>Updated: Sat Sep 09, 2017</p> 525b5efab91316a55f3c0b7a2b04eed7 Reprimand to Trump from Pittsburgh Voters: 'It's Not About You' for 09/02/2017 Sat, 02 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On a late summer night, some 230 days into the Trump presidency, a dozen Pennsylvania voters gathered around a conference table in Pittsburgh and were asked by respected Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart to just give "a word or a feeling about Donald Trump."</p> <p>The answers from this group &#8212; five of whom had voted for Trump in November &#8212; ought to induce a serious anxiety attack in the White House's West Wing and in Republican Party headquarters across the nation: "outrageous," "dishonest," "disappointed," "narcissist," "abject disappointment," "unique," "not ready to be president," "off the scale," "crazy," "completely unfit to be president," "unbelievable" and "contemptible."<p>Updated: Sat Sep 02, 2017</p> 25dea82f1cb10c8fa57210657015a22c Needing an 'Enemy' for 08/26/2017 Sat, 26 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Eric Hoffer, a San Francisco longshoreman and philosopher who died in 1983, the year President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, could have been analyzing contemporary American politics when he wrote, some 66 years ago, that "mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil."</p> <p>Campaigns are easy. Candidates can often succeed by running all out against widely unpopular, sometimes even sinister, forces. Think of big government or big banks or big labor. Some candidates have chosen to campaign against other "un-American" influences that somehow threaten our national well-being. These regularly include people who go to a different place to worship, people whose families do not speak English as their first language and people who have come here, often with a different skin color, from non-European countries.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 26, 2017</p> 8c12e7905152a8732206e1bb784a828c The President Is Also a Moral Leader for 08/19/2017 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It was obviously an earlier, less cynical time when the president of the United States could explain an unscheduled drive from the White House he had once taken. "I was outraged," the president wrote when he was out of office, "when I read in the newspapers about a black family. ... The husband and wife were both employed in a government printing office. They had been harassed and a cross had been burned on their lawn." The president and the first lady had driven, without fanfare, from the White House to the family home of Philip and Barbara Butler, which was in a predominantly white subdivision in suburban Prince George's County, Maryland. The president added, "Our motorcade had naturally been noticed ... and our farewells at curbside were warmly applauded by the neighbors."</p> <p>The year of that visit was 1982, and the president was Ronald Reagan, who understood that the president is the only American who can speak to all of us and speak for all of us. That simple presidential visit was testimony to Reagan's personal identification with and support for the victims of a racial attack and also expressed the nation's sympathy.<p>Updated: Sat Aug 19, 2017</p> c0434c18ebae43bd1bdc5b6bae655fe8 Authentic Republican Wisdom for 08/05/2017 Sat, 05 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>American campaigns were not always, I can testify from personal witness, about the politics of personal destruction. Your political adversary was your opponent, not your enemy. Just 10 years ago, at the funeral of a former Republican president, the eulogy, at the personal request of the deceased, was given by the Democratic president who had defeated him in a race so close that with a switch of only 12,785 votes in two states &#8212; Ohio and Mississippi &#8212; Republican Gerald Ford would have won instead of Democrat Jimmy Carter.</p> <p>Honoring the national reconciliation Jerry Ford had, by the strength of his own decency, personally brought to a divided and disillusioned country after Watergate and President Richard Nixon's resignation in disgrace, Carter began by quoting himself: "For myself and for our nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land." He then self-deprecatingly explained, "Those were the first words I spoke as president, and I still hate to admit that they received more applause than any other words in my inaugural address."<p>Updated: Sat Aug 05, 2017</p> 3e7c35f79c73f72348a9a38ad94c4c9c Missing Case for Republican Health Care for 07/29/2017 Sat, 29 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>At 2 o'clock on a Friday morning in July &#8212; after having successfully run in three national elections on their party's repeated promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which Barack Obama had spent the first two years of his own presidency (and a lot of political popularity) getting passed &#8212; the case of those in the Senate majority leadership to fellow Senate Republicans for honoring that vow came down to a single assurance: Vote for this bare-bones bill, which nobody has ever seen before and would take health care away from only 16 million of our fellow citizens, even though, you have our solemn word, it will never become law.</p> <p>As weak as that reasoning may have been, it was far more persuasive than anything from the nation's chief executive, who chose to use his time to tell the world instead how he was "very disappointed with the attorney general," who, in addition to being "weak" and "beleaguered," had, by honorably recusing himself from any investigation of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, been "unfair" to the president. This behavior once again raised the still-unanswered question for our elected billionaire leader: If you're so rich, why aren't you smart?<p>Updated: Sat Jul 29, 2017</p> 442b140dfa01027782abd1b90c010eaf McCain the Patriot for 07/22/2017 Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In this unheroic era when prominent American males prove their abiding patriotism by prominently displaying an American flag pin in the lapel of their suit jacket, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., remains seriously out of step.</p> <p>McCain has never been a flag waver. With the steady devotion of a lifetime of service, McCain has instead chosen to defend what our flag stands for.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 22, 2017</p> 5273204b712f052b4c1e053d558c3934 Unanswered Questions of 2017 for 07/15/2017 Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In the nervous Washington summer of 2017, with Republicans reeling from embarrassing disclosure after embarrassing disclosure, opposition Democrats, even before President Trump recently announced in Paris: "France is America's first and oldest ally. A lot of people don't know that," have already been following the strategy first recommended by a great Gallic leader, Napoleon Bonaparte: "Never interfere with an opponent while he's in the process of destroying himself."</p> <p>As the Trump administration continues to bear an increasing resemblance to former President Warren Harding's administration &#8212; but without the integrity &#8212; and as presidential intimates continue to amend their sworn statements about foreign individuals and interests with whom they have met, it may be time to restate the Two Iron Rules of Washington Scandals.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 15, 2017</p> 88b9a2226e056fc081dbfa5307508078 Not the Most Dependable of Friends for 07/01/2017 Sat, 01 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dean Heller is a 57-year-old Mormon, husband and father of four who &#8212; because he is a U.S. senator from Nevada (having won in 2012 by a paper-thin 46-45 percent margin), a state that Barack Obama carried twice, and because he is the only GOP senator running in 2018 in a state that Hillary Clinton carried &#8212; is commonly referred to as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent facing re-election. Because Heller represents one-half of the two-seat majority by which Republicans now control the U.S. Senate, his re-election matters greatly to Mitch McConnell, the senator from Kentucky who desperately wishes to remain Senate majority leader.</p> <p>Seeing as the most recent USA Today/Suffolk University national poll showed that a dismal 12 percent of Americans support the Senate Republican plan to replace Obamacare and seeing as Nevada's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, with a 66 percent favorable job rating, maintains that a big reason the number of Nevada's uninsured children has been cut in half since 2012 is that his was the first GOP state to embrace Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, it should not have shocked anyone, least of all the White House, that the embattled Heller joined Sandoval in publicly opposing the widely unpopular bill.<p>Updated: Sat Jul 01, 2017</p> 4d860f33e9006058293ef0bed7189054 Character Beyond Measure for 06/24/2017 Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Americans have reason to trust in progress. By so many different yardsticks, we can gauge improvement just over the past half-century. We are indisputably more tolerant and accepting than we were in the 1960s. The percentage of American women with a college degree is five times greater today than it was in 1964. Back then, millions of black Americans were systematically denied the right to vote in many places, most especially in states of the old Confederacy. By 2012, for the first time in U.S. history, a higher percentage of blacks (66 percent) voted nationally than did whites (64 percent). The poverty rate among the American elderly has been cut by two-thirds, largely attributable to Social Security. (Unforgivably, the poverty rate among the politically powerless, children, remains higher today than it was 48 years ago.) Our air and water are both dramatically cleaner. In just over a half-century, while the U.S. population has not even doubled, the nation's gross domestic product has increased nearly sixfold. There is much to celebrate.</p> <p>But moral progress in American public life is much less clear. Take the national campaign of 1964. There was little suspense about the outcome. American voters were in no mood, 11 1/2 months after the national trauma of the assassination of the martyred John F. Kennedy, to switch to a third different president in 14 months &#8212; which is what Republican Barry Goldwater would have been. But on Oct. 7, President Lyndon B. Johnson's closest and most trusted aide, Walter Jenkins, the seemingly happily married father of six children, after a cocktail party at Newsweek's new Washington office, walked two blocks to a YMCA, where he &#8212; along with a 60-year-old Army veteran whom he did not know &#8212; was arrested on a charge of indecent sexual behavior in the men's room.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 24, 2017</p> 5da6078c32eccc153e8094d325cc18a7 Donald Trump Is No Richard Nixon for 06/17/2017 Sat, 17 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In just 13 days in October 1973, Washington endured a series of seismic political shocks. On Oct. 10, Vice President Spiro Agnew &#8212; having pleaded guilty in a federal courthouse in Baltimore to failure to pay taxes on thousands of dollars in bribes he, as both Maryland governor and VP, had shaken down from businessmen &#8212; resigned his office. On Oct. 20, President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox for rejecting Nixon's offer of a synopsis of the 64 White House tapes the Supreme Court had ordered him to turn over instead of the actual tapes. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused to fire Cox, and both men resigned. Then Solicitor General Robert Bork, the next in command, did fire Cox. On Oct. 23, House Democrats, following the lead of House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill, decided that the House Judiciary Committee would begin impeachment hearings on President Nixon.</p> <p>On May 9, 2017, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating Russian efforts to sabotage the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton and to aid Republican Trump's campaign. Recently, the staff and family of President Trump have reportedly persuaded him, for the moment, not to fire Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who was appointed, in the wake of the Comey firing, as special counsel by the Justice Department to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.<p>Updated: Sat Jun 17, 2017</p>