Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 29 Mar 2017 23:51:09 -0700 Mark Shields from Creators Syndicate a19cb669bfe2ea130006630b1824ba61 We Americans Need to Know Each Other for 03/25/2017 Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Let's admit it: America has become a land of strangers. Even before headphones, PCs and smartphones &#8212; all of which were heralded as breakthroughs in human communication but have turned out to be instruments of further isolation &#8212; we had begun disconnecting from each other.</p> <p>More and more, we have chosen to reside near and associate, almost exclusively, with people who look the same as we do, live the same as we do and think the same as we do. Polls tell us that today's Americans do not know their neighbors as well as their parents knew theirs, and that Americans trust each other less than did earlier generations. <span class="column--highlighted-text">In spite of all the public posturing about celebrating diversity, we Americans have increasingly self-segregated into our own social and political comfort zones and demographic niches.</span><p>Updated: Sat Mar 25, 2017</p> e3857b8906d9c1e14395e43387d5ff06 The Serious Matter of Political Humor for 03/18/2017 Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only American elected president four times, had an often overlooked strength that both sustained him under the torrent of abuse he endured and served to thwart his dyspeptic political opponents: FDR could laugh at the jeers directed at him. He framed and showed off one cartoon from Esquire magazine showing a little girl, an obvious tattletale, telling her mother that her brother had just written a dirty word on the sidewalk &#8212; "Roosevelt."</p> <p>A later U.S. president who had himself proudly voted for FDR all four times, Republican Ronald Reagan, had the same gift. Criticized by captious members of the press corps for his leisurely work schedule, which rarely began before 10 a.m. and almost always was over before 5 p.m., President Reagan responded at a Washington press dinner: "It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?"<p>Updated: Sat Mar 18, 2017</p> 64863edf83c877086c759dfb5f75fa34 Why the Cuban Missile Crisis Matters Today for 03/11/2017 Sat, 11 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Gen. Charles de Gaulle, a French hero and statesman who did not lack for self-esteem, once stated, "When I want to know what France thinks, I ask myself." In October 1962, after U.S. charges that the Soviets had installed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba &#8212; just 90 miles from the American mainland &#8212; the United States and the Soviet Union teetered on the dangerous brink of World War III. President John F. Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to share America's secret intelligence with French President de Gaulle and to secure France's support.</p> <p>After the private briefing, Acheson told the French leader that Kennedy had personally authorized him to show the general the then-top-secret surveillance photographs the White House possessed. But de Gaulle waved off Acheson's offer: "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."<p>Updated: Sat Mar 11, 2017</p> 45e2c8427315ff48960660b07df3d1ec Leadership Washington Could Learn From for 03/04/2017 Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p></p><p>Hollywood's critics, of which there has never been a shortage, have long accused that California village of being the national home office of insincerity and shallowness. Two great 20th-century American wits memorably made that case. Fred Allen wrote, "All the sincerity in Hollywood you could stuff in a flea's navel and still have room left to conceal eight caraway seeds and an agent's heart." Oscar Levant added, "Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you'll find the real tinsel underneath."<p>Updated: Sat Mar 04, 2017</p> 3f280c3666ba53152371dc0a87cc1347 Shirts vs. Skins 2017 for 02/25/2017 Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Back before kids sports &#8212; with their pricey equipment, expensive coaches and summer camps &#8212; had become a major American industry, American boys, when playing pickup basketball on a neighborhood court, would simply separate themselves into competing teams, the Skins (without their T-shirts) and the Shirts (with their T-shirts).</p> <p>American political parties, in trying to figure out what to do after badly losing a national election, generally follow a similar pattern of splitting between the Shirts and the Skins. The Skins' argument goes like this: "We lost because we wavered and strayed from our party's core beliefs and founding values. What we must do now is obvious. We must, without compromise, recommit to our party's true faith and return to the glory days."<p>Updated: Sat Feb 25, 2017</p> a356fec9c285b81cd3eefcfac1636a2d The End of the Cold War and 2017 American Politics for 02/18/2017 Sat, 18 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In 1988, a full year before the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet empire broke up, Georgy Arbatov, a Soviet expert on the United States, offered this prophetic prediction about how the end of the Cold War would change the United States: "We are going to do a terrible thing to you. We are going to deprive you of an enemy." He was right. Without the concrete threat of the Soviet Union, U.S. national policy would indeed lose both its organizing principle and its national consensus.</p> <p>He has long gone to his eternal reward, but Arbatov would have been able to explain what is going on in political Washington in the winter of 2017 by reminding us that an American presidential campaign &#8212; before Election Day &#8212; also provides a convenient "enemy," in the form of a common Opponent who, because that Opponent represents a threat to all the values and traditions Our Side holds dear, must be stopped at all costs.<p>Updated: Sat Feb 18, 2017</p> 47a0f2624ff00a6c0e8612c17fd9fbbe No Man Is Above the Law for 02/11/2017 Sat, 11 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Do you remember Zoe Baird? In 1993, President-elect Bill Clinton nominated Baird, a prominent lawyer, to be the first female U.S. attorney general. Baird had told the Clinton transition team that she had, in violation of the law, employed a couple, both undocumented immigrants, to work for her family as chauffeur and baby sitter and that she had not paid their Social Security taxes. In a year when the median household income in the U.S. was $30,404, Baird was earning $500,000 annually, and a public outcry against the actions of this privileged scofflaw persuaded the Clinton White House to back away from Baird's nomination.</p> <p>In place of Baird, Clinton nominated for attorney general federal Judge Kimba Wood, who &#8212; before passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which prohibited the hiring of undocumented immigrants &#8212; had legally employed as her full-time baby sitter an undocumented immigrant, whose Social Security taxes Wood had fully paid. Bowing to White House fear of renewed political and public protest, Wood withdrew her name from consideration.<p>Updated: Sat Feb 11, 2017</p> 6941202fbe3a03cd08cc29f17e25ab76 Exposing Republican Code-Speak for 02/04/2017 Sat, 04 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In his first television interview since taking office, Vice President Mike Pence, with apparent sincerity, emphasized to "PBS NewsHour's" Judy Woodruff just how committed he and the White House are to "working right now with the Congress," "working very closely with leaders of the House and Senate" and earning "bipartisan support." If Pence were sincere about reaching across the aisle, he would not be using insulting Republican code-speak to insult Democrats.</p> <p>Three different times in his interview with Woodruff, the vice president deliberately used language to needle those political adversaries to whom he was allegedly extending an olive branch. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Instead of calling people in the other party what those people, correctly and grammatically, call themselves and speaking of "Democratic" colleagues, Pence resorted to partisan semantics by dropping the last syllable and referring to "Democrat" senators," "Democrat" leaders and "Democrat" members.</span><p>Updated: Sat Feb 04, 2017</p> d67d06ba132f929b66d9e7b36d226e74 It's the White House Calling for 01/28/2017 Sat, 28 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In this era of tweets and texts, the White House of President Donald Trump, ever respectful of tradition, is bringing back the personal phone call. For example, Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist, by telephone told The New York Times' Michael Grynbaum that his paper and "the elite media got (the 2016 presidential election) dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong." After a full-throated condemnation of the "mainstream media," Bannon, designating Grynbaum as the representative of his profession, added: "You're the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party. You're the opposition party. The media's the opposition party."</p> <p>Because it is journalism's responsibility to dare to speak truth to power and to correct the record when the powerful are wrong, let us also admit when the powerful &#8212; Bannon, in this case &#8212; are right. The Democrats took a collective shellacking during the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency. There are today, compared with January 2009, 63 fewer Democrats in the U.S. House, nine fewer Democrats in the U.S. Senate, 12 fewer Democratic governors and 958 fewer Democrats holding state legislative seats. Before Election Day, Democrats controlled the governor's office and both chambers of the state legislature in just seven states, which was the lowest number since the Civil War. After Nov. 8, in only five states &#8212; California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon and Rhode Island (no state in the 2,554 miles between Hartford and Sacramento) &#8212; were voters willing to give Democrats complete control. By contrast, 25 states &#8212; including the battleground states of Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio &#8212; have a GOP governor and a legislature controlled by the GOP.<p>Updated: Sat Jan 28, 2017</p> 1bbd7ac166555b7d99e2961ed33c183f The Opposition's Very Wrong First Step for 01/21/2017 Sat, 21 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan instructed Haley Barbour &#8212; his White House political director and a future Republican Party chairman and governor &#8212; on building a winning coalition: "The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally &#8212; not a 20 percent traitor." By practicing what he preached, the Gipper carried 44 states the first time he ran and 49 states the second while helping create a new electoral group, Reagan Democrats.</p> <p>A successful political party is not some exclusive social club with its own admissions test that people must pass to be accepted. No, a successful political party is, by definition, a coalition of different people who come together to work to win elections in order to enact policies on which they mostly agree. The first major event in opposition to the brand-new Trump administration, the Women's March on Washington, imposed a litmus test and officially excluded the 46 percent of Americans (including 43 percent of women) who, when asked by the Gallup Poll about the issue of abortion, identified themselves as "pro-life" rather than "pro-choice." For the record, 47 percent in the same survey self-identified as "pro-choice."<p>Updated: Sat Jan 21, 2017</p> 88e0a7f7b9a63b0544cce78d8254ebcd Challenge Us; Don't Coddle Us for 01/14/2017 Sat, 14 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The late William Safire, a certified wordsmith who had been a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon before becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times, concluded, after reading 56 of them, that there had been only four great presidential inaugural addresses: Abraham Lincoln's first and second, Franklin Roosevelt's first, and John F. Kennedy's only.</p> <p>As a low-ranking private first class in the United States Marine Corps then, I listened to the Kennedy speech and still remember being moved by his summons to the responsibilities of citizenship: "So, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Sensitive to his narrow popular-vote victory over Nixon just two months earlier, Kennedy was careful to avoid any partisan domestic issues and instead spoke of our collective commitment to the survival of our nation's security and liberty, for which he pledged, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe."<p>Updated: Sat Jan 14, 2017</p> 188affb5301192f53995a4c2118d298b For Republicans, the Year of Living Nervously for 01/07/2017 Sat, 07 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Outspent by nearly a 2-1 ratio by Hillary Clinton and conspicuously not endorsed by the two most recent Republican presidents or the two most recent Republican presidential nominees, Donald Trump was still able to capture six states Democrat Barack Obama had twice carried &#8212; Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin &#8212; and the White House.</p> <p>But this was only, we recall, after Trump had single-handedly organized a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, which, less than a year previously, had generally stood for free markets, free trade, cutting spending on Social Security and Medicare, reforming the nation's immigration system, and an activist, often hawkish, foreign policy. Trump won the Republican nomination on a platform of deporting all undocumented immigrants, preventing Muslims from entering the U.S., building a wall along the country's southern border to keep Mexican "rapists" out, condemning the most recent Republican administration for taking the U.S. into war against Iraq while knowing full well that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, billing himself as the only Republican who didn't want to cut Social Security and blaming "stupid" negotiators for free trade agreements that benefited elites while destroying American jobs and industries.<p>Updated: Sat Jan 07, 2017</p> 7232b952d843ac34df102b554f579031 Did I Say That? I Apologize for 12/24/2016 Sat, 24 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>For your semi-faithful correspondent, 2016 has been a 12-month exercise in humility. I apologize to you, gentle reader, for the errors &#8212; all unforced &#8212; to which I subjected you.</p> <p>My introduction to the 2016 campaign was to endorse the timeless wisdom of former Sen. Bill Cohen, a Republican from Maine who never lost an election: "I don't care how great your ideas are or how well you can articulate them. People must like you before they will vote for you. Donald Trump is not a likable man."<p>Updated: Sat Dec 24, 2016</p> 0136de7356671477ba0484dfcce25cb9 Like Charity, Patriotism Begins at Home for 12/17/2016 Sat, 17 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p></p><p>Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., holds an office higher than the presidency. John McCain is a patriot. Like his fellow warriors, he does not talk about the horror and the pain he endured and he lived with. The memories must no doubt be too personal and too powerful.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 17, 2016</p> 4ce8b4791bec9dbdc1d783d2da303383 John Glenn, the Genuine Article for 12/10/2016 Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>If you were old enough to tie your shoes Feb. 20, 1962, then you almost surely remember Marine Col. John H. Glenn Jr. entering the history books by becoming the first American to orbit the Earth.</p> <p>During that flight, Americans, watching on their black-and-white television sets, held their collective breath after reports that there was trouble in the fiberglass heat shield of Glenn's tiny capsule. If that heat shield had not been in its exact position during re-entry, Glenn quite simply would have been incinerated. Upon Glenn's safe return, President John F. Kennedy flew to Cape Canaveral to welcome him back. Pablo Picasso, no major fan of America or Americans, exclaimed, "I am as proud of him as if he were my brother." The biggest ticker tape parade in New York history followed. Glenn was invited to address a joint session of Congress. Schools, babies, highways and airports were named after Glenn, who continues, after his death at 95, as an enduring American hero.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 10, 2016</p> ffa037c2dc29170d389dcdc9c86f74a0 Marines Invade Washington for 12/03/2016 Sat, 03 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Every year, when he was commandant of the Marine Corps between 1995 and 1999, Gen. Charles Krulak and his wife would spend the week before Christmas baking hundreds of cookies, which they wrapped in small packages. At 4 a.m. on Christmas Day, Gen. Krulak would begin driving himself to every Marine guard post in the nearby Washington-Maryland-Virginia area and deliver a package of cookies to each Marine whose turn it was to be pulling guard on Christmas Day. </p> <p>At Quantico, one of his stops, Krulak went to the command center and gave cookies to the young lance corporal on duty. The general asked the enlisted Marine who the officer of the day was. The lance corporal answered, "Sir, it's Brig. Gen. Mattis," to which (as the commandant told Dr. Albert Pierce of the United States Naval Academy), Krulak replied, "No, no, no. I know who Gen. Mattis is. I mean, who's the officer of the day today, Christmas Day?"<p>Updated: Sat Dec 03, 2016</p> 8fd341690e07ff00138cfcb53456b8d6 Peace Begins With a Smile for 11/26/2016 Sat, 26 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>What do the following smile-worthy lines spoken by American politicians of the past all, surprisingly, have in common?</p> <p>Rep. Brooks Hays of Arkansas used to tell about the temperance advocate in his home state who wound up, in an impassioned speech, endorsing Prohibition this way: "I'm a minister of the Gospel, and I would rather commit adultery than drink a glass of beer." That prompted one man in the crowd to respond, "I didn't know we had a choice."<p>Updated: Sat Nov 26, 2016</p> 689b0bc71f68c042d5726aba23fd52e1 Reality Check for Democrats' Post-mortems for 11/12/2016 Sat, 12 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In spite of the inconvenient fact that when all the votes cast have been tallied (probably in early December) Hillary Clinton could turn out to have won the national popular vote by close to 2 million votes, Donald Trump did in fact win an impressive victory Nov. 8 and will become the 45th president of the United States.</p> <p>When one of the joyful men of American politics, Dick Tuck, ran for the California state Senate, he lost the Democratic primary. You can imagine the shock of the Los Angeles radio reporter who &#8212; expecting the ritual, banal concession statement &#8212; was instead told by Tuck, "The people have spoken, the bastards."<p>Updated: Sat Nov 12, 2016</p> 0eef7373efd1c38509a8f64390494f16 Gerald Ford and the 2016 Election for 11/05/2016 Sat, 05 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On Sept. 8, 1974, one month after he became the nation's only un-elected commander in chief, President Gerald R. Ford granted a "full, free, and absolute pardon" to his predecessor, the resigned Richard M. Nixon, "for all offenses against the United States which he ... has committed or may have committed." Ford's pardoning of Nixon, a brave effort to begin the painful process of national healing after the bitter divisions from the Watergate crimes, was almost universally condemned. There were widespread charges of a secret deal. The nation's editorial pages hammered Ford. His fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, piled on. The new president's popularity plummeted some 22 percent and never really rebounded. Ford's Nixon pardon would contribute, two years later, to his losing the presidency in a photo finish to Jimmy Carter.</p> <p>History would eventually vindicate Ford. His pardon, an act of courage and conscience, spared his nation the venom and the vengeance a public trial of Nixon would have guaranteed. Ford chose principle over popularity. In the 2016 presidential election, there was, sadly, to be no Ford in our future.<p>Updated: Sat Nov 05, 2016</p> 3196ff072f196c0be8c78cf7e5fe30d2 The Last Lap for 10/29/2016 Sat, 29 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We now know that the October surprise of the 2016 presidential campaign has turned out to be first lady Michelle Obama.</p> <p>When voters in the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll were given a list of individuals and organizations and asked to rate their feelings toward each (on a four-point scale from "very positive" to "very negative"), Republican nominee Donald Trump earned the lowest marks, with voter feelings of just 29 percent positive and 62 percent negative &#8212; including 52 percent "very negative." Reactions to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, at 40 percent positive and 50 percent negative, were most decidedly not terrific. But in positive contrast, 59 percent of voters expressed positive feelings for Mrs. Obama (including 45 percent "very positive"), with only 25 percent negative. She has emerged in this melancholy and synthetic campaign as a singularly authentic voice, a happy warrior, better able than any other surrogate (including her husband, President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton) to reach younger voters and to make a convincing case for candidate Clinton.<p>Updated: Sat Oct 29, 2016</p>