Mona Charen from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sat, 24 Mar 2018 18:06:28 -0700 Mona Charen from Creators Syndicate e549f156f46014d8ec28d36006c4e698 A Little Too Much Reality in the Show? for 03/21/2018 Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Watching the parade of porn stars, reality TV contestants and former Playboy models lining up to lambaste the president of the United States, as well as the daily trove of stories of wife beating, naked nepotism, gambling and official corruption among his Cabinet members and White House staff, I was reminded of a story Bill Buckley once told. </p> <p>He had been nominated by the Nixon administration to serve as one of our delegates to the United Nations. The FBI called around to his friends and colleagues, and one, William Rusher, groaned that he had already answered all of their questions when Buckley had been nominated for an earlier assignment. The agent replied: "I know, but it is my duty to ask whether Mr. Buckley might have done anything since 1969 to embarrass the president." The sly Rusher responded, "No, but since 1969 the Nixon administration has done a great deal to embarrass Mr. Buckley."<p>Updated: Wed Mar 21, 2018</p> 0b570ebe72d46d17735344ab603915ba Much More Than Economics for 03/16/2018 Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>There are so many things to lament about the modern world &#8212; fracturing families, the rise of authoritarianism, the rage for torn jeans &#8212; but there is also much to celebrate and savor. One is the abundance of great conversation available through podcasts. There's my own, of course, "Need to Know," and then there is the master.</p> <p>If you're not familiar with Russ Roberts' "EconTalk," you are in for a treat. Once a week, for 12 years, Roberts has been taking the dismal out of the dismal science. An economist and fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Roberts has a knack for identifying the next big thing. I had heard about driverless cars, Bitcoin, and machine learning, for example, long before these developments became widely discussed, because EconTalk had tackled them &#8212; and in the most engaging way.</p> <p>For most of the topics Roberts covers, no specialized knowledge is required. By now, everyone knows that driverless cars are coming. But in one of the first discussions of the technology, EconTalk considered not just how it would affect jobs (an estimated 3.5 million Americans are employed as truck drivers) but how it might change many aspects of life. If everyone had a driverless car, everyone would, in effect, have a chauffeur. Time spent commuting could become much more productive, as people worked on their laptops while being ferried to and from the office. <p>Updated: Fri Mar 16, 2018</p> ba0fee37a63f7f4532c8b9e9e0be31c4 Man of Steel for 03/09/2018 Fri, 09 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"If you don't have steel, you don't have a country" declared President Donald Trump at a press availability with the Swedish prime minister. He was explaining his decision to impose a tax on steel and aluminum. Why these products? </p> <p>Well, the president had just met with steel executives, who tend to press government officials to spare them from the burden of providing quality products at low prices. But it's probably also traceable to Trump's sentimentality regarding steel. "When I was growing up, U.S. Steel, that was the ultimate company," he said wistfully.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 09, 2018</p> f08843daa21c3ca3f897cb6fcf5e3465 Undrained Swamp for 03/02/2018 Fri, 02 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase "drain the swamp," I associate it with clean government, transparency, ethics and such like. In 2016, it became, along with "Lock her up," a favorite Donald Trump campaign slogan. Trump was not the first to use the metaphor. John Kelly traces it back to a 1903 letter to the Daily Northwestern. Winfield R. Gaylord, state organizer of the Socialist Party in Wisconsin, wrote "Socialists are not satisfied with killing a few of the mosquitoes which come from the capittalist (sic) swamp; they want to drain the swamp." </p> <p>One reason Trump enthusiasts chanted "Lock her up" was that Hillary Clinton appeared to have broken the law regarding the handling of classified information (though James Comey claimed that no prosecutor would have brought the case). Another strike against her was the blurring of lines regarding the Clinton Foundation, her family, her public duties as secretary of state and her campaign &#8212; all of which were redolent of corruption, even if nothing was proved.<p>Updated: Fri Mar 02, 2018</p> 414ffd4b3cb2612efef52a0db95ab44a Is Trump Guilty, or Does He Just Look Guilty? for 02/21/2018 Wed, 21 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>When absorbing news about the Mueller investigation, I can't help thinking of Saddam Hussein. No, I'm not equating our president with the late Iraqi dictator. I'm thinking more about our assumptions regarding Saddam's guilt. In the run-up to the Iraq War, the whole world was asking whether Saddam had a secret program for weapons of mass destruction. The head of our CIA said it was a "slam dunk." Our allies' intelligence agencies agreed. There were good reasons to think it was true.</p> <p>Saddam had used chemical weapons against the Kurds. He had threatened to "burn half of Israel." He had used nerve gas against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. Following the first Gulf War in 1991, the coalition was surprised to find Iraq's nuclear program quite advanced. Throughout the decade of the 1990s, Saddam thwarted and harassed international weapons inspectors. In 1998, signing the Iraq Liberation Act, President Bill Clinton cited Saddam's long cat-and-mouse game with international inspectors and declared, "It is obvious that there is an attempt here ... to protect whatever remains of his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction ... (and) the missiles to deliver them."</p> <p>But as we later learned, it was mostly a bluff. During interrogations in 2004, Saddam told the FBI that he had encouraged the world to believe he had WMDs so as to deter Iran. This isn't to say that Saddam's strategy was smart &#8212; he invited a U.S. invasion that could have been avoided if he had come clean &#8212; but it was a strategy. He was acting guilty for a reason other than being guilty. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 21, 2018</p> e7362477cd1d4e1c9a028d25519844ec No Names for 02/16/2018 Fri, 16 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>An orgy of mutual disgust now greets every mass shooting in America. Liberals despise conservatives who, they predict, will offer only insipid "thoughts and prayers" in the face of what they conceive to be preventable massacres. Conservatives scorn liberals who, they believe, will propose "feel-good" gun measures that would have no effect on any mass shooting. </p> <p>But there is something that we can try to prevent these horrific killings. It doesn't require legislation. It won't cost a penny. It doesn't require compromising anyone's gun rights, and it's more concrete than "see something, say something." <p>Updated: Fri Feb 16, 2018</p> f8a4c8a0c2a9b0edbfd3eb2906658b67 The Anti-Porter Conspiracy for 02/09/2018 Fri, 09 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>I'm having trouble understanding why Rob Porter had to resign his job as White House staff secretary (the person who manages the paper flow in the West Wing). Yes, he was credibly accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives. One produced a photo of her black eye and bruised cheek; the other had phoned 911 when he allegedly punched through the glass of her front door (they were separated) in an effort to break into her house. She obtained a protective order against him. </p> <p>Well, come on, nobody's perfect. We don't expect saints to work in the White House, do we? He was a staff secretary, not a pastor. It's a tough business. Besides, by all accounts, Porter performed his job very well. Chief of staff John Kelly vouched for him (at first), telling the Daily Mail, "Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can't say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him." Sarah Huckabee Sanders was equally effusive: "I have worked directly with Rob Porter nearly every day for the last year, and the person I know is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character. Those of us who have the privilege of knowing him are better people because of it."</p> <p>I cite these encomia not to point fingers at White House officials for condoning Porter's private behavior. They may in fact have been unaware of the charges against him. Some sources have said that Porter skillfully minimized the accusations when explaining to his colleagues why his security clearance was withheld. After praising him to the skies on Tuesday, Gen. Kelly revised his position on Wednesday, saying that he was "shocked" by the allegations. "There is no place for domestic violence in our society," Kelly added, but "I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation."<p>Updated: Fri Feb 09, 2018</p> a5b929709f5ed4a707b5f40ee985f75d Modesty for 02/01/2018 Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Early in George W. Bush's first term, I was dining with a friend who didn't agree with my worldview. He challenged my certitude, allowing that he wasn't sure about many issues. "Don't you wonder whether you're right?" he asked. "Well," I replied, "if I held an incorrect view, I'd change it to the correct one." </p> <p>It was a joke, obviously, but I've thought of him many times in the intervening years, as my doubts have multiplied about many questions. In that time, I've learned &#8212; slower than I should have, admittedly &#8212; that it's often impossible to know what the "right" view is. The world is complicated, and our capacity to understand, while glorious, remains limited. <p>Updated: Thu Feb 01, 2018</p> e4b562969298295f0f7ed38fff060bbe The Conspiracy Mindset for 01/26/2018 Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>I am old enough to remember when conspiracy theories were primarily the province of the left.</p> <p>In the 1990s, the San Jose Mercury News ran a series asserting that the crack epidemic in African-American neighborhoods was a plot orchestrated by the CIA. The tale was satisfying to many who were predisposed to see the CIA as a villain and who were sympathetic to explanations of addiction that excluded human weakness. The Nation of Islam expressed outrage. Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote to the CIA director demanding an explanation. There were Senate hearings and three federal investigations on the topic. No evidence was found of any CIA effort to introduce crack cocaine to American communities.<p>Updated: Fri Jan 26, 2018</p> fc5f4398d9978d328456d6d19b5d0b4e What Is the Real Message of #MeToo? for 01/17/2018 Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The feminist website Babe published an account of a date gone bad. The pushback has been swift and sharp. I share some of the concerns of the critics, but I also think young women are sending a message that is being missed.</p> <p>The account by the anonymous "Grace" about a bad date with comedian Aziz Ansari was, if not "3,000 words of revenge porn" (Caitlin Flanagan's phrase), certainly a low journalistic blow. To permit an anonymous accuser to assassinate the character of a famous man is a sucker punch. He may have behaved badly, but even assuming that her entire account is true, nothing she describes seems remotely awful enough to justify the public humiliation to which she has subjected him. <p>Updated: Wed Jan 17, 2018</p> b31b78fc42a3d3bdc452bf6e99d0a0e8 Sofia Vergara, Frozen Embryos and Forced Procreation for 01/12/2018 Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The Supreme Court of Colorado will soon rule on whether a person has a constitutional right to not procreate. The dispute is between Drake Rooks and his ex-wife, Mandy Rooks. The couple were married in 2002. They had three children using in vitro fertilization, but were left with six frozen embryos. In 2014, they divorced. Now they are embroiled in a legal battle over what should become of those "snow babies." Mandy, 40, who reportedly always dreamed of having a large family, would like to use some or all of them to have more children. Drake, 50, says absolutely not. "It just seems like a guy should be able to decide whether he wants more children or not and with whom," he told the Denver Post.</p> <p>Mandy counters, "No one has the right to tell me I have to kill my offspring." And what of the embryos' rights?<p>Updated: Fri Jan 12, 2018</p> 43a68cf7fc9071d8a57a4120388e65e8 Don't Dance on Bannon's Grave Yet for 01/05/2018 Fri, 05 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump's official statement about Steve Bannon &#8212; the lack of exclamation points made it seem as if it might not be 100 percent his own words - is welcome. The president distanced himself from his former aide and included this dig: "We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down."</p> <p>The "burn it down" temper was Bannon's calling card. He described himself to Ron Radosh as a "Leninist." Once upon a time, that was the sort of thing Republicans despised, but never mind. He famously boasted of making Breibart the platform for the alt-right, and he seemed to relish chaos and disruption for its own sake. Roy Moore's appeal was purely as an arsonist. If you can believe the new Michael Wolff book (and there are reasons to take it with a few grains of salt), it was Bannon's idea to issue the original travel ban on a Friday evening &#8212; to cause maximum confusion and, in Bannon's words, "so the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot." As for the other pond scum Bannon has promoted &#8212; Paul Nehlen and Milo Yiannopoulos, among others &#8212; they have a funny habit of sounding like fascists. <p>Updated: Fri Jan 05, 2018</p> 21912817436e79bbb83ccd2c4b76d8c9 The New York Times Covers Over-Regulation for 12/29/2017 Fri, 29 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>It may not be exactly the coming of the Messiah, but seeing a front-page story in The New York Times about over-regulation certainly feels like a breakthrough of note. Titled "One Apple Orchard and 5,000 Government Rules," the story focuses on the Indian Ladder Farms apple orchard in Altamont, New York. A small, family-run business owned by Peter Ten Eyck, the farm does the bulk of its business in the fall (naturally). Their busy season includes sales to supermarkets, direct sales to consumers, visits from busloads of schoolchildren, and "pick your own" days. That's also the time, or it was last October, when government inspectors showed up demanding to see reams of paperwork to ensure that the farm was in compliance with immigration rules, OSHA guidelines, the Fair Labor Standards Act and other laws and regulations. </p> <p>Over the course of the next several days, the family and staff had to devote about 40 hours to compiling 22 different kinds of records &#8212; everything from vehicle registrations to insurance certificates to employee time sheets. The federal rules on ladder safety alone amount to thousands of words. "It's terribly disruptive," Ten Eyck complained.</p> <p>The accumulation of regulations year after year and decade after decade at some point breaks the camel's back. As the Mercatus Center at George Mason University records, the sheer volume of federal regulations has more than tripled since 1970. When Nixon was president, the federal register contained 35.4 million words. By 2016, that had expanded to 104.6 million words. The King James Bible makes due with 783,137 words.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 29, 2017</p> c79b8d8a123a205cef557322e43c8af7 A Special Kind of Giving for 12/22/2017 Fri, 22 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Several years ago, we had a problem with a merchant. We declined to pay a disputed bill and got a call from a collection agency. The caller was both aggressive and cagey, declining to tell me who he was. I handed the phone to my lawyer husband, who listened for a minute or two and then turned the tables. From the other room, I heard a fusillade of legal terms, including such abbreviations as FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). By the end of the encounter, I almost pitied the fellow on the other end of the line.</p> <p>That's how someone who understands the system handles a debt dispute.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 22, 2017</p> ee6e559a70c5b3b092fffc14e94fc89f It Wasn't All Steve Bannon for 12/13/2017 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Republican politics was starting to feel like a version of Mel Brooks' "The Producers." In the play, two scammers devise a tax write-off scheme in which they will make a killing by losing money on a Broadway show. They reach for the most grotesque, tasteless musical the human mind can conceive &#8212; "Springtime for Hitler" &#8212; and are undone when it's a surprise hit.</p> <p>Roy Moore could have sprung from the imaginations of Democratic operatives hoping to find the embodiment of every stereotype that liberals cherish about conservatives. Ignorance? In a July radio interview, the anti-immigration hardliner couldn't say who the Dreamers are or what DACA refers to. He did not know that the U.S. Constitution, which he purports to revere, forbids religious tests for public office. In the Republic of Moore, Muslims would be barred from serving their country.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 13, 2017</p> cd734073e2793dacd6a7760cb9a3f612 Is Flirting Sexual Harassment? for 12/08/2017 Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In 2003 a genetics paper revealed that one in 200 men alive in that year was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan (1162-1227). Khan was the Mongol emperor whose armies swept out of the north to conquer pretty much all of Asia. His successors took big chunks of Europe as well. When Marco Polo traveled to China, he met the conqueror's grandson Kublai Khan.</p> <p>Genghis Khan is thought to have left more corpses in his wake than any other invader. The Mongol hordes earned their fearsome reputation. Khan sent emissaries to the city of Merv in Turkmenistan demanding tribute and the pick of the city's most beautiful women. The Seljuk Turks refused and killed the messengers. Khan's army returned three years later. The city's leaders, perhaps having heard of Khan's ferocity in the interim, surrendered, but Khan's wrath was not assuaged. He ordered the entire city to be annihilated. Each soldier was to behead 300 civilians. Merv, which contained libraries, gardens and palaces, was razed and made uninhabitable for 100 years.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 08, 2017</p> f45aec04806daf9c23156343142d28e5 Is Feminism the Answer to Sexual Harassment? for 12/01/2017 Fri, 01 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>So the friendly morning host with the warm smile was a serial sexual predator? He had a secret lock installed on his office door operated by a button under his desk like a Bond villain? The NPR guy was a Prairie Homewrecker? Next you'll tell us that that nice Bill O'Reilly is a creep. Never mind about that last one, he never even <i>seemed</i> nice.</p> <p>One popular response to the daily casualty toll of harassers is to suggest that we should all embrace the feminist explanation of male/female relations. That boils down to "believe all women" because women don't lie about these things. It's hard to imagine a flimsier philosophy. As The New York Times' Bari Weiss observed, this fetishizes women as "Truth personified," which cannot withstand a second's scrutiny. Of course women lie about these things. The Duke lacrosse team was falsely accused of rape, as was a University of Virginia fraternity. Remember the Scottsboro Boys? And a woman working for the ironically named Project Veritas attempted to sting The Washington Post by spinning a false tale about Roy Moore (in hopes of discrediting the Post and Moore's truthful accusers). <p>Updated: Fri Dec 01, 2017</p> be6dbb9920e615b0b70e91451a5a217e The Uses of Disgrace for 11/15/2017 Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In 1983, two congressmen, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, were censured by the House. Both had admitted to having affairs with 17-year-old pages. The Republican, Daniel Crane, represented a conservative Illinois district. His constituents sent him packing the following year, despite his apology and request for forgiveness. The Democrat was Gerry Studds, who represented a liberal Massachusetts district. His relationship had been with a young man. He admitted to a "very serious error in judgment," but seemed to imply that he was owed more latitude because he was gay. "It is not a simple task for any of us to meet adequately the obligations of either public office or private life, let alone both," Studds said in an address to the House, "but these challenges are made substantially more complex when one is, as I am, both an elected public official and gay." He was reelected six more times and retired voluntarily in 1997.</p> <p>At the time, conservatives saw the congressmen's differing fates as symbolic of a difference between the parties. Sure, we conceded, there are bad apples everywhere, but the way they are received tells you something about their constituents. Do they bend the rules when one of their own is caught in a transgression? And how do you define what a transgression really is?<p>Updated: Wed Nov 15, 2017</p> 4be4a4e5a59da6f290a8f52e072b856a The Louts and Dunces Party for 11/10/2017 Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Just a couple of weeks ago, it seemed that the Republican Party had thrown in the towel on maintaining any sort of Donald Trump-free identity. Sen. Jeff Flake announced that, rather than defy the Trump-supporting base in Arizona, he would not seek reelection. He followed Sen. Bob Corker's path. Sen. Ted Cruz, who, in a different universe, had stood tall at the Republican convention in Cleveland, responded to the small chorus of Trump critics in the Senate (Corker, John McCain and Flake) by growling that his fellow senators should "shut up and do (their) job."</p> <p>Now, in the aftermath of the elections in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere, people are asking whether Trumpism can prevail "without Trump." </p> <p>Laura Ingraham rushed to explain Ed Gillespie's Virginia loss as a result of too little, not too much, Trump flavor in the mix. He "played footsie with conservative populism, but didn't embrace it. Big mistake." Trump himself tweeted, "(Gillespie) worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stood for."<p>Updated: Fri Nov 10, 2017</p> e6ce0bd3aae39ee5d2f7350a4bd1d0e1 Religious Extremism By Any Other Name for 11/03/2017 Fri, 03 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We knew within hours of the attack that the New York truck killer was a Muslim extremist, inspired by ISIS. In today's climate, that means that NPR was hesitant to report that he had shouted "Allahu akbar" and that Donald Trump thundered that our legal system is a "laughingstock" (he frets a lot about being laughed at) and blamed immigration.</p> <p>The left fears that any terror attack will be exploited to stoke animosity toward Muslims and immigrants. President Trump obliges by vowing to end the diversity lottery and fulminating about the death penalty (thus making it more difficult for prosecutors to secure capital punishment, but oh well). Trump embodies the caricature of the ignorant bigot. It's a stark contrast to the prudent response of President George W. Bush to 9/11. Bush was resolute against our enemies yet determined not to scapegoat our friends. <p>Updated: Fri Nov 03, 2017</p>