Other Commentaries

Death penalty debate can get dishonest

The debate over the death penalty can be infuriatingly dishonest. Consider the April 17 broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” (a show on which I am an occasional commentator). Casey Stegall reported on the legal battle in Arkansas, where officials want to ...

What next with North Korea?

There was a moment at Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s White House briefing Monday that was significant. Asked by a reporter about North Korea’s missile launch last weekend, Spicer said the administration was aware of the launch and that “it failed.” End of story. Next question, ...

Reform the tax code now!

Thanks to the beneficence of the federal government (and the calendar), we Americans had until midnight on April 18 to file our income taxes. It’s too bad filing taxes wasn’t an easier process. President Trump has pledged to reform our tax code, which, to most people, currently reads like ...

No, Trump is not a neocon

With U.S. missiles flying in Syria, the “mother of all bombs” exploding in Afghanistan and an aircraft carrier strike group heading toward North Korea, has there been a revolution in President Donald Trump’s foreign policy? His most fervent supporters shouldn’t get overly exercised, ...

One (restrained) cheer for Washington

We’ve all heard the tiresome and discouraging refrain: Washington, our beautiful capital city, is broken. Dysfunctional D.C. does not work. Even with majorities in both the House and the Senate, congressional Republicans could not pass a resolution commending Mother’s Day. But wait. We do ...

We’ve all heard the tiresome and discouraging refrain: Washington, our beautiful capital city, is broken. Dysfunctional D.C. does not work. Even with majorities in both the House and the Senate, congressional Republicans could not pass a resolution commending Mother’s Day. But wait. We do have an actual example of the heeding of the people’s voice and the prevailing of their will in our national government. Here is the evidence: Cellphone calls will continue to be banned on airline flights. This is one small step for sanity and civility, but it deserves to be celebrated. You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to know that American air travel has become increasingly miserable for the public. For paying passengers, there is the discomfort of ever less legroom and ever smaller seats. The luggage space shrinks, while the cost of it climbs. If farm animals were this crammed, the PETA people would be picketing. The continuing mistreatment of passengers must somewhere have been outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. The flawed case for increasing the already high tension and stress of airline passengers — by encouraging your seatmate to invade your privacy by boasting interminably, in your ear, on his cellphone about the biggest deal east of Yorba Linda he’s just about to close or how irresistible he was to that sweet young thing from accounting last night — was that cellphone use in the air no longer poses any safety problem of interfering with pilots’ communications with ground control. Bipartisanship, so sadly lacking from our national conversation, was temporarily revived by the possibility of cellphone calls in the air. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee spoke for both sides of the airplane’s aisle: “Imagine 2 million passengers hurtling through space, trapped in 17-inch-wide seats, yapping their innermost thoughts. The Transportation Security Administration would have to hire three times as many air marshals to deal with the fistfights.’’ My libertarian friends may argue that this cellphone ban is just one more example of the federal government’s encroaching on individual freedom and imposing a burdensome regulation on citizens and business. OK, put me down on the side of regulation, just the way I was when the feds imposed the ban on smoking on flights and when the federal government decreed that airplane wings, before attempted takeoff in subfreezing temperatures, would first be de-iced. United Airlines — having ordered airport security guards in Chicago to forcibly remove a seated paying customer from a flight (because United had overbooked), which resulted in the passenger’s suffering a concussion, a broken nose and the loss of two teeth — inflicted a damaging body blow on the commercial air travel industry. As was noted, United put the “hospital’’ back into “hospitality.’’ One U.S. carrier that does treat its passengers with respect and professionalism and whose employees often seem even happy to see you is price-conscious Southwest Airlines. One customer went so far as to create a new slogan for Southwest in response to United’s stupidity and cruelty: “Southwest: We beat the competition. Not you.’’ Admittedly, it’s only a small victory in a big struggle. But the feds’ decision to continue the ban on cellphone calls in flight is a win for common sense, civility and American peace of mind.

We’ve all heard the tiresome and discouraging refrain: Washington, our beautiful capital city, is broken. Dysfunctional D.C. does not work. Even with majorities in both the House and the Senate, congressional Republicans could not pass a resolution commending Mother’s Day. But wait. We do ...

Preventing children’s scraped knees

WASHINGTON — When not furrowing their collective brows about creches and displays of the Ten Commandments here and there, courts often are pondering tangential contacts between the government and religious schools. Courts have held that public money can constitutionally fund the ...

Whose life matters more?

Black Lives Matter. . . All Lives Matter. . . Blue Lives Matter. With all the arguing over which lives matter, we never really seem to address the real question… Does someone’s life matter more? Due to the nature of law enforcement work, there are always going to be scenarios ...

State Budget Wonderland

In Lewis Carroll’s classic wonderland tale, Alice famously asks the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the feline answers. The response was meant for Alice, but it could equally ...

The Great Reversal — for now

WASHINGTON — The world is agog at Donald Trump’s head-snapping foreign policy reversal. He runs on a platform of America First. He renounces the role of world policeman. He excoriates parasitic foreigners that (I paraphrase) suck dry our precious bodily fluids — and these are allies! ...

When Jared wins

Can someone reacquaint President Donald Trump with Steve Bannon, his ideologist whom the president now professes barely to know? Trump’s jaw-dropping public distancing from Bannon is the latest twist in a struggle that is astonishing even by the standards of a White House that deserves its ...

Must supporters let Trump be Trump?

Like a passenger on a sinking ship, the president has been throwing one longstanding position after another overboard like so much dead weight. His closest advisors, biggest boosters and some members of his family are at war with one another, in a pitch battle to steer the president in their ...

Why doesn’t college work for blacks?

The headline was numbingly familiar: “For Blacks, College Is Not An Equalizer.’’ The op-ed in The Washington Post by Ray Boshara explored what he called a “troubling paradox,’’ namely that so many well-educated black Americans “feel so economically insecure.’’ It’s a ...

The Obama party line on Syria – and reality

The Obama administration claimed that it negotiated with Syria and Russia to eliminate “100 percent” of Syria’s chemical weapons. After President Barack Obama’s 2012 “red line” warning to Syria about using chemical weapons, Syria launched a chemical attack in August 2013. But ...

PBS: ‘Learning’ to love suicide bombers?

On April 5, The New York Times published an op-ed by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal headlined “Save PBS. It Makes Us Safer.” McChrystal now runs a big lobbying firm, so that may be why he cares so much — he’s a gun for hire. So how does the general think PBS makes us safer? ...

Free local communities to set their own minimum wage

Recently, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill preventing local governments from raising the minimum wage above the statewide level of $7.25 per hour. The bill was a response to four counties passing local laws boosting the minimum to $10.10 per hour or higher. Ballotpedia.org reports ...

As fate would have it, Hillary Clinton spoke at last month’s Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security, where she emphasized the importance of peace, of women and of women in peace. “When women participate in peacekeeping peacemaking we are all safer and more ...

Executing guilty, innocent in Arkansas

Nearly three dozen men sit on death row in Arkansas, where capital punishment has been suspended since 2005. Unless clemency is granted, seven of them, an eighth man was granted a temporary reprieve, will be given lethal injections all within a 10-day period, between April 17 and 27. Why so ...

What the Freedom Caucus stands for

WASHINGTON — With a mellifluous name suggesting bucolic tranquility, Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, is an unlikely object of the caterwauling recently directed at him and the House Freedom Caucus he leads. The vituperation was occasioned by the HFC’s role rescuing ...

Doesn’t look as if he’s from around here

When John McCain, after graduating from Annapolis and spending 22 years in the Navy, made his first run for Congress from Arizona, he was challenged by a Republican primary opponent for not having lived long in the state. McCain, who, as a POW for 5 1/2 years, had been tortured by the North ...