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Steve Chapman

Realism in fighting the Islamic State

After a bloody series of terrorist attacks, the natural impulse is to respond with overwhelming force to make sure they never happen again. The 9/11 carnage prompted a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to smash al-Qaida, which carried out the attacks, and remove the Taliban, which furnished the plotters a safe refuge.

Republican tax fantasies

The Republican presidential candidates have not rallied behind Ben Carson in his clash with the news media, but they should be grateful to him. His misrepresentation of reality on matters concerning his past has distracted attention from his rivals’ misrepresentations of reality on a matter concerning the nation’s future: tax policy.

On pot, can we keep up with the neighbors?

Canada was recently ranked the freest country in the world, but newly installed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t about to let it rest on its maple leaves. He won the October national elections after proposing something no major American presidential nominee has ever dared to endorse: legalizing marijuana.

Transgender students in the locker room

High school locker rooms are not places kids go to feel comfortable and relaxed. Baring your entire body to classmates and adults — friends, enemies, strangers, coaches — is a disagreeable obligation for most students. But for decades, the desire of adolescents for privacy has been deemed irrelevant.

Hillary Clinton and gun buybacks

Barack Obama promised he wouldn’t take away anyone’s guns, but gun rights alarmists have spent seven years incessantly predicting he will. From his experience, Hillary Clinton seems to have decided to skip the part of the campaign that involves placating the National Rifle Association.

The surprising disappearance of inflation

In a world in which the Cold War is a fading memory, North Korea and Cuba endure as museums of communism, so no one will forget how criminally insane it always was. In a world haunted by the specter of persistently falling prices, some countries are creating severe inflation, so we can be grateful for its virtual disappearance.

Sanders and Clinton vs. Capitalism

On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, along with other Democratic presidential candidates, were in Las Vegas, a city that does not believe in stifling commercialism, at the Wynn hotel, where suites go for as much as $900 per night. They came to deplore the evils of capitalism.

Putin will find appearances can deceive

It’s now a tenet of conventional wisdom that our policy in Syria is an embarrassment as well as a flop. Washington insiders place great importance on “optics,” and the sight of Russian President Vladimir Putin flexing his muscles is making their eyes sting.

Ben Carson and the Politics of Fantasy

If only Ben Carson had been in that classroom at Umpqua Community College, the outcome might have been different. The gunman reportedly asked several people their religion, only to be shot regardless of the answer. Carson said he would have been braver than they were.

Putin in Syria: So what?

Vladimir Putin is having a field day in the Middle East. He has sent Russian planes to bomb rebels in Syria. He has reached an intelligence-sharing agreement with Syria, Iran and Iraq. At the U.N. Monday, he reaffirmed his commitment to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He seems determined to fill the regional vacuum allegedly left by the United States.

False economies on refugees

When it comes to war, Americans are heroically indifferent to cost. Our ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan cost at least $4 trillion, but the price tags were barely considered beforehand — or after. When dangers abroad demand military action, money is no object.

The Case for the “Right To Die”

Life is a gift that can also become an intolerable burden. For those afflicted with terminal diseases, the grim approach of death is accompanied by what, for some, is the unbearable prospect of pain, confusion and helplessness. If death can’t be avoided, they would like to decide how and when it comes.

Why We Should Take More Syrian Refugees

In the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell sometimes invoked what he referred to as the Pottery Barn Rule: “You break it, you own it.” The obligations of ownership are now coming due, in the form of millions of refugees desperate to escape the strife of the Middle East.

No, the system is not broken

If there is anything presidential candidates agree on this year, it’s that our government and politics are not functioning to fulfill the desires of the American people. Donald Trump proclaims that “our system is broken.”

Republicans and racial fears

After the 2008 presidential election, it was obvious that American politics was entering a new era in which race would figure less than it had before. For the first time in our history, we had a president who was not white, and it was bound to have a profound, positive impact.

Surrendering a Birthright

Republican presidential candidates often invoke Jesus, but lately they sound more like Jehovah. The Old Testament says, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Punishing kids for their parents’ sins is the idea behind proposals to revoke birthright citizenship.

Are Democrats Really Socialists?

Socialism has had a rough few decades, but it’s enjoying a rare success. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist, is running for president, drawing big crowds and leading Hillary Clinton in one poll in New Hampshire. All this leads some people to a damning conclusion: Democrats love Sanders because Democrats are socialists.

Chris Christie: Not just a memory

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Chris Christie bills himself as the candidate willing to speak the truth even if his audience doesn’t want to hear it. Opening his talk at Beck’s Sports Grill, he wastes no time inviting a negative reaction.

Martin O’Malley, unknown but not implausible

In a party that produced such talented speakers as Mario Cuomo, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, this year’s presidential race looks like a slog through an oratorical desert. Yet last week, the Iowa Democratic Party hosted a dinner so masochists could hear five White House aspirants deliver speeches.

Psychiatry ain’t what it used to be

There was a time when most of what I knew about psychiatrists came from Woody Allen. In his 1973 movie “Sleeper,” his character wakes up in the future and complains, “I haven’t seen my analyst in 200 years. He was a strict Freudian, and if I’d been going all this time I’d probably almost be cured by now.” But even his treatment sounded better than what Jack Nicholson’s character got in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” for being rebellious: a lobotomy.