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.
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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.
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.
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.
When the Iran deal was completed, Republicans took on a creative exercise. The assignment: Come up with the most outrageously hyperbolic condemnation you can think of. And they aced it.
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.”
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.
Bernie Sanders’ record skews way to the left on one issue after another: health care, taxes, campaign finance, international trade, abortion and the Iraq war. Gun control? Not so much.
Banning things you don’t like has a long history, though not a happy one. Americans have tried banning alcohol, marijuana, pornography and homosexuality. All of them persisted anyway.
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.
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.
Barack Obama’s critics think
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.
Confronting reality is not always a pleasant experience, but it is always a useful one. The covertly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials are a reminder that destroying fetuses is an ugly process with fatal results.
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.
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.
If Rip Van Winkle had gone to sleep sometime in the past five decades and awakened today, he would know nothing about the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. But he would have no trouble following the debate, because he’s heard it before. Presidents, adversaries and the world have changed; the arguments have not.
In recent decades, there have been many ways to make money and one virtually infallible formula for losing it: running an airline. At times, it might have made more sense for the major carriers to set up bonfires of cash on tarmacs rather than actually transport people.
Since 1995, Los Angeles has been an anomaly: a huge city with lots of sports fans that has exactly as much professional football as Billings, Montana. This week, Angelenos got a bit of good news: They still aren’t getting an NFL franchise.
The old joke about making love to a gorilla is that you don’t stop when you’re tired; you stop when the gorilla is tired. In modern American agriculture, one of the gorillas is McDonald’s, the biggest restaurant chain on Earth. The other day it announced a change for its U.S. outlets that will force suppliers to adapt.
When a Texas jury rejected an insanity defense and convicted Eddie Ray Routh in the murder of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, it raised a question: If this guy isn’t crazy, who is?
The breakdown of the black family is a sensitive topic, though it’s not new and it’s not in dispute. President Barack Obama, who grew up with an absent father, often urges black men to be responsible parents.
Foreign policy is a complicated and bottomless topic, which forces politicians to address it with abstract words and punchy sound bites. Smart politicians know the difference between the messy realities and the simple pictures they paint. The danger lies with politicians who mistake the slogans for reality.
Baseball, being the noblest sport, has many lessons to teach: the value of daily persistence, the inevitability of failure and the likelihood that luck will not override ineptitude (Looking at you, Cubs.). But, as a creation of humans, it is also prey to human imperfections, like the urge to suppress useful changes to spare those who resist adaptation.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has a unique legal mind. He could say, like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat, “I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.”
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