Subscribe to Steve Chapman RSS feed

Steve Chapman


Black Demands and White Fears

The June 10, 1966, cover of Life magazine is a gauge of how much America has changed — and how much it hasn’t. It featured a photo of Elizabeth Taylor from her movie “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” — which it described as a “shocker” that “shatters the rules of censorship.” Today the film wouldn’t shock a fifth-grader.

When cops kill, and when cops die

Most interactions between American police and citizens are routine, civil and no worse than briefly unpleasant for those involved. But among some cops and some populations, the relationship is fraught with chronic distrust and fear. The result is an intractably toxic climate that spawns deadly consequences.

After the Election, Things Will Get Worse

Can American democracy survive this presidential election? We assume any framework that has endured through the Civil War, the Great Depression, the violent upheaval of the 1960s and more can survive anything. But no earthly institution is eternal, and it’s hard to think of a campaign that has done more damage to our system of government than this one.

On Trade, Trump Is an Encyclopedia of Error

Donald Trump is not a professor, but for years he will be yielding insights to every student of economics. His Tuesday address on trade did a masterful job of combining antiquated fallacies with misinformation and ignorance to create an encyclopedia of error. Instructors have never had so much free help constructing their lesson plans.

Justice and Freddie Gray

Local prosecutors, being elected to office, are subject to the rule of the people. Their decisions, however, are not — or at least they shouldn’t be. Any state’s attorney or district attorney worthy of the office gives public opinion about particular cases exactly the weight it deserves: zero.

After Orlando, Exercises in Irrelevancy

In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando, our leaders have shown a talent for devising remedies that are clear, simple and irrelevant. One politician after another has stepped forward with remedies that would not actually have stopped or appreciably hindered Omar Mateen from carrying out his slaughter.

Why People Vote for Trump

Participating in a democratic society is a thankless duty that seldom repays the effort. If you do research so you can select the better candidate in a race, your choice may be futile because your candidate loses. Even if your candidate wins, those campaign promises may be discarded. Or other officials may keep them from being fulfilled.

Obama prolongs unwinnable wars

Barack Obama came into office intending to correct his predecessor’s biggest mistakes by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He didn’t, because he made his own grievous mistake: choosing to prolong failure rather than admit it.

Trump’s epic meltdown

Donald Trump: crazy or evil? That’s the question that has loomed over his presidential candidacy from the start. But we now have a definitive answer. He is a raging tsunami of both qualities. Without one or the other, he would just not be the Trump we know.

Making Fun of Transgender People

When I was a lad, I often heard jokes about blacks, Latinos and gays, who were regarded as amusing because of their supposed inferiority and defectiveness. Today most people would be embarrassed and offended by such humor. But, at least in some places, there is one group that is still a safe source of yuks: transgender people.

Airport lines: your government failing you

This summer, air travel is for people who expect to go to hell and want to know what it will be like. Security lines have reached epic lengths in many airports. Thousands of travelers have missed flights. And the Transportation Security Administration now advises passengers to arrive two hours before departure for domestic flights — and three in some places.

Colorado’s lessons from legal pot

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opposed a 2012 state ballot initiative to allow the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. He told voters it might “increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK.” Spurning his advice, voters approved it.

Obama and Trump at Hiroshima

In early August, 1945, a 19-year-old Navy ensign sailed from California to take part in the invasion of Japan. Those on board the vessel didn’t know if they would live to see the end of the war. But suddenly, as they were en route, Japan surrendered.

Rescuing elephants, at last

If you’re one of those people who go to the circus to see the animal acts, there is bad news: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey staged its final show using elephants on Sunday in Providence, Rhode Island. These animals have done their last tricks for human entertainment. All the elephants that have been part of the circus will be relocated to a 200-acre refuge in Florida.

Trump’s feast of incoherence

The reviews of Donald Trump’s grand foray into foreign policy agreed on one thing, which is that Trump can’t even agree with himself. His Wednesday speech was an exercise in self-contradiction, a feast of incoherence, a walk up the down escalator.

Why felons should be allowed to vote

America has 2.2 million jail and prison inmates, and everyone worries about what will happen when they get out. Some of us worry that they will seek out new victims and commit new crimes. Some of us worry that they will head to the nearest courthouse and register to vote.

Why it’s too late to scrap the Iran deal

To most Republicans, the three scariest words in the English language, after “Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” are “Iran nuclear deal.” The GOP presidential candidates are so intent on putting distance between them and it that you’d think the document was printed on radioactive paper.