To say that California is in better fiscal condition than Illinois is like saying the captain of the Exxon Valdez grades out higher than the guy at the helm of the Titanic. Disasters come in different doses. One study found that California ranks 46th in the health of its state government finances, with Illinois limping in at 48th place.
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Barack Obama promised to install his administration in a glass house lit up like the Super Bowl, with everything visible to the citizenry he serves. So you will not be surprised to learn that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wants nothing more than to keep the public well informed.
When he ran for president in 2000, George W. Bush promised to “stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions.” When he ran in 2008, Barack Obama trumpeted his opposition to the Iraq invasion while asserting that our “strength abroad is measured not just by armies but rather by the power of our ideals.”
The question of racial preferences in university admissions has bedeviled the nation for decades. In 2003, the Supreme Court finally issued a verdict that gave something to either side of the debate.
Criminals are generally despised, and cops are not universally beloved. But one participant in the criminal justice system has no enemies: victims of crime. They’re the Sara Lee of American politics. Everybody doesn’t like someone, but nobody doesn’t like victims.
Hawks in the wild tend to be solitary creatures. But those in Washington, D.C., often appear in noisy flocks. As Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his predatory activities in Ukraine, conservatives here are unanimous on how the Obama administration should respond: by emulating the Bush administration.
In March 2012, volunteers spent four days looking for a 2-year-old boy who wandered away from his home outside Houston, Texas. They found him only after volunteers reviewing images captured by a drone-mounted aerial camera saw a flash of red in a pond that had already been searched. It turned out to be a shirt worn by the child, who had drowned.
The Supreme Court decision killing limits on total donations to political candidates means billionaires will be running amok. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson can lay out astronomical sums to help Republicans. Oilmen Charles and David Koch can see him and raise him. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg can burn through his fortune like a blowtorch.
The United States government has a dangerous penchant for military intervention, so after Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea, it was a relief that no one talked about sending troops or deploying bombers. Sen. John McCain scotched any such notion by acknowledging glumly that “there is not a military option.”
Every so often, we get proof that Barack Obama, when confronted with a grievous abuse of government power by his administration, will do the right thing. Sometimes, I mean. When he can’t get away with it anymore, that is. Just as soon as he’s tried everything else.
Lawyers for Hobby Lobby this week urged the Supreme Court to let companies opt out of certain health insurance rules for religious reasons, and they have a good chance of success. If employers are allowed to refuse to provide coverage that pays for certain types of contraception, it will be a big victory for religious conservatives. Or will it?
If you take an economics course, you may learn about the different events that can cause an increase in workers’ pay. The demand for the product a worker makes may rise, causing the demand for workers to go up. The supply of workers may decline, causing employers to bid up wages to keep the ones they have.
Bungling is an inherent feature of American foreign policy. Even with the best of intentions, our presidents miss warning signs, overreact to minor threats, fail to dissuade other governments from doing things we oppose and wade into situations that blow up in our faces.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a stalwart ally of the nation’s intelligence agencies, says she is appalled to learn they have been spying on her committee, ignoring federal law and possibly trampling on the Constitution in a heavy-handed targeting of innocent people. Hey! Maybe now she knows how the rest of us feel.
In 1980, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter came up with a way to retaliate: stopping grain sales to Moscow. The boycott, said Commerce Secretary Philip Klutznick, would prove to the world that “aggression is costly” and induce the Soviets to “halt their aggression.”
The Russian invasion of Crimea occurred in a place little known to Americans, for reasons rooted in a tangled and bloody history. The showdown between President Vladimir Putin and the new Ukrainian government is a fight about tangible matters of intense mutual interest.
A basic rule for assessing policy is to ask what bad things it makes likely or even possible. Conservatives are fond of citing the law of unintended consequences, which they know can produce negative effects dwarfing the envisioned benefits of a particular measure.
After journalist Terry Anderson was taken hostage by a terrorist group in Lebanon in 1985, he spent much of six years in tiny cells completely by himself. Trapped in solitude, he found his mind inexorably breaking down.
If driving a taxi in Chicago is your dream job, have I got a deal for you. You get to fight traffic, deal with drunks and deadbeats, work long hours and breathe exhaust fumes nonstop. And I can get you into it for just $360,000.
In 1999, newspaper columnist Molly Ivins was diagnosed with breast cancer and promptly exhorted her readers: “Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done.”
In the battle over same-sex marriage, opponents are strongly in favor of deferring to the wisdom of our ancestors. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence uses the prevailing formula when he says, “I support traditional marriage.” The Christian Coalition of America urges its friends to “Say ‘I Do’ to Traditional Marriage.”
In 2012, the Republican Party stood for the ancient biblical proposition that the sins of the father should be visited upon the son. Mitt Romney captured its presidential nomination while vowing to veto the Dream Act, which would allow immigrants brought here illegally as children to gain citizenship.
The United States government and the Taliban don’t agree on much, but they have found one point of convergence: Both think someone needs to get a hose and put out the flames engulfing Hamid Karzai’s pants.
Americans have always treasured the freedom to pick up and go anywhere they please. Our forebears had to travel to get here, often had to travel more after they arrived and sometimes moved on to uncharted territories out West only to return East. No one stopped them, whatever direction they were going.
In the polarized atmosphere of Washington, there is one thing that both parties can usually agree on: convening independent, bipartisan panels of respected experts to devise solutions to tough problems. Actually, there’s one more thing they can usually agree on: ignoring what those groups recommend.