The past couple of weeks have been unusual for me, to say the least. After a year of hard campaigning for Congress in Texas and gradually entering the public sphere, I was hit by a sudden, blinding spotlight. But I have no complaints – it wasn’t as bad as some other challenges I’ve faced, like a sudden, blinding IED explosion. (See what I did there? “Saturday Night Live” has created a comedic monster.) On the Nov. 3 show, “SNL”’s Pete Davidson mocked my appearance – “he lost his eye in war ... or whatever,” Davidson said, referring to the eye patch I wear. His line about my looking like a “hit man in a porno movie” was significantly less infuriating, albeit a little strange. I woke up on the Sunday morning after the show to hundreds of texts about what Davidson had said. A lot of America wasn’t happy. People thought some lines still shouldn’t be crossed.
Stan Lee, the reinventor of the comic book, died Monday at the ripe old age of 95. Comic books get a bad rap, although not nearly as bad as they used to. There was a time when comic books were the cause of an all-out moral panic. After the release of psychiatrist Fred Wertham’s book “The Seduction of the Innocent” in 1954, the Senate held hearings to grapple with the alleged moral rot of comics, which were supposedly fueling juvenile delinquency and moral degeneracy. Batman and Robin, you see, were secretly gay. Superman was an un-American ersatz fascist.
America’s darkest chapters should haunt us all. They should also teach us about the cost of bigotry – the cost to our humanity, the cost to our souls.
Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress love to demonize government handouts. But their own red-state supporters depend on these handouts. And the handouts are increasingly financed by the inhabitants of blue states.
We need to actually explain why people shouldn’t say the sorts of things the president says, and why pounding on the front doors of television personalities’ homes isn’t okay.
Whatever the outcome of the U.S.-China trade war, China’s urban middle class is set to become a major driver of the global economy. And a major force in the wider world.
Nearly every day lately, President Donald Trump has found a new way to show us how little regard he has for the sacrifices of our nation’s military. The latest came the very morning that the nation was commemorating Veterans Day.
Those of us who participated in the 2000 presidential election are getting political PTSD from the current gubernatorial and senatorial recounts in Florida. President George W. Bush was eventually declared winner in the Sunshine State (and thus the election) by 537 votes out of about 6 million cast. But for 35 long days of counting and challenging and pleading, it was mainly the lawyers in charge. During this period, Bush did a lot of brush clearing on his Crawford, Texas, ranch. The bloody scratches on his arms indicated how his frustration was being unleashed against unlucky cedar trees. I worked on some victory remarks and had a concession speech ready just in case. But eventually, I went to movies during the day. I was too distracted to pay much attention, though I remember seeing the film version of “Charlie’s Angels,” because, well, Lucy Liu.
Under almost any other circumstances, the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be a moment for dancing in the streets. Sessions oversaw a Justice Department that systematically undermined civil liberties and civil rights. But his departure portends no improvement on these fronts. And the fact that President Donald Trump fired him, notwithstanding his faithful advancement of the president’s agenda, should raise alarm bells.
President Trump and his interim attorney general designate Matthew Whitaker should heed this warning: The new Democratic majority will protect the special counsel and the integrity of the Justice Department.
You know the only thing worse than a country where journalists ask questions? A country where they don’t.
Humans, and even political pundits, have a natural inclination to want to create patterns and narratives out of chaos, and never is that more obvious than during midterm elections, when they are called upon to make sense of thousands of different outcomes that hinge on hundreds of different idiosyncratic local issues. Sometimes those pronouncements are anodyne, obvious and mostly harmless: “Americans are still waiting for a national leader,” perhaps. Or the equally timeless and meaningless nostrum, “Candidates matter.” But amid the hyperbole of the Trump era, analysts’ attempts to paper over the country’s restlessness with bland truism are both a failure of imagination and a disservice to those Americans who have poured their labor, their money and their lives into their communities. I understand the desire to tidy up the sprawl of democracy. There were more than 6,000 state legislative seats up for election this year, plus thousands of sheriffs and school board members, judges and county commissioners. There were 155 statewide ballot measures and even more local ones. And the results were, I suppose you could say, all over the map. Grand narratives are attractive but unattainable, as the contours of individual races are as unique as the people running in them. Candidates have personal strengths and weaknesses; constituents’ interests may not align perfectly with party agendas; precincts have their own unique brews of social and economic forces. New York City’s only Republican borough elected a Democrat to Congress on Tuesday, which had far more to do with commute times on Staten Island than with President Donald Trump.
President Trump and Congress face a mountain of unfinished business – and chances are that most of it will stay unfinished. Of course, no one knows what will happen, and the president and congressional leaders of both parties have made the usual noises about cooperation. “There are a lot of good things that we can do together,” the president said at a press conference.
It wasn’t a blue trickle, but nor was it a tsunami. Rather, the midterm elections brought a gentle, purplish wave of mostly center-leaning Democrats whose profiles suggest a welcome infusion of professionalism and balance to a disorderly House.
Humanity has been at peace for just 8 percent of recorded history. While the origins, causes and meanings are debatable within their own fields of study, war appears to be an indelible human endeavor. While the hope and purpose of a democratic society is to only send its military to battle when all other nonviolent options have been exhausted, our nation has been at war 222 out of 239 years. Before conscription was abolished, the draft, in various forms, was used six times: the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam. While every military person, unless they give their last full measure of devotion, becomes a veteran regardless of combat service, of the 20.4 million living veterans, 77 percent of that population served during wartime. To date, Gulf-War era veterans, which includes the post-9/11 global war on terror (GWOT) generation, account for the largest share of the veteran population. There are now more wartime all-volunteer veterans than wartime drafted veterans.
President Donald Trump lost on Tuesday. And it was not even close.
Last year in Vietnam, President Donald Trump laid out the United States’ vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Next week, on the president’s behalf, I will lead a delegation to that region to discuss our progress on making this vision a reality.
Hours after the post-election press conference, Donald Trump’s anger exploded anew, as his White House suddenly yanked CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House press credential. All because Trump didn’t like Acosta’s style of questioning.
Brett Kavanaugh must have been smiling as the returns came in on Election Day, because it is now clear that the Democrats’ campaign to destroy him will go down as a massive blunder.
We are three former attorneys general who served in Republican administrations, but we share the view that Jeff Sessions, who resigned at President Donald Trump’s request on Wednesday, has been an outstanding attorney general.
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