Slowly but inevitably, the two major political parties have become the party of women and the party of men – guess which is which – so that the 2018 midterms are shaping up as a climactic battle in the war between the sexes.
The 21st century is still young. But so far, Mitch McConnell is arguably the most consequential conservative leader of the century. And he may not be done yet.
All Washington seems to be buzzing over a single question: Is Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., deliberately trying to throw the election to the Democrats? At the root of the debate are interviews the Senate majority leader gave to Bloomberg and Reuters last week. McConnell identified “entitlements” – that’s Washington code for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – as “the real drivers of the debt” and called for them to be adjusted “to the demographics of the future.”
As a new-product junkie, it was foregone that I’d swap a C-note for something called CBD, a cannabis extract promising relief from pain and anxiety, the twin banes of baby boomers recently awakened to the realization that, though their spirits be forever young, their joints definitively are not. Lately limping, thanks to an old injury, and a few days shy of my next cortisone injection, I nearly leapt (or would have if I could have) toward the small spa table featuring CBD roll-ons and other attractively packaged potions. Call me a sucker, but I immediately embraced the sales pitch that this relatively new and wildly popular product could ease not only the ache in my ankle but make me feel a little breezier about life among headlines and deadlines.
If, as appears increasingly likely, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, then he has joined Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un among the ranks of rogue leaders who assassinate their critics on foreign soil. The only difference is that the Russian president and North Korean leader weren’t reckless and stupid enough to kill their opponents inside their own consulates. The disappearance of Khashoggi, a Post contributing columnist, is a horrific crime. His loss will be felt deeply for those who cherish freedom of expression and believe that all people, including those in the Arab world, deserve to be free.
Selective memory loss is spreading, and it has become a necessary pre-condition to run as a Republican this year.
The United States can afford to hold Mohammed bin Salman accountable. He is one S.O.B. we don’t have to live with.
Now that the DNA is out of the bag, Sen. Elizabeth Warren can put her Native American heritage down for a nap – maybe. After two and a half years of being mocked by Donald Trump as “Pocahontas,” referring to the Massachusetts Democrat’s claim that she’s part American Indian, Warren had her DNA tested. The results released Monday showed “strong evidence” that she is, indeed, a little bit Native American, possibly going back six to 10 generations – somewhere between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Indian.
Sears’ bankruptcy is simply a reminder of how American capitalism works. The next time you hear somebody say that the dominance of Walmart or Amazon or Facebook can never end, think about Sears. It can – and it probably will.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists working under the aegis of the United Nations, issued a report on our planet’s health. Turns out it’s worse than we thought.
The United Nations has issued the direst warning for the human race in its history: Climate change is real and happening now and without a massive global effort there no longer is much we can do about it.
Lately, at least from my perch on the porch, the evening cocktail has become less an aperitif than a medicinal slug made necessary by the alternative of ripping off my face. To bear witness to These Times In Which We Live is to go insane, join a cult or pour your favorite poison.
The existence of mirror-image thinking among conservatives doesn’t prove that the progressives’ complaints are wrong. But there are two mistakes that dissatisfied Democrats should avoid making.
If Sen. Ben Sasse is right, the nation’s most-discussed political problem is entangled with the least-understood public health problem. The political problem is furious partisanship. The public health problem is loneliness.
In the recent Supreme Court nomination showdown, American institutions underwent a stress test. And in the media’s coverage, we saw the political equivalent of the collapse of Lehman Bros.
Suddenly everybody wants to explore term limits for Supreme Court justices. Welcome aboard. I’ve been on that train for almost a quarter of a century. The current argument is that life tenure is a leading cause of the increasing viciousness of our confirmation battles. But whether term limits would fix the process depends on whether we’re right about what’s wrong. Term limits are popular. Some 61 percent of Americans support them. Whether categorized by party, income, race, gender or religion, in no demographic group does a majority oppose them. Over the last decade or so, many legal scholars have embraced the idea of discarding life tenure in favor of either a mandatory retirement age or, more often, a specified number of years on the high bench – usually 18 or 15.
In a speech announcing her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, reminded me of some of the great orators of the past. Her speech was measured in tone, substantive in content and delivered with conviction. Collins is no conservative. She has voted in favor of abortion and same-sex marriage while toeing a more moderate line on economics. Her speech supporting Kavanaugh and denouncing the smears against him and the distortion of his judicial record was as good as any delivered by her more conservative colleagues.
George Orwell titled a regular column he wrote for a British newspaper in the mid-1940s “As I Please.” Meaning that he would write exactly what he believed. My Saudi colleague Jamal Khashoggi has always had that same insistent passion for telling the truth about his country, no matter what. Khashoggi’s fate is unknown as I write, but his colleagues at the Washington Post and friends around the world fear that he was murdered after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday.
The big two lessons of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation are that U.S. politics right now is party politics – and that the Republican Party has fully absorbed the style and principles of Newt Gingrich, the tea party, and other influences that tell it to never compromise and always exploit all short-term advantages as much as possible. It’s impossible to understand the Kavanaugh fight without understanding that politics goes through the parties. That’s true on a personal level: Kavanaugh was personally close to and had worked with many prominent Republicans. The key ones were White House Counsel Don McGahn, who probably had more direct influence on selecting him than anyone else, and George W. Bush, who reportedly worked the phones hard to get him confirmed, with a special emphasis on talking with Susan Collins. Parties are (among other things) networks of individual partisans, and that means that within specialized areas – such as the top lawyers and the politicians who work with them – strong personal relationships develop. That helps a lot when things go wrong.
I don’t know much about Jason Kander, except what I read about him in the news. A former Army intelligence officer and Afghanistan veteran. First millennial to win a statewide office when he was elected Missouri secretary of state in 2012. Up-and-coming Democratic Party leader. Last week, Kander abandoned his campaign to become mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, citing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that he traces to his tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had a hole inside that he was hiding from himself and the world, he said. To his credit, he faced up to a problem that he did not bring on himself. He went so far as to state publicly that he was depressed to the point of calling the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Crisis Line, “tearfully conceding that, yes, I have had suicidal thoughts.”
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