Archive - 2014

June 23rd

A black hole in American history

    When historians get around to appraising the start of the new century, what will they say about it? If circumstances continue as they have been, the period may well be deemed a deep black hole in the political life of this country.

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Snyder's Insulting Redskins Logic

    Fear not for the future of free speech after the Washington Redskins' trademark fight. The legal dividend could be more free speech, not less.

    A lot of my fellow First Amendment advocates sound nervous about cancellation of the Washington pro football team's trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office this past week.

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The unsinkable Jerry Brown

    There are those who don't believe politicians can ever enjoy a second life. They're wrong. Just go to Sacramento and check in on Gov. Jerry Brown. He's not only enjoying a second political life, he's survived two, three, four, or five lives, depending on which offices you count.

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Veterans and Zombies

    You've surely heard about the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs. A number of veterans found themselves waiting a long time for care, some of them died before they were seen, and some of the agency's employees falsified records to cover up the extent of the problem. It's a real scandal; some heads have rolled, but there's surely more to clean up.

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Amateurism and the NCAA

    It was Thursday of Week 2 at the O'Bannon trial, the day Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, was going to be on the stand.

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So Similar, So Different

    Readers often ask: Why do I travel to places like Sudan or Myanmar when we Americans have so many challenges at home to worry about?

    As Janessa put it on my Facebook page: "Shouldn't we take care of the issues within our own borders BEFORE we try and fix everyone else's?"

    It's a fair question, and it comes up often now. We're weary with the world, and so many humanitarian problems seem insoluble. We're ready to turn inward.

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Corporate Daddy

    For some time, Republicans in Congress have given up the pretense of doing anything to improve the lot of most Americans. Raise the minimum wage? They won't even allow a vote. Cleaner air for all? They may partly shut down the government in a coming fight on behalf of major polluters. Add to that the continuing obstruction of student loan relief efforts, and numerous attempts to defund health care, and you have a party actively working to make life miserable for millions.

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A year of living negatively

    Republicans feel good about this fall's election even though their party is sharply divided and its brand is badly tainted.

    The House GOP last week elected a balanced ticket of leaders in a relatively harmonious process. Nonetheless, the party's right still complained that its voices were not heard.

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The joy of the World Cup

    Henry Kissinger was wrong to dismiss Chile as "a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica." On Wednesday, the South American nation was a scalpel that excised the soul of Spain.

    As a lifelong soccer fan, Kissinger doubtless understands what I mean: A particularly delightful and surprising World Cup tournament -- the world's greatest sporting event -- is in full swing.

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Outsider on a mission

    Some politicians know they want to be in public office and scramble to come up with the reason why. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is an accidental, improbable politician -- a self-described "outsider" -- who knows exactly what she wants to accomplish on the inside.

    The Massachusetts Democrat insists that she's not running for president, and there's little reason to doubt her -- although, interestingly, Warren sticks doggedly to the present tense to describe her intentions.

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