Wednesday November 25, 2015
September 28th, 2015
The Volkswagen scandal is an embarrassment of riches. Seen in isolation, it's staggering enough -- that a huge and well-respected company with a valuable reputation to protect should cheat its customers on this scale, be found out, see its value shed $22 billion, and face enormous fines and damages. But there are several scandals here, and the remarkable malfeasance of VW's managers is only one of them.
The 2015-16 academic year has opened with a predictable collection of demands for banning certain views, often involving sexual or racial matters. Many are couched in convoluted claims that disagreeable speech is making students feel "unsafe."
Much of the squelching aims to fend off challenges to some of the more ludicrous theories of victimization. Well-constructed thoughts on social injustice can be defended in debates.
The federal judiciary does many things well. Writing high school dress codes is not one of them.
That is the lesson of the past 46 years, during which the Supreme Court and judges on the lower federal courts have tried to articulate a consistent standard of free-speech protection for minor students' choices in T-shirts, belt buckles, bandannas and lapel pins.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis suffused Washington with what Catholics would call grace and what everyone else -- for the crowds aren't just believers -- would call pure, almost child-like happiness. This is what goodness looks like.
But for some, the happy vibes carry more than a tinge of unease.
Donald Trump no longer wants to be America's birther-in-chief. In a Monday interview with Fox News - which might have been his last- Trump said that questions about President Barack Obama's citizenship "began" with Hillary Clinton, "when she was running against him." On Wednesday, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump emphasized that Clinton was "the original birther" and "the one who started that whole thing."
The gentle takedown of our elected leaders began almost the second Pope Francis started speaking Thursday morning at the majestic U.S. Capitol, where polarization and ugly rhetoric have become a twisted badge of honor.
"Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation," Pope Francis started.
There's nothing like being proven wrong by the Pope. While waiting for His Holiness to arrive at the White House Wednesday morning, a fellow reporter asked whether I thought the Pope would say anything newsworthy. Nope, I assured him. He'd speak in Spanish and just utter a few niceties about how happy he was to be in America.
This can be a very cynical city. Yet there were many moments on Wednesday when cynicism seemed to dissolve -- and I don't think I felt this just because I'm a Catholic who admires Pope Francis.
When I began writing about agriculture nearly a decade ago, I learned quickly that people generally believed that Roundup, the best-selling weed killer made by Monsanto, was relatively harmless.
Roundup breaks down quickly, everyone said — and into non-toxic components, they added. If homeowners can buy it at gardening stores, and cities around the United States use it to kill weeds in parks where children play, it must be benign, right?