Near the banks of the Clearwater River in Idaho there is an earthen mound that members of the Nez Perce tribe, by tradition, believe is the center of the world, the place from which all people originated. It is unlikely that very many Nez Perce believe this is literally true but, even if they believed the myth with all of their heart and soul, they would find it impossible to impose their belief on the rest of the country. There are just not enough of them.
There are many more Muslims in the world and a fair share of them feel compelled to enforce their version of religious truth. The Taliban in Afghanistan, the army of militant Sunnis in Syria and Iraq and numerous radical, religiously motivated factions in other Islamic countries simply can’t stand the idea that other people may not see things the way they do. They are willing and eager to imprison and kill to enforce their beliefs.
In Uganda, political leaders who claim to be Christian think it’s perfectly fine to execute gays and...Read more
There are endless metrics to gauge whether the United States is ahead or behind other countries. Finland does education better and cheaper. Russians and central Europeans beat Americans in alcohol consumption. But it takes only five minutes for the average American to earn enough money to buy a pint of beer -- far less time than in any other nation. And, when it comes to meat consumption, only the Australians come close to matching the amount of dead animal we eat in the land of the free and the home of the obese.
Whatever the measure, no one in this country really cares how we stack up against Ethiopia or Uruguay or Vanuatu. That is like comparing the Dodgers with a T-ball team. The competitor we really care about is China.
The U.S. still beats China in movie-box-office revenues, number of Internet users and spending on the military, but China has leaped ahead in spewing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. That is quite a dramatic feat, given the amount of CO2 generated by the U.S....Read more
Anyone who has ever wondered what happened to that strange-looking, banjo-playing kid from “Deliverance” should check out Rep. Louie Gohmert. Imagine that kid all grown up and you’ll have the spitting image of the Texas Republican.
Like banjo boy, Gohmert is weirdly mesmerizing. What swamp did he wander out of and how in the world did he get elected to the United States House of Representatives? The scary answer: There are thousands of people just like him in Texas's 1st Congressional District.
Gohmert shows up regularly to spin conspiracy theories on the floor of the House, thereby supplying snarky MSNBC hosts with a steady stream of crazy, right-wing nonsense to ridicule. A few years ago, he gained attention when he sounded the alarm about “terror babies” -- children of women who he claimed were coming into the U.S. to produce offspring who would grow up to attack America.
These days, he is more concerned with a different kiddie threat. It is time, he says, to “use whatever means,”...Read more
The real estate offices in Palm Springs are buzzing with rumors that the Obama family may be buying a home in Rancho Mirage – a modern-design, 8,232-square-foot compound priced at $4.25 million and perched on a hilltop inside a gated community where Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby once lived. It’s a place where the fairways are close and Congress is far, far away -- just what the president will want when he exits the White House on Jan. 20, 2017.
Actually, there are days when Barack Obama looks as if he’d be happy to move to California and start his post-presidency right away. The man elected in 2008 on a euphoric wave of hope and change has not been able to change much and his hopes have been dashed by a Republican opposition that has been dedicated to one core principle: Whatever Obama wants, Obama doesn’t get.
If Obamacare survives and becomes as permanent and popular as Social Security, it will be the one great achievement of his presidency. Beyond that, however, Obama’s...Read more
Vladimir Putin may be many things -- a coldblooded thug, a power-hungry autocrat, a paranoid xenophobe, a self-impressed narcissist -- but he is not a great leader. Hard-liners in Russia and the United States are convinced that tough guys rule best, but Putin is proving what a fallacy that is.
In his first years as president of Russia, Putin seemed to be different -- a smart operator who was ready to modernize his creaky, leaking barge of a country. President George W. Bush looked into his eyes and thought he saw a soul. Bush was wrong. Putin’s icy eyes proved to be more like windows into the hollow heart of a Mafia don.
Instead of modernizing, Putin and his cronies turned the Kremlin into a kleptocracy bankrolled by oil money -- Saudi Arabia with nuclear missiles. To undercut his rivals and stifle dissent, Putin exploited the deep suspicion of outsiders that has long been part of the Russian political culture. But that was not an entirely cynical tactic. Putin also shared that deep...Read more
I know it's disturbingly early to get into this, but here is my out-of-nowhere prediction for the 2016 presidential race: Hillary Clinton versus Rand Paul.
Clinton is an easy pick. She was on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Tuesday night looking relaxed, engaged and quick-witted. Stewart spent most of the time trying to box her into admitting she is running for president. Clinton made no announcement, of course, but she gave not a single signal that would suggest she will not be a candidate.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is preparing to fight her for the nomination. Vice President Joe Biden is still talked about as a candidate. Democrats on the left of their party would really prefer to see Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren be the first female president. For them, Hillary is too friendly with the Pentagon and Wall Street.
Let’s face it, though. O’Malley is probably running to be on the ticket as a vice presidential candidate, and neither Biden nor Warren will get into it unless...Read more
Can America deal with six Californias? If the pipe dream of Menlo Park venture capitalist Timothy Draper becomes a reality, there will be five extra states along the coast between Oregon and the Mexican border and 10 extra senators voting in Washington.
On Tuesday, Draper submitted to California election officials the first in a pile of petitions containing 1.3 million signatures that, if valid, will put an initiative on the ballot in 2016 to carve up the Golden State into six smaller states. Draper says California is too big and its size has led to a dysfunctional state government that is too distant from the people. Draper claims the six-state solution is the best remedy.
Following county lines, Draper has outlined a sextet of new states and given them names. In the north, where disgruntled rural residents have long complained about being ignored by lawmakers in Sacramento, Draper proposes a state called Jefferson – sort of a woodsy South Oregon. Below that would be a strip running...Read more
Politically speaking, Sarah Palin is crazy — but in an entertaining way. Speaker of the House John Boehner may look reasonable by comparison, but his supposed rationality is pretty dubious.
Before I proceed to pick on these GOP icons, I want to acknowledge that I spend a lot of time blasting Republicans in my columns and cartoons. Many readers assume it’s because I’m a commie-pinko, America-hating liberal Democrat. Actually, my constant critique of today’s GOP has more to do with the fact that I grew up in a time and place where Republicans were often the smart, sane ones and quite a few Democrats were part of a regressive, corrupt old guard.
Coming from a long-time-Republican family, I leaned toward the GOP in my sympathies and my votes well into my 20s. But those were the days when the word "Republican" was not synonymous with conservative and conservative was not synonymous with reactionary, anti-intellectual, gun-worshiping, gay-bashing, immigrant-fearing populism.
So, as a lapsed...Read more
President Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry came face-to-face to talk about the flood of Central American children coming across the U.S. border with Mexico and, despite their stark political differences, managed to be cordial and constructive. They set a good example for Congress and the rest of the country.
Since October, 57,000 kids from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have come into the U.S. illegally, overwhelming processing facilities and immigration courts. On Wednesday, Obama and Perry met with local officials in Dallas to discuss what to do about the crisis.
One attendee at the gathering, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, told a Los Angeles Times reporter that partisan positions were left at the door. “For Texas politics, it was not a particularly tense meeting,” he said.
Jenkins has reportedly gotten some heat for pushing a plan to open three new shelters in the Dallas area to house 2,000 of the apprehended kids. Despite the complaints, after seeing the overcrowded “drunk...Read more
Given the penchant of many of my fellow Americans to believe any preposterous spoof, spin or allegation that pops up on their computer screens – I’m talking to you, Victoria Jackson! – I want to make it perfectly clear that every statement in the next paragraph is false, no matter how much you may want to believe it’s true.
President Obama visited a mosque and hosted Muslim leaders at the White House on the Fourth of July. Obama also plans to host a Mulsim gay marriage ceremony for St. Louis Rams football star Michael Sam and his boyfriend. Meanwhile, the Obamas' own marriage is on the rocks after Michelle caught Barack drunkenly flirting with actress Halle Berry at a White House event. In fact, the president and first lady have been secretly divorced for more than a year and reports say there is a sex tape of the president engaged in a threesome with Berry and singing superstar Beyonce.
This is all mighty big news and it comes to us from National Report, the media organization that...Read more
The unwillingness of the House of Representatives to discuss immigration reform — let alone actually pass a bill — has left the debate in the hands of a crowd of screaming hotheads in Murrieta, Calif., who show no inclination to let facts get in the way of their paranoia about brown-skinned hordes subverting the America they revere.
Not that the United States does not have a genuine problem along the southern border. Just when rates of illegal crossings from Mexico had dropped precipitously due to the dearth of jobs for adult migrants, a flood of thousands of children from Central America has overwhelmed the resources of the Border Patrol and capacity of immigration courts.
The protesters in Murrieta say there’s a simple solution: Send them back! They neither understand the law nor the complexity of the situation. Unsurprisingly, they are being fed their facts by Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing ranters on talk radio and Fox News who portray the whole thing as part of the liberal...Read more
On the Fourth of July, as on all national holidays, we are encouraged to think about the men and women who have fought and died for our freedoms; the likes of Washington, Lincoln and all the soldiers who have fought in our wars. This standard roster of heroes is venerable, but it is far from complete.
It is not just the Founding Fathers, a few great presidents and those in the military who have established and maintained our liberties. It is also outsiders and dissenters who demanded that America live up to the promises in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the labor organizers, the muckraking journalists, the crusading lawyers, the advocates for women’s rights and more. It is they who challenged slavery, who won the right to vote for women, who fought for fair wages and humane working hours, who used the law to expand the scope of free thought and action, who turned promises into reality.
For the last few years, our country has...Read more