Hello, it's 05:48AM April 24, 2014

Esther Cepeda: More evidence that standards are slipping

WASHINGTON — Every once in a while, something grabs your attention and makes you shake your head. “Is nothing sacred?” No, nothing at all. Just take Monopoly, a 111-year-old board game that balances the tedium of real estate deals with the giddy joy of plotting to bankrupt your friends and family. A few years ago, board game sales were tanking and the big brains at Hasbro decided to let people vote in a new game to …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: Hillary’s legacy for the generations

WASHINGTON — The word is out that Chelsea Clinton is with child, making the favorite Democratic presidential nominee a soon-to-be grandmother. The headlines were inevitable — “Grandma Hillary” — followed by the similarly crucial question: Will being a grandmother help or hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016 election? Note: We do not yet have another Clinton presidential candidacy, but we may as well have. She’s …

Read More →

Putin wages war of wits over Ukraine

It was tempting to look at last week’s diplomatic agreement to pull Ukraine back from the brink of war and see the beginning of a grand compromise between Russia and the West. Tempting, but mistaken. Vladimir Putin is still winning most of what he wants in Ukraine, and he’s winning it more cheaply and more elegantly than he would by launching a full-scale military invasion. Last week’s agreement, which called on pro-R …

Read More →

George Will: Let’s kill regulatory overkill

WASHINGTON — Occasionally, the Supreme Court considers questions that are answered merely by asking them. On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments about this: Should a government agency, whose members are chosen by elected officials, be empowered to fine or imprison any candidate or other participant in the political process who during a campaign makes what the agency considers “false statements” about a member of the …

Read More →

Accord provides some hope for troubled Ukraine

The following editorial appeared in Friday’s Washington Post. We were among those who doubted that a meeting on Ukraine in Geneva Thursday could produce results, given the weak Western response to Russian aggression. So count us as pleasantly surprised by the “initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security” that the parties announced. The accord calls for the Russian-backed groups that have tak …

Read More →

Cepeda: Vexing questions about parents’ involvement in schools

CHICAGO — There will always be bad schools. And the same can be said for underperforming students. Why? Because there will always be bad, misinformed or clueless parents. Not just the ones who abuse their children, keep loaded guns around the house, ignore their offspring or barely manage to dole out a few bucks before school so the kid can grab a “breakfast” of sugary soft drinks and dollar bags of cheese-flavored s …

Read More →

Views of a priest: Five Easter myths

When death and resurrection mix with magical bunnies and chocolate eggs, you get Easter — perhaps the most misunderstood Christian holy day. Yet it is also the most essential; without this holiday, the Christian faith would be meaningless. Myths about Easter abound, for believers and nonbelievers alike, so let’s dispense with some of the most common ones. 1. Jesus didn’t literally rise from the dead. On Easter Sund …

Read More →

Parker: Putin has what he wants, which isn’t Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The new “agreement” between Russia, the U.S. and our allies is exactly what the former KGB agent ordered. This isn’t to say it’s not a good “prospect” for ending tensions in Ukraine, as President Obama has said. But neither should it surprise anyone that Vladimir Putin is willing to step back from that country -- not to ease economic sanctions but to satisfy his own designs. The handwriting was on the pal …

Read More →

George Will: Majority power vs. individual rights

WASHINGTON — In a 2006 interview, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said the Constitution is “basically about” one word — “democracy” — that appears in neither that document nor the Declaration of Independence. Democracy is America’s way of allocating political power. The Constitution, however, was adopted to confine that power in order to “secure the blessings of” that which simultaneously justifies and limits demo …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: Can we be done with the race card?

WASHINGTON — One approaches the race fray with trepidation, but here we go, tippy-toe. The race cards have been flying so fast and furious lately, one can hardly tell the kings from the queens. Leading the weird lately has been Democratic Alabama state Rep. Alvin Holmes, who called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina “Uncle Toms.” Holmes, who has also said that it’s fine by him …

Read More →

Margaret Carlson: GOP heads wrong way on tax investigations

WASHINGTON — Happy Tax Day, when just getting the forms filled out and mailed is cause for celebration. One person not celebrating is former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner. She was a regular green eyeshade employee carrying out thankless tasks until, one day, she caught the attention of House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of …

Read More →

Trudy Rubin: Afghan elections matter, as do U.S. relations

When Afghans went to the polls earlier this monthy to elect a new president, Afghan social media enthusiasts sent out some incredible photos of women voters. The long, snaking lines of women in burkas, holding up sheets of plastic for protection from freezing rain, were a stunning repudiation of Taliban misogyny and violence. My favorite photo, tweeted by an Afghan journalist named Shafi Sharifi, showed an elderly, bl …

Read More →

Michigan’s counter to ‘war on women’

DETROIT — Robert Griffin, now 90, who rose to be second in the Republican U.S. Senate leadership, was defeated in 1978. Since then, only one Michigan Republican, Spencer Abraham in 1994, has been elected to the Senate and for only one term. Evidence that former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land might end this GOP drought is that Democrats are attacking her for opposing “preventive health care.” This is a ph …

Read More →

New Medicare payment data should inspire Congress to act

The following editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. The news that a small percentage of the country’s physicians collected billions of dollars from Medicare in a single year may or may not be a testament to individual greed; some of the top recipients are under investigation for allegedly bilking the system, while others work long hours delivering costly care. But it is a powerful reminder that t …

Read More →

Safety net robs poor to help middle class

Liberals are shocked (shocked!) that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his co-partisans would consider cutting Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants and other programs that serve the neediest Americans. They have accused Ryan of trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. But long before Ryan unveiled his “Path to Prosperity,” politicians of both parties had been redistributing government spending away from the trul …

Read More →

Higher education must be more accessible and affordable

Along with my fellow presidents from the Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW), and our public colleagues, I applaud the legislature’s support for the higher education goals proposed by the Student Achievement Council. In its 2013 Roadmap Report, the WSAC set two statewide goals to be achieved by 2023: 1) All adults in Washington, ages 25-44, will have a high school diploma or equivalent; and 2) At least 70 perce …

Read More →

Esther Cepeda: Obama’s all talk, no action on immigration reform

CHICAGO — The week’s award for truer words were never spoken goes to David Martin, who served as deputy general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security in the first two years of the Obama administration. Martin made a blunt observation to a New York Times reporter — one that made sense to everyone who has seen through President Obama’s immigration reform gambit designed to appease Hispanic voters. “It would hav …

Read More →

Colbert’s joke is on the ill-humored

WASHINGTON — In selecting Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as host of the “Late Show,” CBS has waged war on America’s heartland — or so proclaims that Palm Beach font of heartland mirth, Rush Limbaugh. Don’t you believe it, Heartlanders. But wait, there’s more. CBS also must be waging war on Asian-Americans since a Twitter activist who calls herself Angry Asian Woman called for an end to “The Colbert Report …

Read More →

George Will: A recourse to budgetary inaction

PHOENIX — From the Goldwater Institute, the fertile frontal lobe of the conservative movement’s brain, comes an innovative idea that is gaining traction in Alaska, Arizona and Georgia, and its advocates may bring it to at least 35 other states’ legislatures. It would use the Constitution’s Article V to move the nation back toward the limited government the Constitution’s Framers thought their document guaranteed. The …

Read More →

Esther Cepeda: Time to get down to (starting a) business

CHICAGO — The National Urban League’s 2014 report on the state of black America released a torrent of negative assessments. “Dismal and getting worse,” read one headline. “Blacks behind whites, Latinos in job market, report says,” read another. While superficial, these summaries do contain one truth: On measures of economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagements, African-Americans have realized les …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: Demonizing the Kochs un-American

WASHINGTON — Rush Limbaugh can relax. The popular “demon of the right” has been replaced at least through the midterms by the Koch brothers, Charles and David. Who? Exactly. Though cable and online news junkies know the names, the vast majority of Americans probably have no idea who the Kochs are. They’re about to find out. For the uninitiated, the brothers are libertarian billionaires whose vast industries in petrol …

Read More →

Act now so Afghan vote counts

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View. The outcome of Afghanistan’s elections remains unclear after last weekend’s vote, but there are three things we do know. First, turnout was high. Second, despite dire threats, the Taliban did not disrupt the vote. And, last but not least, President Hamid Karzai’s days in office are numbered. Inconclusive as that may seem, it’s already enough to present President B …

Read More →

Doyle McManus: Is the ACA too big to fail?

When Obamacare’s first open-enrollment period ended last week, the tally was impressive: 7.1 million Americans signed up for insurance on federal and state exchanges by the March 31 deadline, several million more signed up for Medicaid and a whole lot of under-26 Americans got covered by their parents’ plans. Those numbers represent a significant political victory for Democrats, making it highly unlikely that Republi- …

Read More →

George Will: Tax reformer faces uphill push

WASHINGTON — The Sisyphean task of tax reform should be tried only by someone who will not flinch from igniting some highly flammable people — those who believe that whatever wrinkle in the tax code benefits them is an eternal entitlement. Tax reform’s Senate champion is Ron Wyden, the affable, cerebral and tall Oregon Democrat who once wanted to be the NBA’s greatest Jewish power forward since ... never mind. Anyway …

Read More →

Congress can act to minimize harm from court ruling

The following editorial appeared in Thursday’s Washington Post. The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned yet another federal law meant to check corruption and influence-peddling in national politics. The ruling shows two things: The Roberts Court’s destructive view on these matters wasn’t changed by the backlash to its Citizens United holding, and Congress must respond by designing new rules that can pass the cour …

Read More →

Hobby Lobby at Supreme Court: Verdict could end up being a surprise

The prognosticators have already declared that, during the Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius oral argument, the Supreme Court justices looked poised to extend religious liberty protections to for-profit corporations. Believe them if you want. But two important wrinkles in the oral argument that haven’t excited comment might tell us a lot about both the court’s potential holding and the tenor of the possible dissent. The first a …

Read More →

Esther Cepeda: Playing politics over immigration

CHICAGO — It’s a shame that Republicans blocked a resolution calling for the Senate to honor the legacy of Chicano icon Cesar Chavez. But though the GOP looks petty and downright stupid for not allowing a purely symbolic commemoration honoring the history-changing labor leader, the Democrats look sort of clueless themselves for not letting the Republicans add their say to the resolution. According to news reports, R …

Read More →

Hobby Lobby at Supreme Court: Nation could be freed from employer insurance system

The Supreme Court is pondering Hobby Lobby’s argument that Obamacare unlawfully burdens its corporate religious freedom by requiring it to offer employees health insurance coverage for certain forms of contraception. Hobby Lobby’s case is that the Affordable Care Act confronts it with an impossible choice: paying for contraceptives that its owners’ faith prohibits as abortifacients; violating the employer-insurance ma …

Read More →

George Will: Jeb Bush challenges base instincts

WASHINGTON — The human kindling that makes up the flammable Republican base may soon burst into flames, again. Portions of that excitable cohort are looking — some with fawn-like eyes filled with hurt, others with sparks shooting from eyes narrowed like gun slits — askance at other Republicans urging Jeb Bush to seek the 2016 presidential nomination. A candidacy by Florida’s former governor would be desirable. But if …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: Dems see little benefit from minimum wage debate

WASHINGTON — H.L. Mencken gets a workout in election years when voters are reminded by pundits of the curmudgeon’s observation that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Mean. But true? If you’re a Democratic strategist, this seems to be the motto operandi. If you’re a Republican strategist, you’re thinking: Better dumb that down. There now, if everyone is equally offended, …

Read More →

Byron York: Strategic pullback in culture war

In 2008, both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain supported defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In 2012, only Republican Mitt Romney supported traditional marriage, Obama having announced a change of heart six months before the election. What about 2016? It’s impossible to imagine a Democratic candidate not supporting the redefinition of marriage. As for Republicans, it’s hard to see …

Read More →

U.S. continues pivot toward Asian nations

Russian troops are massing menacingly on Ukraine’s eastern border. The civil war in Syria is still raging, and 33,000 American troops fight on in Afghanistan. So where is Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel headed this week? To Hawaii — for a meeting with defense ministers from Asia, the region the Obama administration still considers its top foreign policy priority. “Asia is one of the great success stories of the world,” …

Read More →

Tie coaches’ pay to student-athletes’ academics

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View. At many American colleges and universities, the relationship between athletics and academics needs to be rebalanced. Over the weekend, as fans were watching their March Madness brackets explode, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan again offered a modest but useful proposal toward that end: Align compensation for coaches and athletic directors with their teams’ acade …

Read More →

George Wil: Take a swing at baseball trivia

WASHINGTON — “Andre Dawson,” Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully once said, “has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. Aren’t we all?” Yes, so use some of your remaining time constructively by identifying the player or players who: (1) Won three batting titles by at least 44 points (two players). (2) Hit more than 50 home runs in a season in which he had fewer than 50 strikeouts. (3) Won a batting title hitting .361 …

Read More →

Esther Cepeda: Hard work and sacrifice will take you far — if the system is fair

CHICAGO — Even before Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld’s “The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America” was published, the book was being denounced as sociologically lightweight and packed full of historical blind spots. Chua, who gained notoriety as “The Tiger Mom,” was savaged as a “full-blown eugenics-pushing racist.” The irony is delicious: An ultra-successful As …

Read More →

NLRB football ruling: They’re athletes first and students second

NEW YORK — A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Northwestern University football players are employees with the right to unionize. It’s an unexpected and potentially momentous decision that could change college sports. If it holds up on appeal, this may well be the first step in a chain of events that brings down the charade of amateurism in NCAA athletics. Of course, that’s a big “i …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: Lighten up on the first lady

WASHINGTON — The past couple of weeks have marked a turning point in American ugliness as the mob has turned its full fury on first lady Michelle Obama. From criticism of her trip to China to a recent “tell-all” by former White House assistant press secretary Reid Cherlin writing for The New Republic about Mrs. Obama’s allegedly tyrannical behavior, the gloves have been removed. As described, she was a perfectionist — …

Read More →

George Will: Ukraine’s accident of geography

WASHINGTON — Igor Stravinsky, the Russian composer, said of Poland, perilously positioned between Russia and Germany: “If you pitch your tent in the middle of Fifth Avenue, it is quite likely you will be run over by a bus.” Poland has been run over hard and often; indeed, between 1795 and 1918 it disappeared from the map of Europe. Geography need not be destiny, but it matters, as Ukraine is being reminded. During it …

Read More →

Margaret Carlson: Does Hobby Lobby have place in heaven?

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. Let’s concentrate for a moment on the “Inc.” part. Hobby Lobby is a for-profit corporation selling arts and crafts. It is asking the court to declare that its religious beliefs are violated by the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that health care insurance provided by employers include contraception. Founder David Gree …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: From different sides, agreement on principle

WASHINGTON — When it comes to tackling complicated legal issues, one would be hard-pressed to conjure a less likely partnership than Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Baylor University President Ken Starr. Well, OK, there was the David Boies and Ted Olson confederacy fighting for gay marriage rights after they took opposite sides during the 2000 Bush-Gore election dispute. Still, witnessing Dershowitz and Star …

Read More →

Danny Westneat: Why does Tri-Cities hate its government jobs?

Ten years ago one of the big questions in politics was: “What’s the matter with Kansas?” Today it could be rephrased as: “What’s the matter with Kennewick?” The Kansas question came from a book that explored how curious it was that Kansans increasingly voted against their economic self-interests. They supported corporate-backing, government-slashing politicians, instead of candidates who were more overtly offering to …

Read More →

George Will: Let’s be realistic about poverty

WASHINGTON — Critics of Rep. Paul Ryan’s remarks about cultural factors in the persistence of poverty are simultaneously shrill and boring. Their predictable minuet of synthetic indignation demonstrates how little liberals have learned about poverty or changed their rhetorical repertoire in the last 49 years. Ryan spoke of a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generati …

Read More →

U.S. shows EU how it can make Putin pay for action

For the first time since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his adventure in Crimea, the West has given him something to think about: The United States has put strong sanctions on some of his closest aides, friends and business partners. Would that the same could be said of the European Union. The EU has more power to threaten Russia’s economy and the wealth of its leaders, but Friday failed to follow the U.S. lea …

Read More →

Esther Cepeda: Sadly, it’s deja vu on immigration reform

CHICAGO — The San Jose Mercury News has ventured to say what everyone is taking as a foregone conclusion: “Immigration reform appears dead for 2014.” I hate to admit it sure looks that way. Over the past 10 years, the so-called immigration debate — a more descriptive term would be fact-challenged shouting match — has evolved little and now seems to be devolving. Now the helplessness surrounding the issue is palpable …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: The pope and the photo op: Vatican meets Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON — This week’s meeting between Pope Francis and President Obama holds great promise in a time of turmoil, though not necessarily in the ways some may hope. In anticipation of the meeting, everyone seems to want a piece of the pope. The head of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good has posted a petition on the White House’s “We the People” website that makes a religious case for action on clima …

Read More →

The case of corporate conscience

This coming week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in what is likely to be one of the most contentious cases of the year: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The case consolidates two lower-court opinions on challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, a provision requiring that large businesses include coverage for various forms of birth control in their employee health plans. But it’s about fa …

Read More →

George Will: Buds of Ukraine’s socialist spring



Read More →

Esther Cepeda: How a book can become a magical history tour

CHICAGO — Throughout my formal academic career, history classes bored me. The timelines, the outdated maps, the tiresome chronology that seemed always to begin with ancient earthen pottery and end with the Beatles making crowds of teenage women faint. Snore. The stories from history, however, were a different thing altogether. I would give just about anything to lay my hands on a copy of my first favorite book — a sto …

Read More →

Kathleen Parker: Putin and the gulag of the Russian mind

WASHINGTON — “Once an agent, always an agent.” This was the terse response of Nina Khrushcheva on New Year’s Eve 1999 when her mother commented favorably about the new president, Vladimir Putin, who was then speaking on TV. Khrushcheva, great-granddaughter of former Premier Nikita Khrushchev, was prescient then and feels no need to revise those comments now. Instead, her mother’s early reviews were symptomatic of wha …

Read More →