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home : opinion : editorial December 3, 2016

What Trump's defense looks like: A tough-talking retired Marine Corps general
WASHINGTON (AP) — Breaking once more from presidential custom, Donald Trump is turning to a military man to steer the U.S. military, choosing retired Gen. James Mattis, who will be the first career officer to lead the Pentagon since just after World War II.
Friday, December 2, 2016


Anderson Jewelers

Congress would have to bypass a 1947 law in order to confirm Gen. Mattis
WASHINGTON (AP) — Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for defense secretary, will need more than the usual Senate confirmation before being able to take office.
Friday, December 2, 2016

When it comes to ethics, not all elected officials are equally regulated
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. David McKinley has sold his West Virginia engineering and architecture firm, but it still bears his name — and that earned the Republican congressman a rebuke from the House Ethics Committee.
Thursday, December 1, 2016

Wisconsin is first state to start presidential election recount; cost $3.9M
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The first candidate-driven statewide recount of a presidential election in 16 years began today in Wisconsin, a state that Donald Trump won by less than a percentage point over Hillary Clinton after polls long predicted a Clinton victory.
Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hold the urchin tongues. Let's cook like grandma
'Tis the season to do cooking. And the holidays are when folks yearn for the old classics, just like ones we used to know. Even some hardcore "foodies" put away the experimental cuisine and make predictable dishes with recognizable ingredients.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Living in the twilight
It used to be, back when I first started in politics, that I subscribed to every newspaper I could, and I had read them all before anyone was even at the office. I didn't even consider it optional.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

No tears for Fidel
Sometimes history doesn't have to wait to judge -- and when it comes to dictators, even dead ones, we shouldn't either.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Can Democrats quit identity politics?
For the Democrats, no activity is immune from reflexive accusations of sexism and racism, not even soul-searching. 
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HHS nominee Tom Price opposes Obamacare, backs Medicare vouchers
WASHINGTON (AP) — As a congressman, Georgia Republican Tom Price has been thwarted in his hopes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and transform Medicare into a voucher-like program for future participants.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Scaling the Presidentials
INTERVALE, N.H. -- From this vista, the peaks already carry a light frost. Pockets of snow rest in the ravines, and ominous high winds are forecast. In any season, the Presidential Range is a fearsome place, in this season especially so.
Monday, November 28, 2016

Men working with their hands
A best-selling sports book, "The Boys in the Boat," describes the unlikely path of working-class blokes to gold-medal glory at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. There's lots about rowing, but what struck this reader most was author Daniel James Brown's account of the tough lot of laborers in the Northwest during the Great Depression.
Monday, November 28, 2016

Self-Government in the wilderness
The Mayflower had a harrowing two months crossing the Atlantic. Its mast splintered in rough water and two people died, as supplies dwindled and passengers grew sick. It arrived in the New World later than expected, on the cusp of a punishing winter. 
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Trump's lovely lies
WASHINGTON -- In this season of Thanksgiving, a quirky source of gratitude has emerged -- Donald Trump's many campaign lies.
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is Democrat's worst nightmare
President-elect Trump's transition team knew that nominating Jeff Sessions for Attorney General would set off controversy. Democrats and their allies in the press have at key times in the past called Sessions a racist -- they're now using the Alabama senator's full name, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, to heighten the Old South effect -- and now, as they oppose Trump at nearly every turn, they've turned to race again.
Friday, November 25, 2016

The Muslim registry that wasn't
The first thing to know about Donald Trump's alleged proposal for a Muslim registry is that it isn't a Muslim registry.
Friday, November 25, 2016

Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?
Politicians usually try to look like they're keeping their campaign promises, at least until they get sworn in. Only then do they start mumbling about changed circumstances and the difficulty of dealing with Congress (even if their party controls Congress, as Donald Trump's does).
Friday, November 25, 2016

The meaning of Mitt
President-elect Donald Trump's flirtation with Mitt Romney as a possible pick for secretary of state has injected a sliver of hope and change into an evolving administration that could use some.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Truth and consequences
Of all the losers in this season of discontent, the mainstream media top the list. I don't say this lightly and sincerely fear that loss of faith in journalism ultimately will cause more harm to the nation than any outside enemy could hope to.
Monday, November 21, 2016

Our president-elect
No one is more supportive of young people involved in politics than I am. Year after year, I not only teach my own students but also speak at colleges and universities, eschewing political correctness but urging, begging even, for the students to passionately advocate the beliefs they hold and to become active participants in our democracy.
Saturday, November 19, 2016

History strikes back
President Barack Obama won't explicitly say that Donald Trump is on the wrong side of history, but surely he believes it.
Saturday, November 19, 2016

How Canada will get along with the Trump reality
Put aside your preconceptions about NAFTA for just a moment. And your assumptions about Canada, too. Look across the border and you'll find that the Canadians want to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement also.
Friday, November 18, 2016

Goodbye, Facebook. You're evil
Friday, November 18, 2016

Guess who's coming to the White House
If you'd never heard of Steve Bannon before Tuesday, you have now.
Thursday, November 17, 2016

America is not a safe space
Pity the anti-Trump protesters thronging the streets of American cities. 
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Democrats must drop identity politics
What follows here is remarkably similar to what I had planned to write after an expected and prayed-for Hillary Clinton victory: Obsessive appeals to racial, ethnic, sexual and gender identity groupings are bad politics. That's because at a certain point, "inclusivity" takes on the air of exclusivity.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On hallowed ground
Witnesses who tuned in to Donald Trump and Barack Obama's post-election get-together can't have missed the change in the president-elect's demeanor and affect.
Monday, November 14, 2016

Just Because You Lose Doesn't Mean You Stop Trying, or, 'Marian's Lesson'
If you think last Tuesday was bad, you might not have been around on election night in 1980.
Saturday, November 12, 2016

The mourning after
When I opened my front door Wednesday morning after little sleep and numb from a bad dream that wasn't a dream, a dreary rainfall glazed the sidewalk as two neighbors gazed blankly in my direction.
Friday, November 11, 2016

President Donald Trump
More than a quarter-century ago, in another election year, the Los Angeles Dodgers' star Kirk Gibson hit a walk-off home run in the first game of the World Series. "In a year that has been so improbable," the Dodgers' iconic announcer Vin Scully said in an unforgettable television riff in the fall of 1988, "the impossible has happened."
Friday, November 11, 2016

Bernie Sanders doesn't rule out a possible 2020 run for White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders is leaving open the possibility of another presidential bid, saying in a Thursday interview that he wants to focus on helping the party rebuild its base after Donald Trump’s victory.
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump's America: For many supporters, Trump is a thing called hope
MENOMONIE, Wis. (AP) — On election night, when Donald Trump claimed victory in her home state of Wisconsin, Shay Chamberlin was so excited she screamed and fell over.
Thursday, November 10, 2016

Whatever happened to Americans' sense of humor?
You'd think there'd have been more laughs. Hard-fought political campaigns drenched in sweat and tears usually produce moments of levity. But Americans seem to have lost their sense of humor, becoming late-night angry, frustrated and sick with anxiety.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The rebellion of 1026
GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- This has been the year of living rebelliously.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016

America: Still great
You can feel the tension. Strolling down the street, shopping at the corner market, stopping for a bite at the local tavern, friends and neighbors greet each other as usual but avoid the elephant sauntering around like he owns the place.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016

History might smile on this year's election
The entire political world is in a swivet. Worst election ever. Horrible candidates. Shameful dialogue. Awful conduct. What a disgrace.
Saturday, November 5, 2016

Consider yourself warned: This is how a Clinton administration will work
James Comey surely had no idea what he was in for.
Saturday, November 5, 2016

Perverting the presidency
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Democrats asked for this
Before Democrats burn James Comey in effigy, they should think about how the FBI director came to have an outsized influence in the election in the first place.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why didn't Huma know; how long will it take; who and what can you believe?
WASHINGTON (AP) — The discovery of another cache of emails potentially important to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices raises an immediate question: How could close Clinton adviser Huma Abedin have been unaware of their existence?
Tuesday, November 1, 2016

If elected, Clinton faces awkward coexistence with FBI Director Comey
WASHINGTON (AP) — The relationship between James Comey and Hillary Clinton was never going to be tension-free, not when Comey’s FBI had conducted an election-year criminal investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate’s email practices.
Monday, October 31, 2016

Trump's for-profit campaign
It's as if Bob Dole began doing ads for Viagra before the 1996 election was over.
Friday, October 28, 2016

Trump's biggest vulnerability is Trump
Hillary Clinton may be the first candidate in American history to win a contest of personalities without having one.
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Election year fatigue? Blame it in part on the contentious race of 1840
NEW YORK (AP) — Presidential elections are a foundation of American democracy dating back to George Washington.
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Trump, with electoral path narrowing, insists he's 'winning'
TAMPA, Florida (AP) — A defiant Donald Trump is insisting he is “winning” and urging his supporters to defy what he is calling an establishment conspiracy to deny the White House to his populist movement.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Illinois comptroller candidates to meet in televised debate
CHICAGO (AP) — The major party candidates running for Illinois comptroller are set to square off in their only televised debate.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Yoga Pants: The Fashion Police Go Both Ways
He thought the readers could use a break from the election craziness and so sent a lighthearted letter to his suburban paper tendering an opinion on yoga pants.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Not "Clowning" Around this Halloween
TAYLORVILLE — The recent clown phenomenon has been taken to another level. Clowns have always had an associated fear factor, but the once fun and silly character to some has officially been negatively heightened.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Don't blame Never Trump
No one can accuse Kellyanne Conway of complacency. She is already preparing for post-election recriminations.
Monday, October 24, 2016

A year of disruption and dismay
Now, finally, there is a logic -- a strategic and even ideological rationale -- for a presidential campaign that has shattered all the assumptions of logic, all the strategic and ideological precedents, of our politics.
Saturday, October 22, 2016

American brats abroad
Amanda Knox was innocent of the grisly murder for which she did time in an Italian jail. There was no DNA link suggesting that the student from Seattle had slit the throat of her English roommate. Other evidence at the crime scene had been contaminated.
Saturday, October 22, 2016

Round Three: Candidates Still Struggle With The Truth
Thursday, October 20, 2016

Clinton promises major wealth redistribution
Even by the standards of liberal Democrats, Hillary Clinton is running the most frankly redistributionist presidential campaign in years. She promises massive new spending initiatives and balanced budgets, achieved by raising taxes on higher-income Americans in ways that other Democrats have rejected in the recent past.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The insincere, arrogant Clinton campaign
The website PolitiFact jumped all over Rudy Giuliani earlier this year when he said, "Hillary Clinton is for open borders."
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Quid pro quo request: reclassify Benghazi email in exchange for more agents
WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior State Department official asked the FBI last year to help reduce the classification of an email from Hillary Clinton’s private server, according to FBI investigative files that have been made public. It was to be part of a bargain that would have allowed the FBI to deploy more agents in foreign countries, according to the files.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Evangelicals without standards
Lanny Davis must be dizzy from the deja vu.
Monday, October 17, 2016

The October surprise
No one expected the "October Surprise" of the 2016 campaign to be a video with a member of the Bush family recorded on his way to a cameo in a soap opera. Nor did anyone expect the second presidential debate to take on the air of pro wrestling.
Thursday, October 13, 2016

Whither, comma?
My favorite bumper sticker I've never seen: Commas matter.
Monday, October 10, 2016

Whither, comma?
My favorite bumper sticker I've never seen: Commas matter.
Saturday, October 8, 2016

How Low Can It Go?
Saturday, October 8, 2016

A what-if scenario: Will Lewinsky's name come up in Sunday night debate?
WASHINGTON (AP) — Monica Lewinsky tends to avoid politics these days, after becoming instantly famous nearly 20 years ago as the White House intern who had an affair with President Bill Clinton.
Friday, October 7, 2016

Debate minefield: Town hall will test candidates' stagecraft
WASHINGTON (AP) — President George H.W. Bush conspicuously checked his watch. Al Gore got too close for comfort. Mitt Romney strode across stage to confront President Barack Obama face to face.
Thursday, October 6, 2016

Once lauded as a peacemaker, Obama's tenure fraught with war
WASHINGTON (AP) — Seven years ago this week, when a young American president learned he’d been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize barely nine months into his first term — arguably before he’d made any peace — a somewhat embarrassed Barack Obama asked his aides to write an acceptance speech that addressed the awkwardness of the award.
Thursday, October 6, 2016

Permission to dissent
Only in the strangest-ever presidential election could a former beauty queen's weight be considered a deal-breaking issue of, if I may, gargantuan proportions.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Duterte tells Obama 'you can go to hell,' warns of 'break up with America'
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte told President Barack Obama “you can go to hell” in a speech Tuesday that was his strongest tirade so far against the U.S. over its criticism of his deadly anti-drug campaign, adding that he may eventually decide to “break up with America.”
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

We all avoid taxes
Give Donald Trump credit for going big. When he wanted to declare a $915,729,293 loss on his 1995 tax returns, the software used by his accountant couldn't accommodate anything higher than a seven-figure loss. The accountant had to add the first two digits, "91," with a typewriter.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The media freakout
We are in the midst of an epic media freakout.
Saturday, October 1, 2016

Turmoil in New Hampshire
Just the other day this urgent message went out to Trump activists, organizers and supporters in New Hampshire:

All indicators show that New Hampshire is absolutely critical to Mr. Trump winning the White House. Without the Granite State's 4 electoral votes, things don't look good.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Riot first, ask questions later
The Charlotte rioters didn't know whether the controversial police shooting of Keith Scott was justified or not, and didn't care.
Friday, September 30, 2016

Brain freeze? Gary Johnson can't name one world leader, not one
WASHINGTON (AP) — Call it a brain freeze, another “Aleppo moment,” or a mere campaign stumble, but Gary Johnson has stumbled again in his quixotic presidential campaign.
Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump's missed opportunities
As he prepared for the crucial first presidential debate, Donald Trump knew moderator Lester Holt would bring up the birther issue.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Presidential Debate Fact Check
WASHINGTON (AP) — Both candidates in last night’s presidential debate denied making statements that they are on the record as saying.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Viewer's guide: Look for trust, temperament themes in debate
WASHINGTON (AP) — The most telling moments in presidential debates often come out of the blue — an offhand remark or unrehearsed gesture that helps to reveal the essence of a candidate who’s already been poked, prodded and inspected for years.
Saturday, September 24, 2016

Eyes wide open on debate night
It's here, at last. The showdown we've all been waiting for: Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump.
Saturday, September 24, 2016

Expect hardball Monday night
Throw away your images of presidential debates -- the earnest exchanges over foreign policy and the economy, the canned laugh lines and scripted expressions of scorn, even the choreographed bonhomie at the beginning and end of these televised sessions. Monday night's confrontation will reflect the disruptive forces in politics that each nominee personifies.
Friday, September 23, 2016

How Trump could win the debate
Hillary Clinton will almost certainly win Monday night's epic presidential debate on points -- and still could lose.
Friday, September 23, 2016

Advisers warn Trump not to get riled by Clinton in debate
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s advisers are urging him to keep his cool during next week’s presidential debate and resist attempts by Hillary Clinton to provoke him.
Friday, September 23, 2016

The Trump letters
As the first presidential debate approaches, fists clench, jaws tighten and invectives giggle in anticipation.
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trump: Those who suffer most from riots those who live there
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Lamenting a “lack of spirit” between whites and blacks, Donald Trump encouraged racial unity in the face of “a national crisis” today.
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Could Britain become the fourth amigo?
Britain's vote to leave the European Union sparks speculation on where the United Kingdom might turn for new trading partners. How about NAFTA? Britain could become the fourth amigo, joining the United States, Canada and Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Addressing terror, Clinton plays it safe, Trump promises bold change
The terrorist bombings in New York and New Jersey, which injured 29, and the terrorist stabbings in Minnesota, which injured nine, were nowhere near as serious as the terrorist shootings in Orlando, which killed 49, and in San Bernardino, which killed 14. Nevertheless, the acts of accused bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami, and of Dahir Adan, the stabber whose rampage was ended by an off-duty police officer in Minnesota, brought the issue of terrorism back to the presidential campaign trail.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New Yorkers walk past political bluster over bombing
The explosives going off in the dumpster in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea was not a major terrorist event -- except on the TV news channels. No one was killed, fortunately. And thanks to superb police work, a suspect was captured within 48 hours.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Is Trump a traitor?
Someone dares call it treason. Hillary Clinton used the occasion of the New York-area bombings to accuse Donald Trump of providing "aid and comfort" to ISIS.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Donald Trump Jr. likens Syrian refugees to poison Skittles
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. has posted a message on Twitter likening Syrian refugees to a bowl of poisoned Skittles.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A big, beautiful black swan
If you aren't seriously contemplating the biggest black swan event in American electoral history, you aren't paying attention.
Saturday, September 17, 2016

As debates near, forum shows potential Trump advantage
NBC's "Commander in Chief Forum," held aboard the USS Intrepid in New York, was the closest thing to a debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton until the real thing on Sept. 26.
Friday, September 16, 2016

Educating youth about substance abuse
TAYLORVILLE — We’ve talked a lot recently about drugs, alcohol, and our youth. Drugs and alcohol are becoming increasingly available for our youth and this is a topic that must be a priority in our minds. Did you know, as a parent, you have a major impact on your child’s decision not to use these substances?
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hillary's deplorable basket case
She didn't want to say she was sick.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Clinton diagnosis -- chronic secrecy and dishonesty
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The week that was ... embarrassing
America has had better weeks than the one just past.
Monday, September 12, 2016

Julian Assange is still a creep
If Julian Assange plays this right, he just might score an invitation to CPAC next year.
Friday, September 9, 2016

Arkansas ballot will offer a new test for medical marijuana
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Republicans control all of Arkansas’ statewide offices, hold a majority in both chambers of the Legislature and are nearly assured of winning the state’s six electoral votes in the presidential election.
Friday, September 9, 2016

Facebook co-founder pledging $20 million to defeat Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — With a new promise of $20 million to help defeat Donald Trump, billionaire Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz becomes one of the top Democratic donors of the election
Friday, September 9, 2016

Clinton backs bill to protect benefits for former coal miners
“I firmly believe that if you spent your life keeping the lights on for our country, we can’t leave you in the dark,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Voters to Trump: Soften, please
Donald Trump and his top aides can justifiably be satisfied with his stunningly successful trip to Mexico. At the same time, Trump has continued to sow confusion about his stand on immigration -- not his overall position but specifically about his intentions regarding the 12 million immigrants who are in this country illegally. Will he soften his stance on deportations?
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ginsburg: 'Cooler heads will prevail' on high court nominee
WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Wednesday that she thinks “cooler heads will prevail” in the Senate, where Republican leaders are refusing to consider President Barack Obama’s high court nominee.
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Trump, Clinton not planning to campaign on 9/11 anniversary
NEW YORK (AP) — Neither of the two New Yorkers vying for the White House is expected to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terror attacks with a visit to ground zero.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Education: Clinton wants college for all; Trump says no to core
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year on the country’s public schools. The U.S. has record-high graduation rates, 82 percent, but also stubborn achievement gaps and dismally lagging math and reading scores compared with other countries
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The candidate who wasn't there
William McKinley would be proud. Hillary Clinton has been running the closest thing possible in the modern context to a front-porch campaign. 
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Retired generals: Urgent need for course corrections on security
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — With Labor Day behind them, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are battling over national security in the South’s top presidential battlegrounds.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Four gaps, one president
The first Republican presidential debate was almost exactly 13 months ago. The first actual balloting was almost exactly seven months ago. The two presidential tickets have been fixed for about 45 days. And yet custom holds that the official start to the 2016 general election is Monday. A weary country wonders: Hasn't this been going on forever?
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Arizona could be a spoiler on the road to 270, thanks to Gary Johnson
PHOENIX (AP) — If Hillary Clinton carries Arizona in November, there’s a good chance it won’t be because Democrats on their own have flipped a reliable GOP state they hope to win consistently someday.
Monday, September 5, 2016

Clinton and Trump are courting voter in Ohio today on Labor Day
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are making competing Labor Day pitches in Ohio, setting the stage for a critical month in their testy presidential campaign.
Monday, September 5, 2016

Trump transition team is led by an entourage of Chris Christie insiders
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Despite being passed over for the job of Trump’s running mate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and an entourage of his closest allies could leave a lasting mark on a Trump administration, should he win in November.
Monday, September 5, 2016











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