Opinion: When Holiday Values Meet Policy, It May Be Awkward

Just as the generosity of Angel Tree donations and turkey giveaways clash with the kill-or-be-killed stampede of folks looking for a Black Friday bargain, the warm holiday greetings lawmakers disseminate this time of year might strike a dissonant cord when compared to the current policies and politics coming out of Washington.

Opinion: Remembering Recy Taylor and the Too Familiar State of Alabama

In “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” a recently released documentary, you see the face of bravery. It is Recy Taylor, the 24-year-old African-American — a wife and mother of an infant daughter — kidnapped in 1944 by a carful of young white men, some the sons of the “respectable” leaders of Abbeville, Alabama, where they all lived. A gun held to her head, she was blindfolded, driven to a remote spot and violated in unimaginable ways. She escaped being killed by promising to keep quiet.

But she did not keep that promise.

Taylor’s legacy can be seen in the women speaking up now about sexual harassment of all kinds, most recently Alabama women who on the surface have little in common with a poor black sharecropper from decades ago. In fact, Beverly Young Nelson, who became the fifth woman to accuse Roy Moore when she tearfully recounted her story of an alleged sexual assault, said she and her husband voted for Donald Trump, while Taylor, in her midcentury time, was not allowed to vote at all.

Opinion: Will 2018 Midterms Follow Scorched-Earth Playbook?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was a nice little mayor’s race in the largest city in North Carolina, considering that Charlotte has gone through a lot of mayors (seven) in the past nine years. And that’s even taking into account Democratic incumbent Jennifer Roberts losing, in the primary, her chance to defend her spot because of her part in a “bathroom” bill that labeled the state in all the wrong ways and her handling of protests that turned violent after a police-involved shooting.

But all that aside, the scorched-earth campaign between two mild-mannered city council members competing to move into the mayor’s office was a bit unexpected. It reached a heated crescendo with a digital ad from the N.C. Values Coalition, which supported Republican Kenny Smith. The ad said Democrat Vi Lyles “is Jennifer Roberts” and featured an ominous voice-over, a man entering a bathroom to the frightened chagrin of a girl already claiming the space, scenes of rioting and the image of comedian Kathy Griffin holding a blurred severed head.

Opinion: Did Everyone in the White House Take a Nap During History Class?

In forward-looking America, history is sometimes regarded as a roadblock to progress, a nuisance. And that, as has been repeatedly proven, is a mistake.

Why look back when the future is so important? Well, because failure to do exactly that has consequences.

The latest to get caught up in “he must have dozed through class that day” is White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has been criticized for his reading of the Civil War.

 

Opinion: When the Price Is Too High to Be an American

If I had been in that briefing room when White House Chief of Staff and retired Gen. John Kelly stated that only journalists who had a personal connection to a fallen soldier were allowed to ask a question, I could have raised my hand. But that would have cheapened the memory of a Marine, my beloved nephew, treating his life and death as currency in an unholy transaction.

I get what Kelly was trying to pointedly point out — the disconnect between the folks in the room who may have been untouched by the costs of military service and the families who live with them every day. In truth, though, that gulf could have extended to the street and into most American homes — including the White House, whose occupant has the actual power to send men and women into war.

But to have used that ticket I wish I did not possess for advantage would have betrayed the values of the America my nephew served. That America is one where a journalist or any citizen is certainly allowed, even encouraged, to question a government official who is beholden to the U.S. Constitution — not the man sitting in the Oval Office.

Opinion: Working Around Trump on Issues That Matter

The kiss-and-make-up press conference with President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the most awkward dates in the history of, well, dates, as my Roll Call colleague Walter Shapiro pointed out. They need each other, sure, but will tax cuts be the glue to hold intermittent and shaky truces together for any length of time?

Opinion: In a Culture War, American Values Lose

Over the weekend, a group of white nationalists returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, faces proudly uncovered and tiki torches in hand, with a message of division.

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer said to applause, “You are going to have to get used to white identity” — and warned of more to come.

The story barely lasted one news cycle, perhaps because, this time, no one drove a car into a crowd of anti-hate counterprotesters and killed a woman.

What you have heard plenty about, the story that has made ripples and had serious repercussions, is Vice President Mike Pence’s staged walkout at a Colts-49ers NFL game in Indianapolis — a political stunt that cost the taxpayers plenty — because he disrespected several players’ support of equality, justice and police accountability.

And no matter the spin, that’s what the pregame protests have been about since former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick consulted with military veteran Nate Boyer and decided to kneel silently (instead of sit) during the playing of the national anthem.

Opinion: When Silence Says Everything

The parable of the frog being boiled alive — with the poor creature jumping out immediately if the water is red hot, but, if the heat is cranked up slowly, not realizing its plight until it’s too late — may not be based on science (so don’t try this on little Croaky). But in politics, sweating officials are still doing the backstroke.

Americans are becoming used to abhorrent events, shocked, and wondering if anything can be done to make things better. After every man-made or natural disaster, or every statement from a leader that crosses the line, we wonder if the water will ever be hot enough to get a rise out of those in charge. So we do the best we can.

Opinion: The Language of Diplomacy, Democracy — and Division

“He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” then long-shot candidate Donald Trump saidin 2015 of Sen. John McCain’s service and time as a prisoner after his plane was shot down by North Vietnamese troops in 1967. It was a quote that many thought would end Trump’s White House dreams.

That it did not slow the Trump train was a clear sign that something fundamental was broken in America’s definition of what it means to be a patriot.

Opinion: In Reaching for Deals, Will Parties Overlook Certain American Voices?

“He likes us,” Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer said of his fellow New Yorker Donald Trump last week. This was after “Chuck” joined “Nancy” — House Democratic leader Pelosi from California — in a White House gathering that resulted in a deal on DACA reform, unless it didn’t.

Whatever the interpretation of what happened during that chummy get-together, and there was a different one for every person who attended or heard about it first, second or thirdhand, the president reportedly reveled in the relief of positive headlines that followed.