The harshest penalties usually tend to be brutal, vengeful and excessive -- even when the offender is a celebrity journalist like Brian Williams. Suspended without pay from his post as the "NBC Nightly News" anchor for six months, Williams may be facing the end of his career in television news, which would be roughly equivalent to capital punishment.
Whenever an act of horrific terror enrages the West, a predictable second act ensues. Furious commentators and activists on the right erupt with blanket denunciations of Islam, Muslims and their supposed plots to enslave us all under Shariah, urging that we ban the religion, stigmatize its faithful and restore the Judeo-Christian exclusivity of America. Sometimes a few even seek retribution in attacks on mosques, individual Muslims and anyone unfortunate enough to "look Muslim."
Not long after 9/11, the leading figures in France's Champagne industry decided that they would hold their 2002 annual awards gala in New York rather than Paris. At no small expense, they displayed solidarity with New Yorkers -- and America -- at a time of sorrow and fury, like so many of their compatriots. It was one more instance when the French renewed the bond that has existed since this country's founding.
The unsavory story of Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican and House majority whip, should serve as a clear warning to the leaders of the Republican Party. They need to ask why their message attracts some of the most despicable elements in American society -- and why they can't effectively reject those extremists.
Despite many fervent vows of "outreach" and "inclusion" by top Republicans, they keep making the wrong choices. Both House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have expressed their confidence in Scalise despite his "mistake." And the excuses they now offer on behalf of the man chosen for the third-highest position in their congressional caucus are rapidly eroding.
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Listen carefully to the Republican leaders and presidential hopefuls roaring with outrage over President Barack Obama's courageous decision to normalize relations with Cuba; listen very carefully, because no matter how long or how closely you listen to them, there is one thing you will surely never hear.
With the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the use of torture by the CIA after 9/11, the final defense of the indefensible by its perpetrators, advocates and publicists is falling apart before our eyes.
With the Keystone XL pipeline stalled again, now perhaps we can look ahead and consider more promising ways to rebuild our energy system, creating many more jobs than that controversial project ever would. No matter where we look, the far larger issue that still confronts Americans is decaying infrastructure -- which emphatically includes the enormous web of oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the continental United States in every direction.
COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM
In the wake of the 2014 midterm "wave election," Americans will soon find out whether they actually want what they have wrought. The polls tell us that too many voters are weary of President Barack Obama, including a significant number who actually voted for him two years ago. Polls likewise suggest that most voters today repose more trust in Republicans on such fundamental issues as economic growth, national security and budget discipline. But do they want what Republicans in control will do now?
If there is any upside to the constant blabber from a politician such as Chris Christie, it is that he blurts out what others like him would never say in public -- for instance, his recent remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage," said the boorish New Jersey governor, a sentiment no doubt shared by the assembled big-business lobbyists and by most of Christie's fellow Republican governors. "I really am. I don't think there's a mother or a father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, 'You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized.'"
If the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind, then even the possibility of infection with Ebola should do the same -- for all of us. Instead, we seem easily distracted by attempts to blame President Barack Obama and to scapegoat the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Republican politicians and media loudmouths have even demanded the resignation of Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC's director, because he's refused to endorse a West African travel ban.
They're all dead wrong.