Archives for Opinion

Two years? Enough prison time for McDonnell?

When a federal judge handed down a two-year prison sentence to former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell Tuesday afternoon debate started loud and rancorous over whether or not it was enough, too much or just right. Prosecutors wanted at least six years behind bars.  Defense attorney’s wanted no jail time, just community service — if anything.  The case goes to a federal appeals court for review. Judge James Spencer said he felt sorry for McDonnell but said a “price has to be paid” for breaking the law. “No one wants to see a former governor of this great commonwealth in this
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In the end, U.S. sanctions usually fail

Responding to the cyber attack against Sony, the U.S. government recently issued new sanctions against North Korea. There are few reasons to be optimistic that this newest round of sanctions will change Pyongyang’s behavior. Like Cuba and Iran, the country has decades of experience circumventing and surviving U.S. sanctions. Why do U.S. sanctions fail so often? The answer lies not just with America’s adversaries, but also with its allies. You just need to look at Cuba to see why. It is well known that Cuba managed to find international support from countries opposed to the United States embargo for years.
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Return of the wayward columnist

Two years ago, I was pretty much home bound a week after spending 45 days in the hospital recovering from a near-fatal motorcycle accident. Much of the past 24 months have included a lot of therapy and rehab as doctors and therapists have worked to restore my ability to walk and to heal my mind from what they call a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Today, I can walk without crutches or canes and my mind functions at a level that lets me write newspaper articles and shoot photos for local newspapers.  I also shoot a lot of video of music
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Coming home to Ferguson

As a black man who grew up near Ferguson, I dreaded going home for Thanksgiving this week. I watched cable news with dismay while I packed Tuesday. Familiar parts of my old neighborhood were burning. While the Tuesday morning sky was relatively calm above Ferguson as I landed, I knew things on the ground were different as soon as I saw the National Guard Humvees and police cruisers parked along the roads as I left Lambert-St. Louis Airport. Not even in the paranoid months following Sept. 11 had they been out in such force. My mother, who lives a few
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Barack Obama: The reluctant black president

America, not for the first time, stands at a racial crossroads. The crisis of race and democracy unfolded before a global audience on Monday night as hundreds of demonstrators set police cars on fire and engaged in sporadic looting in the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old teenager Michael Brown. The split-screen television image, which showed President Barack Obama calling for peaceful demonstrations alongside live footage of protesters overturning a police vehicle offered a poetic juxtaposition of the yawning gap between substance and symbolism. The Age of
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Michael Brown crossed the line

Over the years I have covered many stories involving encounters between police officers and suspects. When I wrote a newspaper column for The Alton Telegraph in Illinois — just up the Mississippi River from St. Louis — I often received requests from readers who claimed they were victims of excessive use of force. Before setting out on an investigation of such incidents, I always asked the claimed victim:  “Did you verbally confront or physically attack the officer?” If the “victim” said “yes,” I passed on the story. When someone encounters an officer and responds with a string of four-letter words
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Obama found wrong scapegoat by firing Hagel

The timing of Chuck Hagel’s resignation as secretary of defense may have been a surprise, but the fact that he was on his way out has been rumored for weeks. The real issue is why he either stepped down or was forced to leave after such a comparatively short time in office. Hagel’s departure may bring about some short-term political gains, but in the long run it will not be good for the administration, the Pentagon or the country. There are two interrelated reasons for his exit. First, the Obama administration needed to have a high-ranking figure take the fall
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Three misconceptions about the Middle East

The West’s understanding of the Middle East has often been laden with misconceptions—this has especially been the case in the years following the Arab Spring. Here are three assumptions about this part of the world that need to be challenged. Doing so is important as people all over the world often perceive the Middle East as a region in which ancient religious rivalries prevent the emergence of secular democracies. Among other things, this can wrongly inform foreign policy decision-making regarding ongoing crises in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East. Assumption no. 1: If leaders are secular, sectarianism will
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Can Americans even get pay raises any more?

What will it really take to give America a raise? A lot of well-credentialed policy experts have been writing nonsense about why Americans can’t be paid more. One bogus story is that young people and working moms (whatever happened to working dads?) love the new “flexible” economy of Task-Rabbits working odd jobs. Or they’re Uber drivers or Starbucks clerks, marking time until their economic adulthood begins. American University students walk among recruiting booths during a career job fair at American University in WashingtonSome of these people imagine themselves to be high-tech entrepreneurs-in-waiting. Recent college grads who hope that they are
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So, how does a disease like Ebola really spread?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Sunday that a nurse at a Dallas hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola last week, was the first person to become infected with the virus on U. S. soil. The nurse reportedly wore a gown, gloves, a mask and a face shield while caring for the Liberian national at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Many, including CDC Director Tom Frieden, are questioning how the nurse became infected despite wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, which should have shielded her from direct contact with Duncan and his bodily fluids.
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