• Election 2016: Is this the season of the angry white male?

    On Monday, two of American Catholicism’s most prominent conservative  intellectuals—George Wiegel, John Paul II’s biographer, and Princeton law professor Robert P. George—posted an open letter on National Review Online urging Catholics not to vote for Donald Trump. Their appeal, addressed to “our fellow Catholics and all men and women of good will,” was joined by almost 40 coreligionists affiliated with academic institutions and non-profits. These folks are among the fiercest of culture warriors and for years have been trying to use the controversies over reproductive rights and marriage equality to pry Catholic voters out of the Democratic Party. They’ve promulgated the ...

  • Tribune’s Editor-Publisher Merger is its Worst Idea Yet

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    In difficult times, it can be hard to distinguish innovation from desperation. These days of digital disruption are about as rugged a period as the American newspaper industry ever has experienced. It still ought to be clear, though, that Tribune Publishing’s decision last week to blend the jobs of editor and publisher at its newspapers—including the Los Angeles Times—falls into something worse than the desperate category. How much worse? The analytic philosopher Saul Kripke once declined to review a colleague’s paper for an important journal and, when asked why, is said to have replied, “It’s so far off the mark, it isn’t ...

  • Furor over NYT’s Trump tape is much ado about nothing

    It’s absurd to single out any single event in this election cycle as odd, since the whole affair is so bizarrely weird that it feels like something you’d stumble into on the other side of the looking glass. So, for the sake of accuracy let’s just call the convoluted controversy over the tape of Donald Trump’s off-the-record conversation with the New York Times’ editorial board interesting. During this week’s Republican debate, you may have heard Trump refuse his opponents’ calls for him to release the recording. Here’s what’s at issue: Back in January, Trump went to The New York Times for one ...

  • In much of America, it’s more dangerous to be policed than to be a police officer

    When he spoke to civic or church groups about the law and policing, the late Johnnie Cochran often would pose this question: “Who do you think is the most powerful person in the criminal justice system?” Inevitably, most people would respond, “the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.” “Wrong,” Johnnie would respond. “The most powerful single person in the entire criminal justice system is the cop on the street, because only he has the power to summarily execute you—and get away with it.” In the months since Ferguson, I’ve thought a great deal about Johnnie’s question and about his views on abusive ...

  • Why don’t voters care that Trump is a bully?

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    Last week, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told the journalists and lawmakers gathered for the Washington Press Club Foundation’s usually light-hearted annual congressional dinner that, “My party has gone batshit crazy.” Given that Graham lately has emerged as a kind of Republican Cassandra, it’s tempting to add a gloss on Homer’s famous line: Who the gods would destroy, they first afflict with Donald Trump. The madness of Trump, in fact, is one of this election cycle’s defining forces, and it has many faces. The most mysterious is why, state-by-state, a bit more than a third of the GOP electorate is willing ...

  • Watching ‘Spotlight’, I was proud of my vocation and ashamed of my church

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    Properly practiced, journalism is an honorable, but not a dignified vocation, and the cool, unsentimental way in which Spotlight captures that makes it one of best films ever made about newspaper work. The movie is up for six Academy Awards, and I hope it wins every one—though my friend Joe Morgenstern, the Wall Street Journal’s indispensable film critic, predicts it will get only one for best original screenplay, and he’s usually right about these things. If you’ve yet to see it—and you should see it—“Spotlight” recreates the investigation by the Boston Globe’s four-reporter team of that name that exposed not only widespread ...

  • Media Must Scrutinize Donald Trump’s ‘Successful’ Career

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    The culture of celebrity and the new media superstructure that supports it are a deceptive combination. They deal in the illusion of intimacy, trading on the fiction that they actually allow us to know the celebrities they create on a first-name basis—Angelina and Brad, Kim and Kanye and, perhaps most misleadingly, the Donald. Oddly enough, though he seems to have lived his whole life in the public eye, there is a great deal about Donald Trump that we don’t know with precision. Because he’s never spent a minute of his life in public service, what we do seem to know about ...

  • Hillary Clinton Faces Tough Battle Winning Over Young Women

    Hillary Clinton’s decisive win in the Nevada caucuses is a critical validation of her candidacy, though it also brought into sharper relief one of her campaign’s unexpectedly vexing problems: A majority of younger Democratic women are passing on the chance to cast their vote for the first female president and, instead, throwing in with the crusty socialist firebrand Bernie Sanders. In the three Democratic contests so far—Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada—nearly eight out of ten of the women voters under 45 supported Sanders. Nationally, polls show that 64% of the Democratic women under 45 currently back the Vermont senator. In each ...

  • Pope Francis Brilliantly Dismisses Petulant Donald Trump

    Hmm, let’s see here. . .Donald Trump, who appears poised to win his second Republican presidential primary, thinks Vladimir Putin is a “great leader,” admires the late Saddam Hussein for “killing terrorists” and is wowed by the “genius” and “toughness” of Kim Jong Ill, the mad dog oppressor of the North Korean people. On the other hand, the developer-turned-schlock TV character thinks Pope Francis I, defender of the poor and migrants, advocate of kindness and mercy, critic of wealth and privilege, is “disgraceful” and “a pawn” of corrupt political interests. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything, which also is what’s wrong with ...

  • Apple Needs to Cooperate with the FBI to Save Lives

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    There’s a hoary legal maxim that hard cases make bad law and, at first glance, the standoff between Apple and federal investigators probing the San Bernardino terror attack certainly would seem to be one of those. The basic facts are these: Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife, Tasheen Malik, killed 14 and wounded 22 in a terrorist attack on a San Bernardino government health center. They had an iPhone 5c, which was recovered from the couple’s SUV after they were killed in a shootout with police. On Oct 19—44 days before the shooting—Farook activated an encryption option on ...

  • Sorry Ted Cruz, it is Obama’s Duty as President to Name a New Supreme Court Justice

    In the great debate over civil rights and an independent judiciary that consumed the German Reichstag in October of 1877, the Catholic parliamentarian Ludwig Windthorst decisively broke with the Prussian Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, and his brand of conservatism: “‘Conservative' means to conserve the given, legitimate institutions in State and Church,” Windthorst said. “It does not mean to arm a government with omnipotence, with which it can modify those institutions at will. So long as you confuse conservatism with Polizeiwirtschaft (a police state) an alliance with you is certainly unthinkable." Nor does a genuine conservatism empower one party to remake all ...

  • Donald Trump’s New Punching Bag: Pope Francis

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    Not content with spewing country club card room invective—“loser,” “jerk,” etc.—at other Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump now has turned on Pope Francis I. The pontiff is currently on a pastoral visit to Mexico, where over the course of the next few days he will meet with indigenous people and business leaders, celebrate Mass at the shrine of the country’s patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe, visit a prison and lunch with seminarians. His itinerary consciously mirrors the journey of Mexican and Central American migrants northward to the Rio Grande and will culminate in Ciudad Juarez, where the pope will celebrate a ...