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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Author Archive: Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis

Is the GOP about to soften its hard stance against immigration?

The Republican Party has long been known for its hard stance against illegal immigration. But former Florida governor Jeb Bush – widely seen as a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 – is sounding a different note, saying that many immigrants come to the United States as an “act of love” to provide […]

Did the Supreme Court ‘open the floodgates’ for unlimited campaign contributions?

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 5-4 that a cap on the total amount of money donors can give to political campaigns – so-called “aggregate contribution limits” – are unconstitutional. Such limits, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in McCutcheon v. FEC, “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise the […]

Should gun policy halt President Obama’s choice for surgeon general?

The National Rifle Association is flexing its political muscle again – this time in opposition to President Obama’s nominee to be Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Why? Murthy believes that guns are a health issue, and has advocated gun safety measures like an assault weapons ban, mandatory safety training, and limits on ammunition. Is gun […]

Is the legalization of marijuana inevitable?

First, 20 states and the District of Columbia passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical use. Then in 2012, voters in Washington state and Colorado approved measures legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical use, with state oversight. Now at least a half-dozen states from Alaska to Maine are considering following suit. Marijuana still […]

March 21, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Can Americans just ‘stop being poor’?

It started out as a seeming faux pas; now it’s a slogan for the right. Fox Business commentator Todd Wilemon last week made waves when he told a “Daily Show” correspondent a way to defeat the problems of poverty: “If you’re poor, stop being poor.” While Wilemon was mocked on the left, conservatives lauded him. […]

Is Putin outsmarting Obama in Ukraine crisis?

President Obama is facing perhaps the most difficult foreign policy challenge of his administration with the confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine and disputed territory in the Crimean peninsula. Obama last week said the United States would “stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention […]

Should the government regulate e-cigarettes?

Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week introduced a bill that would ban the marketing of electronic cigarettes to minors. “We cannot risk undoing decades of progress in reducing youth smoking by allowing e-cigarette makers to target our kids,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., one of the bill’s co-sponsors. E-cigarettes are a burgeoning trend and […]

Religious liberty or discrimination in Kansas?

The Kansas legislature last week found itself on the verge of passing a bill that would protect any worker – in a private business or in government – who refused service to individuals because of the worker’s religious opposition to gay marriage. The bill’s backers said it protected religious freedom, while opponents said it enshrined […]

February 21, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 3 Replies

Is ACA undermining the American work ethic?

A new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the Affordable Care Act will reduce the effective size of the U.S. workforce by 2.5 million over the next 10 years. The White House responded that the law is giving Americans more choices by removing the link between work and health insurance. But critics of […]

Who are the winners and losers in the new farm bill?

Almost nothing happens on a bipartisan basis in Washington these days, but there is one exception: The farm bill. This week, the Senate easily passed a bill to spend $1 trillion on agriculture and related programs over the next decade. The bill expands crop insurance for farmers, but also cuts food stamps by $90 a […]

Is Obama overreaching with executive orders?

President Obama says he plans to advance an ambitious policy agenda this year “with or without Congress.” His latest decision: an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. “I have got a pen and I have got a phone, and I can use that pen to sign executive orders,” […]

Do sexual assaults on college campuses require a federal response?

President Obama this week signed an executive memorandum setting up a special task force focused on sexual assault on U.S. college campuses. The president’s order followed the release of a new report from the White House Council on Women and Girls, “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action.” According to the study, one […]

Should the Supreme Court protect entrances to abortion clinics?

The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a challenge to a 2007 Massachusetts law that creates 35-foot buffer zones around the entrances of abortion clinics, a law intended to offset harassment and violence that included a 1994 shooting rampage at two facilities. But critics say the law infringes on the First Amendment right of anti-abortion protesters […]

Does the U.S. government have too many secrets?

A new book by former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger identifies the burglars who stole documents 43 years ago from an FBI field office in Media, Pa. Those documents, leaked to the Post, exposed the existence of Cointelpro, a massive domestic spying operation the FBI carried out for decades. The revelations led to widespread reforms […]

January 10, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 3 Replies

What did your Red-Blue America columnists get wrong in 2013?

Every pundit gets something wrong: Your Red-Blue America columnists are no exception. We’ve written about health care, gay rights, religious freedom and every other imaginable topic this year. And since there are two of us, opposing each other most weeks, that doubles the chances of making a bad prediction or offering faulty analysis during the […]

What was the most important story of 2013?

There was no presidential election in 2013, but the year provided America with plenty of stories to care about: The launch of Obamacare, the near-war with Syria over chemical weapons, the Boston Marathon bombings, and many more. Some stories were one-offs; others will ripple forward into the future. Which story in 2013 might have the […]

Is Obamacare already a failure?

Is “Obamacare” already a failure? The torrent of criticism that has accompanied the opening of health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act – known as “Obamacare” – has continued unabated. Republicans say the problems with the program’s websites (and with some private insurance customers having their old policies canceled under the new law) demonstrate […]

What’s the best strategy for denying nuclear weapons to Iran?

What’s the best strategy for denying nuclear weapons to Iran? Negotiators from the world’s major powers came close to getting a preliminary agreement with Iran last week to slow its nuclear program – an agreement scuttled at the last second when France made its opposition plain. Hawks in the U.S. applauded the failure, saying the […]

November 15, 2013 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 5 Replies

Are charter schools a legitimate alternative to public education?

Are charter schools the conservative movement’s version of Solyndra? Education reformers – mostly but not entirely on the right – have long peddled charter schools as a solution to the nation’s education woes. Such schools, paid for from public funds but run by private and nonprofit organizations, have more freedom to try different approaches to […]

Will ‘Obamacare’ end up hurting workers?

It seems that every week brings news of another major employer terminating its workers’ health benefits to avoid complying with the terms of the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare.” The latest? Specialty grocery store Trader Joe’s and SeaWorld, which are reportedly cutting benefits and hours to part-time workers and letting them seek out health […]

September 13, 2013 | Posted in State, national columnists | 1 Reply

Finding the right path forward in Syria

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to authorize U.S. military strikes in Syria, where the government has evidently used chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war with rebels. Obama says international norms against chemical weapons use must be enforced, but polls show a large majority of Americans don’t want the United States to take military […]

Did Bradley Manning get appropriate sentence?

A judge on Tuesday ordered Bradley Manning, the Army private convicted of releasing a trove of secret American documents to WikiLeaks, to serve a sentence of 35 years behind bars. Manning’s critics said that the long sentence was justified and that his acts may have gotten American allies killed. Groups such as the American Civil […]

Should the GOP shut down the government to end Obamacare?

Senate Republicans are threatening to block any bill that continues funding for government operations if it also includes money for the 2010 Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. “This is the last stop before Obamacare fully kicks in on Jan. 1 of next year for us to refuse to fund it,” Sen. Mike Lee […]

Do terrorists deserve the rock star treatment?

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared this week on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, looking for all the world like one of the pop stars the magazine usually covers. Outrage greeted the cover choice, with some stores saying they wouldn’t carry the issue in their establishments. Rolling Stone’s editors stuck to their guns, responding; […]

Has ‘temp’ economy become permanent?

Jobs are much less permanent than they used to be. A recent investigation by the nonprofit journalism group ProPublica finds that for millions of Americans, “temporary work has become a mainstay of the economy.” The U.S. Department of Labor last month reported that 2.7 million Americans did temp work, and nearly one-fifth of the job […]

Iraq invasion, decade later, offers mixed lessons

Ten years ago this week, then-President George W. Bush ordered American troops to invade Iraq, an act preceded by months of assertions that Saddam Hussein was building up his weapons of mass destruction to use against America. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans – and even most Democrats in the Senate – […]

Should Boy Scouts allow openly gay members?

Should the Boy Scouts allow gay members? News emerged last week that the Boy Scouts of America, which has long barred openly gay people from participation, was considering dropping that policy in favor of letting local sponsors decide membership rules. The organization delayed that decision this week at least until May. Gay-rights advocates have long […]

February 08, 2013 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 3 Replies

Women’s combat roles and U.S. security

What will women in combat mean for U.S. security? Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Pentagon would lift the ban on women serving the military in combat roles. Over the past decade, the nature of counterinsurgency warfare has often exposed military women to danger, and the latest move opens up military specialties – and […]

January 25, 2013 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 5 Replies

Is it time to reform the filibuster?

When the Senate reconvenes at the beginning of the year, Democratic majority leader Harry Reid is promising to change the rules to make it more difficult to use the filibuster – a parliamentary tactic that lets a few senators keep the majority from passing bills and doing other business. Reid and other Democrats say filibuster […]

December 04, 2012 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

What does Obama’s re-election victory mean?

With President Barack Obama’s defeat of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, earning a second four-year term in the White House, Republicans are already trying to figure out what went wrong and Democrats are basking in a satisfied glow. What did each party learn that can guide it – and the country – in coming years? Did […]

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