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Eugene Robinson

Stories by Eugene

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ROBINSON: Tilting at windbags

If Putin is laughing, it’s at the windbags who want Obama to replace serious policy with empty threats.

ROBINSON: Into the Twilight Zone

Let me go out on a limb: The Malaysian airliner did not get sucked into a black hole, vanish over the Indian Ocean equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle or crash-land on the spooky island from “Lost.”

ROBINSON: The American story of slavery

Scholars digging through public, commercial and family archives are unearthing facts and stories that have long been swept under the rug. Hollywood’s recognition of “12 Years a Slave” announces an uncomfortable truth: Slavery’s story is America’s story.

ROBINSON: GOP sheds crocodile tears over jobs

Obama and the Democrats still believe that no one who works full time should have to be poor. Despite their new rhetoric, Republicans obviously disagree.

ROBINSON: The out-of-step GOP

The GOP’s failure to come to terms with immigration reform has two big implications.

ROBINSON: We’re losing the war on drugs

Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is yet another victim of the war on drugs. Prohibition is not working. It is time to try something new.

ROBINSON: Science is telling us something

The day will come, I predict, when world leaders are willing, even desperate, to curb greenhouse gases. But by then, I’m beginning to fear, it will probably be too late.

ROBINSON: Silence over a spill

Officials knew that the coal industry uses dozens of chemicals that have never been thoroughly tested for their effects on human health. Officials also knew this was true of the segment of the industry that Obama and others call “clean coal,” which, I have argued, should be considered an oxymoron.

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ROBINSON: Where is the Democrats’ outrage?

But while Congress inches forward, probably toward some kind of extension, lives are falling apart. All day, every day, Democrats ought to be making a loud and righteous noise over this disgraceful state of affairs.

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ROBINSON: How will voters treat Gov. Chris Christie after bridge-gate?

If Christie is truly in the mood for soul-searching, asking how his aides could tell him such lies should be secondary. The more urgent question is what Christie might have said or done to make these loyal lieutenants conclude it would be appropriate — and a lot of fun — to torment the people of Fort Lee because of the mayor’s refusal to pledge fealty.

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ROBINSON: The ACA is here to stay

Any existential threat to the Affordable Care Act ended with the popping of champagne corks as the new year arrived. That was when an estimated 6 million uninsured Americans received coverage through expanded Medicaid eligibility or the federal and state health insurance exchanges. Obamacare is now a fait accompli; nobody is going to take this coverage away.

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ROBINSON: A different choice for Person of the Year

I can’t think of any individual who had more influence in 2013. Edward Snowden is person of the year.

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ROBINSON: The Republican mainstream strikes back

If the Republican Party really intends to get back in the game, voters will be presented with two competing visions of how to move the nation forward — instead of one vision and one cartoon. If the progressive vision is to prevail, it needs to be fresh, vivid and clearly relevant to the moment. Same-old, same-old used to be good enough. It’s not anymore.

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ROBINSON: Nelson Mandela, the conscience of the world

After his tenure as president, Mandela acted as a global elder statesman, an adviser, mediator and honest broker in times of crisis. In his later years, he suffered from dementia. As long as he drew breath, however, he was a living symbol of hope and triumph. He will be desperately missed.

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ROBINSON: Drones morally questionable go-to weapon

In Afghanistan, it is hard to attempt a count because there is an actual war going on, with no agreement on who qualifies as a civilian. The Los Angeles Times wrote recently about a Sept. 7 drone strike in Kunar Province. U.S. officials told the paper that 11 people died, most of them Taliban fighters; grieving local residents, however, insisted that 14 civilians had been killed. When does a village cease being a village and become a “Taliban stronghold”? When we say so, apparently.

ROBINSON: The benefits of a deal with Iran

It may be that Iran is incapable of becoming a responsible actor on the world stage as long as it is led by the mullahs. But there was a time when it was hard to imagine China being anything but a pariah as long as it was led by the Maoists — yet now, Beijing is the capital of one of the world’s economic superpowers, with Mao’s picture still watching over Tiananmen Square.

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ROBINSON: Our good old todays

This is not to say that the Obama administration hasn’t made mistakes. But by historical standards, the United States is doing well domestically and internationally. And by any objective measure, the trend lines are positive, not negative.

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ROBINSON: The out-of-control NSA

To me, all this is consistent with the NSA’s apparent goal of knowing, basically, everything. The agency collects information as massively and indiscriminately as possible on the theory that if you assemble a database of all the world’s communications, the few you seek — those involving terrorists — will be in there somewhere.

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ROBINSON: It's time for growth

Another target for economic growth is the energy sector. Because of the natural gas boom, the United States may soon be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world. Intelligent rulemaking can ensure that as the industry expands, parallel industries dedicated to safety, cleanup and alternative fuels grow with it.

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ROBINSON: The reality of ACA

Medicare guaranteed health care for the elderly, Medicaid for the poor. Obamacare begins to fill the remaining gaps. It will get better over time, but already — crashing websites and all — it’s a beautiful thing.

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ROBINSON: Warm enough for you?

Sea levels will continue to rise because of warming — water expands as it heats — and because of glacial melting. This has implications for coastal populations not just in places such as Calcutta or Dhaka but also in rich and powerful cities such as New York: Witness the massive flooding and storm-surge damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.

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ROBINSON: Obama's reality check

I don’t mean to suggest that Obama would hesitate to order an attack on Iran, if all else failed, because preventing the mullahs from obtaining the bomb is one of his “core interests.” But the overwhelming public rejection of military action in Syria has to be seen as an instruction to explore every avenue of negotiation before resorting to force.

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ROBINSON: Obama needs to stand his ground

Republicans in the House are like a bunch of 3-year-olds playing with matches. Their hapless leaders don’t have the sense to scold them and send them to their rooms — which means President Obama has to be the disciplinarian in this dysfunctional family.

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ROBINSON: Not in the national interest

Are we really going to do this? Are we going to wade into a struggle we don’t really want to fight? Are we going to mire ourselves in a senseless, grinding conflict whose possible outcomes range from bad to worse?

ROBINSON: Assad must be punished

It will be difficult to design a missile strike that hurts Assad without drawing the United States into the war. But that is the thin line Obama must now walk.

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ROBINSON: Arbitrary, and uncalled for

Ending the presumption that African-American and Hispanic men are beyond redemption would be a powerful legacy for the first black president and the first black attorney general to leave behind.

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ROBINSON: A lack of spine on Egypt

U.S. officials can no longer harbor illusions about the nature of the Egyptian coup or the prospects for genuine democracy. President Obama should speak the truth and cut off military aid.

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ROBINSON: The new al-Qaida menace

Al-Qaeda turns out to be like a pool of mercury. Hit it with a hammer and you end up with ten little blobs instead of one big one.

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ROBINSON: We should thank Edward Snowden

The order that Snowden leaked — compelling a Verizon unit to cough up data on the phone calls it handled — was one of only a few to come to light in the court’s three decades of existence. Now there are voices calling for all the court’s rulings to be released. We’re talking about these issues. You can wish Edward Snowden well or wish him a lifetime in prison. Either way, you should thank him.

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ROBINSON: Obstruction as the new normal

The bad news is that approval ratings for both the president and Congress are sinking, with voters increasingly frustrated at the bitter, partisan impasse in Washington. The worse news is that in terms of admiration for our national leaders, these may come to be seen as the good old days.

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ROBINSON: The words Obama had to say

Obama’s remarks last Friday — a surprise to reporters expecting the usual daily press briefing — were brief and informal. But they amounted to the most important speech about race our first African-American president has delivered in office.

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ROBINSON: For Obama, mum should be the word

We should talk honestly about unresolved racial issues, such as those exposed by the Trayvon Martin case, but President Obama is not the best person to lead the discussion. Through no fault of his own, he might be the worst.

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ROBINSON: Denied the right to be young

Justice failed Trayvon Martin the night he was killed. We should be appalled and outraged, but perhaps not surprised, that it failed him again Saturday night with a verdict setting his killer free.

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ROBINSON: The party of no

The party of no on immigration. Self-delusion is a sad spectacle. Watching Republicans convince themselves that killing immigration reform actually helps the GOP is excruciating, and I wish somebody would make it stop.. House Speaker John Boehner's unruly caucus has been busy convincing itself not to accept or even

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ROBINSON: We can handle the truth

WASHINGTON -- I don't believe government officials when they say the National Security Agency's surveillance programs do not invade our privacy. The record suggests that you shouldn't believe them, either.

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ROBINSON: Food for thought on Paula Deen

WASHINGTON -- Paula Deen needs to give the self-pity a rest. The damage to her carefully built image is self-inflicted -- nobody threw a rock -- and her desperate search for approval and vindication is just making things worse.

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ROBINSON: Hang up on phone tracking

WASHINGTON -- From the evidence so far, there's no good reason to let the National Security Agency continue its massively intrusive practice of logging our private phone calls. Congress should pull the plug.. I'm not ignoring all the officials, including President Obama, who swear that the NSA's electronic snooping has

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ROBINSON: On DNA, Scalia was right

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court's ruling last week allowing police to compel DNA samples from persons arrested for serious offenses will solve cold cases around the country, putting dangerous criminals behind bars. But the court's 5-4 ruling was wrong -- and may be more far-reaching than we can now imagine.

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ROBINSON: The end of the right of privacy?

Someday, a young girl will look up into her father's eyes and ask, "Daddy, what was privacy?". The father probably won't recall. I fear we've already forgotten that there was a time when a U.S. citizen's telephone calls were nobody else's business

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ROBINSON: GOP Too juvenile to govern

WASHINGTON -- With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously. This is a shame.

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ROBINSON: Benghazi scandal looks like a witch hunt

WASHINGTON -- Those who are trying to make the Benghazi tragedy into a scandal for the Obama administration really ought to decide what story line they want to sell.

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ROBINSON: Obama goes wobbly instead using veto power

WASHINGTON -- President Obama had the opportunity this week to make an irresponsible Congress face the consequences of its own dumb actions. For reasons I cannot fathom, he took a pass.

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ROBINSON: Stains on a legacy

In retrospect, George W. Bush's legacy doesn't look as bad as it did when he left office. It looks worse.. I join the nation in congratulating Bush on the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. Like many people, I find it much easier to honor, respect and even like

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ROBINSON: Is this the best the GOP can come up with?

WASHINGTON -- I think I've figured it out. Republicans must be staging some kind of fiendishly clever plot to lure Democrats into a false sense of security. That's the only possible explanation for some of the weirdness we're seeing and hearing from the GOP.

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ROBINSON: Maximum mayhem on his mind

WASHINGTON -- The gunman in the Newtown massacre fired 154 bullets from his Bushmaster military-style rifle in less than five minutes, killing 20 first-graders and six adults. He brought with him 10 large-capacity magazines, each holding up to 30 rounds, which

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ROBINSON: Denying victims a vote on gun violence

WASHINGTON -- Shame on Harry Reid for killing any prospect of an assault weapons ban. I understand why he did it, but that doesn't make it right.

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ROBINSON: Questions from a 'Dirty War'

WASHINGTON -- They are impolite questions, but they must be asked: What did Jorge Mario Bergoglio know, and when did he know it, about Argentina's brutal "Dirty War" against suspected leftists in which thousands were tortured and killed? More important, what did the newly chosen Pope Francis do?

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ROBINSON: Rand Paul talks the talk

WASHINGTON -- Rand Paul was right. There, I said it. The Republican senator from Kentucky, whom I've ridiculed as an archconservative kook -- because that's basically what he is -- was right to call attention to the growing use of drone aircraft.

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ROBINSON: A power to act on warming

WASHINGTON -- The test of President Obama's seriousness about addressing climate change is not his pending decision on the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline. It's whether he effectively consigns coal-fired power plants -- one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions -- to the ashcan of history.

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ROBINSON: No winners in this game

WASHINGTON -- The standoff over the package of budget cuts known as "the sequester" is the dumbest, most self-defeating fight between President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress since ... let's see, since the last dumb, self-defeating fight less than two months

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