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Why Democrats May Still Weather A Stormy Midterm

Political seers confidently insist that Democrats are going to lose big in the upcoming midterms. On one hand, they may be right. On the other, they don't really know.

On the third hand, Democrats do have reasons to hope the predictions of doom are overwrought. Here are three:

One: The real Republican threat against the right to end an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion has been a good issue for Republicans. By speaking out against it, they could fire up its fierce opponents to come out and vote.

But thanks to the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade, the much larger pro-choice majorities felt little urgency. They knew they had access to legal abortion, no matter what a candidate was saying. This freed pro-choice independents and Republicans (of whom there are many) to support Republican candidates over other issues.

Now that the Supreme Court seems highly likely to throw out Roe, a sleeping pro-choice public has been aroused. Republicans now find themselves in the predicament of the dog who caught the bus.

Two: Democratic pressure on President Joe Biden to leave Title 42 in place. This pandemic-era policy discouraged unauthorized migrants to seek entry at the southern border. Polls show widespread bipartisan concern about lax controls at the border. Half-hearted efforts to ease the pressure, moderate Democrats keep telling the president, will draw even larger crowds and more chaos.

The administration says it has a plan in place to maintain order, and maybe it does. But Biden has done a poor job convincing the public that his heart is in it. At the very least, he could wait until after the election.

The positive news is that party moderates may force a postponement. And as possible evidence, the administration has actually stepped up expulsions under Title 42.

Ending Title 42 right now would be a case of Democrats shooting themselves in the foot. The possibility that they might not offers reason for hope.

Three: There are nearly six months between now and the election. Much could happen. Consider:

Last December, the political obsession was Eric Zemmour, a far-right politician in France. An extremist and a rising star, the Trump-like Zemmour attracted large crowds, feeding speculation that he might very well become the French president. As it turned out, Zemmour didn't even make it to last month's runoff. The centrist Emmanuel Macron won reelection, defeating another right-winger, Marine Le Pen.

Six months ago, the omicron variant of COVID-19 was taking off in this country, raising fears of a 2020-level pandemic. Highly infectious — it had nearly 50 mutations! — omicron drummed up new dread that current vaccines could be nearly powerless against it. Health officials worried that already swamped hospitals might collapse under a tsunami of new cases.

Didn't happen. The variant turned out to be less deadly, and the vaccines seemed to work at preventing serious illness. Now the public shrugs at omicron, even as caseloads fluctuate and some subvariants have come on the scene.

Half a year from now, events favorable to the Democrats' prospects could overtake some of the bad news. Gasoline prices could be coming down for the usual supply-and-demand reasons. Biden might adopt a vigorous approach to border security, as Barack Obama had.

An even better bet is that the Republican right will be pushing for extreme curbs on reproductive rights. Some are already hard at work on a ban of abortion pills, reduced access to birth control and punishments for women who travel to states where such services are legal.

And so, while we can't ignore the political storm system Democrats now face, weather does change. The clouds move on, and six months is a long time.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

The Threat To Abortion Rights Began In 2016

The demolition of Roe v. Wade began long before now. It started in 2016, when Sen. Bernie Sanders and his left-wing followers destroyed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Had Clinton won the presidency, Donald Trump would not have been able to add three justices to the Supreme Court who have made ending a right to abortion highly likely.

That year, the senator from Vermont ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, as was his option. But he ran a scorched-earth campaign, tarring Clinton as "corrupt." And long after it became clear that he was not going to win the nomination, Sanders continued to sabotage her candidacy.

By April 2016, Trump had become the presumptive Republican nominee. He said that women should be punished for having an abortion.

That same month, Sanders said that Clinton was not qualified to be president. That same month, Clinton trounced him in a string of liberal Northeast states, but Sanders continued to carpet-bomb her reputation.

This was a time when a significant segment of the Democratic left declared open season on women's dignity. After Clinton won the Nevada caucuses, as even Sanders conceded, the Bernie "bros" threw a misogynistic tantrum. Threatening violence at the Nevada Democratic state convention, they shouted the C-word at the female officials trying to certify the results.

Sanders should have come down hard on this shocking display by his supporters, but he held back. He finally issued a statement disapproving of their conduct — in the third paragraph. He then proceeded to blame both sides.

As it became clear Clinton was taking the lead, Sanders appealed to the party's superdelegates and claimed a victory for Clinton would result in a contested convention.

Most of his voters did eventually move to Clinton, but Sanders had groomed a cult open to swallowing conspiracy theories. Trump and his Russian trolls took them and ran.

"To all of those Bernie Sanders voters who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates," Trump said, "we welcome you with open arms."

At the Republican National Convention, Putin pal Michael Flynn led the outrageous anti-Clinton chant, "Lock her up." Then, at the Democratic National Convention, some Sanders delegates parroted him by also shouting, "Lock her up."

Toward the very end of the campaign, Sanders announced his support for Clinton. Admittedly, she was not the cleverest candidate, but even then, Clinton beat Trump by Three million popular votes. Narrow victories in three pivotal states gave Trump a fluke Electoral College win.

Having slashed the tires on her campaign, Sanders later expressed bewilderment that Clinton failed to put Trump away.

Abortion rights are not some culture war bauble. Losing them threatens the ability of women and their mates to control their lives. (That said, Democrats would help themselves if they were more open to the nuances of the debate while ensuring that early abortions are easy to obtain.)

The white, educated liberals who dominate the left wing tend to live in states that would keep abortion legal even if Roe were struck down. And if they live elsewhere, they'd have the means to jet off to a state that provides the service — or to Mexico.

The politics of this do not favor Republicans. Some right to end an unwanted pregnancy has been taken for granted by many voters otherwise open to voting for Republicans. That right will be lost if the Supreme Court throws out Roe.

Clearly, the creation of a Supreme Court poised to do just that dates its origins to 2016, when Trump won the presidency. That's when Bernie Sanders played the Democratic spoiler who handed power to the right wing.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Ukraine Is Our War -- And Joe Biden Is Our Wartime President

We and our allies are in a war to save civilization. Fortunately for us, Ukrainians are doing the fighting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's barbaric assault on Ukraine has awakened Europe to the reality that he is truly evil and could continue his march westward. It is no coincidence that Sweden and Finland — once fiercely neutral countries — now show serious interest in joining NATO. Ukraine is not in NATO, which is why members of the military alliance have held back in sending in their forces.

It is also the West's good fortune that Joe Biden is president and not Donald Trump. Overseeing a flood of arms to Ukraine as it fights alone, Biden is playing Franklin Roosevelt to Ukraine's Winston Churchill, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And he's doing it carefully, working with allies to squeeze Russia financially and giving Ukraine the means to defend itself, all the while carefully trying to avoid a wider conflict.

This is a full-time job whose consequences are not politically helpful. Confronting Putin has raised the cost of gasoline. It's making food more expensive. The resulting inflation has hiked the cost of borrowing to buy a home.

This, plus the carnage in Ukraine, is making Americans feel bad. The tendency in such circumstances is to blame the president, even when the president is doing the best job possible managing crises that aren't his fault. (The one exception for Biden would be his fuzzy messages about easing immigration restrictions at a time of a surge at the border.)

Those worried about climate change must hold their tongues as Biden releases 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Same goes for his plan to open some public lands to new drilling.

It's hard to calculate the threat to national security had Trump won reelection — or succeeded in pulling off a coup after he lost. Trump was God's gift to Putin and his maniacal plans. Russians have owned him for decades.

In 1987, Trump took out full-page newspaper ads urging Americans to stop paying to defend others, the big subtext being to leave NATO. (George W. Bush and Barack Obama also called for other countries to raise defense spending but didn't dream of using that as an excuse to compromise U.S. security.)

These were Russian talking points parroted by a real estate investor whom the Russians were bailing out of bankruptcies. Trump in return laundered Russian oligarch/mob money through sales of U.S. property in all-cash, anonymous transactions. One example is the deluxe Trump Towers in Miami's Sunny Isles Beach, now known as "Little Russia."

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election to help elect comrade Trump. He came through for the Russians three years later when he blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Trump claims that Putin would never have invaded Ukraine had he still been president. This is the opposite of true. Trump's advisers reportedly warned him that blowing up NATO would be unpopular and could cost him reelection.

"Yeah, the second term," Trump is said to have responded. "We'll do it in the second term."

Had Trump succeeded, Putin would now have free rein to rampage through Eastern Europe and who knows where else.

After calling Putin "a genius" for invading Ukraine, Trump added, "I know him very well. Very, very well."

Apparently not nearly as well as Putin knows Trump.

As a wartime president, Biden has one mission: to stop the aggressor. He doesn't have the luxury to obsess over rough poll numbers related to inflation. And the culture wars can wait. Right now, the only war that matters is the one directed at defeating Putin.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: jorono at Pixabay


How Putin's War Is Emptying The World's Bread Baskets

What will happen to the "bread basket of Europe" once the shooting in Ukraine stops? Russia is the largest and Ukraine is the fifth largest exporter of wheat. Together they account for 29 percent of the world's annual wheat sales. The war has disrupted not only the harvests in Ukraine but also the ability of Russia to ship its wheat to other countries.

This will cause food crises through much of the world. Two of the most volatile regions, the Middle East and North Africa, are the most dependent on these two sources. But food prices everywhere will be under pressure.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, wheat prices were already 49 percent above their 2017-2021 average, The Economist reports. They've gone up another 30 percent since the war began.

The war will cut supply in several ways. Obviously, it will reduce harvests in Ukraine. But even if Russian wheat fields continue producing, the conflict will make it harder to export its grain, as noted above.

Importantly, it will affect harvests elsewhere because Ukraine and Russia are also major suppliers of farm fertilizers. Ukraine's supply is being pounded by war, while Russia's is getting frozen by economic sanctions.

But what about U.S. farmers? The United States is the world's second-largest wheat exporter. Couldn't American agriculture replace a shortfall in supply, especially if higher prices for their crops spur our farmers to grow more? It's apparently not that simple.

American farmers would certainly value higher prices for wheat. The problem lies in the higher cost of producing it. Already paying record prices for fertilizers, farms must also deal with the rising cost of the diesel fuel that runs their tractors and other machines.

High fertilizer prices are already affecting what farmers choose to grow. Americans, for example, usually plant more corn than soybeans. This year, however, the balance has changed to favor soybeans. The reason: Soybeans generally need a quarter of the fertilizer that corn does. As for wheat, it falls somewhere in the middle in fertilizer use.

Aggravating matters, wind and dry conditions have left America's winter wheat crop in its worst shape on record, according to the Department of Agriculture. This follows a poor harvest in 2021 that forced American wheat stocks down to their lowest level in 14 years. In any case, almost all the winter wheat was already planted when the war began. And severe drought is being forecast for the Western Plains, America's bread basket.

Even if the violence against Ukraine stops through a ceasefire or, better, a resolution, that country will have a hard time restoring its agricultural might. First off, its farm infrastructure is being destroyed. Tractors and other farm machinery have been used to stop Russian tanks. And the Russians have been bombing agricultural buildings full of tools and other farm equipment.

There are also questions of how much ordnance is now buried in Ukrainian fields. That would put farm workers in danger of setting off explosives, much as happened in Europe after World War II. Ukrainians are already fearful of Russians having booby trapped dead bodies on the streets with bombs. They could do it on purpose in the fields.

But should Ukraine get back on its feet, will everyone then revert to the earlier world food order? That seems unlikely. This bizarre invasion has toppled many assumptions about where everyone's food comes from. And if this horrible war goes on for years, the international system for feeding the planet will certainly have to make permanent adjustments.

America, the land of plenty, will not starve. Our expectations that food will be cheap as well as plenty may not hold, but we have much to be thankful for.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Three Questions On Immigration That Democrats Should Ask

President Joe Biden seems intent on easing entry into the United States at the politically worst possible time. It's not impossible that he has a plan to keep order after he ends Title 42, which has made it harder for asylum seekers to enter the country.

Even if he manages to skillfully handle what will undoubtedly be a new surge at the border, it will lead to more ugly incidents for the news channels. In any case, the move will be interpreted as relaxing border controls, which almost everyone, including most Democrats, fears.

And so why is he doing this seven months before a midterm election? The reason is that Biden and the Democrats advising him are not asking three important questions.

Question No. 1: Who are the "immigrant advocates" pushing the leadership to take a badly timed political step? They are mostly professionals serving the interests of identity groups. They get paid to pressure politicians, not to win elections.

The term is oily in that the great majority of Americans, including most Republicans, say they value immigrants as long as they come here legally. They are actually better advocates because an immigration program that strictly enforces the rules, such as Canada's, enjoys greater public support.

Question No. 2: Who is sponsoring those polls asserting that Democrats are unhappy with Biden's current immigration policy? Answer: the "immigrant advocates."

And that's how we get headlines like the following from The Hill website: "Democratic poll: 66 percent of voters would be 'upset' without immigration reform." Who sponsored the poll? The Immigration Hub, a group that advocates for more open borders.

Here's a headline on the NBC News website: "Biden's handling of immigration gets low marks in his own pollster's survey." That survey was commissioned by a group called the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund.

It happens that both surveys were "conducted" by so-called Democratic pollsters. These polling companies know that the advocacy groups hiring them expect certain results. Like the advocates, the pollsters get paid whether or not their work helps the party retain power in November.

Question No. 3: Over the weekend, CNN's Abby Phillips said that ending Title 42 "is a promise he (Biden) made in the campaign. Now he has to keep it." Who says? The problematic word is "now." Why do Democrats constantly criticize their leaders for not instantly delivering on their vows as candidates?

If there are good arguments for removing this restriction — and there are — why can't it be done after the election? Former President Donald Trump broke dozens of campaign promises, including the big one to replace the Affordable Care Act. I don't recall Fox News hounding him about that or much of anything else.

As the facts change, so should campaign promises. But that's a discussion for another day.

Another CNN host said it was understandable that Sen. Mark Kelly, Democrat of Arizona, expressed concern that the change would start another stampede to the border. But she seemed mystified that Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan would warn of a migrant surge "all the way up in New Hampshire."

Let me explain. The people in New Hampshire, progressives included, tend to be conservative in manners, dress, and respect for the law. They don't want to turn on their TV and see chaos at the southern border. This is about civic order.

In his State of the Union address, Biden said, "We're putting in place dedicated immigration judges in significantly larger numbers so families fleeing persecution and violence can have their cases heard faster and those who don't legitimately here can be sent back."

Fingers crossed. It may be too late to ask the three questions, but Democrats should at least keep them on file.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.com

Are Western Democracies Tough Enough For 2022?

A week ago, they were programmers and teachers, baristas and farmers — and their elected leader was a former comedian. Their capital city, Kyiv, sparkled with cafes, fancy stores and night clubs.

To many, this soft existence set the conditions for fast capitulation to a military assault by Russian tanks. As the world now knows, the opposite happened. Rather than provide a fat easy target for Russia, Ukraine's city and country people alike rose up to defend their country with their bodies.

Herein lies a lesson for democracies that don't know their own strengths. The Ukrainians did not cave before the hardened Russian battalions because they didn't want to lose what they had.

The comic in charge emerged as one of modern history's great leaders. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky radiated confidence, determination and calm, in sharp contrast to the histrionic Russian President Vladimir Putin. He spoke from the streets, urging his people to, in effect, fight them on the beaches. And that's what they did.

That high morale changed everything. Suddenly, there was almost nothing most of the civilized world wouldn't do to help Ukraine fight off the Russian aggression.

In 2014, When Russia invaded Crimea and cut it off from Ukraine, the West employed sanctions that were weak and that took a year to go fully in effect. This time, Ukraine's friends activated their economic might in the course of a weekend.

The economic sanctions sent an immediate message. The value of the ruble plunged. The heralded "fortress" of Russia's $643 billion in foreign currency reserves has been breached. In a scramble for cash, nervous Russians are now lined up in front of ATMs.

Among other astounding developments, Germany boosted its defense budget and canceled the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that was to transport natural gas from Russia. Sweden of all places said it would ship 5,000 anti-tank rockets to Ukraine. (It hasn't sent arms to a country at war since 1939, when the Soviet Union marched into Finland.)

The oligarchs who were scooping up luxury real estate outside Russia now fear losing their French villas, London townhouses and Manhattan triplexes. Their panic is such that some have tip-toed into open criticism of the man who made their fortunes possible.

Putin's right-wing fan club, meanwhile, is looking more the fool. When Italian politician Matteo Salvini was asked some time ago whether he was in Putin's pay, he responded, "I esteem him for free, not for money." The oligarchs at least got rich off him.

A new CNN polls has 83 percent of Americans favoring increased economic sanctions against Russia. And there's almost no partisan divide, with 65 percent of those who lean Democratic and 62 percent of those who lean Republican on the same page. For all of Putin's efforts to sow political discord in the U.S., he's finally uniting us, at least for now.

We've heard so much about stresses plaguing our democracies — the COVID-19 restrictions, vaccines, immigration. They are real but are being put into perspective next to the sight of Russia violating an ethnically close neighbor who had done nothing to provoke it.

During World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously visited a working-class London neighborhood after a Nazi bomb killed 40 in an air-raid shelter. Someone in the crowd shouted: "Good old Winnie! We thought you'd come and see us. We can take it. Give it 'em back."

On Monday after a brutal weekend, folks in Kyiv were pushing grocery shopping carts out of supermarkets. They are carrying on, as Londoners did during the blitz.

Putin is stuck, humiliated and probably mentally ill. That makes for scary times ahead. Are Western democracies tough enough for the threats of 2022? So far, so good.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.com

To Fight Russian Aggression, Build More Clean Energy Capacity

Russian attacks on Ukraine have spiked the already high price of oil. But going up with that are the economic incentives to ditch this primitive fuel — the environmental reasons being well known.

Russia provides about 40 percent of Europe's imported gas, and its squeeze on supply has forced some factories to cut back on production. The case for moving to renewable energy grows only stronger.

The CEO of the Portuguese utility EDP made this point on CNBC Europe. "These are (indigenous) ... resources — wind, solar — that we have in Europe," Miguel Stilwell de Andrade said. "We need to accelerate (their development) and do it much faster."

Americans, meanwhile, can dismiss conservative claims that President Joe Biden has set back America's "energy independence." Policies to replace fossil fuels with low-carbon energy have hardly shut off the flow of domestic oil and gas. Actually, the U.S. became the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas this year.

On a related topic, Biden's infrastructure bill set aside $6 billion to stop the premature retirement of nuclear plants. Another $2.5 billion is going for work on advanced nuclear technologies. Biden backed this zero-carbon energy source while fighting off some opposition from the left.

Germany's outsized dependence on Russian oil resulted from former German Chancellor Angela Merkel's unwise decision years ago to shutter her country's nuclear plants — and replace that source of power with Russian natural gas. (Imagine Europe launching its largest fossil fuel project in the year 2022.)

In retaliation for Russia's assault on Ukraine, Germany has suspended approval of Nord Stream 2, an underwater pipeline designed to transport Russian natural gas to Germany. Good for the new chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

Some Europeans are reportedly dealing with the convulsion in fuel prices by installing solar panels and burning wood for heat. Hooray for solar. (Boo for wood-burning, though understandable in an emergency.)

Clean energy means more energy, which, when added to improving green technology, eventually means less-expensive energy. By 2020, solar already provided cheaper power than that from plants fired by coal or natural gas in most countries, according to the International Energy Agency.

The U.S. has just passed the milestone of 200,000 megawatts of utility-scale clean energy capacity, according to the American Clean Power Association. Do you know which state installed the most wind and solar power capacity last year? Texas.

Natural gas prices were, of course, surging before Russia started pummeling Ukraine. That reflected an upturn in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic started to retreat.

But companies in Europe that had made long-term agreements for renewable energy at fixed prices found themselves in a far better place, The Wall Street Journal reports. Orange SA, the huge French telecom company, for one, is securing power from nearby solar and wind farms, as well as its own installations. It plans to obtain half its energy from renewable sources in three short years.

Such businesses, George Bilicic, head of power and energy at the investment banking firm Lazard, said, "should be better positioned than others given current fossil fuel price spikes."

Steep gas prices are, of course, a great selling point for electric cars, not that they need it at this point.

Moving the world away from fossil fuels would erase Russian President Vladimir Putin's biggest nonnuclear weapon. After all, oil and gas accounted for 39 percent of Russia's budget revenue and 60 percent of its exports in 2019.

We, on our part, must make major investments in power grids to accommodate the diverse types of low-carbon energy. But there's nothing like international turmoil at the hands of a distressed country run by an unstable leader to provide a major push in that direction. Let's get pushed.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Is The Pandemic Over? That May Depend On Who You Are

As even Democratic governors race to ease face mask and vaccination requirements, and the number of new COVID-19 cases plummets, one might reasonably ask: Is it over?

Public health officials offer a variety of answers. But on the personal level, each of us is fashioning our own private policy.

I'm truly done with the coronavirus. But is the virus done with those I care about, to which I'll add me?

I am triple vaccinated and circulate among mostly vaccinated people, so I don't worry much anymore. If I have a breakthrough infection, especially from the omicron variant, it is almost certain to be mild, if noticed at all.

I will continue to wear masks without complaint on airplanes, buses and trains. And I'll do so voluntarily in crowds of people. It has come to my attention that ever since this masking business began, I haven't caught a cold, much less the flu.

At the same time, I am very tired of having to wear masks in uncrowded stores. That said, even when I disagree with these policies, I follow them to make life easier for the workers tasked with enforcing them. People who harass these stressed employees are jerks.

Some health officials say, wait a minute. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 remain high, and about 2,000 Americans still die from it every day. But the vast majority are unvaccinated, which makes their illness and death self-inflicted. This is not early 2020, when vaccinations were harder to come by.

Peter Hotez, head of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College in Houston, is not as relaxed. He warns that another wave may hit the South and Texas this summer. "It could be just like 2020 and 2021," Hotez told The Houston Chronicle. (It can't be a coincidence that the South and Texas have relatively low rates of vaccination.)

"I'm hearing the messaging, 'It's starting to look like the flu,'" Hotez said. "To me that all becomes an excuse for inaction." The action he prescribes is vaccinating the world.

Is the massive wave of omicron infections creating some kind of herd immunity? Hotez is not sure. How long any protection afforded by the weaker variant will last remains an open question. Also, the low vaccination rates in poorer Asian and African countries create opportunity for other variants to arise.

The politics of this matter, because Democratic leaders are more aggressive about getting their population vaccinated. That is the best way out of this. But the groans provoked by such White House pronouncements as, "The president's goal is to defeat the virus" (press secretary Jen Psaki last month) are going to hurt Democrats.

A Cygnal poll of swing states found their voters are more worried about how COVID-19 might hurt the economy than how it might hurt their health. Another poll, from Monmouth University, has half the respondents saying they fear catching the virus but 70% thinking it's time to accept its presence and move on.

The Democratic governors of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and New York are backing exit strategies for bringing daily life back to normal. Requiring masks in schools stopped making sense some time ago. The coronavirus causes very little serious illness among young children.

Look, the threat posed by the coronavirus is currently low among people who've gotten their shots and high among those who haven't. Today, each of us may decide whether we obtain protection from a vaccine and how we approach crowds, masked or unmasked.

We may not "defeat" the virus anytime soon, but the vaccinated majority can feel they've "contained" it. For them, the pandemic may be over. For the others, maybe not.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Beware The Culture Warrior Posing As ‘Moderate Republican’

Virginia's new Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, raced into office bearing two culture war baubles. One was a ban on teaching critical race theory. The other was a prohibition on mask mandates in public schools.

Each came in the form of an executive order. Neither costs anything. And both are of little consequence.

In terms of politics, however, they serve the function of provoking liberals, to the delight of the right-wing. Youngkin's first week in office, The Washington Post headline read, "leaves Republicans jubilant, Democrats fuming."

Bear in mind that the Post, as much of the liberal-friendly media does, profits on the ability to raise its audience's anxiety level and thereby keep its customers glued. CNN does that, too.

The day Newt Gingrich threatened Jan. 6 committee members with jail if Republicans regain the majority, CNN featured the menacing video about every hour. The former House speaker has been out of office for 23 years, but his moronic comment, amplified by "respectable" media, made him seem relevant again. (The smartest response came from Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat on the committee, who brushed it off, saying that the notably gaunt Gingrich looked "unwell.")

Take a closer look at Youngkin's executive orders. Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia's K-12 schools, so banning it is an exercise in virtue-signaling, Trump-style. As a candidate, Youngkin backed letting local school districts make policy on masks, which is what a real conservative would do.

Now at least seven school boards have filed lawsuits against Youngkin, arguing that the state constitution empowers local school boards to run their districts. Also, state law requires schools to follow federal health guidelines.

Naturally, this has raised to boil conflicts that were just simmering before. One woman in Page County threatened to bring a gun to a school that had instituted a mask requirement. This inconveniently comes at a time when schools are already struggling with the loss of teachers sick with COVID-19 or quitting the profession. Meanwhile, children who have already missed so much school might benefit from some months of peace in the classroom.

Youngkin did temper his position on critical race theory. (Almost no one understands this controversial academic concept, which portrays racism as systemic.) He noted that Virginia's history contains "ugly" chapters, thus suggesting that America's painful history on race would be honestly taught.

Youngkin got elected in this generally Democratic state by portraying himself as a not-scary Republican who would fight off the left's excesses. The political press has since been raking his words for evidence of how moderate he would be.

Despite his reckless (or naive) stirring of turmoil early on, the political press still doesn't know. It's possible that Youngkin took what he thought were some insignificant swipes at the left to appease the right before he embarks on the course of normal governance. That's the hope.

But here is where Youngkin's first days may come back to haunt his party. Whether he intends to be more Trumpian or less, Youngkin has probably hurt the chances of Republicans who hoped to win in Democratic states by playing the moderate.

The models, Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, avoid the kind of political nastiness that's now making civic life in Virginia so unpleasant. Having campaigned as one of them, Youngkin is making that sales pitch harder to pull off.

Democrats, meanwhile, would do well to quietly govern and let the opposition fuel the division that drives the public crazy. We all should be mindful that Youngkin won the governorship by only two points.

The culture war may not quite be the free lunch Republicans think is.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Why Smart Progressives Should Love Elon Musk

Nearly everything Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted about Elon Musk was wrong. Scratch the word "nearly." Everything was wrong.

Last month, the senator from Massachusetts tweeted, "Let's change the rigged tax code so the Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else."

Some background: The founder of Tesla had just been anointed the richest human on earth, and Time Magazine named him Person of the Year. Three months before, SpaceX, which he also founded, sent the first all-civilian crew into space.

Musk tweeted back to Warren, "And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year." He's put the number at something north of $11 billion, which, if true, would be more taxes than any other American paid ever.

Whether Musk's tax bill should have been higher can be subject for debate. We can agree that $11 billion is a healthy tax bill, but it's not an unseemly sum for one enjoying a net worth of around $243 billion.

Warren's implication that Musk doesn't pay taxes at all, however, is ignorant. The charge that he's "freeloading" — if you look at how he made that money — is awe-inspiring dumb. Musk has done more than any person on earth to replace cars run by the internal combustion engine, a significant factor in the climate crisis, with clean electric vehicles.

In 2020, when General Motors and Ford were closing factories because they couldn't find enough specialized computer chips, Tesla took the chips that were around and rewrote software to make them work in its cars. So while Ford, GM and Stellantis (Fiat Chrysler merged with Peugeot) sold fewer cars in 2021 than the year before, Tesla sold 87% more.

Six years ago, when the major U.S. carmakers were wondering whether or not to go big on electric, Tesla was building a huge battery factory in Nevada. The others are now in the game major league, and Tesla can be credited with pushing them

.But in the marathon race to win the electric vehicle market, Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, said, "Tesla is in the lead at mile number 21. Everybody else is at mile 2 or still tying their shoes."

So Musk is full of himself. He has reasons.

What bothers some 20th-century progressives is that Musk is an unapologetic capitalist who mocks them for obsessing on his wealth.

Leading the pack is Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator's brain has long been stalled on the subject of billionaires whom he once said shouldn't exist. When he tweeted, "We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period," Musk trolled him: "I keep forgetting that you're still alive."

Musk may not be volunteering to pay more taxes than he has to, but we who think the superrich should pay more must understand that the solution is not them, but the tax laws. The tax code is the creation of Congress.

Back to Warren. "As we face the existential threat of our time — climate change," she wrote as a presidential candidate, "Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action."

Wrong again. Actually, Wall Street has been moving away from investments in fossil fuels — to the point that Texas passed a law banning companies that refuse to finance oil ventures from state contracts.

It is Wall Street that rewarded Musk for accelerating the changeover to electric vehicles. (Tesla also has a thriving solar panel business.) If helping save the planet let Musk edge out Amazon's Jeff Bezos as the world's richest person, well, where's the problem?

Article reprinted with permission from Creators.com

Fraudster Holmes Tried The ‘MeToo’ Defense — And Failed

She entered the headlines as the super-confident entrepreneur who founded a wildly successful tech company at 19. She recruited generals and secretaries of state to her board. Her fresh face and long blonde hair made the covers of Forbes, Fortune and Inc. as the business world marveled at her invention that could allegedly do blood tests with just a pinprick on the finger — no more needles in veins.

Elizabeth Holmes was just found guilty on four counts of fraud for lying to investors in her quest to raise money for her company, Theranos. It turned out that her blood-testing technology never worked.

Here was another unlovely story about the dishonest fake-it-till-you-make-it culture of Silicon Valley. But the trial took a still more sour turn when Holmes tried a MeToo defense. She claimed she had been victim of an abusive relationship with ex-boyfriend and former Theranos executive Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani. He took over her brain, she implied, and forced her to have sex.

That Balwani was 20 years older added to the innocent-young-thing account. Holmes also claimed to have been raped as a student at Stanford University: That was the reason she dropped out.

"I needed to kill the person I was" to become an entrepreneur, she testified. That kind of advice would have made for one strange TED Talk.

Suddenly, the woman who used her marketing and lying skills to turn a smoke-and-mirrors invention into, at one point, about $4.5 billion of stock, tried to argue that sexually violent men had ruined her ability to run a company.

David Ring, a lawyer who represents victims of alleged sexual abuse, called Holmes' testimony "an incredibly risky move." The defense wisely did not call an expert to speak on how such abuse might have affected her behavior as CEO.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, told the jury members that they didn't have to consider such factors in reaching a verdict. "The case is about false statements made to investors and false statements made to patients," he said.

She had the Silicon Valley patter down pat. She was always pictured in black turtlenecks like Steve Jobs. Wearing the same outfit every day, fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote, was "the techie's equivalent of the heroic uniform." She built on the tech-genius storyline of having dropped out of college like Jobs and Bill Gates.

Holmes had mastered all those concept-explaining hand gestures and deployed the big-talk catchphrases. When CNBC's Jim Cramer asked her about the doubters, Holmes responded: "First they think you're crazy. Then they fight you. And then, all of a sudden, you change the world."

To round out the resume, she became a vegan.

And that's how Holmes lured the likes of former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former Defense Secretary William J. Perry to her board. It's how she extracted $100 million from the very rich family of former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Slapping the logos of Pfizer and other leading drug companies onto her documents (without their permission) helped bamboozle Walgreens into entering a partnership, a deal that gave further weight to the claims.

The defense did make a good point in arguing that the investors were partly to blame: They had failed to perform due diligence to assess the company's assertions.

One wishes that Holmes had taken her lumps. After all, with little business experience she managed to pull one over on some of the most sophisticated minds in America. And most of those she cheated were rich.

Holmes should have held her head higher. Playing the damsel who went bad as the puppet of a powerful man ought to have been beneath her dignity.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

For 2024, Don't Be Too Quick To Displace Biden With Harris

The year 2022 should be too early to get into heated speculation about the Democrats' 2024 candidate for president. But since it's already begun, now would be a good time to resist arguments for making Vice President Kamala Harris the nominee.

First off, the current president, Joe Biden, has not ruled out seeking reelection. Though up in years, Biden is overseeing a functional presidency. The economy is boffo. And he got passed a desperately needed infrastructure plan that eluded his predecessor, forceful tweets notwithstanding.

Such a program, Donald Trump tweeted in March 2020, "should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!"

So where was it?

A second term for Biden is not to be dismissed, especially if Republicans decide to choose another whack job more intent on dismantling the democracy than rebuilding roads, bridges and water systems. Or the same whack job, for that matter.

But we digress. As Biden's vice president, Harris has not done anything very objectionable, and she's brilliant in some ways. But her political skills are plainly lacking. That's why her Democratic cheering squad needs to be countered.

Harris's penchant for identity politics is both dated and political poison. Recall her performance in the first Democratic presidential debate, back in 2020, when she all but called Biden a racist for allegedly being against busing children to desegregate schools. Declaring herself "the only black person on this stage" was her claim to authority on such matters.

As it turned out, the federally mandated busing in the '70s was roundly disliked by whites and Blacks alike. She also misrepresented Biden's position. He was opposed to forced busing, not the voluntary kind. Harris later said that this was, actually, her position as well.

Harris' obvious mission was to unfairly smear a primary opponent, and the hell with Democratic solidarity. Although she self-dramatized as a member of a disadvantaged racial minority, her mother was, in fact, a medical researcher from India, and her Jamaican father was a professor of economics at Stanford University. (That Biden made her his running mate surprises me to this day.)

Even now Harris is doing the identity thing, complaining that the news coverage of her would be different if she were white and male like the other vice presidents. You don't hear that victim talk from Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina born to Indian immigrants — and possible member of the Republican ticket in 2024. The busing issue was long ago, but Republicans would undoubtedly move it front and center should Harris be the nominee.

As vice president, Harris had been tasked with addressing border issues. But when Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat representing part of the Rio Grande Valley, had staff call Harris' office to discuss her upcoming visit, no one bothered to call him back. He said that from now on, he'd go directly to the president's office to discuss problems at the border rather than the vice president's.

Harris is very much a product of the coastal liberal establishment in a party whose House leader is from San Francisco and Senate leader is from New York City. Democrats badly need voices from the rest of the country in positions of prominence. That and Harris' lack of nuance in dealing with genuinely complicated issues should prompt Democrats to look elsewhere for their next presidential candidate. All this assumes, of course, that Biden doesn't run again. He very well might.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Don't Look Now, But The Biden Economy Just Happens To Be Glorious

If Joe Biden takes office, there'll be a "depression the likes of which you've never seen," Donald Trump warned a month before he lost the 2020 presidential election. It didn't happen.

You know that, right?

Also, your 401(k) surely did not "go to hell," as the previous guy predicted. On the contrary, stocks in the S&P 500 are up 26 percent as the first year of the Biden presidency is about to end.

How good is that? "U.S. financial markets are outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century" is how Bloomberg News put it.

The U.S. gross domestic product is expected to have grown an extraordinary 5.6 percent this year, according to economists. And that's after adjusting for inflation.

The unemployment rate is down to 4.2 percent. Retail sales in the recent Christmas shopping season rose eight percent from the same period last year — the biggest gain in 17 years.

As Bloomberg summed it up, "America's economy improved more in Joe Biden's first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years."

And so how do we explain Biden's lackluster approval ratings, weirdly depressed by discontent on how he's managing the economy? The reasons include distorted media coverage of the economy, a Republican opposition that doesn't want to give Democrats credit, and Democrats who don't want to give themselves credit (and for wholly neurotic reasons).

Now, as always, there are economic concerns. Inflation has been cutting into the good news of fattening paychecks for American workers. However, the bubbly retail numbers point to consumers with the means to spend and happy to do it. That consumer credit grew a record 27 percent in Biden's first year reflects public confidence about the future.

The supply chain blockages seem to be easing, as witnessed in the fake news of bare store shelves this shopping season. The difficulty in getting parts and products shipped from Asia has raised interest in bringing manufacturing back into this country, and that is a good thing.

The biggest driver of inflation, oil prices, could very well be headed down. "Much needed relief for tight markets is on the way," according to the International Energy Agency. The simple reason is rising oil production. Helping matters was Biden's planned release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic reserves, with similar steps being taken in other countries.

Why Democrats don't shout hosannas for this basically strong economy has long been a mystery. One explanation is that some of the loudest voices in the party, mainly on the left, engage in a culture of complaint. The lefties obsess angrily on what isn't being done for the poor and ignore what is.

They've been hollering at West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin for blocking passage of the current Build Back Better plan, even though it is they who screwed it up. All hope is not lost, though. Democrats can trim their overweight wish list, thus avoiding such cheesy tricks as financing the child tax credit for just one year. Manchin does have a point.

The programs most worth saving are universal preschool, strengthening the Affordable Care Act, and fighting climate change. A plan costing $1.8. trillion — a number Manchin has reportedly said he would consider — would still be bold under any previous definition of the word.

Stock market gains do benefit the better-off, but lots of average people have some skin in the game. Sweden has more billionaires per capita than we do while maintaining a dream of a social safety net.

There's nothing wrong with prosperity. "Happy Days Are Here Again" was the campaign song for Franklin D. Roosevelt — just before he launched the New Deal.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Why Omicron Shouldn’t Dim Our Holiday Lights

The screaming headlines about New York City closing down again in response to the highly infectious new COVID-19 variant are premature. Sure, some things are dialing back, witness the cancellation of the Radio City Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular. The reality is that the surrounding streets are clogged with celebrants viewing the store windows and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

December 2021 is not December 2020, when America's holiday season turned eerily quiet. This year, the governors of Colorado, New Jersey, and Maryland — two Democrats and a moderate Republican, for those who keep score — are opposing renewed restrictions.

And for a good reason. The threat is not gone, especially with the highly infectious Omicron variant on the loose. But it's a lot less scary now.

In New York City, 83 percent of residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated, meaning they've had two shots. They still remain at lower risk of serious disease. For those who've gotten the third shot, the risks appear to be no higher than they were before Omicron, when two jabs would do the job. As for those who haven't gotten any shots, they're on their own.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the U.S. supply of mRNA vaccines — that is, the highly effective Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna versions — is "abundant." This is a far cry from last December, when the first vaccine (Pfizer) came out but was very hard for non-medical workers to obtain.

Rather than coercing the public, the vaccine mandates are seen as freeing most New Yorkers to largely resume their lives with very little fear of hospitalization or death, even in the event of a breakthrough infection. It doesn't matter if they're now dining next to tourists from Idaho or Florida, states that refused to institute vaccine mandates. The people at the next table had to show their COVID-19 vax cards or they couldn't get in.

Early reports suggest that Omicron, while far more transmissible than other variants, tends to produce milder symptoms in the infected. Even though Omicron has exploded the COVID-19 infection numbers in South Africa, hospitalizations there are way down. Other factors could be in play, but evidence has yet to emerge that Omicron is as nasty as the Delta variant.

Omicron has raised the number of hospitalizations in New York, not because it's shown itself to be especially deadly but because it has spread wildly. The recent surge in the infected has fatigued hospitals, but thanks to the city's high vaccination rate, its number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents is less than half that of the United States as a whole.

There's other reassuring news. Moderna says it will soon have a booster shot tailored for Omicron (if it's needed). And new treatments are rolling out for those already infected. The most promising one, from Pfizer, has been found to work 88 percent of the time in preventing hospitalization.

Given these developments, it would behoove the authorities in states with high vaccination rates (and restrictions on the unvaccinated) to let young children, whom the virus almost never hospitalizes, stay in their classrooms. And they should desist in backing panicky moves to stop a pandemic that was unstoppable a year ago but not now.

Yes, they will have to deal with new strains on hospitals and their workers. But they will be sending the wrong message if they let the unvaccinated spoil another year for those who've done the right things. For most of us, Omicron remains a concern but not a good reason to dim the lights this holiday season.

Discipline has its rewards. Those who have done the hard part should enjoy the relief it has delivered.

Article reprinted with permission from Creators.com

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker Won't Seek Third Term -- And Why Would He?

There's a lot not to like about running as a Republican in New England. Where do we start?

Let's start with Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts. Though Massachusetts is one of the most Democratic states in the country, Baker remains very popular among the voters. His approval ratings rarely strayed below 60 percent, even in the depths of the COVID-19 crisis. If Baker ran for another term in the 2022 general election, he'd probably win handily, but he has decided not to run. Why?

Because between now and next November, he faces a primary in a Republican Party that has gone haywire. Former President Donald Trump has vowed to take down Baker. (He's already endorsed former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, the only well-known Republican running in the party's primary.) Baker evidently doesn't want to play in the nasty clown show sure to follow.

Baker didn't vote for Trump in 2016 and 2020, leaving that presidential line on the ballot blank. He also called for Trump's removal from office following the violent January 6 attack on the Capitol. These are reasons why Trump cannot abide Baker. They're also reasons why Baker could easily win another term as a Republican governor of Massachusetts.

Actually, Massachusetts has had a long line of moderate Republican leaders, notes Bob Whitcomb, who followed them closely as a reporter for the old Boston Herald Traveler.

The Republican governors — John Volpe, Francis Sargent, Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift, Mitt Romney (at least as governor), and now Baker — "believed in thoughtful and incremental change (no utopian schemes!) to improve life in their state," Whitcomb told me. "Unlike the increasingly nihilist Trump national GOP, which is not 'conservative' but radical right wing, they believed in working with Democrats to actually get things done rather than spending their time spewing rhetoric."

A significant milestone in the party's New England decline was reached early in 2001, when Sen. Jim Jeffords, a Vermont Republican, objected to then-President George W. Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cuts. He thought them fiscally irresponsible, which they were.

The Bush administration hit back with dark hints that revenge might be taken on Vermont's struggling dairy farmers. Jeffords fled the party and became an independent, caucusing with Democrats. That moved control of the Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats. (You can imagine the threats.)

The rich suburbs in Connecticut's Fairfield County used to be reliably Republican. By 2008, Chris Shays, the moderate who represented them, was the last New England Republican to serve in the House. That year, the 10-term Shays lost to Jim Himes, only the second Democrat to represent the district since 1943. A former Goldman Sachs executive, Himes is nobody's idea of a socialist. He shares the fiscally conservative, socially liberal bent of his electorate, sort of like Shays.

Charlie Baker was also a business guy. One wishes abused Republicans like him would gird their loins and join the Democratic Party. In the process, they could buttress its moderate coalition.

As of last month, Baker had amassed an impressive campaign war chest and polls showed him in "a very strong position to seek reelection," according to his spokesman.

Baker clearly does not want to subject himself to the attentions of the feral Trump and his bitter elves. He and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito put it more diplomatically in their explanation for not running."We want to focus on recovery, not on the grudge matches political campaigns can devolve into," they wrote.

And so, on the prospect of facing a Trumpian pillage of himself and his ability to competently govern, his selling point, Baker decided, no thanks. Who, really, can blame him?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Targeting The Socially Deviant Parents Of School Shooters

After the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, then-Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, evaded calls for banning weapons of war. But he had other ideas. The "more realistic discussion," Rogers said, is "how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?"

Tightening the gun laws would seem a lot easier and less intrusive than psychoanalyzing everyone with access to a weapon. But to address Rogers' point following the recent mass murder at a suburban Detroit high school, the question might be, "How do we with target the adults who hand powerful firearms to children with mental illness?"

The parents of Ethan Crumbley presented their clearly troubled 15-year-old with a high-powered weapon. He is charged with using the semiautomatic handgun to murder four students at Oxford High School.

This is hardly the first case of parents enabling a sick child to act on his violent fantasies. Nancy Lanza, the mother of the 20-year-old who killed 27 innocents at the Connecticut elementary school, left an unsecured Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle at her tidy house. Nancy was Adam Lanza's first victim.

Laurel Harper had previously placed her son Christopher in a psychiatric hospital, but that did not deter her from keeping unsecured guns at their home. Christopher brought six of them to his 2015 rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Nine students died.

Both Nancy Lanza and Laurel Harper were divorced women left to single-handedly deal with children tortured by inner demons. But rather than steer their sons away from the gun culture, they both dove into it.

Nancy would go to bars at night and brag about all the guns she kept at home. Laurel, a nurse, spent long hours on forums, her subjects alternating between her son's mental illness and her gun collection.

"I keep two full mags in my Glock case," Laurel swaggered online. "And the ARs & AKs (semiautomatics) all have loaded mags." She criticized "lame states" that put limits on loaded firearms in the home.

Concerning disregard for the lives of others, no one would beat James and Jennifer Crumbley. The school called them in after Ethan was found having drawn pictures of a gun, a bullet and bloody figure with the words "the thoughts won't stop" and "help me."

They came in but refused to take Ethan home. They wanted to get back to their jobs.

The day before, the school informed the parents that their son was found searching online for ammunition. Jennifer responded by sending an insanely supportive text to Ethan: "LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."

When these details emerged, the parents took off to hide from getting caught. They now face four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

The central focus of the Michigan horror has rightly moved from a mentally ill high schooler to his socially deviant parents. Which leads to these two questions:

Aren't parents who keep loaded weapons in a home shared by a disturbed child with violent obsessions themselves mentally twisted? And what could be done about them?

A woman had reportedly told investigators in Connecticut that she overheard Adam Lanza say he planned to kill his mother and children at the elementary school. She even called the local police. But since Nancy Lanza, not Adam, owned the weapons, the police couldn't take them away.

If police had removed arms from adults without criminal records, the gun rights fanatics would have exploded with outrage. How dare you go after these noble defenders of the Second Amendment?

Besides, it's easy to identify mentally ill people who use firearms, right? It's certainly easy once the massacre is over.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Forcing Teens To Have Babies Would Not Be Good For Republicans

For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling has protected a woman's right to an abortion. It also protected many politicians' careers. Lawmakers who opposed abortion knew that as long as abortion remained available, pro-choice voters wouldn't care much about their positions on the matter.

That would be especially true of suburban mothers. Once reliable Republican voters, they have moved toward Democrats in recent elections. If the GOP wants them back, forcing their impregnated high schoolers to bear children will not help. If Roe is overturned, more than 20 states are likely to make abortion virtually illegal, as Texas has done.

The Gallup polls show that public support for the right to an abortion has only grown stronger. Some 32 percent of adults surveyed said abortion should be legal under any circumstances, up from 26 percent in 2001. Some 48 percent want it legal only under certain circumstances, which is where the Roe decision (and I) stand. Those wanting abortion totally banned accounted for only 19 percent of the respondents.

Some politicians calling to outlaw abortion play the weasel by offering to make exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. They are total hypocrites. There is no moral difference between an embryo created in love and an embryo resulting from sexual violence.

Our partisan passions have made it fairly impossible to conduct a reasoned discussion of this issue. Many European countries have tighter rules than this country does. Germany, for example, allows abortion on request up to only 12 weeks after conception. In Sweden, it's 18 weeks. The limit here is about 24 weeks. Both Germany and Sweden permit later abortions under special circumstances. In some cases, they also pay for the procedure.

Regardless of what happens to Roe or in the states that seem ready to ban all (or nearly all) abortions, access to abortion will not disappear. Obviously, telemedicine and the abortion pill will let some women bypass local obstacles.

Then again, a bounty hunter in Idaho could hack the computers of women in Texas to find transactions related to the abortion pill. He could then report the delivery guys who dropped the pill envelopes at their doors to the Texas authorities — and collect $10,000 from Lone Star taxpayers.

Of course, there's always travel. Texas women seeking abortions have reportedly been flying thousands of miles to other states to obtain one. Maryland, Ohio and Washington are among the destinations. A reason for this long-distance travel is that clinics in bordering states, such as Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico, are overloaded with patients from Texas.

With the added hassle and expense, women who are poor or dysfunctional will be the least able to end their unwanted pregnancies. In 2014, some 75 percent of abortion patients were poor or low-income, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks these things.

To sum up, about four of every five Americans want to keep abortion legal. Roe has given anti-abortion politicians the ability to placate "pro-life" voters while not inconveniencing the others. But make one's daughter, one's wife, or oneself fly from Mobile, Texas, to Seattle, Washington, for a procedure that once was locally available, and there are going to be repercussions at the polls.

There's a silent majority here. Suburban mothers are not marching around with signs saying they want their daughters to get an abortion, but they want one if it's needed.

In recent elections, this important voting bloc has been swinging between the parties. A decision upending Roe that leads to bans on abortion could tip the scales in favor of candidates who vow to protect the right to one. That would be the Democrats, and the party's leaders know it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.