Charles Krauthammer, conservative columnist and pundit, dies
By HILLEL ITALIE
AP National Writer
Friday, June 22
NEW YORK (AP) — Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and pundit who helped shape and occasionally dissented from the conservative movement as he evolved from “Great Society” Democrat to Iraq War cheerleader to denouncer of Donald Trump, has died at age 68.
His death was announced Thursday by two longtime employers, Fox News Channel and The Washington Post. Krauthammer had said publicly a year ago he was being treated for a cancerous tumor in his abdomen and earlier this month revealed that he likely had just weeks to live.
“I leave this life with no regrets,” Krauthammer wrote in The Washington Post, where his column had run since 1984. “It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”
Sometimes scornful, sometimes reflective, he was awarded a Pulitzer in 1987 for “his witty and insightful” commentary and was an influential voice among Republicans, whether through his syndicated column or his appearances on Fox News Channel. He was most associated with Brit Hume’s nightly newscast and stayed with it when Bret Baier took over in 2009.
Krauthammer is credited with coining the term “The Reagan Doctrine” for President Reagan’s policy of aiding anti-Communist movements worldwide. He was a leading advocate for the Iraq War and a prominent critic of President Barack Obama, whom he praised for his “first-class intellect and first-class temperament” and denounced for having a “highly suspect” character.
Krauthammer was a former Harvard medical student who graduated even after he was paralyzed from the neck down because of a diving board accident, continuing his studies from his hospital bed. He was a Democrat in his youth and his political engagement dated back to 1976, when he handed out leaflets for Henry Jackson’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.
But through the 1980s and beyond, Krauthammer followed a journey akin to such neo-conservative predecessors as Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, turning against his old party on foreign and domestic issues. He aligned with Republicans on everything from confrontation with the Soviet Union to rejection of the “Great Society” programs enacted during the 1960s.
“As I became convinced of the practical and theoretical defects of the social-democratic tendencies of my youth, it was but a short distance to a philosophy of restrained, free-market governance that gave more space and place to the individual and to the civil society that stands between citizen and state,” he wrote in the introduction to “Things That Matter,” a million-selling compilation of his writings published in 2013. As of midday Friday, the hardcover edition of “Things That Matter” Was No. 1 on Amazon.com. The paperback was No. 2.
For the Post, Time magazine, The New Republic and other publications, Krauthammer wrote on a wide range of subjects, and in “Things That Matter” listed chess, baseball, “the innocence of dogs” and “the cunning of cats” among his passions. As a psychiatrist in the 1970s, he did groundbreaking research on bipolar disorder.
He was attacked for his politics, and for his predictions. He was so confident of quick success in Iraq he initially labeled the 2003 invasion “The Three Week War” and defended the conflict for years. He also backed the George W. Bush administration’s use of torture as an “uncontrolled experiment” carried out “sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly. But successfully. It kept us safe.”
And the former president praised Krauthammer after hearing of his death.
“For decades, Charles’ words have strengthened our democracy,” George W. Bush said in a statement. “His work was far-reaching and influential — and while his voice will be deeply missed, his ideas and values will always be a part of our country.”
Krauthammer was sure that Obama would lose in 2008 because of lingering fears from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and foresaw Mitt Romney defeating him in 2012.
But he prided himself on his rejection of orthodoxy and took on Republicans, too, observing during a Fox special in 2013 that “If you’re going to leave the medical profession because you think you have something to say, you betray your whole life if you don’t say what you think and if you don’t say it honestly and bluntly.”
He criticized the death penalty and rejected intelligent design as “today’s tarted-up version of creationism.” In 2005, he was widely cited as a key factor in convincing Bush to rescind the Supreme Court nomination of the president’s friend and legal adviser Harriet Miers, whom Krauthammer and others said lacked the necessary credentials. And he differed with such Fox commentators as Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham as he found himself among the increasingly isolated “Never Trumpers,” Republicans regarding the real estate baron and former “Apprentice” star as a vulgarian unfit for the presidency.
“I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully,” he wrote in August 2016, around the time Trump officially became the Republican nominee. “I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value — indeed exists — only insofar as it sustains and inflates him.”
Trump, of course, tweeted about Krauthammer, who “pretends to be a smart guy, but if you look at his record, he isn’t. A dummy who is on too many Fox shows. An overrated clown!”
Krauthammer married Robyn Trethewey, an artist and former attorney, in 1974. They had a son, Daniel, who also became a columnist and commentator.
The son of Jewish immigrants from Europe, Krauthammer was born in New York City and moved with his family to Montreal when he was 5, growing up in a French speaking home. His path to political writing was unexpected. First, at McGill University, he became editor in chief of the student newspaper after his predecessor was ousted over what Krauthammer called his “mindless, humorless Maoism.”
After Krauthammer announced that he was dying of cancer, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote him a letter, telling him that he had gleaned wisdom from his insights. “You never bored. You were never mundane,” Netanyahu wrote in his June 10 letter.
“More than anything else, you have lived a life of purpose. As a proud American and a proud son of the Jewish people, you harnessed your formidable intellect to defend liberty and the Jewish state.”
In the late 1970s, while a psychiatric resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, a professor with whom he had researched manic depression was appointed to a mental health agency created by President Jimmy Carter. Krauthammer went, too, began writing for The New Republic and was soon recruited to write speeches for Carter’s vice president and 1980 running mate, Walter Mondale.
Carter was defeated by Reagan and on Jan. 20, 1981, Reagan’s inauguration day, Krauthammer formally joined The New Republic as a writer and editor.
“These quite fantastic twists and turns have given me a profound respect for serendipity,” he wrote in 2013. “A long forgotten, utterly trivial student council fight brought me to journalism. A moment of adolescent anger led me to the impulsive decision to quit political studies and enroll in medical school. A decade later, a random presidential appointment having nothing to do with me brought me to a place where my writing and public career could begin.
“When a young journalist asks me today, ‘How do I get to a nationally syndicated columnist?’ I have my answer: ‘First, go to medical school.’”
AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this report.
Koko the gorilla used smarts, empathy to help change views
By SETH BORENSTEIN and JANIE HAR
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Koko the gorilla, whose remarkable sign-language ability and motherly attachment to pet cats helped change the world’s views about the intelligence of animals and their capacity for empathy, has died at 46.
Koko was taught sign language from an early age as a scientific test subject and eventually learned more than 1,000 words, a vocabulary similar to that of a human toddler.
She became a celebrity who played with the likes of William Shatner, Sting, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Williams and Mr. Rogers. At her home preserve, where she was treated like a queen, she ran around with Williams’ eyeglasses and unzipped Rogers’ famous cardigan sweater.
In so doing, Koko showed the American public that a giant ape didn’t have to be scary but wanted to be tickled and hugged.
The Gorilla Foundation said the 280-pound (127-kilogram) western lowland gorilla died in her sleep at the foundation’s preserve in California’s Santa Cruz mountains Tuesday.
Koko was the not the first animal to learn sign language and communicate, but through books and media appearances she became the most famous. Yet there was debate in the scientific community about how deep and human-like her conversations were.
Koko appeared in many documentaries, including a 2015 PBS one, and twice in National Geographic. The gorilla’s 1978 National Geographic cover featured a photo that the animal had taken of herself in a mirror.
“Koko the individual was supersmart, like all the apes, and also sensitive, something not everyone expected from a ‘king kong’ type animal that movies depict as dangerous and formidable,” Emory University primate researcher Frans de Waal said in an email Thursday.
“It changed the image of apes, and gorillas in particular, for the better, such as through the children’s book ‘Koko’s Kitten’ that may young people have grown up with. To view apes as nice and caring was new to the public and a big improvement.”
Koko watched movies and television, with her handlers saying her favorite book was “The Three Little Kittens,” her favorite movies included the Eddie Murphy version of “Doctor Doolittle” and “Free Willy,” and her favorite TV show was “Wild Kingdom.”
For her 25th birthday, she asked for and received a box of rubber snakes. In 1996, she even asked to be a mother. Despite attempts by her keepers to introduce male partners, Koko never became a mother. Instead, she had a series of kittens as pets.
The first was named All Ball, a gray and white tail-less kitten, given to Koko for her birthday in 1984. Other cats followed after All Ball’s death, but researchers reported that the gorilla kept “mourning” the original cat years later.
Koko’s real name was Hanabi-Ko, Japanese for fireworks child. She was born July 4, 1971, at the San Francisco Zoo.
Francine Patterson was working on her doctoral dissertation on the linguistic capabilities of gorillas and in 1972 started to teach Koko sign language. Patterson and biologist Ronald Cohn moved Koko to their newly established preserve in 1974 and kept teaching and studying her, adding a male gorilla in 1979.
In 2004, Koko used American Sign Language to communicate that her mouth hurt and used a pain scale of 1 to 10 to show how badly it hurt.
“Koko represents what language may have been 5 million years ago for people,” Cohn said in 1996. “That’s the time that gorillas and humans separated in evolution.”
Other scientists, such as Herbert Terrace at Columbia University, who raised and taught sign language to a primate named Nim Chimpksy (a play on the name of the linguist Noam Chomsky), argued in scientific and popular literature that most of Koko’s conversations and those of other primates were “not spontaneous but solicited by questions from her teachers and companions.”
“Scientists have often complained about possible overinterpretation of Koko’s sign language utterances and the lack of proper documentation of what she has said when and how,” deWaal said in an email, adding that “coaching and interpretation by the people around her” may have altered her messages at times.
But the science, deWaal said, was “irrelevant to Koko’s pop-image. … Koko’s passing is the end of an era, and a genuine loss.”
Koko frequently asked to see people’s nipples, a habit that led to controversy more than a dozen years ago, when two former caretakers said they were fired for refusing to bare their breasts to the gorilla. The women settled with the foundation in 2005.
Video shows Koko grabbing for Williams’ chest area and Shatner’s groin.
Williams, another San Francisco Bay area legend, met Koko in 2001 and called it a “mind-altering experience.” The two held hands and tickled each other in a widely shared video.
“We shared something extraordinary: Laughter,” he said. He called it “awesome and unforgettable.” Williams killed himself in 2014.
Patterson later said she didn’t plan on telling Koko about Williams’ death, but the gorilla overheard conversation and then later “mourned” the actor by going silent and sullen.
Koko knew about death, primary researcher Patterson said in 2015, relaying in The Atlantic a conversation Koko had with another caretaker:
“The caregiver showed Koko a skeleton and asked, ‘Is this alive or dead?’ Koko signed, ‘Dead, draped.’ ‘Draped’ means ‘covered up.’ Then the caregiver asked, ‘Where do animals go when they die?’ Koko said, ‘A comfortable hole.’ Then she gave a kiss goodbye.”
Borenstein reported from Washington.
Attorney General DeWine Announces Teen Ambassador Board Members
Participants include more than 300 students representing 52 Ohio counties
July 6, 2018
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced that more than 300 students representing 52 Ohio counties have been named to his office’s Teen Ambassador Board for the upcoming school year.
The participants represent more than 160 schools throughout the state.
“We created this board to give Ohio high school students an opportunity to learn about law and government and to hear their ideas,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We look forward to working with this group of students.”
The mission of the Teen Ambassador Board is to provide Ohio’s future leaders with an inside look at Ohio law and government. The board is open to high school juniors and seniors from public, private, home, charter, and online schools located in Ohio.
Board members advise the Attorney General’s Office on issues relating to teens, and they work with their peers to develop solutions. They also attend presentations, hear from elected officials, interact with assistant attorneys general, and have the opportunity to participate in events around the state.
During the 2018 Two Days in May Conference on Victim Assistance and the 2017 Law Enforcement Conference, board members presented workshops on popular apps that teens use to help attendees understand the apps, potential dangers, and available security measures.
This year’s Teen Ambassador Board kick-off meeting will be held in August.
A list of the 2018-2019 Teen Ambassador Board members and additional information about the board is available on the Attorney General’s website.
At Home and Abroad, Trump Abandons Human Rights
by Mel Gurtov
In January 1941, with the prospect looming of US involvement in another European war, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of America’s purpose in the world: to protect and promote “four freedoms.” FDR drew a clear link between US security and the fulfillment of human rights at home. “Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all of our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small.” In another speech he underscored the point: “unless there is [human] security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”
Among the extraordinary backward steps Donald Trump is taking America, none is more shameful, than his disregard for—in fact, his calculated trampling on—human rights at home and abroad. To my mind, the two are interrelated: A government that does not respect the human rights of its own citizens will also show no respect for human rights in other countries—and will help other governments that seek to repress their citizens’ rights.
Undermining Rights at Home
On the home front, two survey sources show how the US has declined as a repository of human rights, in particular adherence to political rights and civil liberties. These sources are the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, whose ranking is based on 44 indicators of lawfulness; and Freedom House, which makes annual assessmentsbased on implementation (not claims) of rights enumerated in the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The WJP ranks the US 19th of 113 countries surveyed. Among the weakest dimensions for the US are labor rights, effective correctional system, discrimination, respect for due process, and accessibility and affordability of the legal system. For comparison sake, note that Germany (6th), Canada (9th), and Britain (11th) all rank higher than the US. Freedom House ranks the US 86th of 100 countries; Canada (99), Germany (94), and Britain (94) again rank higher. Trump’s corruption, evasion of legal and institutional norms, and low regard for certain human rights help account for a lower Freedom House ranking of the US than in previous years.
I recently discusseda report by Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights on poverty in America. Before Trump, the rich-poor gap was already wide and the number of people, especially children, living in poverty was pitifully large. The UN report detailed how, under Trump, those people are even more vulnerable because they are being deliberately targeted for political advantage. Human security and basic human rights are under assault in other ways: by reducing government responsibility for the health and welfare system; putting energy interests and private profit ahead of action to address climate change and respect scientific findings; subjecting immigration policy to outright racist priorities, such as by denial of due process, separation of families, and blatant disregard for the rights of children (the US is the only country in the world that has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child); moving away from support of public education; and undermining the right of labor to organize. The Supreme Court, now with a far right-leaning majority thanks to Trump appointees, is a handmaiden of his attack on labor, women’s, gay people’s, and immigrants’ rights.
Trump’s immigration policy is especially notorious. UN human rights special rapporteurs from various countries have condemned it, pointing out that his Muslim ban and rejection of legitimate asylum requests based on “a well-founded fear of persecution” violate international and US law and conventions. (A US district judge on July 3 slammed the administration for ignoring its own regulations on asylum seekers, and ordered that these detainees be either freed from detention or granted asylum.) Trump’s executive order of June 20, 2018, according to these UN experts, “does not address the situation of those children who have already been pulled away from their parents. We call on the Government of the US to release these children from immigration detention and to reunite them with their families based on the best interests of the child, and the rights of the child to liberty and family unity. Detention of children is punitive, severely hampers their development, and in some cases may amount to torture. Children are being used as a deterrent to irregular migration, which is unacceptable.”
“State-sanctioned child abuse” is the way Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) put it on MSNBC on July 5.
Of course such criticism is meaningless to a president who touts “America first” and believes a harsh immigration policy is the key to his reelection. He has already withdrawn the US from the UN Human Rights Council and rejected the critique of poverty in America by the special rapporteur, with US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley deriding it as “patently ridiculous.” These actions, along with reduced US contributions to the UN budget, put the US on China’s and Russia’s side. Beijing and Moscow likewise wantto force major reductions in the human security side of the UN budget, including peacekeeping missions and protection of women and children from sexual exploitation.
Dancing with Dictators
Meantime, the Trump administration has continued the sordid US practice of supporting authoritarian regimes, making the US party to repression of human rights abroad and, on occasion, a collaborator in crimes against humanity and war crimes. The usual pretext for such support is to maintain “stability,” counter terrorism, or align against some other equally authoritarian regime. Vietnam reflects the latter case: Washington, backing Vietnam’s territorial case against China, hasn’t said a word about repression of dissent and trials of human-rights activists there. “Support” often takes the form of selling arms, as in the cases of Turkey despite widespread repression, Saudi Arabia in its bombing campaign in Yemen, and the Philippines despite its unrestrained drug war.
Israel should be added to this list, since the far-right Netanyahu government receives about $1.5 billion annually in arms that give it license to violently suppress Palestinian protests. Not surprisingly, the equally far-right US ambassador to Israel has said Israel should be exempt from US law that requires a State Department report on whether or not US-supplied weapons are being used to repress human rights. “Israel is a democracy,” Amb. David Friedman said, “whose army does not engage in gross violations of human rights.”
Even when serious violations of human rights are occurring in adversarial countries that have something to benefit Trump, such as China, North Korea, and Russia, expect very little comment from him. Yes, he said he had brought up human rights when he met with Kim Jong-un, and insisted that US missile attacks in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons were motivated by concern about Syrian children. But does anyone take those assertions seriously? After all, Trump has publicly excused Kim, Xi Jinping, Putin, and other authoritarian leaders he considers great friends for their bad behavior, noting that they have a tough job and that there are “bad guys” in all political systems. Trump’s beef with China is about trade; human rights has yet to get a hearing. And how about Russia? While several of Trump’s top officials have criticized Putin over arbitrary arrests and even assassinations of critics, Trump has been silent. (Remember how he ignored the advice of his national security council—“Do Not Congratulate”—when he telephoned Putin on his reelection?) Or Poland and Hungary, where Trump-like leaders are busy burying democracy?
Trump reserves his professed concern about human rights for antagonistic rivals, notably Cuba and Iran—the very countries, not coincidentally, that Obama successfully engaged. Those countries are important either because of their domestic political value (Cuba) or (for Iran) because of Trump’s ties to Israel and Saudi Arabia. But aligning against Cuba and Iran only worsens human rights conditions. In a word, the more antagonistic US policy becomes—imposing sanctions and promoting regime change—the more are human rights threatened, because hard-line elements in Cuba and Iranhave ammunition to increase repression in the name of national security.
In the spirit of forming “a more perfect Union,” please consider contributing to a group that is fighting for human rights.
Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.