This week, the new year kicked off with Donald Trump releasing his first TV ad, cramming in all the xenophobia, "pants on fire" mendacity and ugliness that have marked his campaign so far: calls for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S., a wall to keep out Mexicans and a vow to "CUT THE HEAD OFF OF ISIS." While no one would accuse Trump of being a student of history, he's drawing on a deep American tradition of campaign fear mongering. It's the same playbook that gave us "welfare queens," Willie Horton, and, more recently, a decade-long disaster in Iraq. This isn't to say cynically pandering to people's lizard-brain fear center isn't effective -- it got Bush reelected in 2004 -- but it comes with a high cost. When we operate from fear, we push our reason into the background. And if we're going to make progress in this new year in solving our biggest problems, it's going to be by using our wisdom, not our fear.
On Christmas morning, millions of children woke up early to see what was under the Christmas tree (no doubt, merchandise from a certain movie set "a long time ago" was well-represented). But millions more woke up to a very different reality filled with fear, instability and misery in parts of the world where conflict, civil war, and massive refugee displacements rage. And that's to say nothing of the xenophobia, scapegoating and ugliness that have taken hold of our political culture here at home. No matter what tradition we come from, as we enjoy the last moments of the holiday season with our loved ones, let's remember those around the world for whom Peace on Earth isn't just a holiday greeting, but a dream that is tragically out of reach.
TOKYO -- President Obama suggested that there should be an interpretation of the Constitution that reconciles Congress' need for a broad power over immigration and naturalization and the risks associated with judicial intervention in the exercise of that power with the need to prevent blatantly discriminatory laws that are a public humiliation to those they discriminate against. Without that interpretation, the United States may repeat policies that many regard as a blight on its history.