Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell probably thinks he’s done all he can in recent years to keep Roy Moore and candidates like him from entering the Senate. He’s right — and he’s also dead wrong. When it come to his relationship with the Republican Party, McConnell has a Jekyll-and-Hyde act going on. It’s wearing awfully thin right now.

There is a lot we don’t know about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election. Most importantly, we don’t know who will be implicated and charged beyond the three men already indicted (Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopolous). We don’t know how broad the investigation has become. And we certainly don’t know if President Trump will be implicated at all.

If Saudi Arabia didn’t already have enough worries in a fast-changing Middle East, yet another crisis has hit home for the once-stable desert kingdom: the sweeping arrests of 11 princes and former ministers. The move ordered by King Salman and carried out by his impulsive son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known increasingly as “MBS,” could well mark the beginning of the end for this increasingly uncertain U.S. ally.

Our current tax code is more than 30 years old; it is complicated and full of loopholes for special interests. It is estimated that in 2016 Americans spent 8.9 billion hours preparing and filing their taxes. We can do better. Hardworking American families deserve a tax code that is fair and simple while allowing them to keep more of their money to save for the future, educate their children and feel economically secure.

Just one month after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, we find ourselves pulled back into an all-too-similar story. This time, the tragedy unfolded at a church in a small Texas town. As details emerge, perhaps the only thing that can be said is that such tragedies will continue to take place. They have become a fixture of our time. But why?

The Washington Post reported Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate “a host of Republican concerns.” As a Republican, I hope Sessions doesn’t have to do this. I say “have to” because he won’t do it unless there is a compelling case. I want nothing to come of this. Some Republicans may think a special prosecutor investigating all things Hillary Clinton is the mother-load, but it is just fool’s gold.

The United Nations Conference of the Parties 23 (COP23) launched Nov. 6 in Bonn, Germany. Two years earlier the historic Paris Climate Agreement was reached and the world united to combat anthropogenic climate change. Now the goal of COP23 is to advance implementation of the agreement through the development of guidelines, considering transparency, adaptation, greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission reduction, funding and technology.

I used to admire men like Roy Moore because I loved everything about church — the off-key a cappella rendition of “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” the typos in the bulletin, the ladies who smelled like Aquanet with little round rouge circles on their cheeks, and — yes — men like Moore who said long prayers and ran the show.

Evidence of national discernment, although never abundant, can now be found high on the New York Times combined print and e-book best seller list. There sits Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses Simpson Grant, which no reader will wish were shorter than its 1,074 pages. Arriving at a moment when excitable individuals and hysterical mobs are demonstrating crudeness in assessing historical figures, Chernow’s book is a tutorial on measured, mature judgment.

In an October report on opioids’ impact on New England communities, The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach described the nation’s opioid crisis as “a decentralized disaster that authorities understand they cannot solve with handcuffs and prison bars alone.” Indeed, pretty much everyone, up to and including President Trump, is on board — at least rhetorically — with the idea this crisis must be tackled in a manner more comprehensive than the usual law enforcement approach.

One of the first U.S. servicemen to give his life in battle during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 was a rifleman with the Marines, Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez. The story of this young recruit who fought with heroism and courage on behalf of our country and who lost his life in a firefight close to Umm Qasr, Iraq, didn’t begin in an American city or town.

Social media’s dark side has transcended the psyche of individuals and companies to taint our nation’s democratic institutions. When political ads appear on Facebook from sources called “American.made” or “Being Patriotic” but are actually from Russian “troll farms,” it’s something to take seriously in our sacred democracy. At the same time, we’re learning that social media can influence society more than we think. Historically, media have changed politics. This, however, is a game-changer.

While millions of other Christians were singing hymns or opening their Bibles or taking communion Sunday, at that very moment a gunman was opening fire on the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. This, believed to be the largest church shooting in history, ended with at least 26 people killed, according to authorities.

Republicans will start grappling this week with their political miscalculations in focusing their tax-cut plan on corporate and wealthy taxpayers while proposing to eliminate tax breaks that help families and struggling Americans. Look for some of them to start backtracking. The $1.5 trillion proposal released last week would slash taxes for most corporations and more affluent Americans. It also would end the tax credit for adoptions, the write-offs for unusually high medical expenses and incentives to encourage tests to develop drugs for rare diseases.

About nine of 10 new jobs over the next decade will be in services-producing industries, many of them in health care. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released projections for growth in jobs through 2026. It estimates that U.S. employment will increase by 11.5 million over the 2016-26 decade, somewhat faster than the prior 10 years, which were marred by the Great Recession.

The plaques on the walls of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, commemorate famous Americans who at one time called the Episcopal parish their own: George Washington and Robert E. Lee. As a church historian, I believe the vestry’s recent decision to remove the memorials — as well as their forebears’ decision to put them up in the first place — disregards the true purpose of Christians’ commemoration of the dead.

It has long been conventional wisdom that the “Saturday Night Massacre” — the October 1973 episode in which President Richard M. Nixon tore apart his Justice Department to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox — badly backfired against Nixon. Not only did the move produce blowback from the public and on Capitol Hill, but it effectively required the White House to accept the appointment of another special prosecutor, whose investigation, along with parallel efforts in Congress, eventually provoked Nixon’s resignation just ahead of impeachment charges less than 10 months later.

Vistra Energy recently announced that its Dallas-based subsidiary, Luminant, would be closing two large coal-fired power plants in Texas, Big Brown in Fairfield and Sandow in Rockdale. This announcement came exactly one week after Vistra announced it would close another coal plant, the Monticello unit near Mount Pleasant.

Halloween. Mere thought of the word brings a wistful smile to my lips as I remember a small-town childhood in dusty West Texas filled with memories of witches, ghosts and goblins running in werewolf packs and joyfully demanding tribute at every door. I don’t remember a single home with its porch light off. Back then every inhabitant in town and his or her porch light burned to join in this celebration of childhood.

Ask a regular Joe what frustrates him about public education and stand back. It’s the complexity of school finance (including property taxes), state testing results for Joe’s kids and, finally, the state-ordained protocol for closing down failing schools. The situation is compounded by the fact state protocols and accountability standards seem to change from one legislative session to the next.

Republicans in Washington are trying to cut taxes because they’re stuck in the 1980s. Maybe it’s good politics, but it’s bad policy. Far better to ask what challenges the economy is confronting right now, and what steps would address them. Here’s a hint: Corporations’ biggest hurdle is not their tax bill but a labor shortage. The urgent priorities for the U.S. economy are to increase the supply of workers and the supply of housing.

Hurricane season isn’t over. Tropical storms still churn in the Atlantic, threatening to make landfall. Scientists say it’s no coincidence three monster storms made landfall within a month: It’s climate change. President Trump says it’s not, but he’s wrong. He’s pushing a deadly agenda. Trump’s “alternative facts” about the environment have cost Americans millions of dollars and threaten lives.

Everything is bigger in Texas. And this time of year, that means scares, screams and supernatural sightings. It’s no surprise that, for the second year in a row, Texas boasts two of the top three haunted houses in the United States, as ranked by The 13th Floor in San Antonio tops this year’s list with werewolves and witches. The House of Torment in Austin trails closely behind with “40,000 square feet of torment.” Both are recommended for fright-seekers only, not the faint of heart.

As professional-grade liberal elitist snowflakes, it boils our blood to see so much ink spilled over how the left must learn to persuade Trump voters. Given that millions more voted for HRC than 45, we thought our thousands of conservative readers would be more interested in some intellectual jiu-jitsu techniques for bringing liberals to their knees. Just imagine a family holiday dinner where your typically-Trump-bashing third cousin instead begs forgiveness for the error of her ways and bids adieu by wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Second Amendment advocates who regularly stress the need to enforce existing gun laws rather than forging new laws should welcome Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s Fix NICS Act, which proposes to do just that. Crafted in the wake of the Nov. 5 Sutherland Springs massacre that claimed the lives of 26 people, coldly struck down as they worshipped in church, this bill would bolster efforts to see federal and state authorities comply with existing laws and accurately report criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).


What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.