WASHINGTON -- Whenever somebody at my company experiences a death in the family or some other life-altering crisis, his boss is expected to explain this in a compassionate memo sent out to all employees. When I once had a serious surgery, I pre-wrote my own memo, which my boss sent out at the appropriate time: "If you are receiving this message,...Read more
WASHINGTON -- As I write this, Donald Trump has once again sniped at John McCain, a man who -- in addition to being deceased and unable to defend himself -- is a genuine American hero. One can argue that it's best to just ignore such pettiness and cruelty, but one can also argue -- as reader Sarah O'Connell did -- that it's best to speculate on ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I don't usually interview celebrities in this column but have made an exception today. We are talking to Rob Delaney, co-writer and co-star of the surprise-hit British sitcom "Catastrophe." I had an important question that has been nagging at me.
Me: I first became aware of you a few years ago when, as near as I can tell, your ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I am OK with watching a Woody Allen movie, start to finish, and not just the goofy ones where he dresses up like a giant sperm or walks an enormous chicken on a leash.
If Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" comes on the radio, I won't dive into the nearest swimming pool to make the sound stop. "Pulp Fiction" remains one of my favorite...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Have you ever wished you could be someone like me, an internationally revered hotshot journalist who can get his phone calls returned from anyone, no matter how famous they are? That way, if, say, you had any question about any song you'd ever heard -- if you were sure you understood its deepest meaning but you couldn't convince ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I am on the phone with Nobel laureate Arthur B. McDonald, one of the most renowned physicists in the world. This call became necessary because of a basic failing in modern life: To resolve a question that has been bedeviling me for more than 50 years, I had first tried crowdsourcing it on social media, but that turned into a ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Many decades ago a young Canadian named Leslie McFarlane got his first job in journalism, writing for the Cobalt (Ontario) Nugget. His crusty editor sent him out into the world with only one inviolable rule: Don't ever use the word "very."
Today, in combing through McFarlane's oeuvre as one of the most widely read writers ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Last month we witnessed several occasions where people cynically twisted history to justify right-wing ideology. Just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for example, Vice President Pence claimed that the civil rights' leader's "promise of democracy" speech was, in effect, an endorsement of the Trump wall. Later, on Holocaust ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I went into a local liquor store to buy some beer. It's one of those inner-city places -- clean and well-lit, but the staff works behind bulletproof glass and everyone seems a bit wary of everyone else.
As I was paying for the beer, I remembered that when I got home from my previous trip to that store and checked my receipt, I ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- This is the story of how, for about two days last month, my daughter became an international celebrity. Her fame was fleeting, but dramatic. There are many modern lessons in this story, with several poignant themes, but mostly it is about the magnificent silliness of journalism.
It begins a few days after Christmas when Molly and ...Read more
EDITORS: This column originally ran on January 25, 2009.
WASHINGTON -- I am on the phone with Edward Rogoff, whom I have not seen since we were both 12 years old, living on the same block in the Bronx, playing "stoop ball," a game that exists, so far as I know, only in the Bronx and only in the past, played only among pre-adolescent Jewish boys...Read more
WASHINGTON -- To all potential donors:
Thank you for considering this GoFundMe appeal to finance my Great American Wall project.
No, I am not asking for money to build the Trump wall. Some other guy already thought of that, and fell short of the billions needed. But his success at raising money from ordinary political zealots -- $15 million in...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I am on the phone with Bill Staley, co-founder of Primal Palate, a maker of organic spices. Primal Palate was in the news recently because it is being sued by the company that makes Old Bay seasoning; the lawsuit contends that Primal Palate is infringing on Old Bay's trademark by marketing a too-similar seafood spice called New Bae...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Important announcement to readers:
It has been pointed out to me, not always kindly, that like just about every writer in the United States, I have become tediously obsessed with Donald Trump. He's virtually all we write about. He is horrible, but inescapable. He sucks all the air out of the room.
So, no Trump today. Instead, I ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- When Donald Trump tweeted recently that there is no "Smocking Gun" in any alleged case of collusion against him, I wasn't surprised.
The man simply cannot spell. I wasn't even surprised -- though I was delighted -- when he repeated the same mistake later in the same tweet, forfeiting the right to claim it had been just a ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Did you see that recent story in The Washington Post reporting a correlation between male sexual insecurity and the tendency to vote for Republicans, particularly Donald Trump? The Post showed a map of areas where men exhibited sexual insecurity, measured by Google searches for terms like "penis size," "erectile dysfunction," "hair...Read more
WASHINGTON -- When word oozed out last month that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders might be considering another run for the presidency, I admit my first thought was "Nothing could be worse."
I voted for Clinton, and I think she'd make a good president, but ... you know. Last time around, she somehow managed to lose to a guy who has the ...Read more