Once upon a time, there was an ideal. It was called the United States of America.
And in 2016, the presidency of the United States was captured by the flamboyantly incompetent star of a TV reality show, a man who doesn't believe in any ideal beyond his own enrichment and aggrandizement. Some shaken observers assured us everything would yet be ...Read more
With apologies to Stevie Wonder, for whom it was once an album title, nothing is "hotter than July." July was the hottest month.
Maybe you're waiting for that sentence to be qualified: "hottest month of the last 20 years," let's say. But it turns out July of 2019 was the hottest month, period -- hottest in the history of record keeping, hottest...Read more
Our subject today is a word.
It seems to be the word of the moment, at least on the political left. One can hardly read an opinion page or watch cable news without confronting this tiresome term, this irksome idiom.
For the love of heaven, people, please stop saying "electability."
Note, please, that the last president was a black man with ...Read more
In 1879, on the road leading into Dodge City, there stood a sign. "The Carrying of Fire Arms Strictly Prohibited," it said.
As recounted in the book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America" by Adam Winkler, the gun control ordinance was the first law passed when the city was organized in 1873. Nor was Dodge unique. Many ...Read more
If you're going to lie, make it a good one.
Meaning, put some effort into it. Make it convincing. Make sure the truth is not easily discoverable. Don't just draw on a weather map with a Sharpie.
That's apparently what Donald Trump or someone in his employ did last week to prove he was right all along in claiming that the state of Alabama lay ...Read more
"I am tired of the dying," said Greg Abbott on Sunday.
And well he should be. The Texas governor was in Odessa, in the western part of his state, to preside over a mass shooting there: seven dead, not counting the shooter, and 22 wounded, one of them a toddler. This follows a May 2015 shootout in Waco (nine dead); an ...Read more
"America's present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy..." -- Warren G. Harding, 1920
I like Joe Biden.
His gaffes, his mistreatment of Anita Hill and even his kissy-face behavior with segregationists notwithstanding, I think he's a decent guy. If he is the Democratic nominee, next year, I'll vote for him -- twice, if I ...Read more
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
So says Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's "Henry VI, Part 2." Though often regarded as a Renaissance-era lawyer joke, the line is actually a backhanded compliment to the legal profession. Dick, a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, knows that before their insurrection can succeed, they have to ...Read more
We meet, my friends, in the face of evil.
In popular culture and historical memory, of course, evil has many faces. It is Darth Vader raising a lightsaber and Dr. Doom glowering from behind a metal mask. It is Charles Manson grinning his lunatic's grin and Adolf Hitler ranting himself into a frothing rage.
But in everyday life, evil is seldom ...Read more
You'd think it would be the one thing we could all agree upon.
Life grows ever more complex. Planetary overheating threatens a future of floods, food shortages and mass migration. We carry supercomputers in our pockets. Robots are taking our jobs.
So you'd think, for all the partisan and ideological rancor in this country, the one thing upon ...Read more
Perhaps you've heard of white fragility.
The term was popularized by sociologist Robin DiAngelo in her 2018 book of the same name that seeks to explain why white people often find it so hard to discuss race, why the subject frequently makes them angry and defensive. Well, a textbook example of that fragility recently roiled social media.
Jeffrey Epstein didn't commit suicide.
He was murdered by Hillary and/or Bill Clinton. Or he was assassinated by the Russians. Or Donald Trump killed him. Or he isn't dead at all, having been spirited into the Witness Protection Program, where he presumably now shares an island mansion with Tupac Shakur and 84-year-old Elvis Presley.
Take your...Read more
Teenagers were invented in the late 1950s.
If that's an exaggeration, it's not as much of one as you may think. While there had -- obviously -- been teenagers before, it wasn't until the leading edge of the Baby Boom reached that milestone that the word took on its modern meaning. In the heady prosperity of those first years post-war and post-...Read more
Nine people shot dead in Dayton, 13 hours after 22 shot dead in El Paso, six days after three shot dead in Gilroy. And tears and disbelief and funeral preparations, candlelight vigils and a search for meaning, and talking heads on cable news and T-shirts and hashtags touting resilience in the face of pain: "Dayton Strong,...Read more
Ed has had enough.
"I'm simply tired, tired and tired of hearing about race," he wrote last month in an email. He signed himself a "former racist" and in a postscript, wanted me to know that he used to have "a black friend" with whom he ate breakfast on workdays.
Take Ed as an example of the pushback that comes when you grapple with America's ...Read more
If you are a regular here, you may have heard this story before. But it bears repeating.
In 1958, George Wallace ran for governor of Alabama against John Patterson, a fire-breathing segregationist. Wallace, though also a segregationist, was considered enough of a racial moderate to be endorsed by the politics/fromtheleft/leonardpittsjr/s-2255840">Read more
"Hold tight to your anger, don't fall to your fears."
Bruce Springsteen, "Wrecking Ball"
It never should have come to this.
The first responders who, on a September morning 18 years ago, rushed into toxic clouds that once had been the World Trade Center never should have been put through bureaucratic hell. Sick and dying because they answered...Read more
You had to become an "honorary white."
That was the status South Africa used to bestow upon black performers from the United States who visited the apartheid regime. The O'Jays, Tina Turner, Ray Charles and Eartha Kitt were among those who received that designation, allowing them access to hotels and restaurants from which black Africans were ...Read more
Here's how The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group.
It is, they say, "an organization that -- based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities -- has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for ...Read more
Dear Donald Trump:
Years ago, I got to visit Kwethluk, an Alaskan town of fewer than 900 souls. It is an isolated place where the people, most of them Yup'ik and Eskimo, live on what the tundra provides: ptarmigan, moose, seal, salmonberries. I remember standing upon that snowbound landscape and marveling that I was further than I'd ever been ...Read more