There are fine lines and shades of gray between funny and offensive. Often, a good joke is both. Oversensitivity, meanwhile, can have a stifling effect not just on humor but on public discourse and free expression.
There’s a very 2001 feel to President Obama’s request for authorization to use military force and the nauseating sense that we’ll be at war indefinitely.
These are tough times for NBC’s Brian Williams — and tougher times for journalism
If Republican strategists had viewed Palin in 2008 as someone with talent who needed nurturing and support, she might have been ready for a national ticket by 2016. But this possibility exposes the matter of her own judgment.
Each time Pope Francis speaks, his words are as shiny objects on a desert floor. We scramble to examine them, turning them over, looking for hidden meanings, holding them up to the light in search of codes and encryptions.
What France and other nations need from us is support, sympathy and, most of all, intelligence. Symbolic gestures have their place in diplomacy and war, but sometimes the wiser act is playing it safe.
As we try to ease racial tensions, we might begin by examining our own unconscious biases, which are too easily coaxed to the surface, and apply a more-critical eye to narratives before accepting them as true. We might also send racist agitators back to the soapbox, where the peddlers of outrage have always belonged.
A writer seeking profound pronouncements for a year-end column is likely instead to find herself awash in punchlines. Life isn’t a comedy. It’s a joke.
The story is a doozy — a tale of corruption, prosecutorial abuse, alleged fraud upon the court, and possible government cover-ups in the service of power and greed.
It is probably too soon to declare a feminist reformation, but a few signs here and there give one hope.
As the curtain closes on the latest episode of “Ferguson,” the media series, it is fair to wonder whether events might not have spiraled out of control to the extent they did had the media settled on another topic.
News that Pope Francis will visit the U.S. next year for the triennial World Meeting of Families brings elation to Catholics, excitement to pope watchers — and perhaps a little chagrin to some who too soon interpreted Francis’ broad compassion as a precursor to doctrinal changes related to marriage.
We also know that once trust is gone, it’s very hard to restore. Over time, and not just during this administration, we have lost trust in one institution after another. But when we have lost faith in our government, we have lost faith in ourselves.
What we are is a nation of sensible sorts, most of whom come home each day to rest where the pendulum do. May the victors, both Democrat and Republican, remember this fact and keep it close to their conscience.
If politicians preying upon your attentions this season fail to inspire, you might seek common cause with the beasts — the four-legged variety rather than those running for office.
So unpopular is President Obama these days that the (D) following Democratic candidates’ names might stand for Denial.
Words have a way of seeping into our vocabulary and, through overuse or distortion, soon begin to lose their meaning.
It isn’t possible to dissect the alleged war on women without mentioning abortion, since this is the entire content of the war as defined by savvy Democratic operatives. It was an effective strategy in 2012, aided quite a bit by some of the GOP’s lesser lights and looser tongues, not to mention good ol’ slut-talking Rush.
Without prior knowledge or intent, I recently was inducted into a club I had no interest in joining, especially in light of the $200 initiation fee.
As a South Carolinian, it befalls me to examine the peculiarities afflicting our former governor and now-congressman Mark Sanford, who, contrary to decorum and taste, continues to demand attention.
Two victories, assuming the second, hardly bestow bragging rights on the tea party. Nor, consequently, would they bolster the Democratic narrative that the tea party has conquered the GOP.
So much for the argument that having more people armed in public places will result in fewer gun deaths.
The exchange of five Guantanamo detainees for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has reminded us of three unpleasant facts of life: The United States does negotiate with terrorists; the president will circumvent laws as circumstances require; Republicans and Democrats will be summarily outraged as party affiliations seem to require.
Requiring labels on books is the busywork of smallish minds
When my neighbor gleefully reported that Bill Maher had dedicated a searing monologue to me for a column about the Donald Sterling/Cliven Bundy rants, my first thought was, Nah. If I tussled with everybody who tossed a brick through the window, I’d never get the draperies hung.
Though my intentions be cruel, I’d rather not participate in the death of another except as self-defense. The additional specter of executing someone convicted in error further resigns me to the conclusion that our challenge is not in becoming more efficient executioners — but in becoming too civilized to want to be.
The GOP does not deserve to be indicted along with Bundy, but for too long the party has sown the wind by tolerating some of its less ennobled colleagues. Cliven Bundy is their whirlwind.
I would submit that Chelsea’s baby gives Hillary Clinton all the more reason to run for president. She not only will want to help shape a world in which women lead nations but also one in which babies and grandmotherhood are celebrated as integral to women’s lives — not Photoshopped out as inconvenient obstacles to women’s advancement.
It is striking that during what many had hoped would be a post-racial America, racial division has been amplified, owing not least to sustained media attention. Then again, maybe we’re experiencing the final death rattle of our racist past.
After writing close to 3,000 columns, I’ve learned that people sometimes read what they’re looking for, often as a result of a headline, rather than what I wrote.
H.L. Mencken gets a workout in election years when voters are reminded by pundits of the curmudgeon’s observation that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
The past couple of weeks have marked a turning point in American ugliness as the mob has turned its full fury on first lady Michelle Obama.
When it comes to tackling complicated legal issues, one would be hard-pressed to conjure a less likely partnership than Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Baylor University President Ken Starr.
Crimeans, 97 percent of whom voted to become part of Russia (against a backdrop of heavily armed Russian troops), may be deluding themselves in thinking that they might become another Sochi — rebuilt in splendor in preparation for the Winter Olympics. Asks Khrushcheva, does Russia really have another $50 billion to create a new showpiece?
Like most people older than 30, I also wondered whether this was an appropriate venue for the president, especially in consideration of current events.
Periodic revision of standardized testing may be justified and, in some instances, even laudable. A new SAT focus on founding documents and their authors is one welcome shift. As to whether the new test will be useful in advancing capable students who, for whatever reason, weren’t able to demonstrate their abilities through testing — time will tell.
Jerry Brown, about to begin a run for his fourth term as governor, has shed the “Governor Moonbeam” moniker that he has worn like an itchy suit for nearly 40 years, compliments of famed Chicago columnist Mike Royko (RIP, 1997).
Rather than tackling the source of problems in minority communities, we have embraced a pop culture that celebrates destructive behavior via movies and music.
In town for the National Governors Association winter meeting, Bobby Jindal joined other state chief executives in front of the White House after a meeting with the president. Taking the microphone, Jindal said among other things that “the Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy,” and the president is “waving the white flag of surrender.”
Republicans have excelled at concealing their brilliance in recent years and Democrats have exalted in their own good fortune.
Perhaps the more apt metaphor for this week’s buzz isn’t a movie after all but double jeopardy. The case of Hillary, Bill and Monica has been prosecuted and then some. Thus all, especially Hillary, have been politically inoculated against further prosecution on this point. Besides, as some apparently need reminding, Hillary was the victim.
As the Christie scandal machine grinds on, his polling numbers un-shockingly are plummeting. Once in the lead in a fantasy presidential race, he now trails Hillary Clinton 39 percent to 55 percent.
Rather than end the idea of a Republican war on women, Huckabee has merely provided fresh fodder to Democrats, while reminding women why they don’t want to associate with this crowd. Clue-less.
The question du jour is, why did Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer wait so long to step forward and level her corruption charges at Chris Christie?
Having given up nearly everything that made getting out of bed worthwhile, I am healthier, happier, more productive — and have discovered that life is not, in fact, short. But both my current abstinence and the indulgences I once enjoyed (and may again, if my cocktail-stoop buddies have any say) were my own. My decisions, my responsibility, my consequences.
When it comes to the fortunes of the rich and the misfortunes of the poor, we recognize the role that luck plays. Some are born lucky — either through natural gifts of appearance, athleticism, intelligence or musical talent. The really lucky ones are also born into stable, educated families with financial security and grown-up parents. Then there are the unlucky, who, whatever their relative talents, are born into broken families, often to single mothers, in neighborhoods where systemic poverty, inferior educational opportunities and perhaps even crime constitute the culture in which they marinate.
In the days since revelations surfaced about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office orchestrating the now-infamous George Washington Bridge lane closings, I’ve had at least four different reactions.
In the end, fairness isn’t the issue. The issue is justifying policies — government intervention, higher taxes, spending and redistribution — that can’t otherwise be easily sold. How about this for a midterm catchphrase, reflective of true circumstances — the need for a higher-skilled labor force that pits no American against another and qualifies people for jobs that are actually available: “Learning for Earning.”
Profits may take a short holiday, but the reward of living in a culture that values human connection and appreciates, in Washington’s words from the proclamation, “the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed” — is beyond measure.
It should be little wonder, then, that we can’t shed these memories. They are in our bones. The eternal flame that burns at JFK’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery is a tribute not only to a man but to a lost time when life held promise.