Category: America

The Power of Power

Of all the abstract notions that motivate human beings to behave as they do, power, it seems, is the most compelling. Truth and beauty, fame and wealth — they’re nice. But power (and the mad pursuit of it) makes people betray the basic tenets of decency that allegedly govern our interactions. Power is like a...

Learning to Live Under Water

For some time now, a small but vocal group of ostriches — some of whom occupy seats in the United States Senate — have described the phenomenon of global warming as one of the most pernicious hoaxes perpetrated on the American people (as well as other less important occupants of this planet). They say that...

Jailing by Example

Manfred Nowak, the United Nations investigator on torture, told reporters this week that governments around the world respond to criticism of their inhumane jails by saying they handle their prisoners the same way the United States does.  How mortifying, how shameful it is to be a citizen of a country that once was considered the...

Size Queens

Despite our vigorous protests to the contrary, what Americans value more than “family” is quantity. We are a nation of super-sized dreck.  As our population eclipses 300 million — bigger and better every day — we are less inclined to appreciate (or even acknowledge) anything that is accomplished on a small scale. “Go big or...

A Modest Proposal for World Peace

The international furor surrounding North Korea’s underground detonation of a nuclear bomb reminds us that several nations on our planet have the ability to obliterate all the others. Hooray for us, we’re one of them! The outrage at Kim Jong Il’s putative procurement of weapons of mass destruction isn’t because he’s starved his country to...

Election Day

Millions of Americans go to the polls today, participating in the grand charade that passes as our debased version of democracy. Millions of other Americans won’t go. They’re too lazy, or they’ve convinced themselves that their vote doesn’t matter.  This time, perhaps more than in any other election in my lifetime, everyone’s vote matters. For...

The Shame

Mark Foley, the Florida congressman who abruptly resigned his seat in the House of Representatives on Friday after sexually suggestive e-mail and instant messages with a 16-year-old male former congressional page became public, has — predictably — entered an alcohol treatment facility and has said how sorry he is for the harm he has caused....

Dissenting Toward the Truth

Thomas Jefferson, for all his indelibly human faults, was a man whose ideas about how a republic ought to be organized have shaped the country we once lived in. The main author of the Declaration of Independence was an 18th Century renaissance man, slave owner, and upper-class elite. He also proposed some of the most...

The World is a Safer Place

In “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” Lawrence Wright’s monumental examination of the jihadist movement that threatens the civilized world, characters other than Osama Bin-Laden emerge as the network’s chief ideologues. The handful of Americans who still read newspapers regularly are familiar with names like Zarqawi and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Less known, but...

Five Years Later

All of us remember where we were and what we were doing when news reached us that our country was under attack. (I was playing golf, and my playing partner got an emergency message on his beeper.) The hijacking and murders in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New York changed our nation forever. In the weeks...