Category: America

Keeping the World Safe with the Patriot Act?

Your elected representatives voted yesterday to renew the so-called Patriot Act, the noxious piece of legislation originally penned in the weeks following the September, 2001 terrorist attacks. The new version, we are assured by our senators, is a vast improvement over the old version, which granted the federal authorities unprecedented powers to seize and imprison...

The Tyranny of Democracy

The latest and most persistent reason given from Washington for America’s entanglement in Iraq is “democracy building.” Our holy mission, which has gone from disarming a brutal tyrant harboring weapons of mass destruction to something intangible and sublime, is meant to liberate Iraqis from themselves. Provided with the cleansing salve of free elections and representative...

State of the Union

Our union, intended as the felicitous conjoining of disparate states into one cooperative congregation of like-minded souls, is badly disjointed, fractured and splayed worse than perhaps any time in American history since the Civil War. The last presidential election cleaved the country into two: those who endorsed the antics of George W. Bush and those...

To Kill a Mockingbird, Revisited

The plot of Harper Lee’s book about racism, childhood, and paternal love revolves around the rape trial of a black man, Tom Robinson, defended by a white lawyer, played in the movie version with transcendent nobleness by Gregory Peck. In both the novel and the movie, the evidence strongly suggests that Robinson is innocent and...

Giving Thanks

The Bible reminds us to give thanks for everything, always, because gratitude is one of the finest attributes a godly man can have. On Thursday, we formally acknowledge all that we should probably be appreciating the rest of the year. When we do, let us remember that the people presently controlling our nation view any...

Rosa Parks, Shirley Horn, and America’s Enduring Schism

Rosa Parks, an unintentional maker of history, was buried this weekend. She was an ordinary citizen of the United States who did something extraordinary, something that today seems so normal and reasonable that the courage Parks must have summoned at the time is easily forgotten. She refused to abide a transparently unjust law, and she was...

Fast Food

On a recent scorching day, I was riding my bike to an appointment, feeling parched. I had an urge to drink one of those semi-frozen concoctions known on “The Simpsons” as a “squishy.” I’ve heard them called “slurpees” and “icees,” and I recall my notoriously strict anti-sugar parents allowing my brother and I to have...

Fighting City Hall

Last month my car was towed from a Hollywood street and placed in impound, where I was forced to pay a $177 ransom to liberate it. The car was found by an enterprising (and rather imaginative) traffic officer to be illegally parked, allegedly blocking a residential driveway. Based on the officer’s curious powers of observation...

Hooray for Labor

To most of us, today’s holiday means a long weekend, an extra day off from the office — which, for those who dislike their job, is reason enough to celebrate. The occasion is solemn enough that banks, financial markets, and government offices remain closed. Amid the backyard barbecues and furniture discount sales the essential purpose...

The Humbling Storm

The deluge that’s transformed New Orleans from a steamy celebration of Gothic cool into a living hell in which the dignity of the surviving human beings has been obliterated reminds us that nothing is more powerful than Nature. The drowned and the dispossessed, the starving and the ill, are residents of the United States of...