Category: America

America’s Greatest Export

While traveling abroad in Southeast Asia, we shirked from inquiring eyes when George Bush’s coronation was broadcast live on CNN. We weren’t ashamed to be an American — on the contrary, we’re proud to be a citizen of this glorious country — but at that inglorious moment in history we were mortified to have come...

Thankful

STARTING SUNDAY, 11/29: “Report from the Street” On Thanksgiving Day most of us will eat too much. Many will watch football games. Some will retrieve playing cards from the closet, or a worn mah jong table. If we’re lucky we’ll be among friends and family, basking in the comforting warmth of people who know us well...

The Privilege, the Honor, the Responsibility

We have a very smart friend, an American, who never votes. He excuses his laziness with an intricate, self-negating argument that equates voting with an endorsement of a broken and fraudulent process. Like many citizens of this great country, my friend hasn’t traveled very much, and never to a place we would call a “third-world” nation,...

A Subtle Hazard of Reading the Wall Street Journal

As a counterbalance to the reflexively liberal Los Angeles Times, which we read every morning, we also read the reflexively conservative Wall Street Journal on weekdays. The paper is extraordinarily well-written, and its non-news feature articles are better than those in most magazines. The problem with reading the WSJ every morning, though, is that you soon discover the way the...

Three Strikes

Editorial Note: Our position on the death penalty has evolved in the decade since the original publication of this essay. California presently has a law on the books known as “Three Strikes” — as in, “and your out.” Recidivist criminals who have been convicted of two felonies are supposed to be scared of the penalty...

The Pernicious Funnel

The United States of America is presently running a larger deficit than any other time in its history. Measured in constant dollars, which adjusts for inflation, our country is deeper in debt than ever. Dozens of states, including California, the republic of the west coast, are running near-catastrophic deficits that inspire economic commentators to use...

Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education

In 1954, after years of prevaricating and equivocating, the United States Supreme Court finally decided that the “separate but equal” test established in Plessy v. Ferguson was discriminatory and unconstitutional. For the next fifty years, people of color have been slowly integrated into our still-racist society. Today, blacks are no longer required to go to...

Including Dogs in Everyday Life

I’m presently going over the manuscript for my next book, an account of traveling through Europe with my wonderful mutt, Ella. (It will be out around this time next year.) Just as I’m reviewing a section of the book about Ella lunching with me at one of Paris’s finest restaurants, I’m confronted (yet again) by...

A Blessed Life

Capitalism requires that we consumers feel as though we never have enough. Our lives will be fuller, richer,better if only we might acquire, chew, possess that which we don’t yet have. The media reminders that constantly bombard our senses teach us that more money, more fame, more fabulousness will magically enlighten our days as friendship, love...

Training a Dog, Training a Country

My dog Ella is one of the best-behaved animals anyone’s ever met. She walks beside me without a leash. She can be trusted to wait alone outside unenlightened establishments that don’t welcome four-legged creatures inside their portals. And she responds to conversational spoken English better than most children. Much to my delight, I’m frequently asked...