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Where goes the neighborhood?

WASHINGTON — Consider how our definition of “neighborliness” has evolved. Once upon a time, being neighborly meant “reaching out to the people who lived next door” by, among other things, “offering to watch the kids in a pinch.”

Nature’s creative danger

WASHINGTON — Although the Ebola virus might remain mostly confined to West Africa, it has infected the Western imagination. This eruption of uncontrolled nature into what developed nations consider serene modernity is more disturbing to the emotional serenity of multitudes than it is threatening to their physical health.

Ebola fever

WASHINGTON — A prominent AIDS researcher recently recalled for me the panic at the start of the pandemic in the 1980s. Her superiors asked her not to publicize her work because they didn’t want their institution to be known as an “AIDS hospital.” Some parents instructed their children at school not to play with the researcher’s children, because she was in contact with the AIDS virus. Fear and stigma were only overcome by the relentless application of science.

Bet on Africa rising

WASHINGTON — As more than 40 African leaders gather in Washington for an unprecedented summit, Africa’s brand problem in America has grown significantly worse. Two events — the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Boko Haram and a currently uncontrolled Ebola outbreak in West Africa — have tuned in clearly through the news and social media static. And they have reinforced existing public impressions of disorder and disease.

A progressive with punch

WASHINGTON — If Ohio’s senior senator were named Sharon Brown instead of Sherrod Brown, progressives would have a plausible political pin-up and a serious alternative to the tawdry boredom of Hillary Clinton’s joyless plod toward her party’s presidential nomination. Drop one of Brown’s consonants and change another, and a vowel, and we might be spared the infatuation of what Howard Dean called “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

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The tea party’s embrace of martyrdom

WASHINGTON — Hiroo Onoda, the last imperial Japanese soldier to surrender after World War II, hid in a jungle in the Philippines for 29 years, refusing to believe that the war was over. He finally turned himself in, wearing his sword, cap and patched uniform, in 1974.

Where does the buck stop?

WASHINGTON — Some elections are contests between voters who are happy and voters who are not. This fall’s elections are of a different sort: Since almost all the voters are unhappy with politics, the battle will be over which party gets the blame for dysfunction, inaction and disillusionment.

The divided states of Obama

WASHINGTON — The headline — “Poll: Obama Worst President Since World War II” — was both provocative and misleading. The Quinnipiac survey did, indeed, place President Barack Obama at the top of the worst since FDR. But this was largely a measure of partisan concentration. Republicans were united in their unfavorable historical judgment of Obama. Democrats divided their votes (and would insist, I’d imagine, that they have more options to choose from).

Who had the worst week in Washington? Hillary Clinton

When “Hard Choices,” Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir of her time at the State Department, came out in early June, the book — and subsequent book tour — were touted as the first steps in the inevitable 2016 presidential bid by the nation’s former top diplomat. If that’s what they are, Clinton may be in for some tough times.

The court’s indispensable role

WASHINGTON — Two 5-4 decisions last week on the final decision day of the Supreme Court’s term dealt with issues that illustrate the legal consequences of political tactics by today’s progressives. One case demonstrated how progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, manufactures social strife, and can do so in ways politically useful to progressives. The other case arose from government coercion used to conscript unwilling citizens into funding the progressives’ party.

Learning the American language

WASHINGTON — On July 9, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was first publicly read to the citizens of New York — “We hold these truths to be self-evident … ” — they responded by decapitating an equestrian statue of George III, cutting off his nose and placing his head on a spike outside a tavern. Metal from the statue was later turned into 42,088 bullets, intended, by one account, “to assimilate with the brains” of the British.

Colleges are slowly taking away your First Amendment rights

PHILADELPHIA — Sept. 17 last year was a pretty bad day for the Constitution on our campuses. Robert Van Tuinen of Modesto Junior College in California was prevented from passing out copies of the Constitution outside of his college’s tiny “free speech zone.” Near Los Angeles, Citrus College student Vinny Sinapi-Riddle was threatened with removal from campus for the “offense” of collecting signatures for a petition against NSA domestic surveillance outside his college’s tiny free speech area. I mention September 17 because that was Constitution Day.