Thursday January 29, 2015
March 20th, 2014
The shocking level of income inequality in this country has set off alarms that grow louder by the day, but little seems to be underway to reverse the trend.
As a January International Monetary Fund paper points out:
I'm delighted to announce that the winner of my 2014 "win-a-trip" contest is ...
Oh, hang on. Maybe I should first exhort students to travel on their own - and cite Utah.
Utah may well be the most cosmopolitan state in America. Vast numbers of young Mormons - increasingly women as well as men - spend a couple of years abroad as missionaries and return jabbering in Thai or Portuguese and bearing a wealth of international experience.
In advance of St. Patrick's Day, I went time traveling, back to the 1840s and Ireland's great famine. On one side of the Irish Sea was Victorian England, flush with the pomp and prosperity of the world's mightiest empire. On the other side were skeletal people, dying en masse, the hollow-bellied children scrounging for nettles and blackberries.
President Barack Obama is surely the first president to be accused of acting in foreign policy like Pollyanna, John Wayne and Henry Kissinger in the same month.
Sadly, the American public does not have a thunderbolt to throw at Congress to get its members to quit acting like petulant children and focus on doing the work of the nation.
Scott Brown, the Republican who admitted he wore pink leather shorts on his first date with his wife-to-be, is back.
And Democrats are scared to death.
It's not that Democrats are particularly scared that the 54-year-old former Massachusetts senator is going to get elected as a New Hampshire senator - although it's conceivable that a charming, carpetbagging, middling politician could jump across the border and unseat Jeanne Shaheen.
In American domestic politics, messing with Social Security is known as "the third rail," referring to the power source for trains that is fatal to the touch. In foreign policy discussions, invoking the name of Adolf Hitler promises the same lethal result.
I was resting at home when Marshbaum called to ask if I wanted to go with him to look at the lettuce.
“The supermarket’s got lettuce for less than two bucks a head,” he said enthusiastically.
“What’s so unusual about that?”
“Because it’s going to be extinct in a few weeks.”
Watching Dianne Feinstein tear into the Central Intelligence Agency on the Senate floor the other day brought to mind a 1970s-era television commercial about a margarine supposedly indistinguishable from butter.
"Chiffon's so delicious, it fooled even you, Mother Nature," says the narrator.
"Oh, it's not nice to fool Mother Nature," she replies, her voice becoming steely as she raises her arms to summon thunder and lightning.
Listlessness is bad politics. Defensiveness is poor strategy. And resignation is never inspiring.
You can feel elements of all three descending around President Obama as he fends off attack after attack from his conservative foes who vary the subject depending on the day, the circumstance and the opportunity.