Tuesday September 23, 2014
January 30th, 2014
Recent weeks have seen a decline in the kinds of abusive reader emails that keep a columnist feeling feisty. It's a long time since anybody informed me that I'm a cowardly elitist doomed to spend eternity in hell watching NBA games with Barack Obama.
So to stir the pot here's a brief selection of heterodox opinions:
In the 1970s, I got both my bachelor's and master's degrees in modern Middle East studies, and I can assure you that at no time did environmental or climate issues appear anywhere in the syllabi of my courses. Today, you can't understand the Arab awakenings - or their solutions - without considering climate, environment and population stresses.
The drinking water in nine West Virginia counties has finally been declared safe, or mostly safe. But many people say they can still smell the licorice-like odor of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol -- in the sink, in the shower, in the air, especially in neighborhoods close to the Elk River.
Football being the fixation of the nation right now, let’s employ a gridiron analogy to understand what’s become of society’s most important pursuit.
The issue: helmets and brain injury. Ostensibly built to protect the brain, impervious to destruction, helmets allow players to use their heads as weapons.
Barack Obama's speech Friday on surveillance was his worst performance, not as a matter of theatrical skill, though he clearly did not embrace his lines, but in its stark betrayal of his oft proclaimed respect for constitutional safeguards and civil liberty.
After decades of suffering environmental torture at the hands of polluting industries, West Virginians might regard a chemical spill that poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 residents -- and is still scaring folks after the dangers have presumably passed -- as a last straw. But there never seems to be a last straw for them.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in discussing his new book, has had a lot negative to say about how President Obama and his national security team operated during his own involvement with them. But after having served under several other presidents of both parties, he made another more sweeping observation that warrants sober reflection.
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games haven't started, but they've already produced their first scandal.
The host country's president, Vladimir Putin, runs a notoriously despotic regime whose victims include not only independent journalists and political opponents but also gay men and lesbians, who have recently been targeted by a law prohibiting "propaganda of nontraditional sexual practices" among minors.
It was a bittersweet briefing that told us exactly where the Obama administration finds itself at the dawn of its sixth year.
When a group of senior officials gathered last week to tout President Obama's efforts to make college a realistic possibility for low-income students, they were genuinely enthusiastic about the agreements they had brokered with university presidents and foundations to tear down some of the barriers to poor and minority kids.
Our current president and his predecessor in the Oval Office are typically cast as opposites, antonyms, not just far apart on an ideological spectrum but cats of wholly different stripes.
Barack Obama: lyrical, professorial. George Bush: allergic to any glimmer of intellectualism. Obama: head. Bush: gut. Obama: city. Bush: country.