Saturday December 07, 2013
November 7th, 2013
Having lived and worked abroad for many years, I'm sensitive to the changing ways that foreigners look at America. Over the years, I've seen an America that was respected, hated, feared and loved. But traveling around China and Singapore last week, I was confronted repeatedly with an attitude toward America that I've never heard before: "What's up with you guys?"
What's this about governments spying on their closest allies?
We called it "the bubble." It was a 12-by-15-foot acoustic conference room made of clear plastic and aluminum. There were at least five inches of space between the walls of the bubble and the walls of the room in which it was located. The bubble's plastic walls, ceiling and floor allowed visual inspection for electronic listening devices, or "bugs."
I asked Mike Nichols, the director of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal" on Broadway, why love triangles have such a mythic hold on the imagination.
"We're born in a triangle," he said about parents and a newborn. "That's the most important one, the triangle that determines who we are, the one that affects the other triangles that you get into in your life. It's all about that first triangle, what it gives you and what it takes away from you."
Elliott Management's lofty offices in midtown Manhattan look north, south, east and west across the borough's thicket of skyscrapers. But the most intriguing view I got during a visit there last week was of something else: the changed gay-rights landscape and its implications for the Republican Party.
The biggest health care crisis in America right now is not the inexcusably messy rollout of Obamacare.
No, far more serious is the kind of catastrophe facing people like Richard Streeter, 47, a truck driver and recreational vehicle repairman in Eugene, Ore. His problem isn't Obamacare, but a tumor in his colon that may kill him because Obamacare didn't come quite soon enough.
In this age of endless digital gadgets, entertainment has become so unavoidable that boredom is beginning to look really good.
I have seen this coming as headline news on flat-screen TVs increasingly interrupts my boredom in hotel elevators, at gas pumps and in other formerly humdrum places.
Now the texting and video invasion is coming after our children and grandchildren.
Over the past 20 years, to loud laments from media veterans, American news organizations have retreated from the costly business of foreign coverage - closing bureaus, slashing space and airtime. Yet for the curious reader with a sense of direction, this is a time of unprecedented bounty.
A new post-mortem account of the 2012 presidential campaign holds that President Obama's strategists toyed with, but rejected, the notion of dropping Vice President Joe Biden from the Democratic ticket and replacing him with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
German officials are furious at America, and not just because of the business about Angela Merkel's cellphone. What has them enraged now is one (long) paragraph in a U.S. Treasury report on foreign economic and currency policies. In that paragraph Treasury argues that Germany's huge surplus on current account - a broad measure of the trade balance - is harmful, creating "a deflationary bias for the euro area, as well as for the world economy."
Back in 1937, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt, frustrated with decisions of the Supreme Court majority blocking critical aspects of his New Deal program, announced that he would seek to expand the court to as many as 15 justices. Under the bill he proposed, the president would have the authority to appoint one new justice for every justice who was older than 70 years and 6 months -- up to a total of six new justices.