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May 13, 2009 Writing hundreds of columns yields a lesson that resonates for journalists and newspeople at a time when their business is crumbling. That lesson is similar to that most basic bromide of American commerce: The customer is always right.
May 7, 2009 Some years ago, at dinner with my wife and a friend, we started composing a list of best 100 novels of the 20th century. We soon gave up. But I squirreled the list away and tinkered with it occasionally. Now, it's time to share and see what you think.
April 30, 2009 These days, TV is filled with raunchy ads and shows targeting teens. When nothing is off-limits, when nothing is sacred, when nothing offends, then nothing is, well, sacred. Who wants a world where nothing is sacred?
April 16, 2009 In the middle of a whopper recession, a new poll finds a big increase in the perceived fairness of how Americans are taxed. That suggests that perhaps President Obama's popularity is contagious, and the whole of government has greater legitimacy and support because of it.
March 18, 2009 The public furor over bonuses paid to AIG executives may be a tipping point that helps inhibit future executive behavior in a small number of cases. Then maybe the scapegoating and vitriol will have a purpose.
March 12, 2009 A new study about believers and nonbelievers in America could enflame the already overheated fretting about the culture war we are allegedly waging.
March 5, 2009 President Obama's tenure can be measured in weeks, but that hasn't stopped The Wall Street Journal and others from faulting him for the Dow's plummet. The idea of blaming one person for the downfall of a giant, complex economy is nuts.
February 26, 2009 Professional partisans and intellectuals are projecting political theories onto Barack Obama. But trying to pin an ideological mission on the new president seems wrongheaded; it fundamentally misunderstands his aspirations.
February 19, 2009 One of the sad, little sidebars to the sad, big saga of the waning of American newspapers is the disappearance of professional, edited book sections. This comes at a time when the nature of reading is changing — and not necessarily for the better.
February 12, 2009 If the Puritan superego were alive and kicking in the American psyche, which it isn't, we'd be racked by shame and guilt today. That's because we would believe our economic misfortune was caused by a binge of covetousness, hubris and moral sloth.
February 5, 2009 The spitballs are flying in the first counterrevolution to the Obama revolution. The issue is ethical prissiness. Now that Barack Obama's in office and actually trying to put some teeth to his words, some counterrevolutionaries are carping that the whole "we can do better" thing has gone overboard.
January 28, 2009 The writer, let us hope, died more peacefully than his most famous character, Rabbit Angstrom. Rabbit died about 19 years ago, when Rabbit at Rest was published. Rabbit has disturbed some readers ever since.
January 22, 2009 For the past 30 years, the American voter has had a consistent and unwavering lack of trust and confidence in government and governors. But the massive crowd on Inauguration Day, and the millions and millions who were there in spirit, seemed to be saying, "Lead with class and we'll watch your back."
January 14, 2009 President-elect Obama will have to decide if he is going discourage or encourage aggressive investigation into the Bush administration's policies and practices on torture, rendition and domestic surveillance. It will be a high-profile, highly symbolic and highly difficult decision to make.
January 8, 2009 The nation's capital city, as it says on its license plates, endures "taxation without representation." Washington has no vote in the House or Senate. Barack Obama should use his inaugural address to demand that residents of his new home city receive the basic rights of citizens.
December 18, 2008 What drives the rubbernecking with Rod Blagojevich and Bernard Madoff is not the nature or even scale of the alleged crimes. It's the chutzpah. Barack Obama wrote The Audacity of Hope. These characters could write "The Audacity of Hubris."
December 11, 2008 President-elect Obama is getting extremely high marks from Washington insiders for how he is handling the transition. But the press insists on looking for bad news.
December 4, 2008 Americans are susceptible to a variety of sneaky maladies associated with the Media Age: information overload, couch potato-obesity, social isolation. The simple key to being a media environmentalist is proper use of the off button.
November 20, 2008 Many voters and commentators responded to Barack Obama as if he were a candidate of great, big ideas — a transformational thinker, a visionary. But, by Obama's own account, he is a pragmatist, not strongly bound to any "isms."
November 13, 2008 A suggestion that Americans should look for their own ways to help their country, rather than wait for Barack Obama to ask, elicited many reactions from readers. "Call it idealistic ... if you want, but people want to be involved," one wrote. "We are not 'consumers' of democracy. We are the democracy," said another.
November 6, 2008 Civic improvements are accomplished by individuals, not primarily in a "top down" manner. Why not ask — or at least ponder — what we can do to help?
October 31, 2008 If Barack Obama wins, pundits are sure to make sweeping pronouncements about what it all means. Does a Democratic victory signal a massive, lasting political realignment? Maybe not. Has blue America vanquished red America? Not necessarily.
October 23, 2008 It appears the electorate is going to do something it rarely does anymore: decisively give the levers of power to one political party. There are ironies to this.
October 15, 2008 The fatal nail in the heart of the era of small government came with the recent financial panic and the piercing dagger of greed. Ideology and free-market theology lasted for about five days of full market crash before it collapsed in its own true motives.
October 9, 2008 As the attack ads, smears and post-debate spin fests pile up, it has become virtually impossible to see through the fog of the presidential campaign and get a sense of who John McCain and Barack Obama really are.
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