Wednesday August 27, 2014
June 1st, 2014
As we hiked on a bamboo bridge over a river, past a police checkpoint, by water buffalo, over abandoned rice paddies and past a hamlet where 28 Muslim children had been hacked to death, word raced ahead of us. Farmers poured out to welcome us from two besieged villages that for two years have been mostly cut off from the world.
As I drove my son back to college last week, where he'll take a summer chemistry course, he said something that struck me: "I believe it's very important for everyone to be a feminist."
He didn't say it for effect, to shock or provoke conversation. It was just one of those thoughts that surface on a road trip, a kind of sorting out of life by a son before his father.
A while back I published an article titled "The Rich, the Right, and the Facts," in which I described politically motivated efforts to deny the obvious - the sharp rise in U.S. inequality, especially at the very top of the income scale. It probably won't surprise you to hear that I found a lot of statistical malpractice in high places.
If you want a prime example of what's wrong with our politics, study the response to the veterans' health care scandal. You would think from the coverage that the only issue that mattered to politicians was whether Gen. Eric Shinseki should be fired.
Shinseki is a true patriot, and his resignation as Veterans Affairs secretary on Friday calls Congress' bluff. He played his part in a Washington sacrificial ritual. Will the politicians now be honorable enough to account for their own mistakes?
You've got a Nunn running in Georgia, a Pryor in Arkansas and a Landrieu in Louisiana.
And waiting in the wings for the big show, of course, you have a Clinton and a Bush.
Does politics run in the blood, or is it just that connections -- especially to money and influence -- are the lifeblood of politics?
Women, Chairman Mao famously proclaimed, hold up half the sky. But not half the Politburo.
Chinese politics may be the ultimate old boys' club. Of the 25-member Politburo, only two are women. Female membership on the larger Central Committee has actually fallen, from 7.6 percent in 1969 to 4.9 percent today. Just one of 31 provincial governors is a woman.
During this past week, in Scranton, Pa., a 16-year old put two bullets into the head of a taxi driver and then stole about $500 earned by the cabbie that evening.
I'll be spending the next couple of days at a forum sponsored by the European Central Bank whose de facto topic - whatever it may say on the program - will be the destructive monetary muddle caused by the Continent's premature adoption of a single currency. What makes the story even sadder is that Europe's financial and macroeconomic woes have overshadowed its remarkable, unheralded longer-term success in an area in which it used to lag: job creation.
My home is like any other, chockablock with stuff that I wouldn't want the world to see: trashy books, cheesy clothes, a cache of scented candles so enormous you might think I'm prepping for some epically smelly apocalypse.
But the most embarrassing thing by far is in a kitchen cupboard, near the Tabasco. It's a green and white bottle of pills - supplements, to use the proper marketing lingo - that are supposed to make me effortlessly slim.