Summer Travel Plans

I should take a trip, I thought to myself, as I perused some interesting destinations in the news. Iran is once again issuing American tourist visas, which it had halted in response to the Trump administration’s travel ban. The upside is that Iran is a popular destination for intrepid travelers, and Americans are popular there. The downside […]

An atheist in church

I’m a nonbeliever who loves to visit churches – all kinds of churches: massive Gothic cathedrals, plain Quaker meetinghouses, Buddhist pagodas. I go, not just to see the architecture but to experience the spirit of a place, as I went on Sunday to Riverside Church, which rises above the Hudson River on Harlem’s Morningside Heights. […]

J is for Gerrymander (Part 2)

“The simple truth is this: America is the only major democracy in the world that allows politicians to pick their own voters” (David Daley, Ratf**ked). As described in Part 1, Chris Jankowski’s plan to create an impregnable Republican majority in Congress (and many state legislatures) for at least the next decade was ingenious in its […]

And not only in Boston

“I have heard this with Boston hockey fans too, being pretty racist towards PK Subban when he played for the Canadiens,” my son Daniel wrote me reflecting on the racist slurs recently shouted at Baltimore Outfielder Adam Jones at Fenway Park. “Dad, is the city really this notoriously racist?” His question took me back to […]

J is for Gerrymander (Part 1)

In David Daley’s eyes Chris Jankowski is a genius. Jankowski is both the hero and anti-hero, of Ratf**ked, of Daley’s “story of how Republicans turned looming demographic disaster into legislative majorities so unbreakable, so impregnable, that none of the outcomes are in doubt until after the 2020 census.” All it took were maps, a pencil, […]

“What Happens to a Dream Deferred?”*

Recently, an old friend, a retired doctor who volunteers at the free clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, described the anger of many of the patients he sees. It’s by now a familiar story, but his images of people who put off medical procedures they fear they can’t afford gave it a new urgency. Feeling abandoned […]

Play it Again, Uncle Sam

Early in 2001, Alan Greenspan, the 20-year chairman of the Federal Reserve, worried publicly about future federal surpluses so large they would wipe out the national debt, pour billions into the economy, and strangle private markets. So he proposed a tax cut as “a pre-emptive smoothing of the glide path to zero federal debt.” “It […]

Watching Venezuela

Watching Venezuela disintegrate, I remember a man who many years ago predicted the demise of his country. Ivan Maldonado, who as a high school student in the late 1920s was charged with plotting to overthrow Venezuela’s dictator, sentenced to a chain gang, and later sent into exile – put aboard a freighter and dumped ashore […]

The Real War on Coal

Tomorrow my grandson, Jamie Webb, turns two years old. It’s also Earth Day’s 47th birthday and, not coincidentally, the first anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement on global climate change. The events are not unrelated, for absent a missile miscalculation, the most important issue in my grandson’s future is the health of the […]

On a Roll

President Rutherford B. Hayes introduced the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn in 1878. That was also the year he vetoed the Chinese Exclusion Act – the first time our federal government tried to ban immigrants solely on the basis of their ethnicity. Improbably, the Easter Bunny appeared during the Nixon years, and […]