commentary

John R. Lewis (1940 – 2020) July 30, 2020 This country is a constant work in progress. We were born with instructions: to form a more perfect union. Explicit in those words is the idea that we are imperfect; that what gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further than anyone might have thought possible. Continue reading »
Eating Olives at the End of the World (essay-34) April 12, 2020 “Money?” she said with a snort, “the world is about to end and you’re offering me money? What exactly am I supposed to do with it?” Continue reading »
Trump Meets Nemesis, Punisher of Hubris (essay-33) March 14, 2020 As a matter of politics, however, it’s hard to think of a mechanism so uniquely well-suited for exposing the hubris, ignorance, prejudice, mendacity and catastrophic self-regard of the president who is supposed to lead us through this crisis. Continue reading »
I Don’t Hate Women Candidates … (essay-32) March 6, 2020 I DON’T HATE WOMEN CANDIDATES  —  I JUST HATED HILLARY CLINTON AND NOW BELIEVE THAT ELIZABETH WARREN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COLLAPSE OF THE REPUBLIC Continue reading »
Forgiveness (essay-31) February 29, 2020 So, it's betrayal, not sexual adventurism, that is the ultimate sin. Let's not forget that Dante puts the adulterer in the second circle of hell, just past the vestibule, but the betrayers - Judas Iscariot, Marcus Brutus, Gaius Cassius - he places in the depths of the inferno, at its epicenter - in Satan's jaws. Continue reading »
Mike Bloomberg is Hacking Your Attention (essay-30) February 20, 2020 At the heart of these tactics is a genuine shamelessness that fits perfectly not just with politics but also the internet at large. ... What the Bloomberg campaign seems to have bought into is that, when you lean into the potent combination of content creation and shamelessness, any reaction it provokes is a good reaction. This strategy provides a certain amount of freedom to a candidate when you don’t care what people think of you — as long as they’re thinking of you. Continue reading »
Requiem for a Dream (essay-29) February 7, 2020 I have covered many stories that marked me over the past 40 years, in war zones and outside them, but none that has affected me as personally as Britain’s exit from the European Union. Brexit Day, now upon us, feels like the end of hope, a moral collapse, a self-amputation that will make the country where I grew up poorer in every sense. Continue reading »
Trump’s Election May Have Benn the Shock We Needed (essay-28) November 25, 2019 As impeachment mania grips Washington, it is easy to descend into an ever-deepening political pessimism. But as odd as it may seem, for the first time in years, I’m optimistic about the future of American democracy. Continue reading »
Why People Hate Religion (essay-27) August 30, 2019 The charlatans and phonies preen and punish, while those of real faith do Christ’s work among refugees. You don’t hear much about Sister Norma Pimentel in the secular press. She’s not a wacko, a hypocrite, a sexual predator or a political operative. Her life’s work, she says, is guided by seeing “the presence of God” in migrant children in the shelter she oversees in the Rio Grande Valley — vulnerable souls that her president would otherwise put in cages. Continue reading »
Trump, Taxes and Terrorism (essay-26) August 5, 2019 Why has the Republican Party become a systematic enabler of terrorism? Don’t pretend to be shocked. Just look at G.O.P. responses to the massacre in El Paso. They have ranged from the ludicrous (blame video games!) to the almost honest (who would have expected Ted Cruz, of all people, to speak out against white supremacy?). But as far as I can tell, not one prominent Republican has even hinted at the obvious link between Donald Trump’s repeated incitements to violence and the upsurge in hate crimes. Continue reading »
He Caught On With Voters, However They Say His Name (essay-25) March 29, 2019 Somewhere between Pete Buttigieg being mistaken for a teenager making a promposal, and answering a question in Norwegian, and proclaiming that it was millennials’ turn to lead “at the highest level,” South Carolina got a crash course in a new Democratic celebrity. Continue reading »
Shame (essay-24) February 18, 2019 The “Make America Great Again Hats” synonymous with supporters of President Donald Trump will one day carry the same shame as the uniforms worn by the Ku Klux Klan Continue reading »
Ramblings (essay-23) January 29, 2019 And after going 35 days and two missed paychecks, many federal-government workers were left lining up at food banks or filing for unemployment. It could take some households months to fully recover, especially families with government contractors, who won’t receive any back pay. Continue reading »
A Lover’s Quarrel With the World (essay-22) October 26, 2018 The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation's greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us. Continue reading »
The Dying of the Light (essay-21) May 4, 2018 At the local level, the shift is my parents' age-group leaving the main stage. Old age and infirmities are forcing them into the wings into their living-rooms. And yet, this is the group that built modern Canada, post-war America. This is the group acculturated on the television and the telephone. (The television is on 24/7 and is the main focus of their living-room. My parents' house has 8 land-line phones scattered throughout their house. There's even a phone in their garage.) Continue reading »
What Will Happen Next (essay-20) February 16, 2018 He will be a man, or maybe still a boy. He will have a semiautomatic rifle — an AR-15, or something like it — and several high-capacity magazines filled with ammunition. The weapon will have been purchased legally, the background check no obstacle. Continue reading »
Love’s Illusions (essay-19) October 6, 2017 First-love is an amazing experience. For the first time in our lives we can name the feelings, the emotions, the attractions. For the first time in our conscious mind we can wallow in lust, in obsession, in euphoria. Its breath warms synapses newly formed; its kiss whispers across dry lips; its words echo forevers. What an intoxicating time. No wonder we all want it back; no wonder we all believed nirvana was possible. But the exploding emotions were already in us, first-love just pulled them together and focused them onto the newly discovered beloved. Continue reading »
Inside the Mind (essay-18) July 18, 2017 “true believers” as craving “a new life — a rebirth — or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause.” Trump’s repeated promise to “make America great again” spoke to such a longing among disaffected voters. This message was often fused with appeals to evangelical Christians. Indeed, writing in The New Republic, Sarah Posner observed that “Trump effectively played to the religious right’s own roots in white supremacy.” Continue reading »
Maddow’s Opening Monologue (essay-17) June 30, 2017 What our new president does is different. What our new president does is really a special twist on that tradition. There is a special ingredient that he is willing to cook with that no one else is. And that is that he deliberately tries not just to distract, but to offend. He doesn’t merely distract people, he disgusts people. He breaks the bounds of decency, he breaks the bounds of what people generally agree are the moral rules for engagement in public discourse and he breaks those rules in a way that just doesn’t start a new narrative, it stops all normal politics and all normal media coverage of current events, Continue reading »
War Will Take Care of the Issue (essay-16) May 18, 2017 American, at this instance, is often referred to as decadent, greedy, tapped-out, self-indulgent, old, fat; and I think all those descriptors hit an element of 21st America. But the characteristic that captures our attitude and our motivation best is meanness. Continue reading »
Madness (essay-15) April 1, 2017 We are living in a time when Washington politics have become reality-TV. Forget Dancing with the Stars, forget Survivor, forget The Kardashians, we now have Trump-TV 24/7. Continue reading »
Savage Capitalism (essay-14) March 28, 2017 When the final results came in, the triumph of an indecent, semi-fascist monster over a former secretary of state produced a vast and prolonged trauma. But what the media failed to foresee was not a Trump landslide, which did not take place, but the decline of the democratic vote. Continue reading »
End of Empire (essay-13B) January 12, 2017 I believe that America is at the same point that England was at the beginning of the 20th century. England was ruled by a corrupt, degenerate upper-class – England’s one-percenters – that owned all the wealth and lived off the exploitation of its people. American government is totally controlled by the party that represents the interest of its corporate oligarchy and it was voted into office and power by the least financially secure. Continue reading »
Golden Showers (essay-13A) January 11, 2017 However, there were other aspects to TRUMP's engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP's personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable 'kompromat' (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP's (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hates) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a 'golden showers' (urination) show in front of him. Continue reading »
Twilight of the Gods (essay-12) November 11, 2016 Before I could write about the 2016 election, I needed a word to wrap my thoughts around. And by Thursday, I had the word and it was götterdämmerung. It's the title of the final opera of Richard Wagner's four part cycle The Ring of the Nibelung. And this title translates as Twilight of the Gods. Continue reading »
Consumerism and Capitalism (essay-11) November 1, 2016 In 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, the media proclaimed the end of Communism and the triumph of Capitalism. The ills and decadence of the Russian ideology were examined and found lacking compared to the gifts and meritocracy of American capitalism. And for the next 30 years, we never questioned this hypothesis, we never saw the ills and decadence of a consumer society. And where Mr. Vance goes nowhere near the idea that American consumerism is a puppet-master force-feeding its people, I wanna go there and write about capitalism and consumerism as the two viruses changing modern America to a land of buyers. Continue reading »
Stereotypes (essay-10) August 28, 2016 Dr. Martin said the process seen in the research reflects the oversimplified nature of stereotypes, with social groups (and ourselves) categorized and assigned attributes, and he suggested that stereotypes form to help us make sense of the world around us and to give us some basic information as a starting point. Dr. Martin also pointed out that stereotypes are not fixed and do change over time. For example, a hundred years ago boys were traditionally dressed in pink, while blue was regarded as a "dainty" color more suitable for girls. Both genders wore dresses and played with dolls. Continue reading »
Even Losing is Victory (essay-9) August 20, 2016 Mr. Trump, the real estate magnate, is after all, the master of taking a property, squeezing out the profit and leaving it for dead, then miraculously turning the loss to his advantage. A failing building or a failing Republican Party: To Mr. Trump, it may be the same thing. Continue reading »
A List of Grievances (essay-8) August 7, 2016 A woman who has multiple sex-partners is a whore; a man who has multiple sex-partners is a stud. Women on Fox News are young and sit on couches in short-short skits with their legs strategically crossed. Men on CNN sit behind desks and can work well into their sixties; some are even openly gay. Continue reading »
Don’t Let the Door Hit You In the Ass (essay-7) June 18, 2016 In the late Fifties and Sixties, the English1 in Northern Ontario looked down their very white, very superior noses on us dark-skinned Eyetalians and those good-for-nothing Canuks2. We were in their country; their mighty empire had beaten the Axis powers in Normandy and French on the Plains of Abraham. Everyone is surprised that Brexit is an anti-immigrant push clothed in sovereignty. I know all about English anti-immigrant prejudices. I lived under them for ten years. Fast forward to June 2016 and now we all get to see the infamous English xenophobia. Continue reading »
Expectations and Dreams (essay-6) May 29, 2016 In the early sixties when my parents moved to the west-end, it was full of young families and new homes. The Italian immigrants rebuilt the old frame-houses giving them a new skin of brick and mortar. Rainer, Ron, Frank and I were in our early teens and we spent our off-time playing softball in the empty fields and street-hockey on the newly paved roads. Continue reading »
Hypocrisy (essay-5) April 20, 2016 Senator Sanders has warned against the evils of a corrupt campaign-financing system; he has criticized Bibi Netanyahu for his war-mongering, his treatment of the Palestinians; he has energized young Americans and pulled them into the Democratic primary; he has proposed a social-welfare state that comes to the assistance of average Americans; he has identified the fault-lines in the American economic distribution system. All good and honorable ideas. But he is unwilling to consider any good the American economic systems have created. And for me, it's this unwillingness, this blinders approach that is at the center of my anger with the Senator and his trip to the Vatican. He can't overlook Wall Street's evils, but he can easily overlook the evils of the Roman Church. Continue reading »
Listening for the New-told Lies (essay-4) April 12, 2016 I think American is again on the cusp of radical change and again its young believe that they, and only they, understand the modern world. And these Millennials, like their hippie predecessors, believe that a new-world order can only augment their current freedoms, their prodigious privileges. In this rarefied climate, revolution is a noble endeavor, a heart-string longing, a clarion call. Continue reading »
A Beached Whale (essay-3) March 20, 2016 After spending a week in Kaua'i, there are many images in my head, but the most jarring ones are of very overweight, white males in their 40's and 50's. The image above was taken at Ke'e Beach and he was one of many men with huge bellies or with rolls and rolls of fat. The skin is so tight over a massive protuberance that made the seeing a bug-eyed experience. When did this happen? When did American males of a certain age become blimps? When did it become OK to lie on the sands like a beached-whale? When did it become sexually OK to appear half-naked with a whale-like body? Continue reading »
A Real Revolution (essay-2) February 4, 2016 Why would voters, after watching Obama’s excruciating experience with congressional Republicans, believe that Sanders could deliver his promised “political revolution”? Continue reading »
Dual Citizenship (essay-1) November 27, 2014 What I didn’t realize for a long time was that the War and its aftermath were the determining factors in my family leaving Calabria. And even though my parents never fooled themselves into believing that the streets in American were paved with gold, they also never connected, for their children, their experience with the post-War devastation and resulting poverty, to their leaving. Continue reading »