L.A.'S MAYORAL CAMPAIGN GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE
LOS ANGELES -- The failure of Los Angeles-area media to explore campaign charges and countercharges was never more apparent than it has been this week, as the campaign between incumbent Mayor Jim Hahn and challenger Antonio Villaraigosa goes down to the wire, with Villaraigosa favored by most pollsters to win on Tuesday.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- There are two groups of people who "support the troops" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The battle over the filibuster is now one of the country's biggest political news stories. The Bush administration seems determined to change Senate rules so a simple majority of senators, instead of three-fifths, can cut off debate and force a vote on the president's judicial nominees. Both sides claim to be arguing for procedural principles.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Sometimes things happen to you before you're ready for them. Take for instance walking around in a body that's 10 pounds heavier and an inch and a half shorter. I'm not ready for that all and less ready to hear the reason for the change.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- A friend from another country visited us recently. I haven't seen her in many years, so I was not surprised when her first question was, "George Bush?"
LOS ANGELES -- It's not common in this enlightened journalistic age of ours to read much about the welfare of the common soldier. Syndicated columnist Col. David Hackworth, who passed away this week, was following an old tradition in trying to reestablish that concern among our people. But before Col. Hackworth, before the embedded journalists in Iraq, more than half a century ago there was Ernie Pyle.
BOSTON -- Born in 1972, I was forced out of my home village of Goong Mong Ghure, in the country of Laos, back in 1981 as a result of Communist infiltration. The Communists invaded my primitive village and executed many innocent villagers, including my father during their hostile takeover.
BOCA RATON, Fla., May 6, 2005 -- The most decorated living U.S. military veteran, known simply as "Hack," stood before the 82nd Airborne Division Assn. in Fort Lauderdale a few years ago, and taught Military History 101.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- As a Guy who has been married for 11 years, I've learned a lot of tips and tricks every Guy should know about successfully living with their wife. I have embraced them fully, and try to practice them on a daily basis, despite what my wife says to the contrary.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- A popular political theory over the past few months is that the ongoing fight over the future of Social Security is just a diversion to allow the Republicans to get away with all sorts of repugnant policies.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- A few years back, when the six luckiest actors in the world - the cast of "Friends" - negotiated a $1 million-an-episode contract, there was a general scratching of heads. It was a lot of money. Were they worth it?
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- For the first time in my life I was responding to a summons to appear before the Superior Court of Glynn County, Ga., for jury duty.
LOS ANGELES -- As the world faces the decline and fall of cheap petroleum, another factor looms. The exponential growth curve of human population, once a popular subject, has become one of the more underreported stories of the current era. The problem is largely misunderstood by mathematically illiterate editorial writers, ignored by the political classes, and avoided by political activists of both the right and the left. It creates further threats to our standard of living even as it exacerbates the rate of oil depletion.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Yaay, morning again! TV and breakfast and milk in a sippy cup! And I love waking up to a really good poopy. That means Mommy has to change my diaper. She makes such funny faces when I do that.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Remember Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare of the 1950s? The days when people lost their jobs and their livelihoods over the slightest association with the Communist Party?
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- God was exhausted. He sat in His huge pearly chair behind the huge pearly gates wiping His huge pearly forehead with a huge pearly handkerchief.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Oh, the dandelion is not really dead in spite of this obituary. Yet, all over the country these spring days, homeowners are slapping their hands together and saying, "Well, that's that." They feel they can rest easily now having followed the instructions of the Home Owners Association's hints on weed removal (couched in words suggesting the HOA might just shun a neighbor who doesn't comply.)
LOS ANGELES -- American discussion of the Iraq war consists of little more than sniping about the alleged reasons for the invasion, balanced by a sort of wistful longing for an easy exit. But suppose that the real intent is not an exit, but rather a permanent military presence based on demonstrable economic advantage? Shouldn't political centrists be discussing this developing policy on a rational level?
BOCA RATON, Fla., April 25, 2005 -- Every few months it's good to both literally and figuratively take stock of things, and a recent review begs me to proclaim a Dow Jones Industrial Target of 15,000 or higher within the next four years.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- The news was enough to make any self-respecting, beer-swilling Guy clap his hands and squeal like a 12-year-old girl at a Britney Spears concert.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- How can a group of people have almost total control over government, the judicial system and the press and still whine incessantly about being victims?
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- When you listen to Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World"), which the Czech composer wrote just before he left New York in 1895, you can hear his awe at the open spaces of this grand new country - awe at our unlimited sky, endless grasslands and the energy of a people with the space to dream, think, plan and act.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- It took only seven fast decades to go from being the baby of the family to becoming the oldest functioning member of a very large clan.
LOS ANGELES -- The term "peak oil" is barely mentioned in the mainstream media, yet it may be the most ominous term to face our civilization since plague or H-Bomb. At the least, it means a complete reorganization of every industrial economy and the need for vastly decreased expectations about economic growth. A slightly worse scenario involves, to a large extent, the end of civilization as we know it, followed by the evolution of some new, downsized way of life.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- York: Hello, and welcome to Mark York Kitchen Adventures. I'm Mark York and this is my kitchen.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- For the past few months I've been making my way through "Dr. Eliot's Five-Foot Shelf of Books," otherwise known as the Harvard Classics. My wife found them last summer at a flea market, 50 volumes for $5 - the literary bargain of the century.
FOREST KNOLLS, Calif. -- Until the mid-20th Century, the ocean was a key watery terrain of conflict between competing colonial powers seeking to expand their control over territories and natural resources.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- I've never been confident enough to speak at funerals, and I usually regret it afterwards. So it was last Saturday, at the funeral of someone I deeply cared about, Steve VanDemark of Hinsdale, N.H., who died, way too young, at 55.
THE BRONX -- While I was occupied in the overcrowded men's room at school the other day, one of my eccentric friends accosted me - so boorish of him to violate my personal space - and, in a skittish voice, whispered in my ear: "The government has the right to search your home and library records, Wil, without letting you know."
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Mike Royko, the Chicaho newspaper columnist who died in 1997 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times in the course of his career for his work for the defunct Chicago Daily News, the pre-Rupert Murdoch Chicago Sun-Times and the post-Murdoch Chicago Tribune. The name Royko always guaranteed a good read and when I saw it in the news today, I paid attention. Royko is not a Smith or Jones name - I knew there would be a connection.
BLOOMSBURG, Pa.--Jose Feliciano gave it a new beat.
LOS ANGELES -- This week, General Motors announced that it was pulling its advertising from the Los Angeles Times. The spat would be enough to make you bust a gut laughing, except for a troubling underlying reality which was simultaneously being explored in the web-log world.
SYRACUSE, Ind. - I always used to roll my eyes at people who said "you can't believe everything you read." With the exception of all supermarket tabloids and magazines, I had always believed that newspapers were - for the most part - fairly trustworthy in the news they reported. Whether I agreed with them or not, I thought the writers always tried their best to be as honest as possible.
SAN FRANCISCO -- I was glad to open the New York Times last Monday and see the headline: "In Steinbeck's Birthplace, a Fight to Keep the Libraries Open." After visiting Salinas, Calif., over the weekend, I was eager to find out whether the disturbing and uplifting events there would gain any significant national coverage.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- In the present madness, where reason has been forgotten and self-righteous wingnuts rule, it never hurts to be reminded that there was a time when intelligent people were welcomed into government service.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from a colleague who was furious about a local political issue - one that touched on gender. I had to write about it, she insisted, because I was a female columnist.
TOKYO -- Recently, the Bush administration sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a tour to meet with Asian leaders in an attempt to revitalize ties with Japan. But just like he did with Russia, President George W. Bush must demand a legitimate free-press system in Japan that is not constrained by its government.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- There are really mixed emotions all over the world concerning the death of Pope John Paul II; emotions like sadness, love, reverence, and wonderment as mourners question why this man's death is having such a profound effect on them.
THE BRONX -- The loony leftists have been expending an inordinate amount of energy towards distorting facts about the Real ID Act. With a plethora of information afloat regarding how effortless it was for 9/11 hijackers to acquire driver licenses, and how illegal aliens have been abusing our system, one would think that the insipid leftist mantra would cease.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- When Robert Frost wrote "The Road Not Taken" he was writing about making a choice between two roads of equal merit. He chose the one less traveled.
LOS ANGELES -- A few weeks ago, a local television station decided to investigate reports that parking attendants were stealing from customers' automobiles. They outfitted test cars with hidden cameras, handed the cars off to unsuspecting valet parking crews and secretly watched as the attendants rifled through glove boxes. They recorded on videotape as the attendants pocketed stolen money. One of the thieves took something in excess of a hundred dollars from a center console and stuffed it down his left sock.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. - The modern world runs on hydrocarbons. The global economy is based on cheap, limitless supplies of oil, natural gas and coal.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- It's always important, in any business, to appeal to the greatest number of people in your market or audience. Newspapers and magazines write to the average reading level, which is the 6th grade, while radio stations play music that will numb the sensibilities of most people. In some cases, it's smart marketing. In others, it's just dumbing it down to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The first quarter of 2005 brought significant media dividends for the Bush-Cheney limited liability corporation.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- In ghoulish anticipation, the whole world wakes up each morning and asks, "Is she dead yet?" I think it's disgusting.
THE BRONX, N.Y. -- While Members of Congress lead the fracas over the Schiavo case, China is working diligently and hastily towards becoming the next economic and military superpower - a potential threat to the future of the United States.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Mass was especially crowded this Easter Sunday morning - this is an island where tourists congregate for Spring break, and families come to visit grandparents from their own homes all over America.
LOS ANGELES -- Anyone who watches American television will discover that we are a nation of devil-may-care adventurers who drive shiny new cars at high speeds and pilot our SUVs through places full of scenic grandeur. It's never a boring day in the land of auto advertising.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- One day last summer, I was lying in my hammock, drinking a beer and relaxing. I was starting to nod off, when I heard a quiet "ahem."
SAN FRANCISCO -- Journalists often refer to the Bush administration's foreign policy as "unilateral" and "preemptive." Liberal pundits like to complain that a "go-it-alone" approach has isolated the United States from former allies. But the standard American media lexicon has steered clear of a word that would be an apt description of the Bush world view.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Who is a journalist?
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Glitter. Thick stage makeup. Eighty-year-old dancers with great legs. Women (and some men) in fancy gowns. Big egos and small talents lip-synching to popular songs. Usually, when the Lauderdale West Theater Group of Plantation, Fla., puts on a show, that's what it's all about.
THE BRONX, N.Y. -- Is the war on terrorism really about global hegemony? Is it really about power? Even if it was about power, should America use that power when it is in our nation's interest to do so? Should we stand reserv ed in the periphery of an active dangerous system and wait for a state to emerge as a superpower to test our powers for us?
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- In a silent world, like a fish approaching the lure, a child is led away - without a cry, nor even a sound, trusting the grownup leading her from her secure bed toward the unknown. In her innocence, she is unafraid, but within hours her silence reverberates around the nation.
LOS ANGELES -- The learned scribes and pundits who portray President George W. Bush as ignorant, irresponsible and reckless somehow have managed to miss the salient point - that is the reason Americans elected him. These unstatesmanlike qualities are considered virtues by certain voter, and that has been the least understood phenomenon of the last election.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- As a Guy, I've always done typical Guy things. I know how to build houses, cook large slabs of meat with fire, and play several different high-impact sports. And like a typical Guy, I've smashed my thumbs, burned my hands, twisted my ankles, and even broken a finger playing football.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Now that the spread of democracy has replaced the elimination of what proved to be non-existent weapons of mass destruction as the rationale for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, we're supposed to believe that freedom is busting out all over the Middle East.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- This wasn't the first time Brian Nichols was in the same courtroom facing these same charges. His girlfriend of eight years accused him of assault and rape; he was brought to trial but the jury couldn't reach a decision, forcing the judge to declare a hung jury. No verdict!
PORTLAND -- Ford Perfect wasted no time inserting the small yellow fish into Authur Dent's aural tract. thus allowing him the use of, as "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" describes it, the oddest thing in the universe.
LOS ANGELES -- The mayoral primary election is over, and after all the mud and mendacity, it may be useful to think about what we have learned from the experience. The most striking observation is that at least in this giant metropolis, the people seem to be figuring out that the political system is seriously bent, even if it isn't completely broken.
OATMAN, Ariz. -- Almost every day, a dozen or so wild burros come down from the foothills of the Black Mountains of northwestern Arizona onto the main street of Oatman, a revitalized high desert mining town about 15 miles from where California, Nevada, and Arizona meet.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It took a whiff of gay sex and the fear of bloggers gone wild to get the corporate press somewhat interested in the story of James "Jeff Gannon" Guckert, the phony reporter who somehow spent nearly two years infiltrating the White House press corps at the behest of the Republican Party.
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush's grand idea of transforming the Middle East is looking better by the day. Whether the Bush administration deserves all the credit for the winds of change is a matter of another debate.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Over the last seven years, I've become quite a coffee connoisseur. But until I was 30, I hated coffee with a steamy hot, dark-roasted passion. I blame my wife for my indoctrination.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- It was one of those conversations where someone is speaking to me directly but as I listen my mind is simultaneously saying wow, wonderful, then asking myself how does this slip by the Madelyn Murray O'Hare's of the country and the ACLU?
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- For the past few years I've been a fan of a gentle British situation comedy called "As Time Goes By." It originated with the BBC in 1992 and ran in England for eight or nine seasons. Now it plays in repertory on most American PBS stations; it's not hard to find.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Once in a while, mass media outlets give a fair hearing to radical ideas that make sense. But those ideas have little chance to take hold - mainly because followup is scant. Instead of bouncing around the national media echo chamber, the offending concept falls like a tossed rock.
PORTLAND -- Drew told me how he had staged his own personal lobbying effort cornering Senator Ron Wyden (OR-D) with his solution for changing poor attitudes among service workers. This employee believed that morale in the grocery check stand, a union protected position in Portland, Oregon, could be fixed with tip jars.
WASHINGTON -- Indian politician Narendra Modi must be prevented from entering the United States for his "campaign of extremism." Section 604 of the International Religious Freedom Act allows the State Department to bar the entry of any foreign official who has engaged in "particularly severe violations of religious freedom." Modi will be a good test case for this law.
LOS ANGELES -- A few days before the city's primary election, the Los Angeles Times ran a devastating expose of the corruption endemic to our system, then buried most of it in the back pages. It is a record of terrific reporting but simultaneously represents a failure of nerve on the part of the paper as a whole.
SACRAMENTO -- In the early 20th Century, corrupt railroad barons controlled the Sacramento statehouse, and even wrote the laws. Voters got so sick of it they ushered in reforms including the ballot initiative and recall process.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- President George W. Bush may think he had his "accountability moment" regarding the invasion of Iraq by narrowly winning a second term.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- As I've gotten older, I've discovered there aren't as many handy people around as I thought. When I was a kid, everyone I knew could fix things, remodel entire rooms in a weekend, and build a small shed with an axe and three mature pine trees.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- My first thought was, "Where are the monks?" I'm told a lot of New Yorkers first thought, "They've turned Central Park into a big car wash."
SACRAMENTO -- It should be a ripping good show in Sacramento in 2005, since the only place more torn by debilitating race, gender and cultural tension than the California State Assembly and California State Senate might be a high-school cafeteria seething with rival gangs.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Is it merely a coincidence, or could it be divine intervention forcing us to reserve judgment in cases where looking weird does not make you guilty of child molestation, and looking normal does not automatically give you a free pass on accusations of heinous, detestable, murders by torture.
SAN FRANCISCO -- An Associated Press dispatch from a Thai fishing village summed up the media spin a few days ago: "Former President Bill Clinton's voice trembled with emotion as he and George H.W. Bush put aside their once-bitter political rivalry... ."
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- You had to figure that sooner or later, Hunter S. Thompson would take the Hemingway path.
PORTLAND -- Wen Jiabo is not impressed. The prime minister of China, one of the largest customers of United States Treasuries said it best when he asked, "shouldn't the relevant authorities be doing something about this?" He was speaking to the decline of the dollar, a perilous three year slip that has cost Jiabo's government billions in lost profits on their currency investments while adding billions to their surpluses.
LOS ANGELES -- The March 8 mayoral primary election is approaching and with it, the 15 and 30 second spots that fill every available commercial moment on local television. It is a collection of little intellectual merit but considerable interest as a snapshot of the current level of manipulative psychology and technology. These ads merit examination for what they tell us about two seemingly unrelated topics, the current obsessions in politics and the status of the low-cost digital methods that are now available to pursue those obsessions.
LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- Regardless of age, we have all heard the phrase, "First Amendment Rights," bandied about. Free speech has been the rallying cry of the liberal elite since the '60s, and every time violent protesters are beaten back by police or cordoned off from a rally, the ACLU comes a-calling.
ALGIERS -- Extensive security precautions will be taken in Algiers to protect public buildings against terrorist attacks at the opening of the two-day Arab Summit on March 22 here, a high level security source told The American Reporter.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It may sound corny, but every time I get off the highway at Montpelier and turn towards the Statehouse, my eyes get misty.
SAN FRANCISCO - When I think of newspaper journalists who became authors and had enormous impacts on media criticism in the United States, two names come to mind.
ALGIERS, Algeria -- For a long time, they have been people who were forced to flee their homes due to starvation, dire poverty and war, searching out other, more clement areas as a salve for their misfortune.
PORTLAND -- Their fearsome riders and invincible steeds gallop across the darkened landscape, their hooves sparking flames everywhere they go. Here come the Four Horsemen of the Economy: higher interest rates, inflation, a weak dollar and slower growth.
LOS ANGELES -- At two international sporting events at the Home Depot Center in nearby Carson, Calof., the soccer and rugby were great, but once again I came eardrum-to-amplifier with that recent nemesis of our sporting life, the sound track.
SACRAMENTO - When test scores came out recently showing that Latino immigrant kids are getting much better at reading and writing English, California superintendent of schools Jack O'Connell urged schools to find ways to move them out of special English and into mainstream classes.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Disingenuousness is the stock in trade of the Bush White House, but there are times when it gets to be just a bit much.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Punctuation miscreants, beware. There's a new punctuation book in town, called "Eats Shoots and Leaves," by British punctuation stickler, Lynn Truss. She condemns the illiterate, stupid, and greengrocers of the world, who misuse and abuse proper punctuation.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Times have changed since Dr. Samuel Johnson said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Democracy is the last refuge now.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- You can pluck the slender white petals from a daisy until the nubs of your fingers turn yellow and you still won't know if he loves you or loves you not. For that, you need a rose, preferably a dozen of them - American Beauties if your dreams are your reality. Flowers do have a language, and there is no question that when a man sends his love red roses he is quietly saying, "I love you."
PORTLAND -- The late Ernst Mayr once said: "Every politician, clergyman, educator, or physician, in short, anyone dealing with human individuals, is bound to make grave mistakes if he ignores these two great truths of population zoology: (1) no two individuals are alike, and (2) both environment and genetic endowment make a contribution to nearly every trait."
LOS ANGELES -- The slogan for this year's mayoral primary election might as well be "What elephant - What bedroom?" Actually, it's more like a small herd. The candidates are pretending there are no such pachyderms and the press are seemingly oblivious to the backlot odor.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- 6:00 am - Stupid alarm clock. I really - oh jeez, I feel awful! Body aches and I think I'm going to faint. Where is snooze button?
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Barring a last minute catastrophe, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean will be the new Democratic National Committee chairman.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The house in south Florida was low and white, with green trim and a tile roof. A huge rubber tree took up half of the front yard. I was walking past it last week when I happened to look inside. I saw a small, frail woman, alone in a large space, drifting over to close the curtains.
LILIB BUKTI VILLAGE, Indonesia -- About two dozen boys sat down on the wooden floor inside a stilted hut, joking and cheering, sometimes even hitting one another, just like most boys do.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- The credits rolled but no one got up to leave, at least not until their tears dried; and they were not the tears of a sob story or chick flick that flow while we laugh at ourselves for being so sentimental. We remained in our seats, in sobering thought.
PORTLAND --While the State of the Union speech delivered by President George W. Bush last Wednesday brought the usual measures of partisan support and disdain, it proved one thing beyond any doubt: this man can get the country talking. Mr. Bush has the uncanny ability to divide the country even when he talks about something in which residents of both the Blue and Red states have an equally vested interest.
LOS ANGELES -- On this, the anniversary of the invention of the term "wardrobe malfunction," it seems appropriate to consider the history of politics in the sporting media. An interesting story comes out of Florida which suggests that times really have changed. Along the way, we will consider a recent story from Tokyo along with historical visits to Pasadena and Mexico City.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Curiosity may occasionally kill a cat. But lack of curiosity is apt to terminate journalism with extreme prejudice.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Running beneath the Bush administration's talk of creating an "Ownership Society" is something that they won't come right out and say openly - that they are crafting a long-term strategy to render the Democratic Party impotent for decades to come.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- As a journalist, I am often privy to insider information on a lot of different topics, finding the best and most secret information about important current events, especially if I make it up.
PORTLAND -- The term "Ownership Society" has resurfaced, recently wrapped in the President's talk of Social Security reform. The approach so far has been familiar as he portends a looming crisis in the future of this New Deal program. While his numbers may be suspect, the immediate need for change debatable, and the timing wrong, expect Mr. Bush to push his agenda forward in what could be the only year of his second term that he might have a chance at significant reform.
LOS ANGELES -- The exclusion of several candidates from two February mayoral debates has predictably spawned a lawsuit. The debates, sponsored by an organization that calls itself the Citywide Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, are to be run under rules which contrive to exclude the one decently-funded Republican candidate.
The World Economic Forum convened in Davos this week to discuss how the wealthiest nations should conduct themselves in the coming year, what problems to focus on, and more importantly, how to save their smaller, financially troubled neighbors. The United States, which in the past was represented by the likes of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell, sent no high-level official from the administration to represent our position on issues like poverty and the ills of globalization..
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- President Bush talked incessantly about freedom in his second Inaugural Address. He did this as security personnel dragged away protesters and our nation's capital was transformed into a garrison bristling with thousands of soldiers, cops and Secret Service agents.
SAN FRANCISCO -- "The story today is going to be very discouraging to the American people," President Bush said at a news conference Wednesday, hours after 37 American troops died in Iraq. "I understand that. We value life. And we weep and mourn when soldiers lose their life."
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The death on Sunday of Johnny Carson raises some thoughts about entertainment and mortality.
LOS ANGELES -- A film retrospective currently running at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art underscores one of the 20th Century's great bodies of work, even as it illustrates one of our true cultural tragedies.
Make My Day
A COLUMNIST'S MILESTONE
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- I've achieved a major milestone: This is my 500th column for The American Reporter. For nine years, eight months, and one week, I have published a humor column every Thursday night. If I were a baseball player, I would be 21st on the all-time home run leader list, behind Ken Griffey, Jr., who has 501 - home runs, not columns. Ken Griffey, Jr. can't tell a joke to save his life.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.. Jan. 24, 3005 -- Okay, so you got the hottest invite of the year, the Trump nuptials across the Intracoastal in Palm Beach. You're shaking off the hangover. Now what?
HATFIELD, Mass. -- At a time when most of the world views the United States with a mixture of fear and disgust, it is necessary to remember that not every American is ugly, and many people out there are working to promote the best values of our country.
CORAL GABLES, Fla., Jan. 21, 2005 -- One of the last great financial planning bargains is about to go up in price, or in some cases it already has: level premium term insurance.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Where are the tumbrels when we need them? Dust off the guillotine. We need a new revolution.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The latest polls show that most Americans are critical of the war in Iraq. But the option of swiftly withdrawing all U.S. troops from that country gets little media attention.
LOS ANGELES - The L.A. mayoral debates continue and once again, reform loses. This time it is the misleadingly named Citywide Alliance of Neighborhood Councils that intends to restrict participation in its debates. Only the big fundraisers get to play.
SAN FRANCISCO -- A system glorifies its winners. The mass media and the rest of corporate America are enthralled with professionals scaling career ladders to new heights. Meanwhile, the people hanging onto bottom rungs are scarcely blips on screens.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Erik is out of the office this week, hiding from the new season of "American Idol." To commemorate this event, we are reprinting a column from 2003 commemorating these purveyors of pop, these connoisseurs of crap, these sultans of snot... .
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Democracy is more than voting.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- There he goes again. Our President, the one who most notably brought us invisible Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, who recently claimed to have a sparkling clean bill of health as the press buzzed about his new defibrillator, who claimed he was a "uniter instead of a divider" and a "compassionate conservative" and then bombed innocent Iraqis while half of the world took to the streets against him, is at it once more.
LOS ANGELES -- It was in a stack of used books being sold for two dollars apiece outside a dusty museum of hollywood memorabilia. The book, Humor from Harper's (1961) held a brief essay by William H Whyte Jr. which, though satirizing a literary trend of the 1950s, seems to resonate in terms of that current fad or phenomenon known as the "blog."
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The Canadian journalist Gwynne Dyer, in an upcoming revised edition of his landmark 1985 book, "War," tells a story about the Forest Troop of baboons in Kenya.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- It seems cheese sandwiches have been in the news a lot during the last few months. But not always in a good way.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Even as the death toll climbed, the bodies washed ashore, and the horror of it began to sink in, there was just one thought running through my mind: how can it be made any clearer that we are all one world, we are one world, we are one?
BLOOMSBURG, Pa., Jan. 5, 2005 -- On Sunday, Dec. 26, an earthquake-triggered tsunami with devastating effects 1,000 miles from its epicenter in the Indian Ocean near Sumatra hit 12 countries. Within hours, numerous countries and private social service agencies had begun massive relief operations. President George W. Bush, vacationing on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, made no public statements.
SAN FRANCISCO -- At a pair of British daily newspapers - the Independent and the Guardian - plus the Observer on Sunday, journalists are far more willing than their U.S. counterparts to repeatedly take on powerful interests. Tough questions get pursued at length and in depth. News coverage is often factually devastating. And commentaries don't mince words.
FOREIGN CONVICTS COST CALIFORNIA $4 BILLION A YEAR
SACRAMENTO -- Forgive me if I missed the media coverage of the international dustup between California State Senator Gloria Romero of Los Angeles and the Mexican government the other day. The media downplays stories it perceives as "blaming the victim," particularly on the hands-off topic of illegal immigration.
LOS ANGELES -- Things creep up on you. Hardly anybody has noticed that we are now precisely halfway through the "oughts" - that is, the years '00 - '09. And if we think about what has been happening, we will notice that peculiar things have been creeping into our media and - without our always paying attention - are solidifying. At the same time, as we shall see, there are things that may need changing that have stayed the same.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- It's a tradition that's been handed down from generation to generation, and one that I've largely ignored for my entire life. I never wear the clothes I received for Christmas right after Christmas.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- I look at how the Bush administration is trying to manufacture a Social Security "crisis," and it looks much like what was done to manufacture the rationale for invading Iraq.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The last few days of every year bring a heightened sense of time passing, never to return. "Not always so," the end of a calendar reminds us.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Two ideas, diametrically opposed in philosophy and approach, have seized the attention of Internet companies and technologists over the first few years of this century. Given that the century will be so long and we have barely started yet, it's hard to say which will turn out to be most important. One stresses classification, the other community. These two ideas are attracting both money and attention, but neither has yet borne fruit.
LOS ANGELES - So far, there have been two televised debates for L.A.'s 2005 mayoral election. In each, the supposedly reform-minded sponsors took the path of expediency by inviting only professional politicians. For all the talk among liberals and reformers about demanding that free air time be provided to candidates, when push came to shove the League of Women Voters and the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters excluded all the unfunded and underfunded candidates from their debates.
SYRACUSE, Ind. - It's Christmas weekend, and I'm slumped at his desk in an eggnog-induced torpor. I barely had enough energy to send a column or to look up the spelling of "torpor" at Dictionary.com.
BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 25, 2003 -- This has been about the saddest Christmas ever. First my oldest brother, Johnny, told me about a month ago he'd come down with bladder cancer. On Dec. 21, my wife's second husband, a commandante of the National Police in Cuzco, died when his bus plunged off a cliff in Peru, where she's from. Then, two nights ago, I got a note from the grandson of Bill Johnson, the American Reporter Correspondent whose stories from the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 - just nine days after we began publishing - put on the map, He died peacefully late at night on October 26 at Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City, several days after heart surgery to replace a failing mitral valve.
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- As usual, Donald Rumsfeld was in control. At a "town hall" meeting with almost 2,000 American combat soldiers in northern Kuwait, the Secretary of Defense and his PR machine were going to give a "pep rally" to troops about to go into combat. He would prove he cared about the individual troops, that the Bush administration supported them, and that God and country, at least 51 percent of the mortal voters, were patriots who supported President George W. Bush and, thus, the war.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- I've just heard America and it ain't singing, baby. Instead, the sound our country makes is more like rampaging engines at the start of some low-rent demolition derby.
BOCA RATON, Fla., Dec. 22, 2004 -- In return for getting up before dawn each day for a live, ad-lib radio business commentary, Doug Stephan, host of the syndicated "Good Day" radio show, asks me to pick the top business stories each year. My work is easy this time around, since the list is strikingly similar to last year's offering, except for the 2004 Presidential Election results.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It's the loneliest feeling in journalism.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- On cue, California jumped into the yearly fray over why Christmas symbols and carols get banned from schools and other public places, when that well-known religious radical, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, ignited a controversy by pointedly calling the state's official "holiday" tree its "Christmas" tree instead.
LOS ANGELES -- The Democrats may be rethinking the primary system - that strange process where Iowa and New Hampshire get to tell the rest of the country who the presidential candidates are going to be - and the Des Moines Register is sounding nervous.
PACIFICA, Calif. -- "Kabul suicide attack: 7 injured," reads the headline today. The news story says, "A suicide grenade attack in the center of the Afghan capital of Kabul Saturday injured seven people, including three international peacekeepers. Three blasts shook a shopping area in downtown Kabul."
WEST BANK, Palestinian Authority -- The steady flow of international dignitaries to Israel and Palestine following the confirmation of the new transitional Palestinian leadership has been rather impressive. Outgoing American Secretary of State Colin Powell, outgoing UN envoy for the Middle East Terje Roed-Larsen, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, among others, swooped down on the region as if the historic moment of Yasir Arafat's passing was the moment the region had been waiting for. Unfortunately, not one of these diplomats, or anyone in the Palestinian leadership for that matter, has proposed anything beyond brushing the dust off already failed initiatives and placing the burden for progress on the results of the upcoming Palestinian elections.
STONEWALL, La. -- Recently, while in Washington D.C., I met and talked with two ladies who were used in changing the face of American society in the 20th Century. The two ladies were Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- What does the term "moral values" really mean?
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Some days I hate being a writer. Days like today. Not one of those "oh crap it's two hours before deadline, and I don't have a topic" day. That's the story of my nearly-ten year writing career. It's also how I got through college.
LAKE WORTH, Fla. --In two days, two octogenarian clients wanted to buy stock in Sirius, the satellite radio company. One wanted to buy 100 shares at $9, the other just "two hundred dollars worth of stock."
SEATTLE, Wash. -– "Victoria Clipper" is the name for four vessels that ply the route from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia - a trip that, on a good day, takes two and a half hours.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- My uncle, Bernard Kampler, a kind young man much loved by his family, a high school swim star, newly married, died 60 years ago this week in the Battle of the Bulge under unimaginably harsh and terrifying conditions. In my family, the repercussions of his death are still flowing outward, like rings from a stone dropped into a deathly still pool of water.
SAN PEDRO, Calif. -- The dollar has been falling like a stone even as economic forecasters are predicting further turmoil. Rather than ask why this is happening, we should probably be asking why it hasn't happened sooner and why it hasn't been even worse. And, later, I have my own hypothesis.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Can a country where more people believe in the Devil than in evolution maintain its leadership in the sciences?
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Sometime around Turkey Day, the management of Target Stores must have believed the cynic's adage, "No good deed goes unpunished."
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Is it just me or is there an air of sexual repression wafting through our country?
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- You know, sometimes you just have to envy England. Not only are they famous for their warm, sunny climate - oh wait, sorry... Not only are they renowned for their superb gourmet food like black pudding or - um, sorry. Let me try again... . Not only are they known for their exciting spectator sports like cricket and lawn bowling - dang it!
SEATTLE, Wash. –- What is a blog? Oh, I know that the word is a coinage made from the last b of web and the word log. But even if its pre-cute form is web log, I'd still like to know what is it?
LOS ANGELES -- In the aftermath of electoral defeat, the anti-Bush coalition has been in the process of reevaluating its tactics. While most of it comes across as wishful whining, Marc Cooper of the L.A. Weekly and Peter Beinart, editor of The New Republic, have fired a couple of shots across leftist bows that are generating a flurry of comments.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- There will be many chickens coming home to roost in President Bush's second term. Perhaps the biggest one of all will be the true state of the American economy.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Many of our mortally wounded are not coming back wrapped in body bags or bandages.
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Just when we thought we would get a much-needed rest from moral politics, a new emotion-charged controversy has reached a fevered pitch in Provo, Utah.
SEATTLE, Wash. -– When I awoke from troubled dreams this morning it seemed to me that two topics would force themselves into this Ink Soup: the full moon on the day after Thanksgiving, and what I took to be the not unrelated but totally unprecedented vanishing of our cat Huck.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- When Joseph Conrad quoted Edmond Spenser's line "Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas, Ease after war, death after life, does greatly please," I sensed he was taken with the warmth of those suggested feelings. So taken was he with the little verse, it is engraved on his tombstone where, I suggest. he was laid to rest in Canterbury with a contented smile on his face.
LOS ANGELES -- Imagine a highway system where people make their own license plates and change them as often as they want. Thieves abound. Hit and run goes unpunished. Few get caught because it is hard to trace them. That's what the Internet is like nowadays. Somehow the Digital Superhighway has become the Devil's Driveway, more like some post-nuclear holocaust novel than that idealistic portrait of educational opportunity the visionaries hoped we would all experience.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Top officials in Washington are now promoting jitters about Iran's nuclear activities, while media outlets amplify the message. A confrontation with Tehran is on the second-term Bush agenda. So, we're encouraged to obliquely think about the unthinkable.
SACRAMENTO -- To the embittered liberals who say Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's fundraising of $73,000 a day proves he's owned by special interests, my response is: Dear Guv, please keep raking in far more dough than Gray Davis.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The hysteria over same-sex marriage has been credited by some pundits as the key issue that gave President Bush a second term.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- As the election recedes, there's good news and bad news. And we're not going to like any of it.
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 22 -- In exposing a government scandal, it sure helps when a zealous public official and a big-city newspaper manage to find each other. Such is now the case in Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Times and City Controller Laura Chick have been playing tag-team against Mayor James Hahn.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- We know the map by heart now, the sea of red with the blotches of blue on the edges - the visual representation of President Bush's alleged mandate.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It's the best of times, it's the worst of times. Condoleezza Rice, the Cold Warrior Woman, will be America's second female Secretary of State. What can feminists make of this?
SACRAMENTO -- All the caterwauling by talking heads who insist the Democrats can win the presidency in 2008 with a religious Southerner has me laughing - well, chuckling painfully, anyway.
SEATTLE -- A few years ago, sitting on a bench in Palmer Square with a colleague whom I knew only slightly, I had an experience totally without precedent for me at the time. He came out to me.
LOS ANGELES -- It was a populist dream come true. The effort pf two talk show hosts to unseat Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) was presented to the voters of his district as a chance to rise up and defeat a comfortably entrenched politician who had strayed from the fold. The plan ultimately failed, but the margin was surprisingly narrow, considering the district and the candidate's previous track record.
JAKARTA, Nov. 10, 2004 -- Many Chinese-descent Indonesians are worried about the new Indonesian government's economic policy, fearing they may become victims of discrimination advocated by Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Right-wing trumpets are making a horrific racket across a ravaged political landscape. For now, hope is barely audible. Progressives seem like fledglings without feathers, weakly tapping from inside thick shells. Four more years sound like hell.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Now that we lefties have all had a few days to digest the election results and what they mean, it's time to start thinking about how we're going to play defense for the next four years.
LAKE WORTH, Fla., Nov. 13, 2004 -- "When they come to the door, you know there is only one reason. I asked them when did he die and they told me."
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- A gloom has descended over the place where I live - the most progressive county in progressive Vermont. We're still reeling from the election results.
PHILADELPHIA -- In Philadelphia, the Republican Party hired local people - apparently including at least one knife-waving drug addict - as neighborhood poll watchers, paid them watchers to challenge their neighbors' votes, and sent visiting teams of burly workers in vans in a mixed strategy of intimidation and misinformation to try to suppress voting on November 2, according to a Brooklyn law student who worked as a poll monitor.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- It goes without saying, for the most part, that mothers are loved. (Perhaps Lizzie Borden's was an exception.) And my mother was loved to the point of reverence by all nine of us. If any one of us knew how to go about it, we would have submitted her name and life story to the Committee to Consider Canonization to Sainthood - if there were such a body. Surely, she is a saint in Heaven just as she was a saint on Earth.