"Sanction" is one of those words — like "cited" or "sanguine" — that can mean opposite things. This can be confusing. "The bus driver received a citation from the city" might mean she was ticketed — punished — for a traffic violation. Or it might mean she was rewarded and commended for excellence. In the [Read More...]

Insincere bigotry

The Liar Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday morning. I refer to the Liar Tony Perkins as “the Liar Tony Perkins” because the Liar Tony Perkins lies. A lot. He lies professionally in order to convince the fearfully credulous to send him more money. And [Read More...]

Three-paycheck months

Most Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. Some of those paychecks are larger than others, but the pattern is the same. Most of us also get paid every two weeks. Our bills, however, come monthly, and so our household budgets are structured according to these monthly expenses. But at least twice a year we get this wonderful treat: [Read More...]

Sez who?

"Nature and Nature's God" was Thomas Jefferson's lovely phrase for the basis of the rights we asserted in the Declaration of Independence. That was his shorthand answer to the question "Sez who?" He didn't have time in that document for a treatise on the basis, source or origin of human rights. His point wasn't to [Read More...]

August 9

It is not permissible to deliberately target non-combatants with a weapon of mass destruction. To do so is always, in all times and places, wrong and monstrous and forbidden. That's not my rule. It existed for centuries before I was born and it will remain true long after I die. It has, over the centuries, [Read More...]

Greetings from Omelas

The Wikipedia entry on Ursula Le Guin's provocative short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" includes a comment from the author on where she got the inspiration for writing it: "from forgetting Dostoevsky and reading road signs backwards." Somewhere I read a variation on this comment in which Le Guin was quoted as [Read More...]

This land is your land

The point being, of course, that claims of greater or lesser "American" authenticity are inherently stupid. (And also, as a general rule, that it's a bad idea for anyone to try to tell New Yorkers that you're more American — or more anything — than they are.) This "real American" nonsense is sometimes just innocently [Read More...]

If you can make it there

Newcomers are often insecure, and a debt of gratitude can make anyone feel a bit awkward, so I try my best to be patient with some of the sillier things often said by those from the American "heartland" about supposed "East Coast elites" in general and New York in particular. But that patience has its [Read More...]