01 Jul 2012

American “Exceptionalism?”

Sometimes it seems like the term “American exceptionalism” could refer only to a politico-economic theory that says, “Screw everybody except me.”

It is hard to explain the hard Right’s hatred of health care reform any other way. Despite their phony spin about a government “power-grab” and such, what motivates them is a need to define themselves in terms of the anguish of others. They can’t be exceptional if others aren’t demonstrably unexceptional.

24 Jun 2012

The Decline of Nations and the Climate Crisis

As they stand today, the world’s governments are incapable of addressing the global climate crisis in time to moderate the coming catastrophe. That is just an unhappy fact.

17 Jun 2012

In Which William Blake Harshes David Brooks’ Mellow

That’s it, America. That’s our problem. It’s a “followership problem.” We’re no longer humble enough to do what we’re told. David Brooks tells us so.

10 Jun 2012

Don’t Join the Book Burners: On Bradbury, Eisenhower, Mitt and the Mind

Few film scenes have had as deep an impact on my life as the final scene among the “Book People” in Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451. The film was based on Ray Bradbury’s novel, which had been published in 1953, the year I was born. I saw the film in the fall of 1966, when I was 13, not long after I’d read the novel on the advice of a friend. I’ve been with the Book People ever since. The great independent book store here in Austin is even called “Book People.” I call it Home.

27 May 2012

The End of Ends

Since after the Civil War, Americans have used this time to remember their lost friends and loved ones. It is, of course, a day devoted especially to the memories of fallen soldiers. A moment’s thought will show us that even the departed have not reached an end. They live on in our memories.

20 May 2012

Surviving the Melodramocracy

Republicans have spent decades branding Democrats as anti-capitalist collectivists bent on the destruction of private property and free enterprise. In the Right’s propa-melodrama, the leftist locomotive flattens virtuous Little Nell’s of capitalism after tying them to the railroad tracks of taxes with the ropes of regulation.

The character inversion is pure genius.

13 May 2012

The Incorrigibles

One of the things I like best about human beings is our persistent incorrigibility. Even when we don’t want to we often escape expert predictions of our behavior. Call it the human uncertainty principle. As soon as you know where we are you lose knowledge about where we’re headed and how fast we’re headed there. Or maybe you’ve guessed where we’re headed but you no longer know where we are.

06 May 2012

“Do What We Say or the Women Will Die”

“Do What We Say or the Women Will Die”

That may sound like some kind of villainous threat in a Wild West melodrama, but it is exactly what the Rick Perry administration in Texas is saying today.

29 Apr 2012

Sex and the Pols

The Khomeinis and Santorums of the world are not just impotent voyeurs. Their odd obsessions advance dangerous, inhuman policies that demean, discriminate and kill.

15 Apr 2012

An Empathy Machine

Rhonda, the heroine of Mary Pauline Lowry’s magical novel, The Earthquake Machine, is a young woman lost in the borderlands of late adolescence, family dysfunction, sexual identity and the mysteries of love, desire and friendship. On a river trip with friends and chaperones along a real borderland, the Rio Grande, Rhonda lights out for the territories – in this case, into Mexico.