Selfies, followers, likes and the fascination with celebrity anythings (chefs, decorators, stylists, authors, etc.) are just a few of the ways that today's society focuses attention on individuals. It's not enough to be a great chef - it's better to be a celebrity chef. It's not enough to participate in an event - it's better to snap a selfie of yourself at the event and then post it online for all to see.
During the early years of the Reagan administration, a Washington news conference was held for me for my first book, "The State Against Blacks." Before making summary statements about the book, I offered the reporters assembled that they could treat me like a white person. They could ask me hard, pressing questions. They could demand proof of the arguments that I was making.
"The difference between Bush's mistakes and his disappointments may just be that he hasn't yet taken ownership of the latter," Massimo Calabresi wrote in Time as he covered President George W. Bush's final press conference in January of 2009. Four years earlier, left-wing journalist John Dickerson had begun a trend among the Bush White House press corps, demanding from the president a recognition of his mistakes.
Political reporters seem to enjoy the game of politics far more than the substance of issues. But recent Supreme Court rulings on the president's health care law, campaign finance reform and other topics may force a fundamental issue into the 2016 election. Upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage, immigration and another health care case will add fuel to the fire.
I have been trying to figure out what to do with my free time now that I have decided not to run for President of the United States (or what's left of it.) Some of you wrote and asked me to reconsider my decision. I am humbled by your pledges of support but I don't want to broach the subject again with the Woman Who Shares My Name. She has access to a lot of broccoli and says she know where she can get more. I had best leave that alone.
Occasionally, I wonder whether I'm alone in some of my wonderings. Look at the claim that conservatives or Republicans have launched a war on women as a part of their overall mean-spirited agenda. In the case of mistreatment of women - or of anyone else - assault, rape and murder are about as horrible as it gets. But I would be willing to bet a lot of money that most of the assaults, rapes and murders of women are done by people who identify as liberals or Democrats, particularly in the cases of murderers. Most crime, except perhaps white-collar crime, is ...
Dear Public School Teachers in Georgia:
A surreal moment passed for me this week with several press reports about presidential candidates heading to Atlanta in August this year. Six years ago in Atlanta, a group of online political activists got together in person. They had been online collaborators among the Republican grassroots for six years without ever having met face to face.
It's mid-May and time for celebrating graduations. It's a time to look back on accomplishments and, more importantly, to look forward to new phases and opportunities in life.
American government - at all levels - is losing the legitimacy it needs to function. Or, perhaps, some segments of the government have already lost it.
Last week in Garland, Texas, a lady named Pamela Geller sponsored an event about Islam, a component of which included drawing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. While Muslims in prior centuries painted Mohammed and some Muslims still think it is OK to draw Mohammed, most Muslims around the world condemn the drawing of any image purporting to be the likeness of Mohammed.
Before we examine the issue of police shootings of blacks, I would like to start the conversation with another question. Here it is: If a person chooses to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train, who is responsible for his being run over? And if many people meet their maker this way, what would you recommend as the best way to reduce such deaths? Would you focus most of your efforts on train engineers, or would you counsel people not to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train?
Where are the men?
Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and paid architect of Obamacare, has shocked and disgusted many Americans. In 2013, he explained to a University of Pennsylvania audience: "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies." He added that the "lack of transparency is a huge political advantage." Most insulting were his previous statements that "the American voter is too stupid to understand" and his boast of Obamacare's "exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American ...
I love the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as much as anyone. It's great to have family visit and take some time to talk and visit and just be together. There's the added bonus that comes from a warm glow of nostalgia lingering from long-ago Thanksgiving dinners at Nana and Grampa's.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A chance to be grateful instead of focusing on gift-giving and gift-receiving. Family, friends, bountiful feasts and football are at the forefront of our minds rather than cocktail parties and gifts. Think of it as a time to pause and give thanks before the whirlwind of December.
Beverly Gage, a Yale historian, was researching a biography of J. Edgar Hoover in the National Archives when she came across the infamous letter the FBI had written to Martin Luther King Jr., outlining in the crudest form his extramarital escapades and suggesting, King concluded, that he kill himself: "There is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is." King did nothing, but the FBI acted. It leaked its dirt to the press.
In the wake of the midterm elections, many are now speculating about what will happen to President Obama's health care law with a Republican Senate. However, all the partisan talk misses the point. In America, change does not come from politicians. It comes from the American people and the popular culture.
In the week following the shellacking of his party in the midterm elections, one might think that President Barack Obama would be conciliatory and humble. Instead, he has continued to be audacious - but with arrogance rather than hope.
Last year's column "Dishonest Educators" (1/9/2013) reported on the largest school cheating scandal in U.S. history. In more than three-quarters of the 56 Atlanta schools investigated, teachers changed student answers on academic achievement tests. Cheating orders came directly from school administrators. The cheating was brazen. One teacher told a colleague, "I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they're dumb as hell." Atlanta's not alone. Teacher cheating has been discovered in other cities, such as Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Washington.
Part of the allure and fascination of politics is that you don't know what's going to happen until election night is over and all the votes have been counted. It is real-life, high-stakes drama. In the 1970s, it was volunteers who would call in the vote tallies from the precincts. They would be written on the blackboard and the totals calculated as the votes were called in.
Little noticed by the Washington press corps is the extent of the Republican State legislative gains in Election 2014. A quick trip to the enormously informative Ballotpedia.org website provides the numbers that the DC reporters overlooked.
Last week a neighbor friend passed on to his own personal sunset.
Prognosticators are predicting a Republican takeover of the United States Senate, and a pickup of a few seats in the House of Representatives. Driven in large part by the unpopularity of President Barack Obama (latest Gallup poll 42 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove of Obama), this potential change in control provides both an opportunity and a risk for Republicans.
Political pundits often miss the forest for the trees, and it's amazing how things look when you pause for a moment to look at the broader context of the 2014 midterm elections. The short-term discussion among political junkies is all about whether Republicans can win control of the Senate and just how many seats they will win.
Here's how my Aug. 11, 2003, column began: "Anyone who believes President Bush's Africa initiative, including sending U.S. troops to Liberia, will amount to more than a hill of beans is whistling Dixie. Maybe it's overly pessimistic, but most of Africa is a continent without much hope for its people." More than a decade has passed since that assessment, and little has changed to suggest a more optimistic outlook. Now Ebola threatens the very existence of the West African nations Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Moreover, the deadly disease is likely to spread to neighboring nations.
A wise man once said that our only reason for occupying space on this earth is to leave things better than we found them. Unfortunately, not enough of us will. Len Pagano is an exception.