The big puzzle is why anyone is shocked that President Bush eavesdropped on Americans. The National Security Agency for decades has routinely monitored the phone calls and telegrams of thousands of us. The rationale has always been the same, and Bush said it again in defending his spying — it was done to protect Americans from foreign threat or attack. The targets in the past have been Muslim extremists, communists, peace activists, Black radicals, civil rights leaders and drug peddlers.
Three years ago America was amazed to hear about the stories of two ordinary citizens who gave extraordinary gifts to the world: Matel Dawson and Osceola McCarty. Their stories are even memorable given the untold suffering so many faced in the year just ended. First, there was Matel Dawson Jr., a blue-collar worker at Ford Motor Co. in Detroit, who since 1939 lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in nearby Highland Park, Mich.. He was 81
There is something in the eyes of a genuine comedian, something that can't hide the intelligence, curiosity and the absolute drive to express. Sometimes it is too terrible to say outright, but with a twinkle in the eye or a quiver of the lip, or a quick gesture, the comic's depth is safely revealed.
Richard Pryor had those eyes.
What is most just and important to America's future? Health coverage for 1.6 million children or tax breaks for 289,000 of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans?
Congress will meet in December to vote on a budget bill that will greatly hurt the poor and children, and on tax bills that will greatly benefit the wealthiest Americans.
You can hardly get through the holidays without seeing a news story about the stress that many people experience at this time of year. There's the loss of loved ones who won't be gathering around the table. Family members who are forced together even if they're not on good terms. And there's the letdown of unfulfilled expectations.
"Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring, ring with the harmonies of liberty ..."
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" has long been known as the Negro National Anthem. I wonder how our nation would be different if we had made this song the official national anthem. What if we celebrated unity in the beautiful words of James Weldon Johnson instead of glorifying "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air?" Imagine!
This fall has brought relief from the glib conventional wisdom that the Republican Party is poised to capture a significant percentage of African American voters. That article of faith has been proclaimed with unvarnished confidence ever since President Ronald Reagan first captured the White House 25 years ago.
Unfortunately, it's never been backed up with actual accomplishment.
The increasing criminalization of children has become a major crisis. Children are being suspended and expelled from school and incarcerated in the juvenile and adult justice systems at alarming rates and at younger and younger ages.
This increased incarceration is not due to an increase in serious delinquent or violent criminal behavior by young people. Juvenile arrests for violent crimes grew rapidly in the late 1980s and peaked in 1994, but then began falling.
"We do not torture," President Bush said last week. But this pledge, delivered almost as if it were a bully's taunt rather than a leader's promise, is simply not true — and the president knows it.
The pictures from Abu Ghraib displayed to the world that the United States has trampled the international standards that this country had traditionally championed