Category Politics/Culture

A Measure of Justice, At Last

Friday morning, feeling my way down under the outward, cork-popping joy of the previous evening’s news regarding Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 counts of felonious conduct, I found something more basic: a sense of simple yet profoundly felt relief. Something akin to the completion of a long project that had presented multiple obstacles and taxed my patience and commitment and faith that I would ever see it come to fruition.

Finally!

All his life, Trump had sneered at decency, laughed off honesty as fit only for suckers, marshaled his millions of inheritance dollars to hire an army of lawyers and henchmen who helped him stay one step ahead of law enforcement, the IRS, the creditors he had stiffed, the women he had abused, the students at his fake university, the contributors to his fake charities, his failed ventures in steaks and airlines and casinos and apartments, and perhaps most grievously of all, his...

Read More

Profiles in Cowardice: The Republican Rollover for the Would-Be King

Nikki Haley is the latest, but it’s a tight contest as to who is the most craven and cynical of countless Republican Party officeholders who have forsaken all principle and moral authority in embracing a failed insurrectionist and would-be despot who has lied, evaded, bluffed and bullied his way into position to perhaps retake the presidency come November.

Haley’s recent capitulation and endorsement of Donald Trump, whom she correctly and righteously eviscerated as unfit for office over many months on the campaign trail, is particularly glaring on this Memorial Day weekend, when courage and self-sacrifice are held up as the ideals upon which every free society depends.

She joins a long list of her party’s officials who have sounded the alarm over years now about the unique threat Trump poses to our democratic institutions (see below), only to reverse course when they fear his wrath, or their dimming job p...

Read More

Empathy and Intelligence: Regarding “The Incomparable” Messrs. Buckley and Baldwin

William F. Buckley was always one of those conservatives it was good for liberals to keep abreast of. Liberal arguments for an expansive government role in American life had to go through Buckley’s mixture of cultured intellectual gravitas, take-no-prisoners debate skills and slightly mischievous humor, all of which made for a formidable presence across the American cultural landscape in the second half of the 20th century.

Buckley died in 2008 at age 82, less than a year after Pat, his socialite wife of 56 years, passed on and left him desolate. He died, however, in the wake of a life that had shaped the history of his era in ways that reverberate to this day. That impact is ably and entertainingly chronicled in a currently streaming (through May 3) PBS documentary entitled, “The Incomparable Mr. Buckley.”

Last fall, I finally caught up via YouTube to the famous 1965 debate between Buckley and the equally...

Read More

Photojournalist James Nachtwey: Pictures Worth All the Views a Heart Can Bear

So much suffering. Catastrophe upon catastrophe, really, the long chronicle of humanity’s vast inhumanity and indifference to our fellow humans a kind of psychosis draped in the flags of country, religion, revolution, and perhaps the most fundamental, reptilian attachment of all: greed.

We want to look away, of course, the poet having long ago told us we “cannot bear very much reality.”

In truth, it is natural, and human, and necessary, to carry on so the world’s accumulated misery does not plunder our own capacity for the joy and love and yes, frivolity and ease that should also be everyone’s birthright, at least in some blessed moments out from under suffering’s dark, stifling cloak.

Yet how are we to know what befalls those in distant, denuded and warring lands absent those who consent to bearing witness, to staring the fullness of reality in its face and conveying what they have seen?

Few have stared a...

Read More

Alexei Navalny Yields Not to Temptation…Can It Inspire the World?

It was with a mixture of respect, awe, and incomprehension that I met the news of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’s decision to return home in January 2021 to face near certain arrest and imprisonment at the hands of his nemesis, the dictator Vladimir Putin.

Navalny had been in Berlin, where he had endured a long hospital recovery after all evidence pointed to Putin’s security force having poisoned him the previous August with a chemical nerve agent.

Such attacks have been almost standard operating procedure for Putin, used repeatedly to eliminate or at the very least severely debilitate any antagonists whom he decides have drawn enough support from the Russian people to pose a threat to his rule.

If we applied (Jesus’s example) to Navalny’s martyrdom, we’d liken him to ‘paying’ for our own sins of indifference, ignorance, and cowardice in failing to work as hard and risk as much as he did...

Read More