I am a nationally syndicated op-ed columnist. My column runs, I'm told, in nearly 90 newspapers each week and it just turned two years old. You might assume this means I went to journalism school, started at a paper and worked my way up. You might assume I'm a product of a Washington Think Tank. You might also assume I'm part of the media elite.
You would be wrong on all counts.
In the 2013 New York City Democratic mayoral race, the primary didn't only look like New York, it looked a lot like America: There was an openly gay woman, an Asian-American, an African-American, a Jewish man and a former activist with a mixed-race family (he's a 6'5" white guy). Was it parity with the population? No. But was it this much-coveted diversity of contestants? Yes.
Americans believe in science. Generally, most of us have faith in medicine. A majority of Americans, though ever-thinning, tell pollsters they're religious and yet we've reached virtual consensus about going to the hospital when we're sick. We are, in some cases, obligated by law to seek medical care. Courts have found the denial of medical care to children, when it results in their death, to be a crime. In the eyes of the law, science trumps religious fervor.
House Speaker John Boehner says Republicans should be judged not on what laws they’ve made but by what laws they’ve repealed. I’d like to offer a brief list of the fallout of the GOP’s existential crisis.
House Speaker John Boehner says Republicans should be judged not on what laws they’ve made but by what laws they’ve repealed.
You’ve heard the term “slut-shaming.” It’s a tactic used by those fighting to repeal the 20th century. As women make strides for equality, a chorus of antiquities pronounces women who want to work outside the home as promiscuous. Only wanton women would want abortion rights. Loose ladies demand day care.
OK, House Republicans—I give up. Since you've been the majority the only thing you've accomplished is naming things after Reagan and voting to repeal Obamacare an unprecedented—let alone unreasonable—38 times. Seriously, you've done nothing. Even Congresses that set out to do nothing and were dubbed "Do-Nothing," look like overachievers by comparison.
In 2001, Abdullah Al Noaimi was a 19-year-old Bahraini traveling in Pakistan. Bounties were being offered for men who fit his description, which is why he ended up detained in a Pakistani jail. When he learned he'd be turned over to Americans, he told "This American Life" journalist Jack Hitt that he was relieved. "He told the other prisoners it was good news. He knew America. He knew how the people were," Hitt explained.
Christianity has been used to justify everything from the crusades, sectarian wars and inquisitions, to witch burnings, cross burnings and Christian rock. The idea that it would be a better basis for a free country isn't supported by history.
On Wednesday, the highest court in the nation decided the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. The same day, they sent California's Proposition 8 back to the lower court. The result? A minority of Americans will now enjoy basic rights with a partner of their choosing without being unjustly double-taxed.
In 1994, 40,000 U.S. residents died of AIDS. The epidemic was at its peak domestically and accounted for a third of deaths among American women aged 24-44 that year. It was then the first African-American Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, attended the United Nations World AIDS Day Conference.
In the now-infamous "47 Percent" video secretly captured during a Mitt Romney fundraising speech, the GOP hopeful gleefully mentioned Jimmy Carter's Iran Hostage Crisis moment and admitted, "By the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity."
Donald Trump thinks it's a no-brainer that so many American servicewomen are raped by their fellow soldiers. Last week, when the increase in these crimes was the subject of a Senate hearing, Trump tweeted: "26,000 unreported sexual assults (sic) in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?"
I normally ignore The Donald as a publicity-hound half-wit celebrity shill. But now that he's a rape apologist, he deserves a response:
The natural product of men and women together is not sexual assault. Rape is not an eventuality. It's not a method of conception as (thankfully still-a-Congressman) Paul Ryan likes to refer to it. It's not a means of god "gifting human life" like former Senator Rick Santorum believes. There's not illegitimate rape and legitimate rape as former Congressman and 2012 senatorial candidate Todd Akin felt the need to clarify.
There's just consensual sex and a felony.
Rape is a crime.
If the Tsarnaev brothers - the duo behind the Boston Marathon bombing - set off two of their pressure cooker bombs every day, in a year's time they'd amass 1,095 victims (providing they killed the same number of people each day). The total would jump to 1,098 if it happened to be a leap year.
There are an average of 10,000 gun homicides every year in the U.S. If you add gun accidents and suicides it's over 30,000 deaths each year according to the World Health Organization.
My working theory - you could call it a philosophy, or a freestanding reason of how the world works - is what I call the Theory of Relative Laziness. It goes like this: Never attribute anything to conspiracy, coordination or planning when laziness could explain it. Call it Occam's Armchair.