Fair warning: this book will make you angry.
"The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap," by Matt Taibbi, is a volume of stories. Like the Vietnamese refugee and rape victim in San Diego who applied for public assistance, only to be visited by a "welfare inspector" who barged into her home and began yelling that he would take her children away if he found she was lying about being destitute and not having a man. All this as he's rummaging through her belongings. Finally, he holds up a pair of sexy panties on the tip of a pencil, demanding with a triumphant smirk to know why she needs these if she has no boyfriend.
There was a method to this madness.
Meaning that night more than three weeks ago when a caravan of trucks and buses descended on a boarding school in rural Nigeria and more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted from their beds. As is often the case with acts of terror, this mass kidnapping was accomplished with a theatricality and audacity designed to inspire awe.
Why did you do it?"
The movie opens with that question. In response, Jayson Blair makes a joke. "This one again," he mutters, rolling his eyes in mock consternation at the predictability of it.
Oh, my Lord, where to begin?
You already know what this column is about. You know even though we are barely three sentences in. You knew before you saw the headline.
There are days in the opinion business when one story makes itself inevitable and unavoidable, one story sucks up all the air in the room. This is one of those times. One story.
It swallowed people up.
That's what it really did, if you want to know the truth. It swallowed them up whole, swallowed them up by the millions.
It was an angry book.
Much of the response was angry, too. Some towns banned it, some towns burned it. Every town talked about it.
"The Grapes of Wrath" was published 75 years ago this month, a seminal masterpiece of American literature that seems freshly relevant to this era of wealth disparity, rapacious banks and growing poverty.
I have a question for George Will.
If he can't answer it, maybe Brit Hume can. Both men were recently part of a panel on "Fox News Sunday" to which moderator Chris Wallace posed this question: Has race played a role in the often-harsh treatment of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder?
That, supposedly, was the price Gov. Peter Minuit paid American Indians for the island of Manhattan in 1625. It's a tale historians find suspect.
In the first place, whatever Minuit paid was in goods valued at 60 17th-century Dutch guilders; the calculation that this equaled 24 U.S. dollars was made two centuries later -- on what basis, evidently, no one can say. In the second place, the Indians with whom he traded had no understanding of the European idea that land could be sold, no conception of it as a thing one could own.
Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN ... enough. Put your hands up and step away from the story.
This is a column about campaign finance reform.
And your eyes glazed over just then, didn't they?
That's the problem with this problem. Americans know that government truly of, by and for the people is unlikely if not impossible so long as the system is polluted by billions of dollars in contributions from corporations and individual billionaires. Half of us, according to Gallup, would like to see public financing of campaigns; nearly 80 percent want to limit campaign fund-raising.
Eleven years ago, Richard Stearns went to Washington.
Stearns -- president of World Vision, the billion-dollar Christian relief organization -- joined other faith leaders in lobbying Congress to spend $15 billion combating AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. He acknowledged he and his fellow evangelicals were late to the fight against this pandemic and explained their tardiness with remarkable candor.
"We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work."
-- Rep. Paul Ryan
Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.
That bit of live-and-let-live wisdom, usually attributed -- some say misattributed -- to Oliver Wendell Holmes, provides a useful framework for considering a high profile case argued before the Supreme Court last week.
What excuses will they make this time?
Meaning that cadre of letters-to-the-editor writers and conservative pundits who so reliably say such stupid things whenever the subject is race. Indeed, race is the third rail of American conscience; to touch it is to be zapped by rationalizations, justifications and lies that defy reason, but that some must embrace to preserve for themselves the fiction of liberty and justice for all. Otherwise, they'd have to face the fact that advantage and disadvantage, health and sickness, wealth and poverty, life and death, are still parceled out according to melanin content of skin.
And what shall we say now that the monster has died?
His estranged sons Mark and Nate told the world just a few days ago that their 84-year old father, Fred Phelps, was in the care of a hospice and "on the edge of death." Thursday morning, he went over the edge.