Opinion: Columnists

Jun. 08, 2015 @ 09:22 AM

Rush Limbaugh's finding out he's not normal, and it scares him

I am not normal.

This, I learned from a news story 35 years ago. The details have faded with the passage of time, but the gist of it remains clear. Some expert had crunched a bunch of numbers in search of the "average" human being, the planetary norm, and found that she was an 8-year-old Japanese girl, living in Tokyo. I don't fit that profile; I'm willing to bet you don't, either. So as a matter of statistical fact, I'm not "normal" and neither are you.


Jun. 07, 2015 @ 04:03 PM

Super PAC minuet is a result of ‘reform’

Campaign finance "reformers" think America would be better governed if the government could thoroughly regulate campaign speech, which is speech about the composition and comportment of the government. Reformers scold the Supreme Court for construing the First Amendment as though it says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." Reformers say government can limit campaign money without limiting what most such money funds -- political speech.


Jun. 07, 2015 @ 10:22 AM

CBS' 'The Briefcase' plumbs new depths

Recently, I watched the first episode of "The Briefcase," CBS' new "reality" show. I found myself vaguely ashamed for doing so. I kept reminding myself that I had to watch it in order to write about it.


Jun. 07, 2015 @ 07:53 AM

Connecting lying, truth and creativity in our lives

One of the joys of teaching is watching a student connect to a gift they did not know he or she had.  In my 16 years as a teacher, I have seen this happen to people in their late teens and to people in their 80s.  Some part of their soul opens up – a new space within them that they did not know was there, and they discover a new love for poetry, painting or (yes, this sometimes happens) theology.  I have also watched as a person shuts off a part of their soul that they were just beginning to see.  You can watch this happen on a person’s face, as they harden internally to refuse the possibility of knowing something new.   


Jun. 07, 2015 @ 07:41 AM

Our unusual school-funding model diffuses responsibility

The discussion between the Durham Public Schools board and the Durham County 
Commissioners is a near-annual event.  

Jun. 06, 2015 @ 10:35 PM

Connecting lying, truth and creativity in our lives

One of the joys of teaching is watching a student connect to a gift they did not know he or she had.  In my 16 years as a teacher, I have seen this happen to people in their late teens and to people in their 80s.  Some part of their soul opens up – a new space within them that they did not know was there, and they discover a new love for poetry, painting or (yes, this sometimes happens) theology.  I have also watched as a person shuts off a part of their soul that they were just beginning to see.  You can watch this happen on a person’s face, as they harden internally to refuse the possibility of knowing something new


Jun. 03, 2015 @ 08:42 PM

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' socialist charade

Does any stricture of journalistic propriety or social etiquette require us to participate in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' charade? Is it obligatory to take seriously his pose of being an "independent" and a "socialist"? It gives excitable Democratic activists a frisson of naughtiness to pretend that he is both. Actually, he is neither.


Jun. 02, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

North Carolina’s forgotten “Only in America” story

He was the most famous North Carolinian in the country, for a moment back in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Today, you rarely hear his name. My children, who grew up in the 1970s a few blocks from where Harry Golden worked, do not remember him.


Jun. 01, 2015 @ 08:57 PM

Police chief's viewpoint is an antidote to distrust

Police chief's viewpoint is an antidote to distrust


May. 31, 2015 @ 03:31 PM

A summer break from campus muzzling

Commencement season brings a respite from the sinister childishness rampant on campuses. Attacks on freedom of speech come from the professoriate, that herd of independent minds, and from the ever-thickening layer of university administrators who keep busy constricting freedom in order to fine-tune campus atmospherics.


May. 31, 2015 @ 01:34 PM

Starting lines differ widely in the game of life

I sometimes tease my son, Andrew, that he chose his parents wisely.

Children don’t choose their parents, of course, or the settings – socioeconomic, cultural, geographic – into which they are born and in which they grow up. Those factors can make enormous differences in the life they can expect.


May. 29, 2015 @ 04:58 AM

The disintegration of us-vs.-them politics

For all the decades of its existence, American social conservatism has been rooted in a premise simple enough to be fully expressed in just three words:

Us versus them.


May. 28, 2015 @ 11:26 PM

The propriety of separation of campaign and state

A simple apology would suffice. Instead, campaign finance reformers, horrified by the predictable results of their handiwork, aspire to yet more regulatory wrinkles to limit political speech. These, too, would have consequences unintended and undesired by reformers, "requiring" a new round of reforms. But the Constitution, properly construed, requires a wall of separation between campaign and state.


May. 26, 2015 @ 10:47 AM

Historian Leuchtenburg rates Obama

“How will historians rate Barack Obama’s presidency?”

Following up my conversation last week with historian William Leuchtenburg about the challenges Hillary Clinton faces in her campaign, I wanted him to begin to put Obama in historical perspective, a challenging task for anyone, but maybe not unfair to someone whose latest book, “The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton,” will be out in early December.


May. 24, 2015 @ 12:07 AM

Kaine's quest for war legitimacy

The Revolutionary War and Civil War ended in Virginia, which was involved, by the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, in the beginning of today's war with radical Islam. Now a Virginia senator is determined that today's war shall not continue indefinitely without the legitimacy conferred by congressional involvement congruent with the Constitution's text and history.