Opinion: Columnists

Dec. 24, 2014 @ 08:36 PM

For many, Cuba derangement syndrome lingers

Barack Obama has made a geopolitical irrelevancy suddenly relevant to American presidential politics. For decades, Cuba has been instructive as a museum of two stark failures: socialism and the U.S. embargo. Now, Cuba has become useful as a clarifier of different Republican flavors of foreign-policy thinking. 


Dec. 24, 2014 @ 02:19 PM

Parties get in way of fair redistricting

A coalition of voters and politicians cried foul three years ago when the new Republican General Assembly majority drew up election district maps that will help their party win more state and federal seats.


Dec. 23, 2014 @ 06:59 PM

Remembering the past, but not chained to it

They just could not bring themselves to shake hands with their former enemies.

A few weeks ago on the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we remembered earlier reunions when some American servicemen met the Japanese pilots who had attacked them so many years earlier.


Dec. 21, 2014 @ 08:40 AM

Lighting fuses of federalism in Oklahoma

Scott Pruitt enjoyed owning a AAA baseball team here, but he is having as much fun as Oklahoma's attorney general, and one of the Obama administration's most tenacious tormentors. The second existential challenge to the Affordable Care Act began here.


Dec. 20, 2014 @ 02:17 PM

Students love Apple – but they love their libraries, too

Not long after I moved back here a decade ago, I observed to a Duke professor that I was struck that virtually every student I saw on campus seemed to be on a cell phone or displaying the tell-tale dangling white cords of iPod earbuds.


Dec. 20, 2014 @ 10:51 AM

Wake up with a startup

The U.S. economy continues to recover from the depths of the Great Recession, and North Carolina continues to recover at a faster rate than the national average. But few would describe the general trend as impressive by historical standards.


Dec. 17, 2014 @ 11:52 PM

A Texas-sized plate dispute

The Battle of Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas, on May 13, 1865, is called the last battle of the Civil War, but the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) might consider that judgment premature, given its conflict with the state's Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles. This skirmish is of national interest because it implicates a burgeoning new entitlement -- the right to pass through life without encountering any disagreeable thought.


Dec. 16, 2014 @ 09:50 AM

Holding on to our humanity

“What is our tolerance for brutality?”

A minister asked this question from the pulpit Sunday morning and suggested that his listeners consider recent news stories relating to “enhanced interrogation” procedures by the Central Intelligence Agency.


Dec. 14, 2014 @ 03:38 PM

‘Outsider’ label an old weapon against protestors

Protestors who have filled city streets have succeeded in driving a community conversation not just about police practices, the criminal justice system, race and society, but also about protest itself.


Dec. 14, 2014 @ 10:44 AM

The unlikely cheerfulness of real tax reform

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

-- Mr. Micawber in "David Copperfield"


Dec. 13, 2014 @ 01:06 PM

Got to pick a pocket?

Did Fagin’s pickpockets stimulate the economy of London?

If you’ve read Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist or seen the musical derived from it, you’ll immediately recognize the name.


Dec. 12, 2014 @ 11:12 AM

Rainbow coalition of protests follows grand jury decisions

They have not stopped.

That's one of the most heartening things about the demonstrations against police brutality that began with the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August and renewed with a grand jury's decision last week not to indict a New York police officer who choked Eric Garner to death.


Dec. 10, 2014 @ 02:28 PM

The plague of overcriminalization

WASHINGTON -- By history's frequently brutal dialectic, the good that we call progress often comes spasmodically, in lurches propelled by tragedies caused by callousness, folly or ignorance. With the grand jury's as yet inexplicable and probably inexcusable refusal to find criminal culpability in Eric Garner's death on a Staten Island sidewalk, the nation might have experienced sufficient affronts to its sense of decency. It might at long last be ready to stare into the abyss of its criminal justice system.


Dec. 08, 2014 @ 01:45 PM

So what does "cruel and unusual" mean?

I once asked that of a law professor. The Eighth Amendment prohibits "cruel and unusual" punishment, but I figured there had to be some technical definition I, as a layperson, was missing. I mean, from where I sit, it's pretty "cruel and unusual" to execute someone, but to judge from the 1,392 executions of the past 38 years, that isn't the case.


Dec. 06, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

Insistence on ‘exceptionalism’ can distort our history

“Don't know much about history

“Don't know much biology

“Don't know much about a science book

“Don't know much about the French I took”

-- Sam Cooke, “Wonderful World,”