When the Germans found out from Edward Snowden that America's National Security Agency had spied on Germany, an outraged German artist projected onto a wall at the American embassy the words "United Stasi of America."
Nobody likes a newspaper fight like the British. Such fights are great entertainment in a land where newspapers are full of ginger and the language lends itself to insult by rapier rather than bludgeon.
She likes pantsuits, suffers public attention to her coif and shows telling signs of age with unflattering puffs under her eyes. But Angela Merkel is no Hillary Clinton.
After the massacre comes the rush to judgment. The blame game begins. Such things shouldn't happen among civilized people. Don't we have safeguards to prevent such tragedies? Can't we do something, as they say in the old westerns, to cut the killers off at the pass?
Miss America is back in town. After being exiled to Las Vegas for seven years, the pageant moved home to its birthplace for an end-of-summer carnival of kitsch and kicks, beautiful women romping in the sand and dipping toes in the sea, and showing their gams to the boardwalk empire.
The latest Syrian crisis broke just as the children, like Congress, were returning from the long summer vacation.
How remote the talk of war sounds. There's sound and fury aplenty but no passionate urgency in the president's call for military action against Syria.
"Humane killer" appears to be an oxymoron that startles with contradiction. Yet talking of war is a way of drawing a fine distinction, not a contradiction.
August, despite its heat and humidity, isn't cruel like April, but it taps deeper into melancholy. The days grow shorter, sunlight becomes less intense, and shadows lengthen, shading the edges of experience. Summer begins to feel like Sunday night.
At the town meetings now being called to order across the continent, congressmen are spending their recess getting an earful, peppered with pro and con about the bill presented by the Gang of Eight in the Senate and passed on to the House. The personal is everything.
Every generation confronts its own obstacles. My parents eloped because they couldn't afford to get married, and they hid the nuptials from their families for a year.
Let's face it. Anthony Weiner is the comic relief we've been seeking: sexualized politics without a moral message. Salacious texting, a parody of sensual touching, doesn't depend on the meaning of "is" or "was." Vice in virtual reality is sexuality-lite, superficial fantasy, timorous titillation, shadows in the shallows of the Internet.
"At a time when economic anxiety is driving the public toward a narrow concept of education focused on short-term payoffs," observes the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, "it is imperative that colleges, universities and their supporters make a clear and convincing case for the value of liberal arts education."
Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia, and Vladimir Putin wants it to be very temporary. The Russian president might send him Dr. Seuss as a bedtime story. The appropriate tale is "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!"
Few of us would give up the the wealth of electronic wizardry that makes learning a snap, if only we knew how to harness the power of the wizardry. We shouldn't dismiss the lessons those early Americans could teach us. Maybe they knew something we have yet to learn.
The Fourth of July is the highest of the holy days of America's civil religion.
From the intersection of politics and culture, the scene of endless traffic jams, we see the sloppy self-righteousness of political celebrity writ large.
Barack Obama was in Berlin this week, and he was a different Barack Obama than the one who visited the German capital as a candidate in 2008. He was in a different Berlin, too. The welcome was warm, but the crowds were smaller and the adoration -- and that's exactly what it was -- has dissolved. The thrill is definitely gone.
It's the season of Pomp and Circumstance, flavored with dashes of parental pride, as a rising generation in cap and gown marches solemnly into its future. They're glowing with the beauty of youth, eager to take on the world. But what have we taught these young men and women, and will what they have learned lead them to become good citizens with productive and satisfying jobs?
The age of 20 to 30 is more "post-adolescent" than grown-up. Young adults put off moving past the traditional benchmarks -- a job with benefits, marriage, and the responsibilities of motherhood and fatherhood. But how does it affect culture and personal relationships when a man has a diminished role in a woman's heart and at the family hearth?