The more vulgar the culture gets, the more squeamish the keepers of the rules. The more verbal and visual taboos we break, the greater the threat to free speech.
Wonder Woman is home from the war on women, a "war" fought mostly in the fantasies of embattled Democrats, and she sounds like a Republican who looks a lot like Joni Ernst of Iowa.
RUGEN, Germany. Americans groove on the exhilaration of argument and accusation as the midterm elections finally approach, but here in Germany there's the bitter remembrance of what it was like to have none of the above. Trading barbs and insults is the American way of campaigning, but East Germans recall fear, not free speech, as reams of barbed wire and blocks of cement turned into a wall and lookouts with guards who were ordered to shoot any of their own people trying to flee their encircled prison of a country.
BERLIN. Angela Merkel tops the Forbes magazine list of the hundred most powerful women in the world for the fourth consecutive year, but these are difficult days for the German chancellor. The leading men in her life are making that life complicated.
The Democratic "war on women" has fallen into a time warp, and it's losing traction. Women don't want to be reduced to voting for someone eager to pay for their birth control. Talk about stereotypes. Nor are many women attracted to a senator who couldn't stay on a horse pretending to be Sir Galahad.
Gay blades, weary of the indulgent life of easy gratification, want the courts to guarantee their right to marry. Stuffy straights demand that politicians legislate their partner's sexual intentions. The times, they are indeed a-changin'.
Airliners that routinely complete their flights, like a dog that bites a man, naturally get no headlines. A flight must crash and burn to get attention, like the man who bites a dog. It's controversy that sells tickets, particularly on campus.
The phony "war against women" has taken a strange and unexpected turn. Republican candidates are promoting expanded access to birth control, with contraceptives available over the counter. Democrats in varying shades of blue dismiss something they've always wanted as mere Republican politics. You would think Democrats would be grateful for enhanced access for women, a dream come true.
Angela Merkel is the stand-up lady of Europe. The German chancellor is forthright in calling anti-Semites to account.
HYDE PARK, N.Y. Franklin D. Roosevelt had the good fortune of Hitler declaring war on the United States just four days after Pearl Harbor. With war blazing across front pages from coast to coast and the radio crackling with cries of fear and loathing, America was galvanized. Army and Navy recruiting offices were swamped by eager young men.
The end of summer makes melancholy babies of all of us. We're more nervous than usual this year. There's the muted anxiety for the young, shifting gears for back to school, and simply putting away the summer clothes reminds us all of the fleeting freedom of life in the sunshine.
Thousands of moms and dads, following the script written into an autumn ritual of the middle class, are preparing to say farewell to the sons and daughters they've loved, nurtured and tried to civilize for two decades. They're sending the next generation off to college and saying goodbye to a considerable chunk of the family savings.
Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall join this year's roster of celebrity deaths. Their names and fame preoccupy us in public mourning, though most of us were no closer to them in life than to a movie or television screen. Mourning differs in different times, but how we experience the tears and the reminiscences tells us a lot about ourselves.
April is the cruelest month, and August is the melancholy month. Even the crickets sing a different song at dusk as August begins summer's slow retreat. Children listen for the back-to-school bells as autumn closes in and the days begin to get noticeably shorter.
The "Republican war on women" is a fiction extracted from the imaginations of Democratic campaign strategists and endorsed by President Obama. But if the president is looking to help some oppressed people of the female persuasion, there's an opportunity at hand to wage a "war."
The front pages across the world tell an old and familiar story. Hatred of the Jews is back. The sons and daughters of Abraham enjoyed a brief respite from an ancient hatred, but it was only an intermission. The old story never ends.
Social conservatives feel betrayed by the popular culture, and why not? If Hollywood depicts someone with a gun or a Bible, he's a figure of ridicule, entitled to say with Rodney Dangerfield: "I don't get no respect."
New York -- New York, New York, a wonderful town. (The Bronx is up, and the Battery's down.)
We weep for Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach, the three Jewish teenagers whose lives were brutally cut short because they chose to walk home from their religious school, hoping to catch a ride like teenage boys safely do in the civilized neighborhoods of the world.
We once believed that successful politicians made sacrifices for us, that when they chose public service it meant tight finances for most of them. No longer.