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Columns

The ‘Time Tax’ Discourages Do-Good Spirit

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Imagine that whenever you planned to do volunteer work, the government told you that you must also pay a small tax. Or suppose that whenever you gave money to charity, you were charged a levy. Or that every time you gave blood, you had to start by writing a check to the Internal Revenue Service. Fortunately, most countries don’t tax people for good works. But private and public institutions do …

Column: In an MRI Tube, a Captive Audience for Political Ads

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lebanon In this election season there is no escaping the crass political pitch, even, it turns out, during the deep and dark seclusion of a private medical procedure. On Saturday morning, bright and early, I report to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for an MRI of my lower back. The MRI procedure is painless, although …

Pick One: Obama Is Too Weak, or Too Strong

Thursday, October 30, 2014

In July, when House Republicans voted to sue the president, they spoke of the urgent need to stop “tyranny” at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. “Our freedom is in peril,” warned Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, the man behind the lawsuit. “We cannot stand by and watch the president shred our Constitution.” Well, it turns out they can stand by. Three …

Willem Lange: Let’s Talk Politics, or Should I Stick to Flowers and Swamps?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Montpelier The other day in the locker room, an elderly man only one year my junior advised me to limit my column topics to woods, fields and mountains, and to “stay out of politics.” It’s probably not a good idea for naked men, especially those of opposite political …

Column: The Ivy-Covered Past of the Supreme Court

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Washington, D.C. Reading about a widely reported visit to Yale University by three of its alums who are Supreme Court justices, I couldn’t help but notice that only three law schools are represented at the top of what …

Column: The Cure for Our Ebola Panic Is More Panic

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Listen. A lot of people have been complaining about our Ebola panic. Turn on cable news, and you find people frantically asking if you can get it from a bowling ball (nope) and whether the virus is notably, magically different now that it has touched American soil (also …

Column: Secrets of the 2014 Midterm Elections

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There’s a hidden history to the nasty midterm election campaign that will, mercifully, end on Nov. 4. What’s not being widely talked about is as important as what’s in the news. Underappreciated fact No. 1: The number of Democratic seats that are not in play this year. In …

Column: From Community Colleges to Elite Schools

Monday, October 27, 2014

Every year about 3 million students graduate from high school in the United States — and only about 50,000 will have the qualifications to begin their academic careers at one of the country’s top 30 private research universities. These are schools that not only teach, but also inspire …

Column: Here’s Why I Want My Son, and All Boys, to Play With Dolls

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shortly after the birth of my third child, I was walking through Washington, D.C. My wife and I were pushing our newborn in a stroller. My 2-year-old daughter was pushing her baby doll in a stroller. So was my 4-year-old son. Within a few minutes, we were verbally …

Column: Tomato or Eggplant? How French Intellectuals Settled the Shape of the Earth

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two hundred and 30 years ago, Charles Marie de la Condamine returned to France with proof about the shape of the Earth after spending 10 years in Latin America. For thousands of years, human beings had roamed the …

Column: Separating Secret Service Fact From Fiction

Sunday, October 26, 2014

During the past five years, the U.S. Secret Service inadvertently let uninvited guests crash a state dinner, fired 10 agents for allegedly hiring prostitutes, pulled members of an elite counterassault team back from overseas duty for drinking, learned …

Steve Nelson: Can We Speak of Religious Intolerance?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Islam is all the rage these days, multiple meanings intended. Perhaps most notably, Bill Maher and his Real Time show on HBO recently kicked up a major kerfuffle when Maher and celebrity atheist Sam Harris suggested that Islam is far from an innocent faith. Other guests, particularly Ben …

Column: A Voter’s Last Wish; Lebanon’s Debbie Cooper Wanted to Cast Her Ballot, and She Did

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Voting. What is voting to you? Sacred duty? Right? Option? Privilege? Obligation? Off-year election pain in the neck on a cold day? It is, of course, all of these things to different people. But this is what it …