Columns

From the New York Times, Time magazine, and the complete Chicago Tribune syndicated columns

Get Washington’s statues off their high horses

Forgive me if I don’t think the removal of Confederate statuary is an issue. I call it decluttering, which is an ongoing project at my house and I hope at yours too. When those crews are done down South, put them to work in Washington. The Frenchman L’Enfant (the name means “immature”) who laid out the streets in this swamp had grandiose ideas, as anyone knows who has attempted to navigate in the capital, diagonal boulevards laid against a grid, which created numerous odd squares and irrelevant circles which, of course, required large equestrian statues to ennoble them, and so you have Thomas Circle at 14th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW named for Gen. George Thomas, who fought at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863. But does this give him a permanent right to loom over us in 2017 and obstruct traffic and cause honking and obscene gesturing? A whole circle devoted to this small historical footnote and how many thousands of children have pointed to him and asked, “Who is he?” and their parents were clueless and thus authority is undermined, trust is eroded, the family is weakened, our children grow up rootless and liable to fall for crackpots and demagogues.

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Flying in the floating in New York

Here’s what they say in New York — Donald J. Trump is a grandstander, a showboat. Not doing his job. Totally incompetent. The White House has been in turmoil for months. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. So what are we talking about? Enough about him. Who needs an investigation? Guy is a total loser. Tell me something I don’t know.

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Republicans abandon their virtues to stand behind Donald Trump and clap

For all the fireworks of the French election, please note that Marine Le Pen gave a simple elegant concession speech, congratulating the winner and thanking her supporters and campaign workers. She did not claim voter fraud or a media conspiracy or accuse the government of tapping her phone. She is, after all, French. Liberty, equality, dignity.

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Late-night driving, right-hand thinking

All last week I got to drive around Minnesota late at night, drifting through the little towns, just me and the truckers out on the road and Merle and George and Emmylou on the radio. I was doing a little dog-and-pony show around my home state, and I like driving at night. Less traffic, more romance. You look ahead down the open road and you’re no longer an old retired guy in a suit and tie, you’re a Woody Guthrie song, you’re a man on the run, you’re the perpetrator of the biggest art heist in years, with Hopper’s “Nighthawks” under a blanket in the backseat along with “American Gothic” and six Jackson Pollocks. It’s a big backseat.

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Donald Trump’s fantastically tremendous first 100 days

My first 100 days as Numero Uno have been fantastically tremendous as we begin to make progress to clean up the mess that I inherited. Terrorism, crumbling infrastructure, public television (so boring), China, the war on coal, political correctness, people we have no idea who they are coming into this country, the whole deal. You’d never know this if you watch MSNBC or CNN, which — and we have proof of this — are owned by the man who owns The New York Times, Famous Ray’s Pizza, some check-cashing establishments, and that bunch of losers, the New York Knicks. Sad!

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Alaska is a state that one remembers long afterward

Up to Alaska last week to visit old friends and relive fragrant memories of previous trips. Landing on a short uphill grass strip near a native village and later taking off on that strip and off the edge of a cliff. Fishing in a fjord near Juneau as a dark enormity rolled up from the deep, a humpback 30 feet off starboard. Encountering a moose while biking around Anchorage. Sitting in a friendly cafe in Sitka that felt like family. Hiking the Iditarod trail and seeing the body of a moose who broke through the ice of a lake and drowned. Going to the state fair in Palmer and mingling with Alaskans in a state of euphoria produced by sunlight.

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The president of visuals

So it now appears that the president has deep feelings about the sufferings of infants, or, as he would say, “very, very deep feelings, believe me.” This was apparent when he talked about the gas attack on Syrian civilians last week. Scores of people were killed but it was the sight of dying babies on TV (“it doesn’t get any worse than that”) that particularly moved the man to reconsider his hands-off policy toward Syria and send the USS Ross and USS Porter to the eastern Mediterranean to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles against a Syrian air base. Presumably, no infants were housed at the base.

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Sisyphus would have been a Democrat

“Whan that Aprille up in Minnesota the drought of March hath pierced to the roote and bathed every vein in sweet liqueur which makes the corn grow, and it helps to use manure,” wrote Chaucer, or words to that effect.

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It’s poetry month, so write one, Terence

April is Poetry Month, a painful reminder for some, who suffered under English teachers who made them write about the cherry tree wearing white for Eastertide or “The Love Song of J. Alfred Pruneface” by T.S. Eliot, that small dark cloud of a poet.

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Trump has no idea how to tend his garden

What a world. I spend an evening looking at a friend’s video he shot in Uganda, impoverished people dancing with hands over their heads, overjoyed that a well has been dug and they can drink good water without having to hike for miles. The next day I read about a foundation grant to create storytelling programs in small towns to create radical reimaginings of narratives that lead to healing. And then the Boy President is on TV with Angela Merkel looking at him and thinking, “Who is that old game-show host standing at the lectern? What movie am I in?”

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