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The road to Selma: Mississippi Delta locked in poverty of the past

Mississippi has been called "the South of the South" -- a place even more poor, more racially segregated and more violent than the rest of the region -- and the Mississippi Delta has been called "the Mississippi of Mississippi." 

Obama's a wily quarterback in the fourth quarter of a big game

Before heading off to Hawaii for a brief Christmas vacation, President Obama held a press conference in which he used a football analogy to characterize his upcoming final two years in office. "My presidency is entering its fourth quarter," he said. "Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter."

Kim Jong Un has made Seth Rogen's silly film the must-see movie of the year

The bizarre saga of the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment could provide the story line for a better movie than "The Interview," the film that inspired the hack. Still, much like Seth Rogen's goofball comedy about the fictional assassination of North Korea's baby-faced despot, Kim...

Tea party legislators oppose teaching complexities of U.S. history

The burgeoning ranks of tea party "patriots" who have gotten themselves elected to Congress and state legislatures have identified yet another threat to the soul of America: Advanced Placement U.S. history guidelines.

Obama finally brings Cuba policy out of the Cold War darkness

If you are 53 or younger, you have never lived in a time when Cuba and the United States had diplomatic relations. With China, the communist giant, we've established normal relations. With communist Vietnam, our onetime enemy in war, we've established normal relations. But not Cuba.

Cheap gas is not good news for those who worry about climate change

It seems as though low gas prices should be good news. When the cost of a gallon of gas dips well below $3 in most of the country, everybody smiles, right?

Congress gives bankers a sweet deal in funding bill, with more to come

The omnibus funding bill that the lame-duck Congress passed in the darkness of Saturday night sheds light on what we can expect from the Republican-dominated Congress that will take over in January. Here's a hint: The bankers are smiling.

Internet porn is an experiment in dehumanization

You do not have to be a prude to worry about porn. Thanks to the Internet, Americans have been pushed, unwittingly, into a vast social experiment testing whether unfettered access to the most freakish and foul pornography will warp sexual relations for generations to come.

Is it about race? You bet it is

For years, it has been said that this country needs an honest discussion about race. Well, as a result of the uproar over recent deaths of black males at the hands of police, we may finally be getting it.

Amy Pascal deserves an Oscar for Best Recovery from a Humiliating Hack

Sunday will bring the American film industry's most glittering night of the year, the 2015 Oscars, but the biggest movie story of recent months will only be noted if the evening's host, Neil Patrick Harris, makes it the subject of one of his jokes.

Chuck Hagel was never let into Obama's inner circle

Chuck Hagel resigned his job as secretary of Defense on Monday. "Resigned" is, of course, a euphemism for being pushed out the door because his presence no longer pleases President Obama.

Best revenge for angry GOP: Pass an immigration bill

I've got a great idea for congressional Republicans who are hopping mad about President Obama's executive action suspending deportation for several million undocumented immigrants: If you want to undo what the president has done and improve your standing with the American people, turn off talk...

Christian Grey and the Koch brothers share a similar desire for dominance

Does "50 Shades of Grey" offer any insight into billionaires like the Koch Brothers?

Keystone XL pipeline pumps out political nonsense

Like most debates in Congress, the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is driven by posturing and partisanship rather than common sense. On Tuesday, this phenomenon was on full view as the Senate took a vote that fell short of overriding environmental concerns and giving the pipeline the go-ahead.

GOP outrage at Obama immigration plan sticks to an old script

Ronald Reagan pulled off a great performance as president of the United States. All those years in the movies came in handy. Yet, it must be acknowledged that, even without careers in Hollywood, members of the current cast of Republicans are no slouches when it comes to playacting.

Legislators and lobbyists bonding over mai tais on Maui

I got into the news business covering the Washington Legislature as a student intern for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. In those days, lobbyists would host frequent fundraising events for key lawmakers during the legislative session and there was always lots of free food. Because I was paid barely...

Right wing freaks out over China-U.S. climate change deal

About five seconds after the announcement came from Beijing that the United States and China had reached an unexpected and ambitious climate change agreement, Republicans in Washington declared it the worst deal since the Trojans accepted a big wooden horse from the Greeks. 

Cable TV can get snowed by quick shifts in the news

About 4:30 on Tuesday afternoon, I noticed the email message inviting me to appear on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell. It would mean getting to the NBC studio at Universal City by 6:45, the high point of L.A. rush ho...

Obama may be too sane for our crazy world

An NBC report about this week's Asian economic summit in Beijing had a shot of the various leaders walking together like a crowd of students on their way to a third-period history class. Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping were in front, talking and smiling. President Obama...

Obama visits Saudi Arabia, stays mum on flogging

Conveniently for President Obama, Saudi authorities postponed Friday's planned flogging of Raif Badawi, thus making the president's Tuesday visit to Riyadh slightly less awkward. Had the Saudi free speech advocate been literally under the lash within just a few days of the presidential pit stop,...

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