It seems an age ago that Barack Obama, after his convincing defeat of Mitt Romney in 2012, began his second term in office. The president had fresh wind in his sails. In his inaugural and State of the Union addresses, he laid out an agenda of gun control before a nation that appeared finally ready […]
About Robert ZallerRobert Zaller is a professor of history at Drexel University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Archive | Robert Zaller
A recent headline in The New York Times announced a grim but inevitable marker: The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has now reached 400 parts per million. Climatologists believe this is the highest concentration seen in 3 million years, since before the existence of humans. There is no credible reason to doubt that […]
President Barack Obama has sent a budget to Congress, which I guess is news because he’s overlooked that particular function of the executive branch until now. However, the news that seems to have grabbed everyone’s attention is his proposal to cut Social Security benefits by recalculating the cost-of-living adjustment formula that is notionally supposed to […]
Recently I ran across an article in The New York Times on business ethics. Business and ethics? Isn’t that an oxymoron? The author, Jesse Eisinger, suggested that banks and investors will routinely “forgive rotten ethics for good returns.” Not the most elegantly turned phrase, but, excuse me, doesn’t “rotten ethics” mean no ethics at all? […]
The Israelis call it “cutting the grass.” Every so often, the level of rocket fire coming from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel rises from the level of nuisance to that of provocation, just as the weeds in your garden grow naturally to an unsightly height. At that point, it’s time to take out the […]
I don’t recall anyone ever taking a poll of the faculty and staff who work in the MacAlister-Creese complex or the students who use it daily about whether they wanted the building to be permanently embalmed behind an academic version of the Twin Towers. I’ve taken my own private one, though, and have yet to […]
What a difference a century makes. A hundred years ago, in the presidential election of 1912, self-styled progressive candidates won three-quarters of the popular vote. Conservatives won less than a quarter. The Socialist candidate, Eugene Debs, got over 900,000 votes, which, with the growth of population and the doubling of the electorate by the enfranchisement […]
Robert Zaller A round of patriotic holidays punctuate our calendar: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. Lately, Sept. 17 has been celebrated as Constitution Day. Make that Constitution Memorial Day, though, because at just short of 225 years, the Constitution was officially pronounced dead March 5, 2012. The occasion […]
Robert Zaller When was the last time a poem raised such a ruckus? Well, not really a poem, but a 67-line piece of doggerel titled “What Must Be Said.” Its author is Gunter Grass, the 1999 Nobel laureate in literature, last heard from in 2006 when he confessed to having joined the Waffen SS […]
Robert Zaller President Barack Obama has said that it is time to reduce speculation about war with Iran. But who’s been doing the talking? American warships have been controversially sailing around the Strait of Hormuz for months, leading our president to declare publicly that “all options are on the table” to prevent Iran from […]
Robert Zaller The year 2011 will no doubt be remembered for many things. Tyrants will be glad that it’s over, although 2012 is so far proving no better. The bad news began in February, when a trivial-seeming incident — the rousting of a peddler from his accustomed stand by a female police officer in […]
Dear Editor, The Feb. 3 edition of The Triangle contained two articles, one lamenting the decline in term-paper assignments and the consequent deficit in student intellectual skills, and the other noting the rise in Internet-abetted plagiarism. May I submit that these two issues are not unrelated? I have come to look first in the […]
Robert Zaller A few years ago, walking around an upper-middle class neighborhood in southern California, I noticed that home sale prices were near the seven-figure range. Looking at the houses themselves and imagining the income levels of their occupants, my thought was: This can’t last. It’s unreal. So it was. The housing market soon […]
Robert Zaller Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addressed a small gathering of marines, standing in front of a wall that looked as though it had been removed from the South Bronx. A five-piece band played. The colors were taken down and folded up. Panetta told the troops they were leaving with honor, their mission […]
Robert Zaller The Occupy Wall Street movement is now almost four months old. It began with the spontaneous occupation of Zuccotti Park, a private enclave adjacent to New York’s Financial District, and has since mushroomed across the country. Few, if any, major cities have lacked an occupation. Most have camped in public parks or, […]
Robert Zaller The police crackdowns on the Occupy Wall Street movement have thrown a glaring new spotlight on a law enforcement system that seems increasingly out of control. Some of New York’s police officers were found to be involved in gun and drug trafficking. In Los Angeles, dozens of prisoner beatings are under investigation, […]
Robert Zaller A lot of people have wondered why President Barack Obama chose to expend political capital in his first year in office by reforming health care instead of addressing the jobs crisis created by the financial collapse of 2008 — a collapse that tipped a close electoral race to Obama and gave him […]
Robert Zaller Like the Eagles in the playoffs, the Liberty Medal is one of Philadelphia’s annual rites of shame. The city could sure use a break after stealing a neighbor’s art collection, having its orchestra pushed into bankruptcy, buying out its school superintendent with a small fortune, caving in to casino interests and anointing […]
Robert Zaller. The 10th anniversary observances for 9/11 are now over, thankfully. The images of that day are as painful as ever. But the thought of what has happened to us as a nation, and what we have become, is even more so. It is customary to speak of those who died on 9/11 as […]
Robert Zaller May 20 was a significant date, although it may have passed you by. That was the 60th day of Operation Fiasco, our war in Libya, which by the War Powers Resolution of 1973, called for a report by President Barack Obama to the Congress and a request for authorization to continue combat. The […]
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