According to the National Retail Foundation, Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year. To the untrained observer, that sounds as if the autumn celebration will be around forever; but I am concerned for the long-term health of the holiday.
If the disappointment of everyone expecting fireworks at the first Democratic debate exhibited itself as perspiration, we could declare the California drought over. A few soggy matches might have been lit but that was it. Heavy on the smoke, non-existent on the flame.
The call came as I was walking out the front door of our house. "Are you finished with that hospital column?" It was my sister Kate, calling from Wichita. She had just reviewed my draft column. "Yeah, pretty much," I told her. "You can't run it yet. You need to make some changes. We weren't Candy Strippers. That's how it reads. We were Candy Stripers."
Presidential candidates typically try to sell themselves as superheroes whose powers will magically cure our national ills. Rarely do they remind us that power is widely dispersed in our federal system, and that presidents are compelled to share it with the typically disputatious members of Congress.
To paraphrase former Speaker Sam Rayburn, Republicans have proven they can knock down a barn. In the aftermath of John Boehner's resignation and Kevin McCarthy's withdrawal, now they have to find among their number a carpenter who can rebuild the House. Until then, our Congress is being held hostage by Banana Republicans with a bad case of electoral dysfunction.
These days, it can be very difficult to determine what makes someone a "real American." In years past, there were clear answers, most of which revolved around notions of individual rights, economic freedom, and Anglo-based societal values.
Over the past few weeks, I've gotten to the point where I wanted to just leave Facebook behind. I have a fairly light social media footprint when it comes to Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. But I do hang out in the Facebook precincts on a fairly regular basis, so fairly regular that my boss has occasionally asked me how I'm enjoying retirement.
In the midst of President Obama's denunciation of gun violence - if you've lost track, the latest massacre was on Friday - he lamented Washington's ongoing inertia and said that, in fact, "we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially prevent gun deaths."