The news from Wall Street is not good

Newspapers today still count for something — and in some societies they can count for a great deal.

That Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. are to become the new proprietors of The Wall Street Journal is a matter of concern not only for us in America. It is a matter of interest for everyone in the world — especially, with the rise of China, for Asians. The quality of American society overall, from the White House to the newsroom, has impact elsewhere. World stability depends on well-informed political decision-making, including and especially in Washington.

American ethnic cleansing?

On a cross-country road trip more than three decades ago, I visited the Jackson County museum in Oregon. I remember one display in particular about the Chinese community there.

An exhibit card apologized for the forced removal and intimidation of its Chinese citizens. That community acknowledged the racist attitudes and behaviors of the late 1800s, later legislated into the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

‘Sicko’ needs a fact physical

In his new movie “Sicko,” Michael Moore uses a clip of my appearance earlier this year on “The O’Reilly Factor” to introduce a segment on the glories of Canadian health care. Moore adores the Canadian system. I do not.

Spying needs a human touch

The day of the spy-in-the-sky approach to intelligence gathering may be coming to an end, plagued by cost overruns and systems so complex they take too long to perfect and probably most importantly are increasingly less useful in the age of terrorism.

Was Pat Tillman murdered?

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

Finally getting the message

Droughts in the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic United States. Floods in Texas, Southern England, China, Pakistan, Colombia and, of all places, Sudan. Watch global weather reports and, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way global warming is blowing. It’s blowing your way, and fast.

Let’s hope Congress “knows,” when the House takes up a historic measure, possibly as soon as next week, to raise automobile fuel-economy standards for the first time in almost 30 years.

Shaping the school day

When the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, it was seen, for good or ill, as a federal intrusion into an area — elementary and secondary education — that was traditionally a local and state prerogative.

Now comes evidence that over the five years of the act it has reshaped, often in major fashion, the school day, particularly in the elementary schools.

The gospel according to ‘Deadwood’

With the DVD release of its third, and final, season, I’d like to suggest that HBO’s “Deadwood” is the finest theological drama ever made for an otherwise dismal medium.

I realize that for many familiar with this series, my assertion will seem perverse. The drama’s violence and profanity make HBO’s far more successful “The Sopranos” almost seem like fodder for the Disney Channel. I also realize that theology was probably the last thing of which David Milch, the executive producer, expected to be accused.

The last great hope of society

Today’s column is about class and American society. Please do not run for the hills immediately because I write as a man of the people. Maybe you will thank me later. (Foolish me, I always live in hope.)

The question of the day is: What makes a classy person in the best sense of the word? Wearing an ascot and looking a perfect chump at a cocktail party won’t do it, even if you complete your ensemble with red or green pants decorated with little whales.

Yet, I myself have been tempted on occasion to don an ascot for a night out and was only saved by a spousal death-ray stare.

The lessons of Michael Vick

In an essay about a trip to Morocco, George Orwell noted that it took him several weeks to notice the means by which firewood was being carried past his house. Under each of the enormous loads was a tiny old woman, almost mummified by the sun and by decades of hard labor.