Media must do better in 2020 coverage

WASHINGTON — The belief that constitutional democracy is superior to other forms of government rests in part on its capacity to encourage open debate and thus social learning.

That stupidity of the wall

As The Wall dominated the week’s news, a pitiful juxtaposition of two realities — one the hard truth, the other a lie — emerged to clarify the destructiveness of the American president’s toxic narcissism.

New age of political ‘authenticity’ alarming

WASHINGTON — In the carnage of American civic culture, some of the damage is obvious: the dehumanization of political opponents, the devaluation of truth, the rise of conspiracy thinking. But other less evident shifts are no less troubling. One concerns the use of the word “authenticity.”

Today’s Germany is the best Germany the world has seen

BERLIN — In one of contemporary history’s intriguing caroms, European politics just now is a story of how one decision by a pastor’s dutiful daughter has made life miserable for a vicar’s dutiful daughter. Two of the world’s most important conservative parties are involved in an unintended tutorial on a cardinal tenet of conservatism, the law of unintended consequences, which is that the unintended consequences of decisions in complex social situations are often larger than, and contrary to, those intended.

Parker column: This guy wants to build a reef

CAMDEN, S.C. — Tom Mullikin is that guy — you know, the one who finishes Christmas dinner, then takes off to scale Mount Everest, conducting business by satellite phone to check progress on his plan to build an ocean reef upon his return.

Useless knowledge begets new horizons

In October 1939, as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were plunging the world into war, an American educational reformer named Abraham Flexner published an essay in Harper’s Magazine under the marvelous title, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.”

Trump’s loneliness of leadership in an uncertain 2019

In the days before Christmas 2018, President Donald Trump was alone in his home/office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Someday, future historians will picture Trump sitting at his desk and perhaps commiserate if he felt those oval walls of his famous office were closing in on him.