News & Ideas

My columns, reports and essays cover a range of topics, from interviews with movie stars, authors and presidential candidates to an exclusive meeting in Miami, Florida, with child refugee Elian Gonzalez—who fled from Communism—during the legal battle over his plea for asylum.

Ayn Rand in Chicago

Posted on Capitalism Magazine July 4, 2013

An exclusive report about Ayn Rand in Chicago, where the philosopher lived when she first came to America from Soviet Russia, returning in 1963 to face a bomb threat, sell out the city’s largest arena and warn the world against government control. Posted on the eve of the Chicago’s first Objectivist Conference.

Sheridan Road: Interview with Kathryn Cameron Porter

Published in The North Shore Weekend March 29, 2013

North Shore residents may remember Kathryn Cameron Porter as the crusading former wife of Republican John Porter, who served as the North Shore’s 10th district congressman from 1980 through 2001. Recently interviewed about a range of issues by telephone from her home near Washington, DC, the Michigan native and current special adviser on Iran to Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk remains an outspoken activist.

Sheridan Road: Former State Sen. Roger Keats

Published in The North Shore Weekend March 22, 2013

Roger Keats, former Illinois state senator (1979 to 1993) and recent candidate for Cook County Board of Commissioners, was born in Ohio, moved to Chicago’s Hyde Park and grew up in Evanston, establishing a political career in Wilmette, where he lived in a house on Sheridan Road. That he now lives in a town called Dripping Springs says everything about what for Mr. Keats ultimately became a bad experience on the North Shore.

Sheridan Road: Eminent Domain on Sheridan Road

Published in The North Shore Weekend March 15, 2013

As a proud activist, I’ve marched against domestic abuse, written speeches, letters and op-eds for property rights and rallied for individual rights. Once, in Chicago, police detained me and a band of fellow protesters for obstructing a union rally for Vice-President Mondale. I think I was 14 years old. But my lifelong commitment to political activism had begun years earlier in a house on Sheridan Road.

Feature: Teen Depression and Suicide on Chicago’s North Shore

Published in The North Shore Weekend October 2012

There’s a moment in Robert Redford’s 1980 movie about the disintegration of a Lake Forest family, Ordinary People. It’s a short scene, barely memorable, really, and it occurs early in the picture. Conrad Jarrett, played by Timothy Hutton, is sitting in a car with other kids on their way to high school. The car is stopped at a gate waiting for the Chicago & North Western train to pass. We hear the bell, see the flashing lights, and, as the train roars by, we see Conrad—repressed, suicidal and trying to take charge of his life—squirming in the backseat, disturbed by something internal we don’t yet know about.

News: Youngest Defector Sees Himself In Elian Gonzalez

Published on April 9, 2000 in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The world’s youngest defector to the U.S., Walter Polovchak, arrived at Lazaro Gonzalez’s house on April 1 with something simple to say to the world: Let Elian Gonzalez be free. By late Sunday, as he watched basketball over a few beers at a Miami sports bar, Polovchak, 32, had held two press conferences and rallied demonstrators outside Elian’s Little Havana home with the cry: “Long live freedom!”

Interview: Alejandro Amenabar on Agora

Posted May 30, 2010

Director Amenabar, whom I first met and interviewed at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard to discuss his haunting, Oscar-winning The Sea Inside in 2004, talked briefly with me about Agora from Spain during an interview by telephone. The South American-born composer, writer and director, who speaks in a thick Spanish accent, talked about Agora’s ideas.

Alejandro Amenabar on The Sea Inside

Posted May 27, 2010

Making an uplifting movie about a man who wants to die was a challenge Alejandro Amenabar couldn’t resist. After the fantasies Open Your Eyes (remade as Vanilla Sky) and The Others, the 32-year-old writer, director and composer chose a more intimate—and controversial—subject for his latest picture, The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro in Spanish). He started with the basics.

Entertainer Johnny Carson Dies (2005)

Posted January 23, 2005 on Box Office Mojo

After retiring from his show in 1992, Johnny Carson rarely appeared in public, despite several requests. In an interview with Playboy, conducted by Alex Haley (who later wrote Roots) for the December 1967 edition, the intensely private comedian, when asked about speculation that he was anti-social, explained: “I couldn’t care less what anybody says about me. I live my life, especially my personal life, strictly for myself. I feel that is my right, and anybody who disagrees with that, that’s his business. Whatever you do, you’re going to be criticized. I feel the one sensible thing you can do is try to live in a way that pleases you. If you don’t hurt anybody else, what you do is your own business.”

Book Reviews: Russian Writings on Hollywood, Why Businessmen Need Philosophy

Posted October 24, 2009

The Russian-born writer Ayn Rand (1905-1982) lives, at least in a sense she probably would have relished: through her ideas. Rand’s books, including The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, continue to sell more than 350,000 copies a year. A Library of Congress readers’ poll in 1991 ranked Atlas second to the Bible in importance for Americans’ lives, and the U.S. Postal Service recently announced that she’ll grace a new first-class stamp, featuring an elegant young Rand against the backdrop of one of her favorite literary symbols: the skyscraper.

We the Living: Another Ayn Rand Novel for Our Times

Posted September 24, 2009

Though increased sales of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand have been getting the attention, Rand’s lesser-known first novel, We the Living (1936), is also relevant in today’s turbulent times. Rand once described We the Living, adapted for film in 1942, available for the first time on DVD, and recently published in trade paperback, as “a book for Americans.

Interview: John Porter

Posted March 25, 2009

John Porter was a U.S. Congressman from Illinois for 21 years, serving on the powerful Appropriations Committee, and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. All government health agencies and programs, except military and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and all government education agencies and programs were under the jurisdiction of his subcommittee. Before his election to Congress, he served in the Illinois House of Representatives. Today, Mr. Porter, named by a magazine as one of Washington’s “top 50 lobbyists”, serves as a partner in the Washington, DC, law firm Hogan & Hartson. This interview focuses on John Porter’s thoughts about science.

Star Wars Trilogy Premieres on DVD

Twentieth Century Fox released creator George Lucas’s first three Star Wars movies, A New Hope (released as Star Wars in 1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), today in the popular DVD format.

John McCain

Sen. John McCain talked about abortion, altruism and Mother Teresa in my wide-ranging 1999 interview.

Jack Germond

This 1999 interview was published in the Arizona Republic.

It’s easy to spot Jack Germond; most know him as the heavy, liberal columnist whose blunt insights were a regular feature on the lively television program, The McLaughlin Group. Read more >>

Lamar Alexander Lamar Alexander Emphasizes Individual Liberty

This 1999 interview with Lamar Alexander was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, Arizona Republic, Bangor (Maine) Daily News, and the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

Born in Blount County, Tennessee, Lamar Alexander was raised by his schoolteacher parents, who taught in Maryville and sent their son to public schools there. Read more >>

Prescription Drug Plans Buyer Beware

This 2000 interview was published in the Detroit News, Buffalo News, and Los Angeles Daily News.

Today’s seniors are at the center of a dramatic health care policy debate that has surprised political experts by becoming the focus of the 2000 presidential campaign. Read more >>

Measuring the Apollo Missions

This 2005 article was originally published on Box Office Mojo.

True story movie subjects—boxers, racehorses, serial killers, but not the first men on the moon—reflect the lack of Hollywood’s hero worship for America’s astronauts. But, Apollo 13, the movie, probably comes as close as the culture allows. Read more >>

Energy Conservation Examined

This 2000 article was published in the Detroit News, Birmingham News, Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News and Buffalo News.

When President Bush unveiled his energy plan last month, environmentalists criticized the plan’s failure to emphasize conservation. This raises the question of whether conservation can meet America’s power needs. The evidence suggests that the notion is losing its luster.

David Halberstam Affirmative actions from the “Children of God”

This 1998 article was published in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Halberstam, author of The Powers That Be and The Fifties, remains convinced that, in today’s world, ideas matter.

Democrat Fundraising Democrats do the fundraising conga—but not with Playboy

This 2000 article was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Jose Mercury News, and Buffalo News.

Hollywood has come out of the closet as a big bucks political donor. While business donations continue to dominate political fundraising, the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, and the flurry of affiliated parties, erases any doubt that Big Hollywood has joined Big Business in the effort to influence the men and women whose votes control the way they work.

Police vs. Demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention

This 2000 article was published in the Los Angeles Daily News.

As Democrats prepare to nominate Vice President Al Gore for president, a wave of protesters prepares to overwhelm the Democratic National Convention that starts Monday at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Though protesters have the right to assemble, freedom of speech is not a license to let mayhem loose on the city of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department, led by Chief Bernard C. Parks, must fully enforce the law. .