Defining Defense Down


Military Tank Photo

In a classic case of closing the barn door after the horses have bolted, the newly appointed secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, and retiring Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen held a joint press -conference this past Thursday in which they decried the impending cuts to the defense budget made likely by the debt ceiling deal. In particular, they complained that, if the still-to-be-appointed joint committee of House and Senate members is unable to reach an agreement on how to trim $1.5 trillion more over the next decade from the federal budget, or Congress as a whole refuses to pass the committee’s recommendations, the automatic $500 to $600 billion in defense cuts that could be mandated by the debt -agreement would be “disastrous” and “unacceptable.” Indeed, for just FY 2013 alone, the automatic cuts could result in defense ...

Elephant Picture

A Marvellous Ode


Editor’s note: On March 1, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a mysterious dark lady approached me in Harvard Yard and pressed a sheet of paper into my ...


The Pivot That Wasn’t

Obama can’t move to the center.


Obama Cartoon

President Obama’s support for raising income taxes on high earners is more than a talking point. It’s an obsession. In negotiations in July over a $4 trillion “grand bargain” on deficit reduction, the president proposed the tax hike as part of an agreement with Republicans. It was a clumsy mistake on his part, an unforced error. Rather than facilitate a deal, he helped kill it.

What was the president thinking? Republican opposition to eliminating the Bush tax cuts for households with annual incomes of more than $250,000 a year was hardly a secret. Obama had made erasing the cuts a staple of his speeches. And Republicans had regularly rejected the idea—as a matter of principle.


A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Medicare bureaucrats wreck the medical ­equipment market.


Sometime late this summer—the Friday before Labor Day if historical patterns hold—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will announce the beginning of something called Medicare Round Two of “the ...

Fake Apple Store Picture

Faked in China

Counterfeits “R” Us.


In 2006 Hasbro released the Marvel Super Hero Squad line of action figures. The figures are little​—​only about two inches tall, on average​—​and made of plastic. They are rendered in what is known as the “super ...

Home for Sale Photo

The Mortgage Interest Boondoggle

A better way to boost home ownership.


The home mortgage interest deduction costs the U.S. Treasury nearly $100 billion a year without actually doing much to encourage home ownership, most evidence suggests. Providing an impetus for home ownership in the ...

US Map

Nine Is Enough

The Obama states most at risk.


In 2008, Barack Obama carried nine states that George W. Bush won in 2004. According to the latest polls and the assessments of seasoned ...

Needham Photo

The Anti-Coopting Business

Heritage Action versus the GOP establishment.


"I really think there’s two sides to politics,” said Mike Needham, the 29-year-old CEO of Heritage Action for America, at a Capitol Hill restaurant in April. ...


The Hidden Hand

The Obama administration finally highlights Iran’s key role in supporting al Qaeda


Iranian Man Photo

On July 28, the Treasury Department designated six al Qaeda operatives involved in shipping money and men from the Persian Gulf to senior al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The move targets a node of the global terror network that is critical to its overall strength, freezing any of its financial assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting any transactions with the operatives. Of the many conduits for al Qaeda funds and personnel across the world, the U.S. government believes this one is the most important.

“This network serves as the core pipeline through which al Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives,” according to Treasury. “Without this network, al Qaeda’s ability to recruit and collect funds would be ...

Scream Photo

It’s a Conspiracy!

The (non-existent) plot to destroy the American economy for partisan advantage


It’s a conspiracy! In a stunning display of harmonic convergence, the right and the left have hit on the cause of the persistent malaise that afflicts the economy: a sinister plot to destroy the country, for selfish ...

Books & Arts

What Do I Know?

Montaigne’s persistent search for meaning.


Michel de Montaigne Picture

Reading an essay by Montaigne is like strolling through a labyrinthine flea market. You are likely to find all sorts of things there, except maybe logic, and you are likely to get, like the author, a bit lost. His essays, ruled only by curiosity, wander, wonder, sidestep, and circle, accumulate anecdotes, quotations, and conjectures as they go, but never arrive at a definite conclusion or offer an argument that might drop you off at one. Even when he has a sharp point to make on a controversial subject, he often leaves it hovering in the form of a question: “What has the sexual act, so natural, so necessary, and so just, done to mankind, for us not to dare talk about it without shame and for us to exclude it from serious and

decent conversation?”

Dan Rather Photo

Party Line

There is such a thing as media bias, and it’s not good for you.


In November 2005, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, published by Harvard University and regarded by academics as one of the four top scholarly journals on economics in America, published the ...

Confederate Statehouse Photo

Unamicable Split

South to North: Hello, I must be going.


Visual memories, especially those of boyish vintage, tend to be inexact but I am pretty confident of this one: Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac Hamilton was a short, gnomish, balding figure, longtime chairman of the history ...

Captain America Photo

Touch of Evil

The familiar problem of the boring Good Guy.


Vodka Picture

Vodka Nation

How the flavorless, colorless, odorless spirit became a billion-dollar business


Unemployment once again has crept past 9 percent. GDP growth fell below 2 percent this last quarter. Inflation is up. Home values are down. ...


The Divine Miss H

Joseph Epstein, kitten person

The Divine Miss H

As I tap this out on my computer, there resides in my yellow wooden inbox a sleeping three-month-old female Calico kitten named Hermione. I acquired her this past Friday evening, and spent the better part of the weekend in her company. Jolly company it was, too, all fun and games. In the most famous moot question in literature, Montaigne asked if he were playing with his cat or if his cat were instead playing with him. I failed to ask this question of the divine Miss H., but I can attest that the two of us had a swell time. 

I have had a pair of Siamese cats (Ralph and Clara) and, more recently, a quietly affectionate tiger-striped cat (Isabelle), who ...


Sigma Newt

We can’t say we were surprised that Newt Gingrich’s reaction to the debt ceiling deal was like no one else’s in all the world. No sooner had the agreement been struck than Gingrich released a statement that was vaguely disapproving. But then he went positive: “As president [wait​—​Newt Gingrich is running for president?], I will approach solving America’s debt crisis by adhering to three principles.” We knew it had to be at least three.

The first principle is that the highest priority of federal fiscal policy should be private job creation. The second is that national security spending should be permanently safe from political considerations.


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