Photo of Obama

Judging from his comments over the past two weeks, very little frustrates Barack Obama as much as criticism of the difficult decisions he is facing as president on matters of war and peace. So he’s lashing out.

At his press conference on March 6, the president blasted his would-be successors for politicizing the threat from Iran and the U.S. alliance with Israel. He criticized “the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war” and dismissed their concerns as “bluster” and “big talk.” The president said: “This is not a game. There’s nothing casual about it.”

Photo of two Syrian rebels evacuating an injured fellow rebel

On Syria, Follow McCain


Here’s to John McCain, leading from the front. Last week, the Arizona senator cut through all the White House doubletalk on the Syrian uprising and ...

The word Repeal in large letters

It’s Obamacare, Stupid


It’s not easy to lose 63 seats in a House election. Before 2010, the last time it had been done was when Joe DiMaggio was still patrolling center field for the New York Yankees. It’s even harder to pull off such a feat when exit ...


Declaring War on Newborns

The disgrace of medical ethics.


Photo of a newborn baby sleeping

On the list of the world’s most unnecessary occupations—aromatherapist, golf pro, journalism professor, vice president of the United States​—​that of medical ethicist ranks very high. They are happily employed by pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other outposts of the vast medical-industrial combine, where their job is to advise the boss to go ahead and do what he was going to do anyway (“Put it on the market!” “Pull the plug on the geezer!”). They also attend conferences where they take turns sitting on panels talking with one another and then sitting in the audience watching panels of other medical ethicists talking with one another. Their professional specialty is the “thought experiment,” which is the best kind of experiment because you don’t have to buy test tubes or leave the office. And sometimes they get jobs at ...

Photo of elephants marching in line

They’ll Have His Back

What congressional Republicans will do for the GOP nominee.


Jack Kemp, the Republican congressman from Buffalo, met with Ronald Reagan at the Airport Marriott in Los Angeles in early January 1980. Kemp, an ...

Photo of James Q. Wilson

Academic Paragon

Thinking about James Q. Wilson.


When James Q. Wilson published Bureaucracy in 1989, Daniel Patrick Moynihan toasted it as Wilson’s “summa” and Wilson himself as “our ...

Photo of Vladimir Putin

Russia’s Once and Future President

A depressing victory for Putin.


In the end, the outcome of the Russian presidential election was as predictable as it was depressing. Vladimir Putin won, with an official tally of ...

Map of Nigeria

Deadly Diversity

Nigeria’s Islamist war on Christianity.


In Nigeria, thousands of people have been killed in recent months, and tens of thousands in the last decade. It is a fissiparous country whose ...

Photo of a construction worker in Beijing

The ‘Beijing Model’ Bubble

Westerners fall in love with the part of China’s economy that doesn’t work.


The idea that China is practicing a new form of capitalism, and may even be “doing capitalism better than America,” is reaching a fever pitch in ...

Photo of a teacher and a student

Let a Thousand Teachers Bloom

Improve the profession by opening it up.


Teachers, more than any other feature of a school, determine how well students learn. Parents know it; research confirms it. So it might seem ...


A Gentleman and a Scholar

James Q. Wilson, 1931-2012


Photo of James Wilson

I got up my nerve to introduce myself to James Q. Wilson when I was a Harvard junior casting around for a senior thesis topic. I approached his office in Harvard’s Littauer Center daunted and therefore well prepared. Littauer was then (1967) home to a dazzling array of pathbreaking thinkers and celebrity scholars, including Henry Kissinger, John Kenneth Galbraith, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Schelling, and Edward C. Banfield, with the ed school’s Daniel P. Moynihan a frequent visitor from just across the Cambridge Common. Wilson—at 36 the youngest full professor in the Department of Government—was already a standout in that company. He had been director of the MIT-Harvard Joint Center for Urban Studies for several years, and was emerging as a leading light of the Public Interest circle of intellectual revolutionaries. He ...

Books & Arts

Mind the Gap

The rich get richer and the poor are broken.


Photo of The cast of ‘Jersey Shore’

Charles Murray’s profound and important new book has, for the most part, been received as merely the latest volley in the inequality debates. Its champions have tended to praise it for shedding light on overlooked aspects of the gap between rich and poor, while its critics have faulted it for ignoring some elements crucial to any proper understanding of the causes of inequality in America—and especially for paying too little attention to working-class wage stagnation.

Murray has made it easy to assume that his book should be understood as fundamentally an argument about inequality: It is, after all, a book about how America’s elite and lower classes are increasingly becoming separate cultures. Page after page, chart after chart, it copiously documents a growing ...

Photo of the Appian Way

Road to Rome

The superhighway that connected, and consolidated, the Empire.


There are roads that are as storied as rivers, though the reasons for their notoriety are much more varied. The Silk Road (which was really a ...

Close-up from The Lost Majority book cover

Realignment Myths

A lively dissection of confident predictions in politics.


The battlefield of political prognostication is littered with the remains of once-bold, but quickly forgotten, theories of partisan realignment. No sooner is a “permanent Republican majority” proposed than the ...

Photo of Lady Mary Crawley in repose

Class Distinction

Why ‘Downton Abbey’ resonates with me— and everyone else.


I’m not much of a TV watcher. Other than Top Gear episodes that feature Porsches, I tend towards Iron Chef or reruns of ...

Ed Harris, Julianne Moore playing McCain and Palin

Back Stab

Sarah Palin as portrayed by her disloyal staff.


Nicolle Wallace was the onetime consultant to CBS News and media aide to George W. Bush who was assigned to work with Sarah Palin after the Alaska ...


The Ghosts of Washington

Philip Terzian, ghost hunter


Cartoon of George Washington hailing a taxi

Living in Los Angeles many years ago, I used occasionally to wonder about the people I would see on the sidewalk, at the art museum, in a restaurant. You got accustomed to seeing recognizable faces at random—Vincent Price in a frame shop, Mary Astor at the Motion Picture Home. But what about the chorus girls in Busby Berkeley musicals, or the endless supply of fedora-hatted cops in noir films? All those episodes of Gunsmoke and Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; surely the matronly woman ordering a martini was Keenan Wynn’s love interest in an episode of The Twilight Zone?

I was accustomed to thinking this way, I ...


The Twilight of the Volt

Photo of a Chevrolet Volt

In July 2010, President Obama paid a visit to a General Motors plant in Hamtramck, Michigan, and gave a speech making the case for a revitalized American auto industry. To paraphrase the former governor of Alaska, how’d that hopey-changey stuff work out for Hamtramck?

That December, the New York Times reported that city leaders were pushing for Hamtramck to file for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy. Aside from the failing economy, 60 percent of the city’s general operating budget went to pay for the salaries and pensions of just the cops and firefighters. The city tried to renegotiate employee contracts, but the union reps were ...


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