Government Isn’t Us



Last week, in remarks about further increasing efficiency in government after having “made huge swaths of your government more efficient and more transparent, and more accountable than ever before,” President Barack Obama said:

[In] this democracy, we the people recognize that this government belongs to us, and it’s up to each of us and every one of us to make it work better. We can’t just stand on the sidelines. We can’t take comfort in just being cynical. We all have a stake in government success—because the government is us.

That last sentence might sound familiar to seasoned observers of the president. Back in 2010, at the University of Michigan’s commencement (and as Tea Party opposition to the president and his health care bill reached its peak), Obama said, “When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in ...


Judicial Supremacy


Arguably the most important case the Supreme Court handed down this past term was United States v. Windsor, in which Justice Kennedy, writing for a five-justice majority, declared unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage for federal ...


A Hollow Reform Agenda


In 2012, the Department of Defense spent a total of $651 billion, including the costs of fighting in Afghanistan. According to the budget plan submitted by the White House a few months ago, projected 2014 spending will be $547 billion. If, as seems nearly inevitable, the ...


Getting to Sí

For some Republicans, the Hispanic vote is less elusive than for others.


Rick Perry at a Hispanic pro-life event

How do you succeed in wooing Hispanics without really trying? Rick Perry may have the answer. In 2010, running for his third full term, the Republican governor won the support of more than 400,000 Hispanic voters in Texas, his best performance to date. Perry didn’t need to win that many—Texas is still deep red, and he had won his last two elections pretty easily. But even had he needed the votes, it isn’t Perry’s style to make an explicitly ethnic pitch to a minority group. In fact, Rob Johnson, Perry’s campaign manager, says the team didn’t develop a separate Hispanic outreach strategy at all.

“Did we have Spanish-language ads? Sure,” Johnson says. “But they mirrored the same message as the English ones.”

That message was part economic, part populist: The Perry regime of lower taxes and smaller, less intrusive government had kept the economy booming through the Great Recession and kept more ...

Copies of ‘Lumen Fidei’ presented at the Vatican, July 5

The Light of Francis

The new pope’s first encyclical


There’s something in the new papal encyclical Lumen Fidei to disappoint everyone who longs for direct political action from the Vatican.

Those who were hoping, for instance, that a radically leftist Pope Francis would repudiate what they ...


Internet Access for Prisoners?

Don’t scoff; it would be a good idea


It will draw howls of protest from politicians and the punditocracy, but the time has come to allow Internet access in jails and prisons. It would open a world of new opportunities for prisoners and improve the fraught process of reintegrating them into society, all at nearly no ...

Okay, after you offer a surrender opportunity, count to ten.

Where Is the Law of War Manual?

Some questions for State and DoD legal adviser ­nominees


Since 1914, the United States Army has published and periodically updated a Law of War Manual. Its purpose is to provide authoritative guidance to military personnel on the customary and treaty law of war.

Having our armed forces conduct warfare in ...


No More Morsi

A coup in ungovernable Egypt


Give us this day our subsidized bread: shoppers in Alexandria

In assessing Egyptian defense minister Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi’s decision to remove President Mohamed Morsi from office July 3, there are two key points to keep in mind. The first concerns the army, and the second concerns what is now, given the escalation of violence over the last two weeks, its rival in the field, the Muslim Brotherhood.

The army is famously corrupt, holding a number of lucrative business interests that keep the senior leadership comfortable. And yet this institution, by all accounts revered by almost every Egyptian, nonetheless has a reputation for professionalism, competence, and impartiality. It is now time to review that assessment. Having failed at governing in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s fall, the army has again taken Egypt’s political destiny into its hands and will almost surely prove as inept this time around in stabilizing the country. What may well make it worse is that in staging its coup against Morsi, the army sided with ...

Gary Locke

The Last Redoubt

Republican attorneys general: the unsung heroes in challenging the Obama agenda


Can you name the attorney general of your state? I’m betting most folks can’t. There’s a reason. Campaigns for attorney general get scant media attention, causing voters to ignore down-ballot races. This is unfortunate, especially if you reside in a red state. Because in the past ...

Books & Arts

Why They Fought

For more reasons than you might think.


Confederate reunion, Washington, D.C., 1917

It is no news that the age of political correctness and revisionist history is upon us, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the subject of slavery and the American Civil War. In the past half-dozen years, literature has appeared condemning the Southern general Robert E. Lee as a traitor, slaver, and racist. In Memphis, the city council has voted to remove the names of Confederate leaders from its city parks, and similar efforts calling for the removal of statues and other symbols commemorating the old Confederacy are in progress across the South. 

Recently, an op-ed column appeared in the New York Times insisting that Southern Army posts such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Polk in Louisiana, and five others—all named for ...

‘Helen of Troy’ (1863)  by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Beauty Part

Searching for Helen in a thicket of prose.


Who was Helen of Troy? Why do we even recognize her name in 2013? She had an extraordinary start: Her mother was a mortal who was seduced by Zeus when he came to her in the form of a swan; Leda gave birth to two eggs—one hatched the twins Castor and Pollux, the ...

Will Percy, 1938

Will Percy’s Secret

The inner life, and outer bounds, of a Southern aristocrat.


William Alexander Percy (1885-1942), of Greenville, Mississippi, was the cousin and adoptive father of the Southern Catholic novelist Walker Percy. He was himself a lawyer and man of letters, a poet, literary mentor, scion of a great ...

‘New York Movie’ (1939)

Smooth Draft

The work-in-progress of an American master.


In some locales, wrote Albert Camus in The Plague, beautiful days are only experienced in the winter. But this is easily belied by the magnificent Edward Hopper exhibition on display at the Whitney Museum this summer. Beyond a showcase of artistic beauty, ...

Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft

The First Mrs. R

And the first First Lady in the modern manner.


When most people think of a first lady named Roosevelt, it is Eleanor they have in mind. The life and work of the first member of the family to hold that position has received much less attention. That is, in ...

Is Hollywood Broken?

The problem is bigger than one ‘legendary flop.’


By now, it no longer matters that the new version of The Lone Ranger is a remarkably entertaining, amusing, and exhilarating romp—not to mention eye-poppingly beautiful. In contrast to every other big-ticket film of the past five years, The Lone Ranger doesn’t ...


Pretensions à la Carte

Joseph Epstein, dining without pretense


tom labaff

Fifty or so yards from the apartment building in which I live a new restaurant has recently opened called Found Kitchen and Social House. It’s doing land-office business: Lines of people awaiting tables gather in the foyer, its bar stools are perpetually filled, hustling valet car-parkers are kept on the run. The food, I’m told, is quite good. I have no plans for going there—ever.

All I remember of its menu, placed in the window during its opening days, is an appetizer of arugula and white beans and a main course of chicken-liver mousse with bacon marmalade and toast. Looking in from outside, I could see a number of tables, chairs, and couches set up among large plants and globes, giving the impression of a vast living room. (The furnishings were all found, hence the name of the restaurant.) “This space is really a personal expression of my full evolution,” declares the owner, Amy Morton, a woman of 50, long in the restaurant ...


When Discretion Reigned


A Historian, burrowing in the National Archives, recently found a short reel of film which seems not only to have remained hidden since it was shot nearly 70 years ago, but has proved to be one of a kind. It shows President Franklin D. Roosevelt on board the USS Baltimore at Pearl Harbor in July 1944, meeting his Pacific war commanders, Adm. Chester Nimitz and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. 

There are plenty of newsreels and still photographs of this event​—​where Roosevelt chose a strategy for the balance of the campaign against Japan​—​but none shows what was found in the archives: eight seconds of FDR being pushed along the ship’s deck in his wheelchair. So far as anyone is aware, there is no other footage extant of our nation’s only four-term president in his wheelchair, and only two still photographs​—​both snapshots taken, in private, by a relative. 

From our era’s ...


Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

While not exactly a national monument, the north entrance to the Dupont Circle Metro stop in downtown Washington, D.C., is a pretty impressive edifice. A large circular granite wall is inscribed with a portion of Walt Whitman’s poem “The Wound-Dresser,” which you ...


So Sorry

When it comes to the recent Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport, there’s good news and bad news, according to South Korean news anchor Yoon Kyung-min. The bad news: Two people died and scores were injured when a Boeing 777 arriving from Seoul slammed into a ...


It’s Just Contradiction

In just a few years, Washington Post wunderkind Ezra Klein has made himself the go-to journalist whenever the NPR-totebag set wants to understand a complicated policy issue. In particular, he’s established himself as arguably the leading health care pundit, thanks to his ...



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