The Wages of Immigration



Last month, the House Republican leadership released its guiding principles on immigration reform. While mostly boilerplate, the document suggests that the House GOP envisions a bill similar to last year’s Senate compromise spearheaded by Marco Rubio: enhanced border security in exchange for legalization of the illegal immigrant population; more visas for the highly skilled and permits for temporary guest workers; and a rationalization of the immigration process. The main difference is that the Senate bill offers a special path to citizenship for the entire illegal population, while the House principles offer it only to immigrants brought here illegally as children.

This difference is intended to mollify conservatives who warn that the Senate bill would pad the voting rolls with millions of new Latino Democrats. But that fear is overblown. Of the 11 million or so people in the country illegally, Pew reports that only 9 million are ...


Philistine in Chief


A graduate of two Ivy League institutions, the author of one highly regarded book (the less said about The Audacity of Hope, the better), and a former lecturer at the University of Chicago, President Obama has a reputation for being something of an intellectual. It’s ...

World Economic Forum

Saving Capitalism


Conservatives of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your corporate sponsors. We must save capitalism from the capitalists. We must persuade our corporate and political classes that it is difficult for people to retain their belief that market capitalism works for them ...


A Misleading Cold War Analogy

Don’t count on containing Iran.


Gary Locke

The Israeli debate over Iran’s nuclear program is, perhaps oddly, not yet heated. For now, the action is with the Americans: Israelis watch the negotiations nervously and without confidence, but there is little sense of impending doom—or impending war.

Opinion polls show that Israelis think Iran is building toward a weapon, not toward a “capability,” and they pay attention to Iran’s continuing acts of aggression (in Syria, for example), its support for terrorism, and the constant statements from Iran’s leaders about eliminating Israel from the map.

So why no panic? Perhaps Israel’s experiences with war and terror, facing Arab armies and more recently Hezbollah and Hamas, have immunized it from a panicked response. Perhaps there is faith in the Israel Defense Forces’ ability to stop Iran if the need arises. Or perhaps Israelis expect that in the end ...

Falling Down on the Job

Falling Down on the Job

State AGs shirk their duty to defend state laws.


Last month, just 12 days after taking office as Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring abandoned his state’s defense of its marriage laws in a federal lawsuit brought by same-sex couples. Switching sides to join forces with the same-sex couples, Herring explained that he had ...


The More, Not the Merrier

Five Republicans vie for the open Senate seat in Georgia.


Let’s be clear. Cut through the spin. Get right down to it. In the Republican Senate primary in Georgia, there’s only one candidate with a successful, lifelong career in business. There’s only one candidate who has the experience and network of a statewide campaign. There’s only ...

Thomas Fluharty

No Shoving

It’s not a nudge when it comes from Washington.


Cass Sunstein had to be the happiest academic in America following President Obama’s recent State of the Union address. After all, in just four short years he got his analysis of how people need help making good choices—a nudge in the right direction he likes to call it—from ...

Elephants and Donkeys

The Right Ideas . . .

For fighting poverty.


Chalk it up to the polarized times we live in—another sign of just how bad things have gotten. The past few weeks have seen a dazzling burst of intellectual activity and new ideas on the right: Republican elected officials, think tanks, journals, and columnists exploding with fresh ...

Side Effects

The Fed and Inequality

Zero interest rates have side effects.


Income inequality in the United States has been increasing for a generation. The share of pretax income received by the top 1 percent of earners rose from 7.8 percent in 1973 to 17.4 percent in 2010. A broader and widely used measure of inequality—the Gini coefficient—indicates ...


God Help Us

Marianne Williamson’s campaign to save America’s soul, starting with California’s 33rd Congressional District


Marianne For Congress / Dana Fineman

Los Angeles
In case you were wondering, things in California just got a little weird. Okay, maybe not “just.” Let me be more specific: The congressional election in California’s 33rd District, a coastal tract encompassing some of the wealthiest, most liberal quarters of Los Angeles County​—​Bel Air, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, to name a few​—​just got a little weird. On January 30, Henry Waxman, the district’s long-serving and notoriously cantankerous representative, surprised everyone by announcing he would retire at the end of this term. Since arriving in 

Congress in 1975, Waxman has been a dogged champion of progressive causes and a frequent irritant to Republican administrations. During George W. Bush’s term alone, Waxman, from his perch on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, launched investigations into everything from the handling of Hurricane Katrina to ...

Jason Seiler

An Obamacare Report Card

The grades are bad so far—and likely to get worse


Perhaps the most unpleasant aspect of my otherwise quite enjoyable job as a college professor has been the requirement to assign grades to students. Given that we’re now about halfway through implementation of the Affordable Care Act—which even President Obama is

Books & Arts

The Picture of America

To see ourselves as others see us, diplomatically.


Louis Armstrong arrives in Milan on a USIA tour (1959).

Martha Bayles, one of the great unsung critics of the baby boom generation, has written a book that is unusual for her. This is a brisk, how-policy-has-gone-wrong-and-what-to-do-about-it book, which conceals in its pages something more: a brilliant and courageous meditation on the difficulty of communication between modern and traditional societies. These difficulties, in turn, suggest that the values we regard as universally desirable may not be universal, or even desirable—and we certainly aren’t living by them. 

The argument is simply told. Public diplomacy is vital to American foreign policy. It wins us friends in the world, explains our ideals to skeptical foreign audiences, and shows that we are serious about those ideals. Ever since the United States entered World War I, we’ve conducted public diplomacy with varying levels of finesse, funding, and commitment. 

Unfortunately, ...

Bernard Berenson (ca. 1955)

The Connoisseur

Bernard Berenson and the appreciation of art.


Like certain wines that lose their flavor beyond the region in which they were produced, Bernard Berenson (1865-1959) makes sense only in the context of the Belle Époque, which formed him and which he was destined or doomed to outlive by

Floyd Abrams in his office (1986)

Mr. First Amendment

Congress shall make no law abridging Floyd Abrams’s brief.


What are we to make of Floyd Abrams?

For more than five decades he has been toiling in the vineyards of the First Amendment, as a practicing attorney, a professor at the law schools of Columbia and Yale, and an apostle of free speech and a ...

Shirley MacLaine, Bob Fosse (1969)

Dance to Excess

Bob Fosse, demon choreographer.


There’s an anecdote here that perfectly captures the choreographer-director Bob Fosse (1927-1987). At the end of the musical Pippin (1972), the hero is supposed to say he feels “trapped but happy” with his new family. Over the protests of his team, ...

Woody Allen (2013)

Fallen Idol

Woody Allen and the culture of celebrity.


Successful entertainers are often awful people. If you put fame, wealth, and narcissism in a blender, the resulting brew can be toxic. Fame causes ordinary folk to worship the entertainer and to view him as a superior being to be served. Wealth provides the ...


Hold the Gluten

Joseph Epstein, gluten-free.


David Clark

Men, it is said, do not like to go to doctors. Clearly I qualify here. I have long considered myself a Christian Scientist, minus the Christian part. A realist in my taste in fiction, I am a fantasist in my views about physiology. I prefer, that is, to pretend that I do not have such organs as a liver, spleen, and kidneys, and like to think of the duodenum as a doo-wop group from the late 1950s. 

My problem with doctors is that when I go to them, they tend to find unpleasant things wrong with me, but not always the right things. They send me for tests, which fairly often prove inconclusive. A few years ago my then-gastroenterologist informed me that blood tests revealed that I had celiac disease, a condition that damages the lining of the small intestines and prevents one from absorbing food properly. He suggested I go on a gluten-free diet. At the time I was suffering from a skin-blistering problem called—and best pronounced in a W. C. Fields ...


You Should Be So Lucky


courtesy of city wildlife, inc.

The Fauna of D.C.

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), as its name would suggest, is a longtime denizen of the frozen north, customarily ranging in the polar regions, upper Canada, Alaska, and northern Eurasia. In recent years, however, it has been migrating southward and, during the past few ...

Trader (Traitor) Joe's

Traitor Joe’s

While in the popular Portlandia-inspired imagination, Portland, Oregon, may be nothing but an endless array of organic food shops, “fair-trade” coffee roasters, and “subaltern”-themed, not-for-profit bookstores, Portland is still a midsized American city with the typical ...


Funspirational Facts

Appearing at the National Prayer Breakfast last week, President Obama gave a speech on the growing threat to religious liberty around the world. As Obama speeches go, the message was a good one. But as is typical for Obama, the message was at odds with his commitment to the ...


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