Deeply Unsettling



America’s chattering classes seem at last to have awoken to the fact that the U.S. military ain’t what it used to be. Even the New York Times allows that “the Pentagon’s proposals to reduce the Army to pre-World War II levels” could “seem unsettling to a nation that prides itself on having the world’s most capable military.” It could also unsettle the world, and most of all those allies who rely on the United States to keep a variety of dangers at bay.

Indeed, the real news in last week’s budget announcements from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is that it’s finally news. After all, this is hardly the first time Barack Obama has cut military spending. When this president moved into the White House, he inherited a military that George W. Bush belatedly had expanded to conduct the Iraq surge and whose budget, outside of war costs, had made only the smallest dent in the drawdowns and the “procurement holiday” of the Clinton era. ...


Excluding by Race


In his State of the Union speech in January, President Obama said he was planning a new initiative to help “more young men of color facing tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.” Last week, Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper.” In essence, the president will ...


Obamacare vs. Medicare


One of President Obama’s greatest political challenges has been hiding the fact that Obamacare is largely financed by siphoning huge sums of money out of Medicare. In particular, Obamacare cuts—or guts—Medicare Advantage, the popular program that allows seniors to get their ...


Get Off the Sidelines


“No one can or should sit on the sidelines.”

—Hillary Clinton, at the University of Miami,
February 26, 2014

Hillary Clinton is right. Well, ...


Ukraine: the Day After

How the United States can help.


A post-victory rally outside parliament in Kiev

It was a year or two before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. I was sitting in the kitchen of a small, second-floor apartment in the Thuringian town of Ilmenau, when my friend’s mother turned pensive and pointed out the window to a hill nearby. In 1945, Frau Loebner explained, American soldiers arrived one day, pitched their tents and seemed to settle in. A few days later, Soviet soldiers arrived and did the same. A few days after that, the Americans left. Only later would this woman and her family discover that they had been fated to live their lives on the wrong side of the East-West German border.

In Ukraine today there seems to be an awareness for many that the country is at a turning point. There’s much talk of a divide between western and eastern Ukraine. But the so-called pro-Russian Eastern part—which comprises about a third of the nation’s territory—is more complicated than some commentators would have it.

Dingell with his wife and would-be successor, Debbie

Dynasty on the Hill

Two generations of Dingells is more than enough.


In Washington, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose—it’s how long you play the game. Witness the reaction last week to the announcement that Michigan congressman John Dingell would make this, his 29th term in the House of Representatives, ...

Hey, Hollywood—where’s the love?

A Documentary in Name Only

Blackfish vs. SeaWorld.


The conventional wisdom in Tinseltown is that the biggest Oscar snub of the year went to Robert Redford, who failed to get a Best Actor nod. The Hollywood legend delivered a highly praised and mostly wordless performance of a man fighting for his life on a sinking boat in ...

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio with a pair of reindeer from his herd

An Ordinary Guy

But not an ordinary congressman.


Representative Kerry Bentivolio once said, “I have a problem figuring out which one I really am, Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio. All my life I have been told I’m Kerry Bentivolio, and now I am a Santa Claus, so now I prefer to be Santa Claus.” Bentivolio, a 62-year-old freshman ...

Part of the unglamourous $19 billion

The Limits of Consumer Choice

Some things aren’t worth shopping for.


Most conservatives, and even some liberals of the dwindling “New Democrat” variety, put near-religious faith in the maxim that greater consumer choice would improve nearly every heavily regulated service. They’re usually right. But examining a case where the benefits of consumer ...


Upholding the Law

What Congress can do in response to an administration run amok



Many Republicans—and a handful of independent commentators like George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley—have been highly critical of President Obama’s executive branch overreach. The president has arbitrarily delayed, deferred, or ignored provisions of numerous laws, none more so than his signature Obamacare legislation. There is indeed much to criticize; no other president in recent times has usurped congressional lawmaking powers to the extent Barack Obama has. 

Administration spokesmen have defended these actions by pointing out that other presidents have also issued executive orders. But President Obama’s actions are less like executive orders in the usual sense of the term than they are like legislation. Nor are they based upon a constitutional argument that the president must act in response to a Congress that has intruded into areas that are properly under his constitutional ...

Dave Malan

Code Chaos

Another nightmare for doctors, courtesy of the federal government


Jacksonville, Fla.
Ever considered suicide by jellyfish? Have you ended up in the hospital after being injured during the forced landing of your spacecraft? Or been hurt when you were sucked into the engine of an airplane or when your ...

Books & Arts

Man at War

A defense chief straddles two worlds.


Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Robert Gates (June 22, 2010)

In that classic movie on wartime leadership Twelve O’Clock High (1949), Brigadier General Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) reluctantly recommends the relief of his good friend, Colonel Keith Davenport, who commands the stricken 918th Bomb Group flying out of England in 1942. Savage’s diagnosis of the failure of the unit goes to the commander, and his unsparing critique of Davenport is “over-identification with his men.” The commanding general has Savage relieve Davenport—with considerable success, as the new commander whips the unit into shape and expresses a brutal lack of concern about the air crews’ fates (“Consider yourselves already dead”). But this is just a mask, ...

Weeki Wachee mermaids (2013)

Too Much Sunshine

The quick, easy search for unconventional Florida.


It is occasionally noted that Florida has replaced California as the legitimate home of the nation’s nuts, but what is left unmentioned is that Floridians, unlike Californians, embrace the title—sort of the way England cherishes its ...

Jay Cost

The Middle Kingdom

Everybody loves the spirit of compromise. Except voters.


Historically, potent third parties or outside political movements have had one of two origins. On the one hand, they were driven by powerful personalities who did not fit cleanly within either of the major parties: Theodore ...

Ildar Abdrazakov as Prince Igor

Good Night, Sweet Prince

The Met metes out a rebuke to Vladimir Putin.


February was a bad month for Vladimir Putin. Despite Russia’s impressive Olympic victories, the Sochi Games turned out to be a $51 billion showcase of graft and corruption that even the Kremlin’s deftest apologists could not explain ...

Frank Vincentz

How Do You Feel?

The interrogative mysteries of Deep Space.


Last June, scientists at the Astrolabe Institute in Houston made an electrifying discovery. While listening in on sounds emanating from deep space, they heard what seemed to be a conversation between two sentient creatures located ...

John Podhoretz

Monumental Bore

The perfect war story becomes an imperfect star vehicle.


The Monuments Men is a profoundly well-intentioned movie that seeks to pay deserved tribute to a subject both moving and dramatic: the effort by the Allies to protect the cultural ...


Learning to Love Reagan

Jonathan V. Last gets to know and love Reagan


Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library

Though raised Catholic, I was educated by Quakers, and from an early age I took my politics from the Society of Friends. They were for the United Nations and against pollution and—this being the late 1970s—terribly concerned about the bomb. We heard a lot about nuclear war at school. Our little library had an illustrated book detailing, for young readers, what it had been like for the poor souls at Hiroshima. I was only 5 years old the first time I checked the book out, but I got the message: Americans were a monstrous people, and none of this would have happened if Dag Hammarskjöld had been around to stop us.

Yet soon enough the Quaker rub made me suspicious. In the fall of 1980—I was in first grade—Ronald Reagan was running for president against Jimmy Carter. I was, as the professionals say, a low-information voter when my school held its straw poll. As I recall, Carter swept the school by roughly 120 to 1, the lone holdout ...


All You Can Be

All You Can Be


Brutality Bites

The Scrapbook confesses to a soft spot for the preservation of historic architecture. We understand, of course, that cities are dynamic, not static, and that sometimes progress demands sacrifice. But we also understand that the march of “progress” sometimes points us ...

Piers Morgan

Cheerio, Piers!

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. When the suits at CNN were searching around for a successor to crotchety, unfocused old Larry King—“There’s a lot of good restaurants in Philadelphia. .  .  . What do you make of Dancing with the Stars?”—they settled on ...


Writing the Rails

There’s long been a certain romance associated with train travel. Think of the trains of the 1920s, replete with well-appointed compartments and dining cars featuring white tablecloths and five-star cuisine. And one need not necessarily go back in time to find examples of ...

Selective Tolerance

Selective Tolerance

Last week, things reached a fever pitch in Arizona as legislators tried to clarify existing religious liberty protections in state law in light of incidents, in which Christian business owners have been sanctioned for refusing to participate in gay weddings. The ...


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