For the second time in two years, an Egyptian autocrat has been deposed. In Syria, another embattled tyrant – this one robustly supported by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia – looks like he might hang on. Across the Muslim world, the political future hangs in the balance.
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress declared independence. George Washington declared that day that “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves....The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.” A useful reminder for us, in a week when we rightly celebrate a Declaration, a document embodying a great idea, that speech needs to be backed up by arms, and that all still depends on the "courage and conduct" of our armed forces.
At a Democratic fundraiser last night, Barack Obama praised the progress he's made as president. "Across the board, people are feeling like, all right, America is moving and it’s moving in the right direction," he said.
The Walt Disney World Resort, located outside of Orlando, has more than twice Manhattan’s land area and about the same number of hotel rooms as Philadelphia. It’s America’s largest single-site employer—over 60,000 people work there—and for many of the 17 million or so who visit each year, it is a place of near-religious significance. (At least one book and more than a dozen peer-reviewed academic articles have considered various aspects of Disney’s status as a secular pilgrimage site.)
“The fundamental fact that we all have to be aware of is, when we go to war now, we send less than 1 percent of our population to war and they’re all volunteers and many of them are from working-class environments. And in the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nothing was asked of the rest of us. We didn’t pay any additional taxes. We didn’t have to think about those wars if we didn’t have anyone involved. … It’s not just unjust, it’s kind of immoral for a democratic republic to go to war under those terms because those young men and women and their families are paying the high price. They’re coming home emotionally damaged or physically damaged or, too often, in body bags. And we’ve got to have a national consciousness about that.”
There is a genre of books about politics written by ideologues on both sides of the divide. Their aim is to inform their fellow partisans about the misinformation, misdeeds, and malign intentions of the people on the other side, offering talking points to rally the troops for the next confrontation. The authors are often prominent media figures—Glenn Beck, for example.
At a speech today in Miami, President Obama urged America to "do better."
"We still have all kinds of deferred maintenance. We still have too many ports that aren’t equipped for today’s world commerce. We’ve still got too many rail lines that are too slow and clogged up. We’ve still got too many roads that are in disrepair, too many bridges that aren’t safe," said the president.