Obama and Press

The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the White House’s handling of classified information. The spur seems to have been the June 1 New York Times article by David Sanger, sourced to current and former U.S. officials, revealing sensitive details about the Stuxnet and Flame computer worms and other parts of the Obama administration’s cyber campaign to disrupt and spy on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. By the way, none of the officials, according to Sanger, “would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.”

Last week, legislators on both sides of the aisle deplored the administration’s inability, or unwillingness, to keep national security secrets. Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees—Senators Saxby Chambliss and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Mike Rogers and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger—released a ...

Tom Barrett

Beyond Wisconsin


Last Tuesday night, shortly after conceding defeat in the election to recall Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett was confronted by a supporter. According to Politico, the woman ...

President Obama

Slow Learner


President Obama has been touted by friends and family as the smartest man ever to sit in the White House. Perhaps. Yet he surely is the slowest learner to gain the presidency and probably the most intellectually inflexible. Obama is not only presiding ...


BS in New Zealand

Social science run amok.


Scientists study the Sexes

Actually BS here stands for “benevolent sexism.” An article by two New Zealand psychologists has come my way that deserves to become a classic of social science. The title “Why are Benevolent Sexists Happier?” promised to warm my conservative heart, and it did​—​but not so much with approbation as with wonder at the whole enterprise of social science.

The two psychologists are Matthew Hammond and Chris Sibley, the latter being the professor and senior author. Together they bear witness to the fact that science is a collective enterprise, not about individual glory. Still, they have made an important discovery. They have found that precisely in the “egalitarian nation” of New Zealand, men and women who hold to benevolent sexism are happier than the nonsexist egalitarians who do not. Benevolent sexism is the belief that women are weaker than men but also warmer and more nurturing, and that men are stronger and more ...

Walker supporters

Walker Wins Again

. . . and has some advice for Mitt Romney.


Waukesha, Wisc.

Forty-nine minutes after the polls closed in Wisconsin on June 5, Scott Walker heard the news: He was the first governor to have been elected twice in one term. Exit polls broadcast by ...

Tom Barrett

Beware the Union Label

Especially in the public sector.


What does Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s smashing victory in the recall election mean for November? Republicans, naturally, are triumphant, seeing proof that conservative enthusiasm is maintaining its 2010 ...

John Adams

A Weakness for Royalty

The vindication of John Adams.



Had our Founding Fathers been suddenly transported last week to modern America and forced to watch the morning television shows, they would have been shocked to see breathless American anchors all agog, celebrating the enduring reign ...

Chart below

What a Difference Four Years Makes

By the numbers.


Barack Obama has said on many occasions that he inherited a very bad economy from George W. Bush. He has blamed the Bush economy for every shortcoming and disappointment of the past four years. If inheritance is a fair standard, let’s ask the obvious question: What ...

Tech Support

Boasting Without Explaining

Not a good national security approach—even in cyberspace.



There’s a place for covert action, when we need to keep adversaries guessing about our capacities or our plans. There are even times when a president may feel justified in disregarding legal limitations or accepted ...

Taxes? Not so much.

Knishes and Taxes

A cautionary tale.


This is a tale of knishes, taxes, and conservatives’ hopes to replace income and capital gains taxes with a national sales tax on consumption. Like all those who preside over national treasuries, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, has a deficit that ...


Self-Made Man

Barack Obama’s autobiographical fictions


Young Obama

There’s a DVD that’s been sitting in its jewel box on my desk for a few years (I’ve been busy​—​no time to tidy up), and the other day, after reading through two brand-new books about Barack Obama, one admiring, the other ferociously disapproving, I snapped the cellophane at last and slid the disk into my computer drive. 

I bought the video on a visit to Occidental College in Los Angeles, not long after Obama took office. He attended Oxy from 1979 to 1981, then lit out after his sophomore year and never returned. It must be a tricky business for a college publicist, marketing your school as the place that one of the world’s most famous men couldn’t wait to get away from, but these are highly competitive times in the liberal arts college racket, and a flack will work with what he’s got. During my visit the campus was transforming itself into a three-dimensional tribute to its most famous dropout. 

In the common room of the library a shrine of sorts had been ...

Books & Arts

Give Us Liberty

The economic consequences of government.


President Obama, Senator Reid, and Speaker Pelosi

Will Smith was about to be surprised. 

It was mid-May, and the actor was appearing on French television to promote his latest blockbuster. The host wanted to hear the Fresh Prince’s thoughts not only on Men in Black III but also on American tax rates. “I have no issue with paying taxes and whatever needs to be done for my country to grow,” Smith said. “So I will pay anything that I need to pay to keep my country growing.”

Even the 75 percent top rate proposed by the newly elected French president François Hollande, the host asked? Smith’s movie-star grin contorted in disgust: “Seventy-five?” he said. “Yeah, that’s different.” He looked from side to side, perhaps wondering if President Obama was lurking off-camera to punish him for such apostasy. “That’s different. Yeah, 75. Well, you know, God bless America.”

Will ...

James Rees

Master of the House

At Mount Vernon, James Rees will be a hard act to follow


In 2010, the New York Daily News printed a slightly scandalous scoop: George Washington had racked up over $300,000 in late fees on a copy of the Swiss philosopher Emer da Vattel’s ...

A Lincoln Penny

No Excuses

Life’s lessons from the other side of the rainbow.



People who have grown up poor hate to admit that poverty gives them a few decisive advantages over everybody else. Such an admission, they feel, gives aid and comfort to the enemy, to Social Darwinists who view poverty as ...

Philip Roth

Inside Philip Roth

There’s a crime writer waiting to be identified.


Consider this dialogue exchange:

“You’re a very attractive woman nonetheless.”

“I’ve never been told that before by a man with a gun.”

Digital Flowers

Screen Test

What can you say about an art exhibition that isn’t sure it’s art?


There’s a weirdly apologetic tone to this exhibit. Upon entering, one is confronted by a mission statement from curator Chris Melissinos: 

Using the cultural lens of an art museum, viewers can determine whether ...

Amy Poehler

A Civic Sitcom

Laughing out loud about ‘democratic governance.’


Parks and Recreation (NBC, Thursdays, 8:30 ET) offers every ingredient of a good television sitcom: It’s smart, laugh-out-loud funny, well acted, and nicely photographed. Despite good reviews, and a bevy of award nominations, the show, unlike its ...


The Rescuer

Julianne Dudley survives a worst-case scenario


Rescuing a swimmer

When I was 12, I read a book that changed my life. Full of adventure and wisdom, it had me enthralled from the start. It was not a volume to be devoured in one sitting, but one to be savored, even kept for a lifetime and returned to often for reference. 

No, it wasn’t the Bible, though its entry into my life was nothing short of providential. It appeared mysteriously inside my desk one day at school, and from then on I used it as an escape from the endless drone of grammar and algebra lessons. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook was its title, and to this day, I value the lessons I learned from it more than anything else I learned that year. It taught me how to fight an alligator, escape from a submerged vehicle, build a primitive shelter, and survive jumping off a bridge, among other useful and impressive feats.

The more I learned, ...


Krugman vs. Estonia

Paul Krugman

John Maynard Keynes famously summarized his recipe for spurring growth as having the government pay people to “dig holes in the ground and then fill them up.” It’s only fitting that Keynes’s most famous contemporary disciple, the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, is adept at digging holes. Krugman has never met a criticism of Keynesian stimulus spending that he didn’t try to shout down, even at the price of torturing data. 

Last week, Krugman was in rare form. With most of Europe on the edge of a fiscal cliff, a recent article in the Global Post pointed out that one country in the eurozone, Estonia, has a “fiscal surplus, low debt, and soaring growth.” Not only that, Estonia’s success might be because “the country, led by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, has cut government budgets, slashed civil servants’ salaries, and raised the pension age.” This not only flies in the face of ...


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