20 November 2018

The Right-Wingers Behind the Mueller Smear Campaign Are Guilty of Everything They Accuse Democrats of Doing

The right-wing canard that Democratic operatives pay women to invent allegations of sexual assault also looks particularly rich this week, in light of allegations by two women that men who identified themselves as Burkman and an unnamed Surefire employee offered them money to talk about nonexistent encounters with Mueller. 

Christina Cauterucci

19 November 2018

The Waldensians

What one small town’s celebration of immigration tells us about how white Americans think about history.

Molly Edmonds

15 November 2018

The hack gap: how and why conservative nonsense dominates American politics

Insulting rank-and-file Republicans (even if it was only about half of them) was treated as a huge national scandal. Republican Party politicians and conservative pundits harped on the line, providing a point of party unity at a time when many party and movement stalwarts were reluctant to actually praise Trump. The mainstream press covered the controversy intensively, and left-of-center pundits weighed in with a range of takes, including one from yours truly, which concluded that Clinton really had messed up by violating “the norm against attacking the other party’s constituents” rather than its politicians.

This past Friday, meanwhile, President Trump said that 100 percent of people planning to vote Democratic in the upcoming midterms — a majority of the electorate, in other words — are “crazy.” Nobody cared and almost nobody even noticed.

Matthew Yglesias

14 November 2018

A White House report points out that Mao and I both like low health care costs. True, but…

Health care systems where the government sets prices are more efficient than those where prices vary dramatically from one health plan to another, and this lowers costs across the board for patients. As Mao, Lenin, and I all agree (as do leaders of every other wealthy planet in the world): That’s a good thing.

Sarah Kliff

12 November 2018

The looming danger of non-banks

The most likely cause of a future financial crisis isn't the banks, it's the non-banks. They're enormous, they're much less regulated than banks are, and they tend to have much greater leverage.

Felix Salmon

09 November 2018

4 ways to fix "fake news"

If your Facebook feed is filled with garbage, it means you were reading garbage in the first place. The algorithm simply gives you more of what you crave.

Jim VandeHei

08 November 2018

Donald Trump’s Perverse Advantage

But the media focus on her misjudgment, her character and whether she had the right stuff for the White House underscores the absurdity of our current politics, in terms of the advantage it confers on the president. We expect much of anyone stepping forward to challenge him. We expect absolutely nothing of him.

Frank Bruni

05 November 2018

Even janitors have noncompetes now. Nobody is safe.

One of the central contradictions of capitalism is that what makes it work — competition — is also what capitalists want to get rid of the most.

Matt O'Brien

02 November 2018

The Man Who Broke Politics

There’s something about Newt Gingrich that seems to capture the spirit of America circa 2018. With his immense head and white mop of hair; his cold, boyish grin; and his high, raspy voice, he has the air of a late-empire Roman senator—a walking bundle of appetites and excesses and hubris and wit. In conversation, he toggles unnervingly between grandiose pronouncements about “Western civilization” and partisan cheap shots that seem tailored for cable news. It’s a combination of self-righteousness and smallness, of pomposity and pettiness, that personifies the decadence of this era.

But few figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise. During his two decades in Congress, he pioneered a style of partisan combat—replete with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism—that poisoned America’s political culture and plunged Washington into permanent dysfunction. Gingrich’s career can perhaps be best understood as a grand exercise in devolution—an effort to strip American politics of the civilizing traits it had developed over time and return it to its most primal essence.

These days, Gingrich seems to be revising his legacy in real time—shifting the story away from the ideological sea change that his populist disruption was supposed to enable, and toward the act of populist disruption itself. He places his own rise to power and Trump’s in the same grand American narrative. There have been four great political “waves” in the past half century, he tells me: “Goldwater, Reagan, Gingrich, then Trump.” But when I press him to explain what connects those four “waves” philosophically, the best he can do is say they were all “anti-liberal.”

01 November 2018

Trump Says The Federal Reserve Is the “Biggest Threat” to His Presidency. So Why Hasn’t He Done Anything About It?

Ultimately, Trump’s goal in criticizing the central bank seems to be distancing himself from any damage they inadvertently inflict on the economy. But the president has had the opportunity to pick a Fed board that would better reflect his own intuitions about interest rates. If his failure to do so backfires on the economy, he’ll deserve all the blame that inevitably comes his way.

Jordan Weissmann

31 October 2018

The rigging of American politics

Political systems depend on legitimacy. In America, that legitimacy is failing.

Ezra Klein

29 October 2018

26 October 2018

Why More Dictators Are Killing and Abducting Dissidents Abroad

An effective authoritarian state needs its most prominent critics to know that an ice ax in the back is still a possibility, even if they leave. 

Joshua Keating

24 October 2018

It’s better to be born rich than gifted

A revolution in genomics is creeping into economics. It allows us to say something we might have suspected, but could never confirm: money trumps genes. Using one new, genome-based measure, economists found genetic endowments are distributed almost equally among children in low-income and high-income families. Success is not. The least-gifted children of high-income parents graduate from college at higher rates than the most-gifted children of low-income parents.

Andrew Van Dam

23 October 2018

Why this political scientist thinks the Democrats have to fight dirty

I think Democrats should have this debate, but my point is that no policy platform is going to win three or four consecutive national elections for Democrats because we know policy isn’t what decides elections; that’s not how most voters make decisions.

People just don’t seem to make the connection between policies and the party in power.

So, for example, the Democrats passed Obamacare and gave millions of people heath care, and yet tons of people who benefited from it have no idea what it is or how they benefited. And it’s like that with a lot of policies — voters simply don’t connect the dots, and so they reward or punish the wrong party.

I think the idea that we’re going to deliver these benefits to people and they’re going to be like, “Thank you Jesus, thank you for everything that you’ve done, let me return you with a larger majority next time,” is just nonsense. It’s the wrong way to think about politics. 

I don’t think we can restore order by respecting rules that are not respected by Republicans. I do believe we’ll have to find a way to end this procedural war at some point, but now is not that time. Republicans need to know what it’s like to be on the other end of normative violations. The Republicans are behaving like a party that believes it will never be held accountable for anything they’re doing, and so far they haven’t been.

David Faris & Sean Illing

22 October 2018

We Don’t Need to Replace the BQE, But We Will

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” -Abraham Maslow

It should be no surprise that to every highway engineer the solution to traffic is always more roads. In this case, it is the NYC DOT, which last week announced their initial plan to rebuild the crumbling Brooklyn Heights cantilevered section of the BQE from Atlantic Ave to Sands St.

Andrew Lynch

19 October 2018

‘This guy doesn’t know anything’: the inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team

Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Big Short, reveals how Trump’s bungled presidential transition set the template for his time in the White House

Michael Lewis

18 October 2018

It’s Time for Democrats to Play Hardball With the FBI

One has to consider only that Republicans have spent years accusing former FBI director and lifelong Republican James Comey of orchestrating a cover-up for Hillary Clinton to understand how the GOP would react if, say, an FBI investigation into a Democratic Supreme Court nominee was being overseen by a graduate of the nominee’s law school and a former colleague.

It’s time for Democrats to realize that the rules have changed. It’s not enough to simply rely on most federal law enforcement officials being well-intentioned, nonpolitical figures trying to do the right thing under tough circumstances.

Matthew Miller

16 October 2018

15 October 2018

'A Kind Of Vague Hostility': Michael Lewis On How Trump Loyalists Run Agencies

On the story which concludes the book, about a woman in Oklahoma who prayed for a tornado to destroy her barn

First let's explain why Miss Finley wanted her barn gone: Her husband had killed himself in the barn, and she imagined this act of destruction would come and kind of ease her pain — she wouldn't have to stare at the barn any longer. And what she doesn't imagine is that the same tornado that's going to come take her barn is going to destroy her house, and she didn't want that.

And I thought it was a kind of a lovely metaphor for what Trump voters imagine — or how their imaginations work, or how the human imagination works. It imagines the destruction it wants; it imagines the destruction it wants Trump to inflict on the things it doesn't like about the government.

It doesn't imagine all the collateral damage — it doesn't imagine the damage it will actually do. And I think this failure of the imagination is somewhere near the center of what we're going through right now.

12 October 2018

Trump Said What About Kim Jong-un?

 The most obvious point to make is not the most unsettling—the fact that Trump declared “love” for the most monstrous dictator on the planet, a dynastic thug who murders high-placed critics (including an uncle and half-brother), imprisons millions more, and perpetuates a regime that isolates and impoverishes his people.

No, the inference that we, as American citizens, should draw and find urgently worrisome is that—to an even greater extent than many of us had already realized—Trump’s judgment is out of whack. He cannot be trusted to nominate Supreme Court justices, decide matters of war and peace, order take-out sandwiches for the office, or anything else, large or small. There can’t possibly be a member of Trump’s Cabinet, or the U.S. Congress, who isn’t painfully aware of this fact.

Fred Kaplan

11 October 2018

Why It’s Time to Rename the Russell Office Building

There is little in Richard Russell Jr.’s career that recommends him for this enduring honor.

Joshua Zeitz

10 October 2018

09 October 2018

Everything is going right for the Federal Reserve. It needs to change what it’s doing.

What the Fed needs, then, is a policy framework that gets interest rates up and keeps them there. Its 2 percent inflation target just isn't getting the job done. A 4 percent target might, or, if that was too much, maybe a more flexible 2 percent target that tried to make up for any past shortfalls by letting prices go up by more than that later so that inflation averaged 2 percent over the course of the business cycle. But somethingneeds to change. Otherwise, interest rates are going to keep falling to zero every time there's a recession, recessions are going to keep being worse than they need to be because the Fed will have trouble doing enough to help the economy, and recoveries are going to keep being slow for the same reason.

05 October 2018

Why US public transportation is so bad — and why Americans don’t care

Walker also says most American customers mistakenly prioritize reach over frequency; they want buses or trains everywhere, on every block, as opposed to a few trains that come all the time. “There is a distinctly American idea to have infrequent trains from the suburb into the city,” he says. “That’s an example where you put a line on map and people say, ‘Oh, [transit] exists,’ and someone who doesn’t understand frequency is going to think an area is being serviced when it is not.” Those who are more familiar with public transit understand that it’s better to have a few lines with frequent trains, rather than many lines that leave once every two hours. 

Aditi Shrikant

04 October 2018

A former spy explains why Manafort is crucial to Mueller’s Russia investigation

Viktor Yanukovych, a Ukrainian politician, ran a divisive and ultimately successful presidential campaign in 2010.

Over the course of several months, he portrayed his political opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, as corrupt and threatened to jail her. He warned that the election might be rigged and called on supporters to march in protest if he lost. He yelled about the corruption of the political elite and attacked his Western allies, calling instead for closer ties with Russia, with whom he had cultivated deep — and hidden — business ties.

Any of this sound familiar?

Alex Finley

03 October 2018

Brett Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court’s looming legitimacy crisis

The past few years have been fraught ones for the Supreme Court. First there was the brazen 2016 power play by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans in denying President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, the chance to take the seat vacated by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia — an episode that left deep scars among Democrats. Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Scalia vacancy in 2017, and his subsequent confirmation, only deepened those tensions.

Now comes Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination has been thrown into uncertainty following accusations from different women, one accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault while in high school and another accusing him of exposing himself in college (allegations the nominee has denied). The prospect of Kavanaugh, along with another conservative justice accused of sexual harassment (Justice Clarence Thomas), teaming up with the rest of the Court’s conservatives to overturn Roe v. Wade looks like a powder keg.

Zack Beauchamp

02 October 2018

Kavanaugh and Trump are part of a larger crisis of elite accountability in America

Now he may end up as a Supreme Court justice despite never in his life having been involved in anything that was actually successful. He has never meaningfully taken responsibility for the substantive failures of the Starr inquiry or the Bush White House, where his tenure as a senior staffer coincided with both Hurricane Katrina and failed Social Security privatization plan as well as the email shenanigans he misled Congress about, or for his personal failure as a bystander to Kozinski’s abuses.

Matthew Yglesias

01 October 2018

Why Russians Keep Visiting Mariia Butina in Prison

Take it from this former spook: It ain’t because they’re concerned about her well-being.

Alex Finley

27 September 2018

No, I Will Not Debate You

Steve Bannon, like the howling monster from the id he ushered into the White House, exploits the values of the liberal establishment by offering an impossible choice: betray their stated principles (free, open debate) or dignify fascism and white supremacy. This weaponizes tolerance to legitimize intolerance. If we deny racists a platform, they feed off the appearance of censorship, but if we give them a platform, they’ve also won by being respectfully invited into the penumbra of mainstream legitimacy. Either way, what matters to them is not debate, but airtime and attention. They have no interest in winning on the issues. Their image of a better world is one with their face on every television screen.

The marketplace of ideas is just as full of con artists, scammers, and Ponzi schemes as any other marketplace, and as always, when the whole thing comes crashing down, it’s ordinary marks who lose everything. Bannon is that rare thing: a true Gordon Gekko in the attention economy, a man who is both troll and true believer, a man whose lack of integrity is part of the ideology: win at all costs and screw the other guy, because fools and their morals are easily parted. There is no deeper truth to be divined from “holding him to account,” no point at which his racism and xenophobia will somehow become unacceptable to a public that has already bought its penny stocks in neo-nationalism.

26 September 2018

Republicans can’t hold Kavanaugh or anyone else accountable — because Trump is president

Republicans have decided that Trump can’t be held accountable for anything — ranging from the alleged groping of Jill Hart, to creepy peeping at teenage beauty pageant contestants, to the numerous acts of grand and petty financial corruption that he continues to be involved with as president of the United States. And now the party is no longer in much of a position to hold anyone accountable for anything. 

Matthew Yglesias

25 September 2018

Why God Is Laughing at Brett Kavanaugh

American politics is about power, not principle. If anyone should know this, it's Brett Kavanaugh.

John F. Harris

18 September 2018

The financial crisis and the foundations for macroeconomics

Yet it has to be acknowledged that the principle of building macroeconomics on microeconomic foundations, as applied by economists, contributed next to nothing to predicting, explaining or resolving the Great Recession. The insights into the financial meltdown that policymakers found most valuable came from scholars, such as Hyman Minsky and Charles Kindleberger, who thought in terms of broad aggregates and made no effort to establish micro foundations. The market participants, such as Ray Dalio, who were most prescient with respect to the crisis ignored microeconomics as they theorized in terms of debt and credit aggregates.

Larry Summers

11 September 2018

Republicans Were Mad at Twitter for Banning Alex Jones. Then They Met Him.

There’s nothing wrong with Republican politicians standing up to right-wing trolls or denying them the chance to spout their vitriol on Capitol Hill. Except for one awkward irony: The hearing from which Loomer was forcibly removed was motivated partly by Twitter’s alleged censorship of those very same obnoxious voices. Turns out it’s hard to focus one’s outrage at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for silencing fringe figures while they’re being dragged out of the room. 

Will Oremus

07 September 2018

John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the rise of reality TV politics

McCain empowered a demagogue who put the Republican Party on the path to Donald Trump.

Laura McGann

06 September 2018

John McCain, who died at 81, explained

McCain was a rare Washington figure who was liked and respected — for who he was.

Matthew Yglesias

05 September 2018

The 1974 Playbook

Most of the articles of impeachment against Nixon could easily apply to Trump.

Fred Kaplan

03 September 2018

31 August 2018

Donald Trump Was Too Incompetent to Pick a Fed Chair He Agreed With, and Now He’s Mad About It

It would have been trivially easy for Trump to nominate a more dovish Fed chair better aligned with his own instincts on monetary policy. (“Hawkish“ central bankers are apt to raise interest rates, while “dovish” ones prefer to keep them low.) But Trump blew the call because he’s an incurious bullshitter who fails to do a modicum of basic homework before making major decisions, and is thus at the mercy of his advisers. While all presidents get advice from their advisers, and most presidents choose at least some officials who later go on to do things they don’t agree with, flubbing the Fed nomination in this way is indeed the kind of thing that could only happen to Trump.

Jordan Weissmann

23 August 2018

22 August 2018

“Socialism” vs. “capitalism” is a false dichotomy

We need go-go capitalism to afford a generous welfare state, and people won’t support go-go capitalism without a safety net. “Socialists” and Republicans forget different parts of this lesson.

 Will Wilkinson

20 August 2018

Bitcoin is still a total disaster

There’s one thing a currency is supposed to do that bitcoin never has. That’s maintain a stable value.

Indeed, as investment analyst Eddy Elfenbein points out, bitcoin has gone through four bear markets in 2018 alone. Now, maybe you don’t care if your money periodically loses 20 percent of its value, but most people tend to.

Matt O'Brien

16 August 2018

New York’s Uber Cap Is Good News for Basically Everyone

Both the wage system and the cap will push Uber and its ilk to improve what are called “utilization rates,” or the percentage of miles during which the driver has a passenger. In 2017, that rate stood at just 58 percent, according to the TLC, meaning that TNC vehicles were driving empty more than 40 percent of the time. Despite the backing of an algorithm providing an endless stream of pick-ups, that’s scarcely an improvement over street-hail taxis, who (in 2014) had the meter running about 54 percent of the time.

As demand continues to increase (and it will, with a major subway line shutting down in less than a year’s time), the path forward looks like drivers clocking fewer, busier hours. That’s good news for existing drivers, good news for the environment, and good news for traffic congestion. 

Henry Grabar

15 August 2018

Racism is a problem of white elites, and Kris Kobach proves it

White nationalism and elite education make a powerful combination.

We have an unfortunate tendency in America to treat racism and racial resentment as a pathology of the white underclass. Takes about the need for Democrats to abandon woke “identity politics” typically cite a desire to win back the “white working class,” not white members of the Harvard Club.

But while there’s some survey data backing the idea that working-class whites are likelier to harbor racial resentment (see table 3 here), the racism that kept Jews and black people out of country clubs (and out of Harvard) for generations is still around. And Kobach is a great example of how it can continue to have real political consequences.

Dylan Matthews

13 August 2018

Liberals Don’t Have to Defend Sarah Jeong’s Tweets

The impulse to bash “old white men” is satisfying, but it’s also wrong and counterproductive.

Yascha Mounk

09 August 2018

Amusing ourselves to Trump

The president of the United States emerged out of reality television, cable news, and caps-lock tweeting, and his great gift is his ability to own our attention in the precise ways those mediums own our attention — by stoking conflict, deepening grievance, starting fights, and turning everything, absolutely everything, into can’t-look-away entertainment.

Since Trump was elected, the bookshelves and op-ed pages have been alive with fears of Orwellian fascism — fears that, for the most part, remain far from manifesting. But even as Orwell’s dystopia has failed to materialize, Huxley’s dystopia has: We are buried under ignorance disguised as information, confused by entertainment masquerading as news, distracted by a dizzying procession of lies and outrages and ginned-up controversies, inured to misbehavior and corruption that would’ve consumed past administrations. We have lost control of our attention, if not of our government.

Ezra Klein

Trump Might Cut Taxes Without Congress. It’s His Ultimate Heist for the Rich.

While cutting taxes for the rich by decree may seem like an overwrought parody of Trump’s specific governing ethos, this idea has actually been on the wish list of Wall Street conservatives for decades: The George H.W. Bush administration examined and rejected the idea all the way back in 1992. None other than Larry Kudlow, director of Trump’s National Economic Council, has been a longtime proponent, which may help explain why this plan for a glorified bank heist is enjoying new life today. 

Jordan Weissmann

08 August 2018

What Economists Still Don’t Get About the 2008 Crisis

To lots of people, it seems obvious that the 2008 crisis was long in the making — the product of years of financial and regulatory folly. In general, the notion that economic booms cause busts, instead of being random unrelated events — an idea advanced by the maverick economist Hyman Minsky — seems to have much more currency beyond the ivory tower than within it.

Noah Smith

New Report: Uber and Lyft Riders Aren’t Giving Up Their Cars—They’re Giving Up Transit

Because users are choosing the car ride instead of the subway and drivers spend a lot of time driving around without passengers (deadheading), Schaller projects services like Lyft and Uber put 2.8 new vehicle miles on the road for every mile of personal car travel they remove.

Henry Grabar

07 August 2018

We’re Never Going to Get Our “Have You No Sense of Decency, Sir?” Moment

Because that moment from the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings isn’t quite what we remember.

Rebecca Onion

American white people really hate being called “white people”

In politics, we talk about groups all the time — minorities, immigrants, criminals, what have you — and by and large, no one blinks. The only time I get blowback is when I generalize about men or white people (okay, or baby boomers). Suddenly, "lumping people together" becomes a sin.

David Roberts

06 August 2018

Russian Intervention

Republican congressmen, on TV, try to get through to Donald Trump about Russia.

William Saletan

Why Trump Has Such a Soft Spot for Russia

 It’s not a plan or a strategy as such. Trump is bereft of the attention span to sustain any of those. It is rather the reflection of a set of core beliefs and instincts that have governed him for much of his life. The lies come and go. But his deeper convictions really are in plain sight.

And they are, at root, the same as those of the strongmen he associates with and most admires. The post-1945 attempt to organize the world around collective security, free trade, open societies, non-zero-sum diplomacy, and multicultural democracies is therefore close to unintelligible to him. Why on earth, in his mind, would a victorious power after a world war be … generous to its defeated foes? When you win, you don’t hold out a hand in enlightened self-interest. You gloat and stomp. In Trump’s zero-sum brain — “we should have kept the oil!” — it makes no sense. It has to be a con. And so today’s international order strikes Trump, and always has, as a massive, historic error on the part of the United States.

Andrew Sullivan

03 August 2018

Donald Trump and the crisis of elite impunity

But I think I know why Trump thought it was okay to do what he did — why he could get away with it. The reason is a culture of elite impunity, where business and political leaders face absolutely no accountability for misdeeds. And it’s a culture that Brennan and many political elites like him have fostered, and from which they have personally benefited.

It’s much bigger than collusion. It encompasses many decades during which political officials have evaded accountability for broken laws and illicit foreign contacts, and business and corporate elites have skirted punishment for outright fraud. It’s a problem that, ironically, Trump hammered home in the campaign: that there’s a different set of rules for elites than for normal people. It just happens that Trump knows that because he, for decades now, has been taking advantage of elite impunity.

Dylan Matthews

02 August 2018

Socialists Will Need to Be 10 Times Smarter Than Republicans to Get Taken Seriously in Washington

What’s interesting about Ornstein’s comment is that it implicitly assumes members of Congress are generally good at talking about economics in the first place. In fact, much of what passes for policy discussion on Capitol Hill, especially among conservatives, is a jambalaya of nonsense far more absurd and consequential than Ocasio-Cortez’s mistake. This, I think, speaks to a double standard that self-identified socialists will face in certain parts of Washington. Because they are new and considered fringey, they will have to be twice as smart as your typical Democrat and about 10 times smarter than your typical Republican to be taken seriously. 

Jordan Weissmann

31 July 2018

The “do what you want” theory of politics

Why embracing “Abolish ICE” and Medicare-for-all won’t doom the Democrats.

Outside of truly extreme proposals, there’s basically no plausible position a politician or political party can endorse or enact that will have a meaningful impact on their likelihood of retaking political power. The US has for decades had a stable system where liberal and conservative policy coalitions (which have sorted out under the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively) semi-regularly alternate in power, with long periods of divided rule and gridlock in the middle. Dramatic shifts in the ideological makeup of both parties during that same period did not upset that alternation of power. It continued apace. 

Dylan Matthews

30 July 2018

A simple analogy for understanding Trump’s Putin meeting

Think about what it means to be a vaccine skeptic. There’s no real evidence that vaccines “cause” autism, and there’s an overwhelming scientific consensus that they are vital to preventing the spread of serious diseases. Trump’s argument that vaccines are dangerous is founded in basic ignorance about how effective they’ve been in eradicating diseases, and a misplaced confidence in his own mastery of vaccine science.

Political scientist Matt Glassman sees Trump’s skepticism about NATO in a similar light. There is a huge amount of evidence that the Western alliance has played an important role in deterring conflict on the European continent, much in the same way that vaccines have helped eradicate diseases: War in Western Europe today seems about as unthinkable as a polio outbreak in Manhattan. 

Zack Beauchamp

27 July 2018

It’s Resignation Time

Trump’s performance in Helsinki was a disgrace. Any member of his national security team who sticks with him now is doing a disservice to America.

Fred Kaplan

26 July 2018

What Robert Mueller Knows—and 9 Areas He'll Pursue Next

The special counsel has collected a mountain of evidence in the Trump-Russia investigation, but so far only a tiny amount of it has been revealed in official indictments. Here are nine areas where we should expect answers as the inquiry unfolds.

23 July 2018

Trump’s administration is full of kooks and crooks because it’s led by Donald Trump

It’s party time for grifters in today’s GOP.It’s party time for grifters in today’s GOP.It’s party time for grifters in today’s GOP.It’s party time for grifters in today’s GOP.It’s party time for grifters in today’s GOP.

Matthew Yglesias

20 July 2018

What Jonathan Chait Gets Right About Trump and Russia

Thirty years of contacts with Russia are hard to dismiss as a series of disconnected events.

Tom Nichols

19 July 2018

The Liberal Case for Kavanaugh Is Complete Crap

This tradition may have once made some sense when there was still some fragile agreement about handling Supreme Court nominations in a bipartisan manner. But in the post Merrick Garland era, in which nominations are clearly about pure power politics and little else, a piece like Amar's at worst reeks of the amoral Ivy League clubbiness that still defines the upper reaches of the legal world and at best is simply naive.

Jordan Weissmann

18 July 2018

“Law and order” politics often undermines the rule of law

“Law and order politics” regularly entails government officials breaking the law. Examples abound: from unconstitutional racial profiling under Joe Arpaio in his time as an Arizona sheriff; to extrajudicial executions of suspected drug abusers under President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines; to assassination of pro-democracy activists following dictator Augusto Pinochet’s coup in Chile. When individual rights protections stand in the way of policy goals, advocates of “law and order” politics are often more than willing to ignore laws, constitutions, and even the democratic order.

So what is “law and order” politics really about, then? “Law and order politics” is not about the law. Instead, it is all about order.

Amy Erica Smith

16 July 2018

Hey Democrats, Fighting Fair Is for Suckers

Court-packing! Puerto Rican statehood! Votes for felons! Why—and how—the next Democratic majority should play dirty.

Democrats should plan to treat political norms, when and if they’re in charge of a unified government, the way Trump and the Republicans do. They should be readying a program of systematic norm-breaking for partisan advantage—but only if they are willing and able to follow it through to its conclusion.

Rob Goodman

13 July 2018

Why capitalism won’t survive without socialism

“We think of capitalism as being locked in an ideological battle with socialism, but we never really saw that capitalism might be defeated by its own child — technology.”

Eric Weinstein with Sean Illing

Roe Block

Why Republicans don’t actually want to repeal Roe v. Wade.

William Saletan

09 July 2018

How to fix the Supreme Court

The way we choose Supreme Court nominees is broken. Here’s how to fix it.

Ezra Klein

The Case for Incivility

Confronting officials isn’t new. But it’s necessary.

Osita Nwanevu

06 July 2018

“Mad Dog” in the Doghouse

James Mattis is being pushed out of Trump’s inner circle. That should worry all of us.

Fred Kaplan

Cowards and Traders

Trade wars don't directly kill people. But like real wars, they're often unnecessary, expensive, and stupid. When an unnecessary war goes bad, and the costs pile up, the smart thing to do is pull out. The cynical thing to do is play the patriotism card, telling your citizens that their pain is heroic and that if they don't stand with you, they're traitors. The most cynical thing of all is to prosecute your stupid war, and play the patriotism card, while mocking your predecessor for doing the same. 

05 July 2018

White People Are Cowards

Inequality and racism exist not because of evil but because the unaffected majority put their interests above all others, and their inaction allows inequality to flourish. That is why I believe that silence in the presence of injustice is as bad as injustice itself. White people who are quiet about racism might not plant the seed, but their silence is sunlight.

After a ridiculous days-long bad-faith debate on civility, can the press manage to learn self-respect?

Everyone knows Trump supporters don’t care about decorum.

Matthew Yglesias

29 June 2018

Donald Trump Goes Rogue

In half a week, between Quebec and Singapore, Trump showed that the liberal order is hateful to him, and that he wants out.

George Packer

Donald Trump’s cruel immigration politics is a scam

His entire approach is based on big lies.

  • Statistically speaking, states with a larger influx of unauthorized immigrants have slightly less violent crime, not more.
  • A similar methodology suggests unauthorized immigration is associated with significant reductions in nonviolent crime.
  • A study looking at metro areas and overall immigration, both legal and illegal, likewise found that immigration is associated with lower crime.
  • That places with more immigrants have lower crime rates is perhaps not so surprising because immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.
  • Unauthorized immigrants, meanwhile, obviously do commit immigration-related crimes, but a detailed study of Texas incarceration records show they commit violent crimes at a lower rate than the native population.

Matthew Yglesias

28 June 2018

To stop endless war, raise taxes

Until the public has to pay for war, it won’t demand peace.

Sarah Kreps

Trump’s Damning Doublespeak

The White House’s complaints about the FBI imply there’s ample evidence of collusion with Russia.

William Saletan

27 June 2018

For the biggest group of American workers, wages aren’t just flat. They’re falling.

For workers in “production and nonsupervisory” positions, the value of the average paycheck has declined in the past year. For those workers, average “real wages” — a measure of pay that takes inflation into account — fell from $22.62 in May 2017 to $22.59 in May 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

“The extra growth we are seeing in the economy is going somewhere: to capital owners and people at the top of the income distribution,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute and a former chief economist at the Labor Department, noting workers' share of corporate income remained relatively low as of January. “And what we've seen is in recent period a much higher share of total income earned going to owners of capital.”

Jeff Stein

Elizabeth Holmes Deserves Prison, but Her Indictment Won’t Make Silicon Valley Any Less Reckless

The only way to disincentivize founders from lying to investors is to throw one or two of them in jail for doing so. And Elizabeth Holmes doesn’t count. The Theranos indictment is likely to have zero deterrent effect, because it’s clear that she’s not really being prosecuted because she lied to investors. That’s just the easy, prosecutorial low-hanging fruit. The real reason for the prosecution is that her activities were incredibly reckless and dangerous on a human level for thousands of patients’ health.

Felix Salmon

25 June 2018

Demolition Donald

Trump is hardly responsible for the fracturing of world order, which has been in process to some degree since the end of the Cold War. But Trump is unique among modern presidents in accelerating the unraveling as a matter of policy and absorbing the aftershocks with glee.

It’s not entirely clear why. Is he in severe debt to Russian banks with ties to Putin? (Robert Mueller may soon shed light on that theory.) In any event, he seems more comfortable in the company of brutal autocrats than with democratically elected leaders. He seems to admire, and possibly envy, their absolute control over their domains. His most astonishing, and perhaps telling, comment of recent days was his excuse for Kim’s rampant executions of critics. Kim, he said, is a “tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have—if you can do that at 27 years old, that’s 1 in 10,000 could do that.”

When his Fox News interlocutor noted that Kim has “still done some really bad things,” Trump replied, “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”

With that attitude, it’s not surprising that Trump puts so little stock in the values that the United States has traditionally shared with its allies and that have undergirded even fairly Realpolitik notions of U.S. interests in world affairs.

Fred Kaplan

The Kim Con

Trump isn’t trying to win over North Korea’s leader. He’s using him to win over you.

William Saletan

22 June 2018

21 June 2018

20 June 2018

Jeff Flake Should Do Something

Moderate Republicans like to talk about the dangers of Donald Trump. They should take action instead.

Instead of taking concrete action to hold Trump accountable, however, they’ve been satisfied to criticize him while confirming his nominees and advancing his legislative agenda, such that it exists. For all their dismay and condemnation, neither Flake nor his like-minded colleagues have tried to connect their work to their rhetoric. They’re posturing against Trump while doing little to actually stop him.

Jamelle Bouie

19 June 2018

Ajit Pai Is Twisting the Meaning of the “Open Internet”

In his op-ed, Pai insists that the internet will now be protected as a place “where you are free to go where you want, and say and do what you want, without having to ask anyone’s permission.” That may be true for large internet providers like Comcast, which will now be able to throttle or censor traffic on its networks however it wants, but it’s not true for most U.S. internet users, who generally have few, if any, options to take their business elsewhere.

April Glaser

18 June 2018

13 June 2018

Showdown in Singapore

The best, and worst, we can expect when Trump sits down with Kim.

When a reporter asked Trump if he was prepared for the summit with Kim, he replied, “I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about the attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done. But I think I’ve been preparing for the summit for a long time.”

Each sentence in this remark reveals a man out of his depth.

Fred Kaplan

11 June 2018

Trump’s legal memo to Robert Mueller is a recipe for tyranny

Consider that if the memo is correct, there would be nothing wrong with Trump setting up a booth somewhere in Washington, DC where wealthy individuals could hand checks to Trump, and in exchange Trump would make whatever federal legal trouble they are in go it away. You could call it “The Trump Hotel” or maybe bundle a room to stay in along with the legal impunity.

Having cut your check, you’d then have carte blanche to commit bank fraud or dump toxic waste in violation of the Clean Water Act or whatever else you want to do. Tony Soprano could get the feds off his case, and so could the perpetrators of the next Enron fraud or whatever else.

Matthew Yglesias

08 June 2018

Trump Pardoned Dinesh D’Souza to Troll Liberals

But did anything drastic really happen to D'Souza? Or is his current stance the logical destination point of his embrace of conservative radical chic—an endless series of provocations masquerading as thought?

Jacob Heilbrunn

The media's undeniable pro-Trump bias

But the notion of a vast media conspiracy against Trump is only unobjectionable on the counter-plane of reality inhabited by Trump’s supporters and enablers—one where mendacity, cruelty, racism, corruption, and buffoonery needed to be treated one pole of a two-sided debate that must be respected.

Tim Miller

05 June 2018

California’s top-two primary chaos, explained

Andrew Prokop

Forget about broad-based pay hikes, executives say

Now, executives of big U.S. companies suggest that the days of most people getting a pay raise are over, and that they also plan to reduce their work forces further.

Steve LeVine

04 June 2018

There is no productivity crisis, experts say

In a presentation at the Dallas Fed on Friday, Chad Syverson, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, said technological history has been one of lag-times between the launch of new technologies and their visibility in productivity numbers.

Steve LeVine

NFL owners are stifling speech, but it’s not called “no-platforming” when you’re rich and own the platform

Real power over the flow of ideas rests with the wealthy.

Matthew Yglesias

01 June 2018

Actually, the 1 Percent Are Still The Problem

The Atlantic trots out a familiar argument blaming the upper middle class for income inequality. It’s wrong.

Jordan Weissmann

Backfire Hurricane

The FBI’s Russia investigation was a tangle of conflicting motives and unintended consequences.

1. Many factors relevant to the investigation’s fairness have been invisible.
2. Trump and his people brought the scrutiny on themselves.
3. The FBI’s secrecy helped Trump.
4. There were good reasons for the secrecy.
5. Investigators tried not to hurt Trump, in part to avoid helping him.
6. The “insurance policy” was an argument for propriety.
7. One key factor was that then–FBI Director James Comey was kept out of the loop.

William Saletan

31 May 2018

How Baby Boomers Broke America

These distinctly American ideas became the often unintended instruments for splitting the country into two classes: the protected and the unprotected. The protected overmatched, overran and paralyzed the government. The unprotected were left even further behind. And in many cases, the work was done by a generation of smart, hungry strivers who benefited from one of the most American values of all: meritocracy.

Kim in Control

North Korea’s threat to abandon the Trump summit isn’t an about-face. It’s a demonstration of who’s in the driver’s seat.

Fred Kaplan

29 May 2018

The D.C. Metro Almost Had a Very Cool Abstract Map

A series of modernist transit design gems were discovered last week inside Massimo and Lella Vignelli’s archives.

Liberals, It’s Not About Being Nice

The hand-wringing about whether liberals should be more accommodating misses the point.

The fact that a story about Republicans in Raleigh imposing their will on localities that disagreed with them, and then losing an election as a consequence, fed a narrative about Democrats fatally overreaching on identity politics is, in fact, perfectly emblematic of the dynamics animating punditry about the attitudes and dispositions of liberals and the left.

Political commentators generally take very little interest in thinking through the implications and consequences of arrogance and condescension on the right. How often are Republicans told by centrist surveyors of the cultural scene that they might benefit politically from reaching out to enthusiastically pro-choice young women, that the fire-and-brimstone approach of calling supporters of Planned Parenthood pro-infanticide and symbols of the fall of man might be counterproductive? How much respect for ideological opponents is evinced whenever conservative pundits call the activists of Black Lives Matter thugs and black Democrats dupes?

American political journalists are still wired to view a nonrepresentative subset of white people somewhere out in the middle of the country as baseline Americans who cannot talk down and can only be talked down to.

Osita Nwanevu

28 May 2018

Trump vs. the “Deep State”

How the Administration’s loyalists are quietly reshaping American governance.

Evan Osnos

All politicians “game” the system. The question is how?

What ranked-choice voting in San Francisco tells us about electoral rules and political incentives.

Lee Drutman

25 May 2018

Cruelty is the defining characteristic of Donald Trump’s politics and policy

The NPR interviewer was wrong to suggest the policy is “heartless,” which implies indifference to the human suffering involved. The Trump administration’s policy toward Puerto Rico is heartless. The separation policy is anything but indifferent. It’s cruel.

The point is to find a route within the bounds of the various applicable legal constraints for security forces to inflict as much suffering as possible on people seeking entry to the United States. The harmfulness of the policy isn’t incidental — it’s the whole point, and it’s par for the course from an administration for whom cruelty is a watchword.

Matthew Yglesias

23 May 2018

How to be the next Trump

Most coverage of President Trump focuses on the negative aspects of his style: the making-it-up-as-he-goes, the lying, the management-by-chaos.

Yes, but: The Trump Way does offer future candidates and presidents some valuable lessons in navigating contemporary politics.

Jim VandeHei

22 May 2018

The False Promise of Term Limits

The intuition behind term limits—the reason they’re popular with most Americans—is correct: Washington is broken. But there’s no easy fix for the problem; no one trick that will improve the status quo. And absent radical change to our constitutional architecture, the only path forward is incremental. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to improve Congress, reduce outside influence, and make elections more competitive. They run the gamut from beefing up congressional staff and research services—lessening reliance on lobbyists— and building more robust public and small-dollar financing of campaigns, to opening up our elections with universal voter registration, vote by mail, and robust voting rights, including felon enfranchisement. Redistricting reform matters too: More competitive districts means more competitive elections means a weaker incumbency advantage, or at least one not bolstered by gerrymandering.

Jamelle Bouie

21 May 2018

16 May 2018

Trump Has Wrecked One of the Most Successful Arms-Control Deals in Modern History

Trump has wrecked one of the most successful arms-control deals in modern history, destroyed any possible leverage to negotiate a new one, further disrupted unity with our allies, further damaged U.S. credibility, strengthened hard-line factions in Iran, exacerbated instability in the Middle East, and possibly boosted the chance of war—which some of Trump's abettors desire. Quite the deal-maker.

Fred Kaplan

15 May 2018

Why Mueller Has to Expose Trump’s Crooked Business Empire

The secret sauce of Trump's real-estate business in its early stages was his ability to manipulate the media and willingness to borrow massive sums and not pay them back. When he exhausted his ability to stiff his creditors, the new secret sauce became a willingness to take money from shady overseas sources, especially (but not exclusively) Russian oligarchs looking either to park their cash overseas, or to gain some measure of influence. Whether Russia was investing in Trump for the purpose of gaining some hidden leverage over him is not incidental to the Mueller investigation but its very heart.

14 May 2018

The Case for Redistribution

If we’re serious about sexual fulfillment, we should worry more about economic inequality, not sex robots.

Tyler Zimmer

09 May 2018

What the Koch Brothers’ Money Buys

Internal emails from George Mason University show how cash turns into special favors.

It might seem beyond debate that when a person gives you a substantial chunk of cash, he’s going to expect something substantial in return. In recent years, however, a growing number of lawyers and judges have contested this basic fact of human nature and have enshrined into law their willful naivety about the corrupting influence of money. This week, two major players in the movement to deny this reality, Charles Koch and Leonard Leo, got caught up in scandals that reveal their efforts to buy influence over governmental matters. These embarrassing flaps neatly illustrate that the very same people who argue that money doesn’t buy special favors have secretly been using their money to buy special favors.

Mark Joseph Stern

08 May 2018

The Pain We Still Need to Feel

Lynching echoes in other ways. Our politics are in the grip of a backlash defined, in large part, by deep racial entitlement on the part of many white Americans. Indeed, racial violence—or the promise of such—remains a potent tool for defining the boundaries of white racial community. As a candidate for president, Donald Trump promised state action against Hispanic immigrants and Muslim refugees. Not as punishment but as defense—a way to keep America free of people that, in his view, cannot assimilate. How did he describe these groups? As "rapists," criminals, and drug dealers—dangerous gang members who defile and kill innocent American women. Far from repelling voters, this language primed and activated racial fear and resentment among many white voters, supercharging its electoral potency. Trump wasn't just defining an enemy, he was speaking a language of racial threat—of purity and morality—that has its roots in the lynching era.

03 May 2018

The Myth That Markets Get Prices Right Won’t Die

All that irrational human behavior gets in the way.

Noah Smith

A Lynching Memorial

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening Thursday in Montgomery, Ala., is dedicated to victims of white supremacy.

30 April 2018

The real reason the Republican tax cut isn’t going to work

Now, the important thing to understand here is that profits are supposed to be like a bat-signal showing businesses where to invest. When they're high, it usually means that there's so little supply of what consumers demand that companies can charge almost anything for it. Other firms, then, should be able to swoop in and compete away some of these profits while still making enough themselves for their upfront costs — the investments they have to make — to be more than worth it. That's what's supposed to be the magic of the market: Just by having everyone pursue their own self-interest, we can figure out how much of everything we need better than any bureaucrat could.

But this process has lost some of its mojo recently. Corporate profits, adjusted for taxes, inventories, and depreciation, have hit an all-time high as a share of the economy the past 10 years, but business investment has not. Nowhere close. It has been average at best.

James Comey isn’t the hero we deserve. But he’s the hero we need

Matthew Yglesias

26 April 2018

Trump is drowning in scandal. He can’t focus on Syria.

It is hard to imagine how Trump can do his job — for example, approving military strikes on Syria — while drowning in this rising tide of scandal. There is an old tradition, more honored in theory than fact, that issues of national security are kept separate from domestic politics, but Trump is utterly incapable of making any such distinction. For him, everything is political — and all politics is personal.”

“It’s hard to imagine that Trump, who in the best of times has the attention span of a hyperactive 8-year-old, can focus on strategy for Syria amid the far more pressing threats that he faces from an ever-expanding criminal investigation.

Max Boot

Econ Majors Graduate With a Huge Knowledge Gap

Noah Smith

24 April 2018

The Bell Curve is about policy. And it’s wrong.

Charles Murray is an incredibly successful — and pernicious — policy entrepreneur.

Matthew Yglesias

The Outlook for Public Transit Isn't All That Bad

The ridership decline is confined to buses. That's no reason to cut overall funding.

Noah Smith

23 April 2018

The emerging plan to save the American labor movement

Dylan Matthews

Democrats Shouldn’t Give in to White Racism

Too many observers treat American politics as a contest between rival groups of white people. It’s how you get dubious claims that Donald Trump broadly represents “working-class” voters, or the related narrative that pits a monolithic “coastal elite” against a so-called “heartland,” ideas that cannot survive contact with any consideration of black political behavior.

Jamelle Bouie

19 April 2018

Econ 101 No Longer Explains the Job Market

Noah Smith

In all fairness, it probably never did. -ed.

Tired of winning yet? You're not alone.

Trump doesn’t define winning the way you and I do. It’s not about giving back or improving people’s lives; as I’ve written before, Trump has never done that anywhere, unless you count remodeling a skating rink.

Winning, in Trump’s mind, wasn’t about us. It was about him.

It’s about ratings and primacy. Trump wants more than anything to exist outside of himself, to occupy your screens and your emotions. He always has.

Losing, to Trump, is receding from center stage. Winning is finding one way after another to keep us riveted to the show.

So Trump is absolutely delivering on his promise. He’s winning and winning and winning. Every day, it seems, he taps some new well of audacity, willing himself to become the overarching story of our time.

But you can’t really blame the president. He told us right from the start that we’d get tired of the whole noisy routine.

We were just too busy gawking to listen.

Matt Bai

18 April 2018

Trump's Latest Domestic Spending Plot May Be To Ignore The Law

Stan Collender

Corruption, Not Russia, Is Trump’s Greatest Political Liability

It is hardly a coincidence that so many greedy people have filled the administration’s ranks. Trump’s ostentatious crudeness and misogyny are a kind of human-resources strategy. Radiating personal and professional sleaze lets him quickly and easily identify individuals who have any kind of public ethics and to sort them out. (James Comey’s accounts of his interactions with the president depict Trump probing for some vein of corruptibility in the FBI director; when he came up empty, he fired him.) Trump is legitimately excellent at cultivating an inner circle unburdened by legal or moral scruples. These are the only kind of people who want to work for Trump, and the only kind Trump wants to work for him.

Jonathan Chait

17 April 2018

It’s harder for Democrats to gerrymander effectively

Matthew Yglesias

Trump-era politics is a surreal nightmare and we can’t wake up

Reality has confounded both expectations, with Trump displaying no hidden depths whatsoever, even as life continues to be basically fine for most people. America has its share of problems to be sure: sky-high child poverty rate, unsustainable greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure woes, childcare woes, prescription drug affordability woes, you name it.

But these are basically longstanding issues that our political system writ large has failed to address. They don’t hold a particularly close relationship to the fact that the president is a racist buffoon who is possibly being blackmailed by the FSB over some sex tapes.

On the other hand, the fact that the president of the United States has literally nothing to say about any of the country’s most urgent long-term problems is itself a fairly noteworthy situation.

Matthew Yglesias

16 April 2018

Employers are increasingly using their workers as lobbyists. Here’s why that’s a problem.

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

It’s Time to Stop Yammering About Liberal Bias

The right has plenty of representation in the nation’s opinion pages.

This raises a few obvious questions that are, for whatever reason, rarely asked. If American institutions really were intolerably liberal in 1951 and in 1966, then what would a state of affairs that satisfied the conservative movement actually look like? If, as conservatives have insisted over decades of uninterrupted complaint, the American people really are being indoctrinated into liberalism in their formative years at our schools and colleges and in their adult years by an oppressively slanted press, how exactly does one explain the American political situation in 2018, with right-wing control of the presidency, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, 33 governorships, and 32 state legislatures? If America’s citizenry really has been spoon-fed leftist propaganda for nearly 70 straight years, isn’t the reorganization of the United States into semiautonomous workers’ republics long overdue?

Osita Nwanevu

13 April 2018

Why Would the Atlantic Hire Kevin Williamson?

Describing a 2014 visit to the impoverished city of East St. Louis, Illinois, Williamson compared a black child to a “primate” and a “three-fifths-scale Snoop Dogg” before likening his own trip through Illinois to Marlow’s journey up the Congo River in Heart of Darkness, all within the space of a single paragraph.

Jordan Weissmann

Who Made the Worst Decision of the Iraq War?

On May 15, 2003, one day after he arrived in Baghdad to head the Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer issued CPA Order No. 1, which barred members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from all but the lowliest government posts. The next day, he issued CPA Order No. 2, which disbanded the Iraqi army.

With those two orders, the future of Iraq was doomed, the already-likely failure of the American mission was sealed, and the prospect of a sectarian civil war—enveloping not only Iraq but the entire Middle East—became nearly inevitable. Not only did the orders remove the country’s two main indigenous institutions of authority, they also put 50,000 civil servants and a quarter-million soldiers out of a job, many of them with access to weapons. In other words, Bremer’s orders amounted to a recipe for resentment, anarchy, and violence.

Fred Kaplan

11 April 2018

How the NRA derails gun control debates

The NRA speaks for gun companies. Why should we listen?

Carlos Maza

Make Them Pay

Gun control activists must focus on fighting for the right to sue firearms manufacturers.

Cars became more crashworthy, and hence less lethal and injurious, as a result of tort litigation and federal regulation. Cars are instrumentalities of death and injury, not because producers and purchasers intend this, but because cars are involved in crashes and crashes cause death and injury. Similarly, most of the people who buy guns do not intend to use them for suicide or homicide, but these outcomes can be expected when guns are in use. In the case of automobiles, the law tracks the recognition that cars can be designed and marketed so as to enhance crashworthiness. Damage awards and regulatory penalties have motivated automobile manufacturers to improve crashworthiness and to promote crashworthiness as a desirable feature. Over time, this has yielded major reductions in the rates of fatality and injury from car use.

Heidi Li Feldman

10 April 2018

John Bolton and Gina Haspel Are the Consequences of Our Failure to Reckon With the Bush Years

Americans have been able to comfort themselves over the last 15 years with the notion that the war was a “blunder” or “mistake” rather than an immoral act or crime. (Though, as my colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley noted, 43 percent of Americans, like Bolton, don’t even think it was a mistake.) Certainly, the central architects and advocates of the war have paid little professional price for its consequences.

Joshua Keating

It’s Time to Panic Now

John Bolton’s appointment as national security adviser puts us on a path to war.

His agenda is not “peace through strength,” the motto of more conventional Republican hawks that Trump included in a tweet on Wednesday, but rather regime change through war. He is a neocon without the moral fervor of some who wear that label—i.e., he is keen to topple oppressive regimes not in order to spread democracy but rather to expand American power.

Fred Kaplan

09 April 2018

No Strength, No Peace

Trump is the Willy Loman of foreign policy. He thinks, as does the tragic traveling salesman of Arthur Miller’s play, that “personality always wins the day” and “a smile and a shoeshine” are more important than having something to sell that customers want.

Fred Kaplan

Mick Mulvaney’s Latest Scandal Makes Him Look Like a Craven Hypocrite

This weird and wonky scandal shows how far the administration is willing to go to downplay unflattering data and push through a regulation that will likely hurt working class Americans.

Jordan Weissmann

06 April 2018

Celebrating 50 years of the Chrystie Street Connection

On November 27th, 1967 there was chaos on the New York City subway. That Monday, as strap-hangers began their daily commute, many of them found that trains they had taken every day for years, decades even, were no longer running or were running to new places.


The myth of “forcing people out of their cars”

At the same time, parking takes up land. And in some parts of the country (California certainly included), land is expensive, so paying the full price of a parking space might get expensive. The question is whether towns should require that new developments come with a certain minimum amount of new parking attached (as virtually every city, including New York City, currently does) or whether they should simply allow people to decide how much parking they want to pay for.

Matthew Yglesias

04 April 2018

The Artifice of the Deal

Forget the standard photo ops; his entire presidency, save for a giveaway-laden tax bill that actually originated in Congress, is a string of dramatic flourishes, without even the aspiration to translate them into something like actual governance.

Trump was dead right about our politics over the years — too much of it became a tired kind of stagecraft. But that kind of stagecraft was almost always designed to sell an agenda.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s new top economic adviser, explained

He’s a die-hard supply-sider for whom corporate tax cuts are the highest goal.

Dylan Matthews

02 April 2018

The real reason the U.S. spends twice as much on health care as other wealthy countries

Carolyn Y. Johnson

Trump wants to liberalize health data. Easier said than done.

The hardest part of liberalizing patient data is that you have hundreds of thousands of hospitals and doctor offices all across the country who have a financial interest in keeping data private. If a patient can take her record from Hospital A and walk down the street to Hospital B to seek treatment, that’s bad for Hospital A’s bottom line.

Sarah Kliff

30 March 2018

Was the Poisoning of a Former Russian Spy a Chemical Weapons Attack?

The open—and very difficult to answer—question of whether Moscow ordered the hit or merely lost possession of the nerve agent leaves London a bit of wiggle room in how it responds, but not much.

Joshua Keating

Trump’s VA Is Purging Civil Servants

A bipartisan law was supposed to make it easier to fire bad actors at the Department of Veterans Affairs. But it’s targeting the wrong people.

Isaac Arnsdorf