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

28 March 2018

Trump’s Perversion

But the worst thing about Trump’s perverse treatment of friends and enemies isn’t that he punishes our allies.

Congratulations, Mr. President. You’ve one-upped Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama. You’ve humiliated our allies, renounced human rights, and snagged a photo-op with the head of the world’s most repressive state. You win.

William Saletan

Rough Trade

The president’s rhetoric will make a trade war even worse.

William Saletan

27 March 2018

Martin Shkreli Is Going to Jail and I Can’t Even Bring Myself to Enjoy It

That sums up a lot about the state of U.S. capitalism and law. It’s perfectly kosher to milk grotesque profits from old, life-saving medications. But playing games with a relatively small amount of investors’ cash can get you put away for the better part of a decade.

Jordan Weissmann

Summit Surprise

A meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un could be a major opportunity—if Trump actually prepares for it.

If Trump wants this meeting to accomplish anything of value, he needs to do the following:

First, appoint an envoy to South Korea. (It is amazing that, more than a year into his term, he has yet to do this.)

Second, have his staff bring in the experts on Korea. Swallow hard if this means letting in the occasional Democrat.

Third (and this is a directive more for Trump’s advisers), do not let this meeting take place in Pyongyang. Kim would put on the most extravagant show in the history of the world, and Trump would be so impressed by the welcome that he’d likely embrace the “Hermit King” as his new best friend and concede who knows what at the bargaining table. The meeting should be held in the most boring neutral city in the world.

Fourth (a related point), Trump should not be allowed to meet with Kim all alone. At least one senior aide should be in the room along with a note taker and a State Department translator.

Fifth, the National Security Council should draw up a list of goals—three things, say, that Trump should try to get from this meeting, three things that he’d be willing to offer in exchange for a true pledge to freeze or dismantle the nukes, and three things that the North Koreans are likely to push for but that Trump should reject at all cost.

Fred Kaplan

22 March 2018

Why Isn’t Trump President for Life Yet?

He is following the same playbook as other authoritarian populists around the world. He’s just bad at it—so far.

Yascha Mounk

There Is Not a Single Good Reason to Deregulate Banks Right Now. Democrats Are Helping It Happen Anyway.

If Dodd-Frank was truly throttling the banking system with red tape, though, you would expect to see some signs that Americans were having trouble borrowing. But there simply aren't any.

Jordan Weissmann

20 March 2018

Blacks Were Enslaved Well into the 1960s

More than 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, there were black people in the Deep South who had no idea they were free. These people were forced to work, violently tortured, and raped.

Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier

How the ex-spy tried to warn the world about Trump’s ties to Russia.

19 March 2018

What Donald Trump understands about conservatism

People who aren’t conservative often fail to realize this, but conservatism really does speak to and for people who have lost something. It may be a landed estate or the privileges of white skin, the unquestioned authority of a husband or the untrammeled rights of a factory owner. The loss may be as material as money or as ethereal as a sense of standing. It may be a loss of something that was never legitimately owned in the first place; it may, when compared with what the conservative retains, be small. Even so, it is a loss, and nothing is ever so cherished as that which we no longer possess.

Ezra Klein

The Soul-Crushing Legacy of Billy Graham

13 March 2018

No, Fascism Can’t Happen Here

Tyler Cowen

Trump Comments Show Disdain for the Rule of Law

It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that some Republican members of Congress would have called for Barack Obama’s impeachment if he had ever called for taking people’s guns away without due process.

James Hohmann

12 March 2018

Cop Stoppers

How did the NRA become an enemy of law enforcement?

Millions of decent people pay dues every year to sustain the NRA. They think they’re supporting law and order. What they’re really supporting is the nation’s most effective anti-police lobby.

William Saletan

7 world maps show the highs and lows of American exceptionalism

Frank Jacobs

09 March 2018

06 March 2018

U.S. GDP Expenditure Components

David Andolfatto

The New Graveyard of Empires?

Vladimir Putin’s grand ambitions for Syria aren’t working out quite as planned.

In Syria, the Russians are making a better show of things than we are. In part that’s because we’re pursuing lots of interests (with varying degrees of enthusiasm), many of them mutually exclusive, while the Russians are focused on just one. We want to crush ISIS, help the Kurds, placate Turkey, contain Iran, keep Iraq from falling apart, and reach a political settlement that eases President Bashar al-Assad out of power. These are all worthy goals, but it’s impossible to achieve any one or two of them without torpedoing the others.

Fred Kaplan

05 March 2018

Trump’s plan does nothing for America’s real infrastructure problem

Matthew Yglesias

Heritage of Hate

It’s worth remembering that countless black Americans were lynched, captured, beaten, hosed, tortured, and terrorized with either the overt support or the deliberate indifference of “the people’s protectors” over the course of American history. During most of the time “since our founding,” local law enforcement has played the role of an oppressive force against black Americans, rather than a protective one.

Daniel Horwitz