Gale Norton

The Operator

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.

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U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth made headlines yesterday for ruling that President Obama’s program providing funding for embryonic-stem-cell research is illegal. Here are four things you should know: 1. He’s a long-time public servant: Lamberth got his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Texas and then spent the next six years in the Army JAG Corps. From 1974 to 1987, he was the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and led its civil division from 1978 to 1987, when President Reagan appointed him to the D.C. U.S. District Court.

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Wealthcare

Jonathan Chait: Ayn Rand and the invincible cult of selfishness on the American right

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Wealthcare

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right By Jennifer Burns (Oxford University Press, 459 pp., $27.95) Ayn Rand and the World She Made By Anne C. Heller               (Doubleday, 559 pp., $35) I. The current era of Democratic governance has provoked a florid response on the right, ranging from the prosaic (routine denunciations of big spending and debt) to the overheated (fears of socialism) to the lunatic (the belief that Democrats plan to put the elderly to death).

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If the news reports are accurate, Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado has been tapped by Barack Obama to head up the Department of Interior. Let's hope he knows what he's getting into. After the last eight years, the Interior Department has become fairly dysfunctional, and this may end up being one of the most difficult jobs in the Obama administration—not to mention one that gets remarkably little attention.  Looking back historically, the Interior Department has been a mess from the very beginning.

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Broken Trust

In its dollar magnitude, it's almost certainly the biggest case of financial mismanagement in U.S. history. While a final tally is years away, in part because of suspiciously lost or missing documents, there's good reason to think that the dollar figures will dwarf WorldCom's $9 billion. It's a scandal that crosses partisan lines and reaches into high levels of both the Clinton and the Bush administrations.

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