As The New York Times

A Real Sign of Progress for Romney?
April 04, 2012

You may recall that I suggested Rick Santorum had a shot of exceeding expectations in Wisconsin by doing well in the Milwaukee suburbs, which looked on paper like they were solid Romney country but had a reputation for being more conservative than other Midwestern suburbs.  Well, as it happens, Romney beat Santorum by more than 2:1 in Waukesha County, one of the most closely watched of these suburbs, which certainly surprised me. What explains the trouncing? Did the pundits who assumed Waukesha is a pretty conservative place just completely whiff?  Not necessarily.

Somalia's Horrors
November 04, 2011

[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] No one seems to know what can or should be done about the absolutely awful situation in Somalia, but some of the remarkable journalism that western publications have produced from the country deserves to be recognized.

The Return: Gilad Shalit Comes Home
October 19, 2011

The return to Zion has been a trope in Jewish history for more than 3,000 years. It pertains to the people Israel itself. And it applies also to individual Jews, both in the abstract and in the tactile, as a matter of conscience and as a fact of communality. You will know already from my other writings just how much I pity those Jews who are alienated from these considerations or, worse yet, haven’t the slightest idea of what I mean. Of course, ignorance of one’s past can excuse a lot. But it’s not a satisfying answer to inquiring children.

Disease Eradication and the Role of International Organizations
June 29, 2011

Yesterday, the United Nations announced that, for only the second time in history, a disease has been successfully eradicated from the Earth. The offending affliction in question, which strikes animals—particularly cattle—is called rinderpest, and its lethal effects have disrupted and plagued human society for thousands of years.

Swearing In
March 23, 2011

It’s time to talk about swearing. As The New York Times recently noted, for the first time, three of the top-ten pop music hits incorporated the word “fuck” prominently in their choruses, including Cee-Lo Green’s gleeful “Fuck You,” which has been cleaned up for radio as “Forget You.” The Times treated this event as a cause for mild concern: Swearing has become more common—Melissa Leo even swore at the Oscars!—and what’s more, the phenomenon is now running the risk of devaluing swear words. Yet this phenomenon is as predictable as it is harmless.

Where Did BP's Oil Go?
August 04, 2010

So what happened to the millions of barrels of oil that leaked out of BP's Macondo well? Where did it all go? Here's a chart from a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (click to enlarge): Rough summary: About one-quarter of the oil is still bobbing on the sea surface or washed ashore. Another quarter has been dispersed into microscopic droplets, either by artificial chemicals or natural processes. And another quarter has been "dissolved." All told, just 25 percent has been physically removed from the Gulf ecosystem. The rest is still lurking... somewhere.

A Question of Life and Death
June 15, 2010

Are the basic premises of our current policy in Afghanistan fatally flawed? The fact that I feel compelled to pose this question so soon after the completion of President Obama’s painstaking review reflects the mounting evidence that the results of that policy have fallen far short of expectations. Let’s begin at the beginning, with Marja. The holy trinity of modern counterinsurgency is clear, hold, and build. Coalition forces are stalled at step one.

So Much Gasbaggery, So Little Time
December 03, 2009

Barack Obama convened his first official summit before he was even elected president. In October 2008, then-candidate Obama gathered a gaggle of business and political heavyweights--Paul Volcker, Eric Schmidt, Jennifer Granholm, Bill Richardson, etc.--in a Florida community college gymnasium for what his campaign billed as the “Growing American Jobs Summit.” “No cheerleading,” Obama admonished the 1,700 people who packed into the sweltering gym expecting a campaign rally.

A Tnr March Madness Update
March 23, 2009

As The New York Times points out, the results of this weekend's NCAA games were rather predictable--giving bloodless number crunchers and establishmentarians (including yours truly) a leg up in TNR's March Madness challenge. Reader Justin Rowinsky is now in first place, immediately ahead of David Crockett and commenter adaglas. The most dramatic rise and fall was Clay Risen's. Once a juggernaut, he's now stalled seventh from last. Click here for a full list of the current standings, and check back with us as the Madness continues. --Barron YoungSmith

Look Away
December 14, 2003

The Bush administration's internecine squabbles over Iraq policy have gotten a lot of press, but no issue has divided its foreign policy team more than North Korea. For two years, engagers (who generally favor using diplomacy to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program) and hawks (who are suspicious of negotiations and believe rewarding North Korean leader Kim Jong Il could encourage other proliferators) were unable to resolve their differences. "It's as stark as stark could be--we weren't even on the same page," says one American official.