It's Christmas, festive season of goodwill, time of sparkling delight for the little ones, and... argggghhhhhhh, how many hundred chores left? For parents of young kids, the run-up to Christmas is the most exhausting period of the year. A dozen large boxes of decorations and lights to string. Two trees in our household, plus miniatures for each kid's room. The Tyranny of the Presents: dozens of relatives are present-qualified in our extended family group, and each of the five of us gives an average of 2.5 gifts to each, meaning uncountable gifts to buy or make.

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Invested Interest

Harvey Pitt is not a household name. Until recently, the only people who regularly came across him were those in scrapes with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). For such individuals, however, Pitt was the man to see. He was considered the sharpest securities lawyer in the country, and while not everybody could afford his fees, those who could were generally pleased with the results. When the SEC charged Ivan Boesky with insider trading, he hired Pitt, who engineered a lighter-then-expected sentence.

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Force of Habit

Ever since the Berlin Wall fell, editorialists, politicians, and policy analysts have been pronouncing the United States military bloated, overpriced, mired in antiquated cold war assumptions, and unready for a "small wars" world. The exact critique varies according to its source--reformers on the left tend to focus on getting rid of large, expensive weapons systems as a way to reduce costs; those on the right see cutting overall troop numbers and deployments as part of a "transformational" commitment to high-tech weapons.

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The Last Time, Again

It is rightly said these days that Americans have acquired, by a sudden and savage experience of terror, an understanding of the gruesome dimensions of Israeli existence. This is true, and no doubt it accounts for the Bush administration's acquiescence in the full measure of Israel's fury at last weekend's bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa. But an important difference remains. The American experience of terror is shocking, but the Israeli experience of terror is formulaic.

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Duty Free

On July 11, exactly three months before the World Trade Center fell, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, wrote a column in The Hill newspaper entitled, "Privacy: An Emerging Front-Burner Issue." In it, he made an argument that today rings rather strange. He accused the Clinton administration of being so obsessed with the threat of terrorism and crime that it had trampled civil liberties.

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Holding Pattern

Of all the new security measures adopted by the Bush administration since September 11, the most draconian involve the detention and interrogation of aliens. In his dragnet effort to uncover evidence of terrorism, Attorney General John Ashcroft has authorized the detention of some 1,100 noncitizens. Some have been held for months and--thanks to recently passed legislation--may be held indefinitely. Critics call the Ashcroft detentions unconstitutional.

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Wretched Excess

After one of the best ten-year runs in economic history, the torrent of bad news flooding Alan Greenspan's office this January had to be jarring. The country had just seen its worst quarter of economic growth since 1995, and manufacturing activity had fallen to its lowest level since 1991. Spending by businesses on new plants and equipment had dropped for the first time in a decade. And the stock markets' decline, already nine months old, showed no signs of abating. So Greenspan lowered interest rates, over and over again.

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Count Down

Now that a consortium of major newspapers has reported that George W. Bush would have won the Florida recount, his legitimacy is supposedly beyond dispute. "Even Gore partisans," asserts a Wall Street Journal editorial, "now have to admit that the former Vice President was not denied a legitimate victory by the Supreme Court." And this conclusion is not confined to Bush's amen corner. "The comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots solidifies George W. Bush's legal claim to the White House," chimes in The New York Times. So Bush is now a legitimate president, right?

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Foreign Aid

Since September 11, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has experienced something of an American renaissance. He has become a regular on the Fox News Channel and CNN, and he testified before the House Government Reform Committee. His book, Fighting Terrorism, has suddenly appeared on best-seller lists across the country. Nonetheless, on November 2 Bibi found time to break away from the TV and lecture circuit to head to Manchester, New Hampshire, for a local town-hall meeting at St.

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A Room With a View

A Trial by Jury by D. Graham Burnett (Alfred A. Knopf, 183 pp., $21) Among political theorists today, there is a vigorous debate between those who advocate deliberative democracy and those who emphasize public ignorance. The deliberative democrats insist that it is not enough for laws and jury verdicts to be adopted democratically. Instead they must be adopted for the right reasons.

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