Washington, D.C.

How Obama’s Latest Education Initiative Could Threaten American Preschool
March 23, 2012

Last month, I toured Washington D.C.’s Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, one of 1,600 low-income preschool providers funded by the federal Head Start program. At lunchtime, well-behaved four- and five-year-olds dutifully served each other apples, cucumbers, and noodle soup. Elsewhere, a more mischievous group rolled on the floor while a teacher patiently tried to read aloud. Everything I saw suggested happy students, clean classrooms, and engaged teachers. Indeed, Mazique has become something of a poster child for Head Start.

Why 2012 May Mark the End of an Era of Political Anger
March 17, 2012

When progressives consider the future, two basic storylines emerge.

The Great Legal Paradox of Our Time: How Civil Libertarians Strengthened the National Security State
March 16, 2012

When Michael Ratner argued in a February 2002 lawsuit that British citizen Shafiq Rasul had a legal right to challenge his detention at Guantanamo Bay, there was little reason to believe he and his colleagues at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) would play any role in shaping America’s national security landscape. The country was still seething with anger over the attacks of 9/11, and longing for revenge. The few legal precedents that existed were not very encouraging.

The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak
March 13, 2012

In the last years of the nineteenth century, Charles Dow created an index of 12 leading industrial companies. Almost none of them exist today. While General Electric remains an industrial giant, the U.S. Leather Company, American Cotton Oil, and others have long since disappeared into bankruptcy or consolidation. Today, the Dow Jones includes giant corporations that hadn’t even been created when Ronald Reagan first sat in the Oval Office.

Why Won’t the GOP Stick Up For Dwight Eisenhower?
March 07, 2012

With its 80-foot-high smokestack columns towering over a four-acre site whose only representation of its subject would be a statue showing him as a barefoot boy, the current design for the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial in Washington, D.C. manages to be both bombastic and silly. It’s easy to imagine tourists mistaking the memorial as a spectacularly misconceived tribute to Huckleberry Finn. Which is why it’s entirely appropriate that a dispute has broken out over it.

CPAC Speakers: Who Will Get The Most Applause?
February 10, 2012

Every spring, the residents of Washington, D.C. are entranced by the arrival of the famous cherry blossoms, which bring beauty and happiness to the city. The annual spectacle that is the Conservative Political Action Conference is kind of the opposite. The movement’s heavy hitters—Gingrich! Romney! Coulter! Palin! Michelle Duggar, star of TLC’s “19 Kids & Counting”!—come to speak before excited crowds of freedom-lovers who hang on to their every word, listening for the person who best channels their outrage and who can lead them to victory over the hated Barack Obama this fall.

Wonk Rock: Why Do So Many of Washington DC’s Politicos Play in Bands?
February 04, 2012

Midnight nears on a Saturday at the Rock and Roll Hotel, a nightclub in northeast Washington, D.C.  The front row of the crowd is lined with attractive women. Clad in jeans and a flannel shirt, drummer Jim Arkedis bashes his drums onstage to a cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” Arkedis’s band The Electric 11s is headlining the show. Blue Pinto, the indie opening act, shares little of The 11s’ classic rock sound.

Coulter, Romneycare, And The GOP Crackup
February 02, 2012

With Mitt Romney re-establishing himself, after the unpleasantness in South Carolina, as the Republicans' de facto nominee, I thought it would be fun to offer some sort of prize--say, a bronze replica of the 1939 Molotov-Von Ribbentrop pact--to the first Fox News personality to endorse Romney's absurd claim that Romneycare (good) was entirely different from Obamacare (bad). I never dreamed that Ann Coulter would beat me to the punch. She's never been much good at playing with the other children.

How Does Marriage Equality Affect Same-Sex Couples?
January 03, 2012

On January 1st, Hawaii and Delaware began to offer same-sex civil unions. That brings the number of states recognizing same-sex civil unions to five. Meanwhile, six states and Washington, D.C. now allow same-sex marriage. What impact has marriage equality had on same-sex couples? A 2009 study examining same-sex couples in Massachusetts (where gay marriage has existed since 2004) gives some perspective.

No Bribe Left Behind: Putting Newt's Zaniest Education Policy to the Test
December 28, 2011

It’s unlikely that Newt Gingrich will ever enact his plan to transform impoverished youth into salaried janitors, but 20 years ago, he did briefly manage to pay underprivileged kids for more edifying work. “Earning by Learning” (EBL), a literacy program that Gingrich founded in 1990, paid students two dollars per book to do their summer reading. At its height, the program was operating in at least 17 states.