The Earth shook this week. Am I the only one who felt it? I couldn’t believe what I’d heard, and so I listened intently to make sure I’d gotten it right. Sure enough, I had. While watching The Five on Fox News, I heard Bob Beckel, the only liberal to sit on that panel, say that the higher academic system should immediately stop admitting Muslims and maybe even Chinese students. What? Bob Beckel said what? I felt the Earth shift. He said those who are here should be allowed to remain and finish their education but that we should no longer admit Muslim, and maybe Chinese, students because they “get an education here and then go back and hack us.”
I’m exhausted. I’m tired of being tired. I’ve had my fill of manufactured crises and tragedy from our President, and I’m worn down by the actual crises and tragedies that seem to be happening almost monthly. The problem with exhaustion is, you want to give up. Bury your head. Surrender to the grind. But we cannot and we must not.
It was Friday night, and I was traveling north from Philadelphia to my native Cambridge, hours after the Boston area had been locked down. By then we had shifted from tragedy to thriller, and avoiding talk of the “manhunt” was not possible. The man sitting across from me on the train had been watching the marathon on Boylston Street when the bombs went off, and was heading back north from Newtown, PA to watch his daughter perform in a college play. He said he didn’t want to pass judgment, but jihad seemed to be the likeliest explanation.Four hours later, I...
After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, it took me about three days to find my first full-blown conspiracy theory about the specifics surrounding the event online. The way the World Trade Center towers collapsed, the story went, clearly indicated a controlled demolition planned by none other than our very own government. It was, in effect, the moment that the national paranoia bubble burst.
It’s been a tough decade or so for civil libertarians. Every big moment in America since 9/11 seems to have brought fresh humiliation for those of us who believe in things like “privacy” and “due process of law.” We’ve watched as our country—supposedly liberty’s beacon—resorted to torture, warrantless wiretapping, data mining, “national security letters,” targeted assassinations of Americans abroad, and a host of other measures designed to keep the police and government from abusing their powers over this. You can’t even go through airport security without getting virtually naked anymore.
In light of the vociferous and ongoing debate surrounding gay marriage, it's easy to imagine that self-described "marriage traditionalists" rose up organically in opposition to expanding the definition of marriage to include spouses of the same sex. However, you'd be wrong to think that. The marriage movement—which now claims, erroneously, that the incursion of gays and lesbians into its hallowed halls will weaken the institution—actually began as a response to a real threat to the contract of matrimony: the no-fault divorce.
There is a fascinating book by Irving Stone entitled, They Also Ran, the story of men defeated for the presidency. Stone, an historian, also analyzes the races to determine if the voters chose wisely. It’s a fascinating concept, as readers are left pondering how history may have been altered had there been a different outcome—and how history would have changed had the winner not been victorious.
Sometimes, I wish we could all just shut up for a little bit.
Yesterday, in an article published in The New Republic, an unnamed former Obama adviser mentioned offhandedly that the President reads just one newspaper: The New York Times. That might seem like a lot to the average American—less than a quarter of whom even glanced at a newspaper yesterday—but when you're the top decision maker of a country as multifaceted and influential as ours, there's an expectation that you're considering a range of independent (as in non-administration) sources on topics of import. The story was picked up by a handful of media outlets and created a minor stir on Twitter before it was drowned out by the sound of explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Wednesday, the New York Times Magazine did a favor to the headline writers guild, breaking the news that former Congressman Anthony Weiner is seriously considering a run for mayor of New York City. (The Post Thursday morning: “Weiner’s Second Coming.”) A week earlier, the similarly disgraced Mark Sanford won a Republican Congressional runoff in South Carolina, all but cementing his return to public office. The sudden viability of both candidates would appear somewhat surprising. They are, as the tabloids might put it, damaged goods. Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina, resigned in 2009 after copping to an affair with an Argentinean woman. Weiner followed suit in 2011, after he was caught sending naughty selfies to complete strangers, while his wife was pregnant.
We are witnessing both the longest political dynasties and longest political rivalry in American history. There has been either a Bush or Clinton as president, vice president or secretary of state since 1980. We just started a short time-out with Hillary Clinton's resignation. But with Hillary the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and Jeb Bush flirting with a run in 2016, the odds are good the rivalry of dynasties will soon pick up where it left off.