WASHINGTON — Responding to the horrifying murder of photojournalist James Foley, Secretary of State John Kerry declared, “ISIL (the Islamic State) and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed.” President Obama said, “people like this ultimately fail.” The first is a pledge; the second an observation. Obama remains a rhetorical spectator to events in Iraq and Syria he does not want to own, and that he believes America has a limited ability to influence.
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WASHINGTON — In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything, from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans’ comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity.
Some of President Barack Obama’s supporters sound notably disappointed by his third speech on the Ferguson, Missouri, crisis. Too timid, they say. Here are some representative tweets.
The woman was pointing to my book on the American Revolution. She was inquiring if I believed people were fed up with the way the country was being run and ready for a repeat of 1776.
WASHINGTON — Consider how our definition of “neighborliness” has evolved. Once upon a time, being neighborly meant “reaching out to the people who lived next door” by, among other things, “offering to watch the kids in a pinch.”
WASHINGTON — If the CIA spends half as much energy finding terrorists as it has spent fighting Congress, we should feel very safe.
WASHINGTON — Although the Ebola virus might remain mostly confined to West Africa, it has infected the Western imagination. This eruption of uncontrolled nature into what developed nations consider serene modernity is more disturbing to the emotional serenity of multitudes than it is threatening to their physical health.
For the citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the crisis prompted by the surge of children from Latin America coming across the U.S. border is not simply an immigration story. It is about more than unemployment, poverty, gang violence and the other forces that split families and lead parents to make desperate decisions.
“Some of my friends are destitute. Some of them are beggars / But, for me, there’s a subsidy if I spend my whole life preggers.”
WASHINGTON — A prominent AIDS researcher recently recalled for me the panic at the start of the pandemic in the 1980s. Her superiors asked her not to publicize her work because they didn’t want their institution to be known as an “AIDS hospital.” Some parents instructed their children at school not to play with the researcher’s children, because she was in contact with the AIDS virus. Fear and stigma were only overcome by the relentless application of science.
One in five? Yeah, right. Sounds way too high.
WASHINGTON — As more than 40 African leaders gather in Washington for an unprecedented summit, Africa’s brand problem in America has grown significantly worse. Two events — the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls by Boko Haram and a currently uncontrolled Ebola outbreak in West Africa — have tuned in clearly through the news and social media static. And they have reinforced existing public impressions of disorder and disease.
NEW YORK — Something strange happened here last week: Lots of workers who’ve never done so before got the right to call in sick. And that’s a good thing.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.