WASHINGTON — Rwanda’s ethnic conflict was a quarrel in a faraway country between people of which we know nothing — until it became a byword for moral abdication in the face of genocide. The same was true in Afghanistan, before it incubated a global threat. Americans have learned — or should have learned — to be more discriminating in their indifference.
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WASHINGTON — The education of Barack Obama is a protracted process as he repeatedly alights upon the obvious with a sense of original discovery. In a recent MSNBC interview, he restocked his pantry of excuses for his disappointing results, announcing that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly”:
I’ve heard a lot of goofy arguments against raising the federal minimum wage. The silliest goes like this: “You want to raise the minimum wage to $15? Why not $50? Why not $100?”
WASHINGTON — One of the unpleasant side effects of modern medicine — experienced during a recent convalescence — is the omnipresence of television. Its controls are built into your hospital bed, just beside the nurse’s call button. The screen hovers over your head like an IV — drip, drip, drip — distracting, anesthetizing.
While her friends dressed Barbie dolls, Lucy Sanders designed and constructed buildings with Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys and playing cards. She learned physics by playing with her Slinky, and chemistry through her chemistry set. Sanders says that the board games she played with her family taught her strategy, empathy and how to win and lose. Her parents did get her a Barbie, but she and her sister turned her into “gladiator Barbie,” “medieval Barbie” and “superwoman Barbie.”
WASHINGTON — For more than three decades, working class Americans receded as cultural heroes, replaced in the popular imagination by swashbuckling entrepreneurs, brilliant innovators, and shrewd investors who make millions at the touch of a computer key.
Americans pride themselves on helping the distressed. They have indeed been generous when people and countries are in trouble. But our public and government have also been complacent in the face of massive human suffering. Recall Rwanda and Cambodia. More recently, the U.S. public has watched passively for well over two years the continuing destruction of a highly developed state: Syria, where more than 120,000 civilians have been killed and more than 6 million left homeless.
WASHINGTON — In his disproportionate praise of the six-month agreement with Iran, Barack Obama said: “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program.” But if the program, now several decades old, had really been “halted” shortly after U.S. forces invaded neighboring Iraq, we would not be desperately pursuing agreements to stop it now, as about 10,000 centrifuges spin to enrich uranium.
WASHINGTON — It was like going into the belly of the beast.
WASHINGTON — In my mid-20s, I had a new bride, a plum job on Capitol Hill, and, apparently, the beginnings of a cancerous tumor on my right kidney. For 20 or 25 years — the best estimate of my doctors — it accompanied me at birthdays and on holidays and at the delivery of my children. It was quiet and kept to itself. Undiscovered, it would have donned camouflage and killed me in the end.
WASHINGTON — Critics of the agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program are right about most things but wrong about the most important things. They understand the agreement’s manifest and manifold defects and its probable futility. Crucial components of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remain. U.S. concessions intended to cultivate the Iranian regime’s “moderates” are another version of the fatal conceit that U.S. policy can manipulate other societies. As is the hope that easing economic sanctions will create an Iranian constituency demanding nuclear retreat in exchange for yet more economic relief. Critics are, however, wrong in thinking that any agreement could control Iran’s nuclear aspirations. And what critics consider the agreement’s three worst consequences are actually benefits.
WASHINGTON — Winds were calm in the capital on Monday, except in the immediate vicinity of the White House, where gale-force exhalations were blowing out of the West Wing.
WASHINGTON — If you peruse the news on any given day, the farm bill/food stamp debate produces two general impressions: Republicans are heartless turkey thieves; Democrats are spendthrift welfare caterers. If only neither were a little bit right.
WASHINGTON — Christianity has often been used over the centuries to prop up the powerful. But from the beginning, the Christian message has been subversive of political systems, judgmental toward those at the top, and demanding of all who take it seriously.
MILWAUKEE — In 2011, tens of thousands of government employees and others, enraged by Gov. Scott Walker’s determination to break the ruinously expensive and paralyzing grip that government workers’ unions had on Wisconsin, took over the capitol building in Madison. With chanting, screaming and singing supplemented by bullhorns, bagpipes and drum circles, their cacophony shook the building that the squalor of their occupation made malodorous. They spat on Republican legislators and urinated on Walker’s office door. They shouted, “This is what democracy looks like!”