A group of Americans are standing around, waiting for a business deal to take place. As they wait, they begin to grumble about the state of the economy, including their taxes. One of them asks an elderly man whether he thinks the taxes are too high. He replies that yes, they are high, but the burden of paying them is hardly the most onerous burden in their lives. More onerous, says the old man, are people’s own “idleness,” “pride,” and “folly.”

It would be remarkable for a scene like this to play out anywhere in America, at any time in…


If only Hank Aaron were still alive. When he died earlier this year, it was a loss not only for baseball, but for the United States of America. Courageously persevering through decades of racist abuse, including death threats as he closed in on Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, he showed the world that, even with all of the inequalities and injustices that still plague the country, there is still great opportunity on American soil. Today is the forty-seventh anniversary of his historic achievement, number 715.

It would be wonderful if we could hear what Aaron, who achieved his great…


Today, the most important military alliance in the world turns 72. After four decades of defending Western Europe against the Soviet threat, in the 1990s NATO halted and rolled back some of Europe’s worst atrocities since the Holocaust. After 9/11 brought the alliance into missions far from its normal sphere of operations, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine brought home just how important its original mission still is. Today, while a man who foolishly treated NATO with contempt is out of the White House, the alliance must still make clear why it is needed.

The threats Donald Trump posed to NATO…


In at least one sense, the U.S. airstrike in Syria on February 25, targeting Iranian-backed militants who have attacked U.S. forces in Iraq, is not really related to events in August 2013. President Biden, in ordering the strike, was reacting in a quite natural way for an American president when troops he commands come under fire. The troops are there to help stabilize Iraq, a mission they’ve had since ISIS stormed into the world’s view in 2014. Iran is also an enemy of ISIS, but it’s been working to weaken the U.S. presence in Iraq since 2003, the better to…


Allowing choice is more likely to protect unborn life

(Getty)

Every human being walking the earth today was once an embryo, then a fetus, then a newborn child. That has always been the case, and unless science invents technology that allows embryos to instantly transform into fully-formed human babies, it will always be the case. None of us remembers our time in the womb, but each of us knows that’s where we came from.

Many people who think hard enough understand that a fetus is a form of human life, and that an abortion constitutes the termination of said life. Calling it a clump of cells, or describing it as…


It is well-established that John F. Kennedy’s victory in the West Virginia Democratic primary (sixty years ago today) was vital to his becoming president. Without a strong showing in an overwhelmingly Protestant state, his campaign may very well have sunk under the weight of the candidate’s Roman Catholicism. By tackling the religion issue head-on — he framed it as an issue of tolerance — JFK helped assure Protestants that he would serve the American people, not the Pope.

But the victory was also a classic case of Kennedy cynicism. Not only did the glamorous family deploy their money, their friend…


Highly educated and well educated are not the same thing. It is easy to forget, at a time when a college degree is a requirement (formal or not) for most positions of power and influence, that going to college and getting good grades does not necessarily equip people to lead. It is certainly a great way to learn new subjects, question long-held assumptions, discover new interests, and make connections that can further a person’s career. But it can also breed arrogance, a sense that a formal credential makes the bearer better leadership material, and a temptation to think less of…


I’m not a believer in fate or karma. The idea that everything that happens to a person is bound to happen that way, or is the result of something that person did at some earlier time, strikes me as too deterministic. Serendipity, on the other hand, is something I can appreciate. Because I’ve come to understand that many seemingly non-random events are really coincidences, when a particularly fortuitous coincidence occurs, I make an effort to take advantage of it.

Yesterday evening, I saw Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winning labor activist and former President of Poland, speak in Washington, DC…


In an April 2017 Medium post, economic and political analyst Matt Stoller described Barack Obama as a Hamiltonian. He did not mean the label as a compliment. Criticizing Obama’s friendly attitude toward big banks during his presidency (and his acceptance of a $400,000 speaking fee from a Wall Street bank shortly after leaving the White House), he depicted him as trusting financial technocracy at the expense of democracy. “He believed,” wrote Stoller, “that those at the top of large concentrated financial institutions are experts, with top-tier credentials, and, therefore, rightful rulers.”

Whether Stoller’s criticism is fair or not (I share…


The stupendous popularity of the musical Hamilton provides an opportunity to reassess the Hamiltonian political tradition, and determine which recent American politicians might be called Hamiltonians. While the major American political divide, since at least the 1930s, has been between conservatives and progressives, as we understand them, the previous divide, between Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians, has never completely vanished. Conservatism and progressivism can each take both Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian forms. The policies of the progressive centrist Bill Clinton, while they were not always Hamiltonian, do mesh in many ways with Hamilton’s. …

Michael D. Purzycki

I am an analyst, writer, and editor. I write about liberalism, U.S. national security, and the threats to both. The views expressed here are mine alone.

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