The Missing

There are several types of missing persons. Some missing people are missed so publicly that their absence is a presence. Vanished children reappeared on milk cartons and then later in amber alerts. American soldiers, killed in action or MIA, look out at us from rows of photos like headstones in the newspaper on Memorial Day. Mothers assembled with signs and photos in Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires...
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Robot-in-Chief

To: John Brennan, Langley HQ From: Operative 650, McMurdo Sound Re: Politics 2.0 Greetings from Antarctica. It’s not so bad here, as long as you like tinned peas and snow blindness. But seriously, thanks to several months of sunless winter, I’ve been able to learn Urdu, top my previous high score in Spider Solitaire, and catch up on my Netflix queue. I’m the only spook here among the...
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The Life and Times of Michael B

Economic inequality is a hot topic in America these days. It is the subject of hefty bestsellers, presidential addresses, and even Hollywood movies. The issue has even appeared on the radar screen of foreign policy pundits. In this Sunday’s Washington Post, former assistant secretary of state Kurt Campbell writesabout how “income inequality undermines U.S. power.” Campbell writes about...
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Obama and the Gordian Knot of Politics

With the exception of a spike immediately after September 11, Americans don’t trust their government. Take a look at a graph of public trust from 1958 to 2014, and you’ll see the rate drop from around 70 percent half a century ago to the dismal 20-something depths of today. The government shutdown in 2013—the supreme expression of political gridlock—even further reduced that trust. With...
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When Government Breaks the Fourth Wall

You’re at the theater. You’re sitting in your seat, paying attention to what’s going on in front of you. If the play is any good, you’ve completely forgotten that you’re sitting in a theater. You are absorbed in the new world unfolding in front of you. The theater has cast a spell over you. Then, suddenly, the actor on stage turns to the audience and begins speaking...
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Disrupting Hillary

In one of the most enduring images from the lead-up to the 2008 Democratic primaries, frontrunner Hillary Clinton appeared in a rogue political ad as Big Brother. It was a take-off on the infamous 1984 Super Bowl commercial that pitted upstart Apple against Big Blue (IBM) and urged consumers to “Think Different.” In the campaign makeover two decades later, Clinton is intoning political...
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