WASHINGTON—Many Americans' moral vanity is expressed nowadays in their rage to disparage. They are incapable of measured judgments about past politics—about flawed historical figures who were forced by cascading circumstances to make difficult decisions on the basis of imperfect information. So, the nation now needs an example of how to calmly assess episodes fraught with passion and sorrow. An example arrived Sunday night and continues in the coming days.
WASHINGTON—Autumn, which is bearing down upon us like a menacing linebacker, is, as John Keats said, a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Actually, Keats, a romantic, did not mention that last part. He died before the birth of the subject of a waning American romance, football. This sport will never die but it will never again be, as it was until recently, the subject of uncomplicated national enthusiasm.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Southern Gothic is a literary genre and, occasionally, a political style that, like the genre, blends strangeness and irony. Consider the current primary campaign to pick the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. It illuminates, however, not a regional peculiarity but a national perversity, that of the Republican Party.
One day (Marine Theodore Wallace) saw an officer casually aim his rifle and try to shoot a Vietnamese boy in the distance. "Sir, what are you doing?" he'd asked. "He's probably supplying the (North Vietnamese Army)," the officer said. "What's he doing out here anyway?" "It's his country!" said Wallace. -- Mark Bowden, "Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam"
MONTGOMERY, Ala.—It is said that America's armed forces have been stressed by 16 years of constant warfare, the longest such in the nation's history. For the Air Force, however, the high tempo of combat operations began 26 years ago, with enforcement of the no-fly zone in Iraq after Desert Storm. With an acute pilot shortage, particularly in the fighter pilot community, and with a shortfall approaching 4,000 among maintenance and staffing personnel, the service is, as Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson says, "too small for what the nation expects of it."
WASHINGTON—Predictably and sensibly, a three-judge panel of the nation's second-most important court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, recently dismissed, unanimously, a lawsuit brought by a Yemeni man, two of whose relatives were collateral fatalities in a 2012 U.S. drone attack that killed three terrorists. The suit asked the court to declare the attacks illegal under several U.S. statutes.
WASHINGTON—Cynics are said to be people who are prematurely disappointed about the future. Such dyspepsia is encouraged by watching Republicans struggle to move on from the dog's breakfast they have made of health care reform to the mare's nest of tax reform.
OMAHA, Neb.—From Little League on up, players emulate major leaguers, so Major League Baseball's pace-of-play problem is trickling down. Four innings into a recent College World Series game here, just seven hits and three runs had consumed 96 minutes. During a coach's visit to the pitcher's mound, the other team's three base runners visited their dugout to confer with their coach. The Congress of Vienna moved more briskly.
WASHINGTON—In 1859, when Manhattan still had many farms, near the Battery on the island's southern tip The Great American Tea Company was launched. It grew, and outgrew its name, becoming in 1870 The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, which in 1912 begat the first A&P Economy Store, a semi-modern grocery store.
WASHINGTON—As changing technologies and preferences make government-funded broadcasting increasingly preposterous, such broadcasting actually becomes useful by illustrating two dismal facts. One is the immortality of entitlements that especially benefit those among society's articulate upper reaches who feel entitled. The other fact is how impervious government programs are to evidence incompatible with their premises.