At the beginning of his long and well-lived life, George Herbert Walker Bush, who in politics was always prosaic, acquired, by way of a grandfather, the name of a British poet and priest (George Herbert, 1593-1633). He acquired much else from family inheritance.
America's body politic has recently been scarred by excruciating political shingles, and 2018 campaigning was equivalent to acid reflux. But Tuesday's elections indicated that some political antibodies are strengthening the nation's immune system.
The descent of American capitalism into a racket is being greased by professed capitalists in government, in collaboration with professed capitalists in what is called, with decreasing accuracy, the private sector. This is occurring under the auspices of Republicans, and while many Democrats are arguing, with some accuracy but more incoherence, this: The government has become a servant of grasping private interests -- and should be much bigger and more interventionist.
The current era of scorched-earth politics began five years after there was, according to Christine Blasey Ford, in 1982, an alcohol-soaked party in a suburban Washington home. There her 15-year-old self was, she says, assaulted by 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, who categorically denies this accusation.
Eric Sevareid (1912-1992), the author and broadcaster, said he was a pessimist about tomorrow but an optimist about the day after tomorrow. Regarding America's economy, prudent people should reverse that.
Governments, seemingly eager to supply their critics with ammunition, constantly validate historian Robert Conquest: The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies. Consider North Carolina's intervention in the medical-devices market.
On election night 2016, Mark Schlissel, the University of Michigan's president, addressed more than 1,000 students, declaring that the 90 percent of them who had favored the losing candidate had rejected "hate." He thereby effectively made those who disagreed with him and with the campus majority eligible to be targets of the university's "bias response teams." That his announced contempt for them made him a suitable target of the thought police is a thought that presumably occurred to no one, least of all him.
The path to today's problems with Iran passed through the University of Chicago squash court where on Dec. 2, 1942, for 4.5 minutes physicist Enrico Fermi, making calculations on a slide rule, achieved the controlled release of energy from an atomic nucleus. Historian Richard Rhodes says that Fermi and his colleagues were risking "a small Chernobyl in the midst of a crowded city."
From Scotland, where Adam Smith pioneered systematic thinking about economics, comes an adjective, "carnaptious," that fits people who are allergic to economic euphoria. It means cantankerous. Let's think carnaptiously about this fact: The interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds recently rose briefly to 3 percent, and soon may move above this. This is more than evidence of the economy's strength. It also is a harbinger of a coming day when the great driver of the national debt will be ... the national debt. Pour a Scotch and read on.
Trey Gowdy's emotions sometimes bubble disconcertingly close to the surface, but unlike many members of the political class, he is not all surface. At a breakfast four years ago, the South Carolina Republican had tears in his eyes as he explained when he would leave Congress: after Tim Scott, a Republican congressman who had been appointed to the Senate in 2013 when Jim DeMint resigned, had been elected in his own right. This, Gowdy said at that breakfast, would close the circle of his state's history.