Transfers to K-Street

Some years ago the local bagel shops and delis asked that customers use cash for any transaction under $10. The surcharges that credit card companies billed to them made smaller transactions a lot less profitable. Turns out these intercharge fees are a $48 billion-a year business for the card companies.

Merchants banded together to lobby against them, . . . → Read More: Transfers to K-Street


Alan Jacobs passes on a terrifying account of a tornado that ripped through an Alabama valley:

Soon everything began shaking. They put on motorcycle helmets and huddled in the center of the house. The terrified dog started to bolt for the door; Carl grabbed him and held on tight. The house shook harder. Windows burst. One floor . . . → Read More: Blown

No One More Wilsonian than Wilson

We all recall Bush’s insanely belligerent second inaugural, but really he could never improve on the original.  I recently came upon this Woodrow Wilson quote:

There is but one response possible for us: Force, Force to the utmost, Force without stint or limit, the righteous and triumphant Force which shall make Right the law of the world.

The . . . → Read More: No One More Wilsonian than Wilson

Summers in Retreat

From the long Paul Krugman profile in New York Magazine, is just a beautiful quote from Lawrence Summers, who responded to Krugman’s “Americans are too blithe to know about crisis” theory this way:

“This is absurd… Excuse me, I think I’m the guy who pushed President Clinton and the IMF to commit $40 billion to Mexico—the largest . . . → Read More: Summers in Retreat


Sick last night, I went to bed so early that without intending it, I did catch most of the Royal Wedding this morning. I thought it was well-carried off.

My wife asked me how Princess Kate managed to stay composed throughout, no crying, not even shaking.  My theory, which you are welcome to disagree with, is this: . . . → Read More: Royalty

Write from Bed

Princess Diana biographer Monica Ali writes from bed. So did George Orwell and a host of others according to the Guardian.

Marcel Proust, famously, always wrote in bed, and perhaps the sinuous, haunting paragraphs of A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu bear the mark of that silent twilight zone. Not only did he write in bed; his room . . . → Read More: Write from Bed

You Could Be Headed for the Serious Strife

In response to Ross Douthat’s “Why Hell Makes Sense” column in the NY Times, Adam Sewer ventures out into territory that is unfamiliar to him.

But the notion that hell awaits evildoers really makes more of a mockery of human choice than hell’s absence. After all, if you are making a moral choice simply to avoid hell, and . . . → Read More: You Could Be Headed for the Serious Strife

A Short History of Armed Humanitarianism

Over at his blog, British documentarian Adam Curtis traces the idea of humanitarian intervention from the 1968 Biafran war to our Libyan intervention today. At the center of it were ex- or not-so-ex- leftists. It should be said that it is hard to find any intellectual who didn’t at one time identify with the left.

The philosophers . . . → Read More: A Short History of Armed Humanitarianism

What is More Pathetic?

That CNBC is occasionally cutting to a “Live Shot” of an empty podium at the Federal Reserve? Or that I got slightly excited by the sight of it?

Here is this afternoon’s blessedly thought-free article from Bloomberg on today’s FOMC meeting.

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has signaled he’ll maintain record stimulus until job growth accelerates and the recovery is . . . → Read More: What is More Pathetic?

The Magnificent Butcher

Matthew Battles, a founder of, has one of the best and shortest pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. Seriously. A taste:

The second season of “The Magnificent Butcher” opened on the Fire! network three months ago with critics predicting that ratings would slide like giblets torn from a free-range hen. The trouble had less to do . . . → Read More: The Magnificent Butcher

Hitchens in the Last Days

I met Christopher Hitchens just for a few minutes at a conference of atheists that I was trolling for an article. After introducing myself, he invited me to call him and have a drink with him sometime. I suppose I was either busy or I lacked the proper social ambition to try it.

By the time he . . . → Read More: Hitchens in the Last Days