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The Suicide of a Great Democracy

We had made plans to go to Washington weeks ago, and there was no way to change the trip. The train was almost empty when it pulled into Union Station on Friday night. The next morning, we went out into the dead heart of the city. The government shutdown was in its third week. Nearly all the museums that would have interested the kids were closed, and so were the ones that would have bored them. There was nothing to do except wander around, but the crowds we expected in the district center were absent, the streets and sidewalks almost empty.

The Personality Trait That Makes People Feel Comfortable Around You

Some people can walk into a room and instantly put everyone at ease. Others seem to make teeth clench and eyes roll no matter what they do. A small body of psychology research supports the idea that the way a person tends to make others feel is a consistent and measurable part of his personality. Researchers call it “affective presence.”

Pulling Back the Mask of Saudi Oil Power

What do Presidents Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter have in common? Both opted to lay into opec, the toothless global energy cartel, rather than blame Saudi Arabia, historically the world’s top oil exporter, for the price of oil. But as opec’s most powerful member, Saudi Arabia usually lies behind any production decisions the group makes.

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Trump Has Defeated Himself

Well, that was the shortest, most easily resolved national emergency in U.S. history. Twelve hours ago, the president was preparing to set aside the regular process of law. By 9 p.m. eastern time? Not so much.

Perhaps somebody pointed out that 15-year civil-engineering projects do not look very convincingly like emergency measures. “My house is burning! Time to begin the process of calling for design proposals for a new fire station.”