Quick Takes

* The must-read from the long holiday weekend is Fred Kaplan’s breakdown of how President Obama goes about formulating his foreign policy. It is too thorough and nuanced to quickly summarize, but Kaplan zeros in on the decision-making process for what the administration did in Libya and Syria. Here’s the closest thing to a conclusion:

…for the most part, he has stayed true to the template of his Nobel address, keeping sight of the big picture as others have gotten lost in the shrubs. His caution about embarking on unnecessary military adventures and desire to avoid escalatory military spirals seem wise. Obama has also proved remarkably patient with drawn-out diplomatic negotiations, even those unlikely to bear fruit. Some of these, such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, have predictably gone nowhere, but others, such as the opening to Cuba and the nuclear deal with Iran, have been strikingly successful.

* The man who is known as the “Walter Cronkite of Latinos,” Jorge Ramos, took to the editorial pages of Univision to write about some of the presidential candidate’s positions on immigration. Affirming what I wrote about the limits of symbolism, here is a quote from the English translation:

It is incomprehensible to many Hispanics, the attitude against undocumented immigrants who have taken the two Latino candidates, Cuban Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The two broke a habit of decades in which political Hispanics nationwide, regardless of their origin, always defending the most vulnerable immigrants…

No, Latino voters will not vote for a candidate just because he’s Latino. Instead, they will demand more. They will require care for new immigrants in the same way someone took care of their parents.

* Mark Kleiman takes on some of the conventional wisdom we’re hearing a lot about right now:

No, the rag-tag army of narcissists and fantasts that has taken over the (seasonally empty) headquarters of the Mahheur National Wildlife Refuge is engaged in seditious conspiracy (which is good for 20 years in the federal pen), but not in “terrorism” by any reasonable definition.

* And just to show that we incorporate a variety of viewpoints here at the Washington Monthly, David Atkins took a very different position on that over the weekend.

* It’s always interesting to see things like this pop up to challenge the left’s version of “us vs them.”

The Seattle based tech entrepreneur Nick Hanauer was riding in a black Uber SUV to the private jet terminal at Dulles International Airport, outside Washington, D.C., when I asked him whether he really thought his was the best face for the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15…

At my question, Hanauer, who is 56, with blunt features and a pouf of dark hair, paused to collect his thoughts, then leaned forward in his leather seat. “A guy like me – a very successful capitalist, somebody who knows all the rich people – is the best face for the message of reforming capitalism, right?” he said. People might dismiss the argument coming from a fast food worker or a labor leader. “I’m the one who can say, ‘It doesn’t have to be that way, he continued. “When they say that the better profits are, the better it will be for everybody, I’m the one who can say, ‘That’s a lie.

* Finally, here’s a story about something that happened over the holidays that should have been national news. I don’t expect that I need to tell you why it wasn’t…no bleed, no lead.

A man with a semi-automatic assault rifle walked into a downtown Fayetteville church during a New Year’s Eve prayer service…”Can I help you?” the pastor asked the man. Wright, who is a 57-year-old retired soldier, said the man’s answer determined his next action.” If he was belligerent, I was going to tackle him,” said Wright, who is 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. But the stranger was calm, and Wright took the weapon from him. He then patted him down, and the pastor summoned four strong deacons to embrace the disarmed man, in an effort to make him feel welcome. Wright then prayed for the man, who fell to his knees and began crying.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.