• Imperfect Union

    Is Memorial Day About Grief, Glory, or Hot Dogs?

    To Understand America’s Most Confusing Holiday, You’ve Got to Ponder Why We Get the Day Off in the First Place

    By Gregory Rodriguez

    Memorial Day is one of America’s most confusing holidays. Depending on the celebrant, it can be a day of grief, glory—or backyard barbecues.It’s not a bad thing to have such disparate takes on a day of remembrance. And don’t worry: …

  • Who We Were

    The Epic Bar Fight That Sums Up the Problem with Memorial Day

    A Depression-Era Story of Mourning, Motherhood, and Grandiosity

    By Lisa M. Budreau

    On Memorial Day, 1930, Mrs. Mathilda Burling of New York stood before the headstone of her son, Private George B. Burling, Jr. at grave 17, row 29, at the St. Mihiel American Cemetery in Thiaucourt, France. Burling, an imposing matriarch …

New at Zócalo

Connecting California

California's Real Budgetary Sin—We Spend Too Little, Not Too Much

Our State's Fear of Deficits Leads to Bad Management and Unforeseen Costs

By Joe Mathews

We have reached the high holy days of California’s budget season, as our governor and legislative leaders decide which programs will gain new life, and which will be sacrificed. And so our state government’s ministers have begun their ritual sermons on the dangers of overspending.
    They are preaching nonsense. California’s real problem is underspending.
    Go ahead and dismiss my claim as blasphemy. After so many years of budget crises and big deficits, Californians have adopted a budget theology grounded in self-flagellation, even though our recent budgets contain ...

Who We Were

How Irish American Athletes Slugged Their Way to Respectability

Sportsmen with Roots in the Emerald Isle Reshaped the Image of the Shantytown Ruffian

By James Silas Rogers

In his 1888 book The Ethics of Boxing and Manly Sport, a high-minded treatise on the ennobling effect of sports, the journalist, poet, and Irish exile John Boyle O’Reilly wrote that “there is no branch of athletics in which Irishmen, or the sons of Irishmen, do not hold first place in all the world.” The boast was closer to true than many would realize. By the turn of the 20th century, America’s professional sports were bursting at the seams with Irish athletes. And for all its bombast, O’Reilly’s lofty embrace of their athleticism bespoke a genuine concern about the image of his fellow Irish Americans. ...

Connecting California/Joe Mathews

  • Aggressive State Meddling Could Fix California's Housing Crisis

    With Local Governments Crying "NIMBY," Sacramento Must Empower Developers and Home-Seekers

    All the debate about how to address California’s massive housing shortage is obscuring the big picture: a state takeover of local housing policy has begun.
        That’s the real import of the more than ...

  • The Verdict Is in—California’s Dickensian Courts Are Failing Us

    Our Clogged Legal System Creates Overcrowded Prisons, Underfunded Schools, and Housing Shortages

    Dig deep enough into any of California’s biggest problems, and you’ll eventually hit upon a common villain: our court system.
        California’s housing shortage, its poverty, its poor business climate, and its ...

  • Go Ahead and Blame Berkeley. Everyone Else Does.

    A University and Its Environment Help California by Being Such a Great Scapegoat

    Thank you, Berkeley.
        Recent headlines should remind Californians of yet another way we are lucky. Our state has the world’s best scapegoat: you.
        You—our most distinguished public university and all the people, ...

Video Highlights

  • Populist anger is shaking the world, epitomized by the U.K.’s vote to “Brexit” the EU and even the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. In the U.S., Donald Trump’s election has transformed populist anger into political power. Is a worldwide populist wave inevitable? ...