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On Sports Gambling, the Supreme Court Should Bet on Federalism

December 1, 2017 - 7:00am

American democracy's comic opera frequently features collaborations of "bootleggers and Baptists." These entertainments are so named because during Prohibition, Baptists thought banning Demon Rum would improve public morals (oh, well) and bootleggers favored the ban because it made scarce a commodity for which there was a demand that they could profitably supply. On Monday, the Supreme Court will listen -- with, one hopes, a mixture of bemusement and amusement -- to arguments concerning another prohibition.

College Basketball Season Begins Under Odiferous Clouds

November 28, 2017 - 7:00am

Although it is plausible to suspect this, it is not true that the Credit Mobilier scandal of the late 1860-early 1870s (financial shenanigans by politicians and others surrounding construction of the Union Pacific Railroad) and the 1920s Teapot Dome scandal (shady dealings by politicians and others concerning government oil leases) were entangled with Division One college basketball programs. Back then, there were no such programs. About the 1970s Watergate scandal, however, suspicions remain.

A Nod, and a Nodding off, to Another Year of American Hilarity

November 24, 2017 - 7:00am

Tryptophan, an amino acid in turkey, is unjustly blamed for what mere gluttony does, making Americans comatose every fourth Thursday in November. But before nodding off, give thanks for another year of American hilarity, including:

Alabama Rolls Toward a High-Stakes Skirmish

November 14, 2017 - 7:00am

But for the bomb, the four would be in their 60s, probably grandmothers. Three were 14 and one was 11 in 1963 when the blast killed them in the 16th Street Baptist Church, which is four blocks from the law office of Doug Jones, who then was 9.

Repeal and Replace the Tax Code

November 13, 2017 - 7:00am

The Republicans' tax bill would somewhat improve the existing revenue system that once caused Mitch Daniels (former head of the Office of Management and Budget, former Indiana governor) to say: Wouldn't it be nice to have a tax code that looked as though it had been designed on purpose? Today's bill, which is 429 pages and is apt to grow, is an implausible instrument of simplification. And it would worsen the tax code's already substantial contribution to "moral hazard."

On Tax Reform, Republicans Define Victory Down

November 3, 2017 - 7:00am

Needing a victory to validate their majorities, congressional Republicans have chosen not to emulate Shakespeare's Henry V before Agincourt. He advocated stiffening the sinews, summoning up the blood and lending the eye a terrible aspect. The Republicans would rather define victory down.

The Radiating Mischief of Protectionism

October 31, 2017 - 7:00am

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive ourselves into believing that corporate welfare can be seemly. Consider the caper, both amusing and depressing, that began when mighty Boeing sought protection behind the skirts of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Fatal Conceit of Planning for the Future

October 23, 2017 - 7:00am

Kevin Hassett evidently has not received the memo that economics is "the dismal science." The ebullient chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers is relishing the intellectual feast of applying to policymaking the predictive tools of a science that was blindsided by the Great Recession.

Trump Is Turning and Turning in a Widening Gyre

October 16, 2017 - 7:00am

With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump's poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump's adolescent bidding with last Sunday's pre-planned virtue pageant of scripted indignation -- his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory. Pence is a reminder that no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.

Bikini-Clad Baristas Serve up a Lesson in Free Speech

October 9, 2017 - 2:00am

Amazon, which has made this city the epicenter of a retailing revolution, is not the Northwest's only commercial disrupter. In the nearby city of Everett, Liberty Ziska and some other bikini baristas, giving new meaning to coffee as a stimulant, have provoked the City Council to pass, unanimously, ordinances requiring baristas to be less nearly naked when they work. The baristas, in turn, have hired a lawyer and made an argument that is germane to current disputes about freedom of speech. Their argument, they might be surprised to learn, is Aristotelian. Sort of.

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