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The GOP's Defense Dilemma

February 13, 2011 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- Tall, affable Buck McKeon sits, gavel in hand, at the turbulent intersection of two conflicting Republican tendencies. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee embodies the party's support for a "strong" defense, which is sometimes measured simply by the size of the Pentagon's budget.

This one is Egypt's to Lose

February 8, 2011 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- Sixty years ago, American politics was embittered by an accusation couched as a question: "Who lost China?" The implied indictment was that America had fumbled away a possession through incompetence or sinister conniving.

Spoiling for a Fight in Ohio

February 4, 2011 - 6:00pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In 1997, when Republicans controlled the U.S. House of Representatives and John Kasich chaired the Budget Committee, he set his sights on the GOP's 2000 presidential nomination because "there just aren't enough hours left in my life that I can get everything done that I want to get done." He was 44.

Mining the Social Issues

February 2, 2011 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- In 1994, when Rick Santorum was a second-term Pennsylvania congressman seeking a U.S. Senate seat, a columnist asked him how he was going to win. "Guns," he replied serenely. Pennsylvania's legions of deer hunters do not use assault weapons, which President Bill Clinton was trying to ban, but the hunters suspected that this, like Clinton's wife's health care plan, reflected a pattern of assaults on liberty.

Government as Innovator

January 28, 2011 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- Disregard Barack Obama's rhetorical cotton candy about aspiring to be transformative. He is just another practitioner of reactionary liberalism and champion of a government unchastened by its multiplying failures.

The Blinders of Hubris

January 19, 2011 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- It takes a worried man to sing a worried song, and in a recent speech that seemed like Larry Summers' swan song, the president's departed economic adviser warned that America is "at risk of a profound demoralization with respect to government." He fears a future in which "an inadequately resourced government performs badly, leading to further demands that it be cut back, exacerbating performance problems, deepening the backlash, and creating a vicious cycle."

A Fire That Needs Stoking

December 31, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- New Republican legislators should come down Capitol

Hill to the National Museum of American History, which displays a device that in 1849 was granted U.S. patent 6469. It enabled a boat's "draught of water to be readily lessened" so it could "pass over bars, or through shallow water." The patentee was from Sangamon County, Ill. Across Constitution Avenue, over the Commerce Department's north entrance, are some words of the patentee, Abraham Lincoln:

King Coal's Staying Power

December 29, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- Cowlitz County in Washington state is across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore., which promotes mass transit and urban density and is a green reproach to the rest of us. Recently, Cowlitz did something that might make Portland wonder whether shrinking its carbon footprint matters. Cowlitz approved construction of a coal export terminal from which millions of tons of U.S. coal could be shipped to Asia annually.

Medicine for the Mendicants

December 26, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- The nation's menu of crises caused by governmental malpractice may soon include states coming to Congress as mendicants, seeking relief from the consequences of their choices. Congress should forestall this by passing a bill with a bland title but explosive potential.

Tax-Reform Fundamentalist

December 23, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- Many parents have heard FICA Screams. Indignant children, holding in trembling hands their first paychecks, demand to know what FICA is and why it is feasting on their pay.

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