When next you shoehorn yourself into one of America's ever-shrinking airline seats, you might encounter a new wrinkle in the romance of air travel. You might be amused, or not, to discover a midsize -- say, 7-feet long -- boa constrictor named Oscar coiled contentedly, or so you hope, in the seat next to you. Oscar is an "emotional-support animal." He belongs to the person in the seat on the other side of him, and he is a manifestation of a new item, or the metastasizing of an old item, on America's menu of rights. Fortunately, the federal government is on the case, so you can relax and enjoy the flight.
In 1930, John Maynard Keynes was worried, but not about the unpleasantness that had begun the previous year and would linger long enough to become known as the Great Depression. What troubled the British economist was that humanity "is solving its economic problem."
Like Horatius at the bridge, or the boy who stood on the burning deck whence all but he had fled, or the Dutch boy who saved the city by putting his finger in the dike -- pick your analogous heroism -- the Trump administration last week acted to stanch the flood of foreign-made washing machines that are being imported because Americans want them.
It cannot be a sign of social health that the number of tweets per day worldwide exploded from 5,000 in 2007 to 500 million six years later. And this might be related, by a few degrees of separation, to the fact that whereas in the 1992 presidential election more than one-third of America's 3,113 counties or their equivalents had a single-digit margin of victory, in the 2016 presidential election, fewer than 10 percent did. And to the fact that in 2016, 1,196 counties -- about 2.5 times the average over the preceding 20 years -- were decided by margins larger than 50 percent.
In 1790, the finest mind in the First Congress, and of his generation, addressed in the House of Representatives the immigration issue: "It is no doubt very desirable that we should hold out as many inducements as possible for the worthy part of mankind to come and settle amongst us." Perhaps today's 115th Congress will resume the Sisyphean task of continuing one of America's oldest debates, in which James Madison was an early participant: By what criteria should we decide who is worthy to come amongst us?
Is there anything more depressing than a cheerful liberal? The question is prompted by one such, historian David Goldfield, who has written a large-hearted book explaining that America's problems would yield to government's deft ameliorating touch if Americans would just rekindle their enthusiasm for it.
Frank Lloyd Wright purportedly said, "Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles." Today, however, Oregon is the state with the strangest state of mind, which has something to do with it being impeccably progressive: In the series "Portlandia," the mention of artisanal lightbulbs might be satirical, but given today's gas-pumping controversy, perhaps not.
It is almost a law of our political physics: Those who choose to leave Congress thereby demonstrate qualities that make one wish they would linger here longer. After seven terms in the House of Representatives, which followed eight years in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives and six in the state Senate, Republican Charlie Dent, 57, is moving on without knowing his destination.
Today's political discord is less durable and dangerous than a consensus, one that unites the political class more than ideology divides it.
Wisconsin's Supreme Court can soon right a flagrant wrong stemming from events set in motion in 2014 at Milwaukee's Marquette University by Cheryl Abbate. Although just a graduate student, she already had a precocious aptitude for academic nastiness.