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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.

The Fantasyland of No Labels

December 19, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- As the new political group No Labels convened in Manhattan, a judge was issuing a decision that illustrated why the group's premise is preposterous and its pretense is cloying. The premise, obscured by gaseous rhetoric, is that political heat is inherently disproportionate. The complacent pretense is that it is virtuous to transcend the vice of partisanship.

Bush v. Gore, 10 Years On

December 9, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- The passions that swirled around Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that ended 10 years ago Sunday, dissipated quickly. And remarkably little damage was done by the institutional collisions that resulted when control of the nation's supreme political office turned on 537 votes out of 5,963,110 cast in Florida.

Treaty in a Time Warp

November 30, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- The Framers of the Constitution, a nuisance regretted by most modern presidents, gave the legislative branch -- another indignity inflicted on presidents, as they see it -- an important role in making foreign policy. The Framers did so by, among other provisions, requiring the Senate's two-thirds (today, 67 votes) consent to treaties. The Framers' wisdom is confirmed by Barack Obama's impatience with senators reluctant to ratify, during Congress' lame-duck session, the New START treaty pertaining to Russia's nuclear weapons.

Comic Thriller: Cult Of Expertise

November 29, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- An eminent Harvard law professor, James Thayer (1831-1902), argued that although the judicial function is "merely that of fixing the outside border of reasonable legislative action," this still gives courts "a great and stately jurisdiction." While patrolling that jurisdiction today, Supreme Court justices may be playing the video game "Postal 2," whose rich menu of simulated mayhem provoked California's Legislature to pass a problematic law.

A Cicero With A Future

November 25, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- Winning California's state lottery with the first ticket he bought put Kevin McCarthy, then 20, on a path to becoming, in January, the third-ranking Republican leader of a House majority pledged to make government less bountiful. With the $5,000 he won in 1985, McCarthy opened a sandwich shop in a nook in a small mall in Bakersfield, and hung a sign calling attention to it. When a government vehicle arrived, he thought city hall might have come "to give me the key to the city" as thanks for generating some jobs and sales tax revenues. But Bakersfield's bureaucracy wanted to complain about his sign, which somehow fell short of sign orthodoxy.

Life in the T.S. of A.

November 23, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- Fifty years ago William F. Buckley wrote a memorable complaint about the fact that Americans do not complain enough. His point, like most of the points he made during his well-lived life, is, unfortunately, more pertinent than ever. Were he still with us he would favor awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he received in 1991, to John Tyner, who, when attempting to board a plane in San Diego, was provoked by some Transportation Security Administration personnel.

The Transformative Election

November 14, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- As he promised it would be, Barack Obama's presidency has been transformative, but not as he intended. Whether it lasts two or six more years, it is an exhausted volcano because its biggest consequence may already have happened: It has resuscitated the right, making 2010 conservatism's best year in 30 years -- since the election of Ronald Reagan.

The Iceberg Looms

November 7, 2010 - 6:00pm

WASHINGTON -- When Alexander Pope was on his deathbed, his doctor assured him that his breathing, pulse and other vital signs were improving. "Here I am," Pope said to a friend, "dying of a hundred good symptoms."

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