WASHINGTON -- 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...Read more
WASHINGTON -- During World War I, chemist James Conant was deeply involved in research on what was considered the worst imaginable weapon: poison gas. During World War II, as a science adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt, Conant was so central to the development of the atomic bomb that he was at Alamogordo on July 16, 1945. His most ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Today's political discord is less durable and dangerous than a consensus, one that unites the political class more than ideology divides it. The consensus is that, year in and year out, in good times and bad, Americans should be given substantially more government goods and services than they should be asked to pay for. ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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.
On Oct. 28, in an undergraduate course she was teaching on ethics, when the ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Preaching morality while practicing cupidity can be tricky, but various American governments have done it for years regarding smoking. This mental contortion now has a new chapter. The four largest American tobacco companies (Altria, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Philip Morris) are, under government compulsion, funding newspaper and ...Read more
SEATTLE -- It is protected by Washington state's lopsidedly Democratic political class, which knows who butters its bread. It has been provided with bespoke law, tailored for its comfort. Nevertheless, the Service Employees International Union has been so avaricious in its objectives and so thuggish in its methods that it has been bested by the ...Read more
"The intellectual cannot operate at room temperature." -- Eric Hoffer, "First Things, Last Things" (1971)
WASHINGTON -- Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) meant that intellectuals in his day tended not to be temperate. In our day, this defect -- moral overheating -- has been democratized: Anyone can have it. Now, everybody can be happily furious, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- A household appliance will be the next steppingstone on America's path to restored greatness. The government is poised to punish many Americans, in the name of protecting a few of them, because, in the government's opinion, too many of them are choosing to buy foreign-made washing machines for no better reason than that the buyers...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The first time ended badly, so when, 156 years later, Alabamians were incited to again try secession, this time from the national consensus that America is a pretty nice place, they said: No. No, that is, to rubbish like this:
Interviewer: "[Ronald Reagan] said that Russia was the focus of evil in the modern world."
Roy Moore: "...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The Republicans' tax legislation is built on economic projections that are as confidently as they are cheerfully made concerning the legislation's shaping effect on the economy over the next 10 years. This claim to prescience must amaze alumni of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, which were 85 and 158 years old, respectively, when ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The conversation about a cake lasted less than a minute but will long reverberate in constitutional law. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear 60 minutes of speech about when, if at all, making a cake counts as constitutionally protected speech and, if so, what the implications are for the Colorado Civil Rights ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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 ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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)...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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:
A company curried favor with advanced thinkers by commissioning for Manhattan's financial district ...Read more
Not without thy wondrous story, Illinois, Illinois,
Can be writ the nation's glory, Illinois, Illinois.
-- official state song
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- This state's story, which lately has been depressing, soon will acquire a riveting new chapter. In 2018 Illinois will have the nation's most important, expensive and strange election.
Its ...Read more
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- 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.
He was born in May 1954, 13 days before the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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 ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Such is the federal government's sprawl, and its power to establish new governing precedents, mere Washington twitches can jeopardize venerable principles and institutions. This is illustrated by a seemingly small but actually momentous provision of the Republicans' tax bill -- a 1.4 percent excise tax on the endowment earnings of...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Evidence of national discernment, although never abundant, can now be found high on the New York Times combined print and e-book best seller list. There sits Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses Simpson Grant, which no reader will wish were shorter than its 1,074 pages. Arriving at a moment when excitable individuals and hysterical ...Read more