WASHINGTON -- 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...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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."
In his essay "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren," ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- It was an assertion of hard-won personal sovereignty: Frederick Douglass, born on a Maryland plantation 200 years ago this month, never knew on what February day because history-deprivation was inflicted to confirm slaves as non-persons. So, later in life, Douglass picked the 14th, the middle of the month, as his birthday. This ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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 ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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 ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- 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.
Goldfield's new book, "The...Read more
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