January 20, 2015
AMID THE pomp of ceremony of Tom Wolf's inauguration as governor tomorrow, we are sure to hear soothing words from all parties about the need for compromise, about moving the state forward and about bipartisanship. The challenge - again for all involved - is how to make them real and not simply an exercise in hollow rhetoric, blown away by the winds of January almost as soon as they are uttered. Most of the political experts fear that we are in for another period of paralysis, with a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled legislature caught in a freeze-frame of conflict over nearly every important issue.
June 5, 2013 |
Outside the dark-blue Lincoln Continental rolling between campaign stops along New Jersey's Route 1 on a late summer afternoon in 1994, the storm was gathering. In a few weeks, the American electorate would smite big government in a Republican deluge. In the backseat of the car, the "swamp dog" was off the chain, ready to fight. "See this widening project?" Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg said as the vehicle squeezed past orange cones, flashing yellow lights, and a concrete barrier.
May 19, 2013 |
Leaving aside the seriousness of lawlessness, and the corruption of our civic culture by the professionally pious, this last week has been amusing. There was the spectacle of advocates of an ever-larger regulatory government expressing shock about such government's large capacity for misbehavior. And, entertainingly, the answer to the question "Will Barack Obama's scandals derail his second-term agenda?" was a question: What agenda? The scandals are interlocking and overlapping in ways that drain his authority.
April 30, 2013 |
HERE ARE three things the Obama administration has done that you probably didn't know about: Ever struggle with those accordion-style rubber sleeves on nozzles at the gas station? The sleeve - technically a "vapor recovery nozzle" - was required by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep gasoline vapors from leaking into the air. But most cars and trucks now have technology that does the job better, so last year, the EPA abolished the nozzle requirement. Because each sleeve-equipped nozzle can cost as much as $300, the change will save gas stations thousands of dollars.
January 28, 2013
The media herd is stunned to discover that President Obama is a man of the left. After 699 teleprompted presidential speeches, the commentariat was apparently still oblivious. Until Monday's inaugural address, that is. Where has everyone been these four years? The only surprise is that Obama chose his second inaugural, generally an occasion for "malice toward none" ecumenism, to unveil so uncompromising a liberal manifesto. But the substance was no surprise. After all, Obama had unveiled his transformational agenda in his very first address to Congress, four years ago. It was, I wrote at the time, "the boldest social-democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president.
September 18, 2012 |
Colwyn, on the edge of Philadelphia, is a tiny place with prodigious fiscal issues, a fractious government, and a police force that has captured national notoriety. Its surreal tax rates are among the highest in the nation, five times higher than those of some wealthier communities in the region. Not a single new home has been built in the borough in at least 15 years. At a time when public money has become ever-scarcer, local-government experts say Colwyn is the kind of town that raises an overwhelming question: What is a place with only 2,500 people doing with its own government?
April 20, 2012 |
For four consecutive weekends, the most popular movie in America has been one depicting a government contest in which children kill children. The Hunger Games, based on a dystopian series of young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins, recently broke the $500 million mark in worldwide box office receipts. What gets people into movie theaters is hard to tell. But the film version of The Hunger Games is appealing to more than the books' chiefly young, female fan base, drawing boys and adults as well.
January 31, 2012 |
Neglected tropical diseases - from sleeping sickness to river blindness - got unaccustomed attention Monday when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a global group of drug firms and government agencies announced a new partnership to knock out 17 diseases that harm 1.4 billion people in developing countries. The hope is to eliminate five neglected diseases and control five more by 2020, and then figure out the other seven, all from the list of neglected diseases kept by the World Health Organization, a partner in Monday's announcement.
January 14, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Seeking more power to shrink the government, President Obama on Friday suggested smashing six economic agencies into one, an election-year idea intended to halt bureaucratic nightmares and force Republicans to back him on one of their own favorite issues. "The government we have is not the government we need," Obama told business owners he'd gathered at the White House. Lawmakers seemed willing to at least consider his ideas. Sounding like a manager of a disorganized company, and looking like one by pointing to slides as he spoke, Obama asked Congress to give him a kind of reorganization power no president has had since Ronald Reagan.
December 16, 2011
Televise Supreme Court sessions I think it would be an excellent idea to televise U.S. Supreme Court sessions ("A case for TV in top court," Dec. 8). Having been present at a few sessions, I can highly recommend watching them. They are interesting, enlightening, and educational. Recently, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania began televising sessions. I don't know what the response has been, but, if we can do it in our commonwealth, I see no reason to prevent its happening nationally.