Tuesday September 16, 2014
February 20th, 2014
Some of the smartest thinkers on problems at home and around the world are university professors, but most of them just don't matter in today's great debates.
The most stinging dismissal of a point is to say: "That's academic." In other words, to be a scholar is, often, to be irrelevant.
On the feast day of St. Valentine in the Anglican Church and various other religious jurisdictions around the globe, love may have been in the air, but not here in the Nation's capital.
About a foot of snow covered the monuments, short-circuiting the timely delivery of Lotharios' floral gifts to the objects of their affections. Through the previous night, rumbling District of Columbia plows labored to clear the streets to florists' shops and recipients' doorbells.
Last week's big business news was the announcement that Comcast, a gigantic provider of cable TV and high-speed Internet service, has reached a deal to acquire Time Warner, which is merely huge. If regulators approve the deal, Comcast will be an overwhelmingly dominant player in the business, with around 30 million subscribers.
So let me ask two questions about the proposed deal. First, why would we even think about letting it go through? Second, when and why did we stop worrying about monopoly power?
There is a magnificent public policy that achieves many of the goals conservative politicians regularly extol. These include promoting work over dependency, reducing the cost of social welfare programs, fostering economic growth and strengthening families.
Back in 1987 my Princeton colleague Alan Blinder published a very good book titled "Hard Heads, Soft Hearts." It was, as you might guess, a call for tough-minded but compassionate economic policy. Unfortunately, what we actually got - especially, although not only, from Republicans - was the opposite. And it's difficult to find a better example of the hardhearted, softheaded nature of today's GOP than what happened last week, as Senate Republicans once again used the filibuster to block aid to the long-term unemployed.
For Vladimir Putin, the winter Olympics is not about sports or international camaraderie. It’s a carefully orchestrated propaganda opportunity to try to showcase the nation’s athletes and show the world a Russia that, even with its great culture and arts, may exist only in the imaginations of those who believe in restoring the country’s previous grandeur.
The Republican response to the State of the Union address was delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. - and it was remarkable for its lack of content. A bit of uplifting personal biography, a check list of good things her party wants to happen with no hint of how it plans to make them happen.
Some Republicans envisioned a successful rope-a-dope strategy for this year's elections: Don't make mistakes, and let the Democrats stew in the juices of Obamacare and a strapped middle class.
That take-no-risks approach is unraveling. Congressional Republicans are offering proposals on major matters, and the party's right wing - whose members Senator John McCain called "wacko birds" - is omnipresent in Washington and across the U.S.
My fellow Americans, the state of the Barack Obama presidency is ... cautious? Defiant? Constrained? Humbled?
How about all of the above?
Compared to last year's State of the Union address, President Obama lowered his expectations this year. I'm sure he was thinking of the meager fruits of last year's address. The Washington Post's fact-checkers awarded him only five "wins" out of 24 proposals they checked.
The botched rollout of the health care law has called forth some good news: Republicans are so confident they can ride anti-Obamacare sentiment to electoral victory that they're growing ever-more impatient with the tea party's fanaticism. Immigration reform may be the result.