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Obama’s Boehner bailout

WASHINGTON — How often will President Barack Obama come to House Speaker John Boehner’s rescue even when Republican leaders aren’t willing to give much in return? And does the president want to preside over a split in his party?

The arrogance of liberal elites

WASHINGTON — Jonathan Gruber — the source of more smoking guns than the battle of Gettysburg — recently appeared before a hostile House committee. The good professor, you might recall, is an MIT economist who played a significant (and paid) role in producing and defending the Affordable Care Act. He also later admitted, in an astonishing variety of settings, that the law was written in a “tortured way” to hide tax increases and other flaws. “Lack of transparency,” he cheerfully conceded, “is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

The cheerfulness of tax reform

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” — Mr. Micawber in “David Copperfield”

Racial strife can lead to progress

Big city mayors have to stay as neutral as possible when asked about disputes between their citizens and the police. But New York Mayor Bill de Blasio found his voice in a profoundly moving way when he responded not as a mayor, but as a parent.

The plague of overcriminalization

WASHINGTON — By history’s frequently brutal dialectic, the good that we call progress often comes spasmodically, in lurches propelled by tragedies caused by callousness, folly or ignorance. With the grand jury’s as yet inexplicable and probably inexcusable refusal to find criminal culpability in Eric Garner’s death on a Staten Island sidewalk, the nation might have experienced sufficient affronts to its sense of decency. It might at long last be ready to stare into the abyss of its criminal justice system.

The New Republic is dead

WASHINGTON — At a 40th-birthday party in July for Franklin Foer, editor of the New Republic, the magazine’s young owner, Chris Hughes, got all choked up as he pledged to the roomful of writers at Foer’s country home in Pennsylvania that the two would be “intellectual partners for decades.”

An act of exceptional recklessness

WASHINGTON — With the apparently imminent release of the Feinstein report on CIA interrogations of high-value terrorists a decade ago, let’s consider the situation of intelligence personnel who have been involved, not in that program but in drone strikes against terrorists, conducted in a variety of countries around the world.

In politics, does evidence matter?

WASHINGTON — One of the lovely formulations in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address expressed his hope that “a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion.” Kennedy was talking about the Cold War, but we could use a little of this in the partisan and ideological warfare that engulfs our nation’s capital.

Government for the strongest

WASHINGTON — Intellectually undemanding progressives, excited by the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — advocate of the downtrodden and the Export-Import Bank — have at last noticed something obvious: Big government, which has become gargantuan in response to progressives’ promptings, serves the strong. It is responsive to factions sufficiently sophisticated and moneyed to understand and manipulate its complexity.

Ferguson and the media circus

WASHINGTON — As the curtain closes on the latest episode of “Ferguson,” the media series, it is fair to wonder whether events might not have spiraled out of control to the extent they did had the media settled on another topic.

Obama has already won the immigration fight

WASHINGTON — Among the many ways Republican members of Congress are contemplating to punish President Barack Obama for his executive actions on immigration is a proposal of elegant simplicity: They would refuse to invite him to the Capitol to give his State of the Union address.

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Another case for term limits

WASHINGTON — In 2010, Plymouth, Conn., was awarded $430,000 for widening sidewalks and related matters near two schools. This money was a portion of the $612 million Congress authorized for five years of the federal Safe Routes to School program intended to fight childhood obesity by encouraging children to burn calories by walking or biking to school. Really.

Shrinking the epidemic map

WASHINGTON — My college roommate — the most immediately likable person I’ve ever met, a man who would now be such a present to the world — died of AIDS at the age of 30. Back then, people with the disease did not so much die as fade, becoming gaunt and ghostly images of themselves, as the virus gradually destroyed enough T-cells to cut their ties with the flesh. Metaphors don’t really capture the horror. Declined? Withered? At any rate, he died.

A local racial clash, a national tragedy

When my fellow critics of Ferguson, Missouri, police are reduced to arguing not whether but how hard Michael Brown hit police officer Darren Wilson, I think it is time to rethink what this scandal is all about or, more pointedly, what it should be about.

‘The imperial Congress’

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama issued a veto threat last week against a corporate tax-cutting orgy that promised the world to many powerful interests but did little for the middle class and nothing for low-income Americans. The president’s move was singularly useful. It should be a sign of things to come.

The Cosby Show

WASHINGTON — By now, most Americans probably have formed an opinion about what comedian Bill Cosby did or didn’t do sexually to or with at least 16 women beginning in the 1960s.

In Ferguson, where next?

WASHINGTON — My hometown of St. Louis has given up its sad secrets. Journalists — like tourists taking in the sights of social dysfunction — have explored its courthouses, its speed traps, its racial tensions and its redlined housing history. Cable television has carried images of burning cars and tear gas, which better qualify as “breaking news” than clergy-led marches and civic dialogue. From the coverage, one would think a whole city walks on broken glass. Perhaps it does.

Thanks, or something

WASHINGTON — Before the tryptophan in the turkey induces somnolence, give thanks for living in such an entertaining country. This year, for example, we learned that California’s Legislature includes 93 individuals who seem never to have had sex. They enacted the “affirmative consent” law directing college administrators to tell students sexual consent cannot be silence but must be “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” and “ongoing throughout a sexual activity.” Claremont McKenna College requires “all” — not “both,” which would discriminate against groups — participants in a sexual engagement to understand withdrawal of consent can be any behavior conveying “that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain.”