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The fight for the middle class

WASHINGTON — When you strip away all the layers of cockiness, preachiness and delusion in President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, you find more cockiness, preachiness and delusion underneath.

Vermont’s Sanders has mountains to climb

WASHINGTON — The young man who answered the phone in the Senate office of Vermont’s Bernie Sanders told the caller, a would-be campaign contributor, that it is illegal for funds to be accepted on federal property. He advised the person to contact Sanders’ political operation, which might become a presidential campaign.

The mushrooming welfare state

WASHINGTON — America’s national character will have to be changed if progressives are going to implement their agenda. So, changing social norms is the progressive agenda. To understand how far this has advanced, and how difficult it will be to reverse the inculcation of dependency, consider the data Nicholas Eberstadt deploys in National Affairs quarterly:

What change sounds like

WASHINGTON — When he opened the 114th Congress, House Speaker John Boehner declared that “too many are working harder only to lose ground to stagnant wages and rising costs.”

Mitt’s third run would be no charm

WASHINGTON — After his third loss, in 1908, as the Democratic presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan enjoyed telling the story of the drunk who three times tried to enter a private club. After being tossed out into the street a third time, the drunk said: “They can’t fool me. Those fellows don’t want me in there!”

Hyping Obama’s Paris fail

WASHINGTON — If we can be serious for a moment: The president made an error in judgment by not sending someone with a higher profile than our ambassador to join world leaders Sunday at a solidarity rally in Paris.

The community college cause

WASHINGTON — Permit me to declare my bias: I came to revere community colleges for very personal reasons and learned to admire them because they are central to restoring social and economic mobility in our nation.

The Keystone catechism

WASHINGTON — Not since the multiplication of the loaves and fishes near the Sea of Galilee has there been creativity as miraculous as that of the Keystone XL pipeline. It has not yet been built but already is perhaps the most constructive infrastructure project since the Interstate Highway System. It has accomplished an astonishing trifecta:

Internet can be used to undermine freedom, too

When media guru Marshall McLuhan declared back in the 1960s that “Every innovation has within itself the seeds of its reversal,” I had no idea what he meant. But, like his other catchy quotables — “global village,” ”cool media,” ”the medium is the message” — it stayed with me. Now, in the Internet age, I am seeing proof of his prophecy every day.

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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.