Monday | April 27, 2015
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How was a mailman in a gyrocopter able to pierce the world’s best-protected airspace?

| | Apr 19 2015 - 12:05am | Comments

Doug Hughes, the letter carrier who piloted a featherweight gyrocopter over the treetops to alight on the Capitol lawn Wednesday, was acting out a one-man “voter’s rebellion.” In the name of campaign finance reform and “honest government,” he managed to slice through the world’s best-protected airspace no more molested than the birds who wheel and soar in the breeze.

  • | Posted: Apr 25 2015 - 12:05am

    When he greeted Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi at the White House last week, President Barack Obama said the Iraqis and their allies, including the United States, had made “serious progress” in pushing Islamic State out of Iraqi territory. That’s true, but the enemy is far from vanquished either in Iraq or in Syria. The most optimistic outlook is for a campaign that will continue well into next year and perhaps beyond.

  • | Posted: Apr 24 2015 - 12:05am

    Let’s see. Republicans and other conservatives said of the Affordable Care Act, when it was just the proposed Affordable Care Act, that it would bankrupt the county, destroy the health care system and run the federal deficit sky high.

  • | Posted: Apr 22 2015 - 12:05am

    President Barack Obama’s chances of successfully negotiating a new trade deal between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations have improved dramatically with the announcement of a bipartisan compromise bill that would enable him to submit the proposed pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote. Not surprisingly, this new “fast track” legislation has been denounced by critics, most of them Democrats, who say it traduces Congress’s right to supervise the negotiations.

  • | Posted: Apr 20 2015 - 12:05am

    No woman is depicted on U.S. paper currency. This makes our money a bit exceptional among the banknotes of our international peers, several of which — including Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico — have emblazoned paper money with various national heroines’ portraits. In this country, suffragist Susan B. Anthony and the Native American explorer Sacagawea grace little-used dollar coins, but it’s not quite the same. So an Internet movement calling itself “WomenOn20s” has started crowd-sourcing the selection of a proposed female replacement for President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill — to be followed by an actual request for a substitution to President Barack Obama. It might actually come to pass. Obama has expressed broad sympathy with the idea, and he has full legal authority, through the secretary of the Treasury, to order a redesign.

  • | Posted: Apr 19 2015 - 12:05am

    Doug Hughes, the letter carrier who piloted a featherweight gyrocopter over the treetops to alight on the Capitol lawn Wednesday, was acting out a one-man “voter’s rebellion.” In the name of campaign finance reform and “honest government,” he managed to slice through the world’s best-protected airspace no more molested than the birds who wheel and soar in the breeze.

  • | Posted: Apr 18 2015 - 12:05am

    We don’t quite share Capitol Hill’s sense of joyful self-congratulation over the Medicare bill that has passed the Senate en route to President Barack Obama’s likely signature. On the plus side, Congress did away with an outmoded and increasingly unrealistic formula for reimbursing doctors that had necessitated time-consuming annual “doc fixes.” And yes, lawmakers achieved this long-postponed reform on a bipartisan, bicameral basis, with the White House on board as well. But the legislation is hardly the hammer blow for fiscal responsibility that supporters claim; in fact, it will add $141 billion to the projected deficit over the next decade because the two parties could not agree on enough offsetting savings elsewhere within Medicare. In short, this one last doc fix shows that Democrats and Republicans can agree to spend more without paying for it: This is not good news, or news at all, really.

  • | Posted: Apr 17 2015 - 12:05am

    Legislators say they want to clear an obstacle to U.S. prosperity: burdensome regulation of the community banks on which much of small-town America relies. It’s a worthy goal, but Congress isn’t pursuing it the right way.

  • | Posted: Apr 15 2015 - 12:05am

    On the returning Congress’ crowded agenda, no item is more important than the passage of a bill known as trade promotion authority. It would enable President Barack Obama to submit a 12-nation trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations to lawmakers on a fast-track basis — i.e., with no amendments permitted — as has been done with previous major trade deals. With a presidential election year almost underway, time is running out. The House and Senate need to get the bill passed and on the president’s desk promptly, clearing the way for final negotiation of the nearly complete trade deal, and its consideration by Congress, before Obama’s term expires.

  • | Posted: Apr 13 2015 - 12:05am

    As the 2016 campaign approaches, the hot idea in Democratic Party circles is to increase Social Security benefits. Last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., staged a vote on a “sustainable expansion” resolution in the Senate, garnering 42 “yeas” and laying down a new orthodoxy from which only two members of her party’s caucus deviated. Meanwhile, in Iowa, potential presidential contender Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland, came out in favor of higher benefits, putting pressure on front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to follow suit.

  • | Posted: Apr 11 2015 - 12:05am

    A year ago, China appeared to be pursuing a more aggressive policy toward its Pacific maritime disputes with a half-dozen nations. It engaged in some high-stakes jockeying with Vietnam over disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea, moving an oil drilling rig to the Paracel Islands and declaring an exclusion zone around it. That followed its declaration in 2013 of an air defense exclusion zone over islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Japan; the United States and Japan promptly flew planes through the zone to demonstrate they did not recognize it.

  • | Posted: Apr 10 2015 - 12:05am

    The video showing former North Charleston, S.C., police officer Michael T. Slager shooting Walter L. Scott dead is sickening. There is a full-color record of Slager firing eight shots at the back of a fleeing Scott, then deserting the felled body, possibly to tamper with the crime scene. By local authorities’ own admission, it was the fortuitous act of a bystander with a smartphone that led to murder charges against Slager. We can’t help but wonder whether, in its absence, the officer would have escaped with impunity.

  • | Posted: Apr 9 2015 - 1:00am

    President Barack Obama’s move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba in December was supposed to improve political and economic conditions for average Cubans and remove an irritant in U.S. relations with other Latin American nations, which have been pushing to end the isolation of the Castro regime. Four months later — a short time, admittedly — there is no sign of those benefits. According to Cuban human rights groups, political detentions have increased: There were more than 600 in March alone. More than 50 long-term political prisoners are still being held. Several Cuban opposition leaders are banned from leaving the country, which means they cannot attend this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama.

  • | Posted: Apr 8 2015 - 1:00am

    The thoroughly discredited story about an alleged University of Virginia gang rape passed off by Rolling Stone magazine as investigative journalism was neither investigative nor journalism. That was clear even before the 12,000-word analysis by a three-person team at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism took it apart.

  • | Posted: Apr 7 2015 - 1:00am

    In the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court declared that corporate independent political expenditures are protected free speech under the First Amendment and cannot be constrained. The court wrestled with the possibility that unlimited spending might have a corrupting influence on politics, but in the end it decided that free speech was the overriding goal and that as long as the expenditures were independent of candidates, and transparent, they would not increase corruption. The campaign cycles since then have been increasingly awash in this spending, much of it going to super PACs.

  • | Posted: Apr 6 2015 - 1:00am

    As diplomats for Iran and six world powers negotiated past a Tuesday deadline for a “political understanding” about the future of the Islamic republic’s nuclear program, there was speculation that only a vague statement of principles would be released. Critics of the negotiations were primed to seize on such a “fig leaf” to denounce the negotiations anew.