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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.

A welcome legal review of marijuana use

A federal judge has done what Congress and the Obama administration have failed to do — open a discussion on whether marijuana should continue to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification that is supposed to be used only for the most dangerous, addictive drugs, such as heroin and LSD.

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.

To Obama, family leave is a family value

In rolling out the issues he hopes will define the final two years of his administration, President Barack Obama has proposed two workplace initiatives: requiring companies with 15 or more employees to provide them seven days of sick leave per year to their full-time workers, and encouraging states to establish paid family leave programs for new parents or workers tending to family members with significant health issues. As with most such proposals, the devil will be in the details, but we believe the president is on the right track.

Free trade, and US role in Asia

We’ve faulted President Barack Obama for his less-than-full-throated support of free-trade agreements that enjoy the nominal backing of his administration. There was no such cause for complaint about his State of the Union address Tuesday night, however, in which he called on “both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.” In practical terms, that means Obama believes his negotiators are close to cementing market-opening pacts with 11 Pacific Rim nations — most importantly, Japan — and with the European Union and that passing a bill authorizing an up-or-down congressional vote on the final agreements will strengthen his hand at the bargaining table.

Judicial elections undermine confidence in justice system

Almost all candidates for public office have one thing in common: They have to be very good at asking people for money. Except if they happen to be running for judge in Florida, where judicial candidates are prohibited from personally soliciting contributions. They can, however, have surrogates ask — and they are allowed to send personal thank-you notes to those who donate.

State of Union speech not as important as reaction

President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union addresses have been more fanciful than most. Not because he has championed colonizing distant galaxies or dispensing free ice cream, but because for the last four years half of Congress — this year, all of it — has been controlled by a party that has starkly different ideas about the role and purpose of government.

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:

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Immigration inertia

Republicans howled in November when President Barack Obama used his executive powers to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, accusing him of usurping Congress’ powers. Yet as the GOP lays out its agenda for the new Congress, Republicans have had nothing useful to say about their own plans for addressing the problem of the 11 million immigrants who lack documentation.

Are Democrats stuck in 1979?

WASHINGTON — The passing of Mario Cuomo brought bipartisan tributes appropriate to a rare political figure with a developed inner life. He was Catholic educated, and it showed. How many other politicians grappled with Thomas Aquinas? Even the loser is dignified by such a duel.

A 21st-century Supreme Court

“On November 10, 1893, The Washington Post identified an emerging technology that was reshaping American society: Pneumatics!” This is how Chief Justice John Roberts began his 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, in which he announced a long-overdue move to put court documents online. But he stopped well short of embracing other obvious improvements, such as live video or audio from the Supreme Court chamber. “The courts will always be prudent whenever it comes to embracing the ‘next big thing,’ ” he wrote.