Thursday November 26, 2015
September 28th, 2015
The staying power of the three outsider candidates in the Republican presidential race is supposed to signal voters' yearning for fresh, bold solutions to the nation's problems.
So what do Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson have to offer that the conventional Republican candidates don't? The answer may surprise you.
In Congress, even "the wave" is political. Hearing a pope for the first time in the House chamber, senators and representatives rose for standing ovations starting from the left, with the other side slowly, sometimes reluctantly, following.
Who would have thought that one of the tears that House Speaker John Boehner shed during Pope Francis's address to Congress might have been for himself?
"God bless America" sounds banal coming from politicians but profound when spoken by the shepherd of 1.2 billion souls. In his historic address to Congress, Pope Francis delivered a blessing of encouragement, not admonition -- and spoke powerfully about the hot-button issues that keep our political leaders mired in bitter gridlock.
Sooner or later, the cool self-assurance of citizen non-politician Ben Carson was bound to betray him. His categorical statement that "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation, I absolutely would not agree with that," was astoundingly un-American in itself.
In his tenure as speaker of the House, John Boehner, R-Ohio, became notorious for weeping. He seemed to weep constantly, at a moment's notice, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief. He wept while the pope spoke. He wept when he was named speaker.
Then again, maybe it was not that Boehner was especially prone to weeping. Maybe that's what would happen to anyone with his job.
The Volkswagen scandal is an embarrassment of riches. Seen in isolation, it's staggering enough -- that a huge and well-respected company with a valuable reputation to protect should cheat its customers on this scale, be found out, see its value shed $22 billion, and face enormous fines and damages. But there are several scandals here, and the remarkable malfeasance of VW's managers is only one of them.
The 2015-16 academic year has opened with a predictable collection of demands for banning certain views, often involving sexual or racial matters. Many are couched in convoluted claims that disagreeable speech is making students feel "unsafe."
Much of the squelching aims to fend off challenges to some of the more ludicrous theories of victimization. Well-constructed thoughts on social injustice can be defended in debates.
The federal judiciary does many things well. Writing high school dress codes is not one of them.
That is the lesson of the past 46 years, during which the Supreme Court and judges on the lower federal courts have tried to articulate a consistent standard of free-speech protection for minor students' choices in T-shirts, belt buckles, bandannas and lapel pins.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis suffused Washington with what Catholics would call grace and what everyone else -- for the crowds aren't just believers -- would call pure, almost child-like happiness. This is what goodness looks like.
But for some, the happy vibes carry more than a tinge of unease.