Political stakes are high in March special election

If Democrat candidate Alex Sink loses the March 11 election to fill the congressional seat vacated by the death in October of Florida Republican C.W. “Bill” Young, it could be an early predictor of President Barack Obama’s negative effect on House races in the November elections.

Democrats try to sneak past abortion realities

Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator running to replace Rick Perry as governor of Texas, owes her political stardom to two things: a pair of pink sneakers and her unstinting support for a woman’s right to terminate a late-term pregnancy in a substandard clinic. Yay Feminism!

Obamacare’s four-word Waterloo?

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and some kindred spirits might accelerate the Affordable Care Act’s collapse by blocking another of the Obama administration’s lawless uses of the Internal Revenue Service. The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.”

Why conservatives prefer to focus on poverty over inequality

The only things that have trickled down to the middle and poor besides fewer jobs and smaller paychecks are public services that are inadequate because they’re starved for money. Unequal political power is the endgame of inequality — its most noxious and nefarious consequence.

Stop kicking Canada around on Keystone XL pipeline decision

The only rationale for denying the Keystone XL pipeline is political — to appease Barack Obama’s more extreme environmentalists. Here is an easily available piece of infrastructure, and yet the president, who has been incessantly pushing new “infrastructure” as a fundamental economic necessity, can’t say yes.

On race matters, conservatives are silent

You will wait in vain for a conservative to speak against the profiling of Trayvon Martin, the mass incarceration of black men under the failed war on drugs or, ahem, the myriad racially tinged attacks against President Obama. Indeed, other than their cries of pious indignation when some black conservative is mistreated, you'll wait in vain to hear them say anything about race at all.

The devil is in the details of government reliance

The controversy surrounding a proposal from Satanists to build near the Oklahoma Capitol a 7-foot-high statue of a goat-headed pagan idol is of course absurd, but absurdities are often useful in illuminating more substantial issues. America is becoming vastly more diverse. In a great many ways that’s a good thing. But in this life, no good thing comes without a downside.

Obama’s complexity is attractive and trouble

The largest question raised by David Remnick's remarkable interview with President Barack Obama in The New Yorker goes unasked: Is the intellectual style that journalists find so amenable actually an effective governing strategy? The answer, it turns out, is complex.

Judicial activism is more desirable than restraint

Many judges, practicing what conservatives have unwisely celebrated as “judicial restraint,” have subordinated liberty to majority rule. Today, a perverse conservative populism panders to two dubious notions — that majorities should enjoy a largely untrammeled right to make rules for everyone, and that most things legislatures do reflect the will of a majority.

We knew it all along: Obama’s failings on war

If President Barack Obama wasn’t committed to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, why did he throw these soldiers into battle in the first place? Because for years the Democrats had used Afghanistan as a talking point to rail against the Iraq war — while avoiding the politically suicidal appearance of McGovernite pacifism.

Decriminalize marijuana and add taxes and regulations

Marijuana isn’t necessarily harmless — abuse is abuse — but adults should be able to consume it without fear of legal repercussions, just as we consume alcohol. Even though today’s weed is much stronger than the stuff we used to smoke, its use is rarely as consequential as alcohol can be.

President Obama’s low poll numbers trouble Democrats

Even a popular president can usually expect disappointing midterm results for his party. What makes things particularly dire for Democrats is that a president’s approval rating has a significant effect on his party’s prospects. President Barack Obama’s approval rating is in the low 40s, and while things can change, few would bet it will improve all that much between now and November.

Robert Gates puts his finger on the dangers of ambivalence

Some autobiographies emerge from careful reflection, others from career calculation. Robert Gates’ “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War” seems the result of a good, long seethe. Gates is an exceptionally competent, sober-minded public servant who has finally lost all patience with politics. Either he is in need of Xanax and a nap or something is very wrong with Washington.

If you like your schools, you might not like Common Core

Viewed from Washington, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man’s hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.

GOP’s divide-and-conquer strategy no longer applies

This new face of poverty — a face that’s poor, near-poor and precarious working middle class, and that’s simultaneously black, Latino and white — renders the Republican Party's divide-and-conquer strategy obsolete. Most people are now on the same losing side of the divide.