Gov. Chris Christie could be forgiven if he had chips on both shoulders as big as those shoulders. This year, the first of his second term, has been overshadowed by often partisan investigations, more protracted than productive, of the involvement of several of his former aides -- he fired them -- in the closing of some access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
Every 36 years, it seems Jeff Bell disturbs New Jersey's political order. In 1978, as a 34-year-old apostle of supply-side economics and a harbinger of the Reagan Revolution, he stunned the keepers of the conventional wisdom by defeating a four-term senator, Clifford Case, in the Republican primary. Bell, a Columbia University graduate who fought in Vietnam, lost to Bill Bradley in the 1978 general election, but in 1982 he went to Washington to help implement President Reagan's economic policies that produced five quarters of above 7 percent growth and six years averaging 4.6 percent.
"The legislative department is everywhere ... drawing all power into its impetuous vortex."
-- James Madison, Federalist 48
Unfortunately, Congress' vortex now spins the other way, throwing off powers that the executive scoops up.
The Machine Shed restaurant, where the waitresses wear bib overalls and suggest a cinnamon roll the size of a loaf of bread as a breakfast appetizer, sells a root beer called Dang!, bandages made to look like bacon strips, and signs that proclaim "I love you more than bacon." For Joni Ernst, however, the apposite sign reads "No one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side."
Tacked to the wall of Greg Orman's campaign office is a print of a John Steuart Curry painting, "Tragic Prelude," that hangs in the capitol in Topeka. It depicts John Brown of Osawatomie, 39 miles south of here, as what he was, a deranged product of "bleeding Kansas," the Civil War's overture. Today, Orman, who is as calm as Brown was crazed, is emblematic of fascinating Kansas.
The United States last declared war many wars ago, on June 5, 1942, when, to clarify legal ambiguities during a world conflagration, it declared war on Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Today's issue is not whether to declare war but only whether the president should even seek congressional authorization for the protracted use of force against the Islamic State.
Tucking into a dish of Scottish haggis is not a task for the fainthearted. There are various haggis recipes, but basically it is sheep's pluck -- the heart, lungs and liver -- cooked together, then mixed with suet and oatmeal and boiled in a sheep's stomach, then served, sometimes drenched with Scotch. People who pour whisky on oatmeal are not shrinking violets. Remember this on Thursday when Scotland votes on independence from the United Kingdom.
Since Barry Goldwater, accepting the Republicans' 1964 presidential nomination, said "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," Democrats have been decrying Republican "extremism." Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in American politics, real extremism -- measures or movements that menace the Constitution's architecture of ordered liberty -- is rare. This week, however, extremism stained the Senate.
The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin's fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West's capacity to decide.
To take the measure of this uncommonly interesting public man, begin with two related facts about him. Paul Ryan has at least 67 cousins in his Wisconsin hometown of Janesville, where there are six Ryan households within eight blocks of his home. And in his new book, "The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea," he says something few politicians say, which is why so many are neither trusted nor respected. Ryan says he was wrong.
Russia's ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State's erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the "near seas," meaning China's seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Adm. Jonathan Greenert's multiplying preoccupations -- CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.
In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything, from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans' comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity.
Barack Obama, presiding over an unusually dismal post-recession economy, might make matters worse with a distracting crusade against the minor and sensible business practice called "inversion," more about which anon. So, consider his credentials as an economic thinker.
This far into the human story, only the historically uninstructed are startled by what they think are new permutations of evil. So, when Russia sliced Crimea off Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry was nonplussed: "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext."
About 5:15 p.m. on June 17, 1971, in the Oval Office, the president ordered a crime: "I want it implemented on a thievery basis. Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it."