WASHINGTON—It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about Donald Trump's inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence.
WASHINGTON—Attempting comprehensive tax reform is like trying to tug many bones from the clamped jaws of many mastiffs. Every provision of the code—now approaching 4 million words—was put there to placate a clamorous faction, or to create a grateful group that will fund its congressional defenders. Still, Washington will take another stab at comprehensiveness, undeterred by the misadventures of comprehensive immigration and health care reforms. Consider just one tax change that should be made and certainly will not be.
WASHINGTON—Although the National Endowment for the Arts' 2016 cost of $148 million was less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the federal budget, attempting to abolish the NEA is a fight worth having, never mind the certain futility of the fight.
WASHINGTON—Some American disasters come as bolts from the blue—the stock market crash of October 1929, Pearl Harbor, the designated hitter, 9/11. Others are predictable because they arise from arithmetic that is neither hidden nor arcane. Now comes the tsunami of pension problems that will wash over many cities and states.
WASHINGTON—When the president speaks of closed factories scattered like "tombstones" across America, has he noticed the shuttered stores in shopping centers, and entire malls reduced to rubble? He promises "protection" to prevent foreigners from "destroying" manufacturing jobs by exporting to America things that Americans want to import. Does he know that one American company might be "destroying" more American jobs than China is? And that this supposed destruction is beneficial?
WASHINGTON—Any summation of Barack Obama's impact on domestic policy and politics should begin with this: In 2008, he assured supporters, "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." Soon he will be replaced by someone who says, "I alone can fix it." So, Americans have paid Obama the compliment of choosing continuity, if only in presidential narcissism.
WASHINGTON—Viewing 2016 in retrospect—doing so is unpleasant, but less so than was living through it—the year resembles a china shop after a visit from an especially maladroit bull. Because a law says "the state of California may not sell or display the Battle Flag of the Confederacy ... or any similar image," a painting of the 1864 Siege of Atlanta was banned from display at the Fresno County fair. The U.S.
WASHINGTON—It is axiomatic that if someone is sufficiently eager to disbelieve something, there is no Everest of evidence too large to be ignored. This explains today's revival of protectionism, which is a plan to make America great again by making it 1953 again. This was when manufacturing's postwar share of the labor force peaked at about 30 percent. The decline that began then was not caused by manufactured imports from today's designated villain, China, which was a peasant society.
"The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world. ... The worst thing in the world varies from individual to individual." -- George Orwell, "1984"
WASHINGTON—So, this is the new conservatism's recipe for restored greatness: Political coercion shall supplant economic calculation in shaping decisions by companies in what is called, with diminishing accuracy, the private sector. This will be done partly as conservatism's challenge to liberalism's supremacy in the victimhood sweepstakes, telling aggrieved groups that they are helpless victims of vast, impersonal forces, against which they can be protected only by government interventions.