What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive ourselves into believing that corporate welfare can be seemly. Consider the caper, both amusing and depressing, that began when mighty Boeing sought protection behind the skirts of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Kevin Hassett evidently has not received the memo that economics is "the dismal science." The ebullient chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers is relishing the intellectual feast of applying to policymaking the predictive tools of a science that was blindsided by the Great Recession.
With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump's poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump's adolescent bidding with last Sunday's pre-planned virtue pageant of scripted indignation -- his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory. Pence is a reminder that no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.
Amazon, which has made this city the epicenter of a retailing revolution, is not the Northwest's only commercial disrupter. In the nearby city of Everett, Liberty Ziska and some other bikini baristas, giving new meaning to coffee as a stimulant, have provoked the City Council to pass, unanimously, ordinances requiring baristas to be less nearly naked when they work. The baristas, in turn, have hired a lawyer and made an argument that is germane to current disputes about freedom of speech. Their argument, they might be surprised to learn, is Aristotelian. Sort of.
It was an epoch-defining decision to place in Westminster Abbey, among statues of monarchs, priests and poets, a large one of James Watt, inventor of the separate-condenser steam engine. The statue's inscription says Watt ranks among the world's benefactors because he "increased the power of man." The economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey believes this honor, conferred in 1834, signified society's endorsement of the dignity of practical people who apply science for human betterment.
Many Americans' moral vanity is expressed nowadays in their rage to disparage. They are incapable of measured judgments about past politics -- about flawed historical figures who were forced by cascading circumstances to make difficult decisions on the basis of imperfect information. So, the nation now needs an example of how to calmly assess episodes fraught with passion and sorrow. An example arrives Sunday night.
Life is exhausting -- and daily choices are unbearably burdensome -- for some Americans who are so comfortably situated that they have the time and means to make themselves morally uncomfortable. They think constantly about what they believe are the global ripples, and hence the moral-cum-political ramifications, of their quotidian decisions. And they are making themselves nervous wrecks.
The U.S. Air Force "sniffer plane" was collecting air samples off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula on Sept. 3, 1949, when it gathered evidence of radioactivity, confirming that the war-shattered Soviet Union had tested a nuclear device. The Soviets' Aug. 29, 1949, test had come faster than expected.
Sooner or later, and the later the better, the president's wandering attention will flit, however briefly, to the subject of trade. So, let us try to think about the problem as he seems to: Wily cosmopolitans beyond our borders are insinuating across our borders goods that Americans, perhaps misled by British economist David Ricardo, persist in purchasing.
When John Adams wrote into Massachusetts' Constitution a commitment to a "government of laws and not of men," he probably assumed that the rule of law meant the rule of laws, no matter how many laws there might be. He could not have imagined the modern proliferation and complexity of laws, or how subversive this is of the rule of law.