For most people, words mean what they say. But not necessarily for a majority of Supreme Court justices in two important decisions handed down Thursday.
In the most prominent, King v. Burwell, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 6-3 majority, ruled that the words "established by the state" mean "established by the state or the federal government."
Is the world back to where it was around the year 1800? One could come to that conclusion after reading British historian John Darwin's recent book "After Tamerlane," which assesses the rises and falls of empires after the death in 1405 of the famously bloodthirsty Muslim Mongol monarch.
Hillary Clinton has relaunched her campaign on Roosevelt Island with a 4,687-word speech. But it's not clear whether she and her husband, Bill Clinton, can win four presidential elections as Franklin D. Roosevelt did.
Negative news for Clinton's prospects comes in the latest Quinnipiac polls in the key mega-states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In each of them, she leads or ties Republican opponents, though in many cases not by statistically significant margins. But she also is running under 50 percent of the vote in every pairing, averaging 47 percent against six different Republicans in Florida, 44 percent against seven Republicans in Ohio and 46 percent against four Republicans in Pennsylvania. That's a danger zone for a candidate with universal recognition.
American presidents have greater leeway on foreign policy than on domestic issues. Just see how President Obama is forging ahead to an agreement with Iran opposed by large majorities in Congress and among voters.
Lyndon Johnson used to say that some of his colleagues were so politically inept they couldn't find their posteriors -- actually, he used a coarser word -- with both hands. Last week Barack Obama showed that, as a legislative strategist, he belongs in that category.
Another election, another surprise. Actually, two elections, in two countries last weekend, with surprisingly pleasant surprises. And in two very large countries: Turkey (population 82 million) and Mexico (119 million), both very important to the United States.
Despite everything, the often interesting analyst Jamelle Bouie writes in Slate -- "everything" includes "the email controversy, foreign donors and the Clinton Foundation" -- "Hillary is in good shape." Good enough to leave her party "still positioned for victory."
Are we seeing a reversal of the 20-year decline in violent crime in America? A new nationwide crime wave?
Is there any way to reverse the trend to ever more intrusive, bossy government? Things have gotten to such a pass, argues Charles Murray, that only civil disobedience might -- might -- work. But the chances are good enough, he says, that he's written a book about it: "By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission."
American colleges and universities, long thought to be the glory of the nation, are in more than a little trouble. I've written before of their shameful practices -- the racial quotas and preferences at selective schools (Harvard is being sued by Asian-American organizations), the kangaroo courts that try students accused of rape and sexual assault without legal representation or presumption of innocence, and speech codes that make campuses the least rather than the most free venues in American society.