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Commentary by Michael Barone

Most Recent Releases

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July 1, 2022

United States of Diversity: The Founders and Dobbs by Michael Barone

DEI -- "diversity, equity and inclusion." University administrators, corporate human resources facilitators and politicians of a liberal stripe all assure us that America is now, suddenly, for the first time in history, a nation of diversity, equity and inclusion .

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June 24, 2022

Can Government Build Things Again? By Michael Barone

Give the New York Times's Ezra Klein credit for identifying a problem with big government institutions. "Our mechanisms of governance have become so risk averse that they are now running tremendous risks because of the problems they cannot, or will not, solve," he tweeted. The subject was San Francisco's attempt to make permanent the parklets, or parking spaces used as outdoor restaurant space, through 60 pages of regulations.

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June 17, 2022

The Secular Right Versus the Woke Left By Michael Barone

This month, I've come across two outstanding articles by writers I had not previously known on important trends on the political right and political left.

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June 10, 2022

What Was the Left Thinking? By Michael Barone

Whether you're contemplating San Francisco voters' recall of left-wing District Attorney Chesa Boudin or the plight of Democrats nationally as they face voters' dismay at out-of-control inflation, immigration and crime, the question is liable to come to mind: What were they thinking?

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June 3, 2022

Politics as the Leisure of the Theory Class Michael Barone

Politics has increasingly become, for many Americans, the leisure of the theory class. That's a phrase from the early 20th century sociologist Thorstein Veblen, which I turned on its head in a recent column. He was condemning the showy consumerism of the contemporary rich for having no economically practical purpose. I, on the other hand, was describing the political preoccupations of contemporary people, mainly high-education liberals but also low-education populists, as having no practically achievable goals.

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May 27, 2022

Primary Results: Trump Repudiated, Republicans Enthused, Democrats Focused On Theoretical Issues by Michael Barone

Complete and utter repudiation. That's what a record number of Republican primary voters in Georgia administered to former President Donald Trump this Tuesday. The man he blamed for not contesting his narrow 2020 loss in the state, Gov. Brian Kemp, won renomination with 74% of the vote.

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May 20, 2022

It's Not Exactly Trump's Republican Party by Michael Barone

Is it Donald Trump's Republican Party? You can make the case it is, as partisan Democrats do, from the victories of various candidates endorsed by the former president in Republican primaries. But it's not an airtight case, and Trump's batting average is inflated by the dozens of endorsements he has made of incumbents with no significant primary opposition.

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May 13, 2022

Progressives' Version of 'Democracy': 2 Plus 2 Equals 5 by Michael Barone

They may or may not have been playing the song "The World Turned Upside Down" when Lord Charles Cornwallis's troops surrendered to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown in 1781, but there's good reason to sing it now.

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May 6, 2022

Redistricting Proved To Be Much Ado About Not Very Much by Michael Barone

The congressional redistricting wars are mostly over. Much of the hoopla surrounding it is proving overheated.

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April 29, 2022

People Are Fleeing the Self-harm Progressives Inflicted on Their Own Cities by Michael Barone

In recent weeks, I've noted how, as COVID-19 mask mandates fall by the wayside, the nation has been moving away from what now seems excessive risk aversion. And I've described the National Bureau of Economic Research paper assessing how the costs of the lockdowns have exceeded the benefits.

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April 22, 2022

The Yankee Reform Impulse Gets Some Issues Right, Some Wrong by Michael Barone

People talk about culture war politics as if it were a recent development -- a novelty, an exception to a historic rule that American politics is mostly about economics (who gets how much) and only occasionally gets sidetracked into culture (what people should or shouldn't be allowed to do).

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April 15, 2022

The Verdict on Lockdowns: High Cost, Minimal Benefits by Michael Barone

What were the benefits and costs of the COVID-19 restrictions implemented over the last two years? It's a good time to ask that question, especially now that the masks are coming off and the lockdowns are canceled.

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April 1, 2022

Turning a Corner, Away from Excessive Risk Aversion by Micahel Barone

It feels like we're turning a corner.

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March 25, 2022

Another Party Hack President by Michael Barone

"The language people speak in the corridors of power is not economics or politics. It is history." So says former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, quoted in a column on Ukraine by historian Niall Ferguson.

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March 18, 2022

Ukraine Suggests Dangers of the Eurasian Heartland Axis by Michael Barone

"Who rules the Heartland rules the World Island. Who rules the World Island commands the world." So wrote the geography professor and occasional member of Parliament Halford Mackinder in his 1919 book "Democratic Ideals and Reality."

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March 11, 2022

Ukraine Shows We Live in a Nationalist World by Michael Barone

It turns out that we live in a nationalist world. That's one of the lessons people are learning from the surprise early results of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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March 4, 2022

Volodymyr Zelensky Transforms Germany -- and Europe By Michael Barone

It's been a week since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Kyiv, and even Kharkiv, 20 miles from the Russian border, remain under Ukrainian control. Contrary to many predictions, Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces have fallen short of their goals so far, but there can be no certainty about the outcome in Ukraine -- or Russia.

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February 25, 2022

Ukraine's Fate Is Rooted in a Tragic History by Michael Barone

For those trying to keep up with the fast-moving events in Ukraine, it may be helpful to consider some lessons of history. Mistakes made in the past week, added onto developments covering the last two or three centuries, have left the United States and its European allies -- in particular the largest of them, Germany -- unable to prevent President Vladimir Putin's Russia from absorbing an as yet undetermined part of a theoretically independent Ukraine.

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February 18, 2022

Must Government Be a 'Big, Waddling, Sluggish Beast'? by Michael Barone

Itinerant policy journalist Ezra Klein, now with the New York Times, has highlighted something interesting about the Biden Democrats' now-defunct Build Back Better package -- something beyond its huge cost (trillions) and its failure to get majority support in the Democratic Congress, just like the single-payer health care bill that recently failed to pass in California's Democratic supermajority legislature.

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February 11, 2022

Lamentations About Redistricting Ending Democracy Prove Hypocritical -- and Wrong by Michael Barone

Masks were necessary, especially in schools, to prevent mass deaths. Or so we were told, at great and tedious length -- until suddenly, in the last 10 days, they weren't.