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Commentary by Michael Barone

Most Recent Releases

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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.

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February 4, 2022

Returning to Normalcy on School Masks by Michael Barone

Are we returning to normalcy?

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January 28, 2022

Voters Oppose 'Transformative' Policies, Want Reform of Dysfunctional Bureaucracies By Michael Barone

Do Americans really want transformative change? The evidence accumulates that they don't.

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January 21, 2022

Abolish Parenthood? No, Family Trumps 'Equity' by Michael Barone

"California should abolish parenthood, in the name of equity." That's the headline of a Ventura County Star column by Zocalo Public Square's Joe Mathews. "Want true equity?" the San Francisco Chronicle headlined the same column three days later. "California should force parents to give away their children."

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January 14, 2022

Joe Biden's Deplorable Lies May Not Even Be in His Partisan Interest by Michael Barone

How do you explain why an ultra-experienced politician makes a major speech on the behalf of a legislative goal that is both doomed to fail and unpopular with voters? Especially when his speech is boycotted by the bill's chief backers and consists of one big lie after another?

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January 7, 2022

The John Lindsay Democrats By Michael Barone

One way to anticipate what may be ahead in politics is to gauge the balance of power in the nation's two political parties. The Republican Party has always been centered on people regarded by themselves and others as "typical" Americans but who do not by themselves comprise a majority. The Democratic Party has always been a coalition of out-groups, powerful when united but often at risk of division.

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December 31, 2021

Plague-Year Immigrants Headed to Trump Country By Michael Barone

I want to add a few notes to my Christmas weekend column on the Census Bureau's July 2021 state population estimates and what stories they tell about growth and decline in the first 15 months of the coronavirus pandemic.

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December 24, 2021

A (Statistical) Journal of the Plague Year By Michael Barone

As a Christmas present to statistics lovers, the Census Bureau has released its estimates of the population of the nation and the 50 states as of July 1, 2021. The Bureau admits up front that, due to COVID, its numbers are subject to more uncertainty than usual. But overall, they provide important clues as to how Americans have coped with the pandemic, and how it may have changed the trajectory of national growth and contraction.

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December 17, 2021

Against the Religion of 'Woke Anti-Racism' by Michael Barone

"If you pull the camera back and think about 1965, and think about last week, there's been massive improvement. The question is why so many people pretend that that's not true."

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December 10, 2021

Redistricting Helps Republicans but Doesn't Guarantee Control By Michael Barone

Here's a suggestion for those who think that partisan redistricting -- or, as is often the case with these plaints, partisan redistricting by Republicans -- threatens to destroy American democracy. Take a look at "The Long Red Thread," the recent history by Sabato's Crystal Ball analyst Kyle Kondik of House of Representatives elections from 1964 to the present decade.

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December 3, 2021

A Post-Roe Abortion Political 'Revolution' Is Unlikely By Michael Barone

The Supreme Court, as this is written, is hearing oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, challenging Mississippi's law banning, with a few exceptions, abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. There's a powerful argument that the Court can't logically uphold this statute, which is less restrictive than most other nations' abortion laws, without overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that overturned all 50 states' abortion laws.