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Prosecutor’s power: Ferguson, NYC, Obama

Recent events have taught many of us a key fact about the criminal justice system that we may not have understood. The most important element of the system is not the police, the judge or the jury. It is the prosecutor. The prosecutor decides on sending cases to trial, the crime charged, the potential punishment, […]

Gov. LePage has chance now to build his legacy

Gov. Paul LePage now has the opportunity to shape Maine utility regulation. During any single term of the Maine governor, opportunities arise to make two of the three appointments to the Public Utilities Commission. Now, LePage can have three commissioners of his own choice. What’s unusual is that LePage can make two appointments at once, […]

Why Obamacare became a political failure

President Obama’s greatest achievement and perhaps his greatest failure is the same piece of legislation – Obamacare or, more officially, the Affordable Care Act. The intent of the ACA was ambitious: to provide health care insurance for most of the 40 million Americans who had no coverage at all. Without health insurance, these people were […]

Voters want action, but Senate stalls

The Keystone XL pipeline was defeated in the U.S. Senate, because only 59 of the 100 senators voted for the project. That same day, a bill to reduce N.S.A. surveillance of Americans also failed to pass, because a vote to end debate on the bill only received 58 votes. Wait a minute. Where in the […]

We need immigration policy; we get partisan war

In just 30 years, the U.S. population will increase by 84 percent, mostly resulting from a massive and wave of immigrants. The ethnic make-up of many parts of the country will change. The economy will experience major growth, though it will suffer through deep recessions. The income gap between the wealthiest and the poorest people, […]

Should we abandon plurality elections?

Last week, I wrote that increasingly major elections are won by pluralities – winners having the most votes – rather than majorities – winners having more than half the votes. The column drew many thoughtful responses, which prompt further consideration of the problem of plurality winners. The threshold question is whether we ought to require […]

Dems helped GOP to win elections

The Republicans clearly took the election, though it’s more likely the Democrats lost it than the GOP won it. To compare their performance in office and their campaigns through an analogy to the recently ended baseball season, the Democrats played “small ball” and had lousy pitching, allowing the Republicans to blast the ball out of […]

Television rules campaigns; conservatives, women gain

Whatever the outcome of next week’s elections, some political trends emerge. They include the role of big money’s television buys, the status of conservatism and the role of women. How do many, if not most, people decide how they’ll vote? Chances are good that it’s not based on candidates’ policy proposals or their debate performance. […]

“All politics is local” no longer true

“All politics is local.” Though he didn’t create that saying, the late U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts made it not only popular but a law of politics, at least when it comes to congressional campaigns. In the past, local concerns were practical concerns. Would a member of Congress bring home federal contracts creating […]