Commentary - Archive 2014

October 9, 2014

The Institute of Medicine's recent report "Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life" has rekindled an important conversation about what's covered in the Medicare program's benefit package.


September 24, 2014

Ellen Mickiewicz, a leading expert on Russia and the media, will read from her new book at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, Wednesday Oct. 1. Mickiewicz, the James Shepley Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and a professor of political science, interviewed 108 students at Russia’s three leading universities for her book “No Illusions: The Voices of Russia’s Future Leaders.” She will read excerpts beginning at 5 p.m. in Sanford’s Fleishman Commons.


September 23, 2014

In a last-minute change that was taken with no hearings and no prior publicity, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has undermined the fundamental building block of school finance in North Carolina.


September 15, 2014

We soon may be re-entering the medical Dark Ages. That’s no Chicken Little proclamation. In 2011, the World Health Organization warned of a return to a pre-antibiotic era “where common infections will no longer have a cure, and once again, kill unabated.”


September 12, 2014

As people who have been studying and, at times, directly involved in, counter terrorism efforts in the U.S. since 9/11, we have been disappointed in the over-hyped public reaction to the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).


August 25, 2014

Border disputes between American states are as old as the republic, but in today’s highly charged political atmosphere they often take an ugly turn.


August 11, 2014

Writing in the New York Times today, columnist Shmuel Rosner labeled non-Israeli liberal Jews that are becoming more estranged from modern day Israel, as “fair weather fans” that Israel both can and should ignore. He is dead wrong on both counts.


August 6, 2014

Earlier this month a divided Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the University of Texas' right to use race amongst its criteria for undergraduate admissions, however limited that right may be.


June 25, 2014

Not long ago, my cousin was asked by his children if he might lose his job. They had overheard him describing how several people in his neighborhood had recently lost their jobs, and they became worried that dad might be laid off, too.

Thankfully, my cousin is in no danger of losing his job, but millions of others are not so fortunate.


June 17, 2014

There is no doubt that the takeover of large parts of Iraq and Syria by the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) presents a major security issue for the United States and the entire region. But let's not make the mistake of labeling ISIS a mere terrorist group that can be addressed with the same counter terrorism tools that have been used against al Qaeda and its affiliated groups since bin Laden and his supporters were dislodged from Afghanistan in 2001.


June 9, 2014

Former U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, who lost his struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease a year ago June 8, may not be a household name today in Canada. But during his tenure in the turbulent years from 2001-2005, he became the poster child for what some Canadians saw as the overly aggressive and even bullying administration of president George W. Bush.


May 1, 2014

People who care about American democracy have recently been paying a lot of attention to new research by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, which shows that for decades wealthy Americans and business interests have consistently gotten their way in public policy – even when their views conflict with what the vast majority of Americans want.


April 24, 2014

People have criticized The Affordable Care Act for amounting to a large transfer of wealth, from wealthy Americans to those not as well off. But the real transfer of wealth has been from United States to other developed nations, whose healthcare costs we have subsidized for many years by paying so generously for many of our healthcare services. No better example of this comes to mind than the price we pay for pharmaceuticals in the US versus elsewhere.


April 23, 2014

Last week, the Obama administration again delayed a final decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.


April 18, 2014

After the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, I wrote a book that asked why America had never developed much of a gun control movement. To answer the question, I looked at similar life-and-death issues around which vigorous movements had arisen and found three common elements: funding from wealthy patrons, incremental strategies that delivered momentum-building victories and maternal calls to action.


April 14, 2014

It rarely makes sense to draw big conclusions or make public policy on the basis of anecdotes. But the plural of "anecdote" is data, and sometimes one-off events are useful in crystallizing lessons to guide policymakers and inform the public. So it was with the Pittsburgh-area rampage this week in which a teenager bearing two kitchen knives is accused of injuring 21 high school classmates and a security guard -- but none of them were killed. It's hard to imagine an anecdote that better illustrates what decades of data show: that for purposes of life and death, the weapon matters.


April 14, 2014

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing one year ago, many commentators and public officials called this tragedy a harbinger of more homegrown terrorist attacks to come.


April 8, 2014

Let’s put our hands together for North Carolina. Among the 36 states that used the federal health care exchange, North Carolina came in third – with more than 200,000 residents enrolling in Obamacare as of last week’s deadline.


March 17, 2014

How much should the United States do to promote the advance of democracy abroad? This timeless question has received renewed attention during the Obama years. Political upheavals in Iran in 2009, the Arab world beginning in 2011, and now in Ukraine have compelled American observers to assess the prospects for democratization in these countries, and they have reopened a longstanding debate about what role the United States might play in strengthening or encouraging that process.


March 17, 2014

It is too early to tell exactly what has transpired between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA regarding the Committee's investigation of the post-9/11 CIA interrogation program for captured al Qaeda terrorists. But this episode is just another in a long series of repercussions from this program that leaves a tornado-like trail of destruction through whichever institutions it travels.


February 9, 2014

Two years ago, we had the privilege of working with the State Board of Education to craft a “Vision of Public Education in North Carolina” affirming the importance of a strong public education system and laying out its basic features.


February 7, 2014

Russians love sports. They always have. Like their counterparts in other countries, they believe that athletic prowess reflects national strength. Russians also like television. The country has hundreds of channels, and although young people might reach for their cell phones or laptops in the big cities, as many as 85 percent of Russian citizens still depend on television for their news.


January 30, 2014

As anyone who has followed the Obamacare roller coaster over the past 4 years knows, passing legislation is only the first step in reforming a healthcare system.  Since Obamacare came into law, we have been consumed by battles over how to implement it, and by struggles over how to make it work effectively. But such implementation struggles are not new to Obamacare.  We sometimes fail to remember that previous healthcare laws rolled out with a fair amount of controversy of their own.


January 3, 2014

The question of immigration reform awaits House leaders after the holiday recess on January 7. The Senate did its part with a comprehensive bill six months ago, but Republicans who control the House have clearly expressed preference for a "piecemeal" series of bills rather than a comprehensive one.  President Obama's recent indication that he'd accept this approach virtually assures laws will be changed one step at a time, if at all.