Commentary

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

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 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 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

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.


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.


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.


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