It looks like backers of a marijuana legalization initiative in California have gathered the signatures they need to get on the ballot this fall. Depending on your perspective, this is either a tribute to the power of ordinary people to enact commonsense change when their government is too timid to do so, or more evidence that the initiative system is out of control.
If there's one reason to think that health-care reform will still succeed, it has to be because of the speaker of the House. Here's what she said Thursday, via Greg Sargent:
You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.
A few weeks ago, in a column about the politicized nature of science in America, I noted that according to international data, Americans express far greater skepticism about evolution than citizens of any other Western democracy. Well, it looks like there are some in the U.K. who would like to catch up, and they're working hard to get into positions of influence in medicine and science:
When it comes to State of the Union addresses, the opinions of the chattering classes are usually wrong. For one thing, for all the predictions of its potential to change the political landscape, the speech tends to have only the tiniest effect on the president's approval ratings. For another, though the wags always complain that the speech was terribly long, the public never seems to mind (the one president who regularly got a bump from his SOTUs was Bill Clinton, who could drone on with the best of them).
There are a lot of reasons to feel despondent at what's been going on with Democrats in Congress and the White House over the last week. What's remarkable is just how easy it was for them to get sent into this spiral of fear. I shouldn't have to keep repeating this, but all of this chaos – talking about abandoning their agenda, the president seemingly reconfiguring his entire political strategy – is happening because their 20-seat advantage in the Senate was reduced to an 18-seat advantage. Can you imagine what would happen if they suffered a really big defeat?