The big winner of the way-too-early first debate of the presidential primary season wasn't even on the stage for the prime-time event. Carly Fiorina won the "undercard" event earlier in the evening. She did so in convincing enough fashion that the next big question for political junkies will be whether she can make it into the main event in next month's debate.
Politicians are often accused of pandering and rarely wage public fights against things that are popular with their voters. That's what makes the willingness of politicians to take on Uber and the sharing economy all the more puzzling. Why on earth do they want to antagonize the tens of millions of Americans who benefit from the Uber service as consumers and drivers?
"The consumer demand for the Uber and Lyft kind of services is so great that any politician who gets in the way of that is really asking for trouble," according to Roger McNamee. The co-founder of investment firm Elevation Partners said on CNBC that "Uber's success is really about consumers demanding the availability of Uber and Lyft cars wherever they are."
Many years ago, I visited Cambodia with my family. One day, a local resident took us to a small village of 53 huts far off the beaten path. In many ways, it was closer to the 13th century than the 21st. It was truly an eye-opening experience.
The Fourth of July we celebrate this weekend heralds a document proclaiming both our nation's independence and our unwavering commitment to freedom.
Next week, we'll be celebrating the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The eloquent cries for freedom and equality voiced in that properly revered document have become what professors Sid Milkis and Marc Landy call the "American Creed." It's a belief that all of us have the right to do whatever we want with our lives so long as we don't interfere with the right of others to do the same.
Listening to the political junkies discuss the 2016 presidential election more than a year ahead of time is enough to depress just about anyone who has a life outside the political bubble. It will get even worse next year with the avalanche of civic pollution known as campaign commercials.
What sometimes seem like epic battles to reshape the world generally fade to irrelevance very quickly. To take just one recent example, 20 years ago the Justice Department was trying to break up Microsoft because the software giant was perceived as too powerful to be challenged by other firms. Today, of course, all the talk is of Google and Apple with Microsoft struggling to find a niche.
Political reporters seem to enjoy the game of politics far more than the substance of issues. But recent Supreme Court rulings on the president's health care law, campaign finance reform and other topics may force a fundamental issue into the 2016 election. Upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage, immigration and another health care case will add fuel to the fire.
American government - at all levels - is losing the legitimacy it needs to function. Or, perhaps, some segments of the government have already lost it.
I am far more pessimistic about our political system than most Americans. At the same time, I am very optimistic about the future of our nation. That may seem like an odd combination to some, but I am optimistic because I recognize that Washington, D.C., does not lead the nation.
In recent weeks, I've written about how the "Bootleggers and Baptists" dynamic corrupts regulatory politics. Bruce Yandle developed this concept decades ago. He observed that Prohibition became reality because Baptists wanted people to stop drinking while the ban on legal alcohol put money in the Bootlegger's pockets. The do-gooders succeeded only because the money-grubbers joined their effort.
I recently highlighted an important book that describes how politics really works. "Bootleggers and Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics," by Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle, showed that prohibition became reality because it appeared to satisfy both Baptists and Bootleggers.
The death of Leonard Nimoy saddened millions of Trekkies around the world (including me). But it wasn't just Trekkies who mourned. In the past month, it has become clear that Mr. Spock - the character Nimoy brought to life - had become a cultural icon extending far beyond the Trek universe.
It's apparent to anyone willing to look that a wide gap has grown between a Washington/Wall Street political class and the nation they want to rule. Less clear to many is the reason why.