In reflecting on relations between the United States and China, Henry Kissinger in his 2011 book, "On China," notes that since he and Richard Nixon ventured to Beijing more than 40 years ago, "Eight American presidents and four generations of Chinese leaders have managed this delicate relationship in an astonishingly consistent manner, considering the difference in starting points."
Like it or not, the 2016 presidential race is now well under way. Republican candidates are flocking to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, while Hillary Clinton, in-between $200,000 speeches at universities, is reported to be in seclusion developing her economic policies.
Word comes that Barack Obama's budget will, not surprisingly, call for ending the sequester spending limits now in effect. That's not surprising. White House aides proposed the sequester, but Obama thought it wouldn't go into effect because Republicans couldn't accept its sharp limits on defense spending. But with voters recoiling against foreign military involvement, they could and did.
Public policymakers and political pundits tend to focus on problems -- understandably, because if things are going right they aren't thought to need attention. Yet positive developments can teach us things as well, when, for reasons not necessarily clear, great masses of people start to behave more constructively.
There are likely to be many surprises in a race for the Republican presidential nomination that has something like 20 plausible potential candidates. The first of those surprises came in the last hours before New Year's when Jeb Bush announced he was setting up an exploratory committee to consider running for president.
No one in Washington much cares what House Democrats do these days. House rules tend to ensure that the main job of members of the minority is to show up, vote "no" and lose. And in the next Congress, Democrats will have fewer seats in the House than they've had since 1929 and 1930.
Were the polls wrong? It's a question asked after every election. Sometimes, as in 1948, the answer seems as obvious as the answer to the question, "Why did Custer lose at Little Bighorn?" Sometimes the answer is less obvious, as it is this year.
If you're a political junkie -- or at least if you're a conservative political junkie -- you've probably seen the map. It's a map of the United States showing the congressional districts won by Republicans in red and those won by Democrats in blue.
Before the election results are in, and keeping in mind that there may be some unpleasant surprises for one party or the other -- or both -- it's possible to assess how the Democratic Party has fared under the leadership of President Obama. To summarize the verdict: not so well.
Things are spinning out of control. Out of control, at least, by government, and by the United States government in particular. You don't have to spend much time reading the news -- or monitoring your Twitter feed -- to get that impression. Armed fighting in Ukraine. Islamic State beheadings in Iraq and Syria. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong.
Republicans seem to be pulling away in the race to win a majority in the U.S. Senate. At least this week.
In mid-September, several polls seemed to be going the other way. The well-informed Washington Post analyst Chris Cillizza wrote that for the first time in this election cycle, odds favored the Democrats keeping their majority.
Last week, the voters of Scotland, in a heavy turnout and from age 16 up, decided not to disunite what has been arguably one of the most successful and beneficial nations over the last 307 years, the necessarily clunkily named United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
What should we do about immigration policy? It's a question many are asking, and some useful perspective comes from an article in Foreign Affairs by British-born, California-based historian Gregory Clark, unhelpfully titled, "The American Dream Is an Illusion."
Iraq, immigration, inversion. On all three of the issues referred to, President Obama finds himself forced by events to do something he dislikes -- and he's in trouble with much of his Democratic Party base for doing so.
"Twentieth-century technology," writes economic historian Joel Mokyr in the Manhattan Institute's excellent City Journal, "was primarily about 'large' things."
Large in physical size, that is. Mokyr's examples include the diesel engine and the gas turbine, shipping containers, communications satellites launched by giant rockets, oil-drilling platforms, massive power stations, giant steel mills and huge airplanes.
The standard thing to say about the various Republican primaries this year is that the tea party movement has lost one race after another. That's a defensible conclusion but also an oversimplification.
Liberals just aren't very liberal these days. The word "liberal" comes from the Latin word meaning freedom, and in the 19th century, liberals in this country and abroad stood for free speech, free exercise of religion, free markets, free trade -- for minimal state interference in people's lives.
The flood of underage -- and nonunderage -- illegal immigrants from Central America coming across the border in Texas is, to paraphrase a former Obama administration official, a "man-caused disaster." The man who caused it, more than anyone else, is Barack Obama.
Seldom in American history has the Supreme Court unanimously rejected positions advocated by presidents' administrations.
But in this respect at least, President Obama has produced the fundamental transformation he promised in his 2008 campaign. Over the last three years, the court has rejected Obama administration positions repeatedly in unanimous 9-0 decisions.
I'm old enough to remember when American liberals cherished the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. They celebrated especially the freedom accorded those with unpopular beliefs and protested attempts to squelch the expression of differing opinions.
Polls show that most Americans wanted the United States to withdraw from Iraq. Barack Obama did indeed withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, not troubling to negotiate a readily negotiable status of forces agreement that would have left a contingent of American soldiers there.