This Custom of Customs

Customs may be a pain when you're traveling, but it's a necessary instrument the government uses to regulate trade. And it has a very fascinating history. Your passport please?

How Lobbying Works

Lobbying is an entrenched part of American politics and one that many people think is breaking government. But petitioning the government is protected in the Constitution. How can this system be fixed?

What's the deal with the debt ceiling?

Lately it's been common news fodder that Congress uses its ability to raise the debt ceiling to hold the executive branch hostage to its demands, but exactly how does that work, and what does the debt ceiling do? Learn about it in this fascinating episode.

An Overview of the Current Debt Crisis, Chewed Up and Regurgitated Just for You

What, exactly, just happened? Just how close did we come to the brink of financial disaster with the haggling over the debt ceiling? What would that disaster look like? And what was the big stinking problem with the negotiations; in other words, what took so long? A lot better journalists than me have dedicated some very good ink to these questions concerning the raising of the federal debt limit.

The Peace Corps, America's 50-year-old goodwill-building arm, is coming under increasing scrutiny lately for its treatment of volunteers who are victims of rape during their time abroad. The New York Times is reporting that as many as 221 Peace Corps volunteers were raped or the victims of attempted rape between 2000 and 2009. Another 1,000 were the victims of other types of sexual assault.

YOU LIE: Congressman Gets Medieval on President Obama

Boy oh boy, things have gotten pretty ugly in Washington. As most of you have probably heard, many of you live as it happened, a Republican House member last night shouted "YOU LIE" at President Obama during his speech on health care reform.

Cash For Clunkers: Yet Another Testament to Congress' Ability to Write Bills With Delightful Names

Oooo, lordy, I love it when the liberals are in power. I'm about to make me a cool $4,500 from the federal government. NPR was all atwitter on the way in to work with news of the Cash for Clunkers bill that's easily made its way through the House and is poised to pass the Senate sometime in the near future. The bill gives a nearly five grand rebate to people who trade in their cars that get 18 miles or less to the gallon for a car that gets 28 miles or more per gallon.

Yeah, man, I've been hitting the tech stuff pretty hard lately, between this post and yesterday's. Despite finding the severed head of a Jellofox on my desk this morning -- a warning, I suspect, from J-Strick and Pollette to watch my back -- I will press on. Not only will I press on, I will write about a topic that Strickland already posted on. How you like me now? At issue is a bill under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. H.R. 1966 would make it a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison, for using electronic communication "to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person," reports Network World. You've likely guessed that the bill came out of a case in Missouri where a woman made up a fake MySpace page to humiliate a teenager after she chose to no longer be BFF with the woman's daughter.

Smell that stank in the air? That porky smell means it's appropriation bill season, fiscal year '09! Yeah! The season came late this year. It didn't seem like it would come at all. Congress waited until George Bush went back to Texas to begin the task of figuring out how to fund the vast bureaucracy that is the United States government. The bill was supposed to have been passed last September, making the bill a full six months late. Why would Congress wait for Bush to leave Washington? Earmarks. George Bush became one of the first chief executives Congress believed might actually veto any spending bills with earmarks attached. And as a lame duck president when the 110th was deliberating the FY09 spending bill last September, he very well may have, as he had absolutely nothing to lose. So Congress left it for the next guy to deal with, and...