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GRAY: Congress needs to step up oversight in 2014

Christmas came early to the executive branch this year, thanks to Republicans in Congress. They gave the Obama administration a yearlong Christmas present: benign neglect.

Illustration: Big Government by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

MILLER: Pay cut for bureaucrats

- The Washington Times

Those with a government job are sitting pretty. A typical fed’s total compensation averages 16 percent more than that of his neighbor at an equivalent private-sector gig. In this troubled economic time of 8.5 percent unemployment, nothing beats the public dole’s 100 percent job security.

President Obama speaks on Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, during the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism at National Harbor in Oxon Hill. (Associated Press)

MURRAY AND BIER: Avoiding a lost decade

- The Washington Times

Remember Japan’s “lost decade” of the 1990s? For the United States, 2011 was the “lost year.” Congress and President Obama are engaged in a standoff that will see 2012 go the same way unless they both get out of the way and let the private economy grow.

Senior Editor Emily Miller

MILLER: Emily gets her gun, Part 2

- The Washington Times

Over the past couple months, I’ve been trying to get a legal gun in the District. I always knew this would be a challenge, but I had no idea how time-consuming it would be to complete all 17 steps the city requires. I’m not even halfway done.

This artwork by M. Ryder relates to Hanukkah and Christmas.

GOLDBERG: Fussing over our happiest holiday

- The Washington Times

As a non-Christian with a deep affection for Christmastime, I’ve always felt a little left out around this time of year, but not in the way you might think. I’ve always felt a bit out of place with the venerable conservative tradition of denouncing the “war on Christmas.”

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Illustration by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

WRIGHT: What difference does it make?

Washington politicians' egos, penchant for nepotism and disregard for taxpayers' money knows no bounds. For weeks leading up to the country's second government shutdown in nearly 20 years, all America talked about, and continues to, is the nation's spending — and the nearly $17 trillion debt problem.

United States Park Rangers Josh Clemons, left, and Peter Zahrt close a trail at Mammoth Cave National Park, Ky. Tuesday, Oct., 1, 2013. National Parks across the country are closed due to the federal government shutdown. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Alex Slitz)

PRUDEN: Rangers vs. the walker brigade

The commander in chief and Harry Reid, his faithful dog robber in the U.S. Senate, have assigned the rangers of the National Park Service the most dangerous mission of the government shutdown. They're already up for medals.

** FILE ** In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, dark clouds pass over the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

PRUDEN: The cheap tricks of the game

The games politicians play: Barack Obama is having a lot of fun using the government shutdown to squeeze the public in imaginative ways. The point of the shutdown game is to see who can squeeze hardest, make the most pious speech and listen for the applause. It's a variation on the grade-school ritual of "you show me yours, and I'll show you mine."

President Barack Obama stands with people who support the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care law, as he speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday as a long-running dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law forced about 800,000 federal workers off the job, suspending all but essential services. At second right is Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

MILLER: Obama opts to shut down for Obamacare

Conventional wisdom in Washington is that the first government shutdown in 17 years will only hurt Republicans. That might be true in the short term, but it will help GOP members in 2014, because they followed the will of their constituents instead of cowing to political pressure.

Hasan Rouhani Associated Press photo

PRUDEN: A president as clueless as ever

Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton in the pantheon of romancers and boudoir bandits, but he is the president, after all, and his vain search for love in all the wrong places is enough to break a heart of stone. He just can't believe that Hasan Rouhani, the new president of Iran, is just not that into him. (Isn't everybody?)

PRUDEN: The bad boy at the party

Ted Cruz has been a bad boy, and deserves a good spanking. That's the message his colleagues in the Senate, particularly his Republican colleagues, have been sending to him. They just couldn't find anyone big enough to deliver the spanking, and now they never can.

** FILE ** Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay talks to reporters as he leaves a lunch meeting on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, in Washington. A Texas appeals court tossed the criminal conviction of DeLay on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, saying there was insufficient evidence for a jury in 2010 to have found him guilty of illegally funneling money to Republican candidates. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PRUDEN: Happy to be the doorkeeper

The man they called "the Hammer," who used Democrats as anvils, got a little satisfaction Thursday. An appeals court in Texas reversed the money-laundering conviction of Tom DeLay and told him to go and sin no more.

PRUDEN: Laughter drowned in sorrow

If, as certain wise men are saying, Barack Obama's Syrian deal with Vladimir Putin will die of a thousand cuts, somebody with a knife had better get busy. Four or five slices have been taken out of the deal already, and the carcass looks like it could already use a transfusion. It won't last for a thousand cuts, or even a dozen.

President Barack Obama salutes at Andrews Air Force Base before departing for Columbus, Ohio, March 6, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

PRUDEN: Obama's war with no name

The passive is never the voice of a leader. What plain folk asked to go to war crave is plain speech delivered with passion, a leader who says what he means, means what he says, and says on Tuesday what he said on Monday.