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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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**FILE** Secretary of State John Kerry participates in the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Memorial Plaque Ceremony at the State Department in Washington on May 3, 2013, honoring the dedication of colleagues in the Foreign Service. Biden and Kerry paid tribute on Friday to Benghazi victims Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Ty Woods as well as Anne Smedinghoff, the young foreign service officer killed in Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

EDITORIAL: Unaccountable State

Sen. Susan M. Collins uses the terms "shocking" and "unacceptable" to describe the reinstatement of the four State Department officials who had been placed on administrative leave after last September's deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi.

Illustration by William Brown

EDITORIAL: Camouflage cops

A SWAT team armed with machine guns and clad in the latest paramilitary gear descended earlier this month on a small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, looking for marijuana.

Illustration Muslim Hope by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

PAUL: At last, common sense about Egyptian aid

- The Washington Times

As the tragic situation in Egypt continues to deteriorate, President Obama has delayed the delivery of F-16 fighter jets and canceled scheduled joint military maneuvers, and members of Congress are now having second thoughts about sending military aid.

Illustration by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

LAMBRO: Still missing: The recovery

- The Washington Times

President Obama continues to tell us that the quality of our lives and our economy have improved when all the available evidence shows they have not. In fact, they've grown worse under his policies.

**FILE** Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa, on Aug. 10, 2013. (Associated Press)

EDITORIAL: Canadian Cruz

Agunfighter always shoots at the man he fears most. So the guns of the left have been aimed at Ted Cruz, the charismatic senator from Texas who's looking at the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

HANSON: Triviality versus reality

- The Washington Times

Two quite different 21st-century Americas are emerging. The nation is not so much divided by "wars" between the rich and poor, men and women, or white and non-white. Instead, there is the world of reality versus that of triviality.

Illustration by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

FIELDS: Wired connections and cultural disconnects

- The Washington Times

Despite its heat and humidity, August isn't cruel like April, but it taps deeper into melancholy. The days grow shorter, sunlight becomes less intense and shadows lengthen, shading the edges of experience. Summer begins to feel like Sunday night.