Archive - Jan 2014

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January 30th

Marriage Matters, in France and in Texas

    There is a difference between being married and not being married. That difference has come into sharp focus in the romantic life of French President Francois Hollande, a sort of Socialist Sun King around whom women revolve. All of his female companions are reputedly strong, but none seems strong enough to tell him to scram.

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Christie on two levels

    It's rare that you can look at your television screen and see not only what is happening but also what might have been. Chris Christie's inaugural address on Tuesday was at once a masterful summary of the best thinking among Republicans about where their party needs to move and a compendium of proclamations that now carry unfortunate double-meanings.

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The Quality of Accountability

    In the narrative of every political scandal comes the accountability moment. New facts slow to a trickle, and the next, insistent demand becomes: Who is being held accountable?) This is often a dumb question, asked for lack of a more fruitful topic and fueled by partisans more interested in point-scoring than problem-fixing.

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Putting a squeeze on nation's I.Q.

    Football being the fixation of the nation right now, let’s employ a gridiron analogy to understand what’s become of society’s most important pursuit.

    The issue: helmets and brain injury. Ostensibly built to protect the brain, impervious to destruction, helmets allow players to use their heads as weapons.

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No Place to Hide: We're All Suspects in Barack Obama's America

    Barack Obama's speech Friday on surveillance was his worst performance, not as a matter of theatrical skill, though he clearly did not embrace his lines, but in its stark betrayal of his oft proclaimed respect for constitutional safeguards and civil liberty. 

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Is West Virginia a Cult?

    After decades of suffering environmental torture at the hands of polluting industries, West Virginians might regard a chemical spill that poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 residents -- and is still scaring folks after the dangers have presumably passed -- as a last straw. But there never seems to be a last straw for them.

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Gates reflections flawed on America's last 40 years of war

    Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in discussing his new book, has had a lot negative to say about how President Obama and his national security team operated during his own involvement with them. But after having served under several other presidents of both parties, he made another more sweeping observation that warrants sober reflection.

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Game Over: Weighing the high costs of the Olympics

    The 2014 Olympic Winter Games haven't started, but they've already produced their first scandal.

    The host country's president, Vladimir Putin, runs a notoriously despotic regime whose victims include not only independent journalists and political opponents but also gay men and lesbians, who have recently been targeted by a law prohibiting "propaganda of nontraditional sexual practices" among minors.

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Year Six Of Hope And Change

    It was a bittersweet briefing that told us exactly where the Obama administration finds itself at the dawn of its sixth year.

    When a group of senior officials gathered last week to tout President Obama's efforts to make college a realistic possibility for low-income students, they were genuinely enthusiastic about the agreements they had brokered with university presidents and foundations to tear down some of the barriers to poor and minority kids.

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The Obama-Bush Nexus

    Our current president and his predecessor in the Oval Office are typically cast as opposites, antonyms, not just far apart on an ideological spectrum but cats of wholly different stripes.

    Barack Obama: lyrical, professorial. George Bush: allergic to any glimmer of intellectualism. Obama: head. Bush: gut. Obama: city. Bush: country.

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