Archive - Mar 13, 2014

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The Inflation Obsession

    Recently the Federal Reserve released transcripts of its monetary policy meetings during the fateful year of 2008. And boy, are they discouraging reading.

    Partly that's because Fed officials come across as essentially clueless about the gathering economic storm. But we knew that already. What's really striking is the extent to which they were obsessed with the wrong thing. The economy was plunging, yet all many people at the Fed wanted to talk about was inflation.

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Clinton's run blocks would-be Democratic contenders

    If Hillary Clinton doesn't run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 - and there's 1 chance in 5 of that - the party could have a nervous breakdown.

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History suggests Ukraine has lost Crimea forever

    Crimea is probably lost to Ukraine. Within the space of a few days, it has become the latest in a string of "frozen conflict" zones that Russia has used to strong-arm ex-Soviet neighbors ever since the Union collapsed.

    The history of these unrecognized statelets suggests that authorities in Kiev are unlikely to regain control of Crimea for decades, if ever. There are few better ways of understanding events on the peninsula right now than to look at how these other "frozen" zones emerged.

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Bazookas and the founding fathers

    Principle.

    The NFL hinted it would move the Super Bowl, and Apple said it could find a new place for a planned plant if Arizona legitimized discrimination most foul, most un-American, against gays and lesbians.

    In a similarly principled stand, arms maker Magpul Industries has moved its plant to Wyoming.

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Frozen in a Niche?

    As the statuesque Cate Blanchett clutched her statuette, she sent an acid air kiss Sandra Bullock's way.

    The "Blue Jasmine" star told her vanquished rival, who was gamely smiling after losing for "Gravity," "Sandra, I could watch that performance to the end of time, and I sort of felt like I had."

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Putin's cynical choice

    Let's be real. It's one thing to say that Russia's takeover of the Crimean Peninsula "cannot be allowed to stand," as many foreign policy sages have proclaimed. It's quite another to do something about it.

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Religious right runs out of steam in Arizona

    Religious conservatives have had a good run. Since the 1970s, when Paul Weyrich and other conservative thinkers recognized that conservative evangelical Christians had untapped potential to change U.S. elections, the "religious right" has been a powerful, if always secondary, force in the Republican Party. Conservatives did such a thorough job of rallying evangelicals around causes such as abortion that the word "evangelical" in a political context is now almost synonymous with "conservative."

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Why Putin Doesn't Respect Us

    Just as we've turned the coverage of politics into sports, we're doing the same with geopolitics. There is much nonsense being written about how Vladimir Putin showed how he is "tougher" than Barack Obama and how Obama now needs to demonstrate his manhood. This is how great powers get drawn into the politics of small tribes and end up in great wars that end badly for everyone. We vastly exaggerate Putin's strength - so does he - and we vastly underestimate our own strength and ability to weaken him through nonmilitary means.

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A problem in need of a correction

    Kerry Kennedy was just acquitted, and rightly so, of "drugged driving" -- she mistook a sleeping pill for her thyroid medication and conked out at the wheel.

    It's an outrage that she was prosecuted in the first place, but even more of an outrage that steps aren't being taken to prevent this disturbingly common problem.

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A Sweet Victory

    The Food and Drug Administration recently came out with a sweet surprise. Its proposed new nutrition label will finally give us a bit of key information we need to understand our food: the amount of added sugars.

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