Archive - Mar 2014

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March 20th

The Corporate Land of Oz

    In L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the “wizard’ turns out to be a phony — just an old guy sitting behind a curtain, using his booming voice to spew nonsense in a vain effort to fool people.

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The Rigged Housing Market

    An upscale housing development in Wilton, Connecticut (all of Wilton is upscale) is having no trouble selling its 20 units for $800,000 each. On average, homes in that town now fetch more than $1 million a piece.

    And real estate experts only rank the region that includes Wilton at No. 33 on their list of the nation’s hottest markets. Clearly, the recession is over. Well, at least for the top 1 percent.

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The SAT Isn't Perfect, But Serves Its Purpose

    Helicopter parents, start your engines.

    They're revising the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) again, and you know what that means. More weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. More complaints about the unfairness of life and of American society. More free-floating status anxiety projected onto adolescent children already uneasy about leaving the parental nest. Or eager to escape it.

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The Unhealthy Meat Market

    Where does our food come from? Often the answer is Tyson Foods, America's meat factory.

    Tyson, one of the nation's 100 biggest companies, slaughters 135,000 head of cattle a week, along with 391,000 hogs and an astonishing 41 million chickens. Nearly all Americans regularly eat Tyson meat - at home, at McDonald's, at a cafeteria, at a nursing home.

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Francis' anti-imperial papacy

    Religion makes a lot of mistakes.

    Faith traditions can be so harsh that they drive away everyone but the self-righteous scolds. Or they can so indulge in therapeutic comfort and manufactured joy that they come to seem like a charlatan's game.

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Hipsters Have Children, Too

    Disapproving of white urban liberals can be a career for right-leaning sociologists. A decade or two ago, their story was that the American future lay in fast-growing exurban counties, with their cheap land and virtuous Republican voters.

    Now that many American cities have become the hot, hot, hot place for jobs and ambitions, the story has to be rewritten.

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How House Republicans can hold Boehner hostage

    House Democrats seem to have fallen in love with the discharge petition this year. A rarely used - and almost never successful - procedural gambit, the discharge petition allows a bill to move out of committee and onto the floor if it is signed by a majority of House members. Conventional wisdom holds that Democrats are using discharge petitions to score political points in an election year, which is true. But by doing so, Democrats are also creating an opening for Republican centrists to make themselves more relevant - and Congress more functional.

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More Women's History

    With March designated as Women's History Month it seems appropriate to recognize more than one column could do. In fact, there are so many women heretofore given little, if any, recognition one would have to have a column every day of the month to even begin. Their stories simply have not been told in the society geared to the history of military, government, professions and others limited largely to males.

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Straight out of Mad magazine: Spy vs. Spy

    Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. We found that out again this week. Not even John le Carre or Daniel Silva could write a spy novel as multi-leveled, complicated, and unpredictable as the plot unveiled by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Taxpayers deserve Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac windfalls

    Congratulations, taxpayers! Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance companies whose September 2008 bailout set off a financial fireball, just repaid you in full. You even made a small profit from your $187.5 billion loan.

    The companies are throwing off torrents of cash as once- debased assets recover value in the housing revival. So more payback is coming, right?

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