The Russian invasion of Crimea occurred in a place little known to Americans, for reasons rooted in a tangled and bloody history. The showdown between President Vladimir Putin and the new Ukrainian government is a fight about tangible matters of intense mutual interest.
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A basic rule for assessing policy is to ask what bad things it makes likely or even possible. Conservatives are fond of citing the law of unintended consequences, which they know can produce negative effects dwarfing the envisioned benefits of a particular measure.
After journalist Terry Anderson was taken hostage by a terrorist group in Lebanon in 1985, he spent much of six years in tiny cells completely by himself. Trapped in solitude, he found his mind inexorably breaking down.
If driving a taxi in Chicago is your dream job, have I got a deal for you. You get to fight traffic, deal with drunks and deadbeats, work long hours and breathe exhaust fumes nonstop. And I can get you into it for just $360,000.
In 1999, newspaper columnist Molly Ivins was diagnosed with breast cancer and promptly exhorted her readers: “Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done.”
In the battle over same-sex marriage, opponents are strongly in favor of deferring to the wisdom of our ancestors. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence uses the prevailing formula when he says, “I support traditional marriage.” The Christian Coalition of America urges its friends to “Say ‘I Do’ to Traditional Marriage.”
In 2012, the Republican Party stood for the ancient biblical proposition that the sins of the father should be visited upon the son. Mitt Romney captured its presidential nomination while vowing to veto the Dream Act, which would allow immigrants brought here illegally as children to gain citizenship.
The United States government and the Taliban don’t agree on much, but they have found one point of convergence: Both think someone needs to get a hose and put out the flames engulfing Hamid Karzai’s pants.
Americans have always treasured the freedom to pick up and go anywhere they please. Our forebears had to travel to get here, often had to travel more after they arrived and sometimes moved on to uncharted territories out West only to return East. No one stopped them, whatever direction they were going.
In the polarized atmosphere of Washington, there is one thing that both parties can usually agree on: convening independent, bipartisan panels of respected experts to devise solutions to tough problems. Actually, there’s one more thing they can usually agree on: ignoring what those groups recommend.
The American people once elected a president who favored decriminalizing marijuana. Jimmy Carter endorsed the change in 1976 as a candidate and again after taking office. Nothing happened, and more decades have been wasted in the war on cannabis and other drugs.
In times of war and national emergency, it’s sometimes necessary to sacrifice civil liberties to secure vital gains in public safety. In those cases, we may have to accept a loss of privacy or freedom rather than invite mass slaughter of Americans.
Robert Gates may be the only CIA director or defense secretary who ever took part in peace demonstrations during the Vietnam War. In his 1996 memoir — the one nobody noticed — he says that in 1970, as a young CIA employee and Air Force veteran, he marched in Washington to protest the U.S. invasion of Cambodia.
Since the death of communism in most of the places where it once prevailed, North Korea and Cuba function mainly as educational exhibits for an irrelevant and unsuccessful ideology. When it comes to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the city of Chicago fills a similar role.
In modern America, sex is increasingly where it should be: outside the reach of government. Anti-sodomy statutes have been tossed by the Supreme Court. Contraception is widely accessible. Anyone with a computer can gorge on pornography without fear of prosecution.
The course of freedom and democracy in the world is an evolutionary process, though sometimes it proceeds in the wrong direction. Wines have good years and bad years. If 2013 were a wine, you’d use it to kill weeds.
If you’re part of the U.S. national security apparatus and you torture someone to death during an interrogation, you can rest easy. Two administrations have furnished get-out-of-jail cards absolving you of responsibility for your crime.
If you offer people something that is too good to be true, you will always find takers. Ask Bernie Madoff. Or ask Barack Obama. He recently proposed an increase in the minimum wage — an idea that suits the natural predilections of many people enough to distract them from the unsentimental and unwelcome logic of economics.
In the aftermath of the deadly Metro-North train wreck in New York, there was ample fuel for outrage. The anger was directed at the driver for apparently taking a turn way too fast — and at the federal government for not making that impossible.
To achieve any ambitious goal, you have to want it badly enough to work and sacrifice. But there is such a thing as trying too hard. Overzealous pursuit of your heart’s desire can end up chasing it away.
Rock Island, Ill., a city of 39,000 on the Mississippi River, provides an array of attractions, including a liberal arts college, a historic district, a casino and a botanical garden. It also offers the latest urban amenity: deer hunting.
The Senate vote Thursday to curb the use of filibuster against judicial nominees, over the objections of the Republican minority, can only be seen as a terrifying development. Why, next thing you know we could be deciding all sorts of things by majority vote.
Extravagance can be intoxicating, and those who grow accustomed to extravagance, only to be deprived of it, can miss it terribly. That accounts for much of the powerful hold John F. Kennedy has on a generation of Americans even today. He led people to imagine that their government had the boundless capacity to improve the world, and on the day he died, they could still believe that.
When the government shutdown began on Oct. 1, it forced the closing of Head Start facilities in several states, stopping educational services for thousands of low-income kids. So heart-rending was this spectacle that a pair of Texas philanthropists gave $10 million to keep the programs going.
No issue in recent years has polarized Americans as much as Obamacare. It produced a party-line vote in Congress, a near-fatal court battle, a revolt by states that refused to run exchanges or expand Medicaid, dozens of House votes to repeal it and, now, a bungled launch that could be its undoing. It’s a barroom brawl that never ends.
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