Archive - 2014

December 17th

Obama's Boehner bailout

    How often will President Obama come to House Speaker John Boehner's rescue even when Republican leaders aren't willing to give much in return? And does the president want to preside over a split in his party?

    These are among the questions raised by the dramatic budget battle that came close to breaching the deadline for a government shutdown.

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The shape of things to come in Congress

    The cost President Obama was willing to pay to avert another government shutdown -- wiping out protections against the sorts of financial excesses that greatly contributed to the Great Recession -- risks a divisive final two years of his presidency within his own Democratic Party.

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Real lives, false debates

    During my decades of journalism I have been alternatively amused and appalled by the sarcastic newsroom slogan: "A story too good to check out."

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Hold your noses

    The so-called "Cromnibus" is an ugly piece of work. On balance, I'm glad -- no, make that relieved -- it passed.

    The Cromnibus is the giant $1.1 trillion spending bill that will keep the government functioning -- no, make that open -- through the end of the fiscal year.

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Why is holiday gift-giving so hard?

    This has been a pretty bleak month or two. There are so many Serious and Important Things going on that I think it's best if we took a moment and talked about Seasonal Gifts.

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Why 2014 Is a Big Deal

    I was just about to go with a column that started like this: When they write the history of the global response to climate change, 2014 could well be seen as the moment when the balance between action and denial tipped decisively toward action. That's thanks to the convergence of four giant forces: São Paulo, Brazil, went dry; China and the United States together went green; solar panels went cheap; and Google and Apple went home.

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The Many Faces of Jeb

    As brothers who governed large states at the same time, each Bush was bound to be defined in terms of the other. George was the impulsive one who'd stumbled and then swaggered toward success. Jeb was the cogitator, the toiler. George was the extrovert: He worked the room. Jeb was the introvert: He read the books.

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Practicing Subsidized Un-Medicine

    Clutching newspaper clippings in one hand and a medical bag loaded with seeds in the other, my ersatz friend Dr. Franklin Peterson Comstock III, knocking down pregnant ladies, students, the elderly, and two burly construction workers who were waiting for a bus, rushed past me, leaving me in a close and personal encounter with the concrete.

    “Medical emergency!” Comstock cried out. “Gang way!”

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Is It Bad Enough Yet?

    The police killing unarmed civilians. Horrifying income inequality. Rotting infrastructure and an unsafe "safety net." An inability to respond to climate, public health and environmental threats. A food system that causes disease. An occasionally dysfunctional and even cruel government. A sizable segment of the population excluded from work and subject to near-random incarceration.

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A Shooter, His Victim and Race

    Ian Manuel is a black man who has spent most of his life in prison. Yet he still has a most unusual advocate calling for his release: a white woman whom he met when he shot her in the face.

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