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Archive

Date

April 6th, 2014

GM's Barra knows nothing about anything

    The last time Congress convened hearings on an automotive safety scandal, during the early 2010 furor over sudden unintended acceleration in Toyotas, the crucial takeaway was how little members of Congress understood cars or the car business. This week, when General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra testified before committees about her company's safety scandal, the major impression was of how little she seemed to know about her own business.

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History's recurring tale of plutocracy

    Michael Lewis' "Flash Boys," his takedown of high-speed stock trading, may be making headlines this week, but it's just one of two books on our economic dysfunctions that are flying off the shelves. While "Flash Boys" explains how the fastest-growing form of trading enriches the few at the expense of the many, the other book, Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," provides a more fundamental and disquieting explanation: how capitalism itself enriches the few at the expense of the many.

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Rube Goldberg Survives

    Holy 7 million, Batman! The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has made a stunning comeback from its shambolic start. As the March 31 deadline for 2014 coverage approached, there was a surge in applications at the "exchanges" - the special insurance marketplaces the law set up. And the original target of 7 million sign-ups, widely dismissed as unattainable, has been surpassed.

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All in the Family, Sort Of

    Here's the latest life lesson from the campaign trail: If you are, say, making a home movie about how great your family is, try to remember to use pictures of your actual relatives, and not random attractive strangers.

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Court opens door wider to buying of public office

    Forty years ago, Congress enacted sweeping limits on political campaign spending in the wake of a shocking disclosure that one man -- Chicago insurance executive W. Clement Stone -- had given more than $3 million for the 1972 reelection of President Richard M. Nixon.

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Court ruling may boost influence of political parties

    Like an optimist looking through a pile of manure in hope of finding a pony, if one examines the latest Supreme Court decision on campaign finance law, one positive outcome comes into view: It will give a helping hand to our struggling two-party system.

    The McCutcheon decision lifted the limit on what the parties can raise and contribute to their candidates, a small step toward putting them back in the ball game, while regrettably further enhancing fat-cat donors' domination of the playing field.

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Michael Lewis' Crusade

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Russia will regret lies in Ukraine; just ask U.S.

    The change in European perceptions of Russia caused by its annexation of Crimea feels familiar: It reminds me of what happened to views of the United States after its decision to invade Iraq.

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The Best Government Money Can Buy

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Bring Me My Dragons!

    I'd been hoping to get the flu.

    I hadn't had it in years, and there were so many TV series I'd never seen - "The Wire," "Breaking Bad," "House of Cards," "True Detective" - that required an extended convalescence.

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