Hello, it's 08:30PM September 16, 2014

Doyle McManus: A U.S. quest for Mideast stability

Here’s the nightmare scenario that kept Obama administration officials awake at night this summer as they watched the black-masked guerrillas of Islamic State sweep across Iraq: First, the insurgents could invade Baghdad, toppling Iraq’s government and forcing a Saigon-style evacuation of the U.S. Embassy. Then they could move into Jordan, a close U.S. ally that has maintained a peaceful border with Israel for a genera …

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George Will: Aye or nae, Scotland’s vote epic

WASHINGTON — Tucking into a dish of Scottish haggis is not a task for the fainthearted. There are various haggis recipes, but basically it is sheep’s pluck — the heart, lungs and liver — cooked together, then mixed with suet and oatmeal and boiled in a sheep’s stomach, then served, sometimes drenched with Scotch. People who pour whisky on oatmeal are not shrinking violets. Remember this on Thursday when Scotland votes …

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U.S. strategy: Rebuild, not just destroy

The following editorial appeared in Friday’s Washington Post. President Barack Obama promised Wednesday night to meet the terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria “with strength and resolve.” His commitment to “ultimately destroy” the Islamic State was bold and necessary. But it was also incomplete. A strategy built exclusively on killing terrorists will have no end. The United States must also help Iraqis and Syrians b …

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Esther Cepeda: NFL needs all female fans it can keep

CHICAGO — What do pedicures and sparkly flip-flops have to do with Ray Rice’s unceremonious ouster from football? Everything. Most observers credit the latest leaked video of Rice punching out his then-fiancee Janay Palmer for his new punishment. But this theory misses the rising power of the NFL’s increasingly female — and super hard-core — fan base. The day before the now-infamous elevator video went viral, I was i …

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Islamic State: U.S. defends imaginary lines in the sand

The rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East is, to be certain, shocking to Western sensibilities and seems so sudden that it requires an equally swift and shocking response. In Washington, Congress has clamored for and President Barack Obama seems to be promising just that. On the face of it, an American political and military response to the Islamic State would entail air strikes, the likely involvement of speci …

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Trudy Rubin: Islamic State threat too big to ignore

Now that President Barack Obama has finally laid out a strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, there are only two (very big) questions that matter: Is this strategy really necessary? And can it succeed? My answer to the first question is a firm “yes,” but to the second a very shaky “maybe.” Yet I believe Obama has no option but to try. Until the Islamic State in Syria beheaded two American journalists, th …

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George Will: Extremism in defense of re-election

WASHINGTON — Since Barry Goldwater, accepting the Republicans’ 1964 presidential nomination, said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” Democrats have been decrying Republican “extremism.” Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in American politics, real extremism — measures or movements that menace the Constitution’s architecture of ordered liberty — is rare. This week, however, …

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Esther Cepeda: Myth of low-fat diets debunked

CHICAGO — As a chubby and impressionable teen in the 1990s, desperate to lower my weight as Type 2 diabetes started afflicting my family, I was especially vulnerable to the Snackwell’s-ification of American food. Fat was the enemy. It would not only make you overweight but ruin your heart. And the only known savior was a low-fat diet. Enter near-vegetarian meals, fat-free cream cheese, low-cal bread, baked potato chip …

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Cokie and Steven Roberts: In Mideast, whom are we fighting for?

‘We’ve got to win and stop these guys.” That was Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, criticizing the Obama administration on CNN as Islamic State fighters (also known as ISIS) gobbled up chunks of Syria and Iraq. His sense of alarm is clearly justified. The jihadist militants pose a serious threat to a range of American interests, from the security of the homeland to the stability of critical allies lik …

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Doyle McManus: Coalition of frenemies vs. Islamic state

A month ago, it was difficult to tell whether President Barack Obama’s heart was in the fight against the Islamic State, the terrorist group that has seized a swath of territory in Iraq and Syria. His initial statements as the militants roared across the flatlands of northern Iraq focused on the limits of U.S. action. “I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war,” he said on Aug. 7. Ten …

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George Will: Messy world needs a credible NATO

WASHINGTON — Speaking on Aug. 29 — at a fundraiser, of course — Barack Obama applied to a platitude the varnish of smartphone sociology, producing this intellectual sunburst: “The truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through.” So, if 14th-century Europeans h …

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Putin puts NATO back in the hot seat

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View: Say this for Russian President Vladimir Putin: He has ended NATO’s decades-old existential crisis. As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meets in Wales, the abstract question of the alliance’s purpose in a post-Soviet world isn’t on the agenda. Instead its leaders must devise a plan to counter the very real threat from an irredentist Russia. The only question …

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Fooled and foiled again on immigration

CHICAGO — No one likes political expediency when it doesn’t go their way. When President Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in June 2012 — which allowed young illegal immigrants to obtain temporary legal status, driver’s licenses and work permits — his supporters weren’t complaining about it being a political ploy to secure re-election. But make no mistake about it: DACA was desi …

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Obama overshadows race for North Carolina Senate

Sen. Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat whose seat is a top target of Republicans to regain control of the Senate, walked into the debate hall in Raleigh Wednesday night looking sharp in a gray suit. It only took a few minutes for her Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, to make her a stand-in for President Barack Obama, whose job approval in the state is overwhelmingly negative. In his opening statement, Tillis accu …

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Battle for Congress: GOP can’t hope that Obama will bail them out

What does it mean for a candidate or party to run on an agenda — a list of priorities and policies they intend to pursue in office — and how important is it? I recently argued that Republicans are relying on the president’s unpopularity as a substitute for an agenda, and that the last time they tried that, in 1998, it ended badly. Two other writers have also recently taken up these questions, in ways that reinforce my …

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Democrats may be delusional

After having pledged to take executive action on undocumented immigrants, President Barack Obama has been signaling that he may postpone any such move until after the midterm elections. The proximate cause appears to be electoral anxiety among a handful of Democrats running for Senate across the South. Obama’s approval rating nationwide has been stuck in the low 40s — dangerous territory. In parts of the South, it’s i …

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Esther Cepeda: Reversing demographic roles in pop culture

CHICAGO — In my fantasy world, public relations professionals send me pitches extolling the virtues of the “white Robert Rodriguez.” But no, I get come-ons about (shudder) “the next Latina Mark Cuban.” Leaving aside the fact that aspiring to be a spoiled, trash-talking millionaire is dubious at best, a pitch I recently received from an investment group for women is illustrative of the odious shortcut of relating an un …

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Byron York: No impeachment — or shutdown, either

A few weeks ago Washington was buzzing with predictions that Republicans will impeach President Obama. More recently, Washington has been buzzing with predictions that Republicans will shut down the government. Both have come mostly from Democrats facing long odds in November’s midterms, hoping the GOP might do something suicidal before voters go to the polls. For them, sheer ecstasy would be Republicans shutting down …

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Margaret Carlson: Rick Perry’s comeback headed off at pass

It was all going so well for Texas Gov. Rick Perry — until the indictment. His efforts to move past a disastrous 2012 presidential run that had become a reliable punch line for a senior moment seemed to be working. He’s dropped a few pounds and added hip glasses. He isn’t wasting a minute of the border crisis, calling up the National Guard, testifying before Congress and visiting the troops at Camp Swift, where he rol …

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A market approach to global warming



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George F. Will: Paul Ryan finds the right way to admit wrong

WASHINGTON — To take the measure of this uncommonly interesting public man, begin with two related facts about him. Paul Ryan has at least 67 cousins in his Wisconsin hometown of Janesville, where there are six Ryan households within eight blocks of his home. And in his new book, “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea,” he says something few politicians say, which is why so many are neither trusted nor respected. …

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Tolls on interstates? Sure, and get federal government out of roads altogether

OAKLAND, Calif. — There are good reasons for financing roads through tolls instead of federal fuel taxes, but there is no case for the federal government to collect such tolls. This just adds to the overall cost and places planning and management decisions — regarding expansion, maintenance and replacement — in the hands of remote federal bureaucrats with little or no first-hand knowledge of — or interest in — local n …

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Tolls on interstates? More fair than gas tax, and truckers pay full share

WASHINGTON — The United States faces a transportation infrastructure dilemma. According to recent estimates from the Reason Foundation, reconstruction and needed capacity enhancements to the Interstate Highway System will cost approximately $1 trillion over the next two decades. If no new lanes are added, reconstruction will still cost nearly $600 billion. The Obama Administration, to its credit, has proposed partiall …

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Esther Cepeda: Here’s one sleeper of an issue

CHICAGO — Many adults tend to dismiss scientific research about the adolescent mind. Perhaps they came of age during a time when children, especially teens, were expected to behave as little adults. For years the scientific community has made clear that brains of children and young adults into their 20s undergo physical and chemical changes that can result in high-risk behaviors, vulnerability to addiction and mental …

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Congress must do more to help fight wildfires

Entering the final month of an intense wildfire season that has set the American West ablaze, with more than 17,000 wildfires across 2.3 million acres, Congress must recognize that its model for wildfire suppression is broken. By failing to provide an emergency funding source for federal firefighting efforts, Congress has forced the U.S. Forest Service to pay for its firefighting efforts by cannibalizing programs that …

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George Will: Navy with a mission in mind

WASHINGTON — Russia’s ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the “near seas,” meaning China’s seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Adm. Jonathan Greenert’s multiplying …

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Esther J. Cepeda: Food grown for travel, not taste

CHICAGO — After back-to-back readings of three books chronicling the state of food production in the United States, I’ve realized that except for a few childhood trips to South America during which I drank warm goat’s milk and ate freshly picked corn, beans, potatoes, rice and fruits, I’m not truly familiar with what real food tastes like. I’ve done a lot of carbohydrate, fat and fiber monitoring over the past 15 year …

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Trudy Rubin: Confront Islamic State sooner, not later

How do you deal with a hideous terrorist group that has morphed into a Mideast state with a huge war chest and an aggressive army — and beheads an American journalist? Since the gruesome slaughter of James Foley, U.S. officials are debating whether the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria can be contained or must be rolled back in the near term. President Barack Obama appears wedded to a strategy of containment — so far. B …

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Cokie and Steven Roberts: Thoughtful reform may lead to leaner, less mean system

Partisan antagonism rules the capital, drowning out most attempts at constructive compromise. But on at least one issue, reasonable lawmakers from both parties strongly agree: reforming the criminal justice system to reduce the prison population and enable former inmates to become more productive members of society. This growing consensus is both surprising and heartening, especially at a time when Congress can’t seem …

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Criminal Justice Act: It’s not perfect, but what is?

WASHINGTON — What is called “the” 1964 Civil Rights Act is justly celebrated for outlawing racial and other discrimination in employment, “public accommodations” and elsewhere. But that year’s second civil rights act, the Criminal Justice Act, which is 50 years old this month, is, some say, largely a failure because of unanticipated changes in the legal and social context. Is it? In 1961, Clarence Gideon allegedly br …

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Bank of America settlement leaves big questions

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View. The Justice Department’s $16.7 billion settlement with Bank of America Corp. is a big win. Prosecutors deserve praise for extracting the largest civil settlement with a single entity in U.S. history, as well as for forcing the bank to admit to numerous shortcomings in creating, packaging and selling defective home loans. Yet the headline figure, impressive as it i …

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Esther J. Cepeda: The right note on gender and hiring

CHICAGO — In the 1970s and 1980s, symphony orchestras around the world began implementing a system of “blind” auditions — performances given from behind a screen — in order to diversify their ranks while ensuring that elite talent and meritocracy ruled. It worked out well, with Princeton University research showing that blind auditions increased the probability that women would advance from preliminary rounds by 50 pe …

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Islamic State can’t stand up to U.S. power

BALTIMORE — President Barack Obama is now reaping the whirlwind for his feckless and sometimes politically-motivated strategy of leading from behind in the Mideast, North Africa and Eastern Europe. The good news is that his decision to use U.S. air power to protect the Yazidi people from death and torture by Islamic State fanatics has allowed Kurdish and Iraqi soldiers to recapture the critical Mosul Dam and sent the …

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U.S. should leave ground fighting to the Kurds

WASHINGTON — The best way to start winning a war is to stop losing. That axiom certainly applies to what’s going on in Iraq. But, that said, there is no place for American brigades in this battle. Yes, Americans have a huge stake in preventing al-Qaida’s cousin from setting up a brutal caliphate in Iraq. The Middle East is a crossroads of the world. If unchecked, the malevolent influence of the Islamic State could spi …

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Trudy Rubin: Time for Obama to tell the truth about Islamic State threat

President Barack Obama gave vent last week to an uncharacteristic show of emotion over the barbaric beheading of American journalist James Foley by the militant jihadi group the Islamic State. He denounced the group as a “cancer” in the region and accused it of rampaging “across cities and villages, killing unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence” as it seized a third of Syria and Iraq. Yet for months, as this …

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George Will: Nation fed up with cupcake cops

WASHINGTON — In physics, a unified field theory is an attempt to explain with a single hypothesis the behavior of several fields. Its political corollary is the Cupcake Postulate, which explains everything, from Missouri to Iraq, concerning Americans’ comprehensive withdrawal of confidence from government at all levels and all areas of activity. Washington’s response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates pro …

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Esther J. Cepeda: Time to face up to all our biases

CHICAGO — “War” is too strong a word to use in regard to race relations. Despite continuing income inequality or how often the justice system seems to lack fairness when applied to nonwhites, few Americans would say that whites are waging a war on people of color. Even as Ferguson, Mo., smolders after the shooting of a black teenager in a majority African-American town overseen by an almost all-white political leader …

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Byron York: Doom-and-gloom Dems draw big bucks

I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections. First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Republicans will impeach President Obama if they win control of the House and Senate. Though much ridiculed, the “Impeachment Red Alert” effort was a big winner, pulling in $ …

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World must commit to fight Ebola outbreak

The following editorial appeared in Monday’s Washington Post. The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has seized the world’s attention like a summer horror movie. The images of a terrible disease without a cure have surged across news and social media. Late last week, a spokesman for the World Health Organization said the scope of the outbreak appears to have been “vastly underestimated.” Tantalizing reports of exp …

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Doyle McManus: Quacking the lame-duck code

There are two words every president, including Barack Obama, hates to hear: “lame duck.” He’s in year six of his eight-year run. His biggest accomplishments are all in the past; his remaining proposals are stymied by Congress. His popularity is mired near 40 percent, and voters tell pollsters they see him as a leader “who can’t get things done.” No wonder he’s a little sensitive. The president has spent much of the ye …

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Inversions: Obama upset over nothing

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama, presiding over an unusually dismal post-recession economy, might make matters worse with a distracting crusade against the minor and sensible business practice called “inversion,” more about which anon. So, consider his credentials as an economic thinker. Obama, who thinks ATMs and airport ticket kiosks cost America jobs, gave a 2013 speech regretting that Maytag workers in Illinois lost th …

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More action warranted to ease tensions in Ferguson

The following editorial appeared in Friday’s Washington Post. From the chief of the police department to the president of the United States, government officials on Thursday promised a different approach to the racially charged unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. But the situation demands a lot more than a stand-down by assault-rifle-toting police. It might require an act of Congress. Ferguson Police Chie …

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President following legal, humane policies for border crisis

INDIANAPOLIS — Far from today’s near-militarized U.S.-Mexico border, rural southwest Indiana recently was ground zero for undocumented children from Mexico and Central America. From 2004 to 2010, the federal government contracted with a privately owned juvenile detention facility in Vincennes, Ind., to house immigrant children deemed the most dangerous. These children arrived at the Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Vi …

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Obama playing politics with border crisis

WASHINGTON — Try as he might, President Obama cannot escape responsibility for the debacle at the U.S. southwest border, caused, in part, by his administration’s mismanagement. Until Congress returns next month, he should use the tools he has to secure the border and to discourage illegal crossings. One can only hope that he will not take unilateral actions that might make matters worse. The president has been trying …

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Byron York: Obamacare losing popularity as Americans get closer look

Democrats have long believed Obamacare would become more popular once it was fully in place and Americans got a chance to see it up close. So why is Obamacare less popular now than a few months ago? Because it is fully in place and Americans have had a chance to see it up close. According to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has closely tracked Obamacare for years, 37 percent of those surveyed have a …

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Esther Cepeda: Class matters, for all

CHICAGO — “In every walk of life, there are senseless rules, payoffs and shakedowns, quirks, unjust rituals,” explains Jerene Johnston, the matriarch of the privileged Southern family so deliciously skewered in Wilton Barnhardt’s irresistible novel “Lookaway, Lookaway.” Explaining the familial responsibility of the traditional “debut,” Jerene tells her rebellious, ultra-liberal daughter Annie: “Society is just as sil …

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New void looks a lot like old voids

WASHINGTON — This far into the human story, only the historically uninstructed are startled by what they think are new permutations of evil. So, when Russia sliced Crimea off Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry was nonplussed: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.” If, however, Vladimir Putin is out of step with the march o …

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Rx: Find new way to fund residencies

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View. Here’s a deal you might be interested in. You get $10 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to do something you may well have done anyway. You don’t need to say what you spend it on, or why. You can use it wisely or wastefully; the money keeps coming regardless. That’s the nice arrangement the federal government grants U.S. hospitals when it comes to training doctors …

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Esther Cepeda: Lessons learned from STEM study

CHICAGO — Every once in a while, research quantifies the effects of certain education policies on students. Then, the results are often shelved in favor of the prevailing “common sense.” As in: If you want more scientists, mandate more science courses in school. Let’s hope this fate doesn’t happen with “Missing the Mark,” a report by the ACT college readiness test’s Research and Policy division. Authors Richard Buddi …

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