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Religion challenges left and right

Opinion Column

Whenever I write sympathetically about religion, I get bombarded by tweets and notes from readers who normally agree with me but cannot abide the idea that religious belief should be seen as intellectually serious.

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Fighting back on voting rights

Attorney General Eric Holder has opened what will be an epic battle over whether our country will remain committed to equal rights at the ballot box. In a display of egregious judicial activism in late June, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. Holder made clear last week he intends to fight back.

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The painful paradoxes of race always have impact

Opinion Column

‘In the jewelry store, they lock the case when I walk in,” the young African-American man wrote. “In the shoe store, they help the white man who walks in after me. In the shopping mall they follow me. ... Black male: Guilty until proven innocent.”

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Raising the stakes on immigration

Opinion Column

If you want to alleviate worries about the economic impact of immigration reform, increase the minimum wage.

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Pope proves adept at saintly politics

Opinion column

Pope Francis is proving himself to be a genuinely holy man, a brilliant politician and a leader who knows that reform requires a keen understanding of how creating a better future demands sophisticated invocations of the past.

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Rights carry obligations, too

Opinion column

Here is the sentence in the Declaration of Independence we always remember: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

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Great Gatsby economics

Opinion Column

You don’t need me to tell you, but it’s a whole lot tougher leading a garage band than being a superstar. What you might not have known is just how much harder.

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False god of ‘narrative’ brings lots of trouble

Opinion Column

Scandalmania is distorting our discussion of three different issues, sweeping them into one big narrative — everything is a “narrative” these days — about the beleaguered second-term presidency of Barack Obama. What’s being buried under a story line?

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‘Slow-motion mass murders’ in progress

Opinion Column

Public officials are very selective about when violence and death matter.

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Sanford wins his place in South Carolina

‘I want to publicly acknowledge God’s role in all of this,” declared a victorious Mark Sanford as he celebrated an unlikely political rebirth Tuesday night with a sermon praising the Supreme Being and the many “angels” who helped the once-disgraced former governor along the way.

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Obama’s wake-up call

Opinion Column

President Obama got roughed up by the pundit class last week. The question is what lessons he draws from the going-over. Here’s one he should take: The nation’s political conversation has grown stale and many Americans have lost the sense of what he is doing to improve their lives.

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Studying the economic whodunit

Opinion Column

The policy mystery of our time is why politicians in the United States and across much of the democratic world are so obsessed with deficits when their primary mission ought to be bringing down high and debilitating rates of unemployment.

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The way forward on guns

Opinion Column

Victories often contain the seeds of future defeats. So it is — or at least should be — with the Senate’s morally reprehensible rejection of expanded background checks for gun buyers.

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Sandy Hook showed just how bizarre the gun debate is

This effort cannot end with one burst of legislating. The commitment and the organizing unleashed on a vicious day in December cannot abate. Our discussion of guns finally reflects a sober national maturity. We cannot return to childish evasion.

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U.S. political system gives extremists too much power

Opinion column

The National Rifle Association is facing attacks from Gun Owners of America for being too soft on gun control. This is like a double cheeseburger coming under severe criticism for lacking enough cholesterol.

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Will the GOP block background checks?

Opinion column

Is Congress on the verge of turning away from the lessons of the slaughter in Newtown even as Connecticut enacts sweeping laws to curb gun violence? Is the gun lobby hell-bent on aligning our country with such great friends of liberty as Iran, North Korea and Syria by opposing efforts to condition international gun sales on the human rights records of buyers?

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Speech comes with big price tag

Opinion Column

If you are tired of seeing the debate on guns dominated by the National Rifle Association and yearn for sensible weapons laws, you have to love New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. When most politicians were caving in or falling silent, there was Bloomberg, wielding his fortune to keep hope alive that we could move against the violence that blights our nation.

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Julian Castro in it for the long run

Opinion Column

Julian Castro is a politician in not too much of a hurry. This does not mean he lacks ambition.

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Can Obama save the two-state solution?

Opinion Column

The administration has set expectations for President Obama's trip to Israel so low you'd think he was making another visit to Ohio. Yet this is a very consequential journey because it comes at a moment when hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are fading away.

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Calling out Ryan’s radicalism

Opinion Column

Paul Ryan’s budget could prove to be a perversely useful document.

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Conservatives and American power

Opinion Column

Do conservatives still believe in American greatness?

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Budget wars: A case for hope

Opinion Column

There are, believe it or not, grounds for hoping that the sequester, stupid as it is, might open the way to ending our nation's budget stalemate.

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Catholics facing crisis of governance

Opinion Column

What do the Roman Catholic Church and the American political system have in common? Both are divided into factions that neither trust nor understand each other, and both confront a crisis of governance.

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The tea party's ghost

Opinion Column

The deficit that should concern us most right now has to do with time, not money. Money can be recouped. Time just disappears.

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The better choice for our next pope? A nun

Opinion Column

In giving up the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI was brave and bold. He did the unexpected for the good of the Catholic Church. And when it selects a new pope next month, the College of Cardinals should be equally brave and bold. It is time to elect a nun as the next pontiff.

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Remembering when Republicans were problem-solvers

Opinion Column

We interrupt this highly partisan and ideological moment with some contrarian news: President Obama is not the only politician who thinks that expanding access to pre-Kindergarten is a good investment.

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GOP: Rebranding vs. rethinking

Opinion Column

Rebranding is trendy in the Republican Party.

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The new politics of immigration

Opinion Column

Think back to the battle over health care reform. Can you imagine Republicans, upon hearing that President Obama was about to offer his own proposals, would want to rush ahead of him to put their own marker down -- and take positions close to his?

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Obama takes on extremism on guns

Opinion Column

President Obama went big in offering a remarkably comprehensive plan to curb gun violence, and good for him. But his announcement Wednesday is only the beginning of a protracted struggle for national sanity on firearms. Extremists have controlled the debate on guns for many years. They will do all they can to preserve a bloody status quo. The irrationality of their approach must be exposed and their power broken.

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We're not in decline or retreat

Opinion Column

We are about to have a major foreign policy debate in the guise of a confirmation battle over Chuck Hagel's nomination as secretary of defense and the related argument over how long American troops should stay in Afghanistan. President Obama should use this opportunity to stand up for his broader vision of how American power can be sustained and used, even if that doesn't come naturally to a pragmatist who likes making decisions one at a time.

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Republican support needed on gun control laws

Opinion column

The first and most important victory for advocates of sensible gun laws would, on almost any other matter, seem trivial. But when it comes to firearms, it's huge: Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, attention to the issue has not waned and pressure for action has not diminished.

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It's better than it looks

Opinion Column

To be deemed a serious analyst at the moment seems to require a lot of hand-wringing and sneering over how awful Congress looked over the last few days as it rushed a fiscal cliff deal into law.

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Kindness in the face of horror

The boardwalk where generations strolled along one of the world's great urban beaches is gone, twisted and then tossed into neighborhood streets by an unforgiving storm called Sandy.

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It’s our system on the cliff

The United States faces a crisis in our political system because the Republican Party, particularly in the House of Representatives, is no longer a normal, governing party.

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Unreason on health care continues

Opinion Column

The human capacity to put passion and intense feeling over cool rationality does not surprise us when it comes to love, sex, family, friendship, certain kinds of religious commitment and even devotion to sports teams. But emotional approaches can be quite dangerous in public policy, and on no subject is irrationality as pronounced as it is in health care.

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The conservative learning curve

Opinion column

Over the long run, the most important impact of an election is not on the winning party but on the loser.

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Why sane bargaining looks strange

An entirely new political narrative is taking shape before our eyes, yet many here are still stuck in the old one.

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Fiscal cliff may end no-tax-hike mantra

Opinion column

Here’s the first lesson from the early skirmishing over ways to avoid the fiscal cliff: Democrats and liberals have to stop elevating Grover Norquist, the anti-government crusader who wields his no-tax pledge as a nuclear weapon, into the role of a political Superman.

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Hiding the church's treasure

To say that the Belle Harbor neighborhood on New York City's Rockaway Peninsula was slammed by Hurricane Sandy understates the case. Like many other parts of the region, it has suffered the kind of devastation we usually associate with wars.

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Obama and the end of decline

What is the point of Barack Obama's second term?

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Victory should settle argument

President Obama’s re-election was at once a deeply personal triumph and a victory for the younger, highly diverse and broadly progressive America that rallied to him. It was a result that ought to settle the bitter argument that ground the nation’s government to a near-standstill.

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Gilded Age vs. 21st century

Opinion Column

The 2012 campaign began on Aug. 2, 2011, when President Obama signed the deal ending the debt-ceiling fiasco. At that moment, the president relinquished his last illusions that the current, radical version of the Republican Party could be dealt with as a governing partner. From then on, Obama was determined to fight -- and to win.

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The not-so-hidden Obama agenda

Everywhere you turn, President Obama is accused of not offering a clear second-term agenda. It's not surprising that Republicans say it, but you also hear it from quarters sympathetic to the president.

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Replace this greed before game's over

When even Scott Walker and Paul Ryan kind-of, sort-of side with labor against management, who knows what else is possible? Maybe they'll endorse tax increases and say nice things about teachers unions.

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Obama's hope and change 2.0

The man who ran on hope and change didn't walk away from them. He redefined them for the long haul.

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Paul Ryan and the triumph of theory

If Paul Ryan were a liberal, conservatives would describe him as a creature of Washington who has spent virtually all of his professional life as a congressional aide, a staffer at an ideological think tank, and, finally, as a member of Congress. In the right's shorthand: he never met a payroll.

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A challenge issued to conservatives

It's good that conservatives are finally taking seriously the problems of inequality and declining upward mobility. It's unfortunate that they often evade the ways in which structural changes in the economy, combined with conservative policies, have made matters worse.

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Obama needs an 'economics' of national pride

The path to the White House passes through the blue-collar communities in Ohio where President Obama campaigned last week -- and the middle-class suburbs of Colorado where he did well four years ago.

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A win for Obama -- and Roberts

The Supreme Court's decision upholding the health care law is not only a huge victory for President Obama but also a moment of leadership for Chief Justice John Roberts.

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