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The New York Times Editorial Board opines for the third time since October about withdrawing sooner than later in Choices on Afghanistan:

Ideally, the 66,000 American troops would already be leaving, and all of them would be out as soon as safely possible; by our estimate, that would be the end of this year. The war that started after Sept. 11, 2001, would be over and securing the country would be up to Afghanistan’s 350,000-member security force, including the army and police, which the United States has spent $39 billion to train and equip over a decade.

But there is a conflict between the ideal and the political reality. Mr. Obama has yet to decide how fast he will withdraw the remaining troops, and the longer he delays, the more he enables military commanders who inevitably want to keep the maximum number of troops in Afghanistan for the maximum amount of time.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times pens The Big Fail. Sigh. I wonder how long it will be before poor Krugman no longer has to write this same column?
The truth is that we’ve just experienced a colossal failure of economic policy — and far too many of those responsible for that failure both retain power and refuse to learn from experience.
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship at Alternet via Bill Moyers.com write We’d All Be Packing Heat If the NRA Had Its Way:
Every time we have another of these mass slayings and speak of gun control, weapon sales go up. And guess what? As journalist Lee Fang  reports in The Nation, “For every gun or package of ammunition sold at participating stores, a dollar is donated to the NRA.” Customers can make a contribution at the point of purchase or the gun companies make an automatic donation every time the cash register rings. Last year, just one of those merchants of death, Midway USA, used one of these NRA programs to give the gun lobby a million dollars.
Michelle Chen at In These Times believes We can curb gun violence by ending the War on Drugs:
But a key aspect of the gun-control debate remains hiding in plain sight. There's a major driver of gun violence in the U.S. that is neither the bloodlust of the “criminally insane” nor the weakness of public security forces. Failed gun policy is a manifestation of another, arguably more expansive, irrational policy regime: the War on Drugs.  While the most spectacular incidents of mass murder spark public panic, a more relevant, yet typically ignored, source of gun violence lies in the brutality born of the gun industry’s marriage to drug prohibition policies.
George Skelton at the Los Angeles Times recalls how a GOP governor got a California ban on civilian versions of assault weapons enacted in A Republican model on gun control.

The Editorial Board of The Nation suggests some Tough Questions for John Kerry, including:

How can the State Department reclaim from the military its proper role as the lead agency of US policy abroad? The militarization of foreign policy has continued unabated in the first Obama term. Regional military commanders act in effect as proconsuls who have far greater weight than ambassadors in regions around the world. Many countries know the United States only for its military bases, its military trainers or its drone attacks. Our foreign assistance budget is a global disgrace, while military spending is higher than it was at the height of the Cold War under Ronald Reagan. What commitments have been made, if any, by the president in terms of correcting this wrongheaded imbalance?
Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive writes a eulogy for Gerda Lerner, who was laughed at when she was getting her doctorate at Columbia in the 1960s. He writes:
“In Vienna, all the people I worked with were women: the people in the jail, the people in the underground … I saw women being active in every level except the executive level. Then in America when I worked with black women I was overwhelmed by the talent and persistence of their effort—and their total invisibility.”

This led her, in 1972, to write “Black Women in America: A Documentary History.”

Said Lerner: “I was told they left no record. I knew that to be a lie. My life experience told me that. This was the first collection of primary sources by black women at a time when everybody told me that it was impossible to do that.”

Her whole life, in a way, was an effort to make visible the invisible—and to honor it.

The Editorial Board of the Washington Post does a little pre-dancing on the grave of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela’s endgame approaches:
Sadly, the economic pain caused by Mr. Chavez could, after his death, help create a political movement that will revere his memory. Forty years after the death of Juan Peron, Peronism still haunts and holds back Argentina. If Venezuela is to escape a similar curse, Mr. Chavez’s successors will have to balance economic stabilization against the need to build a political system where democracy, and not autocratic populism, can thrive.
Ana Marie Cox at The Guardian warns us not to take the New Jersey governor's theatrics as evidence he is a maverick in Chris Christie, New Jersey's surprisingly standard-issue Republican.

Marilou Johanek at the Toledo Blade writes in 2013: Time for the silent majority to get loud:

Republican Party agendas on abortion, gay marriage, and labor unions have advanced in lieu of pressing dilemmas such as funding education or fixing rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.

Federal politicians have regressed to playground taunts in lieu of saving a country from an unsustainable future.

Cautious optimism won’t turn the ship of state around. It won’t compel leaders to lead, craft responsible fiscal policy, or finally end involvement in Afghanistan, the longest and least talked about war in U.S. history.

Stanley Crouch at the New York Daily News writes Drunk on dark money, Republicans have nothing new to offer the country.

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