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Finding courage in Moscow

Russians know all too well the possible consequences of joining protest rallies in Moscow. Police regularly attack and beat peaceful demonstrators, and some have been sentenced to long prison terms. Boris Nemtsov, one of the principal organizers of those rallies, was brazenly gunned down on a heavily secured bridge near the Kremlin late Friday. So it would have been understandable if the crowd for a march held in his honor Sunday had been sparse.

The visible hand of Wal-Mart

In February, Wal-Mart, America’s largest employer, announced that it will raise wages for half a million workers. For many of those workers the gains will be small, but the announcement is nonetheless a very big deal, for two reasons. First, there will be spillovers: Wal-Mart is so big its action will probably lead to raises for millions of workers employed by other companies. Second, and arguably far more important, is what Wal-Mart’s move tells us — namely, that low wages are a political choice, and we can and should choose differently.

Federal food police back in action

The food police are at it again. The latest assault on the freedom to control what you put into your own body comes in the form of a 571-page report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide nutritional guidance.

Jeb Bush, CPAC pinata

It happened just as Jeb Bush was about to explain why he thinks conservatives need to stop being perceived as “anti-everything”: Attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference let it be known that, as part of their anti-everythingness, they are also anti-Bush.

Dark day in Russia

Boris Nemtsov was a courageous Russian politician who never gave up on the dream that the country could make the transition from dictatorship to liberal democracy. Once an elected governor and a deputy prime minister in the government of Boris Yeltsin, he stubbornly continued to speak out and organize against the regime of Vladimir Putin after other opponents fled the country or lapsed into silence. Most recently, he called on Russians to participate in a protest march Sunday in Moscow. On Friday evening, he was gunned down, gangland-style, on a bridge near the Kremlin — a terrible blow to the cause of human rights and another dark sign of where Russia is headed.

New CBO director was a good choice for the job

In an increasingly partisan capital, the Congressional Budget Office is one of the few institutions generally considered free of any political agenda. The CBO has worked that way for decades because that’s what the law requires and because it has been headed by a series of impressive and strongly independent fiscal policy analysts, the most recent being Douglas Elmendorf, whose four-year term expired Jan. 3.