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Understanding our divisions

WASHINGTON — In a 2006 interview, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said the Constitution is “basically about” one word — “democracy” — that appears in neither that document nor the Declaration of Independence. Democracy is America’s way of allocating political power. The Constitution, however, was adopted to confine that power in order to “secure the blessings of” that which simultaneously justifies and limits democratic government — natural liberty.

At HHS, Sebelius wasn’t the problem

Last week brought the news that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is leaving the Obama administration, to be replaced by Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Though we’ve consistently opposed HHS policy during Secretary Sebelius’ tenure, we can’t help but feel some measure of pity for the former Kansas governor, who served as the public face of one of the most spectacular public policy failures in American history. While our sentiments might not quite reach the level of sympathy, we can certainly understand why she wanted out.

High Court ruling a win for free speech

Depending on who you listen to, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 McCutcheon v. FEC decision on campaign finance laws is either a resounding victory for free speech or the end of democracy as we know it. The truth is probably somewhere in between, though we think it is much closer to the former.

Keeping the terrorists out

Factions among and within the right and left disagree about immigration, but nearly all Americans can agree that foreign terrorist shouldn’t step foot on our shores. Thanks to Rep. Doug Lamborn and Sen. Ted Cruz, Iran won’t be shipping a former hostage taker to the United States to serve as that country’s ambassador to the United Nations.

U.S. Sanctions Best Step to Counter Russians

There may be nothing that the United States and its allies in the European Union can do to force the Russians to leave Crimea at this point. But they can send a loud message that expanding the invasion beyond this Russian-centric region of Ukraine carries a heavy price. A new round of sanctions imposed last week on prominent Russian officials is a good way to begin to exact that price in the wake of a bogus election over the weekend on Crimean secession.

Drifting toward an oligarchy?

It seems safe to say that “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year — and maybe of the decade. Piketty, arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality, does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite.

RIP, Mr. Chairman

In the two presidential elections, immediately preceding Bob Strauss’s becoming the national chairman of the Democratic Party in 1973, Democratic presidential nominees — Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern — had between them carried a total of 14 out of 100 states and won an average of 39.9 percent of the popular vote. Strauss, the colorful, funny and profane Texas lawyer-politician, who died last week at 95, kept the promise he made upon his election as chairman: His job was not to deliver a nominee to the party in 1976 but instead to deliver a united party to the 1976 nominee.

America’s own mystery flight

WASHINGTON — It took off with a clear destination but then veered off course and disappeared. Several countries joined the search for answers and offered conflicting theories about what went wrong.

Flight 370: A crisis of trust

More than a Boeing 777 and 239 passengers and crew were lost when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished 12 days ago. People’s unquestioning trust in airline pilots to always do the right thing, and their trust in modern technology to track down the hard-to-find, may do a quick fade as well.