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The grand illusion in Syria

Across years of war and at an extraordinary cost, the United States built an army that was supposed to prevent jihadists from gaining a sanctuary in the heart of the Middle East. It had U.S.-trained leaders, U.S.-made weaponry and 250,000 men under arms — far more troops and firepower than any insurgent force that might emerge to challenge it.

Provide Ukraine with the military aid it needs to deter Russia’s aggression

For the sake of the cameras, President Obama assured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at a White House meeting Thursday that “not only do we support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence in words, but we’ve also been supporting it in deeds.” If only that were true. The reality is that the beleaguered Ukrainian leader left Washington backed by considerable rhetoric from the Obama administration but little with which he can turn back the continuing Russian aggression against his country.

Why Washington, D.C., is broken

WASHINGTON — Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican senator who asked the Discovery Channel to film him and a Democratic colleague last month as they subsisted on an uninhabited Pacific island, came home with a sunburn, a 10-pound weight loss — and a desire to see Senate leaders put through the same ordeal.

The economy is improving, but not everyone is sharing in the better times

Amid other good news about the U.S. economy — a declining unemployment rate, lower child poverty — the Federal Reserve has just reported that the net worth of U.S. households rose $1.4 trillion, to $81.5 trillion, during the second quarter of 2014. This means that families’ assets, such as homes and stocks, have risen roughly $23 trillion in value since the depths of the “Great Recession” in 2009. Credit the market on Wall Street and recovering real estate prices, both partly attributable to the Fed’s easy-money policies.

Pay voters to get them to polls?

WASHINGTON — The pursuit of perfection is usually foredoomed, but the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which has a latitudinarian understanding of ethical behavior, has a perfectly awful idea. It is urging the City Council to consider ways of paying — starchier ethicists might call it bribing — people to vote.

‘Worst’ tax code behind corporate flight

It’s not corporate greed or a lack of patriotism that is driving American corporations overseas, as President Barack Obama contends. It’s one of the worst corporate tax codes in the developed world. The cold, hard evidence of that is detailed in a new study ranking the tax competitiveness of 34 industrialized nations.