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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.

Getting Africa’s health systems to be self-reliant

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — After a storied history of revolutionary defiance toward America — in which Tanzania played host to Angela Davis, Huey Newton and Malcolm X — this country can hardly get enough of the U.S. of A. Rumors still float among cabbies and tour guides that George W. Bush bought land here during his 2008 visit and plans on returning. When President Barack Obama came in 2013, a main road, running scenically along the Indian Ocean, was renamed in his honor: Barack Obama Drive.

Twitter as America’s conscience

WASHINGTON — Denizens of social media were rankled during Sunday night’s Academy Awards telecast when actor Sean Penn made a crack about Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and green cards.

Reversing course in Illinois

CHICAGO — The most portentous election of 2014, which gave the worst-governed state its first Republican governor in 12 years, has initiated this century’s most intriguing political experiment. Illinois has favored Democratic presidential candidates by an average of 16 points in the last six elections. But by electing businessman Bruce Rauner, it initiated a process that might dismantle a form of governance that afflicts many states and municipalities.

The fragility of life’s greatest gift

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — At a health center here, a young woman is in the recovery room after a cesarean section. A nurse takes the newborn to a table for cleanup. We (a group organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies) are allowed to enter and see the child. But the newborn girl starts struggling for breath. Three more nurses enter. One briefly applies bag-and-mask ventilation. Yet her breathing grows weaker and weaker, as she turns a horrible shade of gray.

Tweeting against terrorism

“We’re here today because we all understand that in dealing with violent extremism, that we need answers that go beyond a military answer. We need answers that go beyond force.” — Vice President Joe Biden at the Countering Violent Extremism Summit, Feb. 17

The riddle of war

WASHINGTON — There’s a very 2001 feel to President Barack Obama’s request for authorization to use military force and the nauseating sense that we’ll be at war indefinitely.

Taming the government ‘Leviathan by proxy’

WASHINGTON — For the six years of the Obama presidency, or perhaps the last 35 years since Ronald Reagan’s election, American politics has been dominated by a debate on the size and role of the federal government. This argument, while intense and consequential, has often lacked one element: actual knowledge about the size and role of the federal government.

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Curb your pessimism

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s tone of mild exasperation when tutoring the public often makes his pronouncements grating even when they are sensible. As was his recent suggestion that Americans, misled by media, are exaggerating the threat of terrorism.

The Pence paradox

WASHINGTON — Although he is always preternaturally placid, Mike Pence today exemplifies a Republican conundrum. Sitting recently 24 blocks from Capitol Hill, where he served six terms as a congressman, and eight blocks from the White House, which some Republicans hope he craves, Pence, now in his third year as Indiana’s governor, discussed two issues, Common Core and Medicaid expansion, that illustrate the following:

Condemning Islam is the wrong course

WASHINGTON — Days after the video appeared of a Jordanian pilot horribly burned to death by an Islamic State death squad, President Barack Obama told the National Prayer Breakfast that all faiths can be “twisted and misused in the name of evil” and that terrorists who profess “to stand up for Islam” are, in fact, “betraying it.” Critics found Obama’s timing offensive and his message about Islam naive: He should avoid moral equivalence, stop playing the theologian and recognize that Islam has a unique problem with violence and extremism.

Education is the business of the states

WASHINGTON — In 1981, Tennessee’s 41-year-old governor proposed to President Ronald Reagan a swap: Washington would fully fund Medicaid and the states would have complete responsibility for primary and secondary education. Reagan, a former governor, was receptive. But Democrats, who controlled the House and were beginning to be controlled by teachers unions (the largest, the National Education Association, had bartered its first presidential endorsement, of Jimmy Carter, for creation of the Department of Education) balked.

Seeking a vaccine for ignorance

WASHINGTON — Flashback: Galileo is under house arrest pondering the unyielding ignorance of The Church for refusing to consider his heliocentric proposition that the Earth circled the sun.

Defining economic failure down

WASHINGTON — Two phrases that Daniel Patrick Moynihan put into America’s political lexicon two decades ago are increasingly pertinent. They explain the insufficient dismay about recent economic numbers.

Why Obama’s budget matters

WASHINGTON — When President Barack Obama released his budget on Monday, the words “dead on arrival” were widely incanted because they are part of a quasi-religious Beltway ritual.