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The GOP as the party of reform

WASHINGTON — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair came to prominence in the 1990s as an expert in political renovation, transforming the Labour Party from a creaky, socialist relic to a modern, center-left, governing institution. Before Blair, Labour had not won back-to-back victories in a hundred years. Blair secured three.

Me Inc. offers plenty of dividends

WASHINGTON — “Checked the tax code,” wrote a friend who’s engaged to a woman from a low-tax country. “Unfortunately, marrying [my fiancee] does not entitle me to a tax inversion like the big U.S. companies are getting. Thanks for nothing IRS.”

In Oregon, a doctor calls

PORTLAND, Ore. — “Are you kidding ?” This is Monica Wehby’s amiable response to people who wonder whether she will be able to bear the pressures of office if she wins her race as a Republican Senate candidate. For 17 of her 52 years she has been a pediatric neurosurgeon, holding in steady hands sharp steel and the fate of children’s brains. She probably can cope with the strains of legislative life.

Goldwater 2.0

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco, in the unfortunately named Cow Palace, the Republican National Convention gave its presidential nomination to Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who knew he would lose: Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months. Besides, his don’t-fence-me-in libertarian conservatism was ahead of its time. His agenda, however, was to change his party’s national brand.

The dystopia next door

WASHINGTON — In 1993, Lois Lowry wrote a slim book for youth about totalitarianism, euthanasia, suicide, sexual awakening and infanticide. “The Giver” created a blooming genre — the dystopian youth novel — and considerable controversy. Some parents wanted the book banned from schools, thus unintentionally re-asking the book’s central question: How comprehensively should children (and other humans) be protected from risk and pain?

A lawsuit with little merit

WASHINGTON — Rep. Pete Sessions, the House Rules Committee chairman who led Wednesday’s hearing on Republicans’ plans to sue President Obama, presented the legal credentials that have put him in this position of responsibility.

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A hand from the West

The crisis of the week may be in Iraq, not Ukraine. But Russian President Vladimir Putin has not lessened the pressure on Russia’s weaker neighbor. The West, which applied modest sanctions in April that seemed to affect Putin’s calculations for a time, must prepare clear and certain consequences if Russia’s provocations continue.

The reality conservatives must face

WASHINGTON — Various factions of the GOP continue to rummage through House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s astonishing primary loss for confirmation of their pre-existing views. The entire enterprise of turning 36,000 votes in the Richmond suburbs into received political wisdom is suspect. But many Republicans have declared immigration reform to be really, honestly, finally dead.

For GOP, re-evaluation time

WASHINGTON — The morning after, at breakfast at the Republicans’ Capitol Hill Club, Virginia Rep. Robert Goodlatte was, as befits one of Washington’s grown-ups, measured in his reaction to what 36,120 Virginia voters did the day before. It would, he says, be wise “to take a step back and a deep breath until we find out how everyone” — meaning, especially, House Republicans — “reacts to this.” By “this” he indicates, with a wave of a hand, the one-word headline on Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Congress: “Stunner.”

Cheap-seats fliers gain by losing miles

Yes, United Continental Holdings has gone ahead with those dreaded changes to its MileagePlus frequent-flier program. Starting March 1, 2015, the company confirmed this week, travelers will earn rewards based on dollars spent rather than miles flown. Delta Air Lines already made the switch earlier this year, and American Airlines is expected to switch to a dollar-based reward system after its merger with US Airways.