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Bill Gates’ moment

WASHINGTON — “Ebola has reminded people that it is not just poor people who can die of infectious disease,” Bill Gates tells me, in a characteristically matter-of-fact tone.

A vote for compromise in the offing?

As next week’s midterm elections approach, Americans are in a dark mood. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, released Tuesday, reports that 68 percent of likely voters think that the country is “on the wrong track”; a CNN-ORC International poll that came out the same day says 68 percent are angry “about the way things are going in the country today.”

In Georgia, a capitalist struggles

MCDONOUGH, Ga. — In a sun-dappled square decorated with scores of entrants in the community’s Halloween scarecrow contest, a balky sound system enables, if barely, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate to exhort a few hundred people, mostly supporters, to urge neighbors to vote to reduce Sen. Harry Reid to minority leader. The exhorter is David Perdue, a glutton for punishment who has been campaigning incessantly for 15 months and may be doing so for two more.

Glossing over repression in Egypt

For several years President Barack Obama has asserted that the United States must sometimes subordinate its commitment to human rights in backing repressive regimes that are supportive of U.S. national security objectives, such as fighting terrorism. The Egyptian government of Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi is providing a case study of why that doctrine is misguided.

The last straw for big soda?

It’s a match made in nanny-state heaven. Having failed to ban Big Gulps in New York City, former Big Apple mayor Michael Bloomberg has dumped $85,000 into the campaign in San Francisco to pass Measure E — a two-cent tax on all “sugary drinks.”

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Ebola is no one’s ‘fault’

The ebola virus reached this country at the height of the 2014 campaign, so perhaps it was inevitable that the political parties would try to exploit it. To Republicans, the situation proves once again that President Barack Obama has failed to protect Americans. In one of the milder versions of this allegation, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal published an op-ed faulting Obama for spending Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resources on grants for exercise and healthy diets rather than fighting infectious disease. Some Democrats say, meanwhile, that we wouldn’t have to worry about Ebola if not for budget cuts to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, for which the GOP alone is to blame. As one especially inflammatory TV ad puts it: “Republican cuts kill.”

The fictitious ‘war on women’

DENVER — One of the wonders of this political moment is feminist contentment about the infantilization of women in the name of progressive politics. Government, encouraging academic administrations to micromanage campus sexual interactions, now assumes that, absent a script, women cannot cope. And the Democrats’ trope about the Republicans’ “war on women” clearly assumes that women are civic illiterates.

Yemen unravels

President Barack Obama cited Yemen as a model for U.S. operations against the Islamic State last month, not long after he told an interviewer that the intervention in Libya was his greatest foreign policy regret. In fact, the two countries offer similar lessons in the deficiencies of Obama’s strategy. By backing local forces with airpower in Libya, the United States and its allies were able to overthrow a murderous regime — but, as Obama acknowledged, the failure to assist with building a state afterward has facilitated Libya’s collapse into chaos.

Overcoming the ‘new mediocre’

It’s never wise to base policy on the gyrations of the stock market, but the sell-off on Wall Street this week reflects investors’ increasing nervousness about global economic growth — and their fears are not unfounded. To the contrary, the International Monetary Fund’s forecasters describe the global recovery as “disappointing” and “uneven” and have reduced their 2014 growth projection for the world economy downward, from 3.7 percent in April to 3.4 percent now. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warns of a “new mediocre” in economic performance. Behind that lapidary phrase is a human reality of joblessness, stagnant wages and frustrated hopes.