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For GOP, no victory lap

WASHINGTON — On the theory that chickens should not only be counted before they hatch but killed, let us consider the downsides for Republicans of winning both houses of Congress.

Holding firm on Ukraine

Western leaders boast that the sanctions slapped on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are inflicting real pain, and that’s true — even if Russia’s macroeconomic indicators still don’t look worse than those of France, Italy or even Germany. But there’s no indication that the punishment is having a salutary effect on Vladimir Putin. In a quick but high-profile trip to meet leaders in Milan last week, the Russian ruler was no more disposed than he has been to retreat from Ukraine or his larger neoimperialist agenda.

Gillespie’s plan would be worse than Affordable Care Act

Republicans calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are a dime a dozen. Fewer offer a plan to replace the law with something they claim would work better. To his credit, Virginia’s Ed Gillespie, a GOP Senate candidate, is in the more select group. Meanwhile, his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Warner, favors tweaking the law without upsetting its framework.

Putin should worry about the price of oil, not ‘blackmail’

Last week, as falling oil prices have hammered the Russian economy, President Vladimir Putin has warned repeatedly that his country, a nuclear superpower, must not be “blackmailed.” He was talking about economic sanctions, but there is a different lesson he should be drawing right now and it has nothing to do with the United States or the European Union.

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.

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.”

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.

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Reining in pensions

Here are the facts of life about the American public sector: Citizens depend on local government for vital services, from education to parks; the quantity and quality of those services depend directly on how many tax dollars are available to pay for them; and insofar as those resources are already committed to pensions and other forms of deferred compensation for public employees, they can’t be used to maintain and enhance services in the here and now.

A question of leadership

WASHINGTON — Disloyal or not, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has delivered a root-and-branch critique of President Barack Obama’s approach to the Middle East.

IMF sends an urgent message about global recovery

If anyone was unaware of the challenges facing the global economy, the International Monetary Fund lays them out well in a new report. The extraordinary stimulus efforts of some of the world’s largest central banks haven’t been enough to produce a healthy global recovery and could be setting the stage for another financial disaster.

Is Christie running?

NEWARK, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie could be forgiven if he had chips on both shoulders as big as those shoulders. This year, the first of his second term, has been overshadowed by often partisan investigations, more protracted than productive, of the involvement of several of his former aides — he fired them — in the closing of some access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

Paying for our wars

The cost of the new U.S. military operation in Iraq and Syria is already approaching $1 billion, according to a study released last week. The Pentagon has meanwhile launched a $750 million mission to fight Ebola in Africa and has committed to rotating U.S. troops through NATO countries bordering Russia. These are all justified initiatives with broad support from Congress and the public. But the budgetary foundation needed to sustain them is crumbling.