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Cruz is all about that base

Now that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has thrown his cowboy hat into the ring for president, it’s time to start handicapping the candidates, even if some of us may wish that we had more choices.

Between paychecks

Payday lending is capitalism at its unloveliest. It’s a business that wouldn’t even exist if the market were providing everyone with enough income to meet their needs — yet 12 million adults, the vast majority of them low-income, resorted to short-term, high-interest loans to cover cash shortages in 2010. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a typical borrower takes out eight payday loans a year totaling $3,000, paying about $520 in interest. Not infrequently, borrowers pay off old payday loans with new ones, creating a pyramid of debt that ends in default.

The end of the White House’s insularity?

WASHINGTON — In the early days of the Obama administration, my Washington Post colleague Shailagh Murray and I used to trade tales of the arrogance of White House officials more interested in their insular club and the prestige of their positions than in the responsibility they had.

Fight poverty, not savings, by fixing welfare asset rules

Some welfare programs exclude people who have financial assets, and for good reason. If the goal is to help people who are living in poverty, the program shouldn’t waste resources on people who aren’t actually poor. If you lose your job but have enough money in the bank to tide you over comfortably, you don’t need food stamps, disability payments or other forms of public support as much as people with no savings do.

County’s rush to approve speed humps called into question

Brad Main’s speed hump declarations published on March 21 in West Hawaii Today raise many concerns about the county’s enforcement of speed limits and other procedures. Speed enforcement is the responsibility of the police, and they should be held accountable to report how they are meeting this responsibility islandwide. If police manpower is short, then hire speed monitors to measure speeds and document licenses of speeding cars, sending the evidence to the traffic court for prosecution.

Remembrance of Clintons past

WASHINGTON — An abscess of anger seems to gnaw at Hillary Clinton, but the reasons for her resentments remain unclear. The world’s oldest party, which governed the nation during two world wars and is the primary architect of America’s regulatory and redistributive state, is eager to give her its presidential nomination, in recognition of … what?

What’s the Afghanistan endgame?

President Barack Obama’s announcement this past week that he will delay the withdrawal of some 4,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan is an acceptable course correction. Keeping troop levels at their current strength will allow the United States to continue training Afghan forces while also helping with counter-terrorism efforts, officials said. If those efforts help stabilize the country and prepare it for the moment when the U.S. withdraws for good, that’s fine with us.

‘Doc fix’ fixed?

The House of Representatives passed Thursday a major piece of Medicare legislation with strong support from the leadership and rank and file of both parties. Yes, you read that right: The House voted on a package that permanently eliminates the expensive annual budgetary charade known as the “doc fix,” while enacting tens of billions of dollars worth of structural reforms to the massive program for seniors — and providing a two-year, $5.6 billion dollop of funding to an important children’s health care program to boot. For their labors in moving this bill to passage, we’d pat House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., on the back — if they weren’t already doing so themselves.

Wacko birds nesting in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama got it two-thirds right when he said that the delayed confirmation of his attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, is owing to Senate dysfunction and Republican stubbornness.

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Iran’s involvement in the Islamic State fight could further divide Iraq

U.S. commanders are taking an upbeat view of Iran’s close involvement in an assault by Iraqi forces on the city of Tikrit, which has been held by the Islamic State since summer. After reporting that two-thirds of the attackers were from Shiite militias and the operation had “overt … Iranian support,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said in a congressional hearing Tuesday that “if they perform in a credible way … then it will in the main have been a positive thing.”

Obama needs GOP for TPP

WASHINGTON — Michael Froman received from a Harvard Law School classmate, Barack Obama, a job that validates the axiom that the unlikelihood of any negotiation reaching agreement grows by the square of the number of parties involved. In trade negotiations, even one’s own country is troublesome, as the catfish conundrum illustrates. And the degree of difficulty in achieving a free trade pact is proportional to the number of Democrats in Congress.

Hillary Clinton’s use of private email reflects poor judgment

Hillary Rodham Clinton has served as first lady, a senator from New York and secretary of state. She is no newcomer to the corridors of power. Her decision to exclusively use a private email account while secretary suggests she made a deliberate decision to shield her messages from scrutiny. It was a mistake that reflects poor judgment about a public trust.