What is policy alternative to intervention or retreat?

"From the halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli ... "

— The Marines' Hymn

Conventional wisdom is all wrong in the Cantor upset

WASHINGTON — About that stunning defeat.

Conventional Wisdom, that self-righteous propagandist, has it that Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's trouncing by an academic, tea-sipping nobody marks the end of the GOP establishment.

The tea party candidate crushed Cantor, they say. The old-guard Republican Party is toast! It's over. Finito.

Dan Corkery: Illinois becomes first state to ban 'microbeads'

I doubt any of us would consciously discard plastic into a body of water.

But some of us are doing exactly that and probably don't know it.

If you use a facial scrub with an exfoliant, it may contain tiny spheres of plastic called "microbeads." Once the soap is rinsed off into the sink or shower drain, those microbeads take on a new and unintended life.

Jim Dey: Term limits, redistricting will take center stage this week

This is going to be a big week in the ongoing death struggle for political power in Illinois.

United Europe foundering on the shoals of 'statism'

WASHINGTON — When the dyspeptic poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), who loathed Belgium even more than most things, was asked to imagine an epitaph for that nation, he suggested: "At last!" Which is how many Europeans feel about the rapidly growing disgust with the European Union, which is headquartered in Brussels.

Watching our language

CHICAGO — How well should residents of the United States speak English?

That's a tough question, one to which few social scientists have paid much attention. Probably because it's widely understood that speaking fluently enough to communicate basic ideas — and understand spoken and written communications — is usually good enough in nearly all facets of life.

The 'stunner' in Virginia changes political landscape

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.

Jim Dey: Local school officials weigh in on California tenure ruling

Reaction was immediate after a California judge ruled teacher tenure rules there unconstitutionally deprive poor and minority children of the opportunity for a quality education.

The decision, issued by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu, set off immediate speculation about what changes it will bring in California and across the country if it survives on appeal.

Jim Dey: Durbin a clear-cut favorite in Illinois Senate race

With 36 U.S. Senate seats up for election in November and polls showing President Barack Obama's declining popularity, there's feverish speculation about whether Republicans can win enough Democratic-held seats to claim a majority of the 100-member body.

Dan Corkery: Congressional districts come in all shapes, sizes

If you think Illinois has a crazy, gerrymandered congressional district map, you'd be right.

But that doesn't mean Illinois has salamander-shaped districts and other states' are made up of orderly rectangles. Hardly.