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Michelle Kosilek, sits in Bristol County Superior Court, in New Bedford, Mass. A federal appeals court on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, overturned a 2012 ruling ordering Massachusetts prison officials to provide taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery for the inmate born as Robert Kosilek, who had been convicted of murdering his wife in 1990. (AP)

No free sex changes

In a rare triumph this week for judicial restraint, a federal appeals court in Boston overturned a lower-court ruling, telling the state of Massachusetts that it doesn’t have to pay for reassigning a prisoner’s sex — or “gender,” as the excessively delicate insist. (Nobody ever called Marilyn Monroe a genderpot.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sentences New York to further economic stagnation

New York just gave Vladimir Putin and the Middle Eastern energy sheikhs an early Christmas present. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after considerable dithering, finally did what everyone assumed he would. He banned fracking and gave up the bounty lying beneath his state. He sides with the radical environmentalists of the Democratic Party against the interests of his 19 million constituents, wasting an opportunity to fire up the rusty economic engine of high-tax, slow-growth New York. So much for the Empire State’s boastful claim that “New York is open for business.”

Protesters outside of Cafe Versailles on Calle Ocho in Miami,  decry the exchange of convicted Cuban spies, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014,  for USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who has been held by the Cuban government. (AP Photo/El Nuevo Herald, Roberto Koltun)  MAGS OUT

Making nice with the Castro brothers betrays their victims

Sen. Marco Rubio calls President Obama’s remarkable gift to the Castro brothers, and agreement to “normalize” American relations with Cuba, the work of a “willfully ignorant” man. We hope so. Ignorance can be corrected. Perhaps, to put the most generous face on it, this deal originated in the bowels of White House incompetence that is the mark of this administration. But Mr. Obama may not be ignorant at all, willful or otherwise, but proceeding skillfully to radicalize America’s place in the world to fit the wishes and dreams of the determined and radical left from which the president sprang.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Dec. 12, 2104, as the Senate considers a spending bill. The House has passed an additional stopgap spending to make certain the government doesn't shut down at midnight Saturday when current funding authority runs out. The move would give the Senate additional time to process a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill.  (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Ready, fire, aim

Ted Cruz is a brave conservative who, unlike some of his fellows, does not quail at the sound of the guns. He sets an example others could emulate. His tenacity, both at the grass roots where he has many friends and in Washington where he seems to have few, gives the conservative coalition a much-needed shot of testosterone in its flabby arm. His stand-up attitude is particularly valuable as Democrats try to figure out who they are and who they want to be in the wake of the thumping they took in November.

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Illustration on tax code complexity by M. Ryder/Tribune Content Agency

EDITORIAL: Dealing with a disgraceful tax code

Millions of Americans entrust their financial information to private accountants, lest they fill out the dreaded 1040 tax form on their own. When things go wrong, and they're overcharged, they sometimes lodge a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service.

Member of Parliament and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Jim Murphy, speaks from a soapbox in support of the Union on the final day of his 100 Streets in 100 Days Better Together tour, in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday Sept. 13, 2014. Scotland will vote in an independence referendum on September 18. (AP Photo/PA, Jane Barlow)  UNITED KINGDOM OUT  NO SALES  NO ARCHIVE

EDITORIAL: A historic vote for Scotland

Scotland the brave, the ancestral home of millions of the sturdiest and most independent of Americans, will vote Thursday whether to secede to become once more an independent nation. The United Kingdom would be united no more.

GETTY IMAGES
From left, Sens. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas are among the members of the newly formed Moderate Dems Working Group. The group of 15 will meet to focus on legislative battles, such as the president's $3.6 trillion budget proposal.

EDITORIAL: A 51st-state fantasy

Senate Democrats who are anxious about their re-election prospects in November are puzzled that Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, a Democrat, is pushing the fantasy of statehood for the District of Columbia so close to the November elections.