Times Watch Quotes of Note - Fidel Castro's "Great Social Achievements"

Plus "Unfounded Rumors" About Swift Boat Vets & The Spanish Inquisition

Fidel Castro's "Great Social Achievements"

"His record has been a mix of great social achievements, but a dismal economic performance that has mired most Cubans in poverty. He succeeded in establishing universal health care, providing free education through college and largely rooting out racism." - James McKinley Jr. on dictator Fidel Castro's retirement, February 20.

U.S. Military: Social Services Outlet With Guns

"The fatalities examined by The New York Times show a military system that tries and sometimes fails to balance the demands of fighting a war with those of eradicating domestic violence." - From Lizette Alvarez and Deborah Sontag's February 15 story on domestic violence among troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cuban-Americans Have "Evolved" From Hatred of Tyranny

"There was a time when the resignation of Fidel Castro as president of Cuba might have been hailed here by a Cuban-American community speaking in a single full-throated roar of anti-Castro invective." - Kirk Semple, February 20, lead sentence to the story headlined "For Cubans in U.S., Views Have Evolved."

Guess the Media Honeymoon's Over for McCain

"The quest to win the presidency at an age when he would be too old to be a commercial airline pilot or even a judge in some states has already led Mr. McCain to adopt a more grueling campaign schedule, and a more vigorous style, than several of his younger rivals. Now that Mr. McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee, political analysts say, his age will most likely factor into his selection of a running mate....But he does have white hair, scars from a bout with melanoma and limited flexibility from the injuries he sustained as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. And the fact remains that by the end of a second McCain term, he would be in his 80s." - Campaign reporter Michael Cooper, February 24.

Speaking of "Unfounded Rumors" - How About That McCain Hit Piece?

"In 2004, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee for president that year, and his campaign also tried to ignore unfounded rumors besmirching his war record in Vietnam - a move that former aides now describe as a mistake." - Michael Powell, February 25.

Expect the Spanish Inquisition

"The cloak of secrecy that long concealed the C.I.A.'s secret interrogation program and its legal underpinnings has gradually broken down. The C.I.A. director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, publicly admitted for the first time two weeks ago that the agency used waterboarding in 2002 and 2003 in the interrogation of three Qaeda suspects but said that the technique was no longer used, and its legality under current law is uncertain. The technique, which has been used since the Spanish Inquisition and has been found illegal in the past by American courts, involves water poured into the nose and mouth to create a feeling of drowning." - Scott Shane, February 23.

Shocking that "Nice" Seattlites Oppose State Bailout of Homeowners

"Seattle...began a modest program last month offering loans of up to $5,000 to help a few dozen homeowners avoid losing their homes. Not only are people in Seattle relatively prosperous, but they have a reputation for being nice, too. Yet no sooner had Mayor Greg Nickels announced the program than opposition surfaced." - Reporter William Yardley, February 26.

Manohla Dargis, Movie Critic/Climatologist

"With the polar ice caps melting, I want more than poetry and blame. I want a plan." - The last line of movie critic Manohla Dargis's February 29 review of an environmental documentary, "The Unforeseen."

So What's Wrong With Cutting Taxes on Business?

What follows could be much tougher, given the scope of Mr. Jindal's ambitions - detractors grumble that they are limitless - the bruised feelings among legislators and the scope of Louisiana's challenge: a poorly educated work force, bad roads and infrastructure, a persistent stream of residents leaving the state, and little business investment. He has already talked of cutting taxes on business, prompting questions about whether he will move beyond such traditional Republican economic strategies." - From Adam Nossiter's profile of Louisiana's young Republican governor Bobby Jindal, February 28.

OK When Hillary Attacks Obama, But Not When Republicans Do?

"When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton goes after Senator Barack Obama these days, she presses him on the details of his health care plan, criticizes the wording of his campaign mailings and likens his promise of change to celestial choirs. But if Mr. Obama becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, he is sure to face an onslaught from Republicans and their allies that will be very different in tone and intensity from what he has faced so far." - Lead to Adam Nagourney's front-page story, February 29.