The American political system — as corny, eclectic, chaotic and screwed up as it is with its straw polls, caucuses, primaries and contested elections — somehow gets the job done time after time.
It's weird, really: In this country that celebrates unity and national spirit, a president is chosen via quirky, jerky state-by-state (sometimes precinct-by-precinct) methods. In this society that seeks perfection, the leader is selected in a painfully imperfect process.
But, to paraphrase the old saw: Our funky form of democracy may just be the least worst way to govern.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum finished virtually even in Iowa's caucuses Tuesday, but after Rep. Michele Bachmann's sixth-place finish, she announced Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign. For more on the GOP race and the next contest — Tuesday's New Hampshire primary — Linda Wertheimer talks with NPR's Brian Naylor, who's in the city of Manchester.
A Catholic bishop in California has resigned his post after revealing in December that he has two children.
"The Vatican announced the bishop's resignation Jan. 4 in a one-line statement that cited church law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons," reports the Catholic News Service from Vatican City.
Pope Benedict reportedly accepted the resignation of Gabino Zavala, an auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, in December.
If a heart attack sends you to an American hospital, you'll probably go home after only two or three nights. That's faster than virtually anyplace else in the world.
But your chances of needing to go back into the hospital within the next month are also higher than they are for heart attack patients in 16 other countries. That's the finding from a Duke University-led study in this week's JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
If the grocery bill hurts more now than it used to, you're not alone. The cost of staples like ground beef, chicken, eggs and potatoes has spiked over 10 percent in the past year, three times the cost of inflation overall.
Ironically, if you were trying to be thrifty by eating at home instead of eating out, you probably felt it most.