Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic explains the significance of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposals for the way we provide health care, especially to our elderly. Cohn is, as regular reads know, the smartest commentator on health care policy in the country. And, he sees the forest for the trees in Ryan's plan: This is not about improving health care costs. This is about letting the rich get richer and letting the vast majority of Americans fend for themselves. It is social Darwinism.
At a closed-door meeting of the House GOP Caucus, Speaker John Boehner warned his clleagues that the Democrats would "win" a government shutdown. According to Politico, Bohener said , "The Democrats think they benefit from a government shutdown. I agree."
Boehner is wrong. No one wins a government shutdown. But, it tells you all you need to know about the motives of the negotiators that the discussions aimed at avoiding a shutdown are not concerned primarily about how such a shutdown would affect workers, retirees, and others. This is politics, pure and simple, and politics at its worst. Boehner now holds a constitutional office. His concern should be, and indeed his oath requires, that he get his party to be grown-up and do their duty.
Christopher Hitchens, who is arguably the most famous public atheist in the world, has penned a fine essay in which he expresses his esteem for the King James Version of the Bible. Hitchens, of course, celebrates the language, and the culture of dissent that gave birth to the King James. But, he is strangely silent on the fact that the King James Bible was, after all, a translation. His praise for the inspired translators does not extend to the text that inspired them.
This is, of course, a bit like commending St. Paul because he made such fine tents. Paul was a tent-maker by trade before he became an apostle. Inspiration comes in many flavors, but it is more than a little strange to think the translators inspired and have nary a word about what inspired them, which was more than language. Still, the Lord works in mysterious ways. We can hope that the magnificent words of the King James Bible will lead Hitchens to consider the story of salvation those words convey.
Last Friday was April 1st, and I saw a reference to an article by Richard Goldstone in which he amended his infamous report on the war in Gaza in 2008-2009. At first I thought it was an April Fool's Day joke, but I thought to put a note on my to-do list to check out the article when I returned from an errand. The article is Mr. Goldstone's admission of error and recanting of the central claims of his report so there is an April Fool's quality to it after all, but alas, this is no laughing matter.
Former Virginia Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine has announced he is running for that state's open Senate seat in 2012. He will be running against another former Governor, Republican George Allen.
Kaine is a moderately pro-life Democrat and a Catholic with a deep commitment to social justice. A native of Kansas City, he took time off while studying law at Harvard to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working in Honduras.
The recent census data shows that Virginia is becoming more Democratic-friendly than ever before as the number of minorities, who traditionally support Democrats, grew substantially. Virginia voted for Barack Obama in 2008, 53% to 46%, the first time the Old Dominion had voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. But, the state turned hard to the right in 2009 and 2010 as the GOP picked up all statewide offices and several congressional seats.
The Kaine-Allen match-up promises to be a bruiser but Kaine's candidacy gives the Democrats one of their best chances to hold on to a Senate seat.
You can see Kaine's announcement here.
Rod Dreher has a very balanced look at the recent burning of the Koran by a crackpot pretending to be a minister of the Gospel. Dreher correctly notes that the mob who killed the UN workers in protest over the burning of their sacred book are fully responsible for their crime. But, he also points out that pseudo-pastor Jones bears his share of moral, and specifically religious, culpability for the violence. Desecrating what someone else holds as sacred is inhumane.
E.J. Dionne has this analysis of the politics of the Ryan budget proposals, along with a plea to the President to engage in a little "class warfare" to confront Ryan.
Tiffany Stanley has penned a very smart and very moving defense of continued funding for AmeriCorps. What is ridiculous about this fight over the continuing resolution is that small programs that do a lot of good are being cut mercilessly while the bloated Pentagon budget is immune to the budgetary knife.
Last night's national championship was not, as almost all commentators are saying, an "ugly" game. The game showed what basketball looks like when you play defense, and both teams played defense so well, the game was low-scoring indeed, unlike an NBA game in which, unable to spell ythe word defense, they regularly score more than 100 points.
Of course, UConn did what it has done throughout the tournament: It found a way to win. Where did that baseline game in the second half come from? Never saw that before. Alex Oriahki stepped up big time to dominate the paint: Butler did not score a single point in the paint through the entire first half! And, of course, Kemba Walker had just enough of his magic, and the youngsters Lamb and Shabazz came through at key times, and UConn pulled off another national championship.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is introducing his budget for next year today. Compared to the fight over the continuing resolution that is going on still, Ryan’s proposals would change the direction of government in significant ways and they are the most serious proposal to address the nation’s long-term debt problem we have seen from any politician of either party.
It is easy to oppose the draconian cuts the GOP is seeking in the continuing resolution. They are trying to wring billions of dollars in savings out of the small sliver of the budget that covers domestic discretionary spending. It is like trying to cut your grocery budget, making all the cuts in the produce section: You will get scurvy. Rather than tackle defense spending and the tax code and entitlement reform, the Tea Partyers insisting on more cuts in the continuing resolution are proving themselves to be unserious.