Jay Cost, “Have the Democratic Leaders Gone Mad?” – Senator Harry Reid’s current bill does indeed cut Medicare; perceived Medicare cuts undid the Gingrich/Dole led Congress when battling Clinton in the 90’s. The really important question I need to see addressed – at some point, we do need to cut entitlements; they skew the economy in nasty ways and the spending doesn’t get any smaller. How do we go about protecting the people who need to be protected and slowly making the cuts that are required? The political courage required to even bring up the issue would destroy someone the way things are currently constituted, and yet we can go bankrupt without a sound being made.
Jay Cost, “Pinochle and the Politics of Health Care” – one way of looking at a party and its success/failure is to see who it generally represents, and whether or not voters see their interests aligned with those usually represented. This would place a de-emphasis on looking at grand ideological schemes when thinking about why people vote the way they do, and instead involve looking closely at what sorts of information particular voters are filtering out and what sorts they find pertinent.
Charles Johnson, “Ron Paul Gets to Audit the Fed” – the Federal Reserve features prominently in a number of conspiracy theories, and the Democrats in Congress – not the most responsible bunch ever elected – are all the more willing to follow Paul in “auditing” the Federal Reserve so they can destroy what political independence it has and blame it/use it to advance their rather expensive agenda. One way of describing the situation that brought about the Constitution of 1787 is this: farmers (yes, those bastions of Jeffersonian virtue) couldn’t pay back their loans in times of economic crisis back to bankers. So they used state legislatures to inflate the currencies of their particular states and attempted to pay back bankers with worthless cash. This led to nothing less than the scrapping of the Articles of Confederation: “states’ rights,” so to speak, were leading to what was virtually civil war inside the states themselves (potential war amongst the states was another concern, which you see addressed in the Federalist in places). An entirely populist critique of the financial system is very dangerous stuff, and Ron Paul and his friends are far less responsible than the Federal Reserve, quite obviously: I don’t remember the last time Ben Bernanke ranted quite like this.
Charles Johnson, “Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones” – yes, extremism and lunacy are now fashionable, and are more of in a position of power than they’ve ever been in some time – the way to attack the radical tendencies of the Democrats is not through more lunacy. (I don’t like global warming theories much myself; the skeptic I trust is Freeman Dyson). Pick a side: you can be with the conspiracy theorists who not only cannot govern, but care for nothing but their crazy theories, or you can carefully work through issues for yourself and find that American politics isn’t about getting a “right” answer, but getting the best answer for as many as possible.
Ross Douthat, “Pro-Lifers and the Patriarchy” – Ross Douthat has a blog at the Times, and some of his stuff is really good. From the article: During the ‘08 election, you’d often hear media types buzzing about how Palin was a bad mother for putting her political ambitions ahead of her family; you’d almost never hear that from pro-lifers. Some of this reflects partisan biases, obviously — but some of it reflects a real sea change in how religious conservatives view women in the workplace. [ask me nicely and I’ll tell you where insane traditionalist sentiment does keep women subservient. Trust me, it exists among conservatives: I’ve seen it firsthand]
An incredible illustration: “katja is” by kittin on deviantart is a very strong portrait that uses what are ordinarily decorative elements – the birds and the flowers and the landscape fragments – to emphasize theme. It’s very rare I’ve come across something this unique online; I don’t see any wasted lines.