The New York Times looks at President Obama's proposed 2013 budget:
President Obama’s 2013 budget was greeted on Monday with Republican catcalls that it is simply a campaign document, but election-year budgets are supposed to explain priorities to voters. This one offers a clear and welcome contrast to the slashing austerity — and protect-the-wealthy priorities — favored by Republican Congressional leaders and the party’s presidential candidates.
The president’s budget calls for long-term deficit reduction, but its immediate priority is to encourage the fledgling economic recovery. Instead of trying to stabilize the budget on the backs of the poor, it would raise taxes on the wealthy and on big banks and eliminate many corporate tax loopholes.
surveys the current political landscape for The Washington Post
The Republicans are not having a good year so far. The worm seems to be turning for the president. The economy has five straight months of job growth, the stock market is up, there is a mortgage deal and a sense that Europe may muddle through. The president won on the payroll tax, looks reasonable on contraception — if Republicans thought social security was a third rail, contraception is the fourth — and has a budget that calls for sacrifice from the richest Americans, cuts to many government programs and investments in education and research. Sounds fairly reasonable, especially in contrast to the Republicans’ carping and extremism.
How are the Republicans countering? With year-old jokes and digs against Obama that have lost a bit of their punch. With snarls from Sen. Mitch McConnell on contraception that scare women and sneers from Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich has lost his giddy-up, and the curtain is up on Romney's advisers as they furiously adjust the dials and levers to get their man right. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is about to have her star turn in the movie “Game Change” Very scary.
in the Baltimore Sun
writes about buyer's remorse in the GOP:
Buyer's remorse usually sets in after the nomination is nailed down. But this time around, the early aura of inevitability that Mr. Romney and his money would sew it up has already been shaken by the first caucus and primary results. A substantial segment of the party seems to be saying: Save us somehow from the fate in store for us if Mitt Romney is our nominee.
With Mr. Gingrich and his characteristic bravado continuing to self-destruct, Mr. Santorum seems an unlikely savior, but his record certainly qualifies as a pure conservative of the sort the party has become across the board. As the GOP lurches ever rightward, the ultimate remorse may be about lurching too far, and alienating the moderate center where elections usually are decided.
s Brian Montopoli
on Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum:
Let's say this all goes as well as it possibly could for Santorum: He wins Michigan, Ohio and the Southern states, prompting Gingrich to leave the race. Santorum would then have a clear shot at the nomination - he might even be the favorite - but the race would be far from over. Only 755 pledged delegates are at stake through Super Tuesday, and most come in contests where delegates are awarded proportionately; even under the best possible scenario for Santorum, he won't be close to the 1,144 delegates he needs to win the nomination.
The Boston Globe
Meanwhile, Paul is widely expected to stay in the race over the long haul, and to keep winning delegates in low-turnout states where his passionate supporters can make a big impact. The possibility of a drawn-out battle between Romney and Santorum (and/or, potentially, Gingrich) - combined with the continued presence of Paul in the race - has many political watchers raising the possibility of no candidate having enough delegates to claim the nomination by the time the convention comes in August.
In the modern era, a contested convention is relatively uncharted territory, and it's far from likely to take place this time around. [...]
's Farah Stockman on politics and the vampire bats' safety net
IN 1983, a biologist studying vampire bats in the forests of Costa Rica made a remarkable discovery: Bats that spent the night gorging on blood returned to their caves and routinely fed fellow bats that didn’t find enough to eat. [...]
Lately, I have been wondering what these bats mean for American politics, at a time when the very idea of helping needy fellow Americans has come under assault. Newt Gingrich routinely attacks President Obama as a “food stamp president.’’ Rush Limbaugh calls the safety net for the poor “one of the biggest cultural problems we have got.’’ A Tea Party Express audience yells “yeah!’’ when Wolf Blitzer asks if an uninsured man in a hospital should just be left to die. As I watch all this, I can’t help but wonder: Are we are really less generous than bats that suck blood?
So I call up Gerald Wilkinson, the biologist who discovered bat altruism.
I ask: “Are vampire bats all bleeding-heart liberals? Are they socialists?’’
Wilkinson’s answer: “Not exactly. If they were not helping each other, they would not live very long.’’
Also at The Boston Globe
, Joanna Weiss
on a new study about girls and STEM subjects:
THIS WINTER, Lego, the toy company that has inspired many an engineer, unveiled a line of blocks called Lego Friends, aimed specifically at girls. The bricks come in pastel colors, the figurines go to beauty shops, and the concept is straight out of market research. Lego executives say girls play differently from boys. They don’t want to build complex fighter jets like the ones on the cover of the Lego Star Wars boxes. They want to tell stories, instead.
I have no doubt that girls in focus groups were interested in putting little Lego flowers on little Lego treehouses. But that’s not the whole story; figuring out what girls want is a matter of asking the right questions. A year ago, when the Girl Scout Research Institute embarked on a study of girls, math, and science, researchers expected to find a Lego Friends sort of world: girls drawn to cute and pretty stuff, who didn’t aspire to careers in science. Instead, the study’s results, which are being released today, upend those old assumptions.
It turns out, fully 74 percent of girls — and even higher percentages of African-American and Hispanic girls — say they’re interested in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, math, and engineering. The trick is to break professions into their component parts. Girls who are interested in STEM want to know how things work. They like solving puzzles and problems. They want to understand the natural world.
Speaking of females, in light of the new Pentagon announcement that it will be opening up more combat positions to women, Joshua E. Keating
looks at how other countries have a long have handled women in the military:
The change doesn't go far enough for some, like California Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who called it "ridiculous" to "open a few positions at the battalion level to basically create a pilot program." But it goes too far for others like presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who worries that having women in combat could compromise operations since "men have emotions when you see a woman in harm's way."
In a policy debate like this, it might be useful to study the experience of countries where women are already allowed to fight. But finding just how many of these countries there are can be surprisingly difficult. Some countries have no formal restrictions on women joining combat units but rarely allow it in practice. Others, like Japan and Switzerland, allow women in some combat positions, but have not engaged in combat in recent history.
Then there's the issue of what constitutes "combat." There are rarely defined front lines in a war such as Afghanistan or Iraq, so driving a support truck or working in a medical facility can quickly put rear-echelon troops in a battlezone (remember Jessica Lynch?). This week's rule change in the United States was largely a reflection of the fact that women are, to a large extent, already participating in combat. Despite the restrictions in place, 144 American women have been killed and 865 wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, according to the Defense Department.
Finally, I present to you Rick Santorum, without a shred of irony
TACOMA, Wash. - Rick Santorum said on Monday that the Occupy movement represents "true intolerance" after he was faced with a handful of angry protestors who shouted through his entire event, ultimately resulting in the arrest of three of them.
"I think it's really important for you to understand what this radical element represents. Because what they represent is true intolerance," the former Pennsylvania senator said after two protestors were handcuffed and dragged away.