Obama, Winning the Argument (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"In his bid to be remembered as a transformational leader, President Obama is following the playbook of an ideological opposite, Margaret Thatcher. First you win the argument, she used to say, then you win the vote. Obama is gradually winning the argument about what government can and should do. His State of the Union address was an announcement of that fact — and a warning to conservatives that, to remain relevant, they will have to move beyond the premise that government is always the problem and never the solution."
Gratifying Signs of Desperation (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"On both sides of the Atlantic, the austerians seem to be freaking out. And that has to be good news, an indication that they realize, at some level, that they’re losing the debate."
Pope Benedict XVI’s Leaked Documents Show Fractured Vatican Full of Rivalries from the Washington Post
"Much of the media — and the Vatican — focused on the source of the shocking security breach. Largely lost were the revelations contained in the letters themselves — tales of rivalry and betrayal, and allegations of corruption and systemic dysfunction that infused the inner workings of the Holy See and the eight-year papacy of Benedict XVI."
The End of a Catholic Moment (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times
"The collapse in the church’s reputation has coincided with a substantial loss of Catholic influence in American political debates. Whereas eight years ago, a Catholic view of economics and culture represented a center that both parties hoped to claim, today’s Republicans are more likely to channel Ayn Rand than Thomas Aquinas, and a strident social liberalism holds the whip hand in the Democratic Party."
Think Hagel’s Bad? Just Wait Until There’s a Supreme Court Opening (Jonathan Bernstein) from Salon
"The Hagel battle is actually a dry run for the next justice fight -- and it's clear that the GOP will filibuster."
The GOP Divide Over Sequestration (and Everything Else) (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"The battle over the budget cuts, pitting Rand Paul Republicans against John McCain Republicans, is a symptom of the disarray plaguing the party."
Obama’s Minimum-Wage Gambit Puts Republicans on Defensive (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"The president’s surprise call for an increase to $9 an hour in the State of the Union has the GOP on the wrong end of popular opinion again."
Rubio and the Zombies (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"the G.O.P. reply, delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, was both interesting and revelatory. And I mean that in the worst way. For Mr. Rubio is a rising star, to such an extent that Time magazine put him on its cover, calling him “The Republican Savior.” What we learned Tuesday, however, was that zombie economic ideas have eaten his brain."
Pa. Voter ID Law Won't be Enforced in May Primary from the Associated Press via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Pennsylvania voters will not be required to show photo identification in the May 21 primary election under an agreement signed Thursday by both sides in a pending lawsuit.""
Sheriff Joe’s Posse Invades Guadalupe from Salon
"The controversial sheriff puts his "good guys" with guns around Arizona schools. They might be the real threat. ... No schools requested the help of Sheriff Joe’s nearly 3,500-member posse. It did not take long for reports to resurface that his good guys with guns might have questionable pasts or bad judgment – a Phoenix TV station reported that Arpaio has a history of welcoming sex offenders and domestic abusers into his posse."
Cinema Tarantino: The Making of Pulp Fiction (Mark Seal) from Vanity Fair
"The first independent film to gross more than $200 million, Pulp Fiction was a shot of adrenaline to Hollywood’s heart, reviving John Travolta’s career, making stars of Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman, and turning Bob and Harvey Weinstein into giants. How did Quentin Tarantino, a high-school dropout and former video-store clerk, change the face of modern cinema? Mark Seal takes the director, his producers, and his cast back in time, to 1993."
STAR WARS NUGGET!!
Harrison Ford Reportedly Cast in New Star Wars from Slate
"Since Ford is more than 30 years older than he was when he last played the role (he’s now 70), this news seems to support the idea that the new trilogy will leap forward to focus on Han and Leia’s children."
The Descendants of Murderers from the Atlantic
"The new documentary Hitler's Children, about the kids and grandkids of prominent Nazis, shows what's gained in the struggle to confront the atrocities of one's own past."
PRESIDENT'S DAY NUGGET!!
For Presidents Day, Three Presidents Who Could Have Shined (David Frum) from the Daily Beast
"A Presidents’ Day toast to three commanders in chief whose time ran out too soon."
ANOTHER HOLLYWOOD NUGGET!!
Confessions of a 'Reluctant' Sex bomb: Dope Smoking with Sellers, How Rod Wore my Underwear and Why I Walked Out on a Date with Beatty, by Britt, 70 from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Britt Ekland has lifted the lid on her colourful love life, revealing the secrets – and ineptitudes – of old flames including Peter Sellers, Rod Stewart and Warren Beatty. But while the former Bond girl, 70, has dated some of the world’s most eligible bachelors, she described herself as ‘the most reluctant sex bomb’ – and said she ‘had no idea what effect I had on men’.’"
50 Years Ago: The World in 1963 from the Atlantic
"A half century ago, much of the news in the United States was dominated by the actions of civil rights activists and those who opposed them. Our role in Vietnam was steadily growing, along with the costs of that involvement."