In the unlikely event you missed it, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate—a central piece of the 2009 health-care reform law—in a 5-4 decision today. Read the decision here (pdf) and, if that doesn't keep you busy, follow SCOTUSblog's live blog for ongoing analysis.
Whatever this decision means for the presidential election, future SCOTUS decisions, or future health-care laws, it's important not to lose sight of its most important effect: millions of people will have health insurance who otherwise likely would not have been able to acquire it.
Jonathan Chait is exactly right about the unspoken conservative position on health-care reform:
Opponents of the law have endlessly invoked “socialism.” Nothing in the Affordable Care Act or any part of President Obama’s challenges the basic dynamics of market capitalism. All sides accept that some of us should continue to enjoy vastly greater comforts and pleasures than others. If you don’t work as hard as Mitt Romney has, or were born less smart, or to worse parents, or enjoyed worse schools, or invested your skills in an industry that collapsed, or suffered any other misfortune, then you will be punished for this. Your television may be low-definition, or you might not be able to heat or cool your home as comfortably as you would like; you may clothe your children in discarded garments from the Salvation Army.
My mother read to us a lot when we were little. Most of us were girls. And she liked classic stuff, so I grew up with a strong working knowledge of Little House and Little Women. (I don't think we ever read Little Men, but let's be honest, who did? Also: It's still about Jo!)
But the house favorite was definitely Anne of Green Gables.
Of the many lousy things the City of Chicago has done in the years I've lived here, perhaps none has left a moral stain quite like that of the "reform" of public housing. The housing authority, once known widely for its high-rise housing projects, systematically tore them down and sold the property to developers.
The latest in can-you-believe-this-guy campaign-trail videos: Senate candidate Eric Hovde, who—like Montgomery Burns with a Wisconsin accent—reduces media coverage of low-income people facing service cuts to "sob stories."
E. J. Dionne—probably my favorite big-daily columnist—thinks liberals need to make a direct, full-throated defense of government:
If progressives do not speak out plainly on behalf of government, they will be disadvantaged throughout the election-year debate. Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall election owed to many factors, including his overwhelming financial edge. But he was also helped by the continuing power of the conservative anti-government idea in our discourse. An energetic argument on one side will be defeated only by an energetic argument on the other.
Hmm. I share Dionne's frustration with the success of anti-government conservatism in recent years, as well as the positive view he goes on to present of government's singular role in stimulating the economy and creating jobs (the main policy focus of his column). But more generally, I'm not convinced that the answer is to match anti-government attacks with equally fierce pro-government rebuttals.
The study compares the children of married biological parents with those from broken homes — and the study’s “lesbian mothers” that our opponents are vilifying generally weren’t married to each other; nor were the gay fathers. No, they were often in opposite-sex relationships that broke down.
This morning the Century published an article on the difficult choice facing Egyptian Christians in this weekend's runoff election for president: should they vote for someone who served at a high level under the pre-revolution strongman president? Or for the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate?
First of all, yes, if you're a linguistic traditionalist then the show should really be called The Rev., not Rev.
Second of all, it's disappointing that by the second episode, the British scripted series is relying heavily on the old binary of a small, old-fashioned, declining, liberal congregation vs. a large, hip, casual, thriving, conservative one. (The latter's hip-hop music leader goes by the name Ikon! Cute, but haven't the showrunners heard of Peter Rollins?)
This NYT Magazine list of "32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow" is fascinating. I'm especially amazed by #1 (clothing that generates electricity and charges gadgets), #6 (cars smart enough to avoid causing traffic jams) and #23 (smart teeth!). Others (#20, #31) are sort of sci-fi disturbing but only mildly so.
Per usual, Ross Douthat is in this post occasionally wise but often infuriating:
It’s useful to think of Obama’s stimulus bill and Walker’s budget repair bill as mirror image exercises in legislative shock and awe, and the Tea Party and the Wisconsin labor protests as mirror images of backlash.
Yesterday in Wisconsin, public-employee unions and their supporters failed to recall the aggressively anti-labor governor Scott Walker. Today in Chicago, public school teachers are voting on strike authorization as part of their ongoing struggle with mayor Rahm Emanuel and the school board.
To be clear, the teachers aren't striking. They're voting to authorize a hypothetical future strike, as a negotiating tactic. No one wants to see classroom learning grind to a halt and working parents stuck with unexpected child-care duties.
And, while I'm not one to defend the teachers unions' every single move, I'm tired of seeing public education set up to fail and then blamed for its own failure, with special blame always reserved for teachers.
This video is fairly terrifying: what if someone finally figured out how to make our consciousness functionally immortal by uploading it into an artificial body after we died? And then...set to work monetizing this innovation?
When I was growing up, the music that got played at my house consisted of choral music, showtunes, CCM and praise bands (the last two being considerably more distinct in those days than they are now). Before and for a while after they had kids, my parents played in an CCM-ish band. Another couple from that group remained close friends of my parents, and their son and I--living a half mile from each other, each surrounded by sisters--were inseparable from birth to college.
On many Saturday nights, I slept in my friend's basement. His dad liked to wake us for church by putting on records by Doc Watson--who died Tuesday--and cranking the volume.
Ruthie Foster has a powerhouse of a blues/gospel voice, which she never allows to overpower a song. If you’re not sold already, Foster made her newest album in New Orleans with the Blind Boys of Alabama and a cast of hotshot players. It wouldn’t have killed them to restrain the Hammond organ player once in a while, but that’s being picky: the project brings a truckload of soul and grit.