The Economic Policy Institute reports on "What Families Need to Get By," complete with a budget calculator that can tell you (if you live in one of 618 locations) how much money your family needs to make to meet an adequate standard of living in your zip code. You can enter up to two adults and up to four children to see how much you'd need. Key point: whatever the minimum figure is where you are, it's likely considerably higher than the federal poverty standard (let alone the minimum wage!). Also, child care costs exceed housing costs in over 80% of the locations studied.
President Obama announces that America's tallest mountain, Mt. McKinley, will be renamed Denali. Which is what most Alaskans (including the state's senior U.S. Senator) call it anyway, but cue the right-wing whinefest -- a whinefest defending William McKinley, a President who acted like corporations were the only Americans with a voice and who dragged us into war with Spain even after our diplomats had negotiated an agreement to avoid it. He not only makes George W. Bush look like a socialist; he makes George W. Bush look like a peacenik.
Chris Christie says we should get FedEx to track immigrants, since they do so well tracking boxes with barcodes that can't move on their own. He went on to say that it's just another example of how the private sector does everything better, but all I could think was he got that from Newt Gingrich's book Real Change! And it sounded utterly stupid then, too! When Chris Wallace has to remind you that "people aren't packages," it's bad. And, ah, it's not like FedEx delivers that many packages -- many, many packages fewer than the U.S. Postal Service, which has satisfied this customer rather more than FedEx has.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says we ought to consider building a wall on the Canadian border, too, because "some people" he's talked to in New Hampshire have "raised some very legitimate concerns," which he then went on to describe at length. I kid, of course -- he talks and you accept, just like the rest of them. But I wonder if Stephen Harper is still his BFF.
Finally, Steve Wasserman at The American Conservative bemoans the "phony populism" that "den(ies) Americans the joys of serious thought," and tells us that the internet age has, like the television age before it, made us less patient with serious criticism or, indeed, with anything we don't "get" right away. You can think of a hundred moronic internet comments as easily as I can, and I miss the days when Dick Cavett interviewed writers as much as anyone. But if Americans don't strive for "(t)he ideal of serious enjoyment of what isn’t instantly understood," one might also interpret that as an impatience with bullshit, and I sure hope Mr. Wasserman would count bullshit-detection among those critical thinking skills that "strengthen" the mind "as a workout tones the muscles."