Five Best Thursday Columns

Dana Milbank on Romney and defense cuts, Michael Kinsley on changing public opinion, George Will on the Texas Senate race, Andrew Jensen on gun control, and Lisa Biagiotti on AIDS in the rural South.

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Dana Milbank in The Washington Post on Romney and defense cuts Speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference this week, Mitt Romney alleged that President Obama seeks "an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with $1 trillion in cuts." Milbank takes issue with Romney's history of those proposed cuts, which resulted from the debt ceiling deal forged by Congress last year. "If the defense cuts are Obama's, they are also John Boehner's, Eric Cantor's, Mitch McConnell's and Jon Kyl's. The bill passed with the votes of a majority of House and Senate Republicans and the encouragement of — wait for it — Mitt Romney." Romney's speech, Milbank says, reflects a general difficulty within the Republican party to defend the twin priorities of an expanded defense budget and lower taxes. Taxes, he says, usually win out.

Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on the next big sea change Kinsley echoes those who predict that in 20 years, the idea of same sex marriage will become commonplace. "This is one good reason for reserving some sympathy for those who aren't wholly onboard as the train of change comes whistling through: There is something you think today that will seem preposterous and even offensive to your 20-years-from-now self, if you're still around." He asks colleagues and academics to help identify just what those beliefs will be, suggesting the current state of prisons, industrial farming, or elderly care as issues we'll look back on and feel embarrassed that we let stand.

George Will in The Washington Post on Texas's choice between equals Will describes David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz, who are competing for the Republican nomination for Senate in Texas, as nearly identical in their positions. "On 99 percent of U.S. Senate business, Cruz and Dewhurst probably would vote alike. Yet the ultimate Republican epithet, the M-word — 'moderate' — has been bandied." In both cases, he says, the charge that the opponent is moderate seems silly, Will says. He describes the race's dynamics, and notes that the result may depend on turnout.

Andrew Jensen in The New York Times on a civilian arms race After graduating from a school that took in students from Columbine High post-shooting, Jensen joined the Army in an attempt to protect those who can't protect themselves. "After years of training and war, I'm left wondering: can you ever really protect people you care about?" he asks. Jensen recounts arguments that the solution to mass shootings is a better armed set of civilians who could stop a rampage in its tracks. "I believe that what I learned in Iraq holds true for the United States: constantly carrying weapons is harder than it sounds, and a determined gunman will orchestrate a mass shooting precisely where and when we are least prepared for it."

Lisa Biagiotti in the Los Angeles Times on HIV in the rural South Biagiotti has spent two years documenting the state of the HIV crisis in the rural South. "The South has the highest rate of AIDS deaths of any U.S. region. It also has the largest numbers of adolescents and adults living with HIV and the fewest resources to fight the epidemic," she writes. " I discovered that in the flat flood plains and rolling red clay hills of the rural Deep South, the epidemic no longer resembles the scourge those of us in urban America remember. Here, HIV is a social illness affecting a deeply entrenched underclass." Stigma and homophobia make the experience for young black men who have sex with men especially difficult. The group has a 60 percent chance of being infected by age 40. "This is the first time in 22 years that the [International AIDS Conference] has been held in the United States. I hope the attendees spare some thought for the region stretching south from America's capital city."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.