Five Best Wednesday Columns

Jonathan Chait on Paul Ryan's poverty plan, Jeffrey Frank on Rand Paul's Eisenhower dream, Laura Bennett on the RT anchor's outburst, Remi Piet on shifting Ukrainian identities, Maureen Dowd on Hollywood's poor representation of women.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Jonathan Chait at New York on Paul Ryan’s poverty plan. “Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are not mere compilations of proposals, but grand vision statements. He has prefaced his budget with a review of the scholarly literature of the entire range of federal anti-poverty programs. In the place of grandiose, Randian lectures, Ryan ventures outside the world of right-wing pseudo-scholarship and actually attempts to engage with mainstream economic analysis,” Chait writes. “Ryan is very good at marshaling faux scholarship churned out by ideologues in the service of talking points, and at convincing reporters that he is an actual policy wonk. Unfortunately, he seems to have convinced himself and undertaken the ambitious goal of reconciling his policies with the work of real researchers. That was a bad, bad move.”

Jeffrey Frank at The New Yorker on Rand Paul’s Eisenhower dream. “Then, as now, Republicans were deeply divided. “There is a struggle going on within the Republican Party,” Paul said. “It’s not new and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the fact that there is a struggle. And I will struggle to make the Republican Party a different party, a bigger party, a more diverse party, and a party that can win national elections again," Frank writes. “Eisenhower sometimes talked about a third party, but the idea was more notional than real, a recognition that his party would probably never change in the way he wanted. That left him envisaging an improbable situation in which moderates from both major parties formed “a major modern party with the reactionary factions being squeezed out.”

Laura Bennett at the New Republic on the Russia Today anchor’s outburst. “The outburst was not exactly surprising. Martin has always been something of a rabble-rouser and a speaker of truth-to-power, though historically her specialty has been tearing down American political and cultural institutions. Things she has said on air since joining RT include “Fuck the media, fuck the candidates, fuck the corporatocracy,”” Bennett writes. “But the most telling part of Martin’s rant on Russia Today was its aftermath, during which RT’s image management seemed to go off the rails. RT released a statement yesterday praising itself vis a vis Martin's behavior, then added: “We'll be sending her to Crimea to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicenter of the story.”

Remi Piet at Al Jazeera on shifting Ukrainian identities. “As the Ukrainian crisis swiftly drifts from a domestic popular uprising to a large scale geopolitical conflict, one has to study the history of the country and its relations with its neighbors to fully comprehend each actor's perspective. The reasons for these domestic and geopolitical tensions are not to be found in the last decades, but rather in a very contrasted understanding of the regional history,” Piet writes. “What is at risk here is a severe destabilization of the region, much as in Chechnya, with a violent radicalization of a historic Muslim minority calling for independence to prevent further discrimination and abuse.”

Maureen Dowd at The New York Times on Hollywood's poor representation of women. “Although Sunday’s Oscars seemed like a pantheon of diversity for women, gays, blacks and transgenders, Hollywood is disintegrating faster than it is transitioning to modernity. As films lose cultural hegemony to TV, Oscar voters and industry top brass are still overwhelmingly white, male and middle-aged,” Dowd writes. “The bluntest remarks came from co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Amy Pascal in Forbes. She talked about the “paltry” amount women make in Hollywood compared to men, about the “unconscious mountain” of rejection against female directors and how “the whole system is geared for them to fail.”

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