Finally, a budget. President Barack Obama rolls out his fiscal 2014 budget plan today, and the White House says Republicans will like what they see. Some already do. It’s a time-honored tradition to leak certain aspects of the plan you want people to focus on and talk about, in part to distract them from those parts of the plan you don’t want them to notice. After some of those leaks became public, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., praised the president for “showing us some leg.” (It’s a comment that had more than a few Twitter commentators appending their Tweets with the acronym SMH: “shaking my head.”) Both sides will find much not to like about this budget, but it does fall somewhere between the conservative House plan and the liberal Senate alternative, so it may get some traction. Part of Obama’s plan calls for saving $230 billion by using so-called “chained CPI” (consumer price index) for calculating Social Security and other payments. That’s an innovation Republicans are likely to go for, and one that will cause liberals to howl.
Dangers of feminism. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said this week that feminism is “very dangerous” because it creates the illusion of freedom while in fact subjecting women to economic and sexual exploitation. “I find very dangerous this phenomenon, which is called feminism, because feminist organizations proclaim a pseudo-freedom of women that should … be manifested outside marriage and outside the family,” said Kirill, quoted in an awkward translation by the Interfax news agency. He added, “Man turns his sight outward, he should work, make money. While a woman is always focused inwards towards her children, her home. If this exceptionally important role of a woman is destroyed, everything will be destroyed as a consequence.” Radical feminism has been in the news in Russia, in part because of an all-female punk-rock band’s performance on the altar of an Orthodox church, which both Kirill and Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized. On Monday a women’s rights group held a topless protest at trade fair Putin was attending.
Daydreaming drivers. You know about the dangers of driving while intoxicated, while texting, and while talking on the phone. A new study claims that driving while daydreaming may be the most dangerous practice of all. The study released by the Erie Insurance Group says driving while daydreaming may be five times more dangerous than driving than texting or talking on your phone. According to Erie’s findings some 62 percent of all fatal “distracted driving” accidents in the United States are the result of the driver being “lost in thought.” By comparison, only 12 percent of distracted driving fatalities resulted from driving while using mobile phones.
Grover and Maggie. Tax hawk Grover Norquist often tells a funny story about Margaret Thatcher, which I share with you in memory of her life and legacy on the occasion of her death this week. Years ago, Norquist visited No. 10 Downing Street for a meeting, not with Thatcher but with another member of her government. But while waiting for his meeting, Thatcher came into the foyer with her husband, Dennis, in tow. She looked at Norquist and asked, “Will I need an umbrella?” Norquist answered, “It is raining, and you will need an umbrella.” Thatcher went to a nearby coat closet, retrieved an umbrella, and went on her way. Because Thatcher asked for his advice, and took it, Norquist says he has ever since been tempted to add “trusted advisor to Margaret Thatcher” to his resume. In Washington, where someone you met at a cocktail party is a “friend” and someone you’ve shared coffee with is a “close friend,” it’s a claim that would probably generate no challenges.