"Forty-five years ago, John Lewis began the third of what became society-shifting civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. On Sunday, the anniversary of that famous trek, he joined hands with fellow House Democrats and marched past jeering protesters into the Capitol to remake the nation's health care system....Mr. Lewis said he was not intimidated as he walked to the Capitol with his colleagues, including Ms. Pelosi. In 1965, Mr. Lewis was bloodied and beaten by the police as he marched for civil rights." - Congressional reporter Carl Hulse, March 22.
"But the laughs evaporated soon enough. There's nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank. And as the week dragged on, and reports of death threats and vandalism stretched from Arizona to Kansas to upstate New York, the F.B.I. and the local police had to get into the act to protect members of Congress and their families. How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn't recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far." - Columnist Frank Rich, March 28.
"The far-right extremists have gone into conniptions. The bullying, threats, and acts of violence following the passage of health care reform have been shocking, but they're only the most recent manifestations of an increasing sense of desperation....Even the optics must be irritating. A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill's most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It's enough to make a good old boy go crazy....Instead of jettisoning the radical language, rabid bigotry and rising violence, the Republicans justify it." - Columnist Charles Blow, March 27.
"What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party's leaders....For today's G.O.P. is, fully and finally, the party of Ronald Reagan - not Reagan the pragmatic politician, who could and did strike deals with Democrats, but Reagan the anti-government fanatic, who warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom." - Columnist Paul Krugman, March 26.
"It wasn't just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor's Business Daily declaring that health reform is 'affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.'" - Columnist Paul Krugman, March 22.
"The uninsured are clearly the biggest beneficiaries of the legislation, which would extend the health care safety net for the lowest-income Americans....For people already covered by a large employer - most Americans, in other words - the effect would not be as significant. And yet, just about everyone might benefit from tighter insurance regulations....But there is no question that the legislation should benefit consumers in various ways....But almost everyone would benefit from new regulations, like the ban on pre-existing conditions that would apply to all policies come 2014." - From a March 22 front-page story by Tara Siegel Bernard after the passage of Obama-care.
"Hosts and cameramen love her: she has the friendly face of a teacher, the pedigree of a top law professor, the moral force of a preacher and the plain-spoken twang of a Oklahoman." - Jodi Kantor's March 25 profile of Elizabeth Warren, liberal bankruptcy expert and head of congressional oversight for TARP.
"[Tea Party organizer Jeff McQueen] and others do not see any contradictions in their arguments for smaller government even as they argue that it should do more to prevent job loss or cuts to Medicare. After a year of angry debate, emotion outweighs fact." - Reporter Kate Zernike in a March 28 profile of a Tea Party group in Indiana.
"Democrats also raised questions about some of the imagery and phrases being employed by Republicans against the Democratic architects and backers of the measure, noting that a Republican National Committee Web site urging supporters to fire Ms. Pelosi has her surrounded by flames. A Facebook page of Sarah Palin singling out Democratic members for defeat because of their votes defines their districts by the crosshairs of a weapon's sight." - Congressional reporter Carl Hulse, March 25.
"In his latest novel, 'Solar,' Mr. McEwan's protagonist - a fat, middle-aged Nobel Prize-winning physicist named Michael Beard - joins this gallery of distasteful antiheroes. In the course of the book he will not only cheat on five wives and innumerable girlfriends and send an innocent man to jail, but he will also steal another scientist's plans for stopping global warming and try to turn them into a big, moneymaking machine. This self-deluding scientist will come to embody just about everything that has brought about the climate-change crisis in the first place: greed, heedlessness and a willful refusal to think about consequences or the future." - Book reviewer Michiko Kakutani on Ian McEwan's new novel "Solar," March 30.
"Charles, you spent the last year reporting on America's toxic waters, how our drinking water supply is actually not safe. The EPA, charged with keeping it safe, has not done a great job of doing that. What's changing?" - Times Senior Editor Marcus Mabry talking to reporter Charles Duhigg on the March 23 edition of TimesCast, the paper's new brief news round-up of the stories the paper is covering.
"For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government's biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago....The laissez-faire revolution that Mr. Reagan started did not cause these trends. But its policies - tax cuts, light regulation, a patchwork safety net - have contributed to them." - Economics writer David Leonhardt on the March 24 front page.
"Well this is what worries me. That, you know, I've been saying for awhile Tom, there's only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, the Chinese form of government, and that's one-party democracy. You know, in China, if the leadership can get around to an enlightened decision it can order it from the top down, OK. Here, when you have one-party democracy, one party ruling, basically the other party just basically saying no, every solution is sub-optimal" - Columnist Thomas Friedman on Meet the Press, March 14.
"The Tea Party movement and advocacy groups on the right are demanding that candidates hew strictly to their ideological standards, and are moving aggressively to cast out those they deem to have strayed, even if only by participating in the compromises of legislating....There is no bigger quarry in the eyes of many conservative activists than Mr. Bennett, who has drawn seven challengers and will not know for six weeks whether he will even qualify for the ballot. His fate is being watched not only by grass-roots conservatives testing their ability to shape the party, but also by many elected Republicans in Washington who are wondering, If Bob Bennett is not conservative enough, who is?" - Reporter Jeff Zeleny's profile of Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, March 26.
"One careful study after another has shown that uninsured people are significantly more likely to die than insured people." - From Nicholas Kristof's March 18 column.
"Of all the crimes that sullied the record of the United States military in Iraq - the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the killings of 24 Iraqi men, women and children by Marines in November 2005 in Haditha - the murder of an entire Iraqi family in the village of Yusufiya may rank as the most chilling." - The lead sentence of the lead review in the March 14 Sunday Book Review of Jim Frederick's book "Black Hearts - One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death," by former Newsweek reporter Joshua Hammer. Seven of the eight Marines charges in the "massacre" at Haditha have been acquitted.
"Does anyone really care if the bill is posted on the Internet 72 hours before the vote? Or if Mr. Obama never fulfilled his pledge to conduct legislative negotiations in public? Or if a bill is passed with a simple majority or the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster?" - Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney in the March 21 Week in Review.
"Another thing about health care is that the Repubs keep screaming about new taxes. Yes, there will be some, but many will be on/the wealthy. Saw something last night that said NY tri-state will pay 20% of new taxes, but only has 10% of the US's pop/That means that most liberal parts of the country - the parts that wanted [health care reform] the most - will pick up most of the tax burden/So what are those tea party people whining about. I'm going to pay for their insurance. After all, how many single people in/Mississippi make over $200k a year? 3, maybe....Sit down foul-mouthed Tea Party crybabies." - Excerpts from Times columnist Charles Blow's Twitter feed, from March 23.
"VARYING DEGREES OF RAGE The Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, second from right, during the Days of Rage in 1969, and anti-health reform protesters in Washington on Sunday." - Photo caption accompanying Benedict Carey's essay on political anger in the March 28 Week in Review.
"In the eyes of many Britons, the Tories' traditional social elitism is tied to another form of elitism - what they perceive as the callous policies of the haves toward the have-nots in the Thatcher era. That was when the Conservative government cut social spending and pursued an anti-Europe, anti-immigration, anti-union agenda. Mr. Cameron's efforts to move past that, too, have been thrown off track by the financial crisis. Reacting to Britain's deficit last fall by preaching fiscal austerity, the Tories found themselves once more in the position of grim spoilsports eager to cut government programs." - London-based Sarah Lyall, March 23.
"In the process, Mr. McConnell, 68, a Kentuckian more at home plotting tactics in the cloakroom than writing legislation in a committee room or exhorting crowds on the campaign trail, has come to embody a kind of oppositional politics that critics say has left voters cynical about Washington, the Senate all but dysfunctional and the Republican Party without a positive agenda or message" - Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse profile of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, March 17.
"Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. That's the new mantra, repeated triumphantly by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and other advocates for women's health. But what does it mean? In the broadest sense, the new health care law forbids sex discrimination in health insurance. Previously, there was no such ban, and insurance companies took full advantage of the void." - From a March 30 article by Denise Grady headlined "Overhaul Will Lower the Costs of Being a Woman."
"And in a week when Democrats are celebrating the passage of a historic piece of legislation, Republicans find themselves again being portrayed as the party of no, associated with being on the losing side of an often acrid debate and failing to offer a persuasive alternative agenda." - Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney, March 23, after passage of Obama-care in a story headlined "For G.O.P., United Stand Has Drawbacks, Too."
"The Republican Party's insistence that no real Republican would even consider raising taxes is a big reason that many people believe the president's panel will never agree by December on a bipartisan multiyear plan to narrow the growing gap between spending and revenues." - March 18 profile of retired Republican Sen. Alan Simpson by Jackie Calmes.