5 Best Monday Columns

E.J. Dionne on conservative judicial activism, Paul Krugman goes after credit rating agencies, and more

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  • E.J. Dionne on Conservatives and Judicial Activism  Tired of GOP warnings of "activist judges" on the left, the Washington Post columnist retorts: "It is conservatives, not liberals, who are using the courts to overturn the decisions made by democratically elected bodies in areas such as pay discrimination, school integration, antitrust laws and worker safety regulation." Citing the Citizens United case and Justice Stevens' impassioned dissent, Dionne urges Democrats to highlight the political agenda of conservative justices.
Let's remember that the truly "elitist" judges are the ones who protect the privileges of the powerful over the right of Congress to legislate on behalf of workers, consumers and the environment. Let's ignore the claims of conservatives that they are opposed to "legislating from the bench," since it's their judges who are now doing the legislating. If liberals can't successfully challenge conservatives on first principles, they'll never win the fights that matter.
  • Ross Douthat on South Park and Islam  In light of Comedy Central's decision to once again censor any image or reference to Muhammad in the satirical animated series, the New York Times columnist deplores both the Islamic extremists whose threats prompted the censoring and Western institutions that bow to such threat. "Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated... Except where Islam is concerned," he rails. "There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing. This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that 'bravely' trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force."
  • Paul Krugman on Credit Raters  After lauding the Senate for unearthing incriminating Wall Street emails, the New York Times columnist quickly targets yet another culprit of the financial crisis: credit rating agencies. Krugman illustrates how the seal of approval bestowed by these agencies on "dubious" assets and debt worsened the crash with a pessimistic outlook on possible solutions. "What those e-mails reveal is a deeply corrupt system," writes Krugman. "And it's a system that financial reform, as currently proposed, wouldn’t fix."
  • Kevin Williamson on Supply-Side Smoke and Mirrors  In a fulsomely researched column at National Review, Williamson wryly unravels the conservative truism that "tax cuts would serve to increase tax revenues" under supply-side economics. In fact, Williamson points out, "tax cuts don’t get us out of the spending pickle, and growth isn’t going to make the debt irrelevant." His advice to the right? "Abjure magical thinking about tax cuts... develop a rhetoric in which 'spending' and 'taxes' are synonyms... and then, finally, decide which angry mob you want to face: today’s voters or tomorrow’s bondholders."
  • Richard Haass on West Bank Perspective  At The Wall Street Journal, Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that "the Israel-Palestinian issue... matters, but both less and in a different way than people tend to think." A peaceful solution in Jerusalem wouldn't bring the situations in Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan any closer to resolution, Haass explains; our single-minded focus on Israel and Palestine only "produces impatience, and tempts the U.S. government to adopt policies that are overly ambitious." Haass offers a few thoughts on what's needed going forward, including a reinforcement of "Palestinian economic, military and governing capacities" and a serious American-Israeli conversation about Iran.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.