5 Best Friday Columns

Deficits! Distractions! The Department of Education! And... soccer?

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  • Charles Krauthammer on the Myth of Iran's Isolation  "In the past year alone, Ahmadinejad has been welcomed in Kabul, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Caracas, Brasilia, La Paz, Senegal, Gambia and Uganda," fumes the Washington Post columnist, rebuffing President Obama's claims of an increasingly-isolated Iran. "Today, he is in China." Obama's careful strategy of wooing pugnacious partners (China, Russia, Turkey, Brazil) and pushing for UN sanctions is a total failure in Krauthammer's view, accomplishing only a global broadcast of Obama's weakness. "This comes after 16 months of assiduously courting these powers with one conciliatory gesture after another," seethes Krauthammer. "All this has been read as American weakness, evidence that Obama can be rolled."
  • David Brooks on Consolidation  Contemplating the long-running debate between economic stimulus and deficit reduction as the center of America's recovery, the New York Times columnist declares that "we are exiting a period of fiscal stimulus and entering a period of fiscal consolidation." Brooks offers consolidation as his own unique way of addressing the two economic policies, presenting a measured, yet daunting, blueprint for recovery. "The challenge for the U.S. in the years ahead is to consolidate intelligently," asserts Brooks. "That means reducing deficits while at the same time making the welfare state more efficient, boosting innovation in areas like energy, and spending more money on growth-enhancing sectors like infrastructure."
  • Mona Charen on Dissolving the Department of Education  At National Review, Charen lays out the case for doing away with the Department of Education, a suggestion that's lately drawn derision to Sharron Angle of Nevada. Yet Charen urges us to reconsider: "The Department of Education is a great, burbling vat of waste," she writes, "and it is not extremist to say so." Charen marshals a number of damning statistics to support her assertions that when it comes to the DoE, "no one checks. There is no accountability. There are no consequences for failure, except perhaps requests for even greater funding next year."
  • Steven Pinker on Mind Over Mass Media  In an op-ed in The New York Times today Harvard professor Steven Pinker comments on the panic over the affront of too much information. He says, "The constant arrival of information packets can be distracting or addictive, especially to people with attention deficit disorder." But, he adds, "distraction is not a new phenomenon. The solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life."
  • Trevor Nelson on the Real Test for South Africa  Recounting his own history in learning about the problems in Africa, BBC broadcaster Trevor Nelson raises the question about what's to become of South Africa after the World Cup comes to an end. He says, "With huge levels of unemployment, people take to unlicensed street selling of just about anything you might need, from food to football flags – something that Fifa doesn't want anywhere near the stadiums." To that end, however, he comments on the benefit of soccer in the country: "As far as football goes: well, it is the biggest religion in the world. I will forgive politicians, Fifa and a racist past just for those 90 minutes of joy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.