5 Best Weekend Columns
Endless war, cell phones fueling conflict, and a double standard for cads
- Mona Charen on Peter Orszag and the Double Standard The conservative columnist asks some uncomfortable questions of Orszag's liberal fans: "If a 41-year-old divorced mother of two young children were to have another child with a boyfriend and then announce her engagement to a third man, would she be considered a 'hot' celebrity? ... Would she escape censure if she maintained no relationship with the new baby?" Feminists, argues Charen, have long wanted to get women "judged by the same standards as men"--but really men should be judged by the same standards as women, too. "This panting admiration for a guy who behaves like a cad displays caveman morality," she declares. "Oh, look how virile the skinny intellectual is! What a gorgeous gal he’s squiring today! ... And by the way, for all the inarguable inequalities in the treatment of men and women in pre-Sexual Revolution days, Orszag’s behavior would have been unthinkable for a respectable man.
- Nicholas Kristof on 'Blood Phones' We've mostly gotten rid of "blood diamonds," says the New York Times columnist, but right now stomach-turning "mass slaughter and rape in the Congo" is being funded by the minerals that go into phones, laptops, and digital cameras.
I’ve never reported on a war more barbaric than Congo’s, and it haunts me. In Congo, I’ve seen women who have been mutilated, children who have been forced to eat their parents’ flesh, girls who have been subjected to rapes that destroyed their insides. Warlords finance their predations in part through the sale of mineral ore containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. For example, tantalum from Congo is used to make electrical capacitors that go into phones, computers and gaming devices.
- Andrew Bacevich on McChrystal, the Volunteer Army, and Perils of Long Wars "Long wars are antithetical to democracy," declares Bacevich in The Washington Post. They "corrode the values of popular government," including "the principle of civilian control while keeping the officer corps free from the taint of politics." In the post-Vietnam era, the United States has "abandoned its citizen army tradition," instead "opt[ing] for what the Founders once called a 'standing army'--a force consisting of long-serving career professionals." It seemed like a great idea. But it also made it easier to slip into "endless war," with civilians able to turn their heads away from the consequences--consequences that included both the deaths of military professionals and their increasing feeling of abandonment, resentment, and condescension towards the citizenry. It's time, Bacevich argues, for the American people to "reclaim ownership of their army ... [and] give their soldiers respite."
- Chris Mooney on Science and Skepticism Mooney notices a disturbing trend in how we process our scientific information: "Republicans who are college graduates are considerably less likely to accept the scientific consensus on climate change than those who have less education." Meanwhile, "among Democrats and independents ... more education leads to greater acceptance of the consensus climate science." This suggests that "politics comes first on a contested subject, and better information is no cure-all." It's probably true with other controversial scientific issues, too, he says, like the vaccination issue or the disposal of nuclear waste. He thinks scientists now need to do more than just provide information--they need to become more engaged with the public, and work to counteract political biases.
- Kate Julian on Why European Flights Are Cheaper Somehow, the Europeans got ahead of us on airline deregulation, and they're reaping the rewards--cheaper flights--because of it. "Since 1997," explains Julian, "the European Union has allowed European airlines to pick up and drop off passengers anywhere within the union. Meanwhile, back in the United States, only American airlines can fly domestic routes. For example, Air France can fly you from Los Angeles or New York to France, but it cannot take you from Los Angeles to New York." Time for the U.S. to catch up, she argues.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.