5 Best Monday Columns

Cowardice that killed the climate bill, the "top secret" bureaucratic behemoth and more

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  • Paul Krugman on the 'Cowardice' That Killed the Climate Bill  The New York Times columnist doesn't mince words about the congressional failure to pass a meaningful (or any) cap-and-trade bill this year. He points out that it wasn't "the science, scientists or economics that killed action on climate change." It was just the "greed and cowardice" exhibited by a few. He concludes, "look at the politicians [singling out John McCain] who have been most vociferously opposed to climate action. Where do they get much of their campaign money? You already know the answer."
  • Hendrik Hertzberg on The Post's 'Top Secret America' The New Yorker's top scribe laments the decline of The Washington Post newspaper, but praises its well-researched long-form investigative report, "Top Secret America." The "public-spirited", "enterprising" series of articles does not document "criminal conspiracies or rogue elements or corruption in the usual sense." Instead it splays out  the vast "bureaucratic behemoth, substantially privatized but awash in public money." Hertzberg notes that, "laying it all out is a start. Reining it all in will be harder."
  • Francis Fukuyama on Immigrants and Crime  The conservative philosopher takes to the Wall Street Journal opinion page for a "sensible debate" about the correlation between violence and illegal immigration from Latin America. Fukuyama concedes "[t]here is indeed a huge problem of crime originating in Latin America and spilling into the United States", a phenomenon he blames on America's appetite for narcotics. Still, he argues, the majority of illegal immigrants are here pursuing peaceful ends. These are people who would be "happy to live legally, but they come from societies in which legal rules were never quite extended to them." He suggests a more appropriate moniker for this cross-section might be "informal" immigrants. Try as he might, he can't see a compelling reason to deny illegals who fall in this category a path to citizenship. Ultimately, Fukuyama asks, who does it really hurt?
  • Jay Rosen on the WikiLinks Afghan War Logs  Blogging at PressThink, Rosen questions whether the release of the Afghan War Logs will lead to any meaningful public policy reforms. The sheer scope of the data and its implications, Rosen suggests, will lead to a response "unbearably lighter than we have a right to expect— not because the story isn’t sensational or troubling enough, but because it’s too troubling, a mess we cannot fix and therefore prefer to forget." The complexity already threatens to overwhelm not just citizens, but politicians and journalists who are supposed to be serving as watchdogs. It's not that people won't care about the war logs, says Rosen, but as with the Washington Post's "Top Secret America" investigation, the enormity of the problems will produce a kind of paralysis.
  • Taisha Sturdivant on the Harsh Realities of Immigration  In a Boston Globe op-ed contribution the student at Brandeis University documents her time spent as a "live-in volunteer at an emergency shelter on the US-Mexican border." While one may think that living in solidarity with the poor would be eye-opening, she finds that this is impossible: "I cannot become unprivileged." She then boils down the immigration debate to two simple, yet polar opposite, potential solutions: close the borders, "placing Border Patrol agents every 250 feet" or let everyone who wants to come in, come in. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Americans will find a middle ground.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.