5 Best Thursday Columns

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  • Nicholas Kristof on Afghanistan and Education The New York Times op-ed columnist is stunned at the findings of a new congressional research report that deems the effort in Afghanistan to be the "costliest war since World War II." The mess that we're currently in should not only serve as a wake-up call to the president, but should also argue against spending record amounts on the military while letting American higher education slip from global preeminence. He concludes: "We won our nation's independence for $2.4 billion in today's money, the Congressional Research Service report said. That was good value, considering that we now fritter the same amount every nine days in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama, isn't it time to rebalance our priorities?"

  • The National Review Editors on the Arizona Immigration Verdict  Ever since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the controversial immigration legislation into law, the Justice Department has been gunning to find something, anything to nullify it. What occurred in Judge Susan Bolton's courtroom on July 29th, according to The National Review Editors, was a "twist[ing of] facts and logic" to support the federal government's claim. And the ruling became more "implausible" and "incomprehensible" as it was explained. Arizona, the editors write, is simply trying to enforce the laws already on the books. If they are unable to do so, and the Justice Department prevails "then we'll know that...[t]he real law of the land will be our current, de facto amnesty, imposed by executive whim."

  • Edward Glaeser on the Obesity Conundrum Writing in the Boston Globe, the Harvard professor examines the tricky politics of combating America's obesity problem. On the one hand, there's "benign neglect"—the "policy preference of libertarians." The alternative appears to be state-imposed "sin taxes" on items like soda and alcohol, an outcome Glaeser says is "neither feasible not desirable." There's no easy answer answer. But the most effective government response, Glaeser argues, is by sticking to a policy of "taxation rather than vilification."

  • E.J. Dionne on Whether America Can Survive Its Politicians The Washington Post columnist questions whether America can remain a superpower when its being run by "incorrigibly stupid" politicians. "Start with taxes," writes Dionne. "In every other serious democracy, conservative political parties feel at least some obligation to match their tax policies with their spending plans." Not so in the United States, writes Dionne. He blames the "fairy tale" of supply side economics for keeping the rich from paying their fair share. Yet for some reason, Democrats seem conflicted about rolling back the Bush tax cuts."The notion that when we are fighting two wars, we're not supposed to consider raising taxes on such Americans is one sign of a country that's no longer serious."

  • Jay Greene on Why Apple Will Survive The Wall Street Journal columnist believes Apple will emerge from the iPhone 4 firestorm stronger than they were before. While the company's response to the issue was "ham-handed" they've weathered previous debacles before. Greene cites the failure of the company's MobileMe service as a prior example of its resilency. "Apple rode out that storm on the goodwill it's earned by creating products customers crave," he writes. "A reputation for great design bought the company an opportunity to recover from its mistake. That's what will allow Apple to weather the iPhone 4 fiasco too."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.