5 Best Thursday Columns

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  • USA Today Editorial Board on Public Officials' Pay  It may only be a silver-lining, but Americans can take some lessons away from the "wretched excess" of public officials in Bell, California, who inflated their salaries and gave themselves equally "outrageous" pensions. This type of scandal, unfortunately not the only case, might incite enough public outcry to cause action. But even if public officials' salaries are given more scrutiny, it's unclear how to curb similar excesses in private industry. "Unlike the pay of public officials in Bell, Calif., the compensation packages of senior executives are readily visible to the public," concludes the editorial board. "But the experience in recent years clearly shows that sunshine isn't sufficient to prevent excess."

  • Gail Collins on the GOP's American Idols   The New York Times opinion columnist seems amused at the Republicans' slate of congressional hopefuls, riffing on Colorado's Scott McInnnis and Kentucky's Rand Paul. Not only are both of these candidates mired in their own eccentric scandals, but they also seem to have no clear agenda for tackling the nation's very real problems (although they do have strong words). She concludes with a message for Kentucky voters: "Calm down and focus on the bigger issues, like jobs and taxes and which candidate for the Senate has the longest history of forcing people to bow down before idols."

  • James Antle on Gay Marriage as a Constitutional Right  Writing in The Guardian, Antle looks at the possibility of gay marriage becoming a constitutional right in the United States. It's not that far-fetched, he says. "While it is widely assumed that the supreme court will reverse Walker on appeal, that is hardly a foregone conclusion." The court's swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has been the author of "two major gay rights decisions" both of which are "highly compatible with [Judge Vaughn] Walker's rationale for striking down Proposition 8."

  • Shuja Nawaz on Flooding in Pakistan  The U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as has become obvious recently, is not as strong as it needs to be. But "collaboration" between the American and Pakistani militaries regarding relief efforts after severe floods "will go a long way toward building relationships among rank-and-file service members" says Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. Currently, "U.S. Chinooks ... are helping Pakistanis over flood-ravaged mountains and plains, and represent both U.S. ability to help Pakistanis and the Pakistani military's willingness to work with its U.S. counterparts." These efforts and more "will educate people and help both countries dispel false notions about each other." If the U.S. acts quickly and decisively, there may be a chance for both countries to benefit, and for the U.S. to win over a population that is essential to its efforts in the region.

  • Victor Davis Hanson on Bigotry Everywhere  The National Review contributor finds that a conspicuous number of recent controversial flare-ups have been categorized by one side calling the other bigoted on racial, religious or ethnic grounds. The debates over the Arizona immigration ruling, the overturned Prop. 8 and proposed Cordoba initiative mosque have all devolved into a minority calling the majority bigoted for raising "legitimate public concerns." These "cry-wolf" tactics are more than stale: "Promiscuously crying 'Bigot' and 'Racist!' signals a failure to convince 51 percent of the people of the merits of an argument."

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