5 Best Thursday Columns

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  • Mohamed ElBaradei on Change In Egypt  Writing in The Daily Beast, the Nobel laureate and former U.N. official talks about his return to Egypt. He says it's time to challenge President Hosni Mubarak's regime, after 30 years of "imperial power." ElBaradei is unsparing in his criticism of the United States' acceptance of such regimes, in particular Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's assertion that the country was "stable" and the general lack of a response to Egypt's last elections, which, according to ElBaradei, were "completely rigged." He also has stern words for his American readers: "You in the West have been sold the idea that the only options in the Arab world are between authoritarian regimes and Islamic jihadists." ElBaradei is returning to Cairo "because, really, there is no choice." He's positive about the potential for democracy. "If we are talking about Egypt," he says, "there is a whole rainbow variety of people who are secular, liberal, market-oriented, and if you give them a chance they will organize themselves to elect a government that is modern and moderate."

  • Libby Copeland on Facebook's Happiness Bias  At Slate, Libby Copeland dives into research by Alex Jordan that shows that all those happy pictures and snappy updates posted on social sites like Facebook make people feel worse about themselves. Copeland says the reason is simple: posts mask the unhappy and mundane, making lives read like magazine spreads. "Look, we have baked beautiful cookies. We are playing with a new puppy." Copeland says the reality, of course, is that "nobody is that happy." The solution, she jokes, may lie in using social networking sites for baser purposes, like "finding fat exes."

  • Andrew Leonard on the Recession's Teachable Moment  Salon's staff writer anticipates reaction to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's report about what fueled the 2007-2008 financial crisis. He's not optimistic that we'll learn our lesson and act accordingly. According to Leonard, the report, released Thursday, contains few surprises, since "everyone from Alan Greenspan to Ben Bernanke to Larry Summers gets a spanking." Despite its promise to work as a handbook for avoiding future crashes, Leonard writes that the report was a waste of time, since politicians are gearing up to lay blame, not find solutions. Proving his point: commission member Peter Wallison, who's already drafting a rebuttal. "Whoever is in power will get findings that match their biases, and reject the findings that don't," Leonard says. "Against such willful ignorance, the gods themselves contend in vain."

  • Gail Collins on the 'Craziness' of America's Gun Laws  New York Times columnist Gail Collins is disturbed by the direction in which several state lawmakers have moved since the Arizona shooting. Collins writes that guns are taking on an expanded role in American life, rather than a more restricted one. She notes that a bill to make the Browning M1911 pistol Utah's state firearm has a better chance of passing than three recently proposed gun regulation bills, including one "making it more difficult to sell guns to people on the terror watch list." Collins calls it "a symptom of a new streak of craziness abroad in the land, which has politicians scrambling to prove not just that they are against gun regulation, but also that they are proactively in favor of introducing guns into every conceivable party of American life. National parks. Schools. Bars. Airports."

  • J. E. Dyer on Obama's Cold Shoulder to the Middle East  At Commentary, Dyer chides President Obama's scant acknowledgement of what is happening right now in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Egypt. The type of movement that is underway, she argues, cannot be handled in secret. Rather, "the Hezbollah coup in Lebanon and the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are the kinds of events that cry out for public statements of U.S. policy, interests, and intention." Dyer wonders if the Obama administration understands just how significant these events are. She insists that "the most important thing our president can do is frame the issues of freedom, consensual government, and national self-determination as strategic interests of the United States and the community of nations."

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