Five Best Monday Columns
On the stakes of the Wisconsin budget fight, the resiliency of Iran's opposition, Jersualem under threat, the state of Russian democracy and the Tea Party's victories
- Paul Krugman on the Stakes of the Wisconsin Budget Fight In today's New York Times, Krugman says Republican Representative Paul Ryan was more accurate than he may have realized when he made the statement that, "it's like Cairo has moved to Madison." Questioning Gov. Scott Walker's motivations behind the controversial bill to eliminate public sector union's bargaining rights, he writes, "What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin--and eventually, America--less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy." He argues that money combined with power equals more freedom for some than others in a democracy. "On paper, we're a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we're more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate," he argues, concluding that anyone interested in keeping the United States from evolving into a full-on oligarchy should stand on the side of the unions.
- Amir Taheri on the Resiliency of the Iranian Opposition In the Wall Street Journal, Taheri describes recent demonstrations in Tehran following the Egyptian uprising and argues they prove the Iranian opposition Green Movement is still alive and anti-Ahmadinejad. A couple thousand people gathered in Tehran's Azadi Square last Tuesday before their demonstrations were broken up by violence resulting in two deaths and at least 400 injuries, which state media blamed on the CIA and Mossad. Despite popular support for the Green Movement is strong, Taheri believes "in it's present form the opposition is unlikely to topple the Khomeinist regime," though he thinks it can eventually evolve to do so.
- James Carroll on Jerusalem Amidst Unrest In the face of raging demonstrations across the Middle East and rising tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Carroll looks at Jerusalem's historical resilience in the face of threats. "Again and again, groups threatened by violence of their own making have, here, found ways of pushing violence back upon itself," he writes. "Jerusalem has been the city of human self-surpassing." While it is easy to note the negative aspects of Israel's history, Carroll urges that the positives be taken into account right now as a hopeful message that a successful uprising against oppression is possible.
- Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Milov, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov on the State of Russian Democracy The co-chairs of Russia's People's Freedom Party write in today's Washington Post to urge Western leaders to "stop flirting with Russian rulers." The group argues that ever since Dmitry Medvedev was appointed president in 2008, his actions have been in direct opposition to his "pro-democracy rhetoric." They point out that when Medvedev was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, his "nice words about Russia's ecnomic modernization and dynamic democratic development" were received with praise and applause. Western regard for Medvedev as a reformer, they write, is counter productive to promoting democracy and they want Western leaders to "stop undermining our cause and compromising with the very principles Western society is based upon. We are sure that we can achieve our goals through freedom and normal democratic process--provided we get these restored in our country."
- E.J. Dionne Jr. on the Tea Party's Victories Dionne wants Washington Post readers to realize just how influential the Tea Party has been in shaping the country's current agenda. Though unemployment is one of the US's biggest current problems, the effects of unemployment on families and young people have not been the focus of media attention. Instead, he writes, "thanks to the Tea Party, we are now told that all our problems will be solved by cutting government programs." The recently passed House Republican budget bill suggests that "they foresee nirvana if we simply reduce our spending on Head Start, Pell grants for college access, teen pregnancy prevention, clean water programs, K-12 education and a host of other areas." Contrary to the media's promotion of such initiatives, argues Dionne, now is the time for more government--"yes, more government--in areas that would expand opportunities and strengthen the economy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.