Five Best Monday Columns

Patrick Radden Keefe on gun control, Molly Redden on Michigan Republicans, Paul Krugman on the deficit, L. Gordon Crovitz on Internet freedom, and Hannah Beech on Japanese elections.

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Patrick Radden Keefe in The New Yorker on gun control Even with the nation still reeling from the Newtown school shooting, Patrick Radden Keefe suspects that the momentum behind passing stricter gun control laws may already be fading. "If you want to understand why the gun debate can occasionally feel rigged, this is the answer: the issue is characterized by a conspicuous asymmetry of fervor," Keefe writes, citing the lack of action after Aurora and the Gabrielle Giffords shooting as reasons for gun control advocates to be pessimistic. "The N.R.A. has only four million members—a number that is probably dwarfed by the segment of the U.S. population that feels uneasy about the unbridled proliferation of firearms. But the pro-gun constituency is ardent and organized, while the gun control crowd is diffuse and easily distracted."

Molly Redden in The New Republic on Michigan Republicans Are Michigan citizens about to experience an acute case of voters' remorse? After electing a wave of conservatives to their state legislature, Michigan Republicans have passed controversial "right-to-work" laws, limited reproductive rights, given corporations a tax break, and—just hours before the Sandy Hook shootings—a bill that lets gun owners bring concealed weapons into churches, sporting arenas, and schools. "While the GOP received a teeth-kicking in this year’s elections and the Tea Party suffered major setbacks, their legislative achievements around the country will have ruinous consequences for years to come," writes Molly Redden.

Paul Krugman in The New York Times on the deficit Paul Krugman channels Dr. Evil in his latest column about deficit hawks. "At some point someone will announce, in dire tones, that we have a ONE TRILLION DOLLAR deficit," he writes, with a pinky at the corner of his lips, probably. "What the Dr. Evil types think, and want you to think, is that the big current deficit is a sign that our fiscal position is completely unsustainable ... But more often they use the deficit to argue that we can’t afford to maintain programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. So it’s important to understand that this is completely wrong."

L. Gordon Crovitz in The Wall Street Journal on Internet freedom The International Telecommunications Union conference just came to a close in Dubai. It didn't receive much media attention, but L. Gordon Crovitz thinks that decisions made there about Internet freedom will ripple throughout international politics for years to come. "A majority of the 193 United Nations member countries approved a treaty giving governments new powers to close off access to the Internet in their countries," he writes. "Authoritarian governments will invoke U.N. authority to take control over access to the Internet, making it harder for their citizens to get around national firewalls. They now have the U.N.'s blessing to censor, monitor traffic, and prosecute troublemakers."

Hannah Beech in Time on Japan's familiar new leadership Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is back in power after three years of Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) rule. "Earlier this month, Japan entered its fourth recession since 2000, and it was clear that economic considerations motivated those Japanese who voted to abandon the DPJ," writes Hannah Beech, also citing the tsunami and nuclear crises as reasons why Japanese voters returned to the familiar conservative party under Shinzo Abe's leadership. "The grandson of a politician once accused of war crimes, the 58-year-old Abe has fashioned himself into even more of a nationalist since his previous stint in power, and he made standing up to China one of his campaign mantras."

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