Five Best Sunday Columns

On Murdoch schadenfreude, gun-toting politicians, and U.S. women's soccer

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The Editors of The Washington Post on the News of the World Overreaction. While everyone is gleefully watching the fallout over the News of the World scandal, the Washington Post has posted an editorial arguing that "though contemptible, such excesses by tabloids are hardly new, in Britain or other countries. But because News of the World forms part of the multinational media empire headed by Rupert Murdoch, the affair has touched off a larger backlash against what is regarded as the excessive power of his News Corp., particularly in Britain." While the editorial makes clear that "law enforcement on both sides of the Atlantic should aggressively pursue any evidence of criminal conduct," and that "though News Corp. will suffer, Britain may benefit from its failure to take control of BSkyB and an overall diminution of its influence," nonetheless it "would be easy, however, for the reaction to the scandal to go too far, driven by the long-standing antipathy among the media and political left for Mr. Murdoch and his rightward-leaning organs." In particular, "calls by some Democrats in Congress for the Justice Department to investigate News Corp. for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for example, are premature at best." And "suggestions that Britain should replace the newspaper industry’s self-regulatory body with official regulation are misguided and dangerous."

Frank Bruni on the Strange Case of the Arizona State Senator Pointing her Gun. These are the facts, as described by Frank Bruni: Richard Ruelas, who writes for The Arizona Republic, sat with State Senator Lori Klein just outside the Senate chamber to discuss her carrying a gun. He told Bruni, "'“I looked down and saw a red dot on my chest.' He looked up and realized the dot was the laser sight of the Ruger, which she carries in her pocketbook. Although he wasn’t sure just then whether it had bullets in it, she informed him — after she’d lowered the pistol — that it always does." There was a public outcry as "even Arizonans have their limits." Klein disputed the story at first, but then went quiet. Bruni writes, "You’d think Arizona would be cracking down on guns after the January bloodletting. You’d be wrong...It’s not entirely fair to single out Arizona. Just over a week ago, Wisconsin enacted a law allowing civilians to carry concealed weapons... And on the Federal level, gun-control legislation promoted in response to the Giffords shooting has gone nowhere fast." Bruni notes that meanwhile, "a cavalier attitude about guns persists and even flourishes." Klein's Ruger "is pink, like a Barbie convertible. Showing it to Ruelas, she reportedly said, 'Oh, it’s so cute.'" Writes Bruni: "No, Senator Klein, it’s not. It’s a potentially deadly weapon. When are you and the rest of the country going to wake up to that?"

Mark Zandi on How to Cut $4 Trillion. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, puts forth that "simply raising the debt ceiling enough to last through next year’s elections would appease global investors and sustain the economic recovery." However, he adds that it is "laudable that lawmakers have attempted to do more now," and "encouraging that they are coalescing around the same budget math." In short, the agreement is that "about $4 trillion over 10 years is the amount of deficit reduction needed to make the government’s fiscal situation sustainable." According to Zandi, this is how it can be done: first, "approximately $2 trillion in cuts would affect discretionary non-defense spending, defense outlays and entitlement programs." Then, "$1 trillion would come through cuts in tax expenditures — the exclusions, exemptions, deductions and credits that riddle the tax code." Zandi argues that most tax expenditures are "inefficient and regressive." Both of these spending cuts and tax-code changes "should not begin today or even next year," he clarifies, as "the recovery is too fragile right now." Finally, "remaining $1 trillion in spending cuts needed to reach the $4 trillion deficit-reduction target would result from lower interest payments on a smaller federal debt load as the other cuts are realized." Overall, he maintains that "Defaulting on the nation’s debt would be cataclysmic. The U.S. Treasury’s Aaa rating is the one constant in the world’s financial system... One misstep, and the government would have to pay higher interest rates for years, perhaps for generations."

Nicholas D. Kristof on the Danger of Cutting Education in the Face of Poverty. Kristof routinely writes about the need to educate young people in poorer, war-torn countries abroad, because "education is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to build a country." But his focus today is on how we have forgotten such lessons at home, as he looks to his old high school. "In a rural, blue-collar [areas], traditionally dependent on farming and forestry, school has always been an escalator to opportunity... In a rural, blue-collar area like Yamhill, traditionally dependent on farming and forestry, school has always been an escalator to opportunity." He notes that "70 percent of school districts nationwide endured budget cuts in the school year that just ended, and 84 percent anticipate cuts this year... In higher education, the same drama is unfolding." The country's suffering will be particularly great as education is arguably what propelled the U.S. to its super power status. "On the eve of World War I, only 1 percent of Britain’s young people graduated from high school, compared with 9 percent of Americans. By 1950, a majority of American youths were graduating from high school, compared with only 10 percent of British youths... [but] American pre-eminence in mass education has eroded since the 1970s." Instead, the rest of the world remains poised to take our place: "If you look for the classic American faith in the value of broad education to spread opportunity, you can still find it — in Asia."

If I was asked to assemble a team of American athletes to compete against similarly composed teams from the rest of the world in any sport, the most important decision would be the easiest," writes Bill Plaschke. "I would take a team of women." With the U.S. women's soccer team playing Japan on Sunday for the World Cup, Plashke argues that not only has Title IX "empowered them into a huge advantage over the rest of the world, but also because they consistently win in ways that our men sometimes neglect or ignore... With their status often based on nightly highlights and rich endorsements, the men's team athletes in this country are increasingly about themselves." On the other hand, Plaschke finds that, "perhaps because they receive little of the attention and none of the riches, most of our women athletes are all about one another. Our most hyped women's soccer star, Mia Hamm, never acted like a star. Our most glamorous women's basketball player, Lisa Leslie, was forever leaning down to give credit somewhere else." He finds a the sense of appreciation rather than the sense of privilege in women's sports: "It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. Because most of this country is insistent that women's team sports are not entertaining, women's team athletes here can barely make a living, so they play for something more. Thus, because they are not appreciated, they play a type of game that should be appreciated."

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