Five Best Monday Columns

Michael Mukasey on the Supreme Court recusals, Margaret Heckel on Merkel, Adam Hochschild on Gingrich the historian, Arnold Schwarzenegger on renewable energy, and Michael Lewis on the 99 percent.

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Michael Mukasey in The Wall Street Journal on Supreme Court recusals Since the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the health care reform law, critics have called for Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves. "But upon even a cursory examination of the facts it is clear that neither justice should step aside," writes former attorney general Mukasey. Critics point out that Kagan served as solicitor general in the Obama administration when the law was passed. Meanwhile, Thomas's wife works with conservative groups that oppose the law. Mukasey describes the relevant parts of the law on disqualification of judges, and he argues that neither of their supposed biases really violate this law. Mukasey says the calls for recusal reflect the politicized selection process for judges that continues even after their appointment to the courts. He suggests we "stop the chatter about recusal, and let the court we have—for better or worse—decide the case."

Margaret Heckel in Bloomberg View on Angela Merkel During the 2008 financial crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel resisted her colleagues' calls to for a public spending campaign, waiting until 2009 to enact one that proved unusually successful. Now, "[Merkel] probably is the person who will decide whether and how the euro will survive. But her decision will come at the last possible moment. Merkel is famous for being able to withstand pressure," writes Heckel. Heckel describes another point in 2010 when European leaders met in Brussels and Merkel allowed advisers to wait until the last possible moment to help secure her preferred solution to a Greek debt crisis, one that didn't require Germany to shoulder most of the burden. "Merkel's political experience has shown her that when she has the gall to wait until the last minute, she is often able to force the hands of others to get the deal she wants," Heckel says.

Adam Hochschild in The New York Times on Gingrich's PhD thesis Newt Gingrich, who regularly reminds people he is an historian, once described Barack Obama as exhibiting "anticolonial behavior." Hochschild looks to his 1971 Tulane doctoral dissertation "Belgian Education Policy in the Congo 1945-1960" to see whether it tells us anything about him or his views on colonialism. The paper doesn't provide the racism or support for colonialism Gingrich's critics might want to find. Hochschild describes its analysis of the many schooling systems in the Congo, but criticizes it for a lack of "human detail," probably the result of his only interviewing Belgians, not Congolese people. Whereas the thesis of Woodrow Wilson, the last president to earn a PhD, provided fodder for decades of debate, Gingrich's is unlikely to ever receive as much scholarly scrutiny. Hochschild describes Gingrich as "clear-eyed" in criticizing colonialism's shortcomings, but concludes that the thesis doesn't  "show an original, creative historian at work."

Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Washington Post on funding renewable energy The government's support for new energy resources is lower now than ever. "it is absurd that our federal government spends tens of billions of dollars annually subsidizing the oil industry, which pulls diminishing resources from underground, while the industry focused above ground on wind, solar and other renewable energies is derided in Washington," writes Schwarzenegger. He argues that support for fossil fuels has been beneficial in the past, but that renewable resources deserve equal treatment, and he makes the case that government investment is necessary for them to get on their feet as it once was for coal. He says that focusing on a failed investment in Solyndra distracts from the larger issue, and he wants political candidates to instead suggest new ways the government can eliminate bad bets. "Imagine what the renewables industry would look like if the federal government leveled the playing field and showed the same dedication we have in California," he says.

Michael Lewis in Bloomberg View on the 99 percent "To: The Upper Ones From: Strategy Committee Re: The Counterrevolution," begins Lewis, formatting his column as a parodied message from wealthy Americans to some other-wordly recipient depicting a brutally honest political strategy. "Just weeks ago, in our first memo, we expressed concern that the big Wall Street banks were vulnerable to a mass financial boycott ... Now, we'll never know: The Lower 99's notion of an attack on Wall Street is to stand around hollering at the New York Stock Exchange," he writes. Still, Lewis's "planning committee" feels threatened because banks can no longer distract as many young, Ivy League graduates with analyst jobs out of college, and feels that the 99 percent will inevitably "turn against us," abandoning the idea that their fortunes are tied to those of the wealthy. In Greece, the 1 percent have succeeded by making themselves "invisible," so the citizens there don't expect anything from them. "Hence our committee's conclusion: We must be able to quit American society altogether, and they must know it."

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