Five Best Wednesday Columns

Peggy Orenstein on Komen, Amy Davidson on religion, Edwin Truman on Europe, Susan Crawford on public internet, and Holman Jenkins, Jr. on Romney. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Peggy Orenstein in the Los Angeles Times on scrutinizing Komen As Orenstein observed the Komen Foundation rescind its Planned Parenthood funding then reverse course, she watched a friend die of metastic cancer and noted that the death rate for those with metastic disease hasn't changed in 25 years. "That controversy ought to motivate us to dig deeper, to push harder to understand how the money so generously and, frankly, blithely donated to breast cancer causes is spent," she writes. Komen, for instance, reserves 15 percent of its budget for research and almost half of it for "awareness" and mammography support. She argues Komen doesn't discriminate among its many corporate partners and marginalizes the experiences of those who won't survive the disease, and she says perhaps donors should look to other charities that do better. "I hope that those who protested the Planned Parenthood move keep going, demanding — insisting — that rather than just making people feel good, the organization actually does good."

Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on Obama and religion For years, a chain e-mail has circulated purporting that President Obama had cancelled a National Day of Prayer ceremony while a Day of Prayer ceremony was held for Muslims on Capitol Hill. "Neither was true," writes Davidson, but, "The e-mail points at a couple themes that have emerged in the campaign, and the dangerous way they are intertwined." She describes how the candidates portrayed Obama's conflict with the Catholic Church as part of a broader war on Christianity. That debate feeds into one about Obama's identity, with claims that he's overly secular quickly feeding into claims of his "affinity for Islam." Beyond the election, Davidson worries about the effect of this discourse on millions of Americans who are, in fact, free from religion or practicing Islam. "The primary races have left us with a degraded political discourse. Will there be an even steeper descent once the general election begins?"

Edwin Truman in The New York Times on aiding Europe The Euro crisis marks the third time the continent has fallen into conflict while America sat on the sideline. But as in the two World Wars, "the crisis over the euro will require further American involvement — whether we like it or not," writes Truman. He notes that the U.S. doesn't want the IMF and non-European members to contribute financial assistance, and points out the good reasons for this. But to avoid macroeconomic effects, the U.S. should lead and set stronger conditions for funding among European countries. Truman lists his proposed conditions, including reversal of budget tightening measures, lowering the central bank's financing rates, and the creation of a $1 trillion safety net. "Given the economic and financial damage inflicted by Europe on the rest of the world, the United States must insist that these promises be strengthened, and speedily fulfilled."

Susan Crawford in Bloomberg View on public internet Several states are considering or have passed laws effectively banning municipalities from providing high-speed internet networks. "Mayors across the U.S. are desperate to attract good jobs and provide residents with educational opportunities, access to affordable health care, and other benefits that depend on affordable, fast connectivity -- something that people in other industrialized countries take for granted. But powerful incumbent providers such as AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are hamstringing municipalities." Crawford likens it to the struggle of municipalities to set up their own electricity utilities 100 years ago when corporate providers largely ignored rural areas. She uses statistics to show that the U.S. is far behind other countries in rates of high-speed internet access, and argues that public sector involvement could help. "Congress needs to intervene. One way it could help is by preempting state laws that erect barriers to the ability of local jurisdictions to provide communications services to their citizens."
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. in The Wall Street Journal on Romney and tax reform In waiting until it was necessary before quickly and effectively destroying Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and his campaign proved themselves effective at "getting it done."  "But get what done? Off to the side persists the debate about his business career and his taxes, and meanwhile President Obama just put taxes at the center of the 2012 election ... Mr. Romney might give his candidacy some life with a straightforward promise: Tax reform will deliver prosperity, and I will deliver tax reform." Romney could borrow Obama's language of bipartisanship to point out that both parties have supported the idea of tax reform. Jenkins says Obama doesn't really want it because he prefers using tax benefits to aide certain parties and promote certain ideas. Romney "could not only point to Mr. Obama's failure to act, but explain why—because it would conflict with the campaign of class resentment that he and his surrogates are so busy denying they intend to run on in the fall."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.