Five Best Monday Columns

Michael Macleod-Ball and Gabe Rottman on the IRS's wrongful targeting, Elizabeth Cline on the clothing made in the collapsed Bangladesh factory, Emily Nussbaum on Don Draper's evolution, Matthew Winkler on his company's accountability, and Michelle Cottle on Republican masculinity.

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Michael Macleod-Ball and Gabe Rottman at CNN on the IRS's wrongful targeting "The extraordinary revelation this week that the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea party groups for more aggressive enforcement highlights exactly why caution is needed in any response to the much-vilified Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC.," write Michael Michael Macleod-Ball and Gabe Rottman, both of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It also shows how all Americans, from the most liberal to the most conservative, should closely guard their First Amendment rights, and why giving the government too much power to limit political speech will inevitably result in selective enforcement against unpopular groups." The pair continues: "The IRS announcement demonstrates that we should carefully consider any new policy that allows the government to restrict or chill political speech, including broader donor disclosure requirements." Evan Soltas at The Washington Post pushed back a bit on this line of argument: "It is worth remembering an important fact here: The IRS is supposed to reject groups that are primarily political from registering as 501(c)4s. If they’re going to do that, then they need some kind of test that helps them flag problematic applicants. And that test will have to be a bit impressionistic." Meanwhile Lauren French at Politico asks, "The IRS developments couldn’t come at a worse time for the White House, which has spent months courting GOP support for everything from gun control to an overhaul of immigration laws. If the administration’s recent GOP charm offensive bought any goodwill, it seems to be on short supply now."

Elizabeth Cline at The Nation on the clothing made in the collapsed Bangladesh factory Elizabeth Cline investigates the kinds of clothes made in the Bangladesh factory that collapsed in late April, killing well over a thousand workers, beginning with a hat bought at the clothing brand Port Authority. She eventually finds a report about the factory conditions in which the hat was manufactured: "It’s actually quite rare to be able to get even this amount of information about a clothing factory used by a major brand and even rarer to be able trace a specific item (a hat) back to a specific factory, one that might have actually created that hat," she writes. "But, even then, the report does little to inspire consumer confidence. It does not disclose the name of the factory or the address nor does it give any real sense of what the factory is like. It also reveals a string of noncompliance issues, among them wage violations, a lack of accurate payroll records, a handful of faulty smoke detectors and fire extinguishers that were partially blocked by embroidery machines. And there is no public record of when and if these issues were resolved." Ann Zimmerman and Neil Shah at The Wall Street Journal take a broader view of America's demand for inexpensive clothing: "Americans' appetite for cheap clothes is one of the strongest of the economic forces that led to a boom in Bangladesh, with the resulting race to add manufacturing capacity setting the stage for the series of horrific accidents. U.S. consumers have become accustomed to spending relatively little on clothing compared with other items—and getting a lot for their money."

Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker on Don Draper's evolution What has become of Don Draper in season six of Mad Men? "As the island was to Lost, Don Draper is to Mad Men," observes Emily Nussbaum. "He was a great premise, a mystery we were dying to understand. But, the more the puzzle has been filled in, the more he’s begun to feel suspiciously like a symbol, a thesis title rather than a character: 'Appearance Versus Reality'; 'American Masculinity as Performance'; 'The Links Between Prostitution, Marriage, and the Ad Game.'" Played by Jon Hamm, Draper has become something of a burden: "Instead of being the show’s engine, [Draper] has become its anchor—heavy, even in the sixties sense. This is true despite the excellent performance of Hamm, who remains the most watchable man on earth, even when he’s doing nothing but glaring over a tumbler of Scotch." As Hanna Rosin suggests at Slate, Draper is becoming an artifact of his time: "Don isn’t putting it on, exactly. He’s really just having a showdown with himself. The new age belongs to men like [Draper's professional rival Ted Chaough], who come to meetings on time, who have semi-productive brainstorming sessions, who don’t drink at the office, who are inspired by lowbrow shows on TV."

Matthew Winkler at Bloomberg View on his company's accountability Matthew Winkler addresses the recently-unveiled, and apparently widespread, practice among Bloomberg News reporters of using Bloomberg terminals to keep tabs on employees at financial firms where the terminals were installed. "We are defined by our words," Winkler begins, referring to a memo called The Bloomberg Way, "and they applied to us when a Bloomberg LP customer expressed concern that Bloomberg News reporters had access to limited client information. Our client is right. Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable." But according to Amy Chozik at The New York Times, the practice was at least implicitly encouraged, if not by Winkler himself, as a way to stay ahead in the famously competitive Bloomberg newsroom. "The sheer amount of data available on the terminals created a dynamic in the Bloomberg newsroom in which some reporters favored breaking news over strict subscriber confidentiality," she writes, before quoting one reporter: "There was always a discussion in the newsroom of how to use the terminals to break news. ... That’s where it gets nuanced because I’m sure that in encouraging people to break news, Matt [Winkler] did not mean in this way."

Michelle Cottle at The Daily Beast on Republican masculinity Michelle Cottle spots a pattern among the rising stars of the Grand Old Party, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who otherwise couldn't more less alike: "One is a twangy Texan with that shit-kicking, boot-wearing thing going on ... the other is a Jersey bruiser, with a (much-discussed) physique reminiscent of Tony Soprano after a donut bender. But both are delivering a booster shot of testosterone ... that hard-to-define-but-easy-to-recognize machismo that no amount of therapy, media training, or psycho-pharmaceuticals can impart." Which is crucial, she argues: "This essence of manliness is central to the GOP’s mythology. The Daddy Party cherishes its self-image as the party of toughness, of self-reliance, of up-by-the-bootstraps fortitude. ... seeing as how the GOP is increasingly a guy's party, both demographically and culturally, it really should have at least a couple of men out there who can walk the walk and talk the talk." But it's unclear what such a message of self-reliance will do for the party. The Atlantic's Michael Wear, for one, hopes "Republicans [will] reject the 'radical individualism' of the last four years, and return to a compassionate conservatism that remembers our bonds and obligations to one another."

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