Five Best Monday Columns
Bill Keller on Michael Bloomberg's legacy, Matt Lewis on the George Zimmerman trial, David Rivkin and Lee Casey on another legal challenge to Obamacare, Paul Krugman on farm bill hypocrisy, and Laurie Penny on the false compassion of pro-life advocates.
Bill Keller in The New York Times on Michael Bloomberg's legacy as mayor The former editor in chief of the Times argues that Bloomberg leaves behind a lasting legacy after his 12 years in office. "His City Hall, like his eponymous company, was built on the power of information. The great urban contraption that is New York City government has probably never been so well run." His initiatives, including the rejuvenation of public parks, the bike program, and the super-sized soda ban "were not always well sold, but they were never small ball," Keller explains. Reason's Mike Riggs is unpersuaded: "Why is Bill Keller the perfect biographer for Michael Bloomberg? Keller worships power, Bloomberg wields it." But Politico's Glenn Thrush claims Bloomberg's tenure has only really dramatically changed the city "If City=Manhattan."
Matt K. Lewis in The Week on George Zimmerman and minding your own business "In a sense, George Zimmerman was — at least up until the moments surrounding that fateful shot — arguably doing what we tell responsible citizens to do: Care about your community, and take personal responsibility for the betterment of it," writes Lewis. The key lesson of Trayvon Martin's death, then, "is to mind your own business. ... Your life will be a whole lot easier if you retreat inward. Don't worry about the community." Lewis's article has taken flak from fellow columnists for this point, atypical of the post-Zimmerman trial response; former Obama speechwriter and writer for The Atlantic Jon Lovett calls it "wild idiocy." But Breitbart columnist and radio host Derek Hunter tweets, "If you see something...you're probably not going to say anything. Especially now. Great piece."
David Rivkin and Lee Casey in The Wall Street Journal on the Obamacare delay "If there is one bedrock constitutional legal principle, it is that the president must 'faithfully execute' federal statutes," and President Obama's one-year postponement of Obamacare's employer mandate may soon threaten the individual mandate, Rivkin and Casey argue. A federal suspension of one part of the health care reform, but not another, gives almost all Americans the necessary legal standing to challenge the law. "They can also argue that only Congress can determine whether, once a statute is fundamentally changed post-enactment, it should survive or fall." Heritage Foundation legal fellow Andrew Grossman sees their column as a blueprint for "How to challenge the employer mandate suspension in the courts," while Quartz columnist and economics professor Miles Kimball wonders about a double standard at work: "What would we say if a President Romney had delayed the employer health insurance mandate as Obama has?"
Paul Krugman in The New York Times on Republican farm bill folly The Republican decision to strip food stamps from the farm bill was based on the idea that food stamp benefits make people so comfortable that they decide not to work — the backwards "Soup kitchens caused the Great Depression!" argument, Krugman writes. "Do you really believe that Americans are living lives of leisure on $134 a month, the average SNAP benefit?" Meanwhile, the farm bill's major benefits go to huge agribusiness companies, as Krugman writes, "I don’t think the word 'hypocrisy' does it justice." Marianne Mollman, a senior policy advisor at Amnesty International, tweets that Krugman's story shows the "political exploitation of the 'lazy poor.'" Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, laments how it is "fine to take taxpayers' $ and give to wealthy, just not the less fortunate."
Laurie Penny in The Guardian on the false compassion of abortion legislation Compassion is the motto of pro-life legislators, and "abortion, the rhetoric runs, hurts women – and women aren't capable of making adult decisions about their own bodies." Penny argues that if legislators truly cared about equal rights for women, they would understand that "any abortion pales in comparison to the trauma of being forced to carry and give birth to a child against your will." Penny's piece comes, as The Atlantic writer Hugo Schwyzer notes, amidst "widespread backlash against abortion rights," in states like Texas and North Carolina, as well as in Ireland. "If women denied control over body, they [are] 2nd class citizens," tweets Alia Waheed, a writer for The Guardian.