Five Best Thursday Columns
David Ignatius on the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Norm Ornstein on the Republican sabotage of Obama care, Glenn Greenwald on America's bipartisan support for NSA surveillance, David Skeel on the looming bankruptcy battle in Detroit,, and Maureen Callahan on Huma Abedin.
David Ignatius in The Washington Post on the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace process Just because Secretary of State John Kerry has kept the Israel-Palestinian peace process quiet, that doesn't mean he isn't making progress, Ignatius writes. "Kerry has been plugging along these past six months, and he seems to have gotten somewhere. People rarely make money gambling on Middle East peace, but once again, it’s time to place your bets." Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress reminds us that Kerry's push for peace "will require courage & leadership on all sides." But The Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg is doubtful: "On Middle East peace talks, @IgnatiusPost is somewhat more optimistic than I am."
Norm Ornstein in National Journal on Republican attempts to sabotage Obamacare It's one thing to argue vehemently against a law and oppose its passage, but what Republicans are doing against Obamacare "is simply unprecedented," Ornstein writes. "What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing." Faced with a disagreeable law, responsible lawmakers would attempt to repeal it (without excessive grandstanding), amend it, minimize its pain, or step back and watch it fail, but the current Republican leadership's undermining of Obamacare "is simply unacceptable, even contemptible." Ornstein's "haymakers" (as Huffington Post political editor Sam Stein dubbed them) got cheers from the White House, as Dan Pfeiffer tweets, "Everyone following Obamacare, politics or Congress [should] read Norm Ornstein's powerful essay the GOP sabotage efforts." New Republic staff writer Molly Redden tweets, "You've heard all the arguments Ornstein is making here before. But rarely with this much indignation and clarity."
Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian on American bipartisan support of the NSA The failure of the Amash amendment, which would have defunded the NSA's ability to collect phone metadata, dispels the myth that Republicans reject every Obama policy. "When it comes to foreign policy, war, assassinations, drones, surveillance, secrecy, and civil liberties, President Obama's most stalwart, enthusiastic defenders are often found among the most radical precincts of the Republican Party," Greenwald writes. Greenwald's reporting of NSA spying, with Edward Snowden's help, has rankled Americans like Dan Murphy of The Christian Science Monitor: "Greenwald writes that the NSA has ongoing program to collect phone records of every single American. Is this true?" (Yes, Greenwald responds.) And Greenwald has made waves even outside of the U.S. "And we thought bipartisanship was a thing of the past in American politics. Interesting piece from @GGreenwald," writes UK & Ireland correspondent Arjen van der Horst.
David Skeel in The Wall Street Journal on Detroit's pension v. bankruptcy battle Will Detroit be legally allowed to shed promised pension plans during its bankruptcy proceedings? It's a legal case without a clear precedent, and places the Michigan state law that pensions cannot be reduced against the federal bankruptcy law that city's be allowed to shed loans to restore economic health. Skeel, a UPenn law school professor, argues that the federal bankruptcy law should win this court battle. "None of this means that pensions can or should be restructured to the maximum extent possible. They shouldn't," he writes. "Thoughtful analysis," writes Economics Professor Simon C.Y. Wong, and The Guardian's finance and conomics editor Heidi N. Moore agrees: "Yes, lays our issues fairly."
Maureen Callahan in the New York Post on questioning Huma Abedin Callahan rails into the shamelessness of Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner's apology tours, and she holds little back when talking about Weiner's still-supportive wife, Huma Abedin. "Clearly, there is something very wrong with Abedin — whether it’s simply that she shares her husband’s vaulting ambition or that she has a pathological need to be publicly humiliated, something’s up," Callahan writes. "It’s the New York electorate that decides how far — not her, not Anthony, and certainly not Carlos Danger." Grumbling about Abedin's role began shortly after their uncomfortable press conference, but "The New York Post certainly went there rather bluntly," writes Colin Campbell of the New York Observer's Politicker blog. "The Post gives the story the kind of flood-the-zone coverage reflective of an episode reaching a climax," PowerLine blogger Scott Johnson writes. "They won’t have Weiner to kick around for much longer. They will miss him.