Five Best Wednesday Columns
Peggy Noonan picks up a compelling conspiracy theory, Jeffrey Goldberg on Al-Jazeera's lack of journalistic standards, WalMart's Alex Barron threatens that the store will leave D.C., and Cass Sunstein argues against Obamacare's "haters."
Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on potential whistleblower harassment Noonan details the strange burglary of the law office representing State Department whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn, in which thieves broke in three separate times in one weekend just to take computers, but not any other items of value. What type of burglar would only want information? Noonan asks, likening the story to the Nixon administration's harassment of Daniel Ellsberg. "The burglary may or may not be a scandal—but if it is, it’s a big one." It's a tantalizing piece, and "Noonan has much more to say, all of it worth reading," writes Power Line's Scott Johnson, while Buzzfeed's Ben Smith writes, "Noonan is pretty much the last interesting columnist standing."
Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on the pro-Islamist Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera The fall of the Muslim Brotherhood has hurt the image of Al-Jazeera, Goldberg argues, and one former journalist called it a "propaganda channel." In particular, Goldberg criticizes Al-Jazeera's support of a pundit who is an "extremist's extremist," promotes female circumcision, and called for the punishment of gay people. The channel will open an American branch soon, and former Atlantic editor Timothy Lavin questions why a "putatively a journalistic outfit" would support such hate. Bloomberg questions how Al-Jazeera will address these "intrinsic paradoxes," as Stanford Law School National Security Advisor Arash Aramesh calls them.
Alex Barron in The Washington Post on Walmart's battles with the D.C. Council The "self-pitying Walmart executive" — Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg's words — will put the plans to build several D.C. WalMart stores on hold due to impending legislation that would raise the minimum wage by $5 an hour for large companies. "From day one, we have said that this legislation is arbitrary and discriminatory and that it discourages investment in Washington," Barron writes. Each WalMart would bring 300 jobs, Barron argues, and the company's threat is another reminder that economic "incentives matter, and free people respond to them," writes Mary Katharine Ham of HotAir.
Cass Sunstein in Bloomberg View on Obamacare's detractors No matter what Democrats do from now on with health care, its "haters" will always say that "Obamacare is a debacle," Sunstein writes. "Reasonable people have objections and concerns" but the conclusions of Obamacare's opponents "are motivated and preordained." Essentially, Sunstein argues that the debate is just "confirmation bias," David Shipley of Bloomberg View notes. "Much as I dislike Obamacare myself, found this piece and its arguments irresistible," Dan Gerstein of Gotham Ghostwriters writes.
Peter Mountford of Slate on normalizing stay-at-home fatherhood "More or less every week, a stranger informs me that I’m a 'hero' for taking care of my kids," Mountford, who is a stay-at-home dad of a 3-year-old and infant, writes. "Yes, taking care of kids is difficult and it is underappreciated work, especially if you’re also nurturing a career. But it’s not heroic." Oh, and stop calling him a babysitter, Mountford adds. Mountford strikes a resonant chord among mothers and fathers; science writer and self-described "mother to super-cute boys" Tara Roberts says its "too familiar!" while "full-time father" @wmhartnett tweets that "I almost never get the 'hero' thing." Still, it's a "great piece for all parents, working or staying home," the editor of Breaking News Lauren McCullough tweets.