Five Best Tuesday Columns

Kade Crockford on a Bill of Rights for drones, Bret Stephens on the Catholic Church's moral authority, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman on the Pentagon's budget, Steven Brill on the sky-high cost of health care, and James Kirchick on the conservative case for marriage equality.

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Kade Crockford in the Guardian on a Bill of Rights for drones We have an unprecedented ability to surveil (and strike) nearly any point on the surface of the globe — an unthinkable reality to the writers of the 18th century-era Bill of Rights that Kade Crockford says requires a fresh draft to address the United States's expanding drone program. "We need to bring the Bill of Rights into the 21st century," Crockford writes, "for the same reason the ACLU and others want the Obama administration to tell us its legal rationale for its overseas killing operations: the public should know what rules the government is bound by, particularly when it comes to our rights to privacy and due process." That might not be enough, though: "Ultimately, we need a mass movement for privacy. We also need to fundamentally rethink our relationship to the government in the post 9/11 era."

Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal on the Catholic Church's moral authority Does the Catholic Church, wrecked for the past decade by a massive, inter-connected child abuse scandal, maintain a claim on morality? Bret Stephens is skeptical: "No institution whose existence rests on moral teachings can be so populated by sexual predators, or so complicit in their predations." But he remains hopeful that the Church, long an agent of liberation in the developing world and among totalitarian states, will withstand its current crisis. "The world benefits from a church capable of wielding moral authority for the sake of great things," Stephens writes. "[T]o do that, however, the church's moral authority must be unimpeachable. It isn't, and it won't be until the church learns that to require the unnatural means, too often, to reap the despicable."

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman in The New York Times on the Pentagon's budget The "military-industrial complex," so the thinking goes, is the price of America's unmatched power and economic growth. Not so, says Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman: "America was prosperous long before it was a superpower; by 1890, decades before the two world wars, it was already the world’s largest and richest economy." Weighting the bipartisan effort to trim the Pentagon's bulging budget, Hoffman challenges leaders to step outside of postwar and Cold War thinking. "America since 1945 has paid a price in blood, treasure and reputation," she declares, adding, "Sharing the burden of security with our allies is more than a fiscal necessity. It's the sine qua non of a return to global normalcy."

Steven Brill at Reuters on the sky-high cost of health care Does the basic premise of our debate about health care need to be re-checked? Brill, who published a sprawling investigation in Time last week, reveals how he wrestled with the seemingly fixed paramaters of the health-care economy. "If you want to know why something is so expensive, figure out every element of its costs," he writes. "In other words, follow the money." After explaining how he sniffed out various vectors of profit along health care's food chain — administrators, salesmen, and so forth — Brill issues his conclusion in terms of information asymmetry: "There is no such thing as a free market in healthcare, if one defines a free market as a place where there is some balance of power between the buyer and the seller."

James Kirchick in the New York Daily News on the conservative case for marriage equality Bucking President Obama's line from Stonewall to the Supreme Court, James Kirchick considers the historical basis for recent efforts to portray gay marriage as a conservative movement to strengthen marriage itself: "It's no coincidence that the people who originally made the case for gay marriage back in the late 1980's and 1990's were gays of the center-right, like the writers Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch," he writes, arguing that "if conservatism is predicated on the belief that tradition is worth conserving, then there are few better ways of doing that then letting gay people marry — and strengthen — the convention."

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