Five Best Friday Columns

Kevin Roose argues Wall Street's gotten better since Lehman, Sebastian Junger says war might be the best chance for peace, Ben Birnbaum predicts an Israeli strike against Iran, Daniel D'Addario claims Megan McCain is the worst Millennial, and Jonathan Weil still isn't happy with the SEC. 

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Kevin Roose at New York argues Wall Street has gotten better since Lehman went bust. Sunday is the fifth anniversary of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy filing that set off the worst stock market sell-off since the Great Depression, so Roose looks at five common complaints against the financial industry and how they're used to make the "overbroad conclusion" that "the financial sector is no safer or wiser today than it was when Lehman collapsed." He calls the conclusion "ludicrous" since it entrenches cynicism and ignores actual reformers. Michael Grunwald, a senior national correspondent at Timewrites that it's "amazing this even needs to be said, but good for @kevinroose." Matt Yglesias, who covers economics for Slate, calls the piece a "good read" and agrees that the notion Wall Street hasn't changed is a "myth."

Sebastian Junger argues that sometimes war is the best chance for peace. Junger, a war journalist and filmmaker who made the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo, traces the history of American intervention in foreign wars, arguing that sometimes those interventions are necessary to bring peace. He says the most common objection to strikes in Syria is that "the United States is not the world's policeman . . . that is a very tempting position, but it does not hold water." The U.S.'s privileged position in the world necessarily gives it extra obligations — like addressing the Assad regime's use of sarin gas. Junger writes, "at some point, pacifism becomes part of the machinery of death, and isolationism becomes a form of genocide." New York Times reporter Ravi Somaiya points out one of the more striking lines in the piece: "If you have a bumper sticker that says 'No Blood For Oil,' it had better be on your bike." David Kenner, the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy, tweets, "Seb Junger's Syria article is a reminder that I've yet to meet a foreign correspondent who's also an isolationist."

Ben Birnbaum at The New Republic thinks Israel will strike Iran by the end of 2014. Birnbaum, a Jerusalem-based writer for TNR and Newsweek, questions "how the handwringing in Washington will affect the calculus in Jerusalem as Israel continues to debate military action" in Iran. Birnbaum thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have ordered a strike on Iran already had it not been for intense "American pressure" to not do so. Now, President Obama seems "gun-shy" on Syria, and Netanyahu has noticed, making an attack on Iran more likely. Birnbaum predicts an Israeli strike on Iran by the end of next year, or sooner. Jonathan Kay, an opinion editor at Toronto's National Postsays he's been reading about a potential strike for "years now." Josh Gerstein, a White House reporter at Politico, also seems unconvinced: "this guy says [a strike will happen by] spring '11."

Daniel D'Addario at Salon crowns Meghan McCain the worst of Millenial culture. He discusses McCain's new talk show/unscripted series, Raising McCain: "Meghan McCain is the epitome of . . . the media perception of a millennial. The media wished that millennials, as a group, could be self-absorbed, entitled and unimaginative; Meghan McCain rose to the challenge." Her self-absorption results in context-free discussion of why feminism isn't necessary for today's women; it's more fun to be sexy. Ron Fournier, the editorial director of the National Journal, agrees with D'Addario that McCain "rose to the challenge," while Oliver Willis, a research fellow at Media Matters, thinks McCain is "just like dad."

Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg News says fraudsters should be pretty happy with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Weil writes that SEC Chairman Mary Jo White's pledge to make more fraudsters confess their crimes, "as opposed to the SEC’s usual practice of letting them pay fines without admitting anything," isn't going so well. In fact, fraudulent lenders should "applaud" the SEC, because they are still getting away with a lot. Weil also argues that there's no common standard for who has to admit guilt and who doesn't — the policy is "ad-hoc." Marcus Baram, the managing editor of the International Business Times," writes Weil's piece is a "must-read." Shahien Nasiripour, the chief financial and regulatory correspondent at The Huffington Post, calls it "brutal" and "accountability at its finest."

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