Five Best Monday Columns
Brian Beutler doesn't want young people to skip Obamacare, Ken Menkhaus explains what the terrorist attack in Kenya was really about, Kenneth M. Pollack thinks containment is the best Iran policy, Jennifer Rubin questions Sens. Cruz and Lee, and Alice Robb debunks the "war on men."
Brian Beutler at Salon urges young people not to opt out of Obamacare. Beutler acknowledges that young, healthy people will pay more for health care than they get out of it the first few years. But, "they also enter a social contract that promises to provide them affordable coverage when they’re older and no longer healthy, as a form of back payment for cross-subsidizing today’s aged and ill." Beutler shares his own story of being randomly shot and incurring $200,000 in medical costs — with luck, he had mailed his insurance check the day before the incident. "My deductible more than cleared out my bank account, but in the end, my insurer paid almost every other penny, and saved me from bankruptcy or a lifetime of debt," he writes. Bottom line: "If you’re eligible for Obamacare, and people try to convince you otherwise, ask yourself if you think they’d be giving their own children the same advice." Matt O'Brien, who covers economics at The Atlantic, agrees: "Would you tell your kids to buy health insurance? The question answers itself."
Ken Menkhaus at ThinkProgress explains what the terrorist attack in Kenya was really about. Menkhaus, a professor at Davidson College who focuses on Somali issues, argues that the Westgate Mall attack illustrates the weakness of Somali militants Al-Shabaab, not its strength: "It was a desperate, high-risk gamble by Shabaab to reverse its prospects" by "recasting itself as the vanguard militia protecting Somalis against external enemies." So it is up to the Kenyan people and government to now show restraint. Nicholas Thompson, web editor of The New Yorker, tweets, "interesting. Why a weak Shabaab is more dangerous than a strong Shabaab," while Sarah Margon, the deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, calls the piece "top notch analysis."
Kenneth M. Pollack at The New York Times thinks that for Iran, containment is the best policy. Pollack, a former CIA analyst, argues that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's "desire to move Iran in a new direction should not blind the United States to the difficulties of achieving a diplomatic solution." Despite Rouhani's diplomatic inclinations, Pollack claims that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would have the final say. So if diplomacy doesn't work, containment is the answer — Pollack recommends harsh sanctions, cyber warfare, and covert assistance to the Iranian opposition in order to topple the current regime. Ali Gharib, who covers Middle East issues for The Daily Beast, makes this clarification about Rouhani: He's "genuinely for reform, but not part of pol camp."
Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post thinks Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have no idea what they're doing. The paper's conservative blogger argues that the Cruz-Lee plan to defund Obamacare gives "new meaning to the expression that 'there is no there, there.'" The senators' plan "would be blocking a bill which [they] actually support, which would fund the government but defund ObamaCare." But Cruz and Lee aren't concerned with these facts, Rubin writes — "they are actually intent on running into a concrete wall again and again to prove their political machismo." TechCrunch writer Alex Wilhelm calls Rubin's argument "mostly decent stuff."
Alice Robb at The New Republic debunks the "war on men" myth. Robb challenges Christina Hoff Sommers, who claims that “the powerful women’s lobby is fighting a war of attrition against men.” Robb spoke to Sommers at The National Review and Independent Women's Forum's "is there a war on women?" debate. To hear Sommers and the other conservative pundits tell it, boys aren't doing as well in school because the American education system has been "feminized." Robb points out that "high school boys still get higher SAT scores, participate more actively in class discussions, and study science, technology, engineering and math at much higher rates than girls." Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor at The National Review and a columnist for Bloomberg View, also points out this fact: "Obama won women by 18 points."