Five Best Friday Columns

Dax Shepard on kids and the paparazzi, Jason Edward Harrington on the TSA's failings, Russell Saunders on vaccinating your kids, Steve Benen on immigration, and Brian Beutler on the GOP's vindicative immigration plan. 

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Dax Shepard at The Huffington Post on kids and the paparazzi. "A few days ago my wife [actress Kristen Bell] and I wrote tweets urging folks to boycott publications that buy photos of celebrities' children without the consent of their parents (paparazzi generated pics). We got a myriad of responses, ranging from heartfelt solidarity to vitriolic rage," Shepard writes. He supports the California Senate bill that Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry worked to get passed, which "at the end of the day, limit the rights of the 'press' to 'alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize' children in the pursuit of 'news gathering,'" Shepard writes. "I am starting to use a lot of quotes. This is my snarky way of hinting that I don't believe entertainment paparazzi are actually 'press' any more than a peeping tom using a 'shoe-cam' at the local mall is 'press.' Nor do I think photographing children being held by a famous parent can be considered 'news gathering' by any definition. All that aside, I deeply value the freedom of the press and think it is an indispensable facet of a healthy democracy that should be protected fervently," he writes. Ultimately, "the consumer is the only one who can put an end to this." Salon's Mary Beth Williams tweets, "Great, articulate piece by on why NO ONE'S children deserve harassment by celeb 'reporters.'" Atlantic contributor Alison Agosti responds, "Loved this piece by cool dood ."

Jason Edward Harrington at Politico on the TSA. Harrington recalls his days as a TSA agent in Chicago: "By night, I took part in barbed criticism of U.S foreign policy; by day, I spent eight hours at O’Hare in a federal uniform, solemnly carrying out orders passed down from headquarters." He confesses, "I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots—the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying." Harrington continues, "I quickly discovered I was working for an agency whose morale was among the lowest in the U.S. government. In private, most TSA officers I talked to told me they felt the agency’s day-to-day operations represented an abuse of public trust and funds." Middle East scholar Andrew Exum tweets this line: "A determined terrorist’s best bet for defeating airport security would be to apply for a job with TSA."

Russell Saunders at The Daily Beast on vaccinating your kids. "If there is an issue more controversial and fraught with anger and frustration for pediatricians than the question of vaccine safety, I can’t think of it. Few topics are more apt to send my blood pressure skyrocketing than this," Saunders, a pediatrician, writes. When Saunders gets a new patient, "I always ask if the children are vaccinated, or if the parents intend to vaccinate once the child is born. If the answer is no, I politely and respectfully tell them we won’t be the right fit. We don’t accept patients whose parents won’t vaccinate them." He continues, "I often wonder why a parent who believes vaccines are harmful would want to bring their children to a medical doctor at all. After all, for immunizations to be as malign as their detractors claim, my colleagues and I would have to be staggeringly incompetent, negligent or malicious to keep administering them." RH Reality Check's Andrea Grimes recommends the post.

Steve Benen at MSNBC on immigration. "This year, the House is following a less traditional path [to immigration reform]. House GOP leaders have already rejected the popular and bipartisan Senate legislation, refusing to even allow members to vote on it. Instead, they have an outline of sorts, which is the result of negotiations between Republicans and other Republicans," Benen writes. "It’s important to note that scrutinizing the new Republican plan is difficult since there is no actual plan. What’s more, at this point, there’s no bill and no promise of a bill," he continues. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent tweets, "On immigration, gets it: 'GOP leaders, by relying on ambiguity, have left wiggle room for talks.'"

Brian Beutler at Salon on the GOP's vindictive immigration plan. "As expected, the Republican plan [for immigration reform] contains no eventual citizenship guarantee, which means they’re unprepared at this time to support a plan that explicitly contemplates allowing the 11 million to become voting citizens," Beutler explains. "Democrats are happy with the principles insofar as they nudge the process ever so slowly along, but a reform bill that precluded citizenship or erected severe roadblocks to citizenship would create obvious tension between Democrats and advocacy groups fighting for a citizenship guarantee," he writes. "If Republican leaders were serious about doing immigration reform anyhow, the sensible thing to do would be to ditch the vindictive crap and just pass something like the Senate bill. But the elephant in the room here is that even pragmatic Republicans are nervous about the prospect of creating millions of new voters, the majority of which would probably be Democrats. And that augurs poorly for Republicans passing anything this year at all."

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