Five Best Wednesday Columns

Gabrielle Giffords on rehab and ending gun violence, Alec MacGillis on poverty and politics, Heidi Moore on unemployment benefits, Jonathan Capehart on Rep. Aaron Schock, and Susan Schorn on self-defense and rape apology. 

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Gabrielle Giffords at The New York Times on rehab and ending gun violence. "Today, the anniversary of the shooting in Tucson that put a bullet through my head and killed six of my constituents, is when I make my annual resolutions," Giffords, a representative from Arizona from 2007-2012, writes. "Many may look at me and see mostly what I have lost. I struggle to speak, my eyesight’s not great, my right arm and leg are paralyzed, and I left a job I loved representing southern Arizona in Congress. But three years ago, dispatched to an almost certain death by an assassin’s bullet, I was allowed the opportunity for a new life," she insists. Then, after Newtown, Giffords and her husband "pledged to make it our mission to change laws and reduce gun violence in a way that was consistent with our moderate beliefs and our identities as proud gun owners." The gun lobby has, of course, made this difficult. But "I’ve seen grit overcome paralysis," Giffords writes. "My resolution today is that Congress achieve the same." Slade Sohmer, the editor of HyperVocal, tweets, "On [the] 3-year anniversary of Gabby Giffords' shooting, she's writing must-read op-eds and going skydiving."

Alec MacGillis at The New Republic on poverty and politics. "Don’t look now, but poverty is apparently having its moment, right up there with egg creams and stroller derbies. After years of being relegated to the political consultants’ do-not-touch list, it’s now on everyone’s lips," MacGillis writes. Even Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Rand Paul, and Newt Gingrich are talking about it. So "it's awfully tempting to dismiss the new conservative rhetoric of concern for the poor as a transparently cynical exercise in re-branding to head off a Democratic election-year attack," MacGillis explains. But ultimately, as Business Insider's Josh Barro notes, "Republicans have no legislative agenda that would address poverty." And "on some fronts, the Republican line is worse than non-existent — it is willfully deleterious. Take the opposition to expanding Medicaid in two dozen GOP-controlled states, despite the fact that the federal government will cover virtually the entire cost," MacGillis argues. MSNBC producer Jamil Smith tweets, "We shouldn’t confuse Republicans talking about poverty for a real plan to solve it, as makes clear."

Heidi Moore at The Guardian on unemployment benefits. "For some time, right-wing think tanks and conservative politicians have held on to a number of arguments that they believe prove it's a good idea to let unemployment benefits lapse for 1.3 million people. None of those arguments holds up under the least bit of scrutiny," Moore argues. To put it plainly, the "Republican opposition to extending unemployment benefits is dishonest. It also stands to alienate many Republican voters, particularly in the south, where poverty is widespread," Moore writes. The facts? While some Republicans argue that the unemployed just need to try harder to find a job, "the scale of the US unemployment problem is far past the reach of bootstrapping. The US has over 10 million people unemployed, 4 million of them for more than 6 months ... There are nearly another million people discouraged at being unable to find work, and 8 million others in low-wage, temporary jobs because they can't find full-time work. In short, it is the worst employment market since the recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s," Moore explains. Economist Mark Thoma recommends the column.

Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post on Rep. Aaron Schock. "That Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) is the focus of gay rumors is no shock. He is young, single, buff and very easy on the eyes. And he is unbelievably stylish," Capehart writes. But "Schock has consistently gone against measures supported by the LGBT community. ... [His] voting record is so anti-gay that he earned a zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization," Capehart explains. If Schock is gay, "there is no timetable to coming out," Capehart argues. And at this point, "it’s all gossip." The Jewish Daily Forward's Liam Hoare tweets this line: "Our first of three meetings since his 2008 election to Congress started with a 10-minute conversation about shoes."

Susan Schorn at The Hairpin on self-defense and rape apology. "I took my first empowerment-model self-defense class in 1999, and I've been teaching it since 2000. For 14 years, I’ve been deeply invested in this way of helping women, children, and other targeted populations discover their power and reduce their risk of harm," Schorn writes. Empowerment self-defense (ESD) teaches "practical skills within the context of rape culture." It made Schorn "stronger, more confident, more engaged in the fight to end violence. ... So I was surprised to learn last month that my embrace of empowerment self-defense marked me as not only a shitty feminist, but a perpetuator of rape culture." Some feminists believe that encouraging women to learn self-defense is letting rapists off the hook. But Schorn writes, "one survivor of assault I know pointed out, 'It takes all of 30 seconds to give a woman a self-defense tip. How long does it take to evangelize the world about violence against women?'" Until rape culture is abolished, women need self-defense tactics. Refinery 29 contributor Khadijah M. Britton tweets this line: "Aren’t we allowed to have a back-up plan? Can’t we ... teach men not to rape, & teach women to fight back against rape?"

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