Five Best Tuesday Columns

Eugene Robinson on losing the drug war, Brian Beutler on the Right and the minimum wage, Jim O'Toole on a city's political makeover, Alex Seitz-Wald on Elizabeth Warren's party, and Sam Biddle on Sheryl Sandberg. 

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Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post on losing the drug war. "Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is yet another victim of the war on drugs. Prohibition is not working. It is time to try something new," Robinson insists. "Why would a man held in such high esteem, a man with so much going for him and so much to live for, risk it all by buying illegal drugs from a criminal on the street and then injecting them into his veins? For the same reason any addict uses drugs: to get high," he writes. "Our drug policy of prohibition and interdiction makes it difficult and dangerous for people like Hoffman to get high, but not impossible — and it makes these tragic overdose deaths more common than they have to be."

Brian Beutler at Salon on why the Right dodges minimum wage questions. "It’s no great secret that Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage," Beutler writes. "They don’t pretend it’s something they want to do under any circumstances. They don’t even really bother disguising their opposition. They cloak their view in dated and oversimplified economic arguments about labor demand and economic growth when the real impediment is ideological, and so it’s a somewhat better kept secret that many Republicans oppose the minimum wage altogether," he continues. Town Hall's Kevin W. Glass tweets that this "genre of punditry is repugnant."

Jim O'Toole at Politico on a city's political makeover. "On Jan. 10, his fourth day as Pittsburgh’s new mayor, Bill Peduto told a left-leaning crowd that his very arrival heralded a new dawn. 'There has become a chasm, a canyon, between the haves and the have-nots,' he said. 'Tuesday, Pittsburgh changed from an old boys’ network city to a progressive city,'" O'Toole explains. "The city’s political shifts reflect the dramatic demographic changes of an old city getting younger — and helped produce it. Peduto, an enthusiastic 49-year-old former councilman who tweets almost as much as Cory Booker, ran on appeals to 'the new Pittsburgh.' He embraced a trendy, bottom-up, community-based approach to development, in contrast to rule of power brokers that have characterized much of the city’s history," O'Toole argues. Mayor Peduto tweets, "The Next Pittsburgh gets national attention."

Alex Seitz-Wald at National Journal on President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. After the State of the Union, "any doubt about whether the Democratic Party would embrace economic populism can now be put to rest. The party is united behind an agenda that puts economic inequality front-and-center, and they think voters will reward them for it," Seitz-Wald writes. Sen. Elizabeth Warren "did not move the needle alone, and perhaps was just a leading indicator of these changing winds, but her once-insurgent message has now become mainstream in the party, albeit with some edges sanded off," he insists. "What's changed? Part of it is that President Obama finally realized Republicans were unlikely to be very fruitful negotiating partners, freeing him to speak his mind without fear of damaging bipartisan deal-making. Meanwhile, macro-economic trends toward greater inequality continue apace, as Democratic-leaning demographic groups expand in size and voting power."'

Sam Biddle at Valleywag on Sheryl Sandberg. "Chairman Sandberg's Great Lean Forward isn't about advancing women, it's about advancing the right women — those who want to advance corporate America in turn. Maybe this is why the ostensibly feminist foundation chose to highlight Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen?" Biddle asks. Ros-Lehtinen voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. "What could Lean In be getting out of boosting Ros-Lehtinen, who voted against equal pay protection for women? Coincidentally, the congresswoman has been a strong proponent of the exact same strain of immigration reform favored by Sandberg's friend and coworker Mark Zuckerberg, his pet project, and other powerful Silicon Valley interests: she's voted twice for the STEM Jobs Act of 2012," Biddle explains.

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