Five Best Tuesday Columns
John McTernan on the Al-Jazeera journalists sentenced to prison in Egypt, Ana Marie Cox on how Hillary Clinton has to own up to her wealth, Dana Milbank on Darrell Issa’s subpoena mania, Mel Robbins on why George Will is wrong about sexual assault, Joshua Kopstein on why the new Amazon phone is not your friend.
John McTernan at The Telegraph on the Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to prison in Egypt. “For the three al-Jazeera journalists who have been languishing in Egypt’s jails, the excruciating wait is over – and justice, having been so long delayed, has now been denied. The three men were accused of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood, but in reality they were simply doing their job: reporting the news. And now they face a seven-year prison sentence for it. Despite the many reverses and disasters in the wake of the Arab Spring, many countries in the region (and elsewhere) are still engaged in the long and gruelling process of growing democratic institutions. Central among them must be a free press,” McTernan writes. “So many voices have – rightly – been raised in condemnation of the sentencing of the journalists in Egypt. Prominent among them is that of Index on Censorship, a British NGO noted in the past for its sterling work in defending press freedom globally. But in Egypt, things will look very different.” Al Jazeera’s Andrew McFadyen tweets, “Rarely agree with @johnmcternan but he's right on this: jailing @AJEnglish journalists is an assault on press freedom.”
Ana Marie Cox at the Guardian on how Hillary Clinton has to own up to her wealth. “American politicians have long sought to identify with the working class, but it's rare that they've claimed actual bankruptcy. When Hillary Clinton told Diane Sawyer this month that her family – the Clinton family – was ‘dead broke’ upon leaving the White House, that giant sucking sound you heard was the Democratic party holding its breath. The gaffe probably comes too early in the cycle to truly damn Clinton's presidential aspirations, but her stiff recovery is a stark reminder that Hillary, whatever her qualifications and accomplishments, is not the campaigner her husband was,” Cox writes. “By refusing to acknowledge her wealth, Clinton continues in an American tradition of defining ‘middle class’ as whatever one's family is worth, regardless of the country's actual average or median income. She has always been willing to use her resumé as a reason to vote for her, so why won't she brandish the family bank account as yet more proof of the Clintons' intelligence and hard work?”
Dana Milbank at The Washington Post on Darrell Issa’s subpoena mania. "Issa has a genuine scandal in the IRS’s claim that many of former employee Lois Lerner’s e-mails were lost because her hard drive crashed. But instead of keeping the focus on the agency, he has responded as he has repeatedly — by drawing attention to himself. You might say Issa has subpoena envy,” Milbank writes. “The IRS’s belated discovery and admission to Congress that it lost a chunk of Lerner’s e-mails is inexcusable — just as inexcusable as similar e-mail gaps that were discovered during investigations of the Clinton administration’s fundraising practices and the George W. Bush administration’s firing of U.S. attorneys and memos on torture. Issa’s anger about the e-mails would be more compelling if he had shown more interest in these previous episodes, or in fixing the woeful state of the federal government’s electronic records — and less in the angle of his witness’s raised right arm.”
Mel Robbins at CNN on why George Will is wrong about sexual assault. “By now you've either heard about or read George Will's controversial column on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. Will's take is that the numbers are ‘preposterous’ and using ‘simple arithmetic’ he can prove the ‘supposed campus epidemic of rape’ just ain't so. He goes on to claim that efforts to address the issue on campuses is ‘making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimizations.’ I'd no more want to have a conversation with George Will about sexual assault on college campuses than I wish to discuss racism with Donald Sterling. Both men are shockingly out of touch with reality,” Robbins writes. “George Will argues that ‘Washington’ and ‘progressivism’ are to blame for creating a ‘supposed’ epidemic of campus rape. Wrong. Colleges prefer to sweep sexual assault cases under the rug, but students have brought the issue to light. The reason why so many women haven't come forward until now is because victims assumed nothing would happen, or even worse, they'd face someone like George Will who'd put the blame right back on the victim.”
Joshua Kopstein at Al-Jazeera America on why the new Amazon phone is not your friend. “What happens when the phone in your pocket — a machine holding intimate details about your life and relationships — becomes a tool of consumption in service to a single corporation? We tend to consider computers tools that act as extensions of our will. With the rise of the smartphone, this idea of computers as general-purpose machines fully under our control has quickly fallen by the wayside. Many mobile devices are becoming more akin to household appliances, deliberately crafted to perform a handful of functions while arbitrarily discouraging or disallowing others,” Kopstein writes. “Amazon’s Fire phone is perhaps the most ambitious realization of this captive consumer dynamic. The company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has been fairly candid about the primary purpose of Amazon’s hardware: to get the device’s owner to buy more stuff. So where does Amazon end and your device begin? It’s a distinction that is increasingly and worryingly hard to draw.”