Must Read Op-Eds for Monday, November 7, 2011

Updated
 

 

THE INVENTION OF OUTRAGE  BY FRANK BRUNI
NEW YORK TIMES

This isn’t the media’s finest hour. The focus of late has been on charges of sexual harassment against [Herman Cain] when he headed the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. If they prove indisputably true he’s a boor, a bully and maybe a bit of a predator: three more reasons he shouldn’t be president. But we didn’t need them. We had at least 999 already. That sometimes got lost in the discussion, as did the sad prevalence of men in high places seeking to take sexual advantage of subordinates, or at least behaving insensitively. If Cain is among them, it’s certainly relevant to his fitness for office. But it’s hardly revelatory.

The Greek tragedy is one of degree, and the Greeks are magnified versions of the rest of us, paying a magnified price. To cast them as villainous outliers may be cathartic, but it isn’t honest or entirely just. Honest. Just. Such lofty adjectives all but demand a pivot back to Kardashian. For those of you unfamiliar with her rise to renown, here’s a crash course: naked in a sex video leaked in 2007; naked in a 2007 issue of Playboy; a reality show; another reality show; a friendship with Paris Hilton; a cupcake flavor in her honor named Va-Va-Va-Nilla; clothes for Sears called the Kardashian Kollection; a book titled “Kardashian Konfidential.” She really knows how to work a konsonant. Beyond that her talents are ambiguous. Like other celebrities famous for being famous, she means nothing and can thus mean everything, an empty vessel accommodating all manner of observations, a malleable moral for many stories.

HERE COMES SOLAR ENERGY  BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
Let’s face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers’ money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar. So what you need to know is that nothing you hear from these people is true. Fracking is not a dream come true; solar is now cost-effective. Here comes the sun, if we’re willing to let it in.

 

THE NEXT FIGHT OVER JOBS  BY EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES
Unemployment benefits are the first line of defense against ruin from job loss that is beyond an individual’s control. In a time of historically elevated long-term unemployment, they are an important way to keep workers connected to the job-search market. They are also crucial to ensuring that the weak economy doesn’t weaken further. They clearly need to be extended, though we have no illusion that it will happen without a fight.

 

ELECTION 2012’S GREAT RELIGIOUS DIVIDE  BY E.J. DIONNE
WASHINGTON POST
Here’s the hardest part: We all have to ask ourselves whether what we claim to be hearing as the voice of faith (or of God) may in fact be nothing more than the voice of our ideology or political party. We should also ask whether candidates are merely exploiting religion to rally some part of the electorate to their side. The difficulty of answering both questions — given the human genius for rationalization — might encourage a certain humility that comes hard to most of us, and perhaps, above all, to people who write opinion columns.

 

HOW ABOUT A DEBATE OF SUBSTANCE?  BY GEORGE WILL
WASHINGTON POST
Most of the candidates have disparaged Barack Obama’s decision that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq this year. (Ron Paul considers the withdrawal of U.S. assets insufficiently thorough; but, then, he might favor U.S. withdrawal from territories of the constitutionally dubious Louisiana Purchase.) What is the candidates’ objection to Obama implementing the status-of-forces agreement that his predecessor signed in 2008? The candidates should answer three questions: How many troops would they leave in Iraq? For how long? And for what purpose? If eight years, 4,485 lives and $800 billion are not enough, how many more of each are they prepared to invest there? And spare us the conventional dodge about “listening to” the “commanders in the field.” Each candidate is aspiring to be commander in chief in a nation in which civilians set policy for officers to execute.

 

PRESIDENT ROBIN HOOD  BY KATHLEEN PARKER
WASHINGTON POST
Intensity polling shows that Republicans are far more fired up than Democrats as we approach the 2012 election. So Obama is substituting scold and blame for hope and change. We’re not a red/blue country. We’re a rich/poor nation, and the president is casting himself as Robin Hood. It’s an ugly gamble that could backfire. People can sustain anger and resentment for only so long, especially when these emotions are fundamentally at odds with the better angels of their identity. Americans are an optimistic, generous lot, confident in their ability to weather difficulties and invent solutions. Ingenuity is in their bones. In the end, they tend to prefer the candidate who can tap into the American reservoir of good will and can-do-ness. The next president won’t likely be the angriest man standing.

 

A LOOK INSIDE THE SUPER COMMITTEE  BY STEPHEN MOORE
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Nevertheless, Democratic negotiators on the panel won’t acknowledge that fiscal fact of life. They insist that those who lose health-care benefits under Medicare or Medicaid be moved into the subsidy system under ObamaCare, which negates most of the budget savings. And they’ve taken any reforms of the $2.4 trillion ObamaCare program off the table. The White House, meanwhile, has not participated in the negotiations, which irks GOP negotiators. If there is no deal, there will be a $1.2 trillion sequester of spending over the next 10 years with nearly $600 billion coming out of the defense budget.

 

THE CORPORATE WELFARE STATE  BY EDITORIAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Occupy Wall Street protesters aren’t good at articulating what they want, but one of their demands is “end corporate welfare.” Well, welcome aboard. Some of us have been fighting crony capitalism for decades, and it’s good to have new allies if liberals have awakened to the dangers of the corporate welfare state. Corporate welfare is the offer of special favors—cash grants, loans, guarantees, bailouts and special tax breaks—to specific industries or firms. The government doesn’t track the overall cost of these programs, but in 2008 the Cato Institute made an attempt and came up with $92 billion for fiscal 2006, which is more than the U.S. government spends on homeland security… With American federal debt headed toward the worst European levels, this is an issue that should unite the tea party, the Occupy Wall Street protesters and Congressional deficit-cutters.

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Must Read Op-Eds for Monday, November 7, 2011

Updated