• Frank Rich on the GOP and Gay Rights  The New York Times columnist observes the Republicans' reaction to Adm. Mike Mullen calling for an end to "don't ask, don't tell":
There is now little political advantage to spewing homophobia. Indeed, anti-gay animus is far more likely to repel voters than attract them. This equation was visibly eating at Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, as he vamped nervously with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC last week, trying to duck any discernible stand on Mullen’s testimony. On only one point was he crystal clear: “I just plain do not believe in prejudice of any kind.”
  • Gerard Alexander on Liberal Condescension  In a Washington Post op-ed, Alexander decries a pattern of liberal thought that characterizes conservatives as irrational reactionaries:
Liberals have dismissed conservative thinking for decades, a tendency encapsulated by Lionel Trilling's 1950 remark that conservatives do not "express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas." During the 1950s and '60s, liberals trivialized the nascent conservative movement. Prominent studies and journalistic accounts of right-wing politics at the time stressed paranoia, intolerance and insecurity, rendering conservative thought more a psychiatric disorder than a rival. In 1962, Richard Hofstadter referred to "the Manichaean style of thought, the apocalyptic tendencies, the love of mystification, the intolerance of compromise that are observable in the right-wing mind."
  • Thomas Friedman on Al Qaeda in Yemen  The New York Times columnist writes on location: "Al Qaeda is like a virus. When it appears en masse, it indicates something is wrong with a country’s immune system. And something is wrong with Yemen’s. A weak central government in Sana rules over a patchwork of rural tribes, using an ad hoc system of patronage, co-optation, corruption and force. Vast areas of the countryside remain outside government control, particularly in the south and east, where 300 to 500 Qaeda fighters have found sanctuary."
  • Peter Beinart on What Fuels al Qaeda  The Daily Beast contributor explains the ebb and flow of al Qaeda strength: "In countries like Pakistan and Jordan, where al Qaeda keeps slaughtering innocent Muslims, its public support has fallen off a cliff. During the Bush years, the only thing that kept al Qaeda from complete ideological collapse was Muslim hatred of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our unblinking support for Muslim dictatorships and for Israel, and our use of torture at places like Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay."
  • Evan Thomas on Obama's Fiscal Agenda  The Newsweek columnist says the president needs to seriously address the nation's fiscal woes. Raising taxes and reducing government entitlements are a must. He paints a bleak picture of the country's fiscal health:
For many years, federal spending remained about 20 percent of the overall economy. But under Obama it's now a quarter of the economy. The national debt has grown to more than 50 percent of GDP, and according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it could plausibly approach 100 percent of GDP by 2020—a figure not reached since World War II. Unless something drastic happens—like significant tax increases and cuts in those sacred entitlement programs—the cost of the government will continue to outrun revenue by staggering margins.