• Paul Krugman on Ireland and the Financial Crisis The New York Times columnist and economist takes the comparative route in explaining the causes of the financial crisis, looking to the experience of different countries for guidance. His test case of choice: Ireland. Puzzled by an Irish financial crisis that so closely resembles the United States' but lacks the usual suspects like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and "exotic financial instruments," Krugman finds four major commonalities between the Land of the Free and the Emerald Isle:
First, there was irrational exuberance: in both countries buyers and lenders convinced themselves that real estate prices, although sky-high by historical standards, would continue to rise...Second, there was a huge inflow of cheap money...Third, key players had an incentive to take big risks, because it was heads they win, tails someone else loses...But the most striking similarity between Ireland and America was "regulatory imprudence": the people charged with keeping banks safe didn't do their jobs.
  • Thomas Friedman on a Pair of American Entrepreneurs In a Saturday New York Times column, Friedman relates the stories of Vinod Khosla and K. R. Sridhar, two founders of "clean-tech start-ups that have the potential to be disruptive game changers." Khosla's firm works to convert carbon dioxide emissions to solid, calcium-rich construction materials; Sridhar has devised a process by which he can generate clean electricity from "natural gas or biogas... at 8 to 10 cents a kilowatt hour." Friedman lauds the innovation of these men and stresses that while "America still has the best innovation culture in the world... we need better policies to nurture it, better infrastructure to enable it and more open doors to bring others here to try it."
  • Dahlia Lithwick on the Politics of Disgust In a provocative column, the Slate senior editor considers the extent to which visceral emotions like revulsion and fear have shaped the policy debate over American gay rights. Using Martha Nussbaum's new book, From Disgust to Humanity, as a jumping-off point, Lithwick argues that when it comes to discussions of extending certain legal privileges to gay men and women, much of the rhetoric takes place "at the level of Beavis and Butthead, chasing each other around in circles with a stick that once touched poop." While Lithwick considers only one aspect of the gay-rights debate, her argument for imaginative empathy as "a way to reach beyond your own experience" is striking.
  • David Broder on Charlie Rangel's Fall The Washington Post columnist breaks ranks to sympathize with the embattled Rangel, who recently dealt with ethics violations in the House. The New York Democrat earned Broder's praise for his no-nonsense, no-frills politics. "He had the guts to take out the redoubtable -- and crooked -- Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. And he had the guts to tell Hillary Rodham Clinton, with her Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and Arkansas addresses, that she could become the senator from New York -- and he would help. I hate seeing him fall."
  • Fred Barnes on the GOP's 2012 Candidates The executive editor of the Weekly Standard handicaps the field for the Republican presidential nomination but argues it's far too early to say who will emerge as a frontrunner. That said, Barnes' columns starts--and ends--with Texas governor Rick Perry.
"But it's Perry for whom 2010 may be the most consequential breakout year. He's running for reelection on an anti-Washington theme, and he's also antiestablishment, having beaten the darling of the Texas Republican grandees. For a Republican, that's just about perfect positioning."