• Thomas Friedman on the Karzai Problem  The New York Times mainstay is getting impatient with Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, who seems to be more or less indifferent to the idea of a stable, non-corrupt Afghan government. "How many U.S. officials have flown to Kabul... to lecture Karzai on the need to root out corruption in his administration?" Friedman asks. "Do we think he has a hearing problem?" The administration needs to change the way it deals with Karzai, says Friedman, or these problems will only compound.
  • Steven Pearlstein on Making Hard Choices  The Washington Post columnist warns the possible end of Saturday mail service is a harbinger of the "hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to annual consumption" necessary to fully get over the recession. Noting the surge in government debt and the continued fragility of household balance sheets, Pearlstein chastises the country's unwillingness to make sacrifices in the name of long-term financial health. "Low interest rates, an overvalued currency, large trade deficits, an inadequate savings rate, unsustainable budget deficits -- all of these speak to the persistence of a fundamental imbalance and our willingness to sacrifice long-term health for short-term comfort and stability," he clucks.
  • Maureen Dowd on Papal Inquisitions  Seething with anger at the Catholic abuse scandal, the New York Times op-ed columnist isn't pulling any punches, asserting that the Catholic church "gave up its credibility for Lent." Dowd systematically breaks down the Vatican's Holy Week spin campaign before concluding that the choice to put down their Bibles and pick up "the Washington P.R. handbook for political sin" was not the soundest choice. "Vatican lawyers will argue in negligence cases brought by abuse victims that the pope has immunity as a head of state and that bishops who allowed an abuse culture, endlessly recirculating like dirty fountain water, were not Vatican employees," spits Dowd. "Maybe they worked for Enron."
  • Harold Meyerson on Competing Political Systems  In a cogently argued Washington Post column, Meyerson submits that China's authoritarian model and America's democratic model are now competing for the respect of the rest of the world. When partisanship snares up our legislative bodies and endorse the unrestrained flow of capital into elections, it makes America look weak at the same time that it makes China look strong. Meyerson frets: "Do Senate Republicans realize that we now have a rival superpower, China, that mocks the inability of our democracy to create the jobs that would restore our economy, which they adduce as evidence of the superiority of authoritarianism?"
  • Megan French on the Ethics of User-Generated Reports  Writing for the Guardian, French explores the murky moral and ethical issues of reprinting bystander photos of terrorist attacks. Noting the gruesome pictures of the Moscow metro bombings, she argues the rise of blogs and up-to-the-second analysis limits "the need to use photos of the dead and injured in order to fully portray the scene." French concludes: "To use only sterile images of this type of attack distorts the devastation it causes, but to identify the dead and the dying of such a tragedy in photographs is disrespectful and morally dubious."