Ralph Benko in Forbes on Paul Ryan Thwarted vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan is cracking up, says Ralph Benko. At a Kemp Foundation award ceremony, Ryan committed the gaffe of criticizing the gold standard—even though Jack Kemp happened to be one of its most ardent supporters. "The moment backfired on Ryan, badly," writes Benko, who thinks conservatives are gradually gravitating away from their erstwhile favorite budget wonk. "Ryan remains fixated primarily on cutting spending, including entitlements," without adequately addressing growth or monetary policy, according to Benko. 

Jonathan Chait in New York on Marco Rubio So if Ryan's all washed up, who within the GOP is rising to his mantle? Like Benko, Jonathan Chait puts his money Florida Senator Marco Rubio, calling him "the truest indicator of the future of the party." Chait writes, "the future of the party is already taking shape, and that future will be, in some form or fashion, a conservative reaction against the Republican leadership that has sold them out. The smarter Republicans have already shaken off the trauma of electoral defeat and begun positioning themselves to capitalize."

Pankaj Mishra in Bloomberg View on Asia's insurgencies While other columnists focus on narrow historical windows when addressing the upheavals happening all throughout Asia, Pankaj Mishra traces recent developments in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Pakistan, and Malaysia to colonialism. "The European idea of the nation-state, realized after much horrific bloodshed in Europe itself, was always a poor fit for Asia’s diverse mosaic," he writes. "For Asian nations beset by their own present and potential ethnic cleansers, it is even more important to remember the relative youth of sectarian nationalism on the continent -- and the long centuries when it did not exist."

Jonathan Steele in The Guardian on Afghanistan One such country struggling to define itself after endless waves of foreign invasion is Afghanistan, and Jonathan Steele sees much weariness amongst modern Afghanis. "Eleven years after the west's military intervention, the withdrawal of US, British and other international forces has started, but no one knows whether their departure will lead to more or less instability for a country that has been mired in civil war for almost 40 years," Steele writes. "In seven visits to the country since the Taliban were toppled I have never found the Afghan mood so febrile and gloomy."

Noam Scheiber in The New Republic on the fiscal cliff Take that leap, President Obama. That's the advice from Noam Scheiber on the advent of the fiscal cliff. Scheiber writes, "Simply put: The biggest threat to Barack Obama’s second-term agenda isn’t the economy. It’s the mania that has yet to loosen its grip on congressional Republicans, even after they lost seats in both houses and watched Obama roll to a comfortable re-election." Giving in to the GOP irrational demands would set a bad precedent for future negotiations, Scheiber says, so perhaps America needs to take this fiscal free-fall.