• Scott Martelle on Detroit's Slow Ruin  "More people have left Detroit than live in San Francisco," writes Martelle at the Los Angeles Times. "More people have left in the last decade than live in St. Petersburg, Fla." Martelle, who was moved to write when Michigan received its dismal census data earlier this week, points out that Detroit didn't turn into a failed city overnight. Decades of competitive corporate practices and self-reinforcing white and middle-class flight helped make the once-thriving industrial center what it is today. "Detroit stands as the reverse image of what we think a modern American city should be," writes Martelle. "Where most have a few 'bad' neighborhoods, Detroit has a few 'good' neighborhoods, and they are eroding quickly." Martelle doesn't offer a specific proposal for how to reverse the slide, but he makes it clear that something must be done. "To tweak the adage about how it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a nation to save a city," he writes. "So, as a nation, and as a mature society, what are we going to do about Detroit?"
  • Leonard Pitts on the Bible's Calls to Violence  Fed up with e-mail forwards that quote Koranic passages exhorting violence as proof that all Muslims want to engage in murderous holy war, Pitts demonstrates in The Miami Herald just how easy it is to do the same thing for the Bible. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth"--that's Jesus Christ, as quoted by Pitts, from Matthew 10:34. "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Pitts is quick to add that "it is not my intention here to parse any of those troubling quotes. Let us leave it to religious scholars to contextualize them, to explain how they square with the contention that Islam and Christianity are religions of peace. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that, while both Christian and Muslim scholars will offer that context and explanation, only Christians can be assured of being taken at their word when they do." It's hard to deny there's a double standard at work, says Pitts: "Christians get the benefit of the doubt. Muslims get Glenn Beck asking a Muslim Congressman to 'prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.'"
  • Mark Steyn on American Foreign-Policy Fumbles  The National Review columnist takes the U.S. military to task, asking "why it is that the United States no longer wins wars." Steyn admits that "it doesn’t exactly lose (most of) them, but nor does it have much to show for a now 60-year-old pattern of inconclusive outcomes. American forces have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for a decade: Doesn’t that seem like a long time for a non-colonial power to be spending hacking its way through the worthless terrain of a Third World dump?" He's also got pointed criticism for the way America has handled its relationship with Muammar Qaddafi. "Qaddafi was the thug who came in from the cold, the one who (in the wake of Saddam’s fall) renounced his nuclear program and was supposedly rehabilitated in the chancelleries of the West. He was 'a strong partner in the war on terrorism,' according to U.S. diplomats. And what did Washington do? They overthrew him anyway ... If you were the average Third World loon, which role model makes most sense? Colonel Cooperative in Tripoli? Or Ayatollah Death-to-the-Great-Satan in Tehran?"
  • The Wall Street Journal on What a New Bureau Can and Can't Do  In a Review & Outlook column, the Journal editors fact-check the statements of Elizabeth Warren, Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren told Congress last week that the CFPB is "the most constrained and the most accountable agency in government," but as the Journal points out, this is only true in a circumscribed sense. Per the Dodd-Frank law, the editors say, "Fed Governors can't 'intervene' in the bureau's functioning, 'appoint, direct or remove any officer or employee' or 'merge or consolidate the bureau... with any division or office of the Board of Governors or the Federal Reserve Banks.'" In other words, "while the bureau is part of the Fed, it isn't at all accountable to anyone at the Fed." The blue-pencilling continues, but the Journal editors say the facts can't be obscured forever: "Ms. Warren's weak-little-bureau routine is belied by the fact that she is rolling over other regulators even before the bureau is formally up and running."
  • Joanna Weiss on Rebecca Black and the Instant Hype Cycle  Weiss, writing at The Boston Globe, takes a sympathetic look at Rebecca Black, the 13-year-old whose pop song "Friday" recently went viral on YouTube. Black's video "has been mocked and pilloried and parodied nationwide," writes Weiss, but the young star seems sanguine about it--perhaps because she understands that "in a world where privacy has no value and fame has no obstacles, other people’s opinions have no currency, either." Black's now appearing on Leno and donating her proceeds to her school and to the relief effort in Japan. Weiss compares Black to Alex Wallace, the UCLA undergrad who recently quit school after her video mocking Asian students gained widespread exposure online. "In one sense, the aftermath was glorious proof that free speech vets itself," writes Weiss. "Wallace was vilified instantly, in part through a string of spot-on YouTube parodies ... But Wallace’s punishment, amplified online, is likely to outlast her own crime." Weiss wonders what will happen when Wallace "tries to get a job -- after being internationally known for a dumb thing she thought fleetingly in college, and decided to share with the world."