William B. Harrison Jr. in The New York Times in defense of big banks Every part of the argument against big banks is a fallacy, says the architect of the 2000 JPMorgan Chase merger. Banks consolidated as a result of market need and efficiency, just like Amazon brought efficiency to retail. Plus, most people know the crisis was combination of bad lending, poor regulation, and bad consumers. And big banks are not too complex to manage--if anything, more complexity hedges risks. "Breaking up some big banks would hurt their customers, clients and the broader economy."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in USA Today on the unproductive Republican House Nearly nine out of 10 Americans disapprove of the unproductive 112th Congress, the congresswoman writes, but it didn't have to be this way. When Democrats took control of the House and Senate during the Bush administration, they did "not let partisan differences stand in the way of doing the work of the American people." The result: President Bush signed 460 laws passed by a Democratic Congress, compared to 169 laws since the Republicans took control of the House in 2010. "The source of congressional inaction today is a Republican congressional leadership that cannot, or will not, govern; that will not put aside partisanship to work together."

Sen. Tom Coburn in The Wall Street Journal on Paul Ryan's seriousness Paul Ryan is thoughtful, creative, draws on bipartisan ideas, and is far more serious about debt than Obama, Coburn writes. The only thing Ryan is missing "is a willing partner in the White House and Senate."  Blaming Ryan for deadlocks in Washington doesn't make sense. Ryan's not the extremist here, Coburn says. "What is radical in 2012 is not Paul Ryan's vision but the lengths to which his critics will go to avoid dealing with the national debt. 

Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times on the way judges interpret free speech Judges apparently interpret the First Amendment however it suits them, Greenhouse says. Just look at the case of graphic pictures on cigarette boxes and abortion. A district court ruled that the government could not turn tobacco companies into their messenger about the risks of cigarettes, but a court upheld a South Dakota law last month that requires doctors to warn women seeking abortions of increased suicide ideation and suicide, something that is not scientifically proven, by reinterpreting the statute to mean some women are more vulnerable. "All justices, right and left, embrace the First Amendment when it serves their purposes and reject it when it doesn’t, and have done so for a long time."

Rowan Callick in Foreign Policy on the weight of history in East Asia East Asian countries still have rivalries and baggage that prevent regional cooperation despite the free trade agreements that have popped up on paper, Callick writes. Military alliances are complicated. The effects of the Vietnam and Korean wars still linger, for example, and anti-Japan sentiment from World War II remains a sore point. There's baggage with China, too, which still claims Taiwan and Sansha City as part of a territory. And neighboring countries are "nervous about its growing military muscle and nationalist rhetoric," but are too afraid to say much because of China's economic importance. The points of contention "are like volcanoes -- mostly dormant but occasionally deadly."