Michael Bloomberg on Israel, Rich Lowry on Hamas, Nick Kristof on inequality, Harold Meyerson on an open primary, and Rebecca Traister on the inequality of political donations. 

The Wire - Five Best Columns - Today's top opinions on the news

Five Best Columns
Today's Top Opinions on the News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Michael Bloomberg on Bloomberg View on his flight to Israel and why the F.A.A.'s decision to stop flights to Ben Gurion Airport was wrong. Bloomberg contends that Ben Gurion Airport is one of the safest in the world and that the F.A.A.'s decision to suspend U.S. airlines from flying there was a victory for Hamas. "Hamas would like nothing more than to close down Ben-Gurion, isolating Israel from the international community and seriously damaging its economy. By prohibiting U.S. carriers from flying into Ben-Gurion, the FAA handed Hamas a significant victory -- one that the group will undoubtedly attempt to repeat. The FAA has, regrettably, succeeded only in emboldening Hamas.... In times of crisis, acting out of an abundance of caution can be prudent. But closing down access to major infrastructure networks in the face of terrorist threats can be self-defeating." Bloomberg re-asserts his support for Israel's current offensive against Hamas. "Every country has a right to defend its borders from enemies, and Israel was entirely justified in crossing into Gaza to destroy the tunnels and rockets that threaten its sovereignty. I know what I would want my government to do if the U.S. was attacked by a rocket from above or via a tunnel from below; I think most Americans do, too."

Rich Lowry in Politico on how Western media is doing what Hamas wants it to. Lowry offers a passionate defense of Israel, showing why the media's coverage isn't helping Palestinian civilians but playing into the hands of Hamas. "Stalin infamously said that one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. Hamas is happy with either a tragedy (the four kids killed on the beach by Israeli shells last week) or a statistic (the climbing civilian toll), so long as it is death and so long as it can be used in the propaganda war against Israel." Lowry refutes the notion that Israel's significant military and financial advantage means they should be passive. "Of course there is an asymmetry between Hamas and Israel. There will always be a technological gap between a ramshackle terror force with medieval religious views and a dynamic, liberal society. On Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda had box cutters. We had B-52s. Did that make us the unsympathetic Goliath to Al Qaeda’s David?"

Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times on the main trends of growing inequality. Kristof lays out the basic themes of why inequality and hurting the world economy, as explained in Thomas Pickety's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. "Certainly, the nation grew more quickly in periods when we were more equal, including in the golden decades after World War II when growth was strong and inequality actually diminished. Likewise, a major research paper from the International Monetary Fund in April found that more equitable societies tend to enjoy more rapid economic growth." Kristof notes that rising inequality isn't always due to market forces, but is often a result of those at the top manipulating markets to work in their favor. "Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote a terrific book two years ago, 'The Price of Inequality,' which is a shorter and easier read than Piketty’s book. In it, he notes: 'Much of America’s inequality is the result of market distortions, with incentives directed not at creating new wealth but at taking it from others.'"

Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post on why Chuck Schumer's idea to institute an open primary is a bad idea. On Tuesday, Schumer wrote an op-ed in The New York Times (and featured by The Wire) suggesting an "open primary" where candidates from both parties participate in one primary to help end gridlock. Meyerson condemns this solution. "The senator cites the example of California — once the most gridlocked of states, now a place where legislation actually gets enacted — as proof that such primaries work. But Schumer misunderstands what got California working again.... it was the nonpartisan redistricting, not the jungle primary, that returned the state to governability." Instead, he contends, the only affect the "jungle primary" has had in California is electing more Republicans. "The jungle primary has had one stunningly perverse effect, however. In a new congressional district east of Los Angeles, Democratic voters had a clear majority — so clear that four Democratic candidates and two Republicans sought the seat in the 2012 primary. Democratic votes split four ways, enabling the two Republicans to advance to November’s ballot... This is your solution, senator? Think again."

Rebecca Traister in The New Republic on why women don't give as much to political campaigns as men. The real reason Traister writes, is simple: they don't have as much money to give. "We often forget how strongly the past undergirds the present. And we also often forget that until very recently, women in this country did not make their own money, certainly not in quantities large enough to make them political fundraising machers... When it has come to the possibility of amassing wealth, money-making has been a pretty exclusively male game until just a few decades ago." Instead, she says, women exert their influence in many other ways, typically giving to more civic-minded groups as opposed to political ones. While there is good reason for this, Traister argues that women need to stop this trend. "It’s a pattern that has long been discernible when it comes to female candidates: Once women begin to run, and begin to win elections, it becomes far easier for other women to win elections. Only after women begin taking the risk of paying out in politics will their money begin to have any impact, and will it begin to pay off for other women to give more money. In other words, it may not make rational sense for women to spend their money on politics, but if they don’t, it never will."

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