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Thursday, Mar 22, 2018
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Selected readings from the left and from the right

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.


From "What Happened in Moscow: The Inside Story of How Trump’s Obsession With Putin Began" by David Corn and Michael Isikoff in Mother Jones at http://bit.ly/2IctvtZ.

The context: From the moment (in 2013) when Trump announced Miss Universe would be staged that year in Moscow, he had seemed obsessed with the idea of meeting the Russian president.

The excerpt: Trump’s trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe contest was a pivotal moment. He had for years longed to develop a glittering Trump Tower in Moscow. With this visit, he would come near — so near — to striking that deal. He would be close to branding the Moscow skyline with his world-famous name and enhancing his own status as a sort of global oligarch. During his time in Russia, Trump would demonstrate his affinity for the nation’s authoritarian leader with flattering and fawning tweets and remarks that were part of a long stretch of comments suggesting an admiration for Putin.

From "Should Western Elites Blame Russia for the Populist Surge?" by James Carden in The Nation at http://bit.ly/2ttlRIi.

The context, from the author: What we are seeing — in Italy, the UK, and the United States — has the shape of a global populist revolt, but elites are in danger of misidentifying the underlying causes of that revolt as long as they stick to the narrative that these election results were really the work of an outside actor.

The excerpt: Blaming domestic turmoil on a foreign adversary also serves as a useful and welcome diversion on the part of neo-liberal elites against whose policies voters are at long last rebelling. It lets them off the hook for letting Wall Street off the hook in 2008 and likewise allows European leaders to deflect from their failure to protect their working and middle classes from the depredations of German-imposed austerity. It allows these elites to avoid a reconsideration of their own failed economic policies

From "Trump’s Problem Isn’t Who’s Leaving — It’s Who’s Staying" by Margaret Carlson in the Daily Beast at http://thebea.st/2G6m5Ym.

The context, from the author: The press is fixated on all these White House departures. But spare a thought for all those still in the executive branch who would serve the country by leaving.

The excerpt: While each (of these people still in the administration) has violated norms in his own way, one thing unites them: the president is not insisting they leave because they haven’t violated his standard. And that standard is: If you don’t beat your wife with a picture that proves it, or dump all over Trump and his family in a best-selling book, you are doing a helluva job.


From "If You’re Trying To Ban Guns, The Least You Can Do Is Learn The Basics" by David Harsanyi in the Federalist at http://bit.ly/2G6nvCa.

The context, from the author: In a debate imbued with emotion, gun-control advocates rely on ignorance.

The excerpt: "Jargon" are words and expressions that are difficult for a layman to understand or use. Rather than use jargon, Second Amendment advocates are usually mocking those who use jargon-y sounding words in efforts to fear-monger viewers and constituents. When you claim that the streets are rife with "high-capacity, rapid-fire magazines" or "jumbo clips" you’re trying to fool your audience with a veneer of expertise you don’t possess. When you claim that we need to ban "gas-assisted, receiver firearms" you’re trying to make a semi-automatic weapon sound like a machine gun for a reason.

From "The Rapid ‘Progress’ of Progressivism" by Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review at http://bit.ly/2G7D10J.

The context, from the author: If we insist that the human experience is not tragic and cyclical, but instead must always bend on some predetermined arc to absolute equality and fairness, then unfortunate results must follow.

The excerpt: In the eternal search for perfect justice and equality, what starts out as liberal can quickly end up as progressively absurd. The logic of equality of result, rather than equality of opportunity, demands that there is always one more group, one more grievance, one more complaint against the shrinking and overwhelmed majority.

From " ‘Inclusion Riders’ Are Just Quotas (And They’re Never Going to Happen)" by Christine Rosen in the Weekly Standard at http://tws.io/2tuCX8s.

The context, from the author: Frances McDormand made inclusion riders famous at the Oscars but they’re nothing more than empty posturing.

The excerpt: The unions would have to embrace the riders for them to be effective, otherwise, why wouldn’t some big-name actors simply use them as bargaining chips in their own contract negotiations (either by demanding them or promising not to demand them)? Should the guy holding the boom mic on the set of the umpteenth Fast and Furious movie lose his job to a protected inclusive class just so the big-money star could feel good about demanding diversity? Inclusion riders would pit the unions against the interests of their membership.

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Selected readings from the left and from the right