Thursday, September 20, 2018
Opinion

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 THE LEFT

From "Susan Collins’ Reputation As A Moderate Is On the Line" by Katha Pollitt in The Nation at http://bit.ly/2OhuCe9.

The context, from the author: The Maine senator says she’s pro-choice, so how can she justify voting for Brett Kavanaugh?

The excerpt: Kavanaugh will uphold making legal abortion as hard to get as possible and will ignore whatever laws and precedents — and science — get in the way. We know that because he has already done that. So when Collins declares herself satisfied with his "settled law" statement, what she’s really saying is that it’s fine with her if the Supreme Court decides you can have an abortion, but first you have to swim the English Channel and kill a tiger with your bare hands.

From "America Is Living James Madison’s Nightmare" by Jeffrey Rosen in The Atlantic at http://bit.ly/2CWlxX9.

The context, from the author: The founding fathers designed a government that would resist mob rule. They didn’t anticipate how strong the mob could become.

The excerpt: James Madison traveled to Philadelphia in 1787 with Athens on his mind. He had spent the year before the Constitutional Convention reading two trunkfuls of books on the history of failed democracies, sent to him from Paris by Thomas Jefferson. Madison was determined, in drafting the Constitution, to avoid the fate of those "ancient and modern confederacies," which he believed had succumbed to rule by demagogues and mobs. Madison’s reading convinced him that direct democracies — such as the assembly in Athens, where 6,000 citizens were required for a quorum — unleashed populist passions that overcame the cool, deliberative reason prized above all by Enlightenment thinkers.

From "How To Win In Trump Country" by Mason Adams in the New Republic at http://bit.ly/2QveLdt.

The context, from the author: For Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia, it’s simple: Keep it local. Focus on health care. And don’t run against the president.

The excerpt: More than coal or cultural issues, what unites West Virginia voters is the desire for someone who will fight for them. The Mountain State frequently finds itself near the bottom of state-by-state rankings, whether in median household income (48th), teacher pay (47th), or health care rankings (44th). West Virginia has a long history of exploitation by outside interests, with revenue from timber, coal and most recently natural gas flowing out to companies and individuals in other states. Its voters want someone who will look out for them.

FROM THE RIGHT

From "Why I Changed The Way I Write About Police Shootings" by David French in the National Review at http://bit.ly/2QvPkbN.

The context, from the author: Here’s the truth — most cops are good, and too many bad cops go free.

The excerpt: To put it bluntly, when I look back at my older writings, I see them as contributing more to a particular partisan narrative than to a tough, clear-eyed search for truth. So I’ve set out to rectify that imbalance. A person can walk and chew gum at the same time. One can rightly condemn riots and radicalism while also noting that each time a bad cop walks free it damages the fabric of trust between the government and its citizens. One can rightly say that it’s not "open season" on black men — or that any given inflammatory allegation has been thoroughly debunked — while also noting that the same Department of Justice that refuted "hands up, don’t shoot" also found evidence of systematic police misconduct in Ferguson.

From "The Loneliness of the Anonymous Neighbor" by Casey Chalk in the American Conservative at http://bit.ly/2Oo2J4e.

The context, from the author: Increasingly we don’t know, care or trust the people who live near us.

The excerpt: As our neighbors packed their boxes into the moving truck outside their home on that Saturday in August, I stood for a moment with my eldest daughter to watch. The man (husband? brother?) was putting some things into his car. He looked like a perfectly normal guy. Yet I didn’t know his name, where he had come from, or where he was going. I doubt anyone else in my community knew them either — they were rarely seen outside. They will scarcely be remembered, and certainly not missed. The anonymous neighbor, like so many other tokens of our time — the teenager whose closest friends are virtual, the single adult male spewing vitriol on the internet — is something we must resist if we want to live fully human lives.

From " ‘All Politics Is Local’? Not Even Close" by Brian Pawlowski in the Weekly Standard at https://tws.io/2MjZwB3.

The context, from the author, who is running for local office as a Republican in Indiana: Our national political climate —really the story of the ascendance of Trump, the transformation of the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party’s search for a response and cohesive identity — has sucked up so much oxygen that local issues suffocate. The political conversation revolves around Trump at all levels. Before I can discuss ways to make my hometown better, people want, almost need, to know where I stand on our current political moment.

The excerpt: More often than before I’ve noticed that the first question people ask is my party affiliation. That hasn’t always been important at the local level. People used to be fired up about why their trash hadn’t been picked up or how the plow blocked in their car. Having worked in local government for a man who’s done pretty well at it (see here and here), I know how influential it can be to people’s everyday lives. But rather than being focused on specific issues, people now seem possessed of a more general attitude that’s driving their views tics. It’s more instinctual, more guttural, more tribal, and more closed than ever to the "other."

Comments
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

After an encouraging start, the breakdown in America’s reset with Cuba is a loss for both sides and for the state of democracy across the region. Havana and Washington are both to blame, but the Trump administration’s hard line with Cuba is out of sy...
Published: 09/12/18
Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

If the swift departure of CBS Chairman Les Moonves has a bright side, it’s that a major television network took accusations of sexual harassment against its chief executive seriously enough to hold him accountable and obtain his resignation even at t...
Published: 09/11/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Two banks have taken the retaliatory step of closing down the campaign account of a statewide candidate because she received contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Nikki Fried, the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, has been...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/14/18