1. Opinion

Selected readings from the left and from the right

Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Published Aug. 16, 2019

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. Jim Verhulst of the Tampa Bay Times editorial board compiled these summaries.


From “Steve King Is Racist, Misogynist — and Not that Different From Other Republicans,” by Elie Mystal in the Nation.

The context, from the author: The Iowa congressman just says the quiet parts out loud.

The excerpt: Rep. Steve King is what scientists call “a fool.” He says absurd things in ridiculous ways using evidence that is demonstrably false. I don’t want to waste time resurfacing every shockingly bigoted or sexist thing this man has said in public life, so just Google him. Given this long and flagrant record, calling out a vapid knuckle-dragger like King is the easiest thing in the world for Republican politicians and media makers to do. It costs them nothing. ... That’s a problem, actually. King’s Republican co-conspirators are trying to distinguish the unwashed bigotry and misogyny of King from their own, when the only real difference is that Republicans usually use a can of Axe Body Spray before they go outside.

From “The Last of the Ayn Rand Acolytes,” by Alexander Sammon in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: This year’s Objectivist Conference revealed that her cult of hyper-capitalism has a major recruiting problem: All the young people want to be socialists!

The excerpt: Coming into the conference I had been under the impression that Objectivism was a small sect with massive influence. A few days in, it became clear that I was the only one who saw it that way. Objectivism, I was now being told, had not gained any real traction in our political culture despite a wide array of high-profile boosters. It had been corrupted and watered down by a following that lacked both dedication and message discipline. Today’s Rand movement is full of transgressors and reprobates. Donald Trump claimed to like Rand, but hadn’t abolished welfare and had imposed tariffs. Ronald Reagan was a professed “admirer” of Rand but embraced religion — a stark violation of Rand’s hardline atheism. Ted Cruz once read from Atlas Shrugged on the Senate floor during a filibuster, but there he was, just the other day, clamoring to break up Big Tech. George H.W. Bush raised taxes! Quislings, all of them.

From “Walling Off the Ivory Tower,” by Kerem Schamberger in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: The United States is home to some of the world’s leading universities, research institutes and academic conferences. But non-U.S. researchers are increasingly excluded from the centers of scholarly exchange — all because they can’t get a visa.

The excerpt: The United States is one of the most important countries for science, research and teaching. Publishing in English is essential to any academic career, and nearly one third of the world’s top 500 universities are located within its borders. Despite this dominance, the country is completely out of reach for millions of academics from the Global South whose passports make them persona non grata for its border regime. I am lucky enough to have a German passport, and thus I enjoy a certain privilege. As the communist poet Bertolt Brecht once said, “the passport is the most noble part of a person.” As frustrating as my experience was, what happened to me trying to make it to America is what millions of people from the “Third World” go through every day.


From “The Election Is Legitimate Only If The Democrats Win,” by Andrew C McCarthy in the National Review.

The context, from the author: Democrats scoffed at charges of “election rigging” until they needed an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat.

The excerpt: When Clinton lost, (Democrats) changed their tune about election-rigging. Suddenly, the inconceivable, the heresy-even-to-hint-at, was to be taken as gospel: The outcome was illegitimate! Russia hacked the election! There was, however, a very inconvenient problem for this narrative: Everything of significance that is known to the U.S. government about Russian meddling was already known in those pre-election weeks when Clinton and the Democrats were vouching for the integrity of the process and condemning Trump for even hesitating to endorse it.

From “The Student Debt You Willingly Took On Is Not My Problem To Solve,” by Margot Cleveland in the Federalist.

The context, from the author: Apparently, the majority of Democratic presidential contenders want to parade student debt sob stories around. These stories don’t show the full picture.

The excerpt: Here are my inquiries for these politicians, the press and all the students demanding relief from the burdens of their debt: Tell me your sob stories from age 12 on, not what you can’t do now, but what you couldn’t do then. Tell what you had to do then and through college to avoid what is now, to you, crushing student debt. What time did you get up to deliver papers in junior high? How many hours a week did you work since 14 to save for college? How many toilets did you scrub? How many high school football games did you miss because you were working? What dream college did you forgo to avoid taking out student loans?

From “In Defense of Hometowns,” by Charles F. McElwee in City Journal.

The context, from the author: A Federal Reserve report warns about Americans’ declining mobility — but should remaining committed to one’s community be regarded as a fault?

The excerpt: Researchers and pundits often lament that some Americans choose to remain in struggling communities. But a packed U-Haul, a vacated property, and a new, unknown locale can engender loneliness and disorientation, not emotional renewal or economic relief. Perhaps unintentionally, the Fed study might encourage a renewed appreciation for hometown attachments. Many heartland communities, for instance, are dealing with decline, but remain stable. Should more residents just pack up and leave?


  1. From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  2. Rep. Jamie Grant, R- Tampa, center,  is congratulated by House members after passage of the Amendment 4 bill, May 3, 2019. Florida lawmakers lost another round Wednesday, with a federal appeals court ruling the restrictions on felon voting rights are unconstitutional.
  3. It's not a bad time to be looking for a job. [Scott Keeler, Times]
  4. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, right, addresses a joint session of the Florida Legislature during his State of the State address in Tallahassee.
  5. No issue is too small for Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee to attack citizen initiatives and local control.
  6. This photo shows multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns.
  7. A boy named Jamal, 12, looks for an item in his new room at Joshua House in Lutz in 2016.
  8. Megan Davila, 25, a Child Protection Investigator in training, along with Jacque Salary, 46, a Child Protection Investigator and mentor for almost seven years, pictured with their case files in the family visitation room at the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are the front line of the foster care system, responsible for sometimes life-or-death decisions about whether to remove a child because of issues like domestic violence and drug use in the home.
  9. The Florida Senate is taking one step forward this year on criminal justice reform – requiring racial and ethnic impact statements for legislation we consider, writes State Sen. Jeff Brandes.
  10. Joey Cousin, a transgender student from Broward county and an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.