1. Opinion

Here’s what to read from the left and the right this week

Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.

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 “Oprah’s Book Club Changed The Game — And Created A New World For Black Readers Like Me,” by Jamilah King in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Oprah’s stamp of approval on your book can make your career, massively boost your book sales, and get your book into the mainstream like really nothing else can, even a Nobel Prize.

The excerpt: This is not just about the woman having good taste. This is about how Oprah, Patron Saint of Palatability, tells her millions of viewers not just that they should read, but what they should read. And, critically, those picks are often black writers who make race and America’s torrid racial history the center of their work.

From “The GOP’s Crony Capitalism Is Racing Full-Steam Ahead,” by Sasha Abramsky in The Nation.

The context, from the author: Impeachment proceedings notwithstanding, the Trump administration’s peculiarly sordid version of crony capitalism is racing full-steam ahead ... special favors for student-loan fraudsters, tax breaks favoring junk-bond crook Michael Milken, continuing purges of voter rolls ...

The excerpt: The GOP’s modus operandi these days is pillage and plunder, hidden behind a smokescreen of ever-more inflammatory and lurid allegations against those who oppose their agenda. Stay focused on what is really happening. Don’t get disoriented in their fog.

From “Mega-Donor Ambassadors Are Corrupting American Diplomacy,” by Matt Ford in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: There’s strong evidence that lush overseas postings flow frictionlessly to a presidential candidate’s most generous backers.

The excerpt: Some of President Donald Trump’s corruption is without precedent in modern American history. But rewarding high-dollar financial backers with diplomatic posts around the world is an all-too-familiar bipartisan tradition in Washington. Barack Obama nominated dozens of top Democratic donors to represent the United States in foreign capitals, as did George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton before him. This is an unseemly practice even in the best of circumstances. And while ending it should not be the biggest takeaway from the Ukraine scandal, it should still be one of them, because it is an embarrassment to the country.


From “Impeachment For Thee But Not For Me,” by Mona Charen in the National Review.

The context, from the author: Here’s a parlor trick: How many people can you name who were in favor of impeaching William J. Clinton and also favor impeaching Donald J. Trump? Or flip it: How many opposed Clinton’s impeachment at the time and now also oppose Trump’s?

The excerpt: Republicans today are flirting with creating their own awful precedent — that it’s a normal part of foreign policy for a president to bully another nation to create a false narrative smearing a political opponent. The accusation is not that President Trump was playing hardball with a foreign leader but that he was attempting to subvert the 2020 election. Like Democrats in 1999, Republicans are now arguing that “everybody does it.”

From “Why Naked Partisanship Won’t Impeach a President,” by Robert W. Merry in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: One of these impeachment attempts is not like the other---and history may not be on the Democrats’ side.

The excerpt: Whereas the Andrew Johnson impeachment ensued after the president’s congressional opposition had gained complete control over both chambers, the Clinton challenge was designed as political leverage to bolster the Republicans’ congressional standing. It didn’t go over very well with the voters, and the clear lesson at the time was that impeachment initiatives that appear nakedly partisan are going to unleash political opprobrium upon the perpetrators. Is that lesson still in force? Perhaps we should hope so, for the sake of the Republic.

From “How Going Woke Makes Companies Like California Utilities And WeWork Go Broke,” by Helen Raleigh in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: The more woke (companies) are, the more likely they will go broke.

The excerpt: What should we learn from (the debacles of) Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and WeWork? When you encounter leaders of a company who think profit and shareholder values are dirty words, are more interested in spending resources on popular liberal causes such as identity politics and trumped-up environmental concerns than providing the best products and services to customers, run away from them as fast as you can and take your money with you.

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