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  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.
Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, arrive back from a break to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday during a public impeachment hearing about President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. [SUSAN WALSH  |  AP]
Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, arrive back from a break to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday during a public impeachment hearing about President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. [SUSAN WALSH | AP]
Published Nov. 24, 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.

FROM THE LEFT

From “There Are Two Separate Impeachment Hearings Happening Right Now — And Republicans Are Winning Theirs,” by Ryan Broderick at BuzzFeed News.

The context, from the author: Nothing Republican Rep. Devin Nunes does during the hearings makes sense if you watch it in the moment. When it’s posted on Facebook later, though, it works perfectly.

The excerpt: Each round of GOP questioning is not meant to interrogate the witnesses ... but instead to create moments that can be flipped into Fox News segments, shared as bite-size Facebook posts, or dropped into 4chan threads. Their alternate universe — built from baseless online conspiracy theories and reading the tea leaves of Trump’s Twitter feed — dominates Fox News and Facebook. And the Republicans’ strategy, as confusing and bizarre as it may seem to those on the outside, is working.

From “How to Not Waste the Next Economic Crisis,” by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian in The Nation.

The context, from the author: A downturn will (eventually) come — and with it, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the U.S. economy.

The excerpt: For progressives, the road (back from the Great Recession) is paved with missed opportunities. Where would we be if decarbonization had been a precondition for the auto industry bailouts or if the banks’ welfare checks had come stapled to tax reforms that redistributed wealth downward? What might have happened to gender equality or how we measure real unemployment and underemployment if the Obama administration had thought to compensate the labor that takes place in the home as well as in the office and on the factory floor? Would people of color have lost fewer jobs, homes, and livelihoods if economic recovery programs had been designed to address rampant hiring discrimination? Was the previous crisis really the last, best chance to set a more democratic precedent for antitrust legislation and prevent the monopolistic, Uberized mess we’re in today?

From “I Want You To Panic," by Dougald Hine in Bella Caledonia.

The context, from the author: People are having an encounter with climate change not as a problem that can be solved or managed, but as a dark knowledge that calls our path into question, that starts to burn away the stories we were told and the trajectories our lives were meant to follow. The power of this encounter stems not least from the sense that some secret part of us already knew. We had been sitting silently with this pouch of unnamed fears.

The excerpt: Let’s say we’re talking hundreds of thousands of people, over this past year, having an encounter (initiating them into the reality of climate change) that calls their lives into question, that contains an element of revelation, which can look a lot like despair. What would it take to catch that many people as they fall? There is one large-scale modern Western example of an initiatory movement that I find convincing and it’s Alcoholics Anonymous. Its strength is directly related to the stakes involved. You don’t arrive at an AA meeting without having burned your life down, one way or another. ... What does Alcoholics Anonymous for a whole culture look like?

FROM THE RIGHT

From “How Republicans Won Phase One Of Impeachment,” by Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: The first phase of impeachment did not go well for Democrats. It needed to be a time when support for the inquiry and impeachment grew. Instead, it shrank.

The excerpt: Before we get to the politics and how they were played by Republicans and Democrats, it should be noted that President Donald Trump has not been credibly accused of committing any crime, much less a high crime or misdemeanor. It’s almost shocking that Trump, of all people, keeps managing to do well on this score. Yet, as with the Russia collusion hoax, in which he was accused of being a traitor to his country, the lack of evidence for the charges against him is his ultimate saving grace. What the charge is keeps changing, of course.

From “Watch The Intellectuals,” by Rod Dreher in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: The authorities here — the police chief and the (University of California, Berkeley) spokesman — sympathize with the mobbed-up students whose fanaticism and violence required police presence so that a conservative speaker (Ann Coulter) could address those who wanted to hear her. No wonder the First Amendment is losing. The authorities pity the tyrannical mob.

The excerpt: Seriously, what if a mob of white people at a major American university banded together to prevent people of color and their allies from going into a hall to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates speak? How do you think our media would frame it? They would report the hell out of it, and they should report the hell out of it, because a mob preventing anybody from going to hear someone speak is un-American, and a serious violation of our traditions. This should not happen in America, and especially not at a university. But like I said: just another day in progressive America.

From “Pete Buttigieg, Failure,” by Kyle Smith in the National Review.

The context, from the author: (Mayor Pete) Buttigieg has had eight years to turn around South Bend. If the Buttigieg candidacy implicitly says, “I promise to make America more like South Bend,” I don’t think he is going to find many takers. He certainly seems like a bright young man, but he wouldn’t be the first clever fellow to prove to be all talk and no action.

The excerpt: Buttigieg’s polling strength is, as far as I can tell, based on one factor only: He’s a smooth talker. He speaks the kind of fluent Ivy League-technocrat-consultancy lingo that makes a certain kind of highly educated white liberal’s heart melt, especially when combined with an appealing sense of reasonableness and youthful, forward-thinking optimism. Alas for him, he can’t talk much about the wonderful improvements he made as two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana, because they aren’t there.

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