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Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
Here’s what to read from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
A group of migrant families walk from the Rio Grande, the river separating the U.S. and Mexico in Texas, near McAllen, Texas, March 14, 2019. A Biden administration effort to reunite children and parents who were separated under President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance border policy has made increasing progress.
A group of migrant families walk from the Rio Grande, the river separating the U.S. and Mexico in Texas, near McAllen, Texas, March 14, 2019. A Biden administration effort to reunite children and parents who were separated under President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance border policy has made increasing progress. [ ERIC GAY | AP ]
Published Aug. 13

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 “We Need To Take Away Children,” by Caitlin Dickerson in The Atlantic.

The context, from the author: During the year and a half in which the U.S. government separated thousands of children from their parents, the Trump administration’s explanations for what was happening were deeply confusing, and on many occasions — it was clear even then — patently untrue. I’m one of the many reporters who covered this story in real time. Despite the flurry of work that we produced to fill the void of information, we knew that the full truth about how our government had reached this point still eluded us.

The excerpt: For more than a year, Cynthia Quintana (a therapist for children who are being processed through the American immigration system) and her colleagues encountered cases like this repeatedly. To track down the parents of children in their care, they would scour American prisons and immigration detention centers, using clues from social media or tips from friends inside the government. They would struggle to explain to parents why their kids had been taken away or how to get them back. The therapists, teachers and caseworkers would try to maintain their composure at work, but they would later break down in their cars and in front of their families. Many debated quitting their job. Though they were experts in caring for severely traumatized children, this was a challenge to which they did not know how to respond.

From “How Coal Mining Contributed to Deadly Kentucky Floods,” by John McCracken in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Appalachian states like Kentucky have a long, turbulent history with coal and mountaintop removal — an extractive mining process that uses explosives to clear forests and scrape soil in order to access underlying coal seams. For years, researchers have warned that land warped by mountaintop removal may be more prone to flooding due to the resulting lack of vegetation to prevent increased runoff.

The excerpt: In 2019, a pair of Duke University scientists conducted an analysis of floodprone communities throughout the region for Inside Climate News that identified the most “mining damaged areas.” These included many of the same Eastern Kentucky communities that saw river levels rise by 25 feet in just 24 hours this past week. “The findings suggest that long after the coal mining stops, its legacy of mining could continue to exact a price on residents who live downstream from the hundreds of mountains that have been leveled in Appalachia to produce electricity,” wrote Inside Climate NewsJames Bruggers.

From “To Win a Political Revolution, We Need a New Mass Organization,” by Jeremy Gong and Nick French in Jacobin.

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The context, from the authors: Since Bernie Sanders’ defeat in 2020 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. left has been largely disorganized. The time is ripe for Bernie and the Squad to create a new mass organization to confront today’s crises.

The excerpt: The absence of mass working-class organization continues to haunt the U.S. left. With the Right putting fundamental liberties like reproductive freedom on the chopping block and the Democrats asleep at the wheel, the time is ripe to build a mass organization that can make desperately needed political interventions. And we think that Sanders and the Squad need to take the lead in building such an organization.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “A Machiavellian DOJ Would Pick This Moment to ...” by Mark Antonio Wright in The National Review.

The context, from the author: A Machiavellian Department of Justice would pick this moment to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden on gun charges.

The excerpt: You snicker — but it would instantly mute the strongest (and facially plausible) arguments against the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago: that this is a politically motivated Department of Justice fishing expedition; that Hillary Clinton didn’t face prosecution for similar mishandling of classified materials; that this is all a plot by Democrats to (a) either destroy Trump by indicting him or (b) build him up in the eyes of the Republican base so that he’ll declare he’s running for president, win the GOP nomination, and then, presumably, be defeated by Biden again in 2024.

From “Biden’s IRS Is About To Become Very Acquainted With Your Money,” by Eddie Scarry in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: There’s a cute little idea pushed by Democrats, government workers (Democrats), and the media (Democrats) that the appalling $80 billion that Congress just awarded the IRS will be used to crack down on “high-income” tax evaders and not, they promise, middle-class filers.

The excerpt: You know what assurance you have that the IRS will be taking a closer look at people with yachts rather than minivans? Why, the word of the IRS itself!

From “DeSantis: America’s Conservative Leader,” by Rod Dreher in The American Conservative.

The context, from the author: While Donald Trump talks the talk, it’s the Florida governor who walks the walk. Competence beats drama every time.

The excerpt: What I find impossible to understand is why there is so much Trump nostalgia among the conservative masses when there is, right now, an actual Republican governor who stands for a lot of the aggressive populist conservatism that Trump symbolized, but who — unlike Trump — actually knows how to use political power, and is willing to do it. I’m talking about Ron DeSantis of Florida.

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