1. 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 "Inside The West Wing, Trump Is Apoplectic As Allies Fear Impeachment," by Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair at

The context, from the author: Until now, Robert Mueller has haunted Donald Trump's White House as a hovering, mostly unseen menace. But by securing indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and a surprise guilty plea from foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, Mueller announced loudly that the Russia investigation poses an existential threat to the president.

The excerpt: The first charges in the Mueller probe have kindled talk of what the endgame for Trump looks like, according to conversations with a half dozen advisers and friends of the president. For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream. According to a source, advisers in the West Wing are on edge and doing whatever they can not to be ensnared.

From "Unity Is a One-Way Street" by Branko Marcetic in Jacobin Magazine at

The context, from the author: You can trace slights against the Democratic Party's left flank back to 2016, when the Democratic National Committee made a series of now infamous attempts to halt Bernie Sanders' momentum during the primaries.

The excerpt: For all the talk of party unity and compromise, the Democratic establishment has shown time and again that it knows exactly what is at stake in the current contest between the party's progressive and corporate wings, and that it will always act with sufficient ruthlessness to maintain its hold over the party.

From "Trump Is President, But Kevin Spacey Can't Even Play One on TV" by Patrick Blanchfield in the New Republic at

The context, from the author: The end of House of Cards raises a troubling question: Do we have higher standards for TV politicians than for real ones?

The excerpt: With Trump, there have been plenty of moments of reckoning — but, since this is the real world, they have all come to nothing. He can brag about sexual assault, menace teenage girls in a dressing room, weather allegations of outright rape and other physical abuse, and win the presidency with a nontrivial number of his voters forgetting those incidents entirely.


From "Who Gets to Have Nuclear Weapons — and Why?" by Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review at

The context, from the author: The rules used to be controlled by two big powers, but not anymore.

The excerpt: Given North Korea's nuclear lunacy, what exactly are the rules, formal or implicit, about which nations may have nuclear weapons and which may not? It is complicated.

From "How U.S.-Saudi Marriage Gave Birth to Jihad" by Daniel Lazare in the American Conservative at

The context, from the author: Attempts to use Wahhabism to our advantage ultimately proved disastrous.

The excerpt: Like any imperialist power, the United States can be a bit unscrupulous in the partners it chooses. So one might expect it to look the other way when its Saudi friends spread their militant doctrines into Indonesia, the Philippines, the Indian subcontinent, Syria and numerous points beyond. But Washington did more than just look away. It actively encouraged such activities by partnering with the Wahhabists in any number of hot spots.

From "This Liberal Reconsidered Gun Control. He Found It's A Lot More Complicated Than 'More Guns, More Crime' " by Ken Stern in the Federalist at

The context, from the author: I started off this process thinking, as do many of my political co-religionists, that reducing gun violence is simply a matter of will, and of overcoming the National Rifle Association.

The excerpt: My liberal friends have rather disdainfully rejected the facts offered (ones that show how the gun issue is complex), not usually with their own facts but with the statement that we just need to get on with doing "something." This would seem to suggest that people who don't agree with policy for window dressing's sake are somehow hunky-dory with thousands of gun deaths every year. It is a little window into the sanctimony of some liberals, and I don't like it very much.