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  1. Opinion

Selected readings from the left and from the right

Published Mar. 2, 2018

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 "Time After Capitalism" by Miya Tokumitsu in Jacobin Magazine at http://bit.ly/2oC2Z4U.

The context, from the author: A hundred years ago, the United States adopted Daylight Saving Time in order to extract more profit from labor. How would we organize time differently if we were free from the demands of capitalism?

The excerpt: Our system of social and economic organization uses a dizzying array of methods to deny and degrade our time. How might we experience time in a world in which this wasn't the case? In a society free from the burdens of profit, leisure could become more central to human experience. Today, we often conflate leisure with idleness and idleness with immorality, but it need not be so.

From "The True Cost of Gun Violence in America" by Mark Follman, Julia Lurie, Jaeah Lee and James West in Mother Jones at http://bit.ly/2CUgtNT.

The context, from the authors: This is the data the NRA doesn't want you to see.

The excerpt: The annual cost of gun violence in America exceeds $229 billion. ... Even before accounting for the more intangible costs of the violence ... the average cost to taxpayers for a single gun homicide in America is nearly $400,000. And we pay for 32 of them every single day.

From " 'Blowback' Is Real, and We're Living Through It" by Tom Engelhardt in The Nation at http://bit.ly/2I14Po8.

The context, from the author: When it comes to unintended consequences of American policy, Donald Trump is just the tip of the iceberg.

The excerpt: In setting out to take the world, in some surprising fashion this country both terrorized and conquered itself. For that, Osama bin Laden should certainly be congratulated, but so should George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and all their neoconservative pals, not to speak of David Petraeus, James Mattis, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster and a host of other generals of America's losing wars. Think of it this way: At what looked like the height of American power, Washington managed to give imperial overstretch a historically new meaning. ... As it turned out, that urge to take everything would prove the perfect launching pad for this country's decline.

FROM THE RIGHT

From "Patterns and Trends Can Often Lead Us Astray" by Jonah Goldberg in the National Review at http://bit.ly/2F8XwZo.

The context, from the author: We cannot outsource life to the clockwork of the universe. There is no teleology, no "right side of history." We make the world we want to live in, and we have a responsibility to do that work.

The excerpt: At any period in our lives, even modest predictions about the future are very unreliable. Outside theoretical physics, time moves in a linear, arithmetic progression: i.e., one day at a time. Life works differently. I can predict what the date will be 100 years from now with perfect accuracy, but I can't begin to tell you what life will be like. And yet, many people make straight-line projections about politics, technology, and all manner of things.

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From "What Critics Don't Understand About Gun Culture" by David French in the Atlantic at http://theatln.tc/2H0SHlJ.

The context, from the author: I carry a weapon — and it's tied me closer to my community.

The excerpt: (After buying a gun) your thought-process starts to change. Yes, if someone tried to break into your house, you know that you'd call 911 and pray for the police to come quickly, but you also start to think of exactly what else you'd do. If you heard that "bump" in the night, how would you protect yourself until the police arrived? You're surprised at how much safer you feel with the gun in the house.

From "#MAGA's Hall Of Mirrors" by Noah Rothman in Commentary Magazine at http://bit.ly/2FPNjm9.

The context, from the author: The president's instincts on policy are not and never have been especially conservative; his only motivation is to win, whatever that means. If the generic ballot is to be believed, winning will be defined after the midterms by having a working relationship with Democrats. Will this bizarre conservative cult of personality endure when those with this non-ideological president's ear aren't Republicans?

The excerpt: It turns out that President Trump's virtue isn't his rigidity but his malleability. He is easily persuaded to adopt the position of the people around him, and he has — to his credit — surrounded himself mostly with status quo ante Republicans. Thus, Trump was convinced to abandon his relatively dovish foreign policy and hostility toward trade and defense alliances. But how long will conservatives with a more authentic and thorough understanding of their philosophy be expected to look past the president's liberal instincts?