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 "Democrats Are Hoping You Don't Understand What 'Impeachment' Entails," by Alex Pareene in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: Focusing on how it would "fail" in the Senate is a handy way to duck responsibility for a full investigation into the Trump administration.

The excerpt: Democratic leadership seemingly believes that the party can't let its candidates campaign on promises to materially improve the lives of voters while also letting its elected officials carry out the responsibilities of their offices. They also believe, deep in their bones, that the country is not on their side. They believe going after Trump too directly will stir his mighty base, rather than imagining that full and transparent investigations into his various fraudulent and corrupt activities may demoralize his staunchest supporters.

From "Don't Blame the Babies," by Liza Featherstone in Jacobin Magazine.

The context, from the author: "Don't start a family — it's bad for the planet." The latest bad take on climate change forgets one little thing — whether or not you have a kid, the fossil fuel industry will still be there.

The excerpt: A Zambian has nowhere near the environmental impact of an American; even though her nation has a much higher birth rate, her society isn't nearly as carbon-intensive. The problem, then, isn't kids. It's the carbon dependence of our society, which is set up to ensure that we drive, fly, heat, cool, shop and eat in all the most polluting ways possible.

From "Bill Barr's Big Deception," by David Corn in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Attorney General William Barr's spin hid the basic foundation of the Trump-Russia scandal. Barr pointed out that the Russian government "sought to interfere in our election process." That is, Putin's attack was no hoax. Yet Trump and his crew, during the campaign and afterward, repeatedly denied that any such attack was under way or had occurred. Famously — or infamously — Trump at a press conference with Vladimir Putin in July 2018 said he saw no reason not to believe Putin's denials.

The excerpt: During the election, when it mattered the most, Trump and his folks kept saying there was no Russian assault. They echoed Putin's disinformation: Moscow is doing nothing. That provided cover for the Kremlin and helped it get away with this operation. And at the same time, they were enthusiastically interacting secretly with Russians. Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner met with a Russian emissary whom they were told would give them dirt on Clinton. Foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos through much of the summer of 2016 was trying to set up an "off the record" connection between the campaign and Putin's office. All of that might well have been regarded as encouragement by Moscow. (So might have Manafort's direct collusion with Russian nationals.) None of these facts are disputed. They raise the question: If Trump and his aides did not commit crimes, did they still engage in treachery and betrayal?


From "Mayor Pete and the Coming Apart of Christian America," by Patrick J. Buchanan in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: If (Democratic presidential candidate) Pete (Buttigieg) is right, since the time of Christ, Christians have ostracized and persecuted gays simply for being and behaving as God intended. And if that is true, what is the defense of Christianity?

The excerpt: In the lifetimes of many Americans, homosexuality and abortion were still scandalous crimes. They are now cherished constitutional rights. Yet Mayor Pete's assertion — that God made him gay and intended that he live his life this way, and that this life is moral and good — is another milestone on the road to a new America. For what Buttigieg is saying is that either God changes his moral law to conform to the behavior of mankind or that for 2,000 years Christian preaching and practice toward homosexuals has been bigoted, injurious, and morally indefensible.

From "Things That Can't Go on Forever Simply Don't," by Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review.

The context, from the author: The present identity-politics divisiveness is not a sustainable model for a multiracial nation, and it will soon reach its natural limits one way or another.

The excerpt: Unchecked tribalism historically leads to nihilism. Meritocracy is abandoned as bureaucrats select their own rather than the best qualified. A Tower of Babel chaos ensues as the common language is replaced by myriad local tongues, in the fashion of fifth-century imperial Rome. Class differences are subordinated to tribal animosities. Almost every contentious issue is distilled into racial or ethnic victims and victimizers.

From "The Bombshell In The Mueller Report Is Russia's Social Media Campaign," by David Marcus in the Federalist.

The context, from the author: The scope and scale of Russian social media informational attacks on the United States should shock Americans (and require bipartisan action).

The excerpt: In total the (Mueller) report says that at least 29 million and perhaps as many as 126 million people were reached by the (Russia) propaganda campaigns. The danger of this is not merely that the propaganda might help determine the outcome of viewers' voting decisions. What is far worse is that, on that scale, the Russians can make fringe, divisive positions and rhetoric appear to Americans to be, if not mainstream, at least vastly more prominent than they really are.