Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss


The Justice Department recently announced it would reverse an Obama administration practice of allocating settlements from cases of corporate wrongdoing to third parties, some of which were only tangentially related to the damages caused by the company. Mr. White applauds the action by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, writing that the decision will drain the “slush fund” created by the Obama administration for its favored groups. Read more »

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Construction on the the new Goethals Bridge between Elizabeth, N.J., and Staten Island.

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Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Ryan Bourne in Cato Institute Blog:

“The devil will be in the details, but Trump is right to reject the principle of a mammoth infrastructure spending spree.”

President Trump’s budget, Mr. Bourne points out, allocates only $200 million to infrastructure, a much smaller amount than his promised $1 trillion on the campaign trail. For Mr. Bourne, this is something to celebrate. He argues that now is “probably the worst possible time for a fiscal stimulus,” and that the president is right to “cut red tape” and remove “barriers to privatization” as a means to kick-start infrastructure development. Read more »

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Robert Wasinger in The Washington Examiner:

“Infrastructure is the key issue where he can turn the tables on his opponents, both across the aisle and within his own party.”

Mr. Wasinger also sees a rift between the economic promises made by candidate Trump and the budget submitted by his administration. In fact, the budget before Congress “seems to reflect the priorities of Budget Director Mick Mulvaney,” rather than those of Mr. Trump, he says. Mr. Wasinger, who was an adviser to the president’s transition team, makes a political case for embracing a robust infrastructure plan: it would “put vulnerable Democrats in the Senate on the hotseat.” Read more »

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From the Left

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A view of downtown Los Angeles last month.

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Melissa Lyttle for The New York Times

Ann Friedman in The Baffler:

“The hard truth about liberal secession fantasies is that California is not a place where progressive policies enable everyone to become successful. It’s a place to which people move to enjoy their success when they’ve beaten the odds elsewhere.”

Calls from the left for California’s secession have reached a fevered pitch with Mr. Trump in office. But don’t count Ms. Friedman, who moved to the state from the Midwest, among those who want to see California break from the union. She warns her fellow liberals to resist the temptation to “lash out petulantly” with an “every-state-for-itself model” most recently popular among the reactionary South. Moreover, “secessionist impulses” may “stoke an already toxic climate of mounting racial animus in American politics.” Read more »

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Katha Pollitt in The Nation:

“If I have to read one more article blaming liberal condescension toward the red states and the white working class for the election of Trump, I’m moving to Paris, France.”

Ms. Pollitt argues that for liberals, “lack of empathy is not the problem.” Progressives are the ones who endorse programs that actually improve the lives of the poor. “If you go by actual deeds,” she writes, liberals are the ones with all the empathy, “everything else is just flattery.” Read more »

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Colin Dickey in The New Republic:

“In recent months, the left has begun to rival Trump himself as an incubator for sinister musings and crackpot accusations.”

Mr. Dickey has noticed that something has happened to the far left since the election of the “Birther-in-Chief”: it has taken the mantle from the fringe right as purveyor of conspiracy and paranoia. Democrats, he says, have welcomed conspiracy theories into the mainstream in a misguided attempt to allay their fears about the new administration. Perhaps, he writes, “the left wasn’t smarter than the right; it simply wasn’t terrified enough.” Read more »

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Hillary Clinton delivered a commencement address to graduates of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn last week.

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Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

T. A. Frank in Vanity Fair:

“We can’t stay friendly to Hillary forever. There’s a fine line — or maybe not even so fine a line — between boosting morale and monopolizing the spotlight.”

Mr. Frank admires Hillary Clinton’s resilience and believes that she wants what’s best for the country. He also believes that the “indefatigability of the Clintons isn’t just a nuisance but a hindrance.” When the left should be moving forward and formulating a plan for electoral success, Mrs. Clinton’s recent public appearances and “teleological smugness” have dragged the Democrats “back into last year’s fights.” Read more »

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And Finally, From the Center:

Timothy Edgar and Susan Hennessey in Lawfare:

“The defense of Comey’s conduct is not that he achieved some greater good with an illegal leak. It is that he had no obligation to keep confidential the memo in question at all.”

Did Mr. Comey do anything wrong by sharing his personal memos with the news media? According to Mr. Edgar and Ms. Hennessey, the answer is no. As for whether it’s illegal, the two legal scholars write: “This is an easy one. No, it isn’t.” Read more »

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Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas spoke to reporters last week after the state’s Legislature overrode his veto of a bill to repeal tax cuts he had supported.

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Thad Allton/The Topeka Capital-Journal, via Associated Press

• The editorial board of The Wichita Eagle:

“It’s difficult to say a tax increase is a good idea. It’s even more difficult for a politician to cast a vote in support of a tax increase. But sometimes it’s the right thing to do.”

While you and everyone at the bar were watching the Comey hearings, something big happened in Kansas that may reverberate throughout the nation. Gov. Sam Brownback’s experiment in cutting taxes for his state was repudiated by his Republican-controlled Legislature, dealing a potential blow to similar conservative plans outside of Kansas. The Wichita Eagle editorial board members write that they “were most encouraged by the recognition by legislators from both parties that nothing would get accomplished without compromise.” Read more »

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Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine:

“There was a lovely resonance, don’t you think, that this shocking reversal for right-populism came on the very same day that President Trump was definitively shown to be more than worthy of impeachment.”

Do the surprising electoral losses suffered by Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain presage anything for the political fate of Mr. Trump? Maybe, or maybe not, Mr. Sullivan writes. But what the British may have just shown Americans is that a people can muster “sufficient integrity” to reverse a “drastic error.” Read more »

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Alex Altman in Time:

“The firewall between the Trump presidency and the Trump Organization has turned out to be less than airtight.”

On the cover of Time Magazine is Mr. Altman’s piece investigating the Trump International Hotel, “the epicenter of the President’s business interests in D.C.” and, in a place described by the president as a swamp, “the city’s newest bog.” Read more »

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