Life is busy and filled with distractions. We wanted to make sure you saw these articles about the pressing issues facing our country.

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Life is busy and filled with distractions. We wanted to make sure you saw these articles about the pressing issues facing our country.

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Free Speech, Free Market 
Slate — April 2, 2018
Yascha Mounk discusses some of the implications of Donald Trump’s recent verbal attacks on Amazon and Jeff Bezos. This is, as he points out, a standard tool of the modern authoritarian. Rather than silencing political dissent by decree, leaders like Putin, Erdoğan, and Orban accumulated power by using the regulatory state to ensnare their critics and political opponents in legal jeopardy, imposing fines or using the courts to deter other companies from acting against the wishes of the leader. This is not only politically concerning, it is an economic disaster in the making — when the state interferes in the free market for political purposes, corruption and economic stagnation is guaranteed to follow.

Governance  

Trade Wars: China Strikes Back 
Business Insider — April 4, 2018
This week, China upped the ante in the incipient trade war Donald Trump infamously described as “good, and easy to win,” slapping retaliatory tariffs on over 100 US products. While it need not be said that this will be bad for the economy writ large (and it will), there is a morbidly amusing bit of irony here: the costs of these tariffs will likely be borne primarily by economic sectors that had largely been pro-Trump. This is, of course, just another piece of evidence proving that the implementation of economic policies based on populist fantasies is ultimately self-defeating.

The Ministry of Propaganda 
The Washington Post — April 2, 2018
Sinclair Broadcasting, a media conglomerate with a distinct pro-Trump perspective, has come to dominate ownership of local news outlets. This past weekend, they used this platform to force their news anchors to echo the president’s attacks on the “fake news” media. As Trump’s FCC has recently rolled back regulations designed to prevent a monopoly in news media of the sort Sinclair seems to be building, their disturbingly propagandistic support of the president raises some serious concerns about the use of government power to reward political allies and punish critics in the private sector.

Ideas  

Identity and the Search for Truth 
Quillette — March 31, 2018
Identity politics has become something of a buzzword, yet what it represents is still up for debate. In their current manifestation, some worry that the politics of identity have become exclusionary rather than inclusive, a means of division and discord rather than a source of unity. To build a cohesive pluralist society, the ideal outcome of a multiethnic democracy, it is helpful to have certain basic commonalities that bond the entire population — in the case of the United States, this would (or should) be our universal commitment to the rule of law, human rights, and democratic norms and values. Quillette discusses this thorny issue in the context of an excellent conversation between Sam Harris and Mark Lilla on the future of identity politics in liberal democracy.

Russia  

March of the Defenders of Moscow 
Rolling Stone — April 2, 2018
As new information continues to come to light on the NRA’s ties to the Kremlin, their unprecedented financial and political support of the president’s 2016 campaign seems ever more disconcerting. Here, Rolling Stone takes a deep dive into the Kremlin’s efforts over the years to infiltrate the NRA, building ties to the organization and using them as a vector of influence in American politics. The Russian Federation under Putin is, to say the least, not particularly friendly to gun rights or individual liberty, so one must ponder what sort of ideological affinity both sides share here.

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