Links: Death of Mark Shields; universal health insurance; freedom of speech


Political columnist Mark Shields died last week. There were many tributes, all of which focused not just on his pointed commentary, but also on what a decent person he was, and the fact that he was interested, not dismayed, in meeting people. who saw the world through different lenses than those he used. That is to say, he was an intellectual as well as a political liberal. Two years ago, when he retired, his sparring partner on PBS’s “NewsHour,” David Brooks, wrote a nice eulogy.

There is nothing liberal about libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel, who was profiled by Elizabeth Dwoskin of the Washington Post in the June 19 newspaper. I knew some of this, but not all of it, and was particularly intrigued by the title of a biography of Thiel: Opposite. Eh? There is nothing contrary to this ideologue. This is what is so frightening about ideologues: their ideological framework levels out all the complexities of life. In their setting, no one hits a bump in the road, and it’s those bumps that keep us human. He’s a 21st century Ayn Rand with tons of money. How boring.

In The Guardian, a report on the cost of not having universal health insurance: A new study indicates that the lack of such universal coverage in the United States resulted in 338,000 additional lives lost during the pandemic and 105 billion additional dollars in health care costs. So the next time someone says we can’t afford universal health insurance, point out that we can’t afford what we have, morally or financially.

At The New York Times, Coral Davenport takes an in-depth and invigorating look at the potential danger to environmental protection and other necessary government functions posed by an upcoming Supreme Court decision in the case. West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. In this histrionic era, it is better to avoid the temptation to exaggerate the stakes of our various political and cultural battles. In this case, to paraphrase a famous speaker, extremism in defense of common sense is not a vice.

Politico examines the challenges of changing newsroom cultures with a focus on Sally Buzbee’s leadership at The Washington Post, where she replaced Marty Baron in 2021. There’s No Way For Democracy To Work without a free press, and the dangers are manifold. a free press today — part ideological, part financial, part cultural.

Along the same lines, at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf reflects on the recent struggle at Georgetown University Law School over the limits of free speech. Newly hired Ilya Shapiro tweeted something that was undeniably stupid and offensive. He apologized, was suspended, and the university investigated the matter. Shapiro eventually resigned but he also opposed the investigation by campus bureaucrats. The case raises serious questions about the direction of higher education. As Friedersdorf health law expert Gregg Bloche said, “Fear of career-ruining responses to offensive words chills classroom discussions, scholarships, and conversations among colleagues.”

At Chicago Catholic, Cardinal Blase Cupich offers some advice on preaching the Trinity, and he quotes from the book The vision of Catholic social thought: the virtue of solidarity and the praxis of human rights, by St. John’s University moral theologian Meghan Clark. At a time when too many people reduce religion to ethics, it is wonderful to highlight the work of a theologian who recognizes how dogmatic truths ground our ethical teachings, and even more so when that work is noticed by a bishop. ! I reviewed Clark’s wonderful book here.


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