ESSENTIAL #1: “MARTHA MCSALLY APPOINTED TO FILL JOHN MCCAIN’S FORMER SEAT” JACK CROWE, NATIONAL REVIEW
From the article: “Representative Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) will be appointed to fill the late John McCain’s former Senate seat following the retirement of his initial successor, Senator Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) at the end of the year.
Arizona governor Doug Ducey announced Tuesday that McSally, who lost a contest for Arizona’s other Senate seat to Democrat Krysten Sinema in November, will replace Kyl in January.”
ESSENTIAL #2: “A POLITICS OF PUBLIC GOODS” ELI LEHRER, NATIONAL AFFAIRS
From the article: “Although federal budgets have grown by trillions of dollars over the past half-century, one activity of government has become steadily less substantial: the percentage of the federal budget and the share of the national wealth spent on public goods. The provision of things like clean air, national defense, basic scientific research, and roads — things, in short, that benefit the great bulk of the population through their very existence — has long been a core state function. The shift in spending away from these goods and increasingly toward social-insurance programs has correlated both with the growth of the state and a decline in the respect Americans have for it.
It therefore stands to reason that a shift away from social insurance and back toward public goods could restore the prestige of government, increase America's social and economic dynamism, and provide a democratically acceptable way to shrink the state. And doing so would be healthy. Relative to other potential visions of a modern, fundamentally liberal state focused on protecting rights, a return to one in which government focuses on public goods might simultaneously prove more democratic, more effective, and more unifying.”
ESSENTIAL #3: “HOW TRUMP MADE WAR ON ANGELA MERKEL AND EUROPE” SUSAN GLASSER, THE NEW YORKER
From the article: “Europe has had many fights with American Presidents over the years, but never in the seven decades since the end of the Second World War has it confronted one so openly hostile to its core institutions. Since Trump’s election, Europe’s leaders have feared that it would come to this, but they have disagreed about how to respond to him. Many hoped to wait Trump out. A few urged confrontation. Others, especially in nations more vulnerable to Russia, urged accommodation. (Poland offered to name a new military base Fort Trump.) Macron tried flattery, and then, when that failed, he reverted to public criticism of Trump-style nationalism.
The challenge from Trump has been especially personal for Germans, whose close relationship with the United States has defined their nation’s postwar renaissance. Merkel grew up in Communist East Germany and credits the United States as essential to the liberation of the East and to German reunification. As the head of Europe’s largest and wealthiest nation,she has sought to guide the Continent through the standoff with Trump, but has struggled, because the President’s harsh words reflect a painful truth: Europeans are dependent on the United States for their security and increasingly divided as Putin’s Russia threatens the nations in the east. ‘Not all of what he says is wrong,’ said the senior German official, one of ten who spoke with me. ‘Europe has been free-riding for some time.’ Asked for comment about Trump’s criticism of Merkel, a White House spokesperson told me, ‘He is often toughest on his friends, and he considers her one. He views Germany as a powerful, prosperous country that should be doing more on defense spending.’ But the risks for Trump are also considerable: call your friends enemies long enough, and eventually they may start to believe you. Is this, then, finally, the end of Pax Americana?”
ESSENTIAL #4: “NASHVILLE’S STAR RISES AS MIDSIZE CITIES BREAK INTO WINNERS AND LOSERS” BEN CASSELMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES
From the article: “Forty years ago, Nashville and Birmingham, Ala., were peers. Two hundred miles apart, the cities anchored metropolitan areas of just under one million people each and had a similar number of jobs paying similar wages.
Not anymore. The population of the Nashville area has roughly doubled, and young people have flocked there, drawn by high-paying jobs as much as its hip “Music City” reputation. Last month, the city won an important consolation prize in the competition for Amazon’s second headquarters: an operations center that will eventually employ 5,000 people at salaries averaging $150,000 a year.
Birmingham, by comparison, has steadily lost population, and while its suburbs have expanded, their growth has lagged the Nashville area’s. Once-narrow gaps in education and income have widened, and important employers like SouthTrust and Saks have moved their headquarters. Birmingham tried to lure Amazon, too, but all it is getting from the online retail giant is a warehouse and a distribution center where many jobs will pay about $15 an hour.”