Jim Verhulst - Editorial Writer
Here’s what to read from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Protesters hold up signs at a protest outside the Texas state capitol in Austin in May.
Protesters hold up signs at a protest outside the Texas state capitol in Austin in May. [ SERGIO FLORES | Getty Images North America ]
Published Sep. 25

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 “How to Have a Safe Abortion — Even in Texas,” by Gloria Oladipo in The Nation.

The context, from the author: Elisa Wells, a Plan C cofounder, discusses the future of reproductive care after Texas Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions after six weeks, when most people don’t yet know they are pregnant.

The excerpt, one of Wells’ answers: In more than 20 states, you can go online, get a consultation, and have abortion pills mailed to your home for a convenient and confidential abortion. Unfortunately, that level of access — what we call modern 21st-century abortion care — is not available in many states. In states with restrictions on telemedicine care, there are other ways that people are accessing abortion pills.

From “Americans Have No Idea What the Supply Chain Really Is,” by Amanda Mull in The Atlantic.

The context, from the author: Behind shipping delays and soaring prices are workers still at mortal risk of COVID-19.

The excerpt: Americans are habitually unattuned to the massive and profoundly human apparatus that brings us basically everything in our lives. Much of the country’s pandemic response has treated us as somehow separate from the rest of the world and the challenges it endures, but unpredictably empty shelves, rising prices, and long waits are just more proof of how foolish that belief has always been. When I called up Dan Hearsch, a managing director at the consulting firm AlixPartners who specializes in supply-chain management, I described the current state of the industry to him as a little wonky. He laughed. “‘A little wonky’ is one way to say it,” he said. “ ‘Everything’s broken’ is another way.”

From “The High Human Cost of America’s Sugar Habit,” by Sandy Tolan with Euclides Cordero Nuel in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: There’s no doubt Dominican sugar production has improved (in the past 30 years). ... But according to government sources and human rights and labor advocates, Central Romana is most resistant to changing the deplorable conditions that have long plagued the industry. The company ships more than 200 million pounds of sugar to the US every year — far more than any other Dominican grower — and insists it treats its workers “with respect.”

The excerpt: Central Romana has plenty of interests to protect. At the top of the company’s sugar chain: the Fanjul brothers, Alfonso and Pepe, who acquired it in 1984. The wealth generated by their 100,000 metric tons of annual imports to the United States, built on the sweat of men like Julio and Cardenas, has helped make them billionaires and build worlds of luxury. In the middle of Central Romana’s cane fields sits the Casa de Campo resort, a playground for A-list celebrities, European royalty and former U.S. presidents, who can rent villas, shoot pigeons, play golf and polo or pilot a yacht into the sparkling Caribbean. The brothers live in seaside mansions in West Palm Beach. ... The family hosts charity balls, doling out millions to charter schools and day care centers, and tens of millions to politicians, who oversee government programs that repay them many times over. Speaking on the Senate floor, John McCain once called them the “first family of corporate welfare.”


From “The Post-COVID Classical-Education Boom,” by Christopher Perrin and Anika Prather in the National Review.

The context, from the author: When COVID hit, many schools and teachers pivoted quickly to remote learning and worked to move their curricula online. While students and teachers may have been focused on frustrating technology and scheduling, many parents were getting an insider’s look at their children’s classroom experience. And, too often, they didn’t like what they saw: declining standards and hollowed-out curricula, devoid of meaningful content.

The excerpt: Mathematics, reading, and writing are human skills that anyone who is well-taught can learn. Lowering the bar — or simply removing the bar altogether — does a disservice to students and their communities. Unfortunate developments such as this make it clear why parents have become desperate for alternatives. Many have found one in classical education, which has always sought to cultivate wisdom, virtue, and eloquence.

From “How to Use America’s New Peace Dividend,” by Sen. Marco Rubio in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Redirecting money from Afghanistan would be a clear message from Congress that it is time to rebalance and focus on strengthening America.

The excerpt: How Congress decides to commit our national resources following the withdrawal will be the clearest indicator of the state of our policy toward Afghanistan and our foreign policy priorities going forward. I believe there is only one right answer: rescind any remaining funds appropriated for maintaining a military and diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, as well as funds to support the Afghan government or military, and put them to better use. Namely, put them toward great power competition with the People’s Republic of China.

From “Securing the Border Without Hardening Our Hearts,” by Alan Cross in The Bulwark.

The context, from the author: What does the harsh and violent treatment of Haitian migrants say about the soul of America?

The excerpt: Whatever one thinks about who should come here or how many or how we let people in, there is one aspect of this tragedy that we should be clear about: The Haitians who come to our border seeking refuge have suffered beyond the imagination of most Americans. How we see and treat them says a great deal about the state of our own hearts and consciences. Secure borders shouldn’t mean closed borders. We can make good, humane decisions about whom we allow to come based on need and merit. ... Seeing images of Customs and Border Protection agents on horseback swinging lariats at and pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande only adds to the impression that the American response is hard-heartedness towards the desperate and the vulnerable.