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.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks with reporters after a meeting of the progressive House Democrats on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks with reporters after a meeting of the progressive House Democrats on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) [ ALEX BRANDON | AP ]
Published Oct. 9

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 “Pramila Jayapal’s Perfect Pitch,” by John Nichols in The Nation.

The context, from the author: The Congressional Progressive Caucus chair is standing firm against Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and corporate “centrists,” and winning accolades as a master negotiator.

The excerpt: After three decades of building from obscurity to a position of strength within the House Democratic Caucus in particular and the legislative branch in general, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has become more than a faction. It has the potential to be the defining force in the direction of the 117th Congress and a still-new Democratic administration.

From “I Drove More Than 1,000 Miles to Help a Texan Get an Abortion,” as told by “Rachel” to Lil Kalish in Mother Jones.

The context, from the protagonist: Abortions don’t stop just because you made it more difficult.

The excerpt: The biggest thing I’ve noticed since the ban is that people’s fears are coming true: They’re not going to be able to get to their appointments. That was always there. It’s been an underlying thing in Texas since forever. I definitely noticed longer times for appointments because all of the clinics have been inundated. Appointment times have gotten longer. My client pointed out that everyone they spoke with that day was from Texas. Sorry, (Gov.) Greg Abbott, we’re still getting abortions.

From “The French Revolution Was the Beginning of the Modern World,” by Jeremy Popkin in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Conservative ideologues have dismissed the French Revolution as an unnecessary bloodbath. But a fresh look at the revolution shows us its vital relevance to contemporary political issues, from demands for economic equality to the struggle against racism.

The excerpt: The question of how to reconcile the principles of freedom with the economic importance of the (French) colonies preoccupied revolutionary leaders throughout the 1790s. After much controversy, they voted to abolish slavery and to grant full rights to people of all races, but only after they were faced with history’s largest slave uprising, the beginning of a “Haitian Revolution” that ended in 1804 with the creation of the first independent black nation in the Americas. A history of the French Revolution that gives this previously neglected topic the attention it deserves changes our understanding of the movement’s meaning.


From “Dozens of American Children Remain Trapped in Afghanistan, and Biden Moves On,” by Jim Geraghty in the National Review.

The context, from the author: Large swaths of the American media world have psychologically moved on from Afghanistan.

The excerpt: What is going on in Afghanistan is apparently just not as interesting as, say, yet another former Trump administration staffer coming out with a book and declaring, to her shock and horror, that Donald Trump was erratic, full of rage, only listened to his family and was obsessed with the notion he won the 2020 election. Thank goodness Stephanie Grisham is coming forward with this shocking exposé. How could Americans have possibly known this without her coming forward and blowing the whistle?

From “Vote ‘Yes’ On Class Warfare,” by Jason Morgan in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Tyrants at home who would take away our liberties are a greater threat than despots abroad.

The excerpt: There used to be a natural brake to this perennial temptation of (American) politicians to act like incarcerating messiahs. It was called the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Washington had to at least pretend to be on its best behavior. Renditions and assassinations and dirty deals and disappearings — there were plenty of those from the little Caesars of the Beltway. But Washington was obliged to act constitutional-like, or else be humiliated for being “no better than the Russians.” But then the Berlin Wall tumbled.

From “Is Russia Un-Losing the Cold War?” by Shay Khatiri in The Bulwark.

The context, from the author: Three decades of weaponized corruption have degraded the West.

The excerpt: Of course, Russian influence isn’t limited to left-leaning think tanks, but extends to organizations such as the NRA and right-wing and/or white nationalist Texas and California secessionists. But a key insight of the (Free Russia Foundation) report is how the Kremlin exacerbates already existing divides in America by inflaming racial sensitivities — hence the Internet Research Agency’s use of both the @TenGOP (i.e. Tennessee Republican party) and @blackstagram Twitter handles.