Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
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.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks before he signs the state budget at The Villages on June 2.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks before he signs the state budget at The Villages on June 2. [ STEPHEN M. DOWELL | Orlando Sentinel ]
Published Jul. 16

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 “Ron DeSantis’ ‘Freedom’ Branding is a Laughable Sham,” by Branko Marcetic in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: Ron DeSantis, the right-wing Florida governor and potential presidential hopeful, has taken to branding himself as the leading defender of precious American freedoms. But throughout his administration, he’s been at war with the First Amendment.

The excerpt: There’s more to freedom than making money and going unvaccinated. Take the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment: freedom of speech, of the free press, freedom to assemble and protest, as well as freedom of religion. How has DeSantis treated these vital freedoms? Not very well.

From “The Trump Enablers Truly in Contempt of Congress,” by Molly Jong-Fast in The Atlantic.

The context, from the author: Unlike those involved in the Jan. 6 coup attempt who refuse to testify, my communist grandfather respected democracy and had the courage to turn up, say his piece and take the consequences.

The excerpt: The part Congress played in the witch hunts of the ‘40s and ‘50s deserves the infamy it has attracted down the years. But that is no excuse for the Department of Justice to soft-pedal action against those who prefer to protect their political boss rather than the Constitution. Mark Meadows was the chief of staff for the most powerful man in the world, a president who was trying to overturn the result of a democratic election in order to stay in office illegally and illegitimately. Those who advised, aided, and abetted the former president in the run-up to January 6 but refuse to testify should definitely be held in contempt.

From “Why Progressive Prosecutors Won’t Save Us in a Post-Roe World,” by Madison Pauly in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Certain district attorneys are promising not to prosecute abortions. Will it matter?

The excerpt: With Roe overturned and blanket abortion bans snapping into place across the South and Midwest, healthcare workers who provide abortions are now faced with the same complicated math that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin had to wrestle with (including whether anyone would, or even could, enforce a resurrected ban). Whether abortion is illegal now depends on their state, but enforcement is a separate question. In large part, whether doctors will face criminal charges for defying the law is up to local prosecutors — a group of predominantly white, male officials, typically elected county by county.


From “Washington Isn’t Ready for Higher Interest Rates,” by Brian Riedl in The National Review.

The context, from the author: Congress and the White House are not prepared for a world with higher interest rates, and there’s no backup plan.

The excerpt: Washington, perched for now on top of a mountain of debt, can ill afford higher interest rates. For the past few years, short-sighted lawmakers, economists, and columnists have demanded that Congress take advantage of low interest rates by engaging in a massive borrowing spree. Indeed, President Biden’s enormous spending agenda was often justified by the low interest rates on government borrowing. This case never made sense for two reasons. First, Washington was already projected to add $100 trillion in baseline deficits over the next three decades due primarily to Social Security and Medicare shortfalls. ... Second, Washington never locked in the recent low interest rates. In fact, the average maturity on the federal debt has fallen to 62 months.

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From “America Needs Some British Banter,” by James Jeffrey in The American Conservative.

The context, from the author: Banter is as British as the queen, and as necessary and noble. Judging by the current climate in the U.S., you lot would do better with more of both. Setting monarchy aside, though, let me focus on the less understood phenomenon of banter.

The excerpt: If you attempt to banter with Americans these days, I find, especially with anyone under the age of 35, you risk being deemed mentally unstable, high, or a pervert. This inability to banter, in addition to making everyday life more of a slog and drab, has wider implications across society. It’s a part of cancel culture and the menacing ideologies gripping media and academia that police what people can or can’t say. It fuels the anxiety of children and young people, leaving them humorless and taking things far too seriously beyond their years.

From “Why Mitt Romney’s Call for Moderation Is Dishonest And Dangerous,” by Auguste Meyrat in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: Unprincipled Republicans are appeasers of the worst kind, treating all sides as if they come in good faith and claiming the moral high ground while their country goes up in flames.

The excerpt: Quite understandably, many Republican voters are not just upset at this situation, but fearful. They see their country turning into a tyranny that wants to silence and oppress them. Today’s left increasingly believes in nothing except power. ... That’s why Romney’s anachronistic calls for compromise and unity can’t be tolerated. They will inevitably lead to a one-party state that serves an elite class of Americans while driving everyone into dependency on government. Already this can be seen in Democrat-run states and cities, where politicians do what they please and continue being reelected despite their obvious corruption and incompetence.


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