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.
A COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is prepared ahead of a press conference this May at Dallas County Health and Human Services in Dallas.
A COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is prepared ahead of a press conference this May at Dallas County Health and Human Services in Dallas. [ SHAFKAT ANOWAR | The Dallas Morning News ]
Published Nov. 5, 2022

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 “Let’s Declare A Pandemic Amnesty,” by Emily Oster in The Atlantic at

The context, from the author: We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID.

The excerpt: The people who got it right, for whatever reason, may want to gloat. Those who got it wrong, for whatever reason, may feel defensive and retrench into a position that doesn’t accord with the facts. All of this gloating and defensiveness continues to gobble up a lot of social energy and to drive the culture wars, especially on the internet. These discussions are heated, unpleasant and, ultimately, unproductive. In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing. Treating pandemic choices as a scorecard on which some people racked up more points than others is preventing us from moving forward. We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty.

From “As the Fed Raises Interest Rates, People Will Lose Jobs and Democrats Will Lose Elections,” by Matthew Cunningham-Cook and Andrew Perez in Jacobin at

The context, from the authors: The Federal Reserve has signaled that it will further raise interest rates this month, increasing the chances of a recession that will hurt average people. In response, most of the Democratic Party establishment are twiddling their thumbs.

The excerpt: The Fed has repeatedly hiked interest rates to constrict wages and therefore supposedly help ease inflation. But that relief hasn’t happened, largely because the primary driver of the higher costs Americans are experiencing is markups: companies, particularly those with market power, are raising prices because they can.

From “How One Group Is Tackling Voter Intimidation In Arizona,” by Tim Murphy in Mother Jones at

The context, from the author: Right-wingers are bringing tactical gear. Living United for Change in Arizona (a.k.a. LUCHA) is bringing a party bus.

The excerpt: For Democrats and organizations that are focusing on turning out voters who vote for Democrats, these well-publicized efforts to inject fear into a peaceful process have added another challenge, beyond countering the messaging about gas prices and rainbow fentanyl: How do you reassure voters that voting this year will be not just a comfortable experience but maybe even … kind of fun? For a glimpse of this counter-programming on a recent Saturday, I dropped by a park in Glendale, northwest of downtown Phoenix, for a “Burritos y Baletas” event hosted by Living United for Change in Arizona (a.k.a. LUCHA), the Latino community organizing powerhouse that has played a major part in the state’s political transformation over the last decade. ... Because most Arizonans vote early and receive their ballots in the mail, attendees had also been invited to bring their ballots with them to the event, where they could fill them out together in a communal and festive atmosphere, and then take a bus to drop their ballots off at a polling location. Not just any bus, though — a party bus.


From “We Won’t Be Able to Dodge a Major Political Assassination Forever,” by Philip Klein In The National Review at

The context, from the author: Ultimately, the public dodged yet another potential high-level political assassination, as Nancy Pelosi was not in the house and Paul Pelosi is expected to make a full recovery from the assault. But the incident reveals once again that unfortunately, outside of a few figures, such as the president and vice president, it really wouldn’t be extraordinarily difficult to get to a lot of very prominent public officials.

The excerpt: Keeping political discourse more civil would be worthwhile for many reasons, and anybody with a public platform should use it responsibly, but any adversarial political system is going to involve a lot of heated rhetoric, and there is always the risk that somebody crazy could get hung up on a given political figure. I hope I am proven wrong, but I fear that at some point, our luck is going to run out.

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From “That’s Not Funny,” by Noah Rothman in Commentary Magazine at

The context, from the author: Comedy with a distinctly right-wing flavor has become an emerging cultural and financial powerhouse. Humor that is utterly devoid of any social mission beyond its entertainment value is back in vogue.

The excerpt: Today’s progressives are not orchestrating a rebellion but trying to put one down. Corporations kowtow to their concerns. Politicians flatter their pretensions. Universities cater to their preferences. Entertainment follows the flow chart they wrote. There is a pervasive sense on the politically active left that this is a fragile covenant, and anything that threatens it must be policed. Even humor. But that is a rearguard action, not a bold assault on the citadels of conformity.

From “Don’t Call It the ‘Culture War Speech,’” by Nic Rowan in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: Everyone in the room at the Republican National Conventionin 1992 thought that Patrick Buchanan gave an uplifting speech. Only later was it spun as a dark diatribe.

The excerpt: (In drafting the speech, Patrick Buchanan and his team) needed something that up to that point neither Bushies nor Buchananites had really envisioned: a speech that highlighted points of agreement between the two camps and offered a positive path forward for the party. Buchanan’s run had roused an energy in voters that the Bush campaign had been unable to inspire. He had a vision for the country whose reach extended well beyond the immediate collapse of the Soviet Union and whose formulation appealed to people otherwise unconcerned with politics. Most importantly, Buchananites understood that Republican voters were more open to their ideas than Republican leaders. If Buchanan could inspire excitement over those ideas in service of Bush, the president’s team just might embrace them.