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.
In this May 2, 2003, photo, President George W. Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast. But the war dragged on for many years with what the U.S. Army’s history of the war termed “strategic failure.”
In this May 2, 2003, photo, President George W. Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast. But the war dragged on for many years with what the U.S. Army’s history of the war termed “strategic failure.”
Published Feb. 18

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 “The Impact of the Anti-War Movement 20 Years After the U.S. Invaded Iraq,” by David Cortright in The Nation at

The context, from the author: It’s a reminder that protest can and does matter.

The excerpt: The international rejection of the U.S.-led war was significant. It was the first time since the U.N.’s founding that the United States could not get full Security Council approval on a national priority. A creative dialectic developed between the Security Council and global civil society: The stronger the anti-war movement in Germany, Mexico and other countries became, the greater was the determination to resist U.S. pressure at the U.N. And the stronger the objections at the U.N. became, the greater was the legitimacy and impact of the anti-war movement.

From “The Far-Right Bounty Hunter Behind the Explosive Popularity of ‘Died Suddenly,’” by Kiera Butler in Mother Jones at

The context, from the author: How Stew Peters parlayed conspiracy theories into viral documentaries and a massive following.

The excerpt: (The) vaccination status (Quentin Williams, a Democratic member of the Connecticut House of Representatives) had nothing to do with his death — he was one of two people killed in a head-on collision. But the commenters on (Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris) Murphy’s tweet (marking his passing) reflect an increasingly popular conspiracy theory that healthy people are dying shortly after receiving the vaccine. Indeed, in the last two months, every time a celebrity dies — from former NFL player Ahmaad Galloway to Lisa Marie Presley — adherents of this theory have swarmed social media to blame the shots. Despite no evidence that such a correlation exists, this myth is remarkably persistent, especially since the November 2022 release of a slickly produced documentary called Died Suddenly, which baselessly claims that many people who take the vaccines develop potentially fatal blood clots.

From “Trump Plans to Bring Back Firing Squads, Group Executions if He Retakes White House,” by Asawin Suebsaeng and Patrick Reis in Rolling Stone at

The context, from the author: The former president wants to expand the use of the death penalty and expand the federal government’s options for carrying out death sentences.

The excerpt: (Former President Donald) Trump has talked about bringing back death by firing squad, by hanging, and, according to two of the sources, possibly even by guillotine. He has also, sources say, discussed group executions. Trump has floated these ideas while discussing planned campaign rhetoric and policy desires, as well as his disdain for President Biden’s approach to crime. In at least one instance late last year, according to the third source, who has direct knowledge of the matter, Trump privately mused about the possibility of creating a flashy, government-backed video-ad campaign that would accompany a federal revival of these execution methods. In Trump’s vision, these videos would include footage from these new executions, if not from the exact moments of death.

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From “Must We Lose to Joe Biden a Third Time?” by Rich Lowry in The National Review at

The context, from the author: Joe Biden is an aged political hack who is significantly off his game, and his game was never particularly good in the first place. Yet, assuming he’s physically capable of it, he is running again and has some serious chance of winning a second term.

The excerpt: Dodging the bullet on another (Donald) Trump nomination, assuming the party can do it, is just the start. It needs to project a seriousness of purpose and a commitment to competent governance. That doesn’t mean that it should be fainthearted and compromising — indeed, the opposite — but it needs to realize that its target audience is wider than the base and that the often-ridiculous, usually dishonest Joe Biden is not a pushover.

From “Republicans Who Want War ‘To the Hilt’ Against Russia Forget The Lessons Of Iraq,” by Jonathan S. Tobin in The Federalist at

The context, from the author: Republicans who want an endless war between Ukraine and Russia think they can buy “victory” over Vladimir Putin, but they are wrong.

The excerpt: What would happen if a massive infusion of American high-tech weaponry as well as cash along the lines of (Sen. Tom) Cotton’s dreams of escalation did lead to a Ukraine victory and, ultimately, Putin’s fall? Do the GOP hawks really think Putin’s regime would be replaced by a Western European-style liberal democracy that poses no threat to its neighbors? Perhaps those who have swallowed the myth that (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy is a paladin of American values rather than a typical leader of a corrupt, oppressive former Soviet republic actually believe that’s a possibility. But the most likely outcome would be a bitter revanchist regime that would probably be even more dangerous than that of Putin.

From “Delayed Reaction,” by James B. Meigs in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal at

The context, from the author: The biggest hurdle to a U.S. nuclear revival isn’t technical, but regulatory.

The excerpt: Two main hurdles remain. The first is to overhaul the regulatory bureaucracy: tomorrow’s nimble energy sources can’t be saddled with a regulatory apparatus designed for lumbering 1970s technology. The second is to make sure that the next-generation nuclear industry can stand on its own feet. The DOE’s generous grants and subsidies might be necessary to help get demonstration plants built and supply chains established, but lawmakers shouldn’t create an industry that perpetually depends on government largesse. The government should focus on funding original research — then let private industry figure out how to make the most of new discoveries. In the end, removing regulatory barriers will do more than endless subsidies to help nuclear power thrive.