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.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban. [ YURI KOCHETKOV | AP ]
Published March 11

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 “Is Florida’s Blogger Registration Bill Inspired by Viktor Orbán?” by Noah Lanard in Mother Jones at

The context, from the author: It wouldn’t be the first time Viktor Orbán’s authoritarian regime gave Florida Republicans some ideas.

The excerpt: Florida’s blogger registration bill is curiously similar to a section of a Hungarian law that requires media organizations to register with the government. The law, which was passed at the start of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s tenure in 2010, initially required news outlets to register before beginning to publish. Could it be a basis for the proposed Florida law? It wouldn’t be the first time Florida looked to Hungary. Orbán’s authoritarian government is in vogue on the American right and its illiberalism has already served as a template for Gov. Ron DeSantis and fellow Florida Republicans. The state’s so-called “don’t say gay” law was reportedly modeled in part on similar Hungarian legislation.

From “We Aren’t Talking Enough About Wage Theft,” by Joe Mayall in Jacobin at

The context, from the author: Every year, $50 billion are stolen from American workers by their bosses. The Left and labor should be working tirelessly to pass anti-wage-theft legislation at every level of government.

The excerpt: While any dime stolen from any worker is an inexcusable crime, like most forms of exploitation, the most common victims of wage theft are the most marginalized. As women, migrant workers and workers of color are the most likely to have their wages stolen, anti-wage-theft protections are a social justice issue as well as a labor one.

From “Does American Fascism Exist?” by Daniel Bessner in The New Republic at

The context, from the author: For nearly a century, Americans have been throwing the term around — without agreeing what that means.

The excerpt: Another reason “fascism” has been so protean is that, unlike liberalism and conservatism, it’s not a living ideology — and never really was in the United States. No self-identified fascist is taken seriously in American society. There are no genuinely fascist op-ed columnists, no fascist TV commentators, no fascist celebrities, no fascist elected officials. You’re unlikely to find people reading actual fascists outside of European history courses.


From “Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 Revisionist History,” by Noah Rothman in The National Review at

The context, from the author: Those who are “just asking questions” about Jan. 6 don’t seem much interested in the answers they’re soliciting.

The excerpt: Republicans can ignore, dispute or dismiss the mountains of evidence surrounding the events of Jan. 6 all they like, but they will continue to be confronted with those events and their complicity in them. It should come as no shock that voters did not like Jan. 6 and do not want to see it repeated. Democrats wielded this intuitive insight to great effect in 2022, and they may do so again in 2024. If Republicans do not confront these events with clarity, honesty, and the resolve to ensure nothing like that ever happens again, they’ll find that voters will elect someone who will.

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From “When DeSantis Targets A Corporation He’s A Fascist. When Democrats Do It They’re Heroes,” by David Harsanyi in The Federalist at

The context, from the author: Contemporary Democrats have never been reluctant to punish and single out corporations that do not share their political values.

The excerpt: Walgreens wouldn’t sell the abortifacient mifepristone in 20 red states that have laws curbing unfettered abortion. (California Gov.) Gavin Newsom ... promised the pharmaceutical company would face consequences and that California would no longer do any business with the chain. ... Walgreens has decided not to sell abortion drugs, ones it has never sold in the past, in other states. It is not doing so for any moral reasons. It is trying to avoid legal conflict. Many Democrats celebrated Newsom’s threat, as they’ve celebrated threats before, because they have zero qualms about compelling or hurting companies. They don’t believe it’s authoritarian.

From “The Marriage Monster,” by Rod Dreher in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: Look, marriage is hard. I’m only weeks away from being officially divorced, a fate that I never imagined for myself, one that shocks and embarrasses me even now, almost a year since my wife told me she had filed, and one that I lived for most of the last decade trying to avoid, solely for the sake of our children. ... I say that as background for the contempt I feel towards Agnes Callard, a University of Chicago philosopher, and the colleagues who justify her scandalous behavior.

The excerpt: In a New Yorker profile, we learn that she fell in love with one of her students, divorced her husband and father of her children three weeks later (with his consent), and ran around making philosophical justifications for what she had done, almost bragging about it. Eventually she and her lover, Arnold, married, and later they moved in with Ben, her ex-husband. Naturally, these philosophical types are Beyond Good And Evil, and petty bourgeois morality. ... I think Agnes Collard is a bad person for living the way she does. But in judging her, I recognize that I’m kind of judging myself too, insofar as I am guilty of callously treating real people close to me as characters in a story.