Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
UnAmerican drones, bad bets on climate and Putin on America | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has some thoughts about America.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has some thoughts about America. [ SERGEY SHINOV | AP ]
Published Sept. 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 “Bring Back the COVID Welfare State,” by Nick French in In These Times at

The context, from the author: By many metrics, the U.S. economy is doing well — but most voters still disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of it. If they want to win elections, Democrats should run on reviving the temporary COVID welfare state they let expire.

The excerpt: The situation shows that high-level metrics like GDP growth and unemployment are not good proxies for Americans’ quality of life — or for economic justice. It also demonstrates the need for a progressive economic program of combining ambitious “demand-side” welfare policies with “supply-side” investment programs like the Inflation Reduction Act . That combination is likely to be more conducive to actually helping people — while also being politically popular.

From “Betting against worst-case climate scenarios is risky business,” by David Spratt in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at

The context, from the author: Have scientists and policy makers given too much weight to middle-of-the-road probabilities, instead of plausible-worst possibilities? If so, it’s an appalling gamble with risk. Humanity could end up the loser.

The excerpt: Policy makers and global leaders seem not to recognize that when risks are existential, a bad outcome means the future is unrecognizably different from before. By downplaying the high-risk possibilities, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others are foolishly conducting a dangerously unprecedented experiment: how much heat — how much change — can human systems tolerate before society collapses?

From “As Long as We Use Drones, Celebrating ‘American Values’ Is a Farce,” by Maha Hilal in at

The context, from the author: After decades of asymmetrical warfare, Americans have lost touch with the humanity of civilians forced to endure the extreme violence of our “mistakes.”

The excerpt: Drones continue to be instruments of civilian slaughter and the language deployed by successive administrations to describe such slaughter has served to sanitize that fact. Whether it’s the use of “target” or “collateral damage,” both minimize the reality that human beings are being murdered. Taken together with a larger war-on-terror narrative in which Muslims have been strikingly demonized and criminalized, the result has been the production of killable bodies whose deaths elicit neither guilt, remorse, nor accountability.


From “Constitutional Intelligence,” by James P. Pinkerton in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: There’s nothing artificial about the need for checks and balances when it comes to A.I. regulation.

The excerpt: We don’t all need to be experts on A.I. to survive and flourish, but we need some experts, duly elected or otherwise rightly chosen, looking out for our interests. None of the experts will be angels, either, and so we’ll also have to keep an eye on them. It’s heartening to know that Americans were born with a great tool for guiding A.I.’s impact: The U.S. Constitution. ... Over the last 234 years, the Constitution has proven itself equal to the challenge of managing non-angels, both human and man-made. It’s basic conservative wisdom that people, flawed as we are, need a framework to stay on the path of virtue and safety. Absent such a structure, even the good can break bad. (James) Madison (or possibly Alexander Hamilton) knew this, and so he counseled in Federalist 55, “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates; every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.” The point is that democracy runs amok if the system lacks republican structures. That is, separated powers, as called for in the Constitution, serving as checks and balances on each other.

From “Joe Biden’s Mariel Boatlift,” by Rich Lowry in The National Review at

The context, from the author: There’s no indication that the man responsible for the ongoing illegal-immigration debacle at the border wants to do anything to stop it.

The excerpt: Of course, the two crises, separated by more than 40 years, aren’t the same. The scale of the influx today, running into the millions, is much larger than the boatlift of about 125,000 Cubans; the 1980 crisis largely involved just one city, Miami; and no foreign leader is manipulating the situation with the blatant cynicism of Fidel Castro. No, rather than a communist dictator flooding the U.S. with migrants out of spite, it is Joe Biden doing it to himself and his country with his incompetence and willful negligence at the border.

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From “Putin Weighs In On the Trump Witch Hunt and Points Out a Sad Reality About America’s Political System,” by Brandon Morse in RedState at

The context, from the author: Regardless of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, he’s not wrong about America’s political system. As it stands, it’s in complete and total disarray thanks to the willingness of the Democrat Party to weaponize government institutions from the IRS to the Department of Justice in order to punish and cripple its political rivals.

The excerpt: Putin is correct, at least on this point. The continued lawfare against Trump by the Democrat Party, and its continued use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to destroy him signal a complete collapse of America’s political system. It can no longer be trusted to be fair and the corruption has sunk so deep that it’s unclear where it begins and ends.