Jim Verhulst - Deputy Editor of Editorials
AI thinking for itself, Trump unhinged and it’s the 1930s again | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York in February. About 900 software developers and other attendees showed up to the inaugural developer conference for the artificial intelligence company behind ChatGPT on Nov. 6. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York in February. About 900 software developers and other attendees showed up to the inaugural developer conference for the artificial intelligence company behind ChatGPT on Nov. 6. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) [ RICHARD DREW | AP ]
Published Nov. 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 “Why the Godfather of A.I. Fears What He’s Built,” by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker at

The context, from the author: Geoffrey Hinton has spent a lifetime teaching computers to learn. Now he worries that artificial brains are better than ours.

The excerpt: There are many reasons to be concerned about the advent of artificial intelligence. It’s common sense to worry about human workers being replaced by computers, for example. But (Geoffrey) Hinton has joined many prominent technologists, including Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, in warning that A.I. systems may start to think for themselves, and even seek to take over or eliminate human civilization. It was striking to hear one of A.I.’s most prominent researchers give voice to such an alarming view.

From “Trump Isn’t Merely Unhinged,” by David A. Graham in The Atlantic at

The context, from the author: Many of former President Donald Trump’s recent statements illustrate a profoundly un-American set of ideas.

The excerpt: Trump has continued to make plainly dangerous and stunning remarks. Notwithstanding his rival Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent claim that Trump has “lost the zip on his fastball,” the former president continues to produce substantive ideas — which is not to say they are wise or prudent, but they are certainly more than gibberish. In fact, much of what Trump is discussing is un-American, not merely in the sense of being antithetical to some imagined national set of mores, but in that his ideas contravene basic principles of the Constitution or other bedrock bases of American government.

From “Israel Can’t Win Peace Militarily. Palestinian Democracy Is the Solution,” by Bahsir Abu-Manneh in Jacobin at

The context, from the author: Israel is meting out lethal collective punishment in Gaza and floating plans of ethnic cleansing to try to restore its security. But peace will not be won without democracy for Palestinians.

The excerpt: Palestinians need a way beyond the failed politics of the (Palestinian Authority) and the bloody resistance of Hamas. No one can tolerate another three decades of bad options: of living between either a subservient collaborationist regime or a form of military resistance that violates international law and that Israel immediately exploits to undercut national resilience and criminalize a just cause globally. The war on Gaza must end now. Prolonging it fosters endless violence and colonial fantasies that bring peace and security to no one. To uphold the Palestinian right of self-determination is to uphold Palestinian democracy — a first step toward justice.


From “It’s Looking Like the 1930s,” by Seth Cropsey in The National Review at

The context, from the author: The U.S. must stay the course in Europe and the Middle East to win the struggle for Eurasian mastery.

The excerpt: Russia, China, and Iran have forged an entente with clear resemblance to the Axis of the mid 20th century. These new revisionist powers share a number of strategic objectives with their historical forerunners. They chafe under the restrictions of an international system that refuses to grant authoritarian states the right to aggrandize themselves at the expense of smaller neighbors. They seek to dominate their regions to ensure their long-term economic control over the world around them, primarily for domestic purposes. And they espouse ideologies — Russian national fascism with its syncretic blend of racial hierarchy and Soviet nostalgia, Iranian Khomeinism with its universalist demands and antisemitism, Chinese totalitarianism with a cult of personality — that are inimical to liberalism, representative government, and prudent and balanced rule.

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From “The GOP Is A Fake Opposition Party With No Vision For The Country,” by Shawn Fleetwood in The Federalist at

The context, from the author: Outside of a few elected Republicans, the majority of the GOP is a fake opposition party. They never fight on issues that matter when they matter and routinely cave on the major political fights of our time.

The excerpt: Got that? It’s avoiding a government shutdown that’s the real problem, (according to new Republican House Speaker Michael Johnson). Not record-high federal spending; or the invasion at the U.S.-Mexico border; or the politically weaponized Justice Department; or COVID fascism; or DEI in the military; or Biden’s federal election interference; or anything else Republican voters care about.

From “It’s Not the Pro-Life Argument That’s Losing,” by Carmel Richardson in The American Conservative at

The context, from the author: The pro-life movement would be in a very different place if its leaders spoke with the moral confidence of those who actually believe that life begins at conception.

The excerpt: Not only have we fallen behind on the moral argument, many have all but abandoned it. The pro-life movement has been rhetorically apologizing for Dobbs (which overturned Roe v. Wade) ever since it was handed down, trying to prove its moderation with compromise and side-stepping, as though suddenly ashamed of the belief that human life begins at the moment of conception. To this end, a mere 15-week abortion ban has been touted as the winning measure in moderate precincts. ... If life does begin at conception, the argument is neither too complicated for voters to comprehend, nor too bitter a pill to swallow. There is nothing backwards about laws against murder.