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Public Lessons: Pedophilia, Bullying, and the Case of Alex Knepper

We are far from having worked this matter out even after 3,000 years of intensive labor, and far from knowing where they will lead, other than, from time to time, to tragedy.

Posted in Culture & Entertainment, Featured Tagged with: , , , , , ,

A vote for steady incremental decline

If conservatives are wrong about everything else, they may be right about this one underlying fact: A certain idea of American greatness may be slipping into the past. From that perspective, “steady incremental decline” may even begin to look like one of the better open paths.

Posted in Featured, Neo-Imperialism, US History Tagged with: , , ,

Last Testament: Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt

If a resuscitation and revival, a last ditch effort at salvation, or a transfiguration of social democracy is not on today’s political agenda, that may be all the more reason to pass this book on, following Tony Judt’s last requests, to a young person looking forward. It may even be the conservative thing to do.

Posted in Books, Featured, Politics Tagged with: , , ,

The Iraq Syndrome

Many on the right think President Obama’s Oval Office address last night should have credited “the Surge,” and they would have preferred thanks to his predecessor for taking and implementing a decision that Senator Obama and others fiercely criticized.  The

Posted in Featured, History, Miscellany, Politics, War Tagged with: ,

One Cancer Under God: On Defending Woodrow Wilson

If you’re going to excise the Wilsonian progressive cancer down to the last cell, as per Glenn Beck, then, when you’re done with your surgery, you may have less of the patient left over on the operating table than you’ve discarded as hazardous bio-waste.

Posted in Books, Featured, US History Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On re-reading Liberal Fascism: Defining Evil Down

The comforting exaggerations and ideological short-cuts, historical curse words, the imputation of the the worst imaginable intentions to all political adversaries, reflect an unreformed, self-defeating desperation. Maybe, as Goldberg writes in the last paragraph of Liberal Fascism, when protesting the other side’s insulting tactics, it’s past time to cry, “Enough!”

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Portrait of a Failed Presidency: "What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?" by Kevin Mattson

As though to make it inescapably clear that the Carter Presidency lacked the Mandate of Heaven, even the national 4th of July celebrations in Washington DC were rained out, and a week later Skylab came crashing to Earth…

Posted in Books, Featured, US History Tagged with:

If At First You Don’t Succeed… – WORLD WAR ONE – a Short History by Norman Stone

The point was supposed to have been progress, or loyalty, or self-defense, or empire, or enlightenment, or democracy, or honor, or justice, but the arc of modern history bends toward irony.

Posted in Books, Featured, History, War Tagged with: ,

Messiah >> Joker >> Zombie >> Man

The process of social psychological reconciliation can be as unforgiving as conventional monetary accounting, but remains infinitely unpredictable, compounding interest perversely – like a sadistic loan shark, like the Joker. That the actor who played the part in The Dark Knight died before the film was released adds even greater horror to the pallidly morbid visage – not as some crude call for assassination or lynching, Obamanaut, but as a death notice for the candidate’s seeming promise: The Obamessiah we raised up becoming a zombie clown, an immortal Beelzobama, or maybe just a Lizard People – an excuse for mournful laughter, if ever there was one, perhaps until the day or days, to our relief or regret, a human being at last emerges.

Posted in Art, Featured, Movies Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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