Miscellany

Folio Installments

If you are committed to writing, and writing, and writing, day after day, in public, in a kind of literary intestinal bypass approach to authorship, then from time to time, for most of us quite regularly, you are going to say things that you or an editor would never leave to stand in a book or other traditional form of writing. Yet the opposite of what Sullivan says is also obviously true: Blogging is protection against making a total fool out of yourself because it’s a protection against any symbolically total or definitive statement at all. I don’t need to delete my foolishness. The next post, or the one after that, or the one after the one after the one after the one after the one will do it for me.

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Derbyshire’s Children

Since John Derbyshire brought his family into it, I feel free to imagine a response on the part of his child – in effect to mark the transition via adolescent resistance on the way to autonomous adulthood. “Why should I follow what you advise, father? So I can grow up to live a life as morally impoverished, as safe from the risky vitality of others, as immune to hope, as yours?”

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Chomolungmous Shit Mountains Within

the truth of the search for intelligibility might be in that search for intelligibility, not in any “clear” “particular” “inteilligibles” yielded by some finally successful reading. Because this type of observation, once uttered, strikes us as unutterably banal – we habitually turn immediately to any other content.

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inimitously

I had wanted to write the following: it is their own inimitous ardency, rather than peace, that transfixes them. Yet I discover that “inimitous” is not considered to be a word.  I find that somewhat unfortunate, but I’m not sure

Posted in Miscellany, notes

What the Truth-Seeker Finds – Homeland’s Finale

Truth destroys the truther, because self-annihilation is on some level what he or she was truly seeking all along, and, within the fictional narrative, is the same thing.

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China crashing, Brazil and India to follow suit

China faces an epic deleveraging hangover, like the rest of us.

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Newt: The Establishment Nightmare That Could Come True

Conservative activists have a different view of the risks and opportunities of 2012 than either establishment pooh-bahs or the pundits. What looks to some like a winnable-or-losable general election looks to ideologues like the best chance in decades to replay 1964 and repeal the Great Society and the New Deal.

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Dreaming of an O landslide

If this tantrum lasts through the election, and if 2012 is for the Republicans what 1984 was for the Democrats, then finally our polity stands a chance of functioning again. The Tea Party will be dead and buried.

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The Neoconolist Conspiracy

Look: there’s nothing wrong with making strong arguments against those with whom you disagree. But when you call them anti-Semites and when you argue that there should be a campaign to isolate, defame and get rid of them, you have gone over into the kind of bullying that is inimical to an open society.

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Birth of a Nation

Europe is on the path toward becoming a federal country, and can work fine without the British. But what kind of future does Great Britain have without the Continent and without the euro?

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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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