Miscellany

Know what? Jeffrey Goldberg’s kind of a jerk

More Bogus Charges from Jeffrey Goldberg (sigh) | Stephen M. Walt I suspect that what really ticks Goldberg off is this: My co-author and I (and a few others) have had the temerity to write critically about the political role

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Know what? John Derbyshire’s kind of a repulsive jerk…

Commentary » Blog Archive » A Response to John Derbyshire This belief about inherent human dignity does not mean that America can solve every problem in the world or that we shouldn’t focus most of our energy and treasure on

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Literary Brain, Digital Universe

CultureLab: Storytelling 2.0: When new narratives meet old brains If we create our selves through narratives, whether external or internal, they are traditional ones, with protagonists and antagonists and a prescribed relationship between narrators, characters and listeners. They have linear

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Palin around with populists on the bridge to nowhere

Right Turn – The myth of Palin’s frontrunner status For months now the real story on the right has been the search for new presidential contenders. There is far more awareness than many in the media imagine among conservative activists,

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Palin around with populists all the way to the White House

Sour economy could put Sarah Palin in the White House – CSMonitor.com As I believe will become clearer, the Palin Strategy will involve a political threat to the GOP establishment: Deny her the nomination she’ll run as independent. This will

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Wikileaks: Anti-Imperialist in the American Interest

A Defense Of Wikileaks: Why The Leaks Are Important In An Age Of American Intervention. | The New Republic   Imperialism? Many Americans hoped that World War I would end the age of imperialism that had led to much of

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7:37 of evil bliss

YouTube – Fail Compilation November 2010 h/t Andrew Sullivan/Daily Dish

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If Chinese diplo cables Wiki-leaked

From WikiChina – NYTimes.com The Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they don’t see how far they are falling behind. Which is why we at the embassy find it funny that Americans are now fighting over how

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Wikileaks cables reveal China ‘ready to abandon North Korea’

Wikileaks cables reveal China ‘ready to abandon North Korea’ | World news | The Guardian Wikileaks cables reveal China ‘ready to abandon North Korea’

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“A Responsible Path to Recovery and Prosperity”

Our Fiscal Security – Fiscal Blueprint A Budget Blueprint for Economic Recovery and Fiscal Responsibility Putting our nation on a path of broad prosperity will require generating new jobs, investing in key areas, modernizing and restoring our revenue base, and

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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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