Miscellany

SP’s AK: tough job, someone doing it

We Watch “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” So You Don’t Have To | FrumForum The ratings for Sarah Palin’s Alaska have recently been taking a nosedive. Since we at FrumForum reportedly obsess over everything and anything Palin, we feel the need to

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Wikileaks Day 1 of 9: Hey, maybe the Obami did some things pretty well Iran-wise

WikiLeaks Archive — Iran Stirs Distress in Mideast – NYTimes.com In day-by-day detail, the cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations, tell the disparate diplomatic back stories of two administrations pressed from all sides

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WikiFlood – the end of US foreign policy as we know it (possibly a bad thing)

The US Diplomatic Leaks: A Superpower’s View of the World – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International Surprises from the annals of US diplomacy will dominate the headlines in the coming days when the New York Times, London’s Guardian, Paris’

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Hanging out in the sacrifice zone

I’ve been visiting FrumForum lately – partly because bob mentioned that he first visited this site after following my commenting name-link from there to here, partly because our occasional visitor and old friend strangelet (as “quell”) can be found there

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Nietzsche might have understood the Teapocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Teapocalypse – By Brad DeLong | Foreign Policy Nothing has changed in the past few years to make Hayek’s, Schumpeter’s, and Mellon’s arguments stronger intellectually against the critiques of Keynes and Friedman than they were

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Sen McCain has just the formula to win over China and North Korea

McCain wants ‘regime change’ in North Korea – POLITICO Live – POLITICO.com “It’s time we talked about regime change in North Korea – and I do not mean military action – but I do believe that this is a very

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Portland narrowly non-escapes non-detonation of non-bomb by non-entity

Sadly, No! » Headlines. How Do They Work? OFFICIALS FOIL BOMB PLOT AT CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY- Somali Man Arrested That headline tops a picture of smiling white Christians around a Christmas tree, followed immediately below by a picture of

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The 100 Best Movie Spaceships

100 Best Movie Spaceships – UGO.com #29 United Planets Cruiser C-57D – Forbidden Planet It’s a beauty like this that inspired generations to wear tin foil on their heads.  

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Minsky-Hegelian economics: We were doomed all along by our success

The Instability of Moderation – NYTimes.com The very success of central-bank-led stabilization, combined with financial deregulation – itself a by-product of the revival of free-market fundamentalism – set the stage for a crisis too big for the central bankers to

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Beck, you magnificent bastard…

The Beck of Revelation by Mark Lilla | The New York Review of Books Beck is the most gifted demagogue America has produced since Father Coughlin made his populist broadcasts during the Great Depression. In the course of one radio

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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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