Miscellany

Karzai turns against the West

NATO’s Dangerous Wager with Karzai by Ahmed Rashid | NYRBlog | The New York Review of Books   Lasting nearly two hours, my off-the-record conversation with Karzai was vigorous, and at times I strongly pushed back, reminding him of his

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New universe, just like the old universe

Have we found the universe that existed before the Big Bang? Sir Roger Penrose, one of the most renowned physicists of the last fifty years, takes issue with this view. He points out that the universe was apparently born in

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Is the American system broken?: Yglesias v Wehner, with a brief from Sullivan

Economist Debates: US politics: Moderator: Let us just reflect that America is not Ireland or Greece. Its debt is still manageable, the government has no problem raising the cash it needs (the opposite actually: bond yields are at historic lows)

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One Last “Is Palin Running?” Book Boomlet Piece

ComPost – Can Palin win? Is that halibut she clubbed completely deceased? Still, viewed as an electability audition, Palin’s series is not going particularly well. Nearly every moment of the second episode’s Commercial Halibut Fishing Trip was — to any

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Well, she used to be pretty good at political horserace coverage, so maybe the WaPo isn’t totally out of its mind…

Washington Post hires conservative blogger – Yahoo! News I’m delighted to announce that Jennifer Rubin will be joining The Post with the launch of a new blog next month. Jennifer will provide critical news coverage and commentary, with an exacting

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Kim-Jong un valiantly defending every micrometer

North Korean dictator-in-waiting linked to deadly artillery attack The north’s military ”will continue to make merciless military attacks with no hesitation if the South Korean enemy dares to invade our sea territory by 0.001 mm”, it said in the statement

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Get Over It Already With the TSA Whining

My TSA Anti-Rant | Mother Jones   For seven years, Republicans insisted that every security procedure ever conceived was absolutely essential to keeping the American public safe, and anyone who disagreed was practically rooting for an al-Qaeda victory. Now a

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Graphene: Substance in Pencils to Allow for 1000 Times Faster Computers?

Graphene is Next | h+ Magazine All of these properties make graphene a very important material for the future of electronics. It has already been used to create field effect transistors, the primary component of a computer processor. When you

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Operation Stop Palin Gets Rolling

“Operation: Stop Palin” Gets Rolling | FrumForum There really is a GOP party establishment. That establishment took up Palin as a useful tool in 2008, deployed Palin as an edged anti-Obama weapon in 2009 – and is now horrified to see

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Sullivan vs. the Neocons on Israel

Where to begin. How about: if Greater Israel is dead, why is there such enormous political pressure in Israel to defend every single Greater Israel settlement and expand many more? If the settlements are a “side-show,” why have they doubled

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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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