Miscellany

On the eve of political self-destruction

There Will Be Blood – NYTimes.com Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits — an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But there’s no point

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Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha

Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha – NYTimes.com It’s anti-elitism that most defines angry populism in this moment, and, as David Frum, another Bush alumnus (and Palin critic), has pointed out, populist rage on the right is

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Sissel Kyrkebo

Watch this video on YouTube

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Exceptionally Exceptional

In order to support a strong hypothesis – that the American public has been fed a “Big Lie” about the President being an “anti-American hyper-leftist… spending the US into oblivion,” Andrew Sullivan proposes – or, rather, conducts and concludes –

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Which middle of which night

The effort to be rational, logical, and consistent, to communicate “normally,” spits out rants, ravings, fragments, unstable thought elements with fleeting half-lives or no lives at all, on its other side. It’s impossible to write one thing without at the

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Contention of the Day – Cut to the Bone

Ryan Avent in The Economist: Britain’s conservatives have gambled heavily. If deep budget cuts amid economic weakness send the economy plunging back into recession, the government may be unable to make the cuts stick, and austerity could be discredited around

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Defend Michele Bachmann Against Kenyan Satanist Islamist Attack!

Who should turn up in my inbox today but my “friend” Michele Bachmann…  She wants my money to help defend her against “crude attacks from the Left,” including the “shocking, profanity-laced attack” shown below.   Please, sit down or pull over

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Conservative Winter Soldiers and the Last Man

Unable to figure out why the President “is” sending troops to Afghanistan, Charles Krauthammer concludes a column about his quandary by reaching across the aisle… for a melodramatic cheap shot: Sen. Kerry, now chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, asked

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Death Panel by Proxy

Ed Morrissey discovers the shocking news that adding 30+ million to the number of insured Americans may exacerbate a national physician shortage – except, for Ed, the problem isn’t more people visiting doctors about, say, that odd mole that grows

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Got your shalom right here, Portnoy

A Shillum

Our old friend Howard is back to his usual… stuff today: Did you know that the word islam is a cognate of the Hebrew word shalom, meaning “peace”? Don’t berate yourself if you didn’t, because it isn’t true. This is

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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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