Politics

Aleppo, D.C. (OAG #7)

The Fall of Aleppo and the virtual Fall of Washington are linked not just by the lead sponsors or perpetrators of such unimaginable or until recently unimaginable crimes, but by a long and apparently far from finished history of bipartisan and cooperative failures and omissions that, removed from context, provide illimitable opportunity for internecine partisan assault, and therefore for intensification of the underlying conditions of political paralysis and strategic hypochondria that made them possible, and that made events like them, and new ones, virtually certain.

Posted in Operation American Greatness, Politics, War

Alex Ross: The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming – The New Yorker

At some point over the summer, it struck me that the greater part of the media wanted Trump to be elected, consciously or unconsciously. He would be more “interesting” than Hillary Clinton; he would “pop.” That suspicion was confirmed the other day, when

Posted in Noted & Quoted, Operation American Greatness, Politics Tagged with: , , ,

Bret Stephens: The System Didn’t Work – WSJ

The populist wave now cresting across much of the world is sometimes described as a revolt against globalization: immigrants failing to assimilate the values of their hosts, poorer countries drawing jobs from richer ones, and so on. But the root

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Noted & Quoted, Politics Tagged with: ,

Jonathan Chait: The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral – New York Magazine

The alliance of Trump’s corruption and Paul Ryan’s social Darwinism presents Democrats with the simplest messaging challenge any opposition party has faced in memory. The most unpopular nominee in the recorded history of polling managed to very, very narrowly beat

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Robert Bateman: The James Mattis I Saw Behind Closed Doors – Esquire

I think I know what Mattis is trying to do by accepting this position, and it is not because he supports Mr. Trump: Mattis is sacrificing himself. He knows that this will not end well, but he’s doing it in

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Brian Beutler: The Alternative to Obamacare Is Obamacare – New Republic

Democrats in 2005 didn’t have an artificial Social Security sunset to worry about. Today, there is a risk that refusing to collaborate with Republicans will prefigure a genuine policy catastrophe. But that would be the GOP’s catastrophe, they would own

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Matthew Yglesias: The case for normalizing Trump – Vox

Trump genuinely does pose threats to the integrity of American institutions and political norms. But he does so largely because his nascent administration is sustained by support from the institutional Republican Party and its standard business and interest group supporters.

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No One Can Say: Before Us (OAG #5)

We might say that it will likely be many years before we can reasonably pronounce the American project truly over, but the main reason we cannot say so is not that the evidence has still to be accumulated, the 10,000 simultaneous simulations run, and a probability estimate produced.

Posted in Internet, Operation American Greatness, Politics Tagged with:

No One Can Say: Absurdifaction (OAG #4)

…the dis-assembling assembly of disconnected yet interrelated not quite anythings, not quite somewhere, with which one might or might not perform something approaching or in some ways vastly exceeding, yet not possibly entailing, disagreement.

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No One Can Say: Context/Contest (OAG #3)

We or more of us than we suspected, a muster that will in time include many for now wrapped up in shock, and grief, and fear, and rage, and despair, seeing at best only the glimmers of new or renewed possibility, have welcomed or will welcome, will someday come to love the fire for revealing who if anyone is in fact out there.

Posted in Internet, Operation American Greatness, Politics, Twitter Tagged with:

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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