Sunday, October 8, 2023
Speaking of Which
I wrote the introduction below before Israel blew up. On Saturday,
I moved my irregular section on Israel up to the top of the "top story
threads" section, ahead of the breakout on the House Speaker -- lots
of links there, but the story is pretty pat. The Israel introduction
was written Saturday afternoon. I resolved to post this early Sunday,
as I have other things I need to do in the evening, so my coverage of
the rapidly unfolding Israel story is limited. Still, I think the
lessons are obvious, even if no one is writing about them. When I
see lines like "this is Israel's 9/11" I process that differently:
for America, 9/11 was a sad, sobering day, one that should have
led us to a profound reassessment of our national fetish of power;
instead, America's leaders took it as an unpardonable insult, and
plotted revenge in a foolish effort to make any further defiance
unthinkably costly. It didn't work, and in short order America had
done more damage to itself than Al Qaeda ever imagined.
The only nation in the world even more hung up on its ability
to project power and impose terror is Israel -- so much so that
America's neocons are frankly jealous that Israel feels so little
inhibition about flaunting its power. Today's formal declaration
of war was another kneejerk move. But until Israelis are willing
to consider that they may be substantially at fault for their
misfortunes, such kneejerk moves will continue, hurting Israel
as much as its supposed enemies.
Good chance Music Week won't appear until Tuesday, if then.
I ran across this paragraph on conservatism in Christopher Clark's
Revolutionary Spring (pp. 251-252), and thought that, despite
its unfortunate source, it has something to say to us:
In a sympathetic reflection on Metternich's political thought, Henry
Kissinger, an admirer, exposed what he called 'the conservative
dilemma'. Conservatism is the fruit of instability, Kissinger
observed, because in a society that was still cohesive 'it would occur
to no one to be a conservative'. It thus falls to the conservative to
defend, in times of change, what had once been taken for granted. And
-- here is the rub -- 'the act of defense introduces rigidity'. The
deeper the fissure becomes between the defenders of order and the
partisans of change, the greater becomes the 'temptation to dogmatism'
until, at some point, no further communication is possible between the
contenders, because they no longer speak the same language. 'Stability
and reform, liberty and authority, come to appear as antithetical, and
political contests turn doctrinal instead of empirical.
I draw several conclusions from this:
Reactionaries always emerge too late to halt, let alone reverse,
the change they object to. Change is rarely the result of deliberate
policy, which makes it hard to anticipate and understand. And change
creates winners as well as losers, and those winners have stakes to
defend against reactionary attack.
What finally motivates reactionaries is rarely the change itself,
but their delayed perception that the change poses a threat to their
own power, and this concern dominates their focus to the exclusion of
anything else. They become rigid, dogmatic, eventually turning their
ire on the very idea of flexibility, of reform.
Having started from a position of power, their instinct is to
use force, especially to repress anyone who threatens to undermine
their power, including those pleading for reasonable reforms. Reason
itself becomes their enemy.
While they may win political victories, their inability to
understand the sources and benefits of change, their unwillingness
to entertain reforms that benefit others, drives their agenda into
the realm of fantasy. They fail, they throw tantrums, they fail
even worse. Eventually, they're so discredited they disappear, at
least until the next generation of endangered elites repeats the
Consider several major sources of change since 1750 or so:
Most profound has been the spread of ideas and reason, which has
only accelerated and intensified over time. One was the discovery
that we are all individuals, capable of reason and deliberate action,
and deserving of respect. Another is that we belong to communities.
Most relentlessly powerful has been the pursuit of profit: the
basic instinct that preceded but grew into capitalism.
The incremental development of science and technology, which has
been accelerated (and sometimes perverted) by capitalism.
The growth of mass culture (through print, radio, television,
internet), and its subsequent fragmentation.
The vast increase in human population, made possible by longer
lives and by the near-total domination of land (and significant
appropriation of water and air) on Earth, driven by the above.
Nobody anticipated these changes. Though reactionaries emerged at
every stage, they failed, and were forgotten, as generations came to
accept the changes behind them, often railing against changes to come.
It tells you something that conservatives claim to revere history, but
history just dismisses them as selfish, ignorant cranks.
Of course, there is no guarantee that today's reactionaries won't
win their political struggles. There may be historical examples where
conservatives won out, like the Dark Ages following the Roman Empire,
or the closing of China in the 15th Century. But human existence is
so precariously balanced on limits of available resources that the
threat they pose is huge indeed. Maybe not existential, but not the
past they imagine, nor the one they pray for.
Top story threads:
Israel: Last week I folded this section into "World." Friday
night I thought about doing that again, which a single link reviewing
the Nathan Thrall book wouldn't preclude. Then, as they say, "all hell
broke loose." When I got up around Noon Saturday, the Washington Post
Netanyahu: 'We are at war' after Hamas attack. What he probably
meant is "thank God we can now kill them all with impunity, all the
while blaming our acts on them." The memory of occupiers is much
shorter and shallower than the memory of the occupied. The first
tweet I saw after this news was from a
derecka, who does remember:
Palestinians can't march, can't pray, can't call for boycotts, can't
leave, can't stay, can't publish reports, what's should people do?
tweet, from Tony Karon:
Is Netanyahu threatening genocide? "We will turn Gaza into a deserted
island. To the citizens of Gaza, I say. You must leave now." Everyone
knows the 2m Gazans can't leave because Israel has locked them in for
decades. So how will he make it a "deserted island"
Netanyahu is Prime Minister, comanding one of the world's largest
and most sophisticated war machines, so I don't think you can dismiss
such threats as idle huffing. Looking backward, Doug Henwood
Some perspective -- since September 2000:
Palestinians killed by Israeli forces: 10,500
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians: 881
That's a 12/1 ratio.
I've written hundreds of thousands of words on Israel since 2001.
(You can find most of them in my
notebooks and also in the "Last Days"
book drafts.) I've
read a lot. I've tried to be
reasonable. I've never described
myself as "pro-Palestinian" (or pro- any nation or ethnic group, not
even American). I suppose you could say I'm "anti-Israeli" in the sense
that I object to many policies Israel practices, also "anti-Zionist"
in the sense that I believe Zionism is a fundamentally flawed creed
and ideology. Still, I always felt that Jews had a right to settle in
what became Israel. I just objected to the terms they imposed on the
people who lived there before them, and continue to live there.
One piece I can point to is one I wrote on
November 17, 2012, which
is as good a place as any to start. In 2000, Ariel Sharon took over
as Prime Minister, demolished the Oslo Accords that promised some
sort of "two-state" division of Israel and Palestine, and provoked
the second Intifada (Palestinians called this the Al-Aqsa Intifada,
although I've always thought of it as the Shaul Mofaz Intifada, for
the Defense Minister whose heavy-handed repression of Palestinian
demonstrations kicked the whole thing off). By 2005, the Intifada
was defeated in what isn't but could be called the second Nakba (or
third, if you want to count the end of the 1937-39 revolt). Sharon
then pulled Israel's settlers from their hard-to-defend enclaves
in Gaza, sealed the territory off, and terrorized the inhabitants
with sonic boom overflights (which had to be stopped, as they also
bothered Israelis living near Gaza).
Hamas shifted gears, and ran in elections for the Palestinian
Authority. When they won, the old PA leadership, backed by Israel
and the US, rejected the results, and tried to seize power --
successfully in the West Bank, but they lost local control of Gaza
to Hamas. Ever since then, Israel has tried to managed Gaza as an
open-air jail, walled in, blockaded, and periodically strafed and
bombed. One such episode was the subject of my 2012 piece. There
have been others, every year or two -- so routine, Israelis refer
to them as "mowing the grass."
Once Sharon, Netanyahu, and the settlers made it impossible to
partition the West Bank -- something, quite frankly, Israel's Labor
leaders as far back as 1967 had never had any intention of allowing --
the most obvious solution in the world was for Israel to cut Gaza
free, allow it to be a normal, self-governing state, its security
guaranteed by Egypt and the West (not Israel), with its economy
generously subsidized by Arab states and the West. This didn't
happen because neither side wanted it: Palestinians still clung to
the dream of living free in their homeland (perhaps in emulation of
the Jews), so didn't want to admit defeat; and Israelis hated the
idea of allowing any kind of Palestinian state, and thought they
could continue to impose control indefinitely. Both sides were
being short-sighted and stupid, but one should place most of the
blame on Israel, as Israel had much more freedom to act sensibly.
But by all means, save some blame for the US, which from 2000 on
has increasingly surrendered its foreign policy to blindly support
Israel, no matter how racist and belligerent its politicians became.
I'll add a few more links, but don't expect much. It looks like
this will take weeks to play out, and while the lessons should be
obvious to any thinking being, Israel and America have dark blinders
to any suggestion that the world doesn't automatically bend to their
Updates, by Sunday afternoon:
Israel formally declares war against Hamas as hundreds killed on both
U.S. to provide arms, shift naval group toward Mideast; death toll in
Israel, Gaza passes 1,100.
Zack Beauchamp: [10-07]
Why did Hamas invade Israel? "The assault on southern Israel exposed
the reality of the Palestinian conflict."
Jonathan Cook: [10-08]
The West's hypocrisy towards Gaza's breakout is stomach-turning.
Jonathan Guyer: [10-07]
This Gaza war didn't come out of nowhere: "Everyone forgot about the
Palestinians -- conditions have been set for two decades, and Biden's
focus on Israel-Saudi talks may have lit the match."
Maha Hussaini: [10-08]
Why Gaza's attack on Israel was no surprise.
Ellen Ioanes: [10-07]
Hamas has launched an unprecedented strike on Israel. Here's what you
need to know.
Lubna Masarwa: [10-07]
Israel 'can no longer control its own fate' after stunning Palestinian
attack: Interview with Meron Rapoport, arguing that "Israeli military
and intelligence is at a new low."
Haggai Matar: [10-07]
Gaza's shock attack has terrified Israelis. It should also unveil
the context: "The dread Israelis are feeling after today's
assault, myself included, has been the daily experience of millions
of Palestinians for far too long."
James North: [10-03]
Nathan Thrall has written a masterpiece about Israel's occupation:
"A Day in the Life of Abed Salama tells the story of Israel's
occupation of Palestine through one family's tragedy."
Paul Pillar: [10-07]
Why Hamas attacked and what happens next.
Richard Silverstein: [10-08]
Gaza invasion: Over 700 Israeli dead, 230 Palestinian dead as Israel
prepares massive assault.
Philip Weiss/Michael Arria: [10-07]
Democrats and liberal Zionists decry 'terrorists' and rally to 'stand
with Israel': Of course they did, but it's one thing to decry the
sudden outbreak of violence (the Bernie Sanders quote is an example;
he didn't even resort to the coded language of "terrorism"), quite
another to cheer Israel on in inflicting far greater violence on
Palestinians (even if not explicit, a "I stand with Israel" amounts
to the same thing). Morever, a little self-consciousness would help.
I don't disagree that "the targeting and kidnapping of civilians is
an inexcusable, outrageous war crime," but culpability isn't limited
to one side (even momentarily). Israel has thousands of Palestinians
in jail (with or without "due process," which in Israel is designed
to be discriminatory).
I especially hate the "Israel has the right
to self-defense" line people habitually parrot. Palestinians don't?
As a pacifist, I might argue not, but not in a way that would exempt
Israelis. When something like this happens, the first, and really
the only, matter is to stop it, then to learn, adjust, and make it
unthinkable in the future. I dare say that no one in the echelons
of Israeli government is thinking along those lines. Probably no one
in Hamas either, possibly because they've spent decades studying
power in Israel.
The shutdown and the speaker: A week ago, after acting like
a complete ass for months, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy
reversed course and offered a fairly clean continuing spending bill,
which instantly passed, cleared the Senate, and was signed by Biden.
A small number of Republicans (eight), led by Matt Gaetz (R-FL), felt
so betrayed by not shutting down the government that they forced a
vote to fire McCarthy, which succeeded.
Nicole Narea/Andrew Prokop: [10-04]
9 questions about Kevin McCarthy's downfall and House GOP chaos,
Matthew Cooper: [10-03]
The day after the McCarthy ouster: "After the shock wears off,
remember that this cannibalism started in the 1990s and won't go
Hakeem Jeffries: [10-06]
A bipartisan coalition is the way forward for the House: This
won't happen, because the faction of Republicans who would even
consider it is even smaller than the Gaetz faction that just wanted
to trash the place. But unless something like this happens, the House
will continue to be a public embarrassment, at least until the 2024
elections, at which point it will either get better or even worse.
Ben Jacobs: [10-03]
Kevin McCarthy's historic humiliation.
Annie Karni: [10-04]
From a Capitol Hill basement, Bannon stokes the Republican Party
John Nichols: [10-05]
The "Trump for Speaker" campaign shipwrecks on the shoals of
stupidity: Turns out Republican actually had a rule against
an indicted felon becoming Speaker. So Trump resorted to the next
worse option, endorsing Jim Jordan. Nichols: [10-06]
Trump's pick for Speaker is a nightmare waiting to happen.
Timothy Noah: [10-05]
Who did in Kevin McCarthy? Maybe not Gaetz. Maybe not even Trump.
"James Carville thought the bond vigilantes controlled the world. He
just may have been right."
Nikki McCann Ramirez: [10-06]
Trump keys on Jim Jordan's wrestling history in speaker endorsement:
"omitting the scandal at the center of his coaching career."
Norman J Ornstein: [10-06]
How Kevin McCarthy planted the seeds of Kevin McCarthy's demise:
"Remember the 'young gun'? He doesn't want you to."
David Rothkopf: [10-06]
A broken Congress is what MAGA always wanted.
Leo Sands: [10-04]
Who voted Kevin McCarthy out? These 8 House Republicans.
Will Sommer: [10-06]
Fox News tries to referee House GOP chaos but cancels speaker 'debate':
Most likely Fox simply wanted to exploit the situation for profit, while
reminding everyone that they're the Mecca every Republican prostrates
and prays to (except, it would appear, Trump). On the other hand, even
the House demagogues realize that appealing to the public would only
further exacerbate their task of finding a leader no one hates enough
to kill over.
Michael Tomasky: [10-06]
Six reasons why liberals should salivate at a Speaker Jordan.
Jim Geraghty: [10-04]
Populist passions, not Trump, rule the GOP. To the extent that
anyone can be said to rule the Republican Party, it's still the
billionaires who fund the party, and pull strings behind the scenes.
Aside from a few fixed ideas about taxes -- something other people
should pay -- they aren't completely aligned, as they have varying
business interests (some depend on government support, others loathe
government interference) and personalities (many are assholes, a
trait which great wealth promotes, but they are assholes in varied
ways). Trump is, at least nominally, one of the billionaires, but
he is a peculiar one: extremely, flagrantly outspoken, but not much
of a leader. That's largely because his thoughts are received from
elsewhere (mostly his Fox News gurus). For years, Republican thought
leaders cynically issued their dog whistles. Not Trump: he's just a
particularly loud dog.
I tend to resist any linkage between Trump and populism -- I still
respect and admire the original 1890s People's Party -- but sure, he
reflects his followers much more than they do him. The result is often
incoherent, which doesn't seem to bother either, especially as they're
defined much more by what they hate than what they want.
Tori Otten: [10-06]
Trump Organization exec admits he considered fraud part of the job:
"Jeff McConney is blowing the door wide open on exactly how the Trump
Nia Prater: [10-03]
Trump hit with gag order after targeting judge's clerk.
Nikki McCann Ramirez: [10-05]
Trump blabbed about US nuclear capabilities to Australian billionaire:
who then "shared the potentially sensitive information with dozens of
Tatyana Tandanpolie: [10-06]
Trump abruptly drops Cohen lawsuit ahead of deposition: "Trump
sued former fixer Michael Cohen for $500 million -- then backed out
after repeatedly delaying deposition." Igor Derysh previously
wrote about this suit: [04-14]
Experts say Trump's lawsuit against Michael Cohen could badly
backfire. As Cohen put it: "I can't believe how stupid he was
to have actually filed it."
Emily Zemler: [10-05]
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson says Trump threw his food
'once or twice a week'.
DeSantis, and other Republicans:
Perry Bacon Jr: [10-04]
Republicans are in disarray. But they are still winning a lot on
policy. Way, way too much, considering that their policy choices
are almost all deadass wrong.
Paul Krugman: [10-05]
Will voters send in the clowns? A lot of things that show up in
polls make little sense, but few show this much cognitive dissonance:
"Yet Americans, by a wide margin, tell pollsters that Republicans
would be better than Democrats at running the economy." Krugman
spends a lot of time arguing that the economy isn't so bad, but
regardless of the current state, how can anyone see Republicans as
Biden and/or the Democrats:
Kate Aronoff: [10-05]
Biden scraps environmental laws to build Trump's border wall.
Nicole Narea: [10-02]
Who is Laphonza Butler, California's new senator? I did a double
take on this line about the Democrats already campaigning for the
Feinstein seat: "All three have sizable war chests for the campaign,
with Schiff, Porter, and Lee having $29.8 million, $10.3 million,
and $1.4 million on hand." Sure, they're all "sizable," but sizes
are vastly different. They are currently polling at 20% (0.71 points
per million dollars), 17% (1.65 ppmd), and 7% (5.0 ppmd).
Stephen Prager: [10-03]
Voters have the right to be dissatisfied with 'Bidenomics': "The
president's defenders think voters are ungrateful for a good economy.
But people's economics experiences vary widely, and much of the
country has little to appreciate Biden for." Well, compared to what?
Not if you're comparing to Republicans. I'll grant that it can be
hard to gauge, including shifts from Obama that I believe are very
significant. But blaming Biden for canceling the Child Tax Credit
misses the key point that Democrats didn't have enough votes to
extend it. Same for the rest of the cutbacks from the Build Back
Better bill that Bernie Sanders presented -- some of which (the
parts that Joe Manchin accepted) was eventually passed. This piece
cites another by Stephen Semler: [08-15]
Bidenomics isn't working for working people. One thing that jumps
out here is the chart "The U.S. is Shrinking Its Social Safety Net,"
where everything listed (and since phased out) was part of the
remarkable pandemic lockdown relief act, which Trump got panicked
into signing, but which was almost all written and passed by Pelosi
and Schumer. To get it passed and signed, they had to sunset the
provisions. Democrats need to campaign on bringing them back, and
building on them.
Legal matters and other crimes:
Climate and environment:
Connor Echols: [10-06]
Diplomacy Watch: Ukraine's arduous path to EU accession: "A
hopeful summit obscured the difficulties facing Kyiv as it pushes
to join the bloc."
George Beebe: [10-04]
Will Ukraine's effort go bankrupt gradually . . . then suddenly?
Dave DeCamp: [10-08]
Biden considering huge $100 billion Ukraine spending package:
If at first you don't succeed, go crazy! Good chance he'll be adding
military aid for Israel before this passes. After all, look how
successful the last 50 years of aid was.
David Ignatius: [10-05]
A hard choice lies ahead in Ukraine, but only Ukrainians can make it:
First I've heard of a McCain Institute, but if someone wanted a pro-war
counter to the Quincy Institute, that's a pretty obvious name. As for
the opinion piece, it is half-obvious, and half-ridiculous. The obvious
part is that Ukraine, as well as Russia, will have to freely agree to
any armistice. The ridiculous part is the idea that the US shouldn't
exert any effort to achieve peace. The "defer to Ukraine" mantra is a
blank check policy, promoted by people who want to see the war go on
Jen Kirby: [10-03]
The West's united pro-Ukraine front is showing cracks. The
leading vote-getter in Slovakia has promised to end military aid
to Ukraine. Still, he's a long ways from being able to form a
government. Biden's latest request for Ukraine got dropped from
the bill the House finally passed to avoid (or forestall) a
government shutdown. On a straight vote, it would probably have
passed, but straight votes are hard to come by.
Jim Lobe: [10-06]
Iraq War boosters rally GOP hawks behind more Ukraine aid:
"Elliott Abrams' 'Vandenberg Coalition' also assails the Biden
administration for being soft on Russia." Wasn't Abrams the guy
who back in 2005 was whispering in Sharon's ear about how a
unilateral dismantling of Israeli settlements in Gaza with no
PA handover could be spun as a peace move but would actually
allow Israel to attack Gaza with impunity, any time they might
choose to? (Like in the lead up to elections, or in the interim
between Obama's election and when he took office, so he's have
to pledge allegiance to Israel before he could do anything
Siobhán O'Grady/Anastacia Galouchka: [10-06]
Russian missile attack at Ukraine funeral overwhelmingly killed
civilians: Link caption was more to the point: "Overwhelming
grief in Ukrainian village hit by strike: 'There is no point in
living.'" But already you can see the effort to spin tragedy into
a propaganda coup.
Robert Wright: [10-06]
The real lesson of Ukraine for Taiwan: Attempting to control
a conflict through increased deterrence can easily backfire,
precipitating the event one supposedly meant to deter. When
Russia started threatening to invade Ukraine, Biden didn't
take a step back and say, whoa!, can't we talk about this?
No, his administration cranked up their sanctions threats, and
expedited their increasing armament of Ukraine. Putin looked at
the lay of the land and the timelines, and convinced himself that
his odds were better sooner than later. Nor is this the only case
where sanctions have backfired: the context for Japan's attack on
Pearl Harbor was America's embargo of steel and oil. World War I
started largely because Germany decided that war with Russia was
inevitable, and their chances of winning were better in 1914 than
they would be later. All these examples are bonkers, but that's
what happens when states put their faith in military power. China
has long claimed Taiwan (going back to the day when Taiwan still
claimed all of China), but Peking has been willing to play a long
game, for 75 years now. But the more America wants to close the
door on possible reunification, the more likely China is to panic
and strike first.
Around the world:
Masha Gessen: [09-29]
The violent end of Nagorno-Karabakh's fight for independence. I cited
this article last week, without comment. I then started thinking about
another article last week: Richard Silverstein: [09-29]
Azerbaijan: Israeli arms sales, greased palms, ethnic conflict.
And lo, I became suspicious whether Israel's siding with Azerbaijan
was not just to make money, but to promote a mass exodus ("ethnic
cleansing") of Armenians from newly occupied territory. Perhaps if
they could show other examples, they could justify disposing of
their Palestinian population the same way? If so, the uprising in
Gaza is likely to accelerate their schedule.
Jonathan Guyer: [10-02]
How MBS has won over Washington and the world: Five years after
journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "murdered, dismembered, and disappeared"
in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Saudis are back in Washington's
good graces. Also on Saudi Arabia:
Ahmed Ibrahim: [10-03]
How Somalia never got back up after Black Hawk Down: "The Battle
of Mogadishu in October 1993 unleashed decades of American intervention
with very little to show for it."
Louisa Loveluck, et al: 10-05]
How government neglect, misguided policies doomed Libya to deadly
Kate Cohen: [10-03]
America doesn't need more God. It needs more atheists. Essay
adapted from the author's book: We of LIttle Faith: Why I Stopped
Pretending to Believe (and Maybe You Should Too).
Kevin T Dugan: [10-03]
The 3 most important things to know about Michael Lewis's SBF
book: The book is Going Infinite, which started out as
one of the writer's profiles of unorthodox finance guys, and has
wound up as some kind of "letter to the jury" on the occasion of
crypto conman Sam Bankman-Fried's fraud trial. Also on Lewis:
Karen J Greenberg: [10-05]
The last prisoners? With its prisoner population reduced to 30,
why can't America close Guantanamo?
Eric Levitz: [10-06]
Don't celebrate when people you disagree with get murdered.
"In view of many extremely online, spritually unswell conservatives,
[Ryan] Carson's brutal death was a form of karmic justice. . . . Days
earlier, the nihilist right greeted the murder of progressive
Philadelphia journalist Josh Kruger with the same grotesque glee."
Blaise Malley: [10-05]
The plan to avert a new Cold War: Review of Michael Doyle's
book, Cold Peace: Avoiding the New Cold War. "If all sides
continue to perceive actions by the other as hostile, then they
will constantly be at the precipice of a military confrontation."
Charles P Pierce: [10-05]
Guns are now the leading cause of accidental death among American
JJ Porter: [10-05]
Conservative postliberalism is a complete dead end: A review of
Patrick Deneen's Regime Change: Toward a Postliberal Future,
as if you needed (or wanted) one.
Emily Raboteau: [10-03]
The good life: "What can we learn from the history of utopianism?"
Review of Kristen R Ghodsee: Everyday Utopia: What 2,000 Years of
Wild Experiments Can Teach Us About the Good Life. Also see the
Current Affairs interview with Ghodsee: [10-04]
Why we need utopias.
Corey Robin: [10-04]
How do we survive the Constitution? Review of the new book,
Tyranny of the Minority by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt,
the comparative political scientists who previously wrote up many
examples of How Democracies Die. The authors are critical
of various quirks in the US Constitution that have skewed recent
elections toward Republicans, thus thwarting popular will and
endangering democracy in America. I haven't spent much time with
these books, or similar ones where the authors (like Yascha Mounk)
seem to cherish democracy more for aesthetic than practical reasons.
My own view is that the Constitution, even with its imperfections,
is flexible enough to work for most people, if we could just get
them to vote for popular interests. The main enemy of democracy
is money, abetted by the media that chases it. The solution is to
make people conscious, much less of how the Founding Fathers sold
us short than of the graft and confusion that sells us oligarchy.
By the way, Robin mentions a 2022 book: Joseph Fishkin/William
E Forbath: The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Reconstructing the
Economic Foundations of American Democracy. I haven't read this
particular book, but I have read several others along the same lines
(focused more on the authors and/or the text, whereas Fishkin &
Forbath follow how later progressives referred back to the Constitution):
Ganesh Sitaraman: The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why
Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic (2017); Erwin Chemerinsky:
We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the
Twenty-First Century (2018); Danielle Allen: Our Declaration:
A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality
(2015). I should also mention Eric Foner: The Second Founding: How
the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution (2019).
Nathan J Robinson: [10-06]
How to spot corporate bullshit: "A new book shows that the same
talking points have been recycled for centuries, to oppose every
form of progressive change." Review of Corporate Bullsh*t,
by Nick Hanauer, Joan Walsh, and Donald Cohen, with plenty of
Missy Ryan: [10-04]
Over 80 percent of four-star retirees are employed in defense
industry: "Twenty-six of 32 four-star admirals and generals who
retired from June 2018 to July 2023." Based on the following report:
Washington Post Staff: [10-03]
The Post spent the past year examining US life expectancy. Here's
what we found:
- Chronic diseases are killing us
- Gaps between poor and wealthy communities are growing
- US life expectancy is falling behind global peers
- The seeds of this crisis are planted in childhood
- American politics are proving toxic
Ask a question, or send a comment.