Category Politics/Culture

Early Takes on the Democratic Frontrunners

So many candidates, so little time. That, I think, was the prevailing note of low expectations for the initial round of Democratic Party debates last week. Which made it all the more surprising that so much of substance seemed to be revealed—and then endlessly rehashed through the media thinkolator that saw pundits, academic debate experts, other politicians and your neighbors Sam and Myrtle weighing in on the event, often with wildly divergent views on what they had seen.

So much for anyone, at anytime, having the One True View of what happened and who “won.” 

Which makes it all the more fun and allowable for me, and you, and your crazy uncle in rural Mississippi if you dare ask him, to weigh in as we will. So that’s what I’ll do here, in a kind of impressionistic take on the major candidates and whatever else crosses my mind therefrom.

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The Guy’s Guy Who’s Gay, and No One Cares—Ma...

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On Not Going It Alone: Robert Kagan’s “The Jungle Grows Back”

Can America go it alone? And even more importantly: Can the world go it alone without America? These paired questions form the backbone of Robert Kagan’s recent book, “The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World.”

And with a mere 163 pages to make his case, Kagan wastes no time in making his convictions known: absent strong American leadership and engagement, he thinks the world, arguably as or more dangerous than it has ever been, is ripe for all of the same brutality and oppression that has always been either dominant or lurking at the edges of the human enterprise.

Because no matter how much we employ our ideals and reason to tame the malevolent forces always looking to usurp human freedom, without eternal vigilance and strong leadership, the jungle always grows back.

Kagan is a senior “Fellow” (job title, not a generic description) at the Brookings Institution, a conservative think...

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The Socialist Plot to Destroy American Freedom

Let’s start with this: the progressive income tax is “socialist,” pure and simple. It allows the government to take more— far more, barring sleazy or outright illegal accounting practices—from the wealthy than it does the lower classes. That’s the baseline truth, the distilled fact about the matter. One can argue from there about its benefits or folly, but not about the equation itself:

Progressive Income Tax = Socialism.

Ben Carson said as much in a 2015 Republican presidential debate, and it was one of the few things he uttered throughout the campaign that actually made sense. (Although his full statement on the matter did devolve into a simplistic argument against progressive taxation):

“It’s all about America. You know, the people who say, ‘The guy who paid a billion dollars because he had 10, he’s still got $9 billion left? That’s not fair...

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Nancy Pelosi Goes Mano a Mano on the Border Wall

In the runup to the mid-term elections last year, I was among many Democrats who felt a bit queasy about the prospect of Nancy Pelosi returning as Speaker of the House, assuming the Dems took control of the chamber. Fresh start, clean slate, she’d been so demonized by the opposition as the quintessential radical San Francisco liberal—maybe we should start anew with a younger face who wouldn’t be yoked to the past so we could usher in a less encumbered generation of leadership.

All of that was in the air, and I was breathing it in, not in great gulps, but tentatively, as through a straw.

Then I just happened to behold her in a “60 Minutes” interview they may as well have entitled, “Hear Nancy Roar.” 

What a beast, I realized. We’d be crazy to let this fierce woman’s cojones go to waste as just another representative from California.

In her interview, she emphasized, in pointed, don’t-mes...

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Year of Decision on the Trump Presidency

Every day, a fresh revelation, a new indictment, an ever more outrageous, rudderless expression of falsehoods, disdain, and amorality. Nothing is stable, nothing true, whatever was done or said yesterday or an hour ago is inoperative, a passing wisp descending to a graveyard where words go to be drained of all their life-giving blood.

We live in an eternal, impulsive now of rampant, chthonic chaos, of bottomless depravity, of such clear danger to our national identity, our very character as a sovereign, self-examining people, that all else seems to pale in importance.

One summons the angels that still beckon in family, friends, the arts, the comforts of a long walk, a good book or a warming drink on a winter night. But increasingly, those comforts feel if not cold, at least clammy, begetting an intermittent case of vertigo.

One yearns for the normal, for norms that may yet be remembered and reasserted as g...

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