Category Politics/Culture

So Who’s REALLY Suffering From Trump Derangement Syndrome?

In many ways, I blame Ronald Reagan. Oh, not wholly—there are too many actors and too many roiling forces percolating through every modern society to lay anything at the feet of one person. But for all his professed “morning in America” optimism, President Reagan did profound damage to the America he loved by setting its people in opposition to their own government and its entire professional class.

What came to be known as “Reaganism” sowed such mistrust of his own country’s most basic institution that “government bureaucrats” became a cliche and synonym for out-of-touch, unfeeling automatons dedicated only to self-preservation and making life harder for their people.

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,'” Reagan quipped in a 1986 news conference, making a mockery of the very government he had been elected to lead.

A kind of nativis...

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To Be Gay, Black, Brilliant (and Largely Unknown) in America: The Bayard Rustin Story

“The Great Man Theory of History” holds that nothing much advances in human life absent the seismic shifts created by uniquely talented, intelligent, and charismatic leaders who attract enough followers to help them enact their vision for a great cause or achievement.

Whether in politics, science, business or the arts, great (wo)men serve as heroic inspirations or “Living light-fountains,” in the words of 19th century Scottish philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle, who first propagated the “Great Man Theory” in his 1840 work, “Heroes,  Hero-Worship & the Heroic in History.” 

Subsequent philosophers and historians have debated the merits and applications of Carlyle’s theory ever since, but almost no one doubts the influence of individual leaders who meet the challenges of their moment in history and shape it in lasting ways.

His was a Quaker- and Gandhi-inspired humanist vision of non-violent revolutio...

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Modern Political Debates Are a Disaster for Our Civic Life—We Should Demand Better

Some 10 minutes into the “debate” last week between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his California counterpart, Gavin Newsom, I—a confirmed debate devotee since my 9-year-old self watched Richard Nixon and John Kennedy square off in a series of substantive, policy-and world-view-driven forums prior to the 1960 presidential election—turned it off.

Committed as I am to keeping up with the affairs of the day—which includes the almost uniformly contentious and dismal exercises that pass for modern political debates—I was suddenly overcome at the spectacle playing out in front of me. To slightly alter the Howard Beale character’s vehemence in the 1976 film, “Network”: “I’m frustrated as hell, and I’m not going take this anymore!”

So I clicked the remote and settled back into reading the novel calling kindly for my attention from the table next to me, my blood pressure all the gladder for my decision.

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My Fever Dream of a Functional, Bi-Partisan Speaker of the House

Remember when Republicans stoutly and persistently referred to themselves as the party of law and order and personal decorum? Not for them the ragtag factionalism, irreverence and loosey-goosey relativism of the Democrats—the Republicans maintained discipline among their ranks and in their persons.

God, family, country—and long live the United States!

We’ll leave it to historians to determine the relative accuracy of the former Republican Party’s brand narrative, but there is one thing about which we can be certain: That Republican Party, assuming it ever existed at all, is no more.

Perhaps it will find or reform itself in another election cycle (more likely two or more), after the ghosts of Trumpian know-nothing populism finally run short of the rage, resentment and pure cultism that have served as the movement’s main fuel.

But for now, the true “party of Ronald Reagan”—of which the current party is b...

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An Excerpt That Says Most Everything About Putin’s War Against Ukraine


“Yahidne was captured by Russian troops in the early days of the war and badly damaged in the fighting with Ukrainian forces that followed. After killing a number of men in cold blood, the invaders herded the remaining population of the village, 367 people (including 70 children, the youngest a 21-day-old baby), into the basement of the local school. They were kept there for 26 days and nights, with less than half a square metre of space per person, four buckets for toilets and barely enough air. Ten people died of suffocation, untreated medical conditions and neglect. As the bodies piled up, the Russians allowed a burial party, but opened fire on it in the cemetery. The villagers carried the wounded back to the basement in the wheelbarrows they’d used to carry out the dead. At the end of the month the Russians retreated.

“Anna Zvyagintseva’s photograph The Same Hair shows a young child sitting on...

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