Four More Years: Why Bernie’s Anti-Capitalism Paves the Way for Trump

There was a revealing (and for Democrats, deeply foreboding) moment in Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate, quite apart from the shockingly bad, woefully unprepared, nearly moribund debut of Michael Bloomberg. It came when moderator Chuck Todd raised a question about a past Bernie Sanders statement from the fall, when he introduced a tax plan that his own economists said would reduce the fortunes of most billionaires by some two-thirds.

As reported in the New York Times, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos’s fortune would shrink from $160 billion to $43 billion under Sanders’s plan. (Elizabeth Warren’s plan would allow Bezos to retain about double that: $87 billion.)

Asked at the time whether he thought billionaires should exist in the United States, Sanders said, “I hope the day comes when they don’t.” 

Todd followed up on that Wednesday night in this exchange in which Sanders g...

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Brilliant Songs #12: Laura Smith’s “My Bonny”

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.”
—From T.S. Eliot’s “The Sacred Wood” (1920)

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When writers and critics cite T.S. Eliot’s maxim above, they often stop with the deadpan funniest/cheeky part: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” It’s a great line, suggesting a mirthful larceny far at odds with the preternatural sobriety and moral seriousness of Eliot’s best-known works—“Four Quartets” and “The Wasteland” perhaps premier among them.

But the maxim’s second part elaborates a valuable guidepost for how all writers and artists should approach and pay homage to the history of their craft.

What Eliot suggests at a much deeper level is that no artist creates in isolation, without standing on the shoulders of all who have struggled in the same way t...

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Nancy Pelosi’s Loss of Form

Watching world-class sprinters run as fast as they do, your natural suspicion is that they are straining with every muscle, fists in balls pounding at the air, brows furrowed and veins in their neck ready to burst from the the sheer strain of racing at the 20+ miles per hour they do. But that’s not how it is at all. Instead, you see their palms completely open, brows smooth, and most improbably, cheeks bouncing back and forth against the sides of their face, all loosey goosey as the soft pliable flesh they are in their natural state.

The picture is one of a relaxed lope on a pleasant afternoon, which for sprinters, is a superhuman feat, when one really thinks about it.  Sprinters’ sculpted, muscle-bound bodies are finely wrought, explosive racing machines...

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So much has been swirling around and through the Kobe Bryant tragedy.

The sheer awfulness of it for families and friends of all nine victims.

The veritable religious shrines and assembled crowds and profound eulogies lamenting Bryant’s passing in particular.

The careful inclusion by more sensitive and attuned observers of the eight other victims, whose lives were also lost, in an equal, if not more awful sense, especially given that three of them were mere teenagers, their whole lives still ahead of them, snuffed before so much more experience of joy and discovery—and even sorrows—could inject themselves into the lives that they were still forming.

The deep communal grief so freely expressed by those who knew him (and those who didn’t, but in this era of mass, ubiquitous, unrelenting media, thought they surely did).

Teammates, opponents, executives, coaches, grown men all, weeping in this era of the ...

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Brilliant Songs #11: Chris Smither’s “Time Stands Still”

Waiting for the consummate rootsy-bluesy singer-songwriter Chris Smither to come on stage last weekend at Durham’s Blue Note Grill, we greeted our friend Michael the Sound Board Guy, who noted with a kind of respect-just-this-side-of-awe in his voice that the packed crowd was absolutely crawling with local musicians. Little wonder, given the “musician’s musician” label that Smither, now 76, has earned over a half-century of crafting songs that combine lyrical depth, humor, virtuoso guitar picking and a driving beat he keeps going with the slightly amplified foot-tapping that serves as his own rhythm section.

“I can’t not do it,” he once told an interviewer regarding his footwork, which involves both feet, heel and toe, tapping out the often syncopated rhythms that are but one of the qualities that give his music its distinct, “Oh, that must be Chris Smither” feel.

But as good as the pur...

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