Don’t miss Andy Divine on The New Plague, Rishi Sunak & The New York Time’s ‘1619 Project’ . Old Socialist selectively reads his latest triptych.

Headline: Reality Arrives to the Trump Era

Andy Divine reads Camus’ ‘The Plague’:

‘Plagues routinely start with denial. In his great novel, The Plague, Albert Camus describes a scene at the very beginning, after several rats in a town started dying identical deaths:’

‘These rats, now?’ the magistrate began. [Doctor] Rieux made a brief movement in the direction of the train, then turned back toward the exit. ‘The rats?’ he said. ‘It’s nothing.’ The only impression of that moment which, afterwards, he could recall was the passing of a railroadman with a box full of dead rats under his arm.’

So begins Mr. Divine’s latest collection of moralizing political interventions, or just more smug  self-congratulatory chatter , or should it more rightly be called his political/moral toxicity?   

On a ‘sane post-Trump conservatism’ in the person of Boris Johnson’s new chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak: 

If I were to point out a possible future for a sane post-Trump conservatism, I’d point to one Rishi Sunak. I don’t blame you for not knowing his name yet, but he recently became Boris Johnson’s chancellor of the exchequer, responsible for Britain’s finances and economy, the second most powerful figure in the British government. He’s the grandson of Indian immigrants to the U.K., went to Oxford and Stanford, and became a hedge-funder. First elected to Parliament in 2015, his handsome smile has been matched only by the perfect fit of his suits. He’s said to have a personal fortune of $250 million, helped by marrying the daughter of one of the richest men in India. A member of a thriving minority group in the U.K., he’s a Hindu, known for lavish parties on his Yorkshire estate, and called by the locals the Maharajah of the Dales. And he isn’t yet 40 years old.

Note this description of Rishi Sunak: ‘…his handsome smile has been matched only by the perfect fit of his suits.’ Sometimes we gay boys focus on the wrong things! What could that ‘sane conservatism’ mean, but another handsome, and  bespoke suited oligarch?  Andy offers this, as a former acolyte of the Iron Lady:

But what really marks him is his abandonment of Thatcherism. 

What follows is a dull witted apologetic for Toryism as ‘adaptive’: the jejune masquerading as telling insight, Mr. Divine’s calling card!

Final entry is Andy’s  shaming of The New York Times for its ‘1619 Project’. the editor ‘Jake Silverstein, and primary author, Nikole Hannah-Jones’.  Mr. Divine who gave space in the New Republic to the ‘The Bell Curve’ and has no standing to lecture The Times, on any question of the history of race/slavery. There are other actual writers who don’t carry the heavy racial baggage, that Mr. Divine carries with him, like the chains of Jacob Marley. The New York Times columnist Michelle Alexander, and her The New Jim Crow has the moral/political standing to engage in such a critical exercise! 

Old Socialist 

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/andrew-sullivan-reality-arrives-to-the-trump-era.html

 

 

 

 

 

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@MrWalterShapiro comes to bury Bernie Sanders! Old Socialist comments

Note the headline and sub-headline of Mr. Shapiro’s essay:

The Gauzy Myth of the Sanders Campaign

If there were ever hidden armies of Democratic voters yearning for a  visionary presidential nominee, then they remain well camouflaged.

Besides the highfalutin headline, Walter Shapiro continues the long New Republic Tradition that dates from Herbert Croly, Walter Lippmann, and Walter Weyl to Martin Peretz & Michael Kinsley, Hendrik Hertzberg , Michael Kinsley, Andrew Sullivan, etc., etc.,(Not to forget the once very powerful literary editor Leon Wieseltier, now disappeared.) The record of Liberal Mendacity, in its various personages and iterations, is historically well established. But Mr. Shapiro breaks new ground with the closing paragraph of his political funeral oration for Bernie Sanders:

‘For the moment, Democratic voters deserve to take pride in what they have accomplished in the less than two weeks since South Carolina’s primary. They have, in effect, selected a nominee with a minimum of rancor and discord. While there will be bumps ahead on the road to Milwaukee, this quick, de facto victory is the best possible outcome for Democrats hoping for victory over Trump in November.’

https://newrepublic.com/article/156883/gauzy-myth-sanders-campaign


Spoken like a true New Democrat, even if Mr. Shapiro doesn’t consider himself one, he recites the cliche ridden Party Line, as if it were the end of the story, with Senile Old Joe as president! But Shapiro is aware of Biden’s obvious cognitive impairment, but offers this hyperbolic, conjectural use of history : 

What Democratic voters have created by rallying around Biden is the American equivalent of the Popular Front, which, in the 1930s, was a broad, multiparty alliance against fascism in France and other democratic countries. The exit polls from Michigan echo a sentiment found in almost all primaries—voters, by a 58-to-37 percent margin, want a candidate who can defeat Trump more than someone who agrees with them on all issues.

The New Democrats have full control of the Party Apparatus, and with the active  collaboration of Corporate Media, have, again, waged a campaign of defamation against Sanders. Shapiro offers many hypothetical political scenarios, to add an ersatz depth to his essay. His essay reads like what it is, an apologetic for a bankrupt Centrism, made up of Neo-Liberals and Neo-Conservative fellow travelers.

Old Socialist     

 

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janan.ganesh@ft.com on the Coronavirus & the Administrative State. Political Observer comments

Headline: Coronavirus and the comeback of the administrative state

Sub-headline: Terms of political discourse have moved unmistakably in favour of government over just a few weeks

The regular reader of the ideologically inflected political myopia of Mr. Ganesh, just has to laugh, while drinking the last of her/his morning coffee, at these snippets mined from his latest essay:


…’a vindication of the state’…, …  ‘the necessity of public expertise, public infrastructure, brute public coercion.’…

And then this ludicrous disclaimer. The ‘as if’ of this sentence is that somehow Mr. Ganesh isn’t a ‘churlish’ Neo-Liberal, not quite of the Randian variety, but nonetheless a member of  Blairite coterie.        


Only a churl or an ideologue, their Ayn Rand novels frayed through overuse, could pretend any one of these shocks was amenable to a market solution.

Perhaps Mr. Ganesh has missed this Ben Jackson’s  essay in The Historical Journal ,53 I (2010) At the Origins of Neo-Liberalism: The Free Economy and the Strong State, 1930–1947 ? ( https://bit.ly/2wQjBwR) ? In his essay Mr. Jackson makes the case , as conceived by Neo-Liberals, to protect the Free Market as the political/economic/moral singularity, that uses state power to exact conformity.  In that regard both the Welfare State and the Neo-Liberal State share a commonality. The Welfare State acts in the interest of the whole of the citizens, while the Neo-Liberal State acts in the perceived interests of The Market.

Mr. Ganesh use of the Randian Ideologues, to presents himself as the rhetorical voice of political reason, the antithesis of the ‘churlish’ voices of the ‘Randians’. Yet the reason d’etre of Neo-Liberalism, in an American context, The Clinton’s and the whole of the New Democratic phalanx, and their ‘Reform Agenda’ : 

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355, Pub.L. 103–322 

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) 

The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999

The above ‘reforms ‘ are Neo-Liberal reforms, at there most draconian, in sum’ a Reaganite Agenda. But note in this paragraph Ganesh describes ’tilt in the balance between the public and private realms’ 

In all likelihood, coronavirus will bring about a similar tilt in the balance between the public and private realms. The terms of political discourse have moved unmistakably in favour of government over just a few weeks. We are living through a reputational comeback for what conservatives have disdained as the “administrative state”.

Should Mr. Ganesh consulted the Neo-Conservative Cassandra Francis Fukuyama’s  2013 essay? 

Headline: The Decay of American Political Institutions

Sub-headline: We have a problem, but we can’t see it clearly because our focus too often discounts history.

Many political institutions in the United States are decaying. This is not the same thing as the broader phenomenon of societal or civilization decline, which has become a highly politicized topic in the discourse about America. Political decay in this instance simply means that a specific political process—sometimes an individual government agency—has become dysfunctional. This is the result of intellectual rigidity and the growing power of entrenched political actors that prevent reform and rebalancing. This doesn’t mean that America is set on a permanent course of decline, or that its power relative to other countries will necessarily diminish. Institutional reform is, however, an extremely difficult thing to bring about, and there is no guarantee that it can be accomplished without a major disruption of the political order. So while decay is not the same as decline, neither are the two discussions unrelated.

There are many diagnoses of America’s current woes. In my view, there is no single “silver bullet” cause of institutional decay, or of the more expansive notion of decline. In general, however, the historical context of American political development is all too often given short shrift in much analysis. If we look more closely at American history as compared to that of other liberal democracies, we notice three key structural characteristics of American political culture that, however they developed and however effective they have been in the past, have become problematic in the present.

The Decay of American Political Institutions

The cast of characters, in Ganesh’s dramatic political meander is large, one might call it bloated, but focus on the pitch made on behalf of Garett Jones’ ‘cheeky’ new book 10% Less Democracy. The whole title gives the game away 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less’.  Walter Lippmann, the good, grey liberal prophet of The American Century, placed his faith in Technocrats, a cadre of experts, that could manage the state, and protect against too much democracy. Yet they managed the Cold War, and two disastrous wars, in Korea and Vietnam. Can Trump, and his ever-changing sets of ‘managers’, perform better than that generation of such managers?

Political Observer

 

https://www.ft.com/content/22f51a26-6385-11ea-b3f3-fe4680ea68b5

 

 

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edward.luce@ft.com of March 11, 2020: Biden,Sanders,Trump & the Corona Virus Crisis. Political Observer comments  

Mr. Luce’s almost prophetic gifts are demonstrated, in these two paragraphs of his latest essay:

Joe Biden’s victories in at least four of the six states that voted in this “mini-Super Tuesday’ — four of which Mr Sanders had won in 2016 against Hillary Clinton — puts the former vice-president into an almost prohibitive lead.

Next week’s delegate-rich Florida primary could put him beyond reach. The real question is how long before Mr Sanders bows to the inevitable, and on what terms. On that fraught negotiation — Mr Sanders’ price for endorsing Mr Biden — will hang the unity, or disunity, of the Democratic party.

And then there is this:

There is no evidence Mr Biden is suffering from anything other than ageing combined with a life-long stutter. To minimise the opportunities for gaffes — or “Bidenisms” — his aides have sharply curtailed his public addresses to a few minutes. 

In the Sunday Times, another Biden Apologist, Niall Ferguson: 

Headline: Sleepy Joe Biden has given Donald Trump a wake-up call


Sub-headline: Despite his senior moments, the comeback codger has a real shot

I know Joe Biden. Not well, but well enough to have had a good chat when we ran into one another at the Irish embassy in Washington on St Patrick’s Day last year. I must also confess to rather liking Biden. In 2015 I argued that he would win if he ran the next year. He would certainly have been a more engaging candidate than Hillary Clinton, especially in those key states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that carried Donald Trump to the White House.

A veteran professional politician of the homely, Irish-American, middle-class, press-the-flesh variety, Biden overcame personal tragedy (the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and daughter and seriously injured his two sons) to become the reassuringly conventional vice-president to Barack Obama — not only the first black president but just 47 when elected. Because, folks, Biden is exactly what central casting used to think a US president should look like.


https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/sleepy-joe-biden-has-given-donald-trump-a-wake-up-call-h65l7x7sq

Mr. Luce, like his Neo-Liberal fellow travelers , can’t  face the fact that ‘The Chosen One’ Biden has an actual cognitive deficit. But in what he conceives to be a compelling argument, masked by Biden’s ‘stutter’ , or just his ‘sleepiness’? , the Corona Virus Crisis  offers a weak kind of political opportunity, to deflect from the glaringly obvious! Undaunted, Mr. Luce political speculation, carefully embroidered as it might be, reads as just that!    

Let me speculate about a political scenario : what happens when candidate Biden , in a debate with Trump, experiences the confusion of a man, unable to articulate a rational argument, to one of Trump’s challenges? Or, could this moment occur in a debate between Sanders and Biden? when the viewers will see, with stunning clarity, the cognitive impairment of Biden? The current mythology is that Biden overcame a stutter, and these lapses are just a nagging re-occurrence. Yet there is video evidence that renders this claim dubious, to say the least.

Like a contemporary Tiresias , Mr. Luce ends his defense of Biden:

All of which puts a very different gloss to the customary “stakes are high” election clichés. Welcome to a presidential campaign about the candidates’ sanity. Welcome also to politics in a time of contagion.

Political Observer

https://www.ft.com/content/8851c8f2-62fd-11ea-a6cd-df28cc3c6a68

 

 

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Niall Ferguson & Gideon Rachman on ‘Sleepy Joe’. Political Observer comments

In his column of Sunday March 8, 2020, Niall Ferguson:


Headline: Sleepy Joe Biden has given Donald Trump a wake-up call


Sub-headline: Despite his senior moments, the comeback codger has a real shot

I know Joe Biden. Not well, but well enough to have had a good chat when we ran into one another at the Irish embassy in Washington on St Patrick’s Day last year. I must also confess to rather liking Biden. In 2015 I argued that he would win if he ran the next year. He would certainly have been a more engaging candidate than Hillary Clinton, especially in those key states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that carried Donald Trump to the White House.

A veteran professional politician of the homely, Irish-American, middle-class, press-the-flesh variety, Biden overcame personal tragedy (the 1972 car accident that killed his first wife and daughter and seriously injured his two sons) to become the reassuringly conventional vice-president to Barack Obama — not only the first black president but just 47 when elected. Because, folks, Biden is exactly what central casting used to think a US president should look like.


https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/sleepy-joe-biden-has-given-donald-trump-a-wake-up-call-h65l7x7sq


In an essay that eventually devolves into near seriocomic tones, Mr. Ferguson offers more than a collection of speculations, hypotheticals , taken to the point of the preposterous. In its place Ferguson offers some political analysis, that the reader can evaluate. While, like most of his supporters, fails to address the Biden’s glaringly obvious cognitive deficit, to put it blandly.  In the Neo-Liberal World ‘Sleepy Joe’ is the last best hope against the populist menace Sanders! While the contest within the Democratic Party is yet to be decided. 

Compare Ferguson’s analysis, with its undertone of near contempt, to Mr. Rachman’s sweeping cast of characters , framing his essay :

a Harvard professor, Gerald Ford, Many Europeans, Barack Obama, coronavirus-induced recession, leading foreign-policy thinkers, Kurt Campbell and Jake Sullivan, Those in the Middle East and Europe, Syria , Afghanistan,  Tehran, Oval Office, Department of Justice,  “make American moral again”, realpolitik, Mr Modi’s rule, Reactionary nationalists, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The tentative nature of the present contest between Biden and Sanders, yet to be decided, renders Mr. Rachman’s descriptions of an imminent politics, and its various possibilities , not to speak of the large cast of political actors, as mere highfalutin garnish. That passes as adroit political analysis? Or is it a hybrid of hybrid’s like Capote’s Non-Fiction Novel? 

Let me speculate about a political scenario : what happens when candidate Biden , in a debate with Trump, experiences the confusion of a man, unable to articulate a rational argument, to one of Trump’s challenges? Or, could this moment occur in a debate between Sanders and Biden? when the viewers will see, with stunning clarity, the cognitive impairment of Biden? The current mythology is that Biden overcame a stutter, and these lapses are just a nagging re-occurrence. Yet there is video evidence that renders this claim dubious, to say the least.

Political Observer

https://www.ft.com/content/23b174a0-61e6-11ea-b3f3-fe4680ea68b5

 

 

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Corporate Barracuda Sheryl Sandberg’s unconvincing whining! ‘Lean In’? Old Socialist comments Old Socialist …






So on International Women’s Day, who better to ask what is going wrong than Sheryl Sandberg, the guru of female work empowerment, the woman who encouraged millions of us to Lean In, and COO of Facebook, the world’s most powerful company.

“The reason we don’t have as many female leaders is down to likeability,” Sandberg says. “The data shows conclusively that as men get more successful they are better liked by women and men — but as women get more successful they are less liked by both.”

Sandberg may speak softly, a tiny package cosily wrapped in an overlarge peach cashmere jumper, red jeans and brown cowboy boots (she has just got engaged to a father-of-three who is taking her to country concerts), but make no mistake, she is as tough as chuck steak.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b706b0f8-5e0d-11ea-8f5d-5d06dfa1e7b9

Old Socialist 

P. S. The protege of  Larry Summers! 

 

 

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janan.ganesh@ft.com on Joe Biden, manufactured Hero. Political Observer

In the imagined ‘Centrist World’ Mr. Biden is the latest manufactured Hero. Except that the notion of that ‘Centrism’, under the myopic gaze of an apologist for that mythical political construct, is in fact the tattered remains of a collapsed Neo-Liberalism, and its panicked acolytes.

For a more carefully calibrated  political apologetic, couched in Biblical hyperbole, for Biden, see Mr. Luce’s essay:

Headline:  The stunning resurrection of Joe Biden

Sub-headline: His Lazarus-like re-emergence gives the Democratic party a new mantra: ‘decency’

https://www.ft.com/content/eaeb4b50-5dc1-11ea-b0ab-339c2307bcd4


Mr. Biden’s ‘fabulist tendencies’, a more genteel descriptor than the word lies, are flooding the internet, these small video clips don’t need any help from Trump! they are the collective evidence of ,not just bad faith, but of self-aggrandizing lies: that awful but apt word …
Here is a quotation from Mr. Ganesh’s essay that demonstrate his talent for deliberate misreading:

Being creatures of narrative, my profession inferred from the shocks of 2016 — Mr Trump’s victory and the vote for Brexit — a lasting crisis for the global centre. Contrary events, such as the election of President Emmanuel Macron in France, or the US midterm elections, did not dissuade us. Perhaps the only thing that ever would is the elevation of a pre-2016 retread, a lion of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the globalised heyday, to the world’s grandest office.

One of the ‘contrary events’ to the Trump victory and Brexit is the election of Macron! According to CNN, the number of ‘Abstentions’ and ‘White ballots’ or spoiled ballots in the final round of voting:

Abstentions: 11,416,454 

White or spoiled ballots : 4,045,395 

The total: 15,461,849 

Macron’s final vote : 20,257,167

Le Pen final vote: 10,584,646

https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/08/europe/french-voters-spoiled-ballots-abstained/index.html

These numbers are indicative of the the fact that Macron is what? The product of a fractured French politics?  The General Strike is unreported in Corporate Media, the only place to get news of this strike is on twitter, and other social media. The video of police beating, and maiming protesters, or attacking protesting Fireman is proof that a Rebellion against the ‘Liberalism’, ‘Centrism’, or in plain speaking, the Neo-Liberalism of the ideological enarque Macron. This Rebellion is the political juggernaut that will end Macron’s burning ambition, to lead a slowly fracturing European Super-State.  

Mr. Ganesh’s  description of Biden is ludicrous, if not just flatfootedly comic : ‘… a lion of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee…’.

Trump has a talent for puerile insult, which he will use against Biden’s ‘cognitive deficit’, and his history of lying. This prefigures disaster for the New Democrats and their journalistic allies.

Political Observer

https://www.ft.com/content/c1b57790-5dff-11ea-b0ab-339c2307bcd4

 

 

 

 

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