So Much for Progress

The American Conservative Union (ACU) boasts of being “the nation’s oldest conservative grassroots organization.” * Born in December, 1964—one month after, and in response to, Barry Goldwater’s epic electoral humiliation—the ACU is now 56. People used to say that’s “old enough to know better.” Now that folk wisdom has been supplanted by a line of movie dialogue: “stupid is as stupid does.” In ’64, the ACU’s conservative bona fides were above reproach. Among its founders was William F. Buckley, Jr., who famously wrote, introducing his magazine National Review in 1955, that it “stands athwart history, yelling Stop.” A more succinct definition of conservatism has yet …

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A Lack of Progress Report

Come Sunday it will have been 245 years since the U.S. of A. told King George III, “Thanks, we can handle it from here on our own.” So, how’s that working out? Let’s be optimistic and call it a mixed bag. We’ll begin with the meta-news. This will be our third paper since we resumed our traditional practice of manifesting on a substrate of newsprint. The distribution of said newsprint—always the true challenge—is going well enough; the downtown crew has been exceptional. On the editorial end, of course, there is infinite room for improvement. The true highlight has been the enthusiasm of readers and subscribers. …

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Keeping Up With the Loonies

We do our best to keep up. In theory, that’s most of the job: try to keep up, and write about the stuff that really matters. These days that boils down to tracking dangerous outbreaks of authoritarian lunacy. This can be unnerving—especially in the context of a formerly-natural environment whose expiration date seems to be getting a fortnight closer every dang week. In a perfect world we’d be maintaining a sophisticated database for this purpose. Cross-tabulation analysis would no doubt be useful in sorting out the misleaders from the misled, the grifters from the true believers, and the charlatans from the congenitally bewildered. Having a …

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GOP Makes Last Chance Power Grab

Horrifying times often bring with them a certain measure of clarity; it’s a paltry consolation prize, and rarely makes up for what’s been lost, but it does help to dispel confusion—or would if we ever used it. Recent events have made this much clear: having done a heck of a job wrecking the nation, the goon squad calling itself the Republican Party is hard at work dismantling the apparatus with which we might rebuild it. Their goal is nothing less than to stamp out democracy itself. Perhaps we exaggerate—but if so, not by much. They have thrown the nation’s transmission into reverse and hit the …

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The Storm’s Not Coming—It’s Here

New Englanders are familiar with the scene: video shows rain falling sideways and random objects flying through the air. Crashing waves beat furiously against the shore. Finally the land crumbles. A house falls, beaten to smithereens, and ceases to exist. Traditionally it’s been a hurricane or a bad nor’easter, and the process takes a few hours. Lately, it’s politics. The end hasn’t come for America’s democracy yet, but things don’t look particularly good. Nobody builds on the edge of a cliff, of course.* Things just creep up on you: the Atlantic Ocean, the Republican Party…. Say what you want about Republicans,† they have a plan, …

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The Good, The Bad, and the Absurd

We have good news, and bad news. That, in itself, is not news, of course; the news is always good and bad, commingled. Such is the human condition. Limited by the subjectivity of our own perceptions—not to mention the disorientation caused by an unending current of events frog-marching us into the future—we lack the chutzpah to declare whether this fortnight’s mix trends towards one pole or the other. We can say with confidence that every day, in every way, the news keeps getting more absurd. The good news is that 81 percent of people around the world believe that democracy is important. The fourth annual …

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