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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Déjà vu all over again, again…

President Biden vowed last week that he would pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan before September 11th. Pointedly, he chose to speak from the White House Treaty Room. It was there, he noted, in October, 2001, that President George W. Bush “informed our nation that the United States military had begun strikes on terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.” Twenty million Americans have been born since Bush made that announcement. They can truthfully say, “we have always been at war with Central Asia.” When Bush spoke, operations had already been underway for 11 days. A Soviet-built helicopter with a CIA pilot had flown in-country with …

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A Belated Happy Easter, All

For one reason or another, spring has returned to the northern hemisphere. Some may say it’s the will of the Lord: the warming earth and returning birds are a manifestation of His infinite grace and wisdom. Perhaps so; it’s certainly not for the likes of us to say. That will, though, if indeed it exists, seems so wildly unpredictable, the regularity of spring’s arrival raises our suspicions as to His involvement. Others ascribe this recurring phenomenon to the slightly more scrutable laws of physics. Because those laws are contingent upon verification through experimentation, this argument has won fairly widespread acceptance. It’s a bold strategy, though—at …

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