I grew up during what Secretary of State Kerry, in his more effusive moments, might call the Cold War’s golden age. Watching the big ZIL limousines enter and leave the Kremlin, brazenly transporting the powerful—and frequently, soon-to-be-former powerful—leadership of the Soviet Union.
The oligarchs of a society the Young Left of my own generation admired as a socialist paradise and ally in its march toward global peace and equality. (Alas, we did not yet have a 21st Century Venezuela to fill this critical role.)
I thought of the limousine scenes as I read the first two of my favorite pieces today.
Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon
This is today’s must-read. It’s a piece I would love to have written myself. From a strong lede, it moves forward with increasing power and urgency, leaving me with questions—like What do we do about this? How do we correct the public perception? How do we leverage the truth politically?
“To see what is in front of one’s nose,” George Orwell famously wrote, “needs a constant struggle.” In front of my nose as I write this is a copy of last Sunday’s New York Times. I have opened it to the business section. Below the fold isone of many Times articles on Thomas Piketty, the French economist and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which argues that America has entered a second Gilded Age of vast inequality, inherited fortunes, and oligarchic politics, where the shape of public discourse and public policy is determined by a wealthy few. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the Timessays, “follows in a tradition of works on political economy” that includes The Wealth of Nations, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Principles of Political Economy, Das Kapital, and The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. They’re not kidding.
Above the article on Piketty is another profile, headlined “Comcast’s Real Repairman.” Its subject is David Cohen, the executive vice president of the communications giant Comcast, who wants the government to approve the proposed merger between his company and Time Warner Cable. The deal would make Comcast the largest cable provider in America, with some 30 million customers.
Last year Cohen made about $14 million. He began his career as chief of staff to Ed Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania. And while he backs some Republicans, mainly Pennsylvania politicians who stand to make life easier for his Philly-based conglomerate, Cohen leans left. His political giving favors Democrats, as does the overall giving of his company. President Obama, who appears frequently on Comcast-owned networks, has golfed with Cohen’s boss. Obama has been to Cohen’s house. “I have been here so much,” he said during a 2013 visit, “the only thing I haven’t done in this house is have Seder dinner.” There is always next year.
You really must read the whole thing…
Tim Cavanaugh, National Review Online
(h/t Jonah Goldberg, via Twitter)
MSNBC host Chris Hayes is getting an alarming amount of attention for his latest effort in The Nation, a stemwinder arguing that the abolition of fossil fuels is like the abolition of slavery.
The argument may sound forced, but Hayes has a logical premise that goes something like this: Socrates does not wear sandals; a potato kugel does not wear sandals; therefore Socrates is a potato kugel. It’s also tricked out with quasi-erudition and broad claims such as this one: “Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia.” (Busy old fool, unruly Sun!)
Hayes, who serves as an editor-at-large for The Nation, manages to make 4,600 words feel even longer, with overflowing adjectives (“obvious,” “ungodly,” “brute, bloody”); lethal compound modifiers (“heart-stopping,” “full-throated”); cascades of adverbs (“immensely,” “basically,” “unfathomably” “probably,” “literally,” and even “downright”). There’s a to-be-sure paragraph guaranteeing the reader that Hayes is not making a “moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices” — followed by another 3,600 words comparing the enslavement of Africans and African Americans with the burning of carbon. (Hayes is coy as to what devices are in fact powered by these exotic carbon energy sources — about which more in a moment.)
So how does it make sense to compare the use of hydrocarbons with the enslavement of people? Turns out it’s the One Percent again, still clinging jealously to their privileges…
Read the rest here…
John Dickerson, Slate
The subhead reads: Why Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t need to fear his special prosecutor as much as other Republican presidential hopefuls.
One reason I like this is because Dickerson shows me here that he understands the political/legal situation in Austin, Texas better than most of his peers.
Reporting on Rick Perry this week has included more talk about a spit guard than I would have expected. The Texas governor is thinking about running for president again and he’s been on an extended reboot to get himself ready to make the final decision. Lately, though, there has been speculation that his plans might be derailed by a grand jury investigation into whether he abused the powers of his office. The probe concerns Perry’s effort to eject the district attorney of Travis County after she was arrested and convicted of driving while intoxicated. Police video from the arrest last April shows that the DA, whose blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit, was so furious at being booked for driving under the influence that she risked putting officers under the effluence. A spit guard was administered, said officials at the jail, to protect her from herself because she kept sticking out her tongue.
What about the allegations? That’s a pretty safe question to ask of Republican governors thinking about running for president in 2016. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces a long, extended look into the lane closures of the George Washington Bridge. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker faces questions about an old investigation in which his former aides were caught doing political work on government time. Now Perry faces the uncertainty of a special prosecutor and a sitting grand jury.
Could this be Perry’s Bridgegate? The spit guard may save him…
The rest is gold.