The great irony is that The New Republic is repudiating contrarian neoliberalism precisely when we need it most. Obama proposes in his State of the Union address to jack up the minimum wage to $9 an hour, and instead of surveying the vast skeptical academic literature, or asking (pace Charles Peters) whether such liberal gestures are “more about preserving their own gains than about helping those in need,” TNR columnist Timothy Noah declares, “Raise the Minimum Wage! And make it higher than what Obama just proposed.” The president announces in the same speech a plan to create universal, federally funded preschool, and instead of reflecting on the well-documented failures of the K–12 system, Jonathan Cohn congratulates the president, because “first somebody has to start the conversation.” A more accurate take: First somebody has to ignore the conversation of the previous four decades.
In the spring of 2010, liberal commentators began advancing a meme that the conservative movement’s intellectual wing was heading toward “epistemic closure,” shutting out any viewpoints that didn’t match their skewed version of reality. Paul Krugman and Eric Alterman deploy the term readily to mock the closed-minded groupthink of their opponents. Like a lot of partisan insults, the closure crack contained some truth: Witness the conservative-journalism freakout in February over a group, called “Friends of Hamas,” that eventually turned not to exist. But it was also a reminder of the Pendulum Rule of politics: You quickly become that which you criticize.
Somewhere, some day, a left-of-center critique of the Obamaite consensus will emerge, perhaps even one that revives the neoliberal economic ideas currently out of fashion. It’s hard to know where the epistemic opening will come from, but we can say for certain where it won’t: The New Republic.
David Auberech compares the different kinds of serialized television, which is of tremendous interest to comic book fans, fans of a medium with very similar concerns.
A Belgian comics enthusiast has a fantastic defense of introversion. I could probably write a separate post about why it’s so good, and why I would like to see more of these types of brief personal essays in comic book form, perhaps in an ongoing anthology series.
One never knows when a politician will get sick of it all and move on, but until that happens keep your money on more stories about Boehner’s speakership at risk, more stories of floor fiascoes such as the farm bill debacle this week – and more instances of Boehner surviving all of it.
Why? Because Boehner is actually doing his job well. It’s just that it’s an impossible job right now. The basic structure for why it’s impossible is well known. Boehner’s Republicans have a relatively slim majority; on any particular vote, it’s likely that either a group of moderates or a group of radical conservatives will want to dissent; and in a polarized House it’s unlikely that Democrats will furnish many votes without substantive concessions – and cutting deals with Democrats is almost impossible when Republican activists consider any compromise a betrayal. And, meanwhile, some bills simply have to be passed, meaning that 218 votes have to be found somehow. It all means that fiascoes such as the farm bill debacle this week are extremely likely.
This sf short story collection looks awesome, consisting solely of the material that has won Connie Willis a Hugo or Nebula award.
Cerebus creator Dave Sim discusses the financial realities of printing, and all the necessary considerations.
According to the King’s English blog, God is Christ and that is good.