I have decided to start a new blog. More on that on blogging.This blog will come in sections. There is the typical daily that you will find below. Alternatively, you can go to one of the topical sections to see what I have written over time on these topic:
I plan to move old daily material into topical areas whete appropriate. I also plan to create daily links to topical areas to indicate what is new. Enjoy. And please let me know how I can improve the reading experience for you.
You are very welcome to e-mail me at mvanbreda at me dot com. (I tried the discussion panel add on and got flooded with spam!) I will happily append your comments to my blogs.
Lee Drutman reviews Neither Liberal nor Conservative, which makes the point that Americans are not ideologues but partisans, or tribalists. We have in and out groups and belong to the Democratic or Republican party not because of what they stand for, which is unclear, but because this makes us feel “in.”
Frank Bruni writes in The NY Times that “new research commissioned by Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC, concluded that many Obama-to-Trump voters believed that Democrats are out of touch with less affluent Americans, a recent, high-profile Democratic brainstorming session in Washington was held at the opulent Four Seasons Hotel.” This is what I have been saying for months. Glad to hear that my humble opinion is supported by honest research.
The earliest European explorers to the Cape encountered severe weather and named it the Cape of Storms or as Diaz called it Cabo das Tormentas. It was later renamed the Cape of Good Hope because it offered a passage to India. Today's weather with its howling winds reminds us why it had the earlier name. We desperately need rain – not as much as fallen as we had hoped. The forecast is for more wet weather so we can continue to hope.
Monday 5th One notices a Democratic Party in much disarray. see. Jared Bernstein suggests that an agenda might be forthcoming but his suggestions sound very progressive to me, not wrong, but too far to the left to energize the party as a whole. David Leonhardt speculates on how the Republican Party became radicalized. My own sense is that is partly the fault of the increasingly elitism of the Democratic Party. Despising Republicans is a sure fire way of getting an angry response.
Unrelated a long article in Vanity Fair by the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd about Elon Musk's concerns about artificial intelligence.
Saturday 3rd A profound and disturbing essay on how we in the West pass by the deaths in the East with a shrug of our shoulders.
Friday 2nd I seem to have lost a whole month! Blame it on TransAtlantic travel and subsequent jet lag. Yesterday's performance in the Rose Garden in which our President essentially announced the end of the world left me aghast. What a sad day for the world and for America in particular. I could not help but contrast this very selfish speech with JFK's much grander vision of Ask not what America can do for you but but ask “what together we can do for the freedom of man.” That is the America that I thought I knew.
Paul Krugman comments David Brooks comments Bill McKibben comments NY Times comments And one reader perceptively asks how is it that one man can destroy the world. Have we no checks and balances in our political system? Washington Post checks his facts. Brooks Spector comments
Tuesday 24th The recent elections in France leave one stunned. That a Socialist candidate, following in the footsteps of a French President, could just draw 6% of the vote while a far-right extremist candidate got 21% is almost unbelievable. And how was it that Fillon, favored by the old Republican Party, was beaten by Macron whose party was created just last year. Fernand Braudel must be stirring as the underground forces of globalism and computer technology are reshaping our world, bringing us Trump, Brexit, and perhaps Marie le Pen.
Monday 23rd David Remnick in the New Yorker on our new presidency: The opposition to Trump also has to give deeper thought to why a demagogue with such modest and eccentric experience could speak with such immediacy to tens of millions of voters anxious about their lives and their prospects, while the Democratic nominee could not. The intellectual and political task ahead is at once to resist the ugliest manifestations of the new right-wing populism—the fears it plays on, the divisions it engenders—and to confront the consequences of globalism, technology, and cultural change. Politicians and citizens who intend to defeat the forces of reaction, of Trumpism, need to confront questions of jobs lost to automation and offshoring head on. Unemployment is at five per cent, but that does not provide an accurate picture of an endangered middle and working class.
The political math is clarifying: four hundred and eighty-nine of the wealthiest counties in the country voted for Clinton; the remaining two thousand six hundred and twenty-three counties, largely made up of small towns, suburbs, and rural areas, voted for Trump. Slightly fewer than fifty-five per cent of all voting-age adults bestirred themselves to go to the polls. That statistic is at least as painful to process as the Comey letter, the Russian hack of the D.N.C., the strategic failures of the Clinton campaign, and the over-all darkness of the Trump campaign. It’s a statistic about passivity, which is just what a democracy in the era of Trump can no longer afford.
Sunday 22nd A delicious discovery: The little word “run” has 645 different meanings according to the Readers Digest, from running a fast race to the cup that runs over.
Tuesday 28th Medicaid “now covers more Americans than Medicare, and it played a major role in stopping the Republican drive to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.” The eye-opening article goes on to point out that “Medicaid now provides medical care to four out of 10 American children. It covers the costs of nearly half of all births in the United States. It pays for the care for two-thirds of people in nursing homes. And it provides for 10 million children and adults with physical or mental disabilities. For states, it accounts for 60 percent of federal funding — meaning that cuts hurt not only poor and middle-class families caring for their children with autism or dying parents, but also bond ratings.” Astonishing. I had no idea.
Friday 24th Adam Davidson provides a marvelous example of the problem of distinguishing between an expense and an investment. A relative forwent a medical treatment of his back, a putative expense. The back deteriorated, the relative descended into drugs, and finally crime. He is now residing in a jail courtesy of the State, costing tens of thousands when a small “expense” - read investment in a saner government accounting world - might have saved the country thousands - not to mention the life of an individual.
Friday 10th Thomas Edsall, writing in the New York Times provides a fascinating and insightful analysis of how non-college educated voters have shifted from the Democratic to the Republican Party. The Democrats have transformed into the party of the elites, fairly oblivious to the pain of the non-elites.
Saturday 4th Tony Blair, ex-Prime Minister of Britain, writes insightfully in the New York Times. He points out that today's political parties were created at the time of the Industrial Revolution but have lost their purpose in today's modern world. Radicals on the fringes are tearing at the system. They could better be described as open versus closed rather than left versus right. The center tries to hold it all together but is seen as trying to maintain the status quo. What is needed is a new progressive alliance facilitating necessary change.
Wednesday 1st We listened to the president's speech to Congress last night and for two sceptics were suitably impressed. The one thing that continues to bother me is his promise to bring jobs back. As I say repeatedly online and to friends, computers have changed the world. Foreign countries have not stolen 20th century jobs, computers have. We need to rethink the whole way our economy works, ideally now. If we fail, events will overrun us and we will be doing that rethinking under duress.
Sunday 19th Just read that a number of white union members voted for Trump. That's not terribly surprising but it does make me wonder whether we are witnessing a realignment of the parties. Will workers, disenchanted with the effect of globalism on their lives, shift to the Republican Party. Will the elites who have benefited mightily from globalism all move to the Democratic Party? Will we have the French Revolution all over again with Republicans dragging the aristocrats to the gray lady?
Sunday 5th Andrew Postman, son of the eminent Neil, reminds us that his Dad warned us against Amusing Ourselves to Death rather than Orwell's Brave New World. I agree with Postman.
Saturday 4th It is beginning to appear as if Republicans really do not have a replacement for Obamacare after all.
Friday 3rd The electronic age is wreaking havoc with jobs, lifestyles and, by extension, politics. I muse here on how it has led to Mr. Trump's election.
Thursday 2nd Republicans were very much in favor of the market until one of their own implicitly voted against it. Interesting how politics trumps economics.
Wednesday 1st This article about how evangelicals voted for Trump from Newsweek is what has me so bothered about and depressed by the recent election. What could persuade so many evangelicals to vote for a non-Christian over a devout Methodist? I find this very troubling.Read more at evangelicalsvotetrump.