American Democracy is Doomed is a Vox long(ish)read by Matthew Yglesias summarizing the work of Juan Linz on constitutional crises in presidential democracies (previously), which combined with constitutional hardball and ideological polarization threaten to destroy American democracy (#nottheonion). As Yglesias describes the problem, it's primarily structural, an inevitable result of rules that have failed in every other country that has tried them. (We're 30 for 30 so far.) (All but the first link are pdf.)
Why Would Anyone Buy a Cassette Tape? "I went back to the merch table to see what was on offer and saw - among other things - a cassette tape. I figured that participating in a weird economic trend would be worth the $5, so I bought it. Needless to say, I don't own anything that could play a cassette tape."
"Obama’s new education policy neatly showcases the spectrum of choice we now have in our political system: to be ground down a bit at a time by technocrats who either won’t admit to or do not understand the ultimate consequences of the policy infrastructures they so busily construct or to be demolished by fundamentalists who want to dissolve the modern nation-state into a panoptic enforcer of their privileged morality, a massive security and military colossus and an enfeebled social actor that occasionally says nice things about how it would be nice if no one died from tainted food and everyone had a chance to get an education but hey, that’s why you have lawyers and businesses."
Chipotle is Apple. "The burrito chain is revolutionizing food. Why doesn't it get more respect?"
Fed Up. Matthew Yglesias explains how the Federal Reserve System works, and why progressives should care. A more recent column: What is "Austrian economics"? (And why is Ron Paul obsessed with it?) And the Economist has a roundup of heterodox economic theories: Austrian economics, neo-chartalism/MMT (previously), and market monetarism.
The Atlantic's Ta-nehisi Coates sparks months of debate with his contention that The Civil War Isn't Tragic. "The Civil War is our revolution. It ended slavery, and birthed both modern America, and modern black America. That can never be tragic to me." [more inside]
How to win in Afghanistan? Peter Bergen looks at the capability of the Taliban insurgents, NATO troops, and the Afghan army and police, compares the current conflict to the Soviet invasion, and weighs the dangers of civilian casualties and popular support. He concludes that renewed American effort in the fight will "produce a relatively stable and prosperous Central Asian state." (via Matthew Yglesias)
Matthew Yglesias: Bill Richardson--former ambassador to the UN, former Energy Secretary, and current governor of New Mexico--is "clearly more qualified for the White House than anyone else in the race," so why isn't anyone paying attention to his candidacy? Includes link to a recent speech by Richardson on foreign policy at CSIS.