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Democracy, Kleptocracy or Oligarchy?

What’s gone wrong with Democracy? It was the most successful political idea of the 20th century. Why has it run into trouble, and what can be done to revive it? Excellent Essay of the Economist.
posted by homodigitalis on Feb 28, 2014 - 115 comments

The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals By Adolph Reed Jr.

The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals "The left has no particular place it wants to go. And, to rehash an old quip, if you have no destination, any direction can seem as good as any other." (Originally in Harpers)
posted by mecran01 on Feb 26, 2014 - 135 comments

House of Cards OG

Conservative british politicians audition for roles in the next series of House Of Cards - the results are... disturbing (SLYT)
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Feb 25, 2014 - 22 comments

Are you a bad enough dude to be the President?

The Campaign Trail - Can you win the US presidential elections of 2012, 1968, and 1896?
posted by rollick on Feb 23, 2014 - 53 comments

Citizen Ailes

A few years back, Fox News head Roger Ailes moved to Garrison, NY, built a house, bought the local newspaper, and got involved in local politics. New York Magazine has the story of Ailes' efforts to remake the small town in his own image, and the rage, paranoia, and narcissism those who've interacted with him have come to expect.
posted by Pope Guilty on Feb 18, 2014 - 135 comments

The ‘Mustache of Justice’ has left the building.

Thomas Scully, the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President George W. Bush, once said, “Fifty percent of the social safety net was created by Henry Waxman when no one was looking.” After 40 years and 17 consecutive terms, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is retiring from Congress. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Feb 13, 2014 - 35 comments

The Rise and Fall of Chris Christie

"It was one of the most effective optical illusions in American politics—until it wasn’t." Alec MacGillis, in the New Republic, describes why "Chris Christie's entire career reeks. It's not just the bridge."
posted by spitbull on Feb 13, 2014 - 99 comments

NSA operation ORCHESTRA: Annual Status Report (FOSDEM Keynote)

(TOP SECRET/COMINT) NSAs operation ORCHESTRA has been a resounding success again this year. This year's status report will update decision makers and programme liasons on the goals, achievements and means of ORCHESTRA. This is the NATO headquarters, right? Cool! No, no, I was just surprised that nobody was in uniform today, but I guess it's the weekend, eh? That's so cool -- I wish we were allowed to do that too. It's quite a crowd isn't it? I had no idea you had so many people with COMINT clearance over here... Amazing really. Anyway, lets get started, shall we? [more inside]
posted by Obscure Reference on Feb 12, 2014 - 21 comments

American History: a very qualified "Yaaay"

After a year of production, John Green's Crash Course US History has come to an end, traveling from the conflicts between the native Americans and the Spanish to the Affordable Care Act.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 11, 2014 - 40 comments

You may find that even your rock-bottom expenses aren’t met

Can you live on the minimum wage? NYTimes.com has provided you with a handy calculator to find out.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 10, 2014 - 80 comments

Pussy Riot

What Does Pussy Riot Mean Now? "With all eyes on Russia, two members of the country’s most notorious band of shit-stirrers are free after nearly two years of political imprisonment and enjoying the rock-star treatment during their first trip to the U.S. But the group’s unlikely journey from art-school project to international icons shows just how rotten Russia has become and how much the mission has changed."
posted by homunculus on Feb 7, 2014 - 57 comments

Measure of a Man

2003 American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is running for Congress in North Carolina. Aiken is a long-time political activist, and his campaign seems serious and sincere, as shown by the heartfelt five-minute video announcing his campaign. But the odds are against him in a district which voted for Romney by a twelve-point margin, and being a gay father is a possible liability in a state which recently voted to ban gay marriage. (But of course, electing entertainers to political office is an American tradition.)
posted by showbiz_liz on Feb 6, 2014 - 55 comments

A One-PDF History of European Socialism and Communism

A One-PDF History of European Socialism and Communism [via mefi projects]
posted by aniola on Feb 5, 2014 - 50 comments

A government of the many, not a government of money

The “Government by the People Act”, proposed by N. Pelosi and J. Sarbanes in a WP op-ed, is presented as one of the first concrete steps towards the removal of the influence of quasi-unlimited money in US politics. The act doesn’t limit the amount of money that corporations, PACs, etc can pay but rather takes the opposite approach, by encouraging and subsidizing citizen participation. The influence of money on American politics has exploded since the Citizens United ruling… resulting in often disturbing bias. [more inside]
posted by Riton on Feb 5, 2014 - 52 comments

Introducing Former UKIP Spokesman, Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto

A man who served as UKIP's Commonwealth spokesman for a year is the former leader of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan, BBC Newsnight can reveal. Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto's gang were behind a high-profile kidnapping in Karachi in 2004 and he then took a £56,000 ransom payment in Manchester. In 2005, Bhutto, of Leeds, admitted being the gang's "boss" and was jailed for seven years by a UK court. UKIP said Bhutto, 35, had "recently" resigned his party membership.
posted by marienbad on Feb 4, 2014 - 26 comments

Life After Jan. 1

As a result of new coverage under the ACA, many previously uninsured people in eastern Kentucky are giving the nation a glimpse of life under the new health care law.
posted by reenum on Feb 3, 2014 - 132 comments

Hotdish!

Starting in 2011, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has hosted a Minnesota delegation Hotdish competition - a friendly bipartisan and bicameral competition for all of the Minnesota congressional delegates. [more inside]
posted by bibliogrrl on Feb 1, 2014 - 41 comments

"The Mind of the South"

Earlier in the week, Slate posted an article on the massive Atlanta traffic jam. The article quoted a book about the Southern character that stated it was "Proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal." Yet the same book also stated the South had the less admirable qualities of "suspicion toward new ideas, an incapacity for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, an exaggerated individualism and a too-narrow sense of social responsibility." The book was 1941's "The Mind of the South" and its author was W. J. Cash. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Feb 1, 2014 - 35 comments

"Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science..."

Climatologist Michael E. Mann, known for introducing the famous "hockey stick" graph, has filed a defamation suit against the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jan 31, 2014 - 90 comments

You liked Asakai? Wait'll you hear about B-R5RB.

“Supposedly, it was set up for auto-pay, just like any other bill in real life, but either that didn’t happen or the money wasn’t in the wallet, and then everything just escalated..." EVE Online battles can be epic. Let's see how accidentally not paying the rent led to what is coming to be known as the largest battle in New Eden, and some would say gaming as a whole, to date. [more inside]
posted by RolandOfEld on Jan 31, 2014 - 96 comments

Shearer/Nixon

"Harry Shearer is best known for providing the voice of Mr Burns in The Simpsons and as Derek Smalls in spoof rock band Spinal Tap. His next role sees him take on former US president Richard Nixon in a series based on the disgraced politician behind closed doors... To borrow from Sir David's opening line - the following conversation was recorded by the BBC and these are the words actually spoken by Shearer and edited only for time." - The Beeb interviews Harry Shearer on his new role as Nixon.
posted by marienbad on Jan 30, 2014 - 22 comments

The Era of Big Metafilter is Over

Tonight, President Barack Obama will deliver his 2014 State of the Union address. A stream will be available via the White House and from many other outlets. [more inside]
posted by Drinky Die on Jan 28, 2014 - 449 comments

"Nothing. You're screwed."

During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 27, 2014 - 39 comments

Peekaboo--I see you!

In an interview with German television station ARD TV, Edward Snowden has alleged that the NSA is actively engaged in industrial espionage on behalf of US economic interests, targeting German engineering firm, Siemens and other international industrial concerns in its data collection activities, with no legitimate intelligence aims in mind. While the international response to the new allegations is still developing, back home in the US, Snowden has already been accused of disloyalty by US officials on both sides of the aisle, and at least one NSA analyst is on record stating he would personally "love to put a bullet in his head." (Previously)
posted by saulgoodman on Jan 27, 2014 - 90 comments

Apparently you could make it up.

13 reasons why I am taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission Jon Danzig deconstructs and demolishes a Daily Mail immigration story. [DM story: Sold out! Flights and buses full as Romanians and Bulgarians head for the UK]
posted by jaduncan on Jan 26, 2014 - 26 comments

Occupy Godwin Street

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins took to the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal to compare progressive angst over income inequality to the sentiment that led to the Nazi Kristallnacht. Citing the recent kerfuffle over Google buses in San Francisco (previously) and accusations of snobbery by San Francisco resident, bestselling author, and Perkins' own ex-wife Danielle Steel (who he describes as "our number-one celebrity"), Perkins asks "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?" [more inside]
posted by tonycpsu on Jan 25, 2014 - 254 comments

Uniforms for taxi drivers

Whose Policy: UKIP Or Monster Raving Loony Party? - Nigel Farage doesn't realise how terrible his own party's policies are
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 23, 2014 - 18 comments

The Library as an Economic Model in the Second Machine Age

Congress takes a casual look at the peer-to-peer economy - “Finding new ways to monetise used or existing assets has the obvious and immediate effects of raising their value and the wealth of their owners, while simultaneously reducing the value of comparable stuff owned by incumbent companies — for whom monetisation already wasn’t a problem, and who find themselves burdened by the newly competitive environment. The innovations also provide a surplus to those consumers who previously would have paid more to an incumbent. And all without any new stuff actually having to be made.” [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 23, 2014 - 23 comments

Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chainstores.

Consumerism's petty liberties have made us inhumanly passive. We've forgotten what freedom is, and how easily it is lost.
posted by lalochezia on Jan 21, 2014 - 71 comments

Liberalism, Libertarianism, and the Illiberal Security State

The defense of the illiberal activities of the actually-existing state cuts across superficial partisan lines, and the dominant political philosophy of both American parties is a venerable ideology of realpolitik imperial supremacy that deploys the rhetoric of liberalism as pacifying propaganda and recasts the completely mundane application of basic liberal-democratic principles–the kind at work in the activities of Wikileaks and Snowden–as irresponsibly adolescent, anarchical, and even libertarian (eww!) challenges to the very idea of the liberal state. “Liberal” apologists for the actually-existing criminal state spook actual liberals from the practice of actual liberalism by insinuating darkly that any doubts about the liberal legitimacy of the security state probably makes you a loathsome, possibly racist Paultard. Wil Wilkinson on why liberal critics of the "liberal" state seem "libertarian." [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Jan 21, 2014 - 49 comments

A Delhi Drama: The 'Common Man' Chief Minister turns Anarchist

We have the unique instance of a sitting Chief Minister of Delhi labelling himself an anarchist, sitting in protest in the heart of the city, while claiming to conduct government business from the site of his protest and conveniently holding the nation to ransom by threatening to disrupt the the country's annual Republic Day parade due to be held in 5 days.

All this over the unlawful and allegedly racially motivated attempt by his Law Minister to arrest and humiliate some African women on prostitution and drug charges without first showing cause. And they've been brazen enough to forge a letter from the Ugandan embassy supporting their allegations. The professional diplomats are less than pleased.
posted by vanlal on Jan 20, 2014 - 18 comments

Shakedown on the Hudson

MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Jan 18, 2014 - 118 comments

I Have a Chinese Banknote That Everyone in China Is Scared Of

In China, there are certain "bad notes" that frighten people and are refused as legal tender. Why?
posted by reenum on Jan 16, 2014 - 77 comments

The Politics of the Superhero

"This symposium explores the relationship of superheroes to questions of power, ideology, social relations, and political culture. It represents the first time that a political science journal has devoted sustained attention to the superhero genre as it is reflected in the pages of comic books and graphic novels, and on the big screen." -- PS: Political Science & Politics holds a symposium on The Politics of the Superhero. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 14, 2014 - 43 comments

listen to the wealthy scream

The return of "patrimonial capitalism": review of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st century (pdf) - "Thomas Piketty's 'Capital in the 21st century' may be one of the most important recent economics books. It jointly treats theory of growth, functional distribution of income, and interpersonal income inequality. It envisages a future of relatively slow growth with the rising share of capital incomes, and widening income inequality. This tendency could be checked only by worldwide taxation of capital." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 12, 2014 - 39 comments

YHBT YHL HAND. Repeat.

Jesse A. Myerson described five economic reforms millenials should be fighting for in Rolling Stone. Conservatives were generally aghast at the suggestions. Dylan Matthews at Wonkblog wrote a response, "Five conservative reforms millenials should be fighting for". Liberals disapproved. Both articles argued for I. Employer of Last Resort II. Basic Income III. Land Value Tax IV. Sovereign Wealth Fund V. Public Bank. Ezra Klein discusses the trolling.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth on Jan 11, 2014 - 107 comments

"I wasn't afraid because I was too angry to be afraid."

Franklin McCain, one of the Greensboro Four, has died. McCain was a freshman at North Carolina A&T College when he, along with fellow students Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. (later Jibreel Khazan), and David Richmond (who died in 1990), walked into their local Woolworth's on February 1, 1960, and sat down at a whites-only lunch counter. This spontaneous act of civil disobedience (previously) sparked what would come to be known as the sit-in movement to dismantle Jim Crow.
posted by scody on Jan 10, 2014 - 33 comments

He says he wants a revolution, well, you know

Hard right Conservative South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, who in 2012 year was removed as parliamentary secretary and opposition whip to Tony Abbott as a result of arguing that same-sex marriages would lead to legalised polygamy and bestiality, is no stranger to controversy. A noted climate change sceptic, and critic of both Islam and publicly-funded broadcasting, Bernardi has just published his manifesto -- The Conservative Revolution -- calling for "a reversal back to sanity and reason". Reviews on Amazon have been less than favourable, but his book has put contentious issues such as abortion, the structure of the modern family and WorkChoices firmly at centrestage as the unpopular conservative government seeks to reconnect with voters who so comprehensively removed the Labor Party from Government in September 2013. Some argue that the danger in Bernardi's comments is that they shift the goalposts on what is considered outrageous, and re-ignite the culture wars. Or is it too late? The Prime Minister has again been forced to distance himself from Bernardi's views, and Warren Entch has criticised him for his "gay obsession". In 2012 the Global Mail called him Australia's Sarah Palin, but he also shares the Six Fs philosophy of Rick Santorum: Faith, Family, Flag, Free enterprise, Federation and Freedom.
posted by Mezentian on Jan 7, 2014 - 112 comments

Obamacare "horror stories"

"Obamacare horror stories" where innocent citizens are losing their insurance and being forced to pay astronomical costs for new plans on the exchanges are being reported by some media outlets. The problem is that most of these stories don't survive further scrutiny. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Jan 7, 2014 - 129 comments

“the oddest congressman”

The Congressman Who Went Off the Grid
Roscoe Bartlett spent 20 years on Capitol Hill. Now he lives in a remote cabin in the woods, prepping for doomsday.
posted by andoatnp on Jan 5, 2014 - 72 comments

Labour condemns Michael Gove's 'crass' comments on first world war

Grauniad: Labour has accused the government of using the centenary of the start of the first world war to "sow political division" after the education secretary, Michael Gove, tore into "leftwing academics" for peddling unpatriotic "myths" about the role of British soldiers and generals in the conflict. Gove's original article in the Daily Mail.
posted by marienbad on Jan 4, 2014 - 83 comments

Cabinet papers reveal 'secret coal pits closure plan'

Newly released cabinet papers from 1984 reveal mineworkers' union leader Arthur Scargill may have been right to claim there was a "secret hit-list" of more than 70 pits marked for closure. The government and National Coal Board said at the time they wanted to close 20. But the documents reveal a plan to shut 75 mines over three years. A key adviser to then-PM Margaret Thatcher denies any cover-up claims. The miners' strike began in March 1984 and did not end until the next year. [more inside]
posted by marienbad on Jan 3, 2014 - 16 comments

Happy Holidays

About the only place this book hasn't been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that's about to change. Because I'm going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that's how long it takes for a batch of my mother's Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I'm going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more. And I think it's fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote. - Dan Savage reviews Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
posted by Artw on Dec 22, 2013 - 91 comments

Bashar Al Assad: An Intimate Profile of a Mass Murderer

And if a series of well-timed massacres by the regime would provoke outrage in the West, Assad also knew that images of carnage would cause Gulf states to arm the Islamist opposition and escalate the sectarian warfare. This was his strategy: to make intervention so unpalatable that the international community would take no steps to alter the course of the conflict. “These jihadists who have come in, largely courtesy of private Gulf money, these are his enemies of choice,” says Frederic C. Hof, the Obama administration’s former envoy to the Syrian opposition and currently a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “I call it a coalition of co-dependency.” - An in-depth piece in The New Republic Examines Bashar Al Assad
posted by beisny on Dec 20, 2013 - 10 comments

Noblesse N'Oblige Pas.

The Endgame for Democracy: A short essay by Bill Moyers. [SLYT]
posted by phaedon on Dec 19, 2013 - 31 comments

New Mexico Fully Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Following the state Supreme Court's decision in Griego v. Oliver [pdf], New Mexico has become the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Dec 19, 2013 - 59 comments

Why find more? Unburnable carbon as financial assets.

There is another bubble. Before it's burned, Coal, Oil and Gas sit for years on the balance sheets of private (and national) resource companies, as "known reserve" assets. Assets that, someday, will become revenues. Or will they? And if they won't, what will the balance sheets of ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Petrochina, and Gazprom actually look like? [more inside]
posted by anthill on Dec 19, 2013 - 22 comments

Where Are the People?

The waning influence of evangelical Christianity can be seen through the story of Orange County's Crystal Cathedral.
posted by reenum on Dec 16, 2013 - 59 comments

An Evening with Private Eye

An Evening with Private Eye. "Ian Hislop takes a satirical look back at the people and events of 2013 with special guests Craig Brown, Harry Enfield, Lewis Macleod, Jan Ravens and John Sessions. This is a recording of a live (National Theatre) Platform event from December 2013." [SLYT]
posted by feelinglistless on Dec 14, 2013 - 9 comments

America's last political taboo

We were left wondering why a man who served 16 terms in Congress and who bravely came out as gay all the way back in 1987 felt the need to hide his atheism until he was out of office. Was it really harder to come out as an atheist politician in 2013 than as a gay one 25 years ago? Incredibly, the answer might be yes. For starters, consider that there is not a single self-described atheist in Congress today. Not one.
posted by Chrysostom on Dec 10, 2013 - 165 comments

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