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The retreat of liberalism goes on

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As communism seemingly disappeared from view at the end of the 1980s, in a sudden and unexpected blow-out, there was plenty of triumphalism around in the west.The most infamous was perhaps that of Francis Fukuyama, a US state department career man turned historian.He got his publishing break with a book called “The End of History and the Last Man”.The end of communism, he suggested, meant that man’s ideological evolution, the very stuff of history, was over. Western liberalism had won.Nothing seemed to appear on the horizon to challenge its by then unquestioned dominance.
Francis Fukuyama has continued to publish books on the history he thought had ended but his original thesis looks more and more messy the further away we get from the 1990s. Here we are in March 2018 and the retreat of liberalism is pretty much full-on.The authoritarian march of Putin and Xi is matched by their less consequential peers and puppets, men such as Erdogan in Turkey, Assad in Syria, Maduro in Venezuelas.…

Trump's More Than Lewinsky Moment

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It's always a busy time for the Donald.  Today alone he is defending his new tariff system and agreeing to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, where they will engage in personal diplomacy since Trump hasn't actually got any advisers who know anything about North Korea.

Despite the shrill insistency of news about Trump, it appears there is still space for porn star Stormy Daniels to keep popping up.  This is the person who Trump's lawyer allegedly paid $130,000 to in order to stop her revealing her liaison with Trump at the height of the 2016 election.

Republicans and evangelicals, once the very embodiment of moral outrage over Bill Clinton's tawdry affairs, have now accustomed themselves to the ways of the world.  This piece from Eugene Robinson on Real Clear Politics is a clear summary of the Daniels affair, and concludes with this robust, scathing and on point analysis:

"The personal lawyer of the president of the United States, days before the election, pa…

Amidst the turmoil, Trump can count major successes

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From Dan Balz in the Washington Post today, this assessment of the credit side of President Trump's ledger makes for encouraging reading if you're a conservative, and should give you pause for thought if you're a liberal who thought that Trump's bizarre, maverick style might spell his doom:

"That’s not to say the president hasn’t had successes or made progress in changing the course of policy in the aftermath of the administration of President Barack Obama. He signed a huge tax cut. The economy is in good shape, unemployment is at a low level, and the stock market, despite some recent downs and ups, is well above what it was when he came into office. He has changed the enforcement of immigration laws, as he promised during the campaign. He has softened or reduced regulations on businesses. He has facilitated a conservative shift in the makeup of the federal judiciary. He has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement and sought to shift U.S. trade…

Who's voting,for whom and where? US election analysis talk

The next concrete vote on Trump isn't until November, but pollsters and election wonks are all analysing the data furiously to see if the Democrats will ride a wave back to congressional power, or whether Trump and the Republicans will in fact be able to dig down further and secure a counter-cycle triumph.

This election analysis and discussion from Politico is fascinating and a must read for students of American politics.


Shooting Schoolkids and mis-using the Second Amendment

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The wording of the famous Second Amendment to the US Constitution is this:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed".

My students and I saw it just a few days ago, the faded writing on the Bill of Rights displayed in the National Archives still visible. I was puzzled for a while, as in the document this is actually the fourth amendment, but it turns out the first two weren't ratified, thus pushing the famous arms amendment up to number 2 in the ranks.

I've read it a number of times, and it still seems to me that the so-called right to bear arms is very dependent on the maintenance of a militia to defend the state.  It is not, thus, an individual right at all.  It is very much a concession granted in the interests of state defence.

So how has this seemingly obvious interpretation become so sullied that the second amendment now becomes synonymous with individual fre…

Republican Power and Evangelical Influence

1.  The Republicans have been accused of "turbo-charged" gerrymandering in order to hold on to their state and federal offices, and the two states which seem to critics to exemplify their approach are Pennsylvania and North  Carolina.  The New York Times provides, as might be expected, excoriating commentary on both situations, suggesting that Republicans are no longer just about holding power but about de-legitimising their opponents.

At stake are not just hundreds of state legislative seats, but also control of the House of Representatives, which Republicans currently hold by a 45-seat margin.

The most shocking case is playing out right now in Pennsylvania, where Republican lawmakers in 2011 created maps so skewed that when Democrats won a majority of the popular vote the following year, it translated into only five of the state’s 18 congressional seats.

But when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the districts, the Republicans were ready.  After their appeal to the U…

Dems still look good for mid-terms - WaPo

From the Washington Post's "Plumline" blog, some still optimistic points about the Democrats' chances in November:



* DEMS POUR MONEY INTO STATE LEGISLATIVE RACES: The New York Times reports that a Dem-aligned group led by former attorney general Eric Holder is set to pour big money into obscure state legislative races across the country in 2018: The group [is] determined to deny Republicans so-called trifectas in state governments — places where a single party controls the governorship and an entire legislature … The group’s list of high-priority states includes most of the critical states in presidential elections. Preventing total GOP control in as many states as possible could block lopsided pro-GOP congressional maps in the next decade and avoid a repeat of the last decade’s disaster. * DEMS GRAB ANOTHER SEAT IN DEEP RED TERRITORY: Last night, Democrat Mike Revis won a special election for a state legislative seat in Missouri. Reid Wilson explains: If Revis’s lead …