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How did we get here? Part one of an examination

Foreword: This diary is the first in a series examining, inter alia, the political economy of the United States. Much of what you read here will be historical, and general in application.  The drive behind these diaries remains an examination of the current political-economic structure and function, and my conclusions about the 2012 elections. Although this article doesn't mention anything about 2012, please feel free to begin to draw conclusions, make note of any areas you dispute, offer critiques, comparisons, contrasts, and above all, references for future inquiry.

I think that we need to know where we have been in order to know where we are. Thus, I am attempting to write a series of diaries that chronicle, to me at least, some of the major events and major people/entities which contributed to the direction, the trajectory of the US, socially, politically, and economically, since we can't separate one trajectory from the other.

We in the USA face a crossroads with the coming election. The polarization of both sides (which I think of as the Right and the Middle, the Left being irrelevant at this time) may be leading to tumultuous times. I think it best to discuss the phenomenon.  As I am not a lawyer, please post legal cases that may pertain, along with links, if they are available.  I welcome comments and criticism.  

I think an examination of Japan will help us (or me at least), examine what happens in the US at present, so this diary concentrates on the Japanese business model, with many simplifications.

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Obama in 2008: More Like 1912 Than 1932

[Cross-posted from ProgressiveHistorians.]


Daily Kos has recently been abuzz with speculation that the coming Presidential election will play out similarly to that of 1932 -- a dramatic realignment election that puts Dems on top for a generation.  DHinMI advanced this argument in a very good three-part series last month.  Today, New Deal democrat provides more evidence of this phenomenon by pointing out that economic conditions were similar in some ways then to how they are now.


It's an interesting, if optimistic, argument, but I disagree with one of its underlying assumptions -- particularly if Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee.  In that eventuality, I think Woodrow Wilson's campaign in 1912, rather than Franklin Roosevelt's in 1932, is more likely to serve as a useful model for the 2008 election.

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Matt Bai, Michiko Kakutani, and the Netroots

Cross posted from Daily Kos in slightly modified form at Big Tent Democrat's suggestion. Thanks for giving me the opportunity, Jeralyn. You run an excelent site.

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This week Big Tent Democrat discussed Ron Brownstein's review of Matt Bai's new book, The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, saying

Brownstein is a very good reporter and observer, but it seems to me he accepts some [of Bai's] conclusions that are faulty.

By coincidence, I read Michiko Kakutani's review of Bai's book in the New York Times just before Big Tent published his observations, and took issue with a similar problem.

more

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Slaughtering the Opposition

[Cross-posted from ProgressiveHistorians.]

So Ezra and Matt don't like Anne-Marie Slaughter, whose new book, The Idea That Is America, has just come out.  I haven't read the book, but like Ezra and Matt, I've met Slaughter and heard her speak.  I'm generally a huge fan of her ideas and approach to foreign policy, which is distinctly Wilsonian internationalist in the sense that Wilson meant it (i.e., creating alliances and strengthening international organizations rather than "spreading democracy."

With that in mind, let's dispense with Matt's objections first, because they're the easiest to dismiss.  Matt thinks Slaughter is "soft and gentle," and he doesn't "have confidence that she's willing to make the tough decisions to deal with the rogue immoral elites that are destroying the planet."  Well, I've got news for Matt.  In academia, if you've attained tenure by age forty-four, that's quite an achievement.  But at age forty-four, Anne-Marie Slaughter had gotten herself named Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations at Princeton -- while being a woman in what is still largely a man's field, as well as a wife and mother.  Let me tell you, any woman that can attain that high a peak in that little a timespan in that closed a field is not "soft and gentle," she's ambitious and tough as nails.  So Matt fell for her disarming "gentleness," which I saw too when I heard her speak -- she was saying how she needed to talk fast because her kids would miss her if she didn't get home soon -- but that doesn't mean Mahmoud Abbas and Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad aren't going to realize very quickly that this lady can put the kibosh on them really fast if they don't shape up.  When you think of Anne-Marie Slaughter, don't think of Condi Rice, think of Madeleine Albright -- and then imagine her bombing the heck out of Serbia, and you'll get a pretty accurate picture.

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Why the Republican Presidential "Turn" is a Myth

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians, Daily Kos, MyDD, and My Left Wing.]

For some time, there has been a meme in political discourse indicating that Republicans choose their Presidential candidates based on some notion of whose "turn" it is to win the nomination.  I have found evidence of this meme from both the right (William F. Buckley) and the left (a MyDD commenter).  Given the pervasiveness of this meme, I decided to test the historical evidence behind it by examining Republican presidential nominations from 1960 -- a full twelve years before the first election in which primaries played a deciding role in the delegate count -- through 2004.

According to most versions of this theory, there are three ways that one establishes one's "turn" in line: 1) by being a sitting or former Vice President; 2) by running in a previous year, losing but doing better than expected; or 3) by attaining some sort of formal institutional leadership, i.e., serving as Senate Minority Leader or Speaker of the House.  I aim to show that criterion #1 is both natural and common to both parties, and that criteria #2 and #3 are simply not the hard-and-fast rules they have been made out to be.  In fact, in the past twelve election cycles, there has been only one instance where a Republican presidential primary was decided by anything close to the concept of "turn," and even in that instance the outcome was far from certain until well down the stretch.  Essentially, the Republican presidential "turn" is a myth with no predictive value for the 2008 GOP primary.

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