Your False-Equivalence Guide to the Days Ahead

Two big examples of problematic self-government are upon us. They are of course the possible partial shutdown of the federal government, following the long-running hamstringing of public functions via “the sequester”; and a possible vote not to raise the federal debt ceiling, which would create the prospect of a default on U.S. Treasury debt.

The details are complicated, but please don’t lose sight of these three essential points:

  • As a matter of substance, constant-shutdown, permanent-emergency governance is so destructive that no other serious country engages in or could tolerate it. The United States can afford it only because we are — still — so rich, with so much margin for waste and error. Details on this and other items below.* 
  • As a matter of politics, this is different from anything we learned about in classrooms or expected until the past few years. We’re used to thinking that the most important disagreements are between the major parties, not within one party; and that disagreements over policies, goals, tactics can be addressed by negotiation or compromise.

    This time, the fight that matters is within the Republican party, and that fight is over whether compromise itself is legitimate.** Outsiders to this struggle — the president and his administration, Democratic legislators as a group, voters or “opinion leaders” outside the generally safe districts that elected the new House majority — have essentially no leverage over the outcome. I can’t recall any situation like this in my own experience, and the only even-approximate historic parallel (with obvious differences) is the inability of Northern/free-state opinion to affect the debate within the slave-state South from the 1840s onward. Nor is there a conceivable “compromise” the Democrats could offer that would placate the other side.
  • As a matter of journalism, any story that presents the disagreements as a “standoff,” a “showdown,” a “failure of leadership,” a sign of “partisan gridlock,” or any of the other usual terms for political disagreement, represents a failure of journalism*** and an inability to see or describe what is going on. For instance: the “dig in their heels” headline you see below, which is from a proprietary newsletter I read this morning, and about which I am leaving off the identifying details.

    This isn’t “gridlock.” It is a ferocious struggle within one party, between its traditionalists and its radical factions, with results that unfortunately can harm all the rest of us — and, should there be a debt default, could harm the rest of the world too. 



The Guardian | Umberto Eco: 'It's culture, not war, that cements European identity'

Umberto Eco

"The university exchange programme Erasmus is barely mentioned in the business sections of newspapers, yet Erasmus has created the first generation of young Europeans. I call it a sexual revolution: a young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children. The Erasmus idea should be compulsory – not just for students, but also for taxi drivers, plumbers and other workers. By this, I mean they need to spend time in other countries within the European Union; they should integrate."


"When it comes to the debt crisis, and I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t understand anything about the economy, we must remember that it is culture, not war, that cements our [European] identity. The French, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish and the English have spent centuries killing each other. Today, we’ve been at peace for 70 years and no one realises how amazing that is any more. Indeed, the very idea of a war between Spain and France, or Italy and Germany, provokes hilarity. The United States needed a civil war to unite properly. I hope that culture and the [European] market will do the same for us."




SIC Notícias | Programa ‘O Eixo do Mal’ (edição 22-01-2012‬‏)

A Reforma de Cavaco e o Acordo de Concertação Social.

(Source: youtube.com)



Watch live streaming video from nytimesopinion at livestream.com

(via Livestream)

The New York Times Opinion Pages | 6-12-2011

The New York Times presents Political Opinion



The Economist | Microsoft and Skype: Why buy Skype?



Time Magazine | Bin Laden Buried at Sea Within 24 Hours of Death: Why?

Osama Bin Laden on Television

Maher Attar/Sygma/Corbis

After spending many years hunting down the world’s most wanted man, why did the U.S. bury Osama bin Laden at sea within 24 hours of killing him? 

The reason is bound up within Islamic practice and tradition. And that practice calls for the body of the deceased to be buried within 24 hours, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on Monday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters.

(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 defining moments of the post-9/11 era.)

"We are ensuring that it is handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition," confirmed the official. "This is something that we take very seriously. And so therefore, this is being handled in an appropriate manner."

But the lingering question is, Why at sea? The official said that finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted terrorist would have been difficult, so the decision was made to bury bin Laden at sea. Furthermore, one suspects that the U.S. would not have wanted there to be a grave site for fear of it turning into a place of worship for bin Laden’s followers. There are rumors, however, that the U.S. asked Saudi Arabia to take the body (bin Laden was born there), but it allegedly refused.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of Osama bin Laden.)

It’s believed that DNA testing would have been carried out beforehand (and indeed TIME’s Michael Scherer has had it confirmed by the White House that the DNA testing matched the slain terrorist leader) to verify that the body was that of bin Laden, as well as being proof against any conspiracy claims that could emanate to suggest that his death didn’t take place. The exact location of the burial was not revealed. (via ABC)

See TIME’s obituary of Osama bin Laden.

See pictures of Americans at Ground Zero celebrating Osama bin Laden’s death.

Read more: Time Magazine
  • Official: Bin Laden Buried at Sea (AP)
  • Death Comes for the Master Terrorist: Osama bin Laden (1957-2011)
  • On Scene in Abbottabad at bin Laden’s Last Stand
  • Osama bin Laden Is Dead, United States Has Body
  • Official: Bin Laden Buried at Sea
  • If You Want To Humble An Empire
  • Inside the Osama bin Laden Strike: How America Got Its Man
  • Growing Up bin Laden: Osama’s Son Speaks
  • After Bin Laden, Should Europe Brace for Revenge?
  • Al-Qaeda’s Big Post–bin Laden Cash Crunch
  • Finding Bin Laden Raises Questions About Pakistan’s Complicity
  • Osama Bin Laden’s Compound Gets Bad Reviews On Google MapsAOL News

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    U.S. officials have told CNN that the identity of the courier who led U.S. special forces to hunt and kill Osama bin Laden was a Kuwaiti named Abu Ahmad. Read More

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    In the situation room Sunday, President Obama waited to hear if Geronimo was dead. Then word came. “We’ve IDed Geronimo,” said a voice. Read More

    'Rot in Hell': The Best bin Laden Front Pages
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    Photos: Celebrating the Death of Osama bin Laden

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