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I’ve been away for the past week so over the next few days I’m going to catch up by posting some of the best stories and items I read on vacation. First up is this terrific piece by James Wolcott, which should be savored word by delicious word. In it, Wolcott eviscerates former Senator Bob Kerrey (“one of those bipartisan junkies who thinks the only way to solve America’s problems is to glue an Abe Lincoln beard on Sam Waterston and heed his craggy wisdom”) for the unsolicited advice he recently offered Barack Obama on how to conduct himself with John McCain. Obama should handle Kerrey’s advice “with tongs and dispose of in a plastic baggy,” Wolcott writes:
Kerrey’s message to the Democratic victor is that he should take the initiative and strike a preemptive note of cooperative assent with his opponent, emphasizing their shared goals instead of sharpening and highlighting their differences. “From this comes a modest proposal and an immodest wish: That Obama begin now to look for opportunities to say to McCain: ‘I agree with you on that.’” Stuffing words into Obama’s mouth, Kerrey offers a rollcall of issues on which Obama can reach out and ally himself with McCain…
This is so wrong I barely know where to begin. First of all, it’s boring–if Obama wants to disillusion even more Democrats than he has recently, the best way to do it is by mouthing mush such as, “I agree with you about the need for a comprehensive solution to immigration–help me help you help me to help America.” And what is John McCain going to be doing while Obama is doing all this agreeing?–he isn’t going to face pressure from the Republican side to make similar overtures to Obama. The voters, watching Obama strike one note of harmony with McCain after another, are going to think, Hell, if McCain is right on so many issues, why not just vote for him to begin with? Why go for the echo when you can have the golden-oldie original? The time for Obama to be conciliatory and solicit McCain’s help in the Senate is after he’s beaten his ass in the general election, not before.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.
One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.
Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:
Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.
An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”
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“He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.”