Official Business — November 30, 2012, 5:49 pm

A Discussion with John R. MacArthur and Thomas Frank on the Obama Mandate and the Future of the Left

Join Harper’s Magazine publisher John R. MacArthur and columnist Thomas Frank at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Tuesday, December 4, for a discussion of liberalism in America and what progressives can expect now that Barack Obama has been elected to a second term as president. MacArthur and Frank will be joined by moderator Dr. Joseph Chuman for a vital conversation about the state of our democracy and the obstructions that prevent any president from enacting truly progressive change.

The conversation will draw on MacArthur’s book The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America: Or, Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, in which he argues that the country is in a political ice age, frozen by two parties of entrenched, well-funded elites. Pity the Billionaire author Tom Frank will discuss what the acceptance of a “grand bargain” would mean for Obama’s second term, the topic of his column in the January 2013 issue of Harper’s.

The event is free to the public. A donation of $10 is suggested. If you RSVP with a donation of $20, you’ll also get the current issue of Harper’s Magazine and a copy of You Can’t Be President.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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