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My basic view is that Israel has already passed the point of no return on West Bank settlements and is doomed. It’s not clear to me what it turns into–either an illiberal religious apartheid state that ultimately crumbles under the weight of a demographic bomb or a binational state of Jews and Palestinians are both possibilities–though it’s certainly possible we’ll see one after the other. But even if a center-left government is elected, the interests pushing the policies dooming Israel in its present form are hardly going to be sidelined or marginalized–they will certainly be represented in a Herzog-led cabinet. There’s no way out of this. That said, there are strong short-term reasons to hope for a Labor-led coalition government, in order to marginalize and diminish the international standing of Netanyahu, and wrongfoot opponents of Iranian diplomacy.

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I didn’t realize that Rand Paul signed onto the now-infamous Iran letter. A true man of principle. This seems applicable:

Jesus Christ, this is terrible. You have to go back to the nineties to find sci-fi shit this awful:

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When I first heard about Senate Republicans’ letter to Iran, I figured it was a pretty stupid idea that mostly just underlined how weak their position was. It’s pretty poor politics as well. So this is hardly a surprise to me. What concerns me is that, in the long run, how Congress remains a viable institution if it is unable to exercise its prerogatives to declare and oversee wars initiated by the executive, but takes it upon itself to sabotage negotiations for peace. How Republicans intend to sell this stance to people not getting their id on, Fox-style…also a mystery.

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I really like this take on the show that posits the show’s political content as being primarily aimed at Washington pundit types. This actually makes an enormous amount of sense–virtually no Democrats, even of the ever-shrinking conservative variety, would actually advocate cutting Social Security in order to create a temporary jobs plan. Or consider impeaching a president of their own party, or setting out to cripple teacher’s unions, etc., though one could quite easily imagine the Dowds and Friedmans and Noonans of the world loving it if they did. So at the very least (most?) the show provides an excellent look at what our media overlords want a president to do.

But of course the political content of the show is beside the point. It’s a pulpy mess that is well-acted and produced. It looks authentic, and in our present Age of Hype, that’s often more than enough. And the show contains so many of the elements of recent, legitimately great shows: middle aged male antiheroes, moral ambiguity, breakneck plotting, etc., that quite a few people actually think it should be considered on the same level as, say, The Sopranos or Breaking Bad. It gets Emmy nominations. The media reports on it accidentally being leaked. Yadda yadda yadda. These people are all fools. Those other shows, despite their flaws, managed to get across truths about living in America in our present time. The American House Of Cards can’t even tell the difference between real politics and whatever the hell “centrist” pundits think it is. It makes no points worth making. It remains a poorly-observed portrait of American politics, and Underwood as a character remains uncompellingly amoral, free of the sorts of internal conflicts and clashes of values and ideas that make shows worth watching. The UK series made the conflict between Urquhart’s ambition and his decency the heart of the show. Hell, up until the last season of The Sopranos, it was at least plausible that Tony Soprano could choose a different path, and his internal struggles made up what was great about the series. Conflict of this type does tend to make for good drama. There is no substitute for it, though there are imitations.

Also too, this is right on the money. Admittedly, if you do not require a show about politics to have any idea about how politics works, I guess it’s addictive product. But there are better sources of this sort of thing.

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The Guardian has an interesting roundup about where Wisconsin’s progressives go from here. I admit that I am not in a position to chart that strategy, but if I were a Wisconsin progressive, I think my main concern would be that despite enormous enthusiasm in both 2012 and 2014 to defeat Scott Walker, in neither event were Democrats even able to field a top-tier challenger to Walker. In the former, the choices were two candidates who had recently lost statewide races, one to Walker himself. In the latter, the best alternative wound up being someone who had never run in an election before and had minimal government experience. I do think that Mary Burke did a pretty good job under very difficult circumstances, but she was obviously not the first name on the list for good reason.

Where was Russ Feingold? Herb Kohl? Ron Kind? Now it appears that Feingold is going to try a Senate comeback and Kohl is an old man who might well be done with politics. Kind is a “rising star”–mediaspeak for young, telegenic and neoliberal–but would still obviously be preferable to Walker. The only explanation for his not running seems to be career reasons/fear. It’s possible he had other reasons that are better than that that we don’t know about. In any event, the simplest explanation for why Scott Walker won in ’12 and ’14 is that nobody who could have stopped him did so. How did that happen? This question needs to be answered.

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This is a pretty crazy story. I hadn’t realized that Hubert Humphrey was an initial skeptic of Vietnam from within the Johnson White House, and went so far as to write a lengthy memo outlining all the reasons not to get drawn into the conflict. (My favorite is that sure, Republicans may attack us for having “lost” Vietnam, but they just lost 45 states in a campaign where they were perceived as warmongers, so ignore them.) Needless to say, LBJ disagreed quite strongly, and the next time it came up Humphrey backed up the hawkish line. His initial instincts were entirely correct though. But you can always play the “what if the Kennedys hadn’t rigged the West Virginia Primary and Humphrey becomes president” counterfactual. It is is one of the less popular ones, even though he might well be the only plausible president of the 1960s who ultimately may have avoided getting us into Vietnam.

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