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It seems as though we’re living through a particularly long string of dispiriting elections: the Democrats’ disgraceful performance in the midterms, Israel’s further descent by rewarding Benjamin Netanyahu’s racism and panic, Rahm Emanuel, the UK elections (technically the future, but I’m not very hopeful). On the bright side, the Canadian left managed to wrest control of conservative Alberta for the first time in nearly a half-century. Kind of amazing.

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Carly Fiorina will not be president. But that’s not her goal. She’s clearly aiming for the vice presidency, which seems crazy, but I don’t know. Since it seems as though her campaign is essentially going to boil down to attacking Hillary Clinton with the implicit argument that, “if I say it, then it cannot be sexist,” an experienced attack dog who just happens to be a woman wouldn’t be, you know, wildly out of sync with what a Jeb Bush or a Scott Walker might need out of a veepster. Plus, she’s less of an obvious screw-up than Palin was. The fact that she keeps failing upward indicates that she must have some connections in the GOP to make this less than a joke. Given that she has that anti-Midas touch you have to think this would be a non-starter, but the last guy they picked was Paul Ryan, who may have even been a worse pick than Fiorina would be. To get your attacks recognized, it’s probably not a good idea to have them delivered in a bland monotone.

So, it’s probably not very likely, but not exactly impossible either. What I’m really excited to see is what she fails at next.

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I admit I haven’t watched Letterman regularly in years, but I watched religiously in high school and definitely revere the man for many reasons. I think history will record his NBC run as the last time late night was even remotely dangerous (give or take Conan’s last week on The Tonight Show). YouTube, as always, is indispensable, and there are numerous full episodes available, quality obviously varied. Check out his fifth anniversary show:

kool aid guy

Oh yeah! It really does look as though the NSA’s metadata bulk collection could end soon. This is genuinely good news, and especially surprising given the 2014 outcomes.

Oh no! Obama decides to create pseudo-NATO for Arab “allies” to US. I swear to God, if progressives spent one tenth the energy they dedicate to debating whether the Affordable Care Act could have been slightly more progressive if Obama had used his bully pulpit to debating whether Obama’s legacy- and politically-driven war decisions are optimal, then maybe we would not be in a place where endless Middle Eastern war has essentially been institutionalized without a peep of dissent. Shameful.

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For the New York Times to (nonexclusively) hire an anti-Clinton muckraker ranks as one of the stupider moves in recent political/media history. That doesn’t mean it’s not hard to figure out the logic of it. Negative Clinton stories get clicks, and the Times gets to (in its own mind) dust off the old “impartial” cap. But in the long term, mainstream media organizations continue to delude themselves that (a) there is any series of actions that they can take in order to insulate themselves from conservative bias claims, and (b) that the sort of informed liberals that form the core of their readership will continue to read a paper that allows people with a conservative agenda to spread their wares in its pages is nonsense. In the short run, it’s probably overall a smart move. In the long run…well, there’s a reason why left-oriented media continue to grow while mainstream sources continue to atrophy.

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It really is–huge and difficult and contradictory. And generally underserved by mainstream Western reporting and punditry, offered by people who got most of their knowledge of the place from TV and movies. I’d say this is a pretty good look at Russia’s present state. It doesn’t deny the realities of the currently dominant Slavophilic tendency: harsh nationalism, xenophobia, international swagger. But there is also a longstanding Russian tradition of reform, idealism and modernization–the Europhilic tendency. Both go back centuries in Russian history and, if you know the history, they tend to have a sun- and moon-like alternation, even (especially) when it seems like that’s unthinkable. Gorbachev followed Brezhnev, after all. It’s what makes the culture so interesting, these simultaneous extremes existing at once. So while it’s perfectly valid to criticize Putin and all he’s done, it’s not the whole story, nor a permanent state of affairs.

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Lindy West’s column on the symbolism of the potential election of a woman president is worth reading, and characteristically, quite funny. The Wayne LaPierre quote she lampoons is stupid, but not atypical of how the right thinks of these things. It’s taken more or less as a fact that Obama only won because of his race, which mitigated the otherwise-damning Jeremiah Wright/Tony Rezko/Weather Underground stories that would certainly have doomed any other candidate. It’s not hard to find other examples–our good buddy Dennis Prager insists that Obama was only elected because he was “a charismatic black,” which is a verbatim phrase that does all the work so that I don’t have to. And one can think of plenty of others: Newt Gingrich’s dismissal of the 2008 campaign as a therapy session, say.

This is something to keep in mind the next time a pundit tries to sell you on Rand Paul will sweep the Obama coalition off of its feet. They continue to choose not to understand that Obama even had any appeal in 2008, let alone understand that appeal.

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