Clinton

Will Wilkinson objects to Democrats referring to Republican debt ceiling tactics as terrorism: The political tactics that seems to each of us most dangerous and irresponsible inevitably reflect deeper assumptions about the way economies and governments do and ought to work. Of course, not every set of assumptions about market and state are equally reasonable.

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On Wednesday morning the managing directors of Wall Street’s biggest bond rating agencies lined up in front of the House Financial oversight committee. To the administration and the Treasury, these men currently represent their worst nightmare. In the last two weeks, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch have all threatened to downgrade America’s triple-A debt rating, a move that would cost the government billions in raised interest rates and spark disastrous macroeconomic consequences for the country.

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One hardy perennial theme of American political commentary is "tension between the GOP's right-wing base and business elite." The story is almost always overblown. The interests of the conservative activists and the rich folks is often orthogonal (say, one wants to ban gay marriage, the other wants to cut the capital gains tax.) Sometimes there's an asymmetry of passion (activists care way more about impeaching Clinton, business elites care a lot more about a free trade deal.) But almost never do you see a straight, head-on collision between the two.

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Anti-abortion views first entered presidential politics in 1980, seven years after Roe v. Wade, when Ronald Reagan embraced a “family values” agenda to run against Jimmy Carter. They’ve been the stock-in-trade of Republican candidates ever since, and, this year, a pro-life group called the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List—more about them in a minute—has instituted an early gut-check, a “Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge.” All of the candidates, except Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Gary Johnson, have signed it.

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Every time somebody suggests there might be a big deficit deal, and every time I catch myself thinking it could happen, I return to one basic question: How does this pass the House of Representatives? I've never heard a remotely persuasive answer to this question. To understand the obstacles in place here, you need to return to the 1990 budget agreement. That was a deal between George Bush and Congress that ran along roughly similar lines to the agreement being floated in the press today: mostly spending cuts, with some tax hikes along with it.

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The Strongman

The Esenyurt District of Istanbul is classic new Turkey: pastel-colored office buildings with plastic-looking facades, rows of high-rise apartment buildings organized into little vertical gated communities, skeletons of shopping malls waiting to be filled with Mango and Starbucks. On a recent May afternoon, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made a campaign stop there. The people who gathered to meet him were both covered and loose-haired, lower-middle class and middle class, and they eagerly sandwiched their way through security checkpoints.

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Good Omens

Richmond, Virginia, may be the heart of the old confederacy. But it’s also the place where the federal government eventually indicted Jefferson Davis for treason. A plaque commemorating that event sits outside the entrance to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals—an omen for what transpired inside the courthouse on Tuesday, where three judges considered a pair of lawsuits from Virginians challenging an abuse of federal authority. The alleged abuse in this case is the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The other, more significant omen was the selection of the judges.

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There’s just so much press attention the Arab world can receive before even obsessives like me begin to tire of its frenzy, pitilessness, and perfidy. Yes, endless repetition of violence and violation can also seem routine. Which, to tell you God’s honest truth, they are. There is a great deal of exactitude behind this morbid fact. Still, the present upheavals in their cumulative impact are deadening. Not only to the victims of the regimes but to their observers, commentators, rapporteurs. Actually, many of these observers, perhaps most, are infatuated with the Arabs.

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One of the things Republicans seem to have forgotten, in the wake of the introduction and swift passage of their Dickensian budget crafted by Paul Ryan, is their unshakeable commitment to health care reform. Remember that? Throughout the health care debate, they were determined to rally around their own reform plan. And now the House has passed a long-term budget that yanks health insurance away from more than 40 million Americans and neglects to put anything in its place. Maybe it’s just an oversight, like the time in freshman year when I turned in a history paper with no bibliography.

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In October 2008, a month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers—with the United States’s financial system seemingly about to buckle and Washington in desperate need of cash to prevent a total economic collapse—a State Department official contacted his Chinese counterpart about China buying U.S. securities. To his surprise, the Chinese, who had previously displayed an insatiable appetite for U.S. Treasury bills, suddenly balked at lending a hand. The reason, the Chinese official said, was the recent announcement of an impending sale of U.S.

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