George Packer

The wary silence surrounding Amazon has ended up forcing a small handful of voices to serve as mouthpieces for the industry at large.

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  -- George Packer’s New Yorker comment on the debt ceiling is pitch perfect. -- Paul Campos on Grover Norquist and the metaphysics of taxes. -- Marxist Socialist jokes. -- Shocker from Gallup: “Basic lack of money remains Americans' foremost financial concern” -- Why Newt Gingrich’s latest is the “most inaccurate, least intellectual book about our nation’s past” that Michael Kazin has ever read      

One frustrating problem with the dysfunction of the Senate is that Senate institutionalists have no capacity to grasp the structural forces causing the current mess. Here is a perfect example. David Broder, the voice of institutional Washington, reads George Packer's long article on Senate dysfunction and comments: Packer does as good a job as I have ever read of tracing the forces that have brought the Senate to its low estate.

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Hold History

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist.

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In George Packer's excellent New Yorker piece about the Senate's dysfunction, Lamar Alexander is quoted at the end offering a rebuttal: None of the Republicans I spoke to agreed with the contention that the Senate is “broken.” Alexander claimed that he and other Republicans were exercising the moderating, thoughtful influence on legislation that the founders wanted in the Senate. “The Senate wasn’t created to be efficient,” he argued.

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--Noam Scheiber on Rahm Emanuel --George Packer on Mitch Daniels' shameful Iraq history --Conor Friedersdorf fillets Victor Davis Hanson --Peter Beinart on the peril posed by Charles Rangel --Isaac Chotiner on memories of Fleet Street

I'm A Packer Backer

George Packer has taken some heat for mourning the way new media have crowded out time for books: Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic’s very good politics blogger, was asked by Michael Kinsley to describe his typical day of information consumption, otherwise known as reading. Ambinder’s day begins and ends with Twitter, and there’s plenty of Twitter in between. No mention of books, except as vacation material via the Kindle.

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--George Packer on Mark Danner --Timothy Garton Ash on 1989 --Whitney Carpenter gives us "A Fiction Reader's Guide to Social Interaction" --Jennifer Burns on Ayn Rand fans in India --And, on a lighter note, The Onion on a new Mayan calendar revelation

Ohio

George Packer has a lengthy piece in this week's New Yorker on Ohio's "disaffected" working class voters. Packer is such a good reporter, and has so many good anecdotes, that the article is much more engaging than one would expect. (It's much better than Peter Boyer's extremely dull story--from only a week ago(!)--that was about Virginia but covered very, very similar ground). What interested me about Packer's reporting is that it leaves the reader with no "appropriate" response.

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The New Yorker's George Packer says Obama will have to retool his Iraq-withdrawal position to reflect improved conditions on the ground. Republicans are gleefully mailing this around today, apparently in anticipation of another Obama "flip-flop." But speaking in pure political terms for a moment, maybe this is a blessing for Obama.

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