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    Progress and the Pendulum

    I'm watching the snow through an airport window, thinking about the posts I've meant to get to in the last hectic week or so, and about the things I have to do and the places I have to fly over the next ten days. But for today, it'll have to be a short one, and mostly a metaphor.

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    Why Obama Won the Nobel, Part II

    When Obama's Nobel Prize was first announced, I tried to explain why the Nobel Committee might have chosen him. Today, as he accepts the Prize, seems like a good time to finish that attempted explanation. But first, two quick things I need to say to frame the discussion.

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    Having an FDR Christmas

    Exactly three weeks before Christmas, my bank failed.

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    Mister Hope Is Secretly Mister Reliable

    The day before President Obama announced his Afghanistan strategy, Politico published John F. Harris's very important and newsy thumbsucker about the peril that "anti-Obama storylines" pose to Obama's Presidency. The first sentence of the article is, no kidding, "Presidential politics is about storytelling."

    Storytelling. Huh. And here I thought it was about the economy and the two wars.

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    Patrick Kennedy's Orders from the Vatican and the Abuse Scandal

    The Bishop of Rhode Island has told Congressman Patrick Kennedy not to take Communion at Mass any more. They are now publicly feuding about whether or not the bishop ordered his priests not to give it to him.

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    Palin Mania and the Triumph of Narrowcasting

    Sarah Palin may be very unpopular by any traditional polling standard. However, pundits are eager to explain that the important thing isn't how many people like her, but rather the intensity of her followers' enthusiasm for her. Sure, she may poll like Herbert Hoover in 1932, but the thirty-to-forty percent of the country that approves of her includes a hard core of fanatical support. That intensity, we are repeatedly assured, will give her political power, no matter how many people oppose her.

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    Palin's Window of Opportunity

    So, the rollout of Sarah Palin's book has led to a flurry of speculation about whether she will someday run for President. That conversation, in itself, is evidence of how little the American political media listens to what it's saying.

    Palin is an unpopular politician who badly botched her Vice-Presidential run. But on the other hand, she badly botched her Vice-Presidential run and is unpopular. She will never make a serious run for the White House, because she can't.

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    Joe Lieberman as Fredo Corleone

    Joe Lieberman has spent a lot of time over the past few weeks making a spectacle of his disloyalty to the Democratic Party. He's gone out of his way to announce that he'll filibuster against the public option, preventing the majority that gives him his committee chairmanship from bringing their most important legislation to a vote. Then, as if it weren't already clear, Lieberman wanted make sure everyone knew he'd be stumping for some Republicans in 2010. Just in case, you know, anyone mistakenly thought he was loyal to the caucus that gives him his power in the Senate.

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    Sports Are Serious

    So last Sunday I was thinking: could Chris Berman be a political talking head in this country? And would he be any worse than the natterers on cable news, or the morning shows? I mean, Berman is clearly a silly and shallow blowhard, but that never stopped Tim Russert.

    My suspicion, fully borne out this week by l'affaire Limbaugh, is that sports are treated far more seriously in this country than politics are, especially by our media. That a comment on the state of our political press and on our national priorities.

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    Why Obama Won the Nobel, Part I

    So, have you heard about President Obama winning the Nobel Prize? If you'd suggested this to me yesterday, I wouldn't have believed it, let alone been able to put forth an argument for it, so I won't pretend it made intuitive sense when I woke up this morning.

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    "Especially for the Women": The Scarlet Letterman

    Near the end of his televised confession Thursday night, David Letterman admitted that the details of his affairs with staffers might be embarrassing, "especially for the women."

    That line was a lot of things: a self-deprecating joke, an appeal for privacy, an attempt to position himself as the defender of his former employees and girlfriends. Perhaps it was a disingenuous piece of rhetoric; perhaps it was a sincere moment of protectiveness; it could very easily be both. But whatever else it was, it was the truth.

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    Not About Polanski

    In 1977, a publicly-admired man committed a violent crime against a woman, and the actual events are not in dispute. Between his arrest and his sentencing, the man fled the United States and settled in France. Decades later, the French strenuously resisted extraditing him to the States.

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    Libertarians and Immigration

    A question that's been eating at me for a while:

    Why do libertarians object to illegal immigrants?

    Perhaps there are libertarians who do not, who extend their principles to encompass newcomers and their liberty to live and work where they please, without government interference. But my experience of libertarian pundits and of my own libertarian friends is that generally, they do not. The most anti-big-government libertarian of my friends also takes it as a given that illegal immigrants are a social ill.

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    Wooden Cities

    A quick (and true) parable from history: in 1189, Richard the Lion-Hearted decided that no Jews would be allowed at his coronation ceremony. When some leading London Jews showed up at the door, they were turned away, and when the gathered crowd saw this they concluded that the new King was solidly anti-Semitic and that the best way to celebrate would be to murder as many Jews as possible. Mobs killed almost sixty people and set the city's Jewish ghetto, the Jewry, on fire.

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    McArdle's Crusade

    Megan McArdle finds it funny that Nancy Pelosi is worried about political violence. I'm not sure which element tickles McArdle's funny bone. Maybe it's Pelosi's request that public officials speak responsibly. Maybe it's Pelosi's embarrassing and uncool emotional sincerity. Perhaps it's that Pelosi is soooo amazingly old that she actually remembers the Mayor of San Francisco's thigh-slappingly funny murder.

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    Falling Behind the "Socialists"

    Many thanks to the dagblog gang for inviting me to guest-blog here. I'm excited to join the dagblog membership, and hope to make a useful contribution if I can. Anyway, without further ado, here's my first shot:

     

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