Why does a great nation choose its leaders so foolishly?

What has gone wrong with the American Republic?  Why do we choose our Presidents in such a bizarre fashion, often electing people with a combination of inexperience and personality disorders?  Results unlike those of any other major nation.  It’s a broader problem, with our inability to reform our health care system another prime example.

This book review chronicles in painful detail the some of the madness that was the 2008 Presidential election.  Another fine article from the London Review of Books, which I strongly recommend.

Enabler’s Revenge

David Runciman, London Review of Books, 25 March 2010 — Subscription only.  Reviews of the following:

The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down by Andrew Young, 301 pages

Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, 448 pages

It contains an unrelated vignette about an important aspect of life in America, where many people become almost indentured servants of their employers by their inability to get healthcare elsewhere.  Why does Andrew Young remain with Edwards rapidly rotting campaign?

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The media – a broken component of America’s machinery to observe and understand the world

Summary:  This post examines our broken mainstream media, a vital component of America’s observation-orientation-decision-action loop (the OODA loop).  Mark Steyn provides a a current illustration; Lewis Lapham shows that this results from a long period of decay.  At the end are links to other articles on this subject.

The apparatus by which America sees the world, the news feeds of the mainstream media, are broken.  Both its business model and its ability to function (in terms of meeting our needs).  These problems re-enforce one another.

A note about solutions

We can adapt to these, but it takes work.  Via the Internet one can access foreign news, such as the excellent range of British papers and English-editions of foreign press (e.g., Der Spiegel).  Most important, using the Internetone can read the works of those withdifferent opinions.   Or your can rely on comfortable sources, where seldom you’ll hear a disturbing word.  I suggest that the former will work better for you than the latter.

Or you can just read Fred Reed.  Such as his latest analysis of the current big news of the world:  “The Whole World Sucks, and Everybody Thinks its Gravity“.


(1)  Monday, the President ate a burger“, Mark Steyn, op-ed in Maclean’s, 21 May 2009 — “Maybe if they’d covered the love child instead of a fast food foray, papers wouldn’t be dying.”  I recommend reading it in full.  Excerpt:

John Edwards’ adultery was back in the news last week. Well, okay, “back” is probably not le mot juste, given that the former presidential candidate’s mistress cum campaign videographer wasn’t exactly front-page news even in the days when he was coming a strong second in the Iowa caucuses or being tipped as a possible vice-presidential nominee. Every editor knew the “rumours” (i.e., plausible scenario with mountains of circumstantial evidence), but, unlike, say, Sarah Palin’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s mother’s drug bust, this wasn’t one of those stories you need to drop everything for.

Only when the hard-working lads at the National Enquirer doorstepped Senator Edwards in the basement stairwell of the Beverly Hilton after a post-midnight visit to his newborn love child and forced him to take cover in the men’s room did the Los Angeles Times swing into action. Alas, it was to instruct its writers to make no comment on a story happening right under their own sniffy noses.

… The one-term southern senator was running on biography — son of a mill worker, happily married, stood devotedly by his wife during her cancer — and, although the press were aware the biography was false, they decided their readers didn’t need to know that. It’s not an Edwards scandal, it’s a media scandal.

… Edwards is history now, and Obama is President. And the other day he and Joe Biden visited a hamburger restaurant. In the Clinton years, the 8 a.m. news bulletin on National Public Radio would invariably begin: “The President travels today to [insert state here] to unveil his proposals on [insert issue here].”  If you’ve read A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Courtby Mark Twain, you’ll recall that Hank Morgan, the eponymous time-travelling New Englander, was much taken by the Court Circular published each week in Camelot:

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