A puzzle on US politics

by John Quiggin on June 12, 2006

One of the striking features of US politics over the past fifteen years is the rise of partisan feeling. The blogosphere reflects this, and has helped to accelerate it. Whereas US political discussion used to be dominated by appeals to bipartisanship there now seems to be more party-specific rancour than, for example, in Australia.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of commentary about the absence of competitive races and the increasing advantage of incumbency.

These two trends seem inconsistent to me. Of course, with strong partisan loyalties you expect a fair number of safe seats for either party, but the discussion of incumbency is mostly about the strength of individual incumbents. And even with many safe seats, there ought also to be a large number of marginals.

Has anyone attempted to reconcile these conflicting trends?

One of my most-disliked cliches is the term Kafkaesque – most things that are described as being so really aren’t. But it’s hard not to think of _The Trial_ when reading “this”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/12/washington/12cnd-nsa.html?ex=1307764800&en=a9081b7ddf6e13a1&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss.

bq. A National Security Agency program that listens in on international communications involving people in the United States is both vital to national security and permitted by the Constitution, a government lawyer told a judge here today in the first major court argument on the program. But, the lawyer went on, addressing Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the Federal District Court, “the evidence we need to demonstrate to you that it lawful cannot be disclosed without that process itself causing grave harm to United States national security.” The only solution to this impasse, the lawyer, Anthony J. Coppolino, said, was for Judge Taylor to dismiss the lawsuit before her, an American Civil Liberties Union challenge to the eavesdropping program, under the state secrets privilege.

German Quagmire

by Kieran Healy on June 12, 2006

The U.S. “got schooled”:http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/sports/AP-SOC-WCup-World-Cup.html by the Czechs. The Times says that Dubya gave the team a call beforehand:

bq. Eager to prove they are among soccer’s elite after their surprising quarterfinal finish in South Korea four years ago, the Americans brought their most-talented team ever to this year’s tournament. They even got a pregame pep talk from President Bush, who called from Camp David before the game and wished them well.

Today’s result shows diplomatic good wishes won’t do it, so that leaves the other two standard policy tools for strategic foreign intervention. First choice would be a large foreign aid package. Seeing as Italy is the U.S.’s next opponent bribery stands a very good chance of working. Something to bail out “Juventus”:http://www.google.com/search?q=juventus+scandal, for instance. Failing that, it’s airstrikes on Turin.