For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.
. . . Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.
But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin's views also fit neatly with the Kremlin's narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s.-- IMPOLITICThe constant harping on the need for "experience" in politics, by which proponents seem to mean years and years and years on a vertical ascent, moving from dogcatcher to city council to county commissioner to state legislator to -- you get the picture -- has always irritated me, especially this year. Barack Obama brought to the Presidential race a terrific education and luminous intellect, a gift for clear and inspiring expression and a remarkable diversity of experience, encompassing community organizing, teaching at a prestigious law school and brief stints in the state legislature and US Senate. Yet because he hadn't served 20 years moving steadily up the ladder, he was routinely mocked and dismissed as "inexperienced," "unqualified" and "not ready" for the White House.
. . . Caroline Kennedy is a lot like Barack Obama -- she was educated at two of the world's top universities, she has written two excellent books, she has spearheaded a fund-raising campaign to improve public education in her city. What she doesn't know about the nuts and bolts of the process, her staff of legislative professionals will be able to teach her. She's eminently capable of representing New Yorkers and offers a real-world example of what lots of aspiring legislators like to proclaim about themselves: she's not a career politician!
Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do.-- ROB STEINFor some reason, publishers have not been bidding up any proposals for Bush nostalgia, even those of the relatively popular First Lady.
"One question that seems to be weighing on prospective editors," the New Yorker reports, "is whether a book by Mrs. Bush will provide a candid account of her feelings, and perhaps counter the popular view of her as an opinion-free robot."
Candid? What world are these publishing people living in? White House memoirs deal in self-justification, rewriting history and sometimes revenge (pace Nancy Reagan), but candor is never on the menu.-- ROBERT STEINI am all for conservatives coming over from the dark side. But the leadership of the movement that turned our politics into a cesspool simply can't be taken seriously as arbiters of proper civility now that they are out of fashion. It "demeans" the whole idea.-- DIGBYAs Republicans debate the future of the party, it’s worth noting that some in the party are already trying to rewrite the past. . . . For years, Republicans have had selective retention with regard to what Reagan espoused. They have embraced the small-government aspect of his philosophy at the expense of the smart-government part. And for years, they have gotten by with a message that promised tax relief and little else. But after the mismanagement of Iraq, the ineptitude of the Katrina response and the failures at Walter Reed, the chickens have come home to roost.-- LOUIS ZIKARUnions do not change economic growth, or at least there's little convincing evidence that they do. The countries with the world's highest growth rates -- the Nordic economies -- also have some of the world's highest rates of unionization. Denmark, Sweden, and Finland all approach 80 percent. Rather, unions change the distribution of economic growth. They direct more of it to the middle class and less of it to the executive class. The past few years have been an economy driven by the executive class. The question is whether that's what we want the next expansion to look like, also.
-- EZRA KLEIN