By Fareed Zakaria
“Thanks to McCutcheon, only quid pro quo corruption is sufficient to trigger any restrictions on campaign contributions—meaning, direct bribery of the Abscam or American Hustle variety, presumably captured on videotape for the world to see. The appearance of corruption? Forget about it. Restrictions on elected officials soliciting big money? Forget about them, too,” writes Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic.
“To anyone who has actually been around the lawmaking process or the political process more generally, this is mind-boggling. It makes legal what has for generations been illegal or at least immoral. It returns lawmaking to the kind of favor-trading bazaar that was common in the Gilded Age.”
“On the surface, the speed with which Iraq’s new political order has fallen apart is a puzzle. Although bombings never stopped, there had been relative stability since the spring of 2008, when Maliki, emboldened by the successful U.S.-backed Sunni revolt against al Qaeda, known as the Awakening, set out to disband the Shiite militias endangering law and order in Basra and Baghdad,” argues Ned Parker in the New York Review of Books.
“The campaign, supported by the Americans, produced a surge of patriotism among both Shiites and Sunnis. By 2010, when the country was preparing to stage its second national elections for a four-year government, Iraq seemed poised to cast off its divisions. Maliki, running for reelection, had learned to present himself as both staunchly Shiite and a leader for all Iraqis. Resisting pressure from other Shiite religious parties and Iran, he ran his own list of candidates, including Sunni tribesmen and secular politicians…Yet Maliki and his Shiite Islamist supporters were unable to shed their deep mistrust of those they believed had fought them in the past. Rather than being integrated into the political system, several dozen leaders of the Awakening ended up dead or in jail, or forced into exile.”
“At first glance, it seems extraordinary that anyone in China would have trouble finding credit, given how much money is already sloshing around the country,” writes Keith Bradsher in the New York Times. “China’s broadly measured money supply passed that of the United States in August 2009, and it has been soaring ever since. China now has two-thirds more money than the United States, swirling through an economy that is a little over half the size of the United States.’”
“But after allowing the country’s money supply to swell sharply, the central bank has begun tapping the brakes on credit. Regulators have also begun to scrutinize more closely the activities of lending trusts, a semi-regulated sector of shadow banking that had been a fast-growing source of loans for small and medium businesses.”
“The visual vocabulary of Ronald Reagan seems far away. It’s hard to know what he would have made of firing guns into acts of Congress,” writes Evan Osnos in the New Yorker. “But, for all of the contemporary conservatives who idolize Reagan, many have parted company with his ambitions for America. When he talked about small government, he was not arguing for the illegitimacy of law. He was campaigning on a platform of inspiration, not destruction. He offered people a hymn, not a dirge. Thirty years later, the best his heirs can muster is the promise of mourning in America.”