April 17th, 2014
06:12 PM ET

What we're reading: U.S. reverting to the Gilded Age?

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.”


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soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Allan Kinsman

    The root of all civilization is integrity. When integrity is lost the trappings of what looks like a civilization soon follows. The underlying idea of creating a democracy within an Iraqi society was as far fetched as we had in Vietnam of haulting communism. America was a new approach on at least the illusion which every individual had merit. Corruption of power is a very old story and the tribal loyalities in such a place as Iraq seem far distant from an understanding of the meanings of an individual. America now suffers from our own problems of money, politics and a structure in perilous need of a perspective to dig ourselves out of a deeply muddy playing field devoid of level ground.

    April 17, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
  2. Zandie

    So true.

    April 18, 2014 at 11:20 am |
  3. stuart

    No integrity = no civilization.
    Courts allow violent criminals out of jail = no integrity
    Corruption of government = no integrity.
    Popular vote disregarded = no integrity.

    April 18, 2014 at 11:26 am |
  4. chrissy

    Speaking of no integrity....lol. How much integrity does it take to be a derp=none!

    April 18, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
  5. bobcat2u

    An investment counselor went out on her own. She was shrewd and diligent, so business kept coming in. Pretty soon she realized she needed an in-house counsel, and so she began interviewing young lawyers."As I'm sure you can understand," she started off with one of the first applicants, "in a business like this, our personal integrity must be beyond question." She leaned forward and continued, "Mr. Peterson, are you an honest lawyer?""Honest?" replied the job prospect. "Let me tell you something about honest. Why, I'm so honest that my father lent me fifteen thousand dollars for my education and I paid back every penny the minute I tried my very first case.""Impressive. And what sort of case was that?"The lawyer squirmed in his seat and admitted, "He sued me for the money."

    April 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
  6. GOP Prayer

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      They pray for their prey to be subservient to their wishes. But they must pray, for the prey that they prey upon don't give them a prayer of hope.

      And by the way, Amen.

      April 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
  7. test1


    April 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
  8. chrissy

    About time @ bobcat! Lol ive been missing your jokes. And FYI you have a new partner in the funny bussiness lol. Once you read through the blogs you will soon discover who lmao!

    April 18, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      You must be speaking of RZ. He/ she is pretty funny. I love the off the wall stuff he/she writes.

      April 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
  9. chrissy

    Yup HE is exactly the one im talking about and i do too! If you have time read the jeruselem thread!

    April 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
  10. chrissy

    My bad it is the thread after that one. And my apology also for mispelling Jerusalem as well.

    April 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
  11. stuart

    I accept your apology to me, chrissy, for your "derp" remark.
    This is not the "This just in blog,"so please try to behave yourself. No trolling.
    thank you.

    April 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
  12. rupert

    Seems to me that the Sunnis and the other guys are like the Hatfields and McCoys.
    oh, hi Stuart and chrissy.

    April 18, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
  13. chrissy

    Lol trying to deflect your bad behavior onto me @ stuart? Too bad the gig is up and you have been found out already. You could redeem yourself though by behaving on this blog!

    April 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
  14. chrissy

    Oh and also @ stuart, i have nothing to apologise to you for. Reread my post...i didnt CALL you a derp. Lol guilty conscience perhaps??

    April 18, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
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