Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic tries to explain "How American Politics Went Insane" -- but diagnoses the problem mainly in reformers' efforts to make elections more accountable to the people! Nowhere does he analyze the distorting influence of corporate power in campaign financing, which would explain this "insanity" far better than would the gradual disappearance of smoke-filled rooms and Congressional staffers. And he sure goes a long way -- blaming democracy, reform, and transparency for all our current ills, even claiming we have a "crisis of followership" (among Congressfolk, he takes pains to say, but I think you get his drift) and suggesting hatred of politicians is a form of bigotry -- to avoid considering whether the problem is just that our leaders are utterly horrible. (Hate to pile on, but comparing the Working Families Party with the Tea Party, when only the latter has millions of dollars in corporate money backing it? That is to laugh.)
John Feffer at The Nation warns that "Donald Trump Isn't the Presidential Candidate We Should Be Worried About" -- that "the smarter, more capable neo-fascist politician who will rise in his wake" is the real worry. I appreciate the reminder that things could always get worse, and that the leader who would actually enact, say, a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. will speak a lot more softly and might even wear glasses. But yes, we should still worry about Donald Trump. Only two kinds of candidates have won Presidential elections since 1976 -- incumbents and candidates who could sell themselves as outsiders. Guess which one Donald Trump is. (I wish I could devote more space to Mr. Feffer's analysis of young/hip/urban "America A" and older/left behind "America B," which maps pretty well onto Thomas Frank's recent writings excoriating Democrat power-brokers as out-of-touch white-collar technocrats.)
Jeremy Corbyn refuses to resign as leader of Britain's Labour Party after a truly lopsided vote of no confidence among Labour MPs. Which doesn't convince me that Mr. Corbyn played possum in "not supporting the 'Remain' campaign vigorously enough," whatever that could mean (maybe they wanted him to tattoo "Remain" across his chest?), not does it convince me that he won't be just-like-all-the-others if he ever becomes Prime Minister. Mainly, it reminds me how far right the Labour party has lurched. They pretty much shot their center-right wad with Messrs. Blair and Brown; what techie-sounding-but-not-at-all-socialist economic ideas do they think would help them regain power from the Conservatives?
Not all the news is bad: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issues Executive Order aiming to reform certain property tax abatement processes in the state. Every time I hear that Philly schools don't have money, I say "maybe the city should stop handing out 10-year property tax abatements like candy, then!" Certainly handing out property-tax abatements to corporations that don't actually use them to create jobs is a horrible idea, if not an irredeemably corrupt one, and making municipalities and parishes actually pass resolutions approving such projects (which allows for the possibility of citizen involvement, and that's no small thing) is an improvement.
Finally, the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to put solar pavers on a stretch of Route 66 by year's end. I don't know how successful they'll be -- the Missouri Governor's office will likely change parties in November, and the Transportation Department plans to crowdfund their installation. In a sane and moral society, we'd be paying for something like this with our taxes, versus all the non-job-creating corporate welfare we wind up paying for with our taxes. Still, I wish Missouri the best in its efforts.