Ashley Feinberg

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Meghan McCain, the dimwitted daughter of American plutocracy, is outraged by a mean tweet from Ashley Feinberg, which will not shorten her father’s life by one second. Meanwhile, the unspeakably cruel tax bill the Senator just supported will literally abbreviate the lives of many citizens. The Republican National Committee is pressuring the Huffington Post to fire the journalist, even though the large majority of its members voted for Donald Trump even though he mocked McCain for being a POW and subsequently refused to apologize. A sign of a civilization suffering from moral rot is when actual marauders feel emboldened to scold critics for their manners.

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Of course, Trump and the band of robber barons that comprise today’s GOP didn’t get here alone. There’s been no more pernicious influence in modern America than the Murdoch family, which has poisoned the well with Fake News long before such a term even existed.

“There is a special place in hell for Roger Ailes and Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly,” Thomas E. Ricks recently said, “I think they introduced a feeling of thuggishness into American discourse. And ultimately, I blame that on Rupert Murdoch, who I think has done more to poison American political life than any single person since Jefferson Davis.” In the United States, that probably means we’ll soon erect statues to honor Rupert, James and Lachlan.

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There are likely only two paths forward, a cleansing or a collapse. Perhaps Robert Mueller and a woke #Resist movement will be able to dismantle the evil system built by traitors, grifters, bigots and crackpots, or maybe we’re ineluctably headed for decline, dotage and death. Those who attempt the former will be attacked vociferously by those leading us toward the latter.

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In a New Yorker piece about new developments in Swedish politics, Masha Gessen takes time to meditate on a more hopeful future for us all. Let’s hope. The opening:

Michael Wernstedt lives in the future, in the center of Stockholm. It is a “co-living space,” a former hotel now inhabited by fifty people who share five kitchens and a variety of common spaces on four floors; each tenant also has a bedroom with a private bathroom. All of it is breathtakingly well-designed and meticulously clean. While Wernstedt and I talked, sitting on one of several giant gray couches in one of the common spaces, about a dozen people of different genders and skin colors (though all roughly in their mid-thirties) shared a casual meal in another. During a recent house meeting, Wernstedt told me, someone asked those present to recall the happiest time of their lives—and they all said that they were happiest right now. Wernstedt’s vision for the future of Sweden, and democratic politics in general, resembles this house: it is happy, healthy, sustainable, and co-created.

Last week, the co-living space hosted a press conference, during which Wernstedt and two co-organizers announced the formation of a new political party, the Initiative. Few people in Sweden have heard of the new party yet, though its older sister, Denmark’s the Alternative, has assembled an impressive constituency in just four years. To register as a party in Stockholm, the Initiative had to collect fifty physical, pen-and-ink signatures; it will take another fifteen hundred to get on the national ballot. The Initiative plans to meet the national threshold by August, the deadline for next September’s parliamentary election. Getting into parliament would require winning at least four per cent of the vote. There are about three dozen nationwide political parties in Sweden, but only eight are represented in parliament. The youngest party to break the four-per-cent barrier is the Sweden Democrats, an ultranationalist, anti-immigrant party that was founded in 1988 and has been seated in parliament since 2010.

Wernstedt interprets the rise of the Sweden Democrats, like the election of Donald Trump in the United States, as an opportunity of sorts: “This is scary, but it shows that people want something new. And we have to take responsibility for democracy.” Better yet, Wernstedt wants to reinvent politics. The Initiative’s most important innovation is launching a party without a program but with two lists. One is a list of six values that the Party espouses: courage, openness, compassion, optimism, co-creation, and actionability. The other is a list of three crises that the Party must address: the crisis of faith in democracy, the environmental crisis, and the crisis of mental health. Last year, according to Wernstedt, Swedes missed more workdays for being mentally unwell than they did for being physically unwell; the leading cause of death among people under thirty-five is suicide. Starting next week, the Initiative plans to begin holding workshops around Sweden to develop a political program to address the three crises in ways consistent with the six values.•

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