A fun, feisty, and philosophical dialogue among two leading independents as they reviewed the week's top political news.

ARCHIVES: 2006 ‐ 2010

For years, Fred Newman and Jacqueline Salit ‐‐ two leading activists and intellectuals within the independent political movement ‐‐ watched the political talk shows and discussed them over coffee. In early 2005, they began transcribing these conversations and distributing them to their friends and followers. Over the years, their "talk about the talk" developed into a popular weekly missive distributed via e‐mail to tens of thousands of readers worldwide. Making ﴾Non﴿ Sense of an Irrational World is a compilation of some of their most popular and thought provoking discussions from the last five years.

Broken Government / Unscientific Psychology.

(Feb. 21, 2010) There was something strangely similar for me about the political discussions that we watched on Hardball, Morning Joe and CNN’s Campbell Brown and the PBS NewsHour discussion about mental illness and the DSM-V. DSM stands for the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, the diagnostic guide of the American Psychiatric Association. DSM-V is the proposed update of DSM-IV. I’m trying to think how to characterize the similarity. One word comes to mind…

The Ross Perot/Ron Paul Solution.

Jan. 31, 2010) The Charlie Rose panel with John Podesta, Chrystia Freeland, David Brooks, Al Hunt and Jim Fallows discussed the State of the Union late into the night. Charlie was in London. It was 4:00 a.m. there while he was doing the show. And it was an interesting discussion. It focused on two interconnected issues. (1)The contradictory nature of the problems that have to be fixed on the economic side and (2)the inability of our government, as it’s currently – not just operating, but designed – to meet that challenge.

America’s Angry. But Does that Bring Change?

(Jan. 24, 2010) In the Charlie Rose discussion about rebuilding Haiti, Pamela Cox from the World Bank said a number of things that I thought had a subtext. Though it was contained in a “forward looking” perspective – how the World Bank and other key financial institutions are mobilizing to help Haiti – the subtext was “I don’t know if we can do anything about this.” She talked about how the world community mobilizes, money comes pouring in, aid comes pouring in, and then she says, ‘But you have to ask: six months down the line, where is the sustained interest? We’ve been here before. There have been crises in Haiti before. The world community has responded before.’ She calls Haiti a “fragile state.” She says, ‘The question is: how do we pay for development? How do we cover the cost of development for Haiti if we constantly have to go back in to rebuild because, essentially, the infrastructure keeps collapsing for one reason or another?’ She and the World Bank don’t want to say We can’t get anywhere in Haiti. But I thought that was what she was saying.

The Goldman Sachs.

(Jan. 17, 2010) There were two things that struck me in the interview that Charlie Rose did with Morgan Freeman, who plays Nelson Mandela in the movie. One was that Morgan Freeman talked about how, as an actor playing a living person, you can find the inner energy of that person. And he spent a fair amount of time with Mandela over the years getting to know him and discovering his “pulse” or his temperament. Freeman and Rose seemed to agree that Mandela’s contained, even quiet temperament, in addition to his political skills, enabled him to handle a very complicated and dangerous situation when Apartheid was dismantled and he became president of South Africa. The other thing that I found interesting, and this is what the movie is about, is how the World Cup was a turning point in post-Apartheid South Africa.

The Independent Paralysis.

(Jan. 10, 2010) They say Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader, had a bad week. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is not going to run for re-election. Harold Ford might challenge Kirsten Gillibrand in New York. Other Senate Democrats are retiring. The early January talk about 2010 is that the Democrats, who’ve had a 60 vote, filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate, are going to lose that. They won’t lose majority control, but they’ll lose practical control. Now the pundits are asking what happened.

C’est La Vie.

(Dec. 6, 2009) Barack Obama is conflicted about Afghanistan and his Afghanistan policy. Many commentators said they saw that conflict in his West Point speech, and that in expressing that, he brought himself into line with where the American people are at on Afghanistan, which is conflicted. On the other hand, some said that this is contrary to what the history, tradition, and culture of America going to war or expanding war is supposed to be like, namely that you can’t be.

So, You Think You Can Dance! Conversations on Bill T. Jones, Tom Friedman, Dancing and Thinking.

(Nov. 29, 2009) Art and politics, political theater. We watched a Lehrer Newshour piece on the dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones and some of the history of his work and his company.

What the Outsiders See.

(Nov. 15, 2009) We watched Charlie Rose interview ... the whiz kids. Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, who wrote “Freakonomics” and “SuperFreakonomics,” and Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point,” “Outliers” and “Blink.” His latest book is called “What The Dog Saw.” All three are cultural commentators who are exploring aspects of the ways that we see and understand different phenomena. They’re trying to go up against some conventional wisdom.

Independents, Organized.

(Nov. 8, 2009)
Independents are the talk of the town. So, let’s talk about how independents are being talked about. The analysis of the vote on Tuesday is that the Democratic Party lost the independent vote.