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Jim Sleeper
Jim Sleeper lectures in political science at Yale and posts frequently at TPM. He has been a New York newspaper columnist and is the author of The Closest of Strangers and Liberal Racism. His website is

Entries by Jim Sleeper

Ukraine's Neo-con Champions Champion Mainly Themselves

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 12:14 PM

Leon Wieseltier's self-published remarks opening a conference of intellectuals that he and the historian Timothy Snyder have assembled in Kiev (the text is in The New Republic, where Wieseltier is literary editor) almost beg for Karl Marx's observation:

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and...
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A Foreign-Policy Problem No One Talks About

(1) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 4:53 PM

Cries for American military preparedness are growing louder and louder by the day, rising, circling, and echoing one another in a frenzy that even the awfulness of events in the Ukraine and many other places doesn't quite explain. The reason for the cries, according to New Republic literary editor Leon...

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A Strong Voice Democracy Is Lost

(1) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 12:27 PM

The writer Jonathan Schell died last night, of cancer, in his home in Brooklyn. Although I doubt he would have put it this way or even thought of himself this way, he was a luminous, noble, bearer of an American civic-republican tradition that's inherently cosmopolitan and embracing but...

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A Commentator Lost in Washington's House of Columns

(1) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 4:50 PM

"There is the question of how to respond practically to Putin's aggression and there is the question of how to respond intellectually," writes Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, in his most recent "Washington Diarist" column. "The latter is no less important than the former, because...

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Not So Fast, Fareed!

(0) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 1:39 PM

Like a computer's virtual rendering of himself as neo-liberal consciousness-shaper of the hour, Fareed Zakaria returned triumphally yesterday to his "Yale family," as his host at the Center for the Study of American Politics called it, and delivered a most excellent stump speech on the very important question, "Is the...

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David Brooks Explains More Than He Intended

(20) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 2:07 PM

Some Yale students who took David Brooks' faintly self-serving course on "Humility" last year are buzzing about his New York Times column today, which skewers a certain type of elite college student's ambition to become a "Thought Leader."

"The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing...

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Singapore Migrants Riot, Websites Chill, but Yale-in-Singapore Keeps Warm

(5) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 8:45 AM

Yesterday a South China Morning Post account of a riot by Indian and Bangladeshi migrant workers in Singapore noted that "Singapore is persisting with a four-year campaign to reduce its reliance on foreign workers, after years of open immigration policy led to voter discontent over increased competition for...

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In NYC's Election, a Learning Curve, Not a Pendulum Swing

(4) Comments | Posted November 3, 2013 | 8:08 PM

Last week The New Republic resurrected from its archives and re-showcased a 20-year-old cover story, "The End of the Rainbow?," first published on the eve of Rudy Giuliani's election as mayor of New York in November, 1993.

That story heralded a new, but now two-decade-old, era of...

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This Brave Congressman Taught Me How to Break News

(1) Comments | Posted October 25, 2013 | 8:51 AM

I first learned how to break news in 1982 thanks to Major R. Owens, a canny yet noble fighter for economic and social justice who served 12 terms in Congress and died this week.

My lesson came one Saturday morning in 1982, when Owens had just won...

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Who Really Runs American Universities? And Who Should?

(4) Comments | Posted October 3, 2013 | 12:49 PM


Derek Bok was named president of Harvard not once but twice: in 1971, after anti-Vietnam War protests of 1969 had left students' blood on his predecessor Nathan Pusey's hands and had shut down the university in 1970; and again in...

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At Yale College, the Sounds of Silence

(7) Comments | Posted September 6, 2013 | 2:19 PM

You can learn a lot about a college faculty and student body from their reactions to criticism, and I've learned plenty after publishing three short essays over Labor Day weekend, including one here, that criticized American colleges' extensive collaborations with authoritarian regimes abroad.

One of those...

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Hidden Truths About American Colleges Abroad

(6) Comments | Posted September 2, 2013 | 4:29 PM

Although you wouldn't know it from watching developments in Syria or Egypt, one of the biggest difficulties in reporting and commenting on authoritarian regimes these days is that many have terrific "democratic" window dressing, designed by western-educated consultants and apologists, some very slick, some sharp-tongued, who easily gull or cow...

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In Trayvon's Memory, Who Should We 'Profile' Now?

(26) Comments | Posted July 21, 2013 | 8:55 PM

Here are two American voices, one black, one white, reaching for one another without knowing one another:


My first victim was a woman -- white, well dressed, probably in her early twenties. I came upon her late one evening on a deserted street in...

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How Spitzer's Fall Showed He Deserves a Second Chance

(11) Comments | Posted July 9, 2013 | 5:50 PM

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's fall from office and public grace in 2008 was a tragedy in the strictest classical sense: The substance of his offenses paled before the shock of his stupidity and hypocrisy in committing them. You had to worry even more about his mentality than about his...

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The Rebirth of George Packer, The Unwinding of David Brooks

(6) Comments | Posted July 3, 2013 | 11:05 AM

Five years ago the journalist George Packer described "The Fall of Conservatism" in a New Yorker article that, I protested, gave us "only the voices of [conservatives] who make their livings making phrases that describe and influence the vast majority of Americans who don't make their...

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Don't Panic About the Voting Rights Ruling. Re-strategize.

(16) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 9:14 AM

Yes, the Supreme Court, in Shelby v. Holder, has gutted the Voting Rights Act's requirement that state and local jurisdictions with histories of racial discrimination obtain federal approval before they can alter an election-district line, move a polling place, or impose voter-registration requirements, such as photo I.D.'s.

(I applaud

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The Cost of David Brooks' Anglophilia and Thatchermania

(8) Comments | Posted April 9, 2013 | 2:46 PM

I can't let today's column by David Brooks on "The Vigorous Virtues" of Margaret Thatcher pass without giving him what he deserves.

I stopped writing about Brooks in 2008, when it had become clear, even somewhat to him, that the bloom was off the rose of his...

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How's Gun Control Workin' Out for Ya?

(16) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 5:40 PM

As Congress dithers and mayhem goads certain state legislatures into meaningful action, it has become quite clear that only a national reckoning as wrenching as the one that eventually ended legal segregation can drive reasonable and effective legal curbs on gun abuse.

Sometimes it really is best to look...

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What's Still Missing From the Gun Control Debate

(33) Comments | Posted February 7, 2013 | 8:57 AM

Behind the gun control debate lies a deeper one that we need to have. It would show that the danger to our freedom isn't coming from government censors and conspiracies but from marketing sensors that are bypassing our brains and hearts on the way to our gut instincts and wallets....

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Should Mayors Rule the World? Ed Koch Thought So and May Be Proved Right

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 8:18 AM

Shouting and waving his arms throughout the 1980s, New York Mayor Ed Koch tried to make his city accept a harsh teaching that seemed incontrovertible to savants of municipal finance and governance at the time but may not hold now.

As the writer and one-time New York City budget...

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