I have a new column over at Salon giving the reasons why the conventions are still worth having. The one I'm really pretty interested in is the notion of rituals and symbols of party and of democracy -- how few we have, and how we need them. There's a little academic work on that, but not much, as far as I know. Anyway, I'm fascinated by the difference between the actual place of parties in the US and the place of parties in US political culture.
Also, over at PP yesterday, I argued that Romney's birther joke was perhaps another result of the conservative closed information loop; when you're inside it, you don't realize what birthers look like to those outside of the loop. I've been hitting this them quite a lot lately, over the last week or two -- not sure whether that means that I'm unduly focused on it and see it everywhere whether it's there or not, or if it really does explain a lot of things.