United States
Politics in a New Key

Politics in a New Key

Politics in the United States is no more corrupt or crazy than anywhere else. Certainly there has been no shortage of scandals (from Teapot Dome to Watergate) and systemic corruption (Tammany Hall, Chicago up to and including the present day), but one needn’t be an avid student of history to find similar sorts of things in any the major industrialized states one cares to study. More»

Something in the Water

Something in the Water

Even amid the incessant coverage of the Republican and Democratic campaigns for President, the crisis surrounding the water supply in Flint, Michigan has stayed in the news. While the sheer it-should-not-happen-HERE horror is the primary reason, the story’s staying power also attests to the fact that so many people can use it as evidence of what is wrong with the American political landscape. More»

Religion of Paranoia

Religion of Paranoia

The object of most conspiratorial fantasies in America is the federal government. This is no coincidence. Ever since the New Deal, and the Civil Rights Movement, the executive has been the most prominent guarantor of democratic change. In growing federal power, racists, evangelicals, and the business class found a common enemy to unite against. More»

Silver Linings

Silver Linings

It wasn’t the best of times. And the news frequently made it feel like the worst. I spent all but a few days in a fog of exhaustion. I had little time for movies and even less for books. I attended fewer concerts than in any year since 1988. Even sporting events I always used to watch live were experienced through my DVR. But I’ll still remember 2015 fondly. More»

The Poor Rich

The Poor Rich

Liberalism has always retained its own authoritarian option, the right to defend itself, if necessary with violence, both against outside enemies and the enemy within. It has also always been tinged with fear of instability and paranoia. As soon as the strict boundaries protecting the “sphere of property” from government intrusion are understood to have been transgressed, property owners have become victims of oppression. More»

Fearful Fantasies

Fearful Fantasies

After the latest spate of mass shootings in the United States, I tried to engage NRA supporters in reasonable debate. But I struggled to comprehend their way of thinking about risk. Defending easy access to assault weapons, one of them argued that, “If I put one in front of you when your family is under attack by a mob, you wouldn’t blink an eye.” I wasn’t so sure. More»

Vigilante Liberalism

Vigilante Liberalism

If there’s there’s one thing about Donald Trump that everybody agrees on, it’s that he’s gone too far. After all, even taboo breaking has its limits. But to what end? A recent article in Jacobin contends that the billionaire made the jump from liberalism to fascism. It’s an interesting hypothesis, but oversimplifies the problem. More»

F-Word Revival

F-Word Revival

Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the word “fascism” has made periodic appearances in American political discourse. Critics of the Patriot Act invoked it as a way of warning against the dangers of prioritizing security over liberty. President George W. Bush later described the nation’s primary enemy in the War on Terror as “Islamic fascists”. And conservatives even labeled Barack Obama a fascist. More»

Christian Intelligence Agency

Christian Intelligence Agency

“[A]gency recruiters jump at the chance to snare a Mormon,” Newsweek claimed in a 1992 story about the CIA’s post-Cold War restructuring. “Young Mormons,” the report went on, “tend to have squeaky-clean backgrounds and, thanks to their work as Third World missionaries, they often have a skill the CIA desperately needs these days: knowledge of a foreign language.” More»

South of Heaven

South of Heaven

The old maxim, that “Knowledge is power,” is a true one, but there is still a greater truth: “KNOWLEDGE IS SAFETY.” Safety amid physical ills that beset mankind, and safety amid the moral pitfalls that surround so many young people, is the great crying demand of the age. More»

Segregation in Theory and Practice

Segregation in Theory and Practice

By 1948, black troops, for so long limited to a few job categories, could be found in a majority of military occupational fields. The officer corps was open to all without the restrictions of a racial quota, and while a quota for enlisted men still existed, all racial distinctions in standards of enlistment were gone. More»

Taking Trump Seriously

Taking Trump Seriously

In a few short months, Donald Trump has metamorphosed from a carnival sideshow in the American political circus into the headline act under its big top. With polls now showing this master showman, not only with a comfortable lead over his many Republican rivals, but also every leading Democrat, he is terrifying political insiders on both the Right and Left. More»