400 Years of American Politics, Starting at Plymouth

If politics begins with conflict -- the jockeying for power among factions for resources, land, cultural dominance, social control, and governmental policies -- one might say that American politics began in the early 1600s, with the first encounter between English settlers and Native Americans. That's when the American Indian Wars began sporadically. In origin-of-America mythology,... Continue Reading →

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Deficit Hawks Abandon Principle

It's sadly hilarious to witness the blatant hypocrisy of self-described "fiscal conservatives" who railed against budget deficits during the Obama administration as if he was going to bring about financial Armageddon, who now brag about slashing taxes and support Donald Trump's plan to blow a $7 trillion dollar hole in the nation's budget. The Trump... Continue Reading →

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Americans Must Learn to Argue Better, Serve Together

Bringing together members of Red and Blue (political) tribes for face-to-face conversations, often over a meal, is one way to repair America's social fabric and pull people out of social media echo chambers. That's the mission of Better Angels, a non-profit. With the rising climate of contempt in America, bridge-building and reconciliation activities seem increasingly necessary. David Brooks, NYT... Continue Reading →

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Tracking Policy Reversals by Conservatives and Liberals

What I can't stand about current political coverage is that it lacks perspective. Hysterical reactions to the 24-hour news cycle and sound bites, self-serving statements applied without principle or consistency, almost tribal reactions against "the other" party, ideology or interest group, too little actual listening to people we disagree with, obsessive attention to inaccurate polls that... Continue Reading →

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Both Conservatism & Liberalism Have Logical Flaws

"American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia" attempts to trace the intellectual history of American conservatism. Larry Arnhart in five articles contended that Darwinian science supports conservative social thought, but as he concedes, the far more dominant view among conservatives is to scorn science (hence, the deep skepticism among conservatives toward global warming). Peter Augustine Lawler wrote that American... Continue Reading →

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Patterns of Political History: Every Action Creates Reaction

Politics is like physics, in that waves or movements spark equal and opposite counter-movements. Or as the philosopher Hagel observed of history, ideas or thesis spark antithesis and eventually synthesis. Revolutions create counter-revolutions and, in democratic societies, evolution. 1. The Obama "Revolution" of 2008-10 created the Tea Party and Trump Counter-revolutions of 2010-16. 2. In... Continue Reading →

7 Logical Fallacies in Online Debates

Logical fallacies -- common errors in reasoning such as straw-man arguments, ad hominem attacks, post hoc (false causation), false choices between extremes, whataboutism -- are rampant in political debates on social media. Two more logical fallacies I've noticed: Gish Gallop -- "(also known as proof by verbosity) is the fallacious debate tactic of drowning your opponent in a flood of individually-weak... Continue Reading →

Time to Repudiate ‘Dear Leader’

Trump's election may be seen as better in the long run for our country than Clinton's if we survive his presidency. He has ignited or strengthened grassroots movements to reduce gun violence, to reduce discrimination, harassment and abuse of women ("me too") and minorities suffering from police brutality. We have seen the end of the moves... Continue Reading →

Cracks in the Wall of Trumpism

Former CIA Director John Brennan says Russia may have compromising information on Trump. “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” Mr. Brennan wrote on Twitter. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) threatens Donald Trump with impeachment and sounds... Continue Reading →

John Adams Put Principles Above Politics

John Adams, as portrayed in the David McCullough biography and seven-part HBO miniseries, was often a blunt-spoken man who placed principle above political expediency. His loyalty was to "a government of laws and not of men," to facts not the wishful thinking of a partisan mob. "Facts are stubborn things," Adams said in 1774 after... Continue Reading →

Aristocracy Vs. Democracy in the US

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” -- Legendary US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (Supreme Court justice from 1916-1939). "Until we address this issue of concentrated economic power – be it in the hands of oil barons or tech... Continue Reading →

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