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. While they... Continue Reading →


Seizing Assets of The Accused Becomes Even Bigger Business Under Trump

Local, state and federal agencies seizing the assets -- money or property -- of individuals accused but not convicted of crimes has become big business -- from $93.7 million in revenue in 1986 to $4.5 billion in 2014 -- and the Trump administration wants to make it even bigger business. He wants to seize the... Continue Reading →

Crazies of the Left and Right Threaten Freedom

A long-time tactic of extremists and terrorists is to put mainstream "moderates" in a constant state of reaction, to essentially eliminate the middle by forcing people to choose between left-wing anarchists (or socialists and communists) engaging in violence to challenge what they perceive as an anti-democratic regime and right-wing fascists engaging in violence to defend... Continue Reading →

Traits of Fascism. Is You-Know-Who A Fascist?

"As a political ideology, fascism has eight main traits. As a political movement, it has three more," writes historian John McNeill, a professor of history at Georgetown University.  Then he grades Donald Trump on each characteristic: Hyper-nationalism.  Militarism. Glorification of violence and readiness to use it in politics. Fetishization of youth. Fetishization of masculinity. Leader... Continue Reading →

Danger of Administrative Despotism

The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville warned in his book, Democracy in America, written in the 1830s, of the dangers of “administrative despotism.” The overbearing state “would degrade men rather than torment them,” keep them in “perpetual childhood” because it “hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end [the] nation is no more... Continue Reading →

Trump’s Threat to Democratic Ideals

I teach my Middle Eastern students about the ancient Greeks, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and their concepts that humans are capable of great reason, and capable of managing their own collective affairs. I talk about the concept of citizenship, that in ancient Athens, citizens gathered to reason together, to consider the common good and to... Continue Reading →

‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’

Political Scientist Richard Hofstadter wrote a famous essay for Harpers Magazine in 1964 called "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" that surely resonates in 2016. This year, we hear candidates scapegoating immigrants and foreigners (especially Mexicans, Chinese, Indians) for low wages of "real Americans"; greedy business owners for moving their businesses overseas; Muslims and/or the... Continue Reading →

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