Pendleton Act: Too Many Assaults, Too Little Time

It isn’t possible to keep up with this administration’s assaults on American government (not to mention decency, healthcare, the poor…). A regular reader sent me a link to an article that highlighted an overlooked passage from Trump’s State of the Union speech. Standing in front of a divided Congress, with possible obstruction charges looming over him and facing governance struggles […]

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Random Thoughts & Observations On Government Shutdown

government shutdown

Partisans are playing the blame game–pointing fingers and accusing the “other guy” of being responsible for the government’s inability to function. It seems fairly obvious to me that those in charge–those in power– are most culpable; with the GOP dominating all three branches of Government, trying to lay the blame at the doorstep of the emasculated Dems reminds me of […]

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When Evidence Isn’t Reliable

police use of force data
GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK/GRYNOLD

How do we know what we know? Who can we trust? It’s bad enough that an American President constantly attacks reputable sources of information; when Trump asserts that reports unflattering to him are “fake news,” those assertions join–and bolster– widely-held doubts about the reliability of contemporary media. Those doubts are understandable; it is increasingly difficult to separate out the conspiracy-theory […]

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Tyranny Of The Minority

Tyranny Of The Minority

A recent op-ed in the Washington Post revisited what has become an interminable discussion: why, when poll after poll shows a majority of Americans in favor of stricter gun laws, has Congress not responded? When it comes to guns, why are our Representatives so unrepresentative? The authors–E.J. Dionne, Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann— acknowledge the outsized influence of the NRA, but then […]

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Amateur Government: Why Experience Matters

Trump is running an impotent Republican government

Voters seem to love it when candidates for public office proclaim “I’m not a politician.” I always wonder if those voters take their car repairs to businesses proclaiming “We’re not mechanics!” or get their cavities filled by “dentists” who never went to dental school. Probably not; evidently, however, there is a widespread belief that anyone can “do” governing. Hey, America! […]

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What We Don’t Know: The Consequences of Civic Ignorance

civic literacy

When I give presentations like the one I recently posted, addressing deficits in civic literacy and the extent of American ignorance of our constitutional system, I often include a statistic from a 2011 survey: only 36% of Americans can name the three branches of government. Audiences tend to gasp. Only 36%! How awful! Well, the Annenberg Public Policy Center has just released the […]

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The Real “Deep State”

The conspiracy theorists who surround Trump (a/k/a the conspiracy theorist-in-chief) have issued dark warnings about the so-called “deep state.” In this telling, there is a shadowy cabal of agency or military officials who secretly conspire to influence government policy and usurp the authority of democratically elected officials. Prior to Trump’s “democratic election,” the term was generally used to describe the […]

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The City And The Constitution

civic literacy

I was asked to speak to participants in the local OASIS program about the interaction of the Constitution with municipal government, and about my experiences during the Hudnut administration. I decided to share it, both as a needed vacation from Trumpism and as a reminder that there used to be decent politicians in both parties… When constitutional issues arise, most […]

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Reality Bites: Government Cannot Be Run Like A Business

It’s really a shame that American policymakers are so allergic to evidence, because we have recently had a couple of natural experiments testing the GOP’s most fervent economic ideologies, and we could learn a lot from both of them. Most people who follow the news are aware of Sam Brownback’s effort to make Kansas a shining example of economic growth to be […]

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