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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Civic Ignorance: The Evidence Keeps Accumulating

civic literacy - we the people

Periodically, I use this blog to indulge a rant about Americans’ lack of civic literacy. (Regular readers are probably getting tired of my preoccupation with civic education–or more accurately, the lack thereof.) Be warned– I’m going to beat that dead horse again today. A column written by Colbert King from the Washington Post has highlighted still another research project confirming Americans’ low levels […]

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Legally Speaking: Trump’s Sanctuary City Threats

sanctuary cities

Trump has issued a number of threats against so-called “sanctuary” cities and states, and his supporters (most of whom, ironically, would be considered “states’ rights” supporters) have declared such local designations illegal. So it was interesting to read a recent column by Ilya Somin, a conservative legal scholar, analyzing the relative constitutional rights involved. President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly promised […]

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Religious Wrong: The FHSAA Loudspeaker Controversy

FHSAA prayer

Imagine you and three friends rent a house together. You all pay your shares of the rent, maintenance, utilities and food costs. One of your roommates is vegan, and insists that no food can be purchased or brought into the house that does not meet strict vegan requirements. If you protest, saying that you are happy to keep your preferred […]

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