America: Democracy in Reverse


Whenever this many rich people celebrate together, be wary.

America is sometimes characterized in its most exultant propaganda as the shining city upon a hill, history’s greatest experiment in self-governance. In the wee hours of December 2, though, it failed to live up to that marvelous hype. What happened in the United States Senate that day was a travesty that can accurately be described as democracy in reverse. An unpopular group of lawmakers passed an extremely unpopular bill, which will eventually be signed into law by an extremely unpopular president for the benefit of a small number of citizens. Continue reading

America is about to not have a government


An empty House of Representatives photographed during a recess.

When Donald Trump takes office in January, real estate and entertainment will occupy the White House, Big Oil will occupy the State Department, Wall Street will occupy the Department of Treasury, fast food will run the Labor Department, and privatizers will be entrusted with public education and criminal justice. In addition, Congress and a substantial majority of statehouses will be controlled by a party whose defining philosophy is the elimination of public institutions. For all intents and purposes, America is about to not have a government – certainly not one recognizable as democratic. Continue reading

How the media makes reality – and may make Donald Trump president


This may one day be a painted portrait in the White House.

It’s been said that the far right is reaping what it sowed with Donald Trump. For eight years their cabal of media and politicians unrelentingly attacked President Obama for everything from inviting rappers to the White House to purposefully destroying America. They fomented racial hostilities and deep paranoia to create the atmosphere in which Trump now thrives. But if Trump actually becomes president it will be the mainstream media’s reckless pursuit of ratings that puts him there. Continue reading

If Democrats want to win the White House they best nominate Bernie Sanders


Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, is zeroing in on the “inevitable” Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders is surging. In the first primary in Iowa, he came from far behind to virtually tie with Hillary Clinton. In New Hampshire he beat her in a 22-point landslide. He’s been getting more exposure than ever. Yet Sanders’s prospects for the Democratic nomination remain in heavy doubt. And with that, so too are dimming the Democrats’ prospects for winning the White House in November. Continue reading

Republicans rule the country


Map showing the distribution of governor’s mansions by party. Via Wikipedia.

There’s a popular phrase that’s become a meme. Generally it’s sarcastic. It can be used when the price of gas goes up, when it goes down, when a football team loses, or when terrorists strike: “Thanks, Obama.” But the truth is for all the power of the Democratic presidency, the United States is an overwhelmingly Republican-run country.

Not counting any non-state US territories, Republicans control 35 state senates, 32 state houses, 31 state legislatures in their entirety, and 31 governor’s mansions. In the 114th Congress, there are 54 Republican senators to 44 Democrats and in the House of Representatives 246 Republicans to 188 Democrats. Twenty-three US states have Republican governors and legislatures compared to seven states under total Democratic control. Continue reading

The GOP is a cult

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline,

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline, “Your money, your vote.”

The title of this article is intended to be slightly salacious and incendiary, but it’s also an honest diagnosis. The GOP, driven by a radical fundamentalist ideology, is unrecognizable as a traditional political party. “Cult” is a frankly accurate way to describe an organization that creates an alternate reality, worships power and seems to be following a suicide pact.

All this was on display in the most recent Republican debate. It was arguably the most heated debate so far, but not because of passionate disagreements on policy. Candidates battled less like diplomats determining the fate of the free world than like a chimp tribe choosing an alpha. The Republican Party is radicalized way beyond the point of debating sensible policy positions. Continue reading

GOP backlash to Denton fracking ban reveals a dark hypocrisy

Amid last week’s Republican sweep of the 2014 midterm elections, there were some notable progressive victories. Marijuana decriminalization, gun control laws and minimum wage increases all passed on various states’ ballots. But perhaps the most inspiring initiative voters put into law was a ban on fracking in Denton, Texas. Unfortunately, Texas politicians, bureaucrats and business interests are pledging to fight, repeal and/or ignore it. Continue reading

The 2014 election was a big hustle, and it proved voting is not enough

America has just finished another midterm election, and the results were overwhelmingly in the Republicans’ favor. The GOP picked up a majority in the Senate and strengthened its majority in the House, holding more seats there than they have since 1928 with 248. Republicans were also given a great deal of control in state legislatures and governor’s offices.

This map shows just how dominating the Republican performance was, particularly in the House of Representatives.

This map shows just how dominating the Republican performance was, particularly in the House of Representatives.

This, predictably, has led to fretfulness in liberals. Many are reading the huge Republican victory as a rejection of the policies of President Obama. That’s certainly a big element. But what the election results really signify is a population that is utterly confused and desperate for a solution. Public approval for elected representatives and the way the country is moving remain at dismal lows, so it’s not hard to imagine that any change must be for the better. Republican victories are as much a reflection of the left’s disillusionment as they are of the right’s continued mobilization. Continue reading