The Latest


27 September 2018  – What Kavanaugh/Ford might have taught:

  1. Sexual aggression, fueled by drugs/alcohol & a sense of entitlement is deeply & enduringly damaging.
  2. Growing out of the propensity to inflict that damage isn’t enough to mitigate it or to qualify for the possibility of forgiveness.
  3. The perpetrator’s damage to him/herself doesn’t begin to heal without acknowledging responsibility for the damage done to the victim and an effort to help the victim.


3 August 2018  – The Anti-Authoritarian Action Network (A3Ntwk) announces its, Authenticity Index Ratings (AIR)   Ahead of the 2016 Midterm Elections (Let’s Win the Midterms.) the A3Ntwk has announces it Authenticity Index Ratings and both its first scoring and endorsement.   Amy McGrath, the Democratic candidate for the Kentucky  6th Congressional District.   Amy, a pioneering former Marine combat fighter pilot, scored a perfect 10 on the 10 point scale which assesses:

  1. Agenda/District Match
  2. Passion
  3. Independence
  4. Pragmatisim
  5. Integrity

Amy’s first priority is fighting Republican efforts to deprive Kentuckians and all Americans of access to healthcare.   Her issues are rooted in the district.  She combines passion, independence,  and integrity essential to win on that issue.   If you can pitch in, consider doing so.

18 June 2018  – Can’t Anybody Here Play this Game?   Graham Allison has a piece in Foreign Affairs, “The Myth of the Liberal Order,” that will fail to persuade that everything you knew abt what’s kept the world over the last 70 years from repeating the tragedy of the two world wars preceding them is wrong.  Collective security didn’t stave off the massively scaled conflict.   Instead, US led alliances were, he argues, cover for a raw balance of power pitting the US on one side and the Soviets on the other.  The US enforced compliance among its allies is essentially the same as the  Soviets imposed in Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968.

It will be the thankless work of graduate students to lay out all the ways in which this line of argument errs, but what I find most distressing is that Trumpian chaos has now infected the stodgiest of citadels of foreign policy thinking.   By the end, Allison is arguing that preserving the liberal order here in the US requires abandoning it abroad, except, where we are inescapably forced to engage.   While he doesn’t spell out the consequences, they include a rapid rearmament of a fissioning world where trust is depleted and nerves are on edge.

People who find history uninstructive can consider how such a world is like any system in which there are no rules.   Might makes right all the time rather than on an exceptional basis.   Because the values of tolerance and lawful behavior aren’t shared, respected, or enforced, swiftly changing, unstable coalitions form and vie for advantage unto and beyond the zones of conflict.   Somehow Allison has forgotten all this.    Somehow, the lessons of two world wars have been erased and even our scholars are bumbling into Trumpian ignorance.   Whether that’s out of fatigue, careerism, or despair isn’t clear.  But I hope the rest of the lineup of foreign policy thinkers isn’t so inept.

31 May 2018 A3N Artist of the Month (May 2018): Elyse Buckley

25 May 2018  Taking Trump Seriously as an authoritarian is almost hard: too much clownish ineptitude on constant display.   Nevertheless, there’s reason to try.  If Trump’s riding a global flood tide, he really doesn’t have to be especially adroit.  He or his hench men merely have to put one clodhopping foot down after another along the authoritarian path & he’ll continue to make progress.

In this vein, consider Russian collusion.   What we see looks like the fruit of the long-term, patient cultivation of a figure of influence paying off spectacularly in exchange for copious amounts of cash (which were oligarchic launderings anyway) coupled w/ the frantic exploitation by Trump of an election asset developed by Russian intelligence – the DNC and related hacks a situation bungled by the FBI/DOJ.   All the sophistication lies on one side, the Russians.

From the broader perspective however look at Russia together w/ the Saudis, Gulf States, & the Israeli firm, Black Cube.   An authoritarianism builds from a strong minority, but typically can’t command a democracy’s majority.   To succeed, it seeks extraterritorial help from outside its borders – other nations and actors looking for geopolitical benefits or cash.   Foreign actors can provide X factor, decisive support bc they play outside & are unconstrained by the regulatory mechanisms governing a nation’s electoral politics.   Those foreign resources are essential to make up the gap btwn the nationalist minority and at least the pretense of a working majority.

The Russians, Saudis, Gulf Emirates, & Israelis also need leverage to get the US to deliver a foreign policy that suits their interests.    In the first case, it’s obviously weakening the Atlantic alliance & European solidarity, the lifting of sanctions to allow the Putin & his kleptomanical allies to move their stolen assets abroad, & the general erosion of a rules-based international order.   The Sunni-Israeli alliance needs the US might to counter the Iranians.

There is, therefore, a structural symbiosis btwn Trump domestically & counterparties abroad who are willing to help him get elected in exchange for favorable foreign policy.  It doesn’t take Clauswitzian vision conceptualizing this embedded configuration of interlocking needs and resources.   Just bc it’s realized opportunistically, and clumsily doesn’t mean the fundamental logic of the situation is missing.   It subsists there, constantly throwing up apparently random opportunities for collusion/collaboration/conspiracy/partnership, etc..   It also explains what is only an apparent irony, viz., nativist populism can exist only as part of the globally interdependent network & one that it will be w/ us for a while.

22 May 2018  The reflections of a self-identifying conservative former foster child are fascinating in their own right and expressed in clear, unaffected prose.    Since we are in the business of anti-authoritarianism around here, I wanted to observe that the approach and sensibility marking the piece are, on a personal scale, a parallel to the ethos marking Conor Lamb’s winning candidacy in the PA 18th.   Lamb’s agenda – jobs, infrastructure, health care access, opioid treatment & eradication, & student debt reduction responded to the depletion of the 18th’s communities over the last several decades.

Henderson says of his conservatism that it’s predicated on the notions of individual responsibility, obligation, respect for the worthy elements of the past, the importance of 2-parent families (of whatever gender composition.   His ideas arose not from ideology but his experience and reflection upon what in that experience enabled him to thrive despite the obstacles that thwart the overwhelming majority of children who grow up in the foster system.

The result of that reflection isn’t just an endorsement of the conservatism of rectitude, it also embraces the parenting of two women partners whose love and support were essential to his navigation of adolescence.   He recognizes that their care and love of him, day in and day out, provided the emotional and material support that served as the platform for his success.

Trump will pass, but the challenge is to eradicate the conditions which allowed him to dominate in the first place.   The examples of Henderson & Lamb surmount the habits of tired patterns of thought.   Think differently but concretely.     There’s so much more energy & conviction behind the ideas that reflect our direct experience than those merely derived from others.     Those qualities of spirit are what we’ll need not just to defeat Trump but to build a politics so vital and healthy that we launch a vibrant, reinvigorated politics.

19 May 2018 I’m ready to break up w/ the word, “collusion.”  For a while, it seemed we had a future, but it never got quite so serious as the btwn Trump & the Russians required.   I’ve moved on to, “partner,” and in the right setting, “conspire.”  Trump got $ & help w/ the election.   The tutorial of how to liberate his inner Putin was free.   The Russians sought to be rid of sanctions & the united Europe that was making the subjugation of sovereign states tiresomely uncomfortable.   There was a deal in place in which quids passed over for quos.     It’s been glaringly obvious almost from the start of the prominent phase of his presidential bid.     The only mystery is why all the fumbling from the gang that couldn’t collude straight – all the meetings, the parade of players and their furtive gropings.   It may be impossible to point definitively until the court proceedings play themselves out, but we can probably go a long way to understanding it if we reflect on the parts of Trump’s life and career that have nothing to do w/ Russia – that’s been nothing but a three-alarm dumpster fire for years & so the better questions is, why would his career as a traitor be different.

6 May 2018  Since so much of the turmoil associated w/ the ascendance of Trump to the presidency & w/ him, an increasingly authoritarian dimension to life in the US, has come from the old Soviet Union, it’s perhaps not altogether unexpected that key to reversing it can also be found there.

In Armenia, people power rises again, this time struggling to defeat an attempt to entrench a corrupt, authoritarian regime to remain in office.  The new Velvet Revolution has been led by Nikol Pashinian & a new generation of Armenians.   The lesson they can teach us is that their movement is tightly focused on non-ideological issues around which the broadest coalition can rally.

22 April 2018 The NY Times reports the Dept. of Homeland Security practices psychological torture on children to curb immigration.     Details here.   The Women’s Refugee Commission works to support these families.    The ACLU has filed a lawsuit.

20 April 2018 If the Anti-Authoritarian Action Network (A3N) had an A3N Artist of the Month, the judges would have little alternative other than to bestow the accolade upon Sonny Bill Glover.

10 April 2018 “Where do we get such men…” (and women)?  Some set of leaders in the DOJ, FBI, the White House, and Congress will soon be asked to make difficult decisions of historical importance.   As Trump’s efforts to circumvent the law grow increasingly desperate, a choreography of choices will unfold in highly contentious circumstances.  Obey unlawful orders?   No?   Can you explain clearly w/out the appearance of grandstanding why not?    Draft a memo finding cause for firing Mueller?   Decline?   Can you do so resolutely w/out appearing egotistical?   Defy the Trump base by calling for legislative protection for Mueller?   Can you effectively make the case that the deepest patriotism demands it so that even Trumpers accord it at least grudging respect?

Who will be called upon to make the tough, principled decisions to defend our democratic institutions is unclear.   Whoever it is, their character and competence will be instantly and blaringly maligned and they will need ample courage, competence, sure-footedness, and humility to be effective.      Here’s hoping we have reason to admire them for it.

7 April 2018 The US Dept of Homeland Security is soliciting companies to build out a mammoth database of journalists and social media practitioners all over the world.    Bloomberg Law broke the story but it is getting broader exposure.  Besides the Orwellian or maybe Trumpian character of the effort, it also seems possible that if the results of the collection effort weren’t carefully secured both citizen and professional journalists in authoritarian countries could be exposed to retribution for critical reporting.

5 April 2018 Build the Wave has a number of convenient ways to boost turnout in critical races.   I signed up for text the vote.  Distributed phone banking is also available.  There’s a proof of concept story abt the help they gave Conor Lamb.   Looks very cool.

1 April 2018 Recommending you look at DemWrite Press.   I completely share the view of its Editor-in-Chief, Nick Knudsen, that we have to:

  1. Flip Congress Blue
  2. Ensure electoral integrity
  3. Spur Civic Engagement
  4. Fight Corruption

No foolin’

29 March 2018 Action: join or convene a Town Hall Mtg w/ an elected official on guns or another issue.

29 March 2018 Links to some anti-gerrymandering resources.

25 March 2018 Added The Moscow Project from the Center for American Progress to the Resources page.  Recommended.

14 March 2018 Conor up by 621 votes and increasingly looks like the winner.