Bernie Sanders and the Grassfire that Wouldn’t Spark

Original Photo (c) Greg Skidmore via Flickr.

There is no denying that Bernie Sanders’ platform is radical. His ideas are radical, the speed of change he seeks is radical, and the way he’s willing to achieve change is radical. Voters should pay attention. Continue reading

The Confederacy Still Lives in the Deep Deep South


One of the constant themes of The Fog of Policy is that the world can be a strange little place full of weird little surprises. For example, there are festivals in Brazil dedicated to celebrating the American Confederacy. The sight … Continue reading

A Look at Our Electoral System, Part I – When Voters Speak

The Law of Unintended Consequences says that you can run for President and help elect your least favorite alternative.

Somewhere in my graduate education I came across the following observation: the role of a selection process isn’t to find the right choice, but to certify one choice over others as the right one. A boxing match that goes the … Continue reading

Saying It How It Is, and the Pitfalls of Language

This image shows features visible through UV light (left) not visible in the spectrum humans perceive (center). (c) Dave Kennard

Words are powerful things. Even the simplest words contain multitudes, sneaking in volumes of social thought and intellectual history as they slip in and out of our minds. Every word is a shorthand – and strung together into thoughts and sentences, those shorthands help shape how we see the world. Continue reading

SPOTLIGHT – Looking again at Solitary Confinement

(c) jmiller291 via Flickr.

“Hell is other people.” Compared to much of human history, modern prison life might not sound so bad: you won’t starve, you won’t freeze, and you won’t get eaten by a lion. The worst part is probably, as Sartre reminded … Continue reading

Let’s Talk about Race and Bayes: How a British Statistician Helps Explain Racial Dialogue in America

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Watching The People vs. O.J. Simpson, it’s hard not to be struck by the radically different views held by white and black Americans about the trial. But in twenty years, not that much has changed: when race is part of a national storyline, different people see different things. Why? Continue reading

Looking for Hope in the Age of Trump

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It has come to this: supposedly serious people have tried to find solace in the naked absurdity of what Mr. Trump is saying, reasoning that at the very least he couldn’t possibly sincerely mean it. Thus, in a contest for the most powerful office in the world, the thought that what the winner might do is a total mystery has become the optimistic telling. Continue reading

Trump Gives the Voters What They Want, GOP Should Be Worried

Original Photo (c) Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump is running (and winning) on a platform that bypasses GOP establishment orthodoxy. Establishment Republicans are trying to argue that that places Mr. Trump in conflict with the party’s beliefs, but they’re exactly wrong: Donald Trump isn’t less of what the Republican party has been over the last several decades, he is more of it. Continue reading

Scalia’s Death Sparks Mental Gymnastics from Both Parties

Picture of Mitch McConnell (c) Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

The unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the middle of a Presidential race has brought the mental gymnastics of politicians and voters into sharp relief. On the most basic details, everyone seems to share a blessedly common … Continue reading

N.H. Embraces Extremes, Throws Kasich a Lifeline

(c) Michael Vadon

This week in New Hampshire, a cocktail of fear mongering and fantasy peddling propelled Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to victories. But New Hampshire also struck a counter-note: John Kasich won a strong second place in the Republican primary. Continue reading