What We’ve Learned from the Election So Far

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When the unexpected arrives, observers are usually left scrambling to make sense of what’s happening. Often, we end up both over- and under-reacting. At times like this, the old political wisdom becomes irrelevant, and the new political wisdom tends to be little more than glorified soothsaying. The landscape is ripe for myth-making, so let’s take a moment and clear some things up. Continue reading

Americans Are Too Scared to Deal With Syria

Women and children among Syrian refugees striking at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. (c) Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons.

From the beginning, the Syrian conflict has been a moral morass for America’s political establishment. Some of this is par-for-the-course in a country that hasn’t decided whether its foreign policy should be a reflection of its moral values or only … Continue reading

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