SPOTLIGHT – Looking again at Solitary Confinement

“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

Scalia’s Death Sparks Mental Gymnastics from Both Parties

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

Big Government, Small Government, and the Military

Republicans can all agree that centralized planning and government ruins innovation, destroys accountability, breeds corruption, engenders absurdity, and lowers performance. Except, of course, when they’re talking about the military. Continue reading

The Other One Percent – They’re Closer Than You Think.

Bernie Sanders is catching fire – and he’s doing it largely on the strength of an economic message that highlights the growing disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the country. But talk of ‘the one percent’ also raises some uncomfortable questions. Continue reading

Bullshit on the Stump: The Highs and Lows of US Politics

Normally, I shy away from adult language; but from time to time it helps to dispense with formalities and, for the sake of clarity, call a spade a spade. Following the example of philosopher Harry Frankfurt, today’s post will focus on the high art of American political bullshit. Continue reading

Possible Grexit Highlights Europe’s Real Deficit

There has been much talk over the last few years of Europe’s budgetary deficits and of its democratic deficit, but Europe’s more troubling deficit might be its constitutional deficit. Simply put, Europeans are not clear among themselves on how difficult decisions are to be made, how the pain for such decisions is to be shared, and, more basically, the nature of their mutual obligations. Continue reading

Rachel Dolezal Identifies as Black. Is She?

When news emerged that Spokane’s NAACP president, Rachel Dolezal, had lied about being black, I didn’t think she’d have many supporters. I was wrong – and the conversation surrounding racial identity has revealed deep misunderstandings about race. Continue reading

The Electoral System is Broken, Time for Something Radical – Part II

All the obvious pathways to electoral reform are dead ends – if anything meaningful is going to happen, it needs to happen in a new way. That way might be an effort to try something that hasn’t been tried since 1787: call a constitutional convention. Continue reading

How did the Keystone XL Become Such a Big Deal?

The Republican takeover of Congress has marked a new phase in the ongoing fight over the  Keystone XL, a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. After regaining control of the Senate, one of Mitch McConnell’s first acts … Continue reading