The species we must become: On direct democracy, or why its alleged bugs are features

In “Federalist no. 10,” a continuation of Alexander Hamilton’s “Federalist no. 9,”[1] James Madison laid out several reasons for opposing a true democracy in favor of a republic:
Continue reading “The species we must become: On direct democracy, or why its alleged bugs are features”

  1. [1]Kelly Kyuzawa with Robert Brammer, eds., “The Federalist Papers,” Congress, May 3, 2016,

The trouble with reparations isn’t what you think it is

Somehow, it’d been longer than I thought since Ta-Nehisi Coates published “The Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic. I think when I first heard about the article, I was furious about the Left lumping me, along with all white males, in with wealthy white males as “privileged,” following Donald Trump’s election in 2016, despite my having been systematically excluded from the job market for, now, over eighteen years.[1] (The article was actually published in June 2014, while I was still working toward my Ph.D.) Continue reading “The trouble with reparations isn’t what you think it is”

  1. [1]Even with my Ph.D., it appears driving for Lyft is my sole career option.

Slavery, rape, and abortion bans

What does slavery do? It forcibly takes a person and puts them to work for rich people’s purposes with no compensation. They are deprived of their autonomy.

What does rape do? It forcibly takes a person’s body for their assailants’ purposes with no compensation. During the attack, the victim is deprived of her or his autonomy.
Continue reading “Slavery, rape, and abortion bans”

The public square of the Internet

I remember seeing this argument during the dot-com boom:

From a capitalist libertarian and legalistic perspective, it makes perfect sense. Continue reading “The public square of the Internet”

Reality intervenes, but we never challenge the thinking

Were I in the habit of stating general laws, one I might declare is that to deny humanity, to dehumanize, will somehow, some way, create an existential problem somewhere down the road.

In neoliberalism, we reduce humans to economic units of production. Our value is measured in how much profit we generate for privileged classes. It doesn’t matter how “good” I am. What matters is my “efficiency,” that is, how much profit I produce relative to how much expense I incur for the rich. Note that how we attribute that efficiency is arbitrary: A chief executive officer (CEO) rationalizes her or his compensation by claiming credit for a lion’s share of productivity even as workers do the actual work.
Continue reading “Reality intervenes, but we never challenge the thinking”

Calls for impeachment are the latest displays of the naturalistic fallacy and system justification

When one confuses what should be with what is, they commit the naturalistic fallacy. And so it is with calls for impeachment reverberating through my Twitter feed.

In essence, the argument is still Will Bunch’s, that horrible things may well happen, but impeachment is the “right thing.”[1] This is supplemented by assertions that impeachment is the constitutional remedy for executive branch stonewalling of congressional investigations[2] and speculation that as investigations proceed, support for impeachment will increase or, at least, that opposition might decrease.[3] Continue reading “Calls for impeachment are the latest displays of the naturalistic fallacy and system justification”

  1. [1]Will Bunch, “Trump’s diabolical plan to blow up democracy, get reelected and avoid jail just might work,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 2019,
  2. [2]Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and Daniel Lippman, “How would you explain the Democratic investigations to a Washington outsider?” Politico, May 15, 2019,
  3. [3]Becky Palmer, [microblog post], May 18, 2019,

Family values and children as commodities

I’m finding this weird:

First, Jennifer Gunter’s distinction between 1) bearing, and 2) raising a child is valid and I will leave that there.

My problem arises when Katie Williamson says, “I’d love to love your baby! Just gimme it!” This suggests that a baby, even while still a zygote, is a commodity. One substitutes for another. “Just gimme it!”
Continue reading “Family values and children as commodities”

Why Nancy Pelosi is right about impeachment

It should be a no-brainer: Impeachment is dead on arrival at the Senate. There is no reason to believe that Republicans in the Senate are willing to entertain any evidence or arguments Democrats have to offer.

Which means that impeachment of Donald Trump, no matter how desirable, is grandstanding and nothing more.

Becky Palmer invokes the specter of the Watergate hearings, which were indeed sensational, did indeed lead to Richard Nixon’s downfall. Continue reading “Why Nancy Pelosi is right about impeachment”

The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist.

A bit of insight from the Politico “Playbook” newsletter:

DEMOCRATS WANT YOU TO BELIEVE that President DONALD TRUMP is crooked, and the White House is stonewalling their attempts to keep him accountable. But they’re trying to amplify that message amid the din of the the day-to-day back and forth between committee chairs, the leadership and the Justice Department.

THE BIG PROBLEM FOR DEMOCRATS: They say the administration’s stonewalling amounts to a “constitutional crisis.” But they have all-but ruled out impeachment – the process by which Congress deals with constitutional crises – because many atop the party believe it’s a political disaster in the making.

SO NOW, the Democrats’ message has turned into this: Trump is a threat to democracy and our government, BUT … we won’t impeach him because it’s a battle we would lose, it might not be worth it and he’s impeaching himself each time he talks.

COMPARE THAT TO TRUMP’S MESSAGE: No collusion or obstruction. It fits on a bumper sticker. Never mind that it’s a bit more complicated than that.[1]

Continue reading “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist.”

  1. [1]Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and Daniel Lippman, “How would you explain the Democratic investigations to a Washington outsider?” Politico, May 15, 2019,