Other Countries and Autocracy: It Can Happen Here

Image result for photo of trump as king

Not With a Bang…

Rather than blow up with a bang, American democracy may wither with a whimper. That insight lies at the heart of David Frum’s frightening but invaluable Atlantic essay, “How to Build an Autocracy.” It’s the best analysis I’ve read of the damage Donald Trump could do.

Frum is no innocent observer of presidential overreach. A former George W. Bush speechwriter, he coined the “axis of evil” line his boss employed to justify the Iraq invasion. Nevertheless, respect the messenger along with the message this time around. Frum flagged the threat from the outset last year. He warned of the then-candidate bucking the courts if elected, long before Trump started attacking judges.

Read more of this post

Here’s an Import Trump Can Treasure

The Age of Trump could usher in troubling trends and practices we used to only associate with foreign kleptocracies.

That’s the core message of this perceptive blog post by Professor Bonnie Palifka, a corruption expert at a leading Mexican university. The problems start with the Trump Administration’s “possible conflicts of interest, nepotism, insider trading, and other types of grand corruption,” which could trigger a ripple effect of other harms. Drawing on both international research and her knowledge of Mexico (but one of many countries where high-level corruption is pervasive), Palifka warns us of what we might expect from a White House that houses a cornucopia of conflicts of interest.

Read more of this post

March On

So I went to my first demonstration in I’m-afraid-to-say-how-many years this weekend. Though driven by plenty of passion and even anger, the Oakland Women’s March was a positive, pleasant, laid-back affair for its up to 100,000 participants (not bad for a city of 400,000). Lots of creative signs, just like its sister rallies across the globe. (My personal favorites were signs #5 and #45.)

All in all, this extraordinary event seemed liked an ordinary thing to do. And I mean that in a good way.

Read more of this post

The Trump Legitimacy Debate

The Great Debate

Is Donald Trump’s presidency legitimate? A week ago, Representative John Lewis became the first prominent Democrat to say “No.” In an NBC interview, he charged that “the Russians participated in helping this man get elected” and “helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.” This iconic civil rights leader’s stand has spurred an inauguration boycott by nearly 70 congressional colleagues and an important debate about what constitutes the greatest threat to our democracy.

Read more of this post

The French Disconnection

Do you want to disconnect from some unpleasant realities these days? Move to France!

No, I’m not talking about escaping to or through the wine, the food, the lifestyle, the whatever.

Instead, as this article explains, France has a new law that allows employees limited rights to disconnect from work communications outside of office hours, without penalties from their employers. The emphasis here should be on “limited,” since it’s unclear whether or how the law will even be enforced.

What’s more, I can’t’ help but wonder whether there will be all sorts of informal pressure on employees to be available. Miss an email and maybe you’re seen as less committed to the company? Ignore a group text and you’re then outside the loop on a big project?

Read more of this post

Scroll Up