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By John Hickman:
self-indulgent con man
Any additional reassurance that Donald Trump is not an American Adolf Hitler was provided by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) last Tuesday. That is the same North Korean government entity that previously announced that North Korea had invented not only the hamburger but also a drug that cures AIDS, Ebola and cancer. So if the KCNA likens POTUS 45 to Der Fuehrer, you know it is almost certainly untrue. What is interesting is that plenty of smart people outside the information bubble…
Splitting the difference is sometimes the closest approximation to justice achievable when judges rule in contract and family disputes. When the liberty protections in the U.S. Constitution are involved, however, splitting the difference is an evasion of judicial responsibility. Consider the Supreme Court’s June 26th decision on the Muslim Ban in Donald J. Trump v. International Refugee Assistance and Donald J. Trump v. Hawaii.
foreign policy anarchy
The geopolitical peril facing Qatar in 2017 resembles that of Switzerland in 1938: small, wealthy, tenaciously independent … and caught between militarily powerful neighbors, one of which wants to end its neutrality. Eighty-one years ago, little Switzerland occupied some of the most dangerous territory on the planet, bordered by Nazi Germany to the north and east and by Fascist Italy to the south. With the Fall of France in 1940 she would be completely surrounded …
K.J. McElrath and Glen Greenwald appear disoriented. This is not the post 2016 election political struggle that they had anticipated. Or know how to fight. They were prepared to wage a virtuous virtual campaign against a President Hillary Clinton by continuing to expose the secrets of the military intelligence complex that spies on Americans and conducts a forever war to police the Middle East. Instead, the exposures of massive troves of mostly prosaic secrets via Wikileaks that they celebrated and propagated helped to shove history down a different path, leaving them stumbling and flailing.
Despite the “never, ever, ever give up” language in Donald Trump’s recent disaster of a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy it takes little imagination to picture him suddenly resigning from office. Although a majority of Americans would like to see him depart for his golf courses permanently as quickly as possible, an excruciating slow motion departure from office would be more beneficial. Beyond the raw entertainment value of watching a ridiculous narcissist get his comeuppance…
counterfactuals are free
Did the world need another biography of V.I. Lenin? That we have no need of new biographies of Napoleon Bonaparte, Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler or Winston Churchill is obvious. Yet they will be published. In contrast the world might be rather richer for new biographies of Ranavalona I, Jósef Pilsudski, Pancho Villa and Trygve Lie. But another Lenin biography?
Lenin’s seeming unparalleled role in making history is Tariq Ali’s excuse…
Bidding for public attention among Republican state legislators appears astonishingly intense. Consider Colorado State Representative Dave (not David) Williams. On first encounter, Williams appears to be just another standard issue ‘guns, fetuses and homophobia’ Republican. His issue page endorses the Second Amendment as defense against enemies “foreign and domestic.” How he squares appeals to Red Dawn wingnut fantasies with his national party leader being in the pocket of President Vladimir Putin is anyone’s guess…
Americans have reason to be impressed by the U.S. State Department’s formal denunciation of the Russian crackdown on the March 26th demonstrations. Although there was nothing inspiring in the wording of the official condemnation – indeed it de-mothballed the long exhausted ‘marketplace of ideas’ trope – it was nonetheless perfectly adequate to the task. Given the incompetence performance of this most aberrant of presidential administrations, achieving mere adequacy is noteworthy.
Hitler and drugs are such an obvious formula for successful popular history that it is a wunder someone hadn’t already published something similar to Norman Ohler’s 2016 Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany. Likely to please readers interested in social history and drug policy, the book is certain to perturb serious political and military historians with what appear almost uni-causal explanations for phenomena such as Adolf Hitler’s erratic decision making and the success of the blitzkrieg as a strategy…
right to bear cars
Running down pedestrians with your car is wrong. Whether the act is intentional or negligent, running down pedestrians is absolutely wrong. That ethical absolute extends to encouraging others to commit such an act. Unfortunately a couple of Republican lawmakers in Tennessee want their state courts to take a much more permissive approach to vehicular murder and assault. Tennessee State Representative Matthew Hill and State Senator Bill Ketron have introduced…
Remember how Donald Trump spent much of the 2016 election campaign touting his ability to negotiate better deals for the United States? For all the bombast about trade with China and nukes in Iran, and cheering from supporters who probably couldn’t find either country on a world map, it turns out that the international agreements he intended to renegotiate and perhaps junk altogether were with our allies and not our rivals. That’s why Vice President Mike Pence was …
twisting ideological knots
Donald J. Trump’s lies, especially about numbers, and that presents a puzzle. His claims about fraudulent votes cast against him in the general election and the size of his inauguration crowd make him appear not just obsessive and puerile, but also remind audiences of his illegitimacy. Conservative populists claim to speak for “the people.” References to numbers remind us that he is only the leader of an angry minority and not the majority of Americans …
we are a hostage audience
Revenge is one of the powerful unspoken temptations of public office. For incoming presidents, the urge to punish often involves diminishing the historical legacies of their predecessors. Ronald Reagan took revenge on Jimmy Carter by gutting renewable and clean energy policies. Fuel efficiency standards were rolled back, renewable energy research and development funding was slashed and the wind power investment tax credit was eliminated. Reagan even had the solar panels on the roof of the White House taken down.
The kompromat story becomes more plausible with each passing day.
The important information for much of the news audience is that Donald Trump allowed himself to be caught in a classic honey trap, one made all the more embarrassing because it involved a peculiar paraphilia. The accusation is that the president elect paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on him.
Which seems more astonishing? That Donald Trump’s supporters have forgotten the Cold War and fallen in love with a Russian dictator? Or that the only major historical event diehard supporters of Bernie Sanders remember is that the George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? What connects the amnesia of the former with the schematic error of the latter is that both are now being deployed to deny that Russian intelligence agents …
Dismayed by the extraordinary vitriol and vituperation expressed in online discussions of politics that we continue to read reminded me of the insights into behavior in Elias Aboujaoude’s fascinating 2011 book Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality. Aboujaoude is a Professor and Director of the OCD Clinic at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and specializes in the treatment of compulsive disorders…
Perpetrators must first envisage crimes before they commit them. Often that entails a fantasy that their intended victims deserve what’s coming for having committed the same crime. Psychological projection helps dodge acceptance of moral responsibility. When the envisaged crimes are political, the fantasies projected onto opponents are often spun as conspiracy theories.
After years of loopy conspiracism from populist conservatism it is easy to overlook the fact that as primary candidate, as party nominee, and even as President-elect, Donald Trump deployed only a few of the many available conspiracy theories to denounce Hillary Clinton…
tinfoil hat crazy
That Donald John Trump will be the 45th President of the United States still seems unreal and that sensation is not helped by the realization that millions of the Americans who voted for him may have done so because of runaway conspriracism. As the improbable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, the billionaire real estate developer/reality television celebrity played to conservative gullibility by …
Viewers can be forgiven if they missed the geopolitics of the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on October 9th. The emotional tension in their encounter was certainly unprecedented in American political history. Dramatics notwithstanding, how the nominees perceive or think voters perceive international politics may be discerned from a content analysis of their geographic references.
Note that the geographic references in this debate were more narrowly focused than in the first debate on September 26th…
Dangerous but unchallenged nonsense is what listeners heard from U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson in his September 30th interview on Georgia Rewind with Bill Nigut. After performing the ritual of joviality between elected officials and journalists with Bill Nigut and Jim Galloway that is expected on the program, the third term Republican got down to the serious business of evading questions and promoting militarism. Asked about legislative gridlock in Congress, Isakson was allowed to reduce the problem to budgeting and then blame it on House Republicans and President Obama.
Are political courage and smart ideas enough to unseat an entrenched incumbent? Jeremy Salter is counting on a thoughtful electorate ready for overdue criminal justice reform as the challenger in the contest for Floyd County District Attorney against incumbent Leigh Patterson. That Patterson is the most prominent of the four local public officials in the county who recently changed their affiliation from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party adds an element of drama to the race…
That Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump in the first debate between the party presidential nominees on September 26, 2016 is obvious. She was clear while he was confusing. She was self-possessed while he was easily baited. The differences were so obvious that they tended to obscure what their responses revealed about their respective geopolitics. A bare bones content analysis of the number of references to locations reveals much about their perspectives on global politics.
vp candidate, green party
Disappointment and boredom have left many Americans with the suspicion that something essential to democracy is missing from the 2016 presidential contest as it is covered by corporate news media… and they are correct. The presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the two major parties are painfully uninspiring and their ideas promise nothing but different versions of ‘more of the same.’ Americans are hungrier than ever for leaders willing to confront entrenched power. Which is why I was delighted to interview Ajamu Baraka, the Vice Presidential for the Green Party…
American novelists have been disturbing comforting denials about the evils of racism since the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Ben H. Winters’ carries on that proud tradition with his latest novel, Underground Airlines, a brilliant exploration of the relationship between political compromise and personal complicity. Winters graciously offered to answer my questions about his writing.
Katie Archibald-Woodward is a photojournalist and minister who produces arresting images of resistance to oppression in Palestine/Israel and here in the United States. Katie seems constantly on the move but she can be claimed by both Atlanta and Los Angeles. I caught up with her long enough to ask questions about the power of her art. She was also kind enough to share some of her work here.
John: As your photos remind us, photography can be an extraordinarily powerful medium. Do you have any thoughts about the secret of its power to move us?
ile de ré
Remember when we associated France with popular rebellion against tyranny and individual liberty? The French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the French Resistance and May 1968 provided ideas and imagery for innumerable liberation movements around the world.
To the dismay of many Francophiles, of late liberal democracy in L’Hexagone has gone pear shaped in response to Islamist terrorism. Surveillance was ramped up and the number of prosecutions for hate speech multiplied after the January 7, 2015 Charlie Hebdo mass killing…
threat to our democracy
For millions of Americans watching the 2016 Republican Party Convention in Cleveland, disbelief and dismay have given way to bemused contempt. They see a GOP in a state of extraordinary disarray and unable to prevent a likely electoral train wreck. Many of its heavy weights simply refused to attend, including two former presidents, six governors, and 21 U.S. Senators. David and Charles Koch are notably absent.
minor celebrities matter
The first night of Donald Trump’s 2016 (Republican Party) Presidential Nominating Convention in Cleveland, Ohio provided more entertainment value than any in living memory. One after another former celebrities, practiced victims and assorted public figures took the stage to throw rhetorical raw meat at a seething pale audience.
Among the highlights were appearances by Marcus Luttrell and Scott Baio. Luttrell because he seemed to call for a civil war here in the United States when he asked, “Who among you are gonna step up and take the fight to the enemy? Because it’s here.”
requires frightened people
In what might be the smartest appeal so far in this otherwise dismal presidential election, Hillary Clinton did NOT call Donald Trump a fascist during her July 13th speech on unity in Springfield, Illinois. Instead she warned about what he might do once in power. Declining to use the “F word” might seem pusillanimous, the sort of rhetorical restraint that conservatives pounce on, but using it could actually blur what is more important point.
BREXIT has elicited expressions of wounded outrage from European intellectuals emotionally invested in the current European Project. Some have contented themselves with name-calling by denouncing British voters as shortsighted bigots manipulated by conservative populists. Disappointment in the outcome of the referendum was so great for others that they have begun asking whether democracy itself might be the problem. If people, the British to be precise, are unable to see what is in their own best interests then perhaps …
adopting a two-round system
Perhaps the only good thing that may be said for the Electoral College is that every four years it relieves most of us of the burden of choosing the lesser of two evils from among major party presidential nominees. Once we know that a clear majority of the other voters in our state will be plumping for the Democrat or the Republican, we are free to vote sincerely rather than a strategically for any candidate that we like. And that includes the nominees of third parties. Blame the ‘winner take all’ rule …
bald faced untruth
Do Marco Rubio’s inhumanly large and pointy ears wiggle when he lies? That’s what it seemed like during last Sunday’s interview with John Dickerson on “Face the Nation.” Maybe it was just a trick of the television lens but there is reason to think that something almost fey about Rubio’s successful dissembling. Asked about possible political repercussions of failing to do what most Americans believe U.S. Senators are paid to do – to actually vote on legislation in the U.S. Senate – said, “I’m not a political strategist; I’m a candidate.” And he got away with that…
pause to pity
Pause a moment to pity temporary front runner Ben Carson for his poor performance at the Third Republican-CNBC Debate in Boulder. Perhaps ‘non-performance’ is the right word. He was hardly a presence among the weirdly energized collection of candidates. So how did candidate Carson go from being the ‘great Evangelical hope’ to ‘doctor who?’ You only notice that Carson is boring when he is faced with any competition for attention on the stage. Between his soft, slightly slurred voice and the rambling illogic of his story-telling…
Does the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump serve any useful purpose? If your first reaction is to dismiss the question because the idea that such an absurd and repellant figure could be taken seriously, it is worth remembering that American voters have elected others just as unlikely to the White House. Ronald Reagan the movie actor and George W. Bush the old money underachiever whose daddy was president were no less improbable early in their political careers.
o be sure, Trump’s candidacy might be nothing more than an example of the public attention seeking that afflicts the superrich.
That hawkish Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have once again blasted President Barack Obama for an insufficiently bellicose foreign policy barely qualifies as news. Of course they did. That is what they do. The scorpion always stings the frog halfway across the stream. What is worth noting is the rationale offered they present for a much riskier American foreign policy.
u.s. media coverage
Listen to those defending Israeli violence against the Palestinians in Gaza and what you hear is denial. They cannot deny the facts and instead deny their emotional and moral significance. They agree that the Israeli military is bombarding Gaza and that thirteen hundred have been killed as a consequence. Rather than admit that the bombardment constitutes a humanitarian disaster and heinous war crime, however, they leap to the rhetorical devices of blaming the victim and condemning the condemner.
Who should Democrats and Independents vote for in the May 20 Republican U.S. Senate Primary? Before recoiling at the seemingly inappropriate nature of this question, please consider the following. Michelle Nunn appears to have the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat locked up. Unless voters want to cast votes in contested races further down the ballot there is little reason to participate in the Democratic primary beyond the public display of civic virtue.
Why do so many Americans doubt the scientific consensus about Darwinian evolution and anthropogenic climate change? Although the temptation is to attribute these sentiments simply to religious indoctrination and corporate public relations, feelings of powerlessness and resentment may also be in play.
Consider the large differences in acceptance of different scientific conclusions in March 20-24 AP-GfK Poll. Where a mere 4% of respondents doubt the link between cigarette smoking and lung disease and only 6% doubt that mental illness is a medical condition affecting the brain, fully 42% doubted that life evolved through natural selection and 37% doubted that humans were responsible for global warming…
Politicians from both parties might perform public anguish about the student loan problem but it is painfully obvious that they just don’t get how serious it is. The most recent Congressional legislation tying interest rates on student loans to the several points beyond the interest rates on treasury notes might have looked like an important reform in Washington, where achieving anything bipartisan is hailed a great victory, but not to the 37 million young Americans who are on the hook for more than one trillion dollars in student loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. They owe an average of $29,000. In an economy that no longer produces enough decent jobs
so patently dishonest
Clever public relations officers working somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon have decided that henceforth the Guantanamo hunger strike will be termed a “long term non-religious fasting.” What’s more, rather than being subjected to forced-feeding the “non-religious fasters” are now being treated to “enteral feedings.” What are we to make of such obvious lexical fig leaves?
That the Crimean Crisis would be exploited by Republican Congressional leaders to criticize President Obama was inevitable. Politics hasn’t stopped at the water’s edge in the United States for a very long time. What wasn’t inevitable was the shamelessness of Senator John McCain’s denunciation of President Obama in a speech to the most powerful ethnic foreign policy lobby in Washington. In a March 4th address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Arizona Republican complained about a “feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”
war in afghanistan
What would winning the War in Afghanistan look like? America has been at war there for 13 years and you would expect that after thousands of casualties and spending immense sums of our tax dollars something that could be deemed victory would have been achieved by now. Instead of that we are presented with soon to be retiring Rep. Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, chiding the America people and President Obama for not wanting to keep fighting the longest war in our history.
A recent article in the Journal of Wine Economics by Duquesne University Economics Department associate professor Pavel A. Yakovlev and graduate student Walter P. Guessford offers research findings so obviously pleasing to conservatives that you might wonder whether they were perpetrating a hoax. What their findings show is a positive relationship between measures of the ideological liberalism of a state and measures of how much alcohol was consumed in a state for the years between 1967 and 2010.
why the memorial offends
Ordinary Gentlemen blogger Nob Akimoto’s “Guide” to the recently reignited controversy surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is mislabeled. What he has actually penned is an “Apology” for war criminals and those who honor them. That is unfortunate because trusting readers may misunderstand why the memorial deeply offends some many people all over the world. The first clue that a bait and switch is being perpetrated is the deployment of that classic piece of illogic called special pleading.
Failure is written all over the Joint Statement on Syria issued on September 6th meeting of the Group of 20 in St. Petersburg. Only 11 of the 20 leaders present – the U.S., Britain, France, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and Saudi Arabia – signed on to the condemnation of Damascus. Thus the opposite of the international moral consensus that is supposed to be the foundation of international law.
Worse from the standpoint of the Obama administration, the text of the statement does not endorse military action.
The June 26, 2013 U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the foreign language broadcast services funded by the United States government offered an imperfect example of Washington political elites successfully sidestepping the obvious. What most of the participants wanted to talk about was reorganizing entities like Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, possibly by turning them over the State Department; adding language broadcasts like Ibo and Sindhi…
Last Friday, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes had the job of announcing that the Obama administration had decided to officially begin arming the Sunni Islamist insurgents attempting to overthrow the Syrian government. All that lobbying by the war party in Washington and its ‘friends in the Gulf’ is finally paying off. You would think that the problem was explaining why to a skeptical news media. Not so.
Could there be a more appropriate monument to the War in Terror than the wasteful and counterproductive prison camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base? At a cost of $4,360.00 a day per prisoner, it is among the most expensive lock-ups on the planet and surely the most expensive for inmates who are neither deposed heads of state nor leaders of defeated rebellions. (For that amount you could book a Premier Suite at the Ritz Carleton Central Park and still have a thousand dollars left over to pay for dinner!)
Clapper v. Amnesty International:
Associate Justice Alito Changes His Mind About Giving the Targets of Secret Surveillance a Day in Court
Surveillance was victorious over Liberty once again in the U.S. Supreme Court on February 26th. In a 5 to 4 vote in Clapper v. Amnesty International,the court overturned a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that U.S. citizen attorneys, activists and journalists working on human rights issues have standing to seek a permanent injunction against the monitoring of their electronic communications with foreigners outside the country by U.S. intelligence agencies. The important work they perform requires privacy of communication so that their sources will give them information
Bad for Bizness
We learned a lot about the issue agenda of John Kerry from his first major foreign policy speech as Secretary of State. Although cast as the strong advocate for action on global warming in the Obama administration second term, he barely mentioned the single most daunting problem that confronts our species. Instead his theme was that the U.S. State Department existed to tell the rest of the world that America was open for business. Oh yeah, and the department can’t do its work without its meager share of the Federal budget.
State of the Planet
If there is reason to be pleased that the issue of global warming made it into both President Obama’s January 13th Inaugural Address and February 12th State of the Union Address, there is less reason to be reassured by what he said. Here is why.
First, Obama didn’t use the phrase ‘global warming’ to identify the issue, but instead chose the more innocuous sounding ‘climate change.’ For a president who has tended cave on issues when faced with strong opposition that is not a good sign.
Largely missing in the current immigration policy debate is the reality that the legal treatment of immigrants is first and foremost a human rights issue. Altogether lost in that debate is that their treatment also has important implications for the rights of U.S. citizens. What Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Georgia and President of the National Lawyers Guild, makes absolutely clear in this January 24th interview is that the freedom of U.S. citizens and immigrants are inextricably linked.
Having It Both Ways
Will 2013 be a year of wonders? Disappointed in 2012 by our delayed planetary doom/arrival of our ‘space brothers’ perhaps predicted on a Mayan stone calendar or the perennially postponed performance of the Antichrist? Well if the unendingly sour and dismissive conversation on CNBC’s Squawk Box can turn entertaining, as it did early on the morning of January 3, 2013, then anything is possible this year!
What could be the least bit diverting about the dreary business talk show that conservatives turn to when they begin to weary of the inanities on Fox News?
If we needed any further convincing that the electoral college was a political institution that had outlived its usefulness, the focus of the 2012 presidential campaigns on mobilizing voters in a handful of counties in five battleground states should have done the trick. Notwithstanding dubious educations in the issues from a blizzard of campaign commercials and mass mailings, the voters in places like Hillsborough County, Florida and Hamilton County, Ohio shouldn’t have ended up effectively choosing the president for the rest of America.
New York Times war correspondent C.J. Chivers isn’t covering the War in Syria in the same way that he covered the War in Afghanistan. He is still writing fascinating accounts of the weapons and munitions improvised by Sunni Islamists. However now the words he uses to identify those Sunni Islamists are strikingly different.
Consider a May 20, 2009 article, “Arms Sent by U.S. May Be Ending Up in Taliban Hands,” in which Chivers details the evidence that ammunition given by the U.S. military to the Afghan military ended up in the hands of the enemy. Who are the enemy?
What do you call a Sunni Islamist attempting to overthrow a legitimate government through kidnapping, assassination and bombing? For the American print and broadcast press, the answer depends on where the violence is being committed. In simpler times — actually just in the previous decade — they would have been called “terrorists.” Today, however, reporters and editors reserve that term for people who commit or plan to commit, or perhaps just talk trash about committing, acts of violence in the West.
Unshackled by Morality
If most of the moral outrage performed on Fox News is patently absurdly overwrought and insincere, the unhappiness expressed about the removal of the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office in the Obama White House, temporarily or permanently, is a notable exception. Bustgate bubbled up, ‘erupted’ is too strong a word, because of a July 26th column written by the dour neoconservative Charles Krauthammer and a July 27th response by Dan Pfeiffer that the bust was still in residence outside the treaty room.
Science fiction is at its best when it directs our attention to traumatic material while we are being entertained. With her riveting Bel Dame Apocrypha series of novels, author Kameron Hurley does that brilliantly. She was kind enough to answer questions about her inspiration.
John McCain’s June 18th speech at the American Enterprise Institute was a useful reminder of why we didn’t elect him president. While fulminating about President Barack Obama’s reluctance to intervene militarily in Syria, the senior Senator from Arizona displayed the kind of rhetorical disingenuousness that convinced a majority of Americans that he couldn’t be trusted. Posturing as a neo-Wilsonian idealist, McCain exhorted Obama learn from the experience of former President Bill Clinton, who “finally summoned the courage to intervene and stop the killing” in Bosnia.
In this interview with poet and novelist Anthony Grooms, I am reminded of the postmodern insistence that every reading of a text is new. The author of the powerful 2001 novel Bombingham, which won the 2002 Lillian Smith Prize for Fiction, Grooms teaches creative writing and literature courses to the fortunate students of Kennesaw State University. I persuaded him to answer some questions about the power of place in that novel and about his current research. His answers do something timeless. They lead us home.
The June 8, 2012 decision of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in National Federation of Federal Employees v. Thomas J. Vilsack deserved more news coverage than it received. At issue in the case was whether subjecting all employees at Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers to random drug tests ordered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service, without regard to their specific responsibilities, violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.
The recent elections on the other side of the Atlantic continue to cause concern around the planet and news coverage in the United States is both short on explanation and perspective. That is why I asked Dr. Bill Downs to help sense of it all. Downs serves as Associate Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Georgia State University and is the author of numerous books and articles on contemporary politics in Europe. His most recent book, Political Extremism in Democracies: Combating Intolerance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) examines xenophobia and anti-immigrant parties across the continent.