Plies Lies, Cults Cult

Fox News

Clever title, isn’t it? In addition to adding a little “variety” to this essay (and employing some poetic license to stretch the definition of a virus), if you are reading this, it might be because we live in a highly competitive “attention economy”, and this headline managed to get your attention.

It has been a decade since a critical mass of attention merchants entertained the absurd notion that our 44th president was not an American citizen, and in so doing, they gave it just enough validation to shove us down a slippery slope into what I have referred to in…


A Chance for President Biden to Deliver a New Reality

The town of Welch, West Virginia — Travis Dove / New York Times

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act soon after he took office in 1933, it marked one of the most wide-reaching and audacious responses of an American government to the ravages of disease and destitution. The TVA was a massive depression era hydro-electric project that brought electricity, jobs and prosperity to a large swath of the American southeast. What was once a region of dirt floors, devastating floods, malnutrition, malaria and soil erosion was transformed into an industrial powerhouse — homes with electricity and modern appliances, agricultural best practices, well-paying jobs and a dynamic economy.

The…


(Chris Barbalis/Unsplash)

As just one of so many people troubled by the division in our country, I’ve written many times about the source of our disharmony: the reality that America no longer has a shared reality. It is, for example, impossible to have a constructive dialogue with someone who not just disagrees with my perspective on the proper role of government, but also suspects I’m a pedophile (or at least a pedophile sympathizer). Where do you go from there?

The looming presence of a shapeshifting alternative reality remains our Problem #1 — the single issue who’s solution is a prerequisite to addressing…


From Moses to Mulberry Street

The Ten Commandments

In the face of a worldwide pandemic, massive economic upheaval, a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism, and a loss of a shared reality, according to Fox News and everyone who takes their word as gospel, our most urgent existential threat right now is something called cancel culture. Before we address the disingenuity of the term itself, let’s first acknowledge that this dynamic of blaming and shaming is nothing new.

Although I’m not a biblical scholar, I have seen the movies, and I know enough to assert with some authority that the first major incident of cancel culture emerged when Moses…


Reuters/Leah Millis

It’s been six months since I last wrote to you. Some of you no longer fall into the category of those who love Donald Trump, but some of you probably still do. Which side you now belong to is something I don’t know, and I’m responsible for that. Why? Because up until this point, I didn’t want to know, or more specifically, I have been afraid to know. Let me explain why.

For so many Democrats like me, Trump was a known quantity from the start. It all began in 2011 with birtherism and descended from there, to his attacks…


(Image: WWMT/Mikenzie Frost)

It appears that we are now, finally, at a point along the arc of the moral universe where we are ready to properly address how ‘we the people’ enforce the law, maintain order and ensure justice for each other. Even considering our raw political divisions, finding some optimal middle ground between the extremes of completely defunding and completely militarizing the police seems both reasonable and achievable.

There are best practices to addressing a problem like this one. In my previous life developing applications in the early days of the internet, we would begin with a list of business requirements: the…


(Image/Clay Banks)

We can measure the strength of a person by their capacity for reflection. We are imperfect beings in a highly imperfect world, and if there is a universal truth that unites us, it’s that the majority of us are just trying to find our way through life and be better. The divisions between us emerge from our conflicting conceptions of “better”; what might be better for one of us can sometimes be just the opposite for someone else.

For some, that’s just the way the world is. It is dog-eat-dog, zero sum, and my success is an unavoidable function of…


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

January 20th 1981 was a monumental day in American history. I was home for college on winter break the day that Ronald Reagan took office, a day when 52 American hostages were simultaneously being released from more than a year of captivity in a newly hostile Iran. The synchronicity of these two events cemented in our national mythology the belief that this new president had been solely responsible for springing them free.

Our nation had just weathered a decade of international humiliation — Watergate, a military vanquishing in Vietnam, waiting in lines for gasoline, and the disorienting powerlessness we felt…


Photo Illustration: Laura Kammermann / Wall Street Journal

In their desperate attempt to gaslight the nation during our recent impeachment trial, the lawyers of our former president utilized their client’s favorite go-to tactic to create a postage stamp sized fig leaf for the anti-democracy wing of the Republican Party. What-about-ism, both-sides-ism, false equivalencies — in a word: Conflation.

Conflation, as it was employed by the defense team on February 12, 2021, was a distraction effort inspired by bad faith, and, as we have so often seen in the past, the volume and breadth of nonsense used to distract is proportional to the severity of the crime. The big…


Unsplash/Aaron Burden

When President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act in 1964, he famously said, “We have lost the South for a generation.” It was a lament from a Southerner who knew, with a stroke of a pen, that he would be flipping many millions of Southern White Democrats to the Republican Party — the Democrats who felt threatened by all those Black people, who “didn’t know their place.” …

Kevin Donovan

Where there is great fear, there is no empathy. Where there is great empathy, there is no fear.

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