John Boehner’s Legacy

Published: The Good Men Project (October 29, 2015)

As Republicans scramble to anoint Rep. Paul Ryan as the successor for soon-to-be-former Speaker of the House John Boehner, it is worthwhile to examine precisely why the Ohio congressman’s tenure has been such a failure. After all, Boehner has reportedly been planning on resigning for a long time, even claiming that he had considered resigning as early as last November. His reasoning, then and now, was straightforward and reasonable: The staunch opposition of Tea Partyers and other hardline conservatives to his leadership had made it impossible for him to reclaim his current title next year without a prolonged and nasty fight. read more

Why the Democrats need Martin O’Malley…

Published: The Good Men Project (October 27, 2015)

To begin, I must emphasize that I am not officially supporting the presidential campaign of Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland. This article is focusing on his candidacy because there is a practical argument to be made in favor of nominating him – one that is too compelling, even alarming, to be safely ignored.

Right now the Democratic Party has a problem. There are only three candidates left in the race – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and O’Malley – and it is widely assumed that one of them, Sanders, is unelectable. As political scientist Monica Bauer explained in an editorial for The Huffington Post, “it seems clear to me his open dismissal of capitalism makes him pretty much unelectable in a general election, and thus a disaster for the Democratic party, if they were to nominate him for president.” This view is hardly limited to Bauer; in fact, it sums up the conventional wisdom held by the Democratic Party for pretty much as long as “socialist” has been used as epithet in this country. Although I personally feel that the stigma surrounding that term is unfounded, that doesn’t alter the objective facts regarding its potency. At the very least, a detached analyst has to concede that Sanders is a very risky candidate in terms of his ability to win the general election. read more

Before “Steve Jobs,” there was “Pirates of Silicon Valley”: What a made-for-tv movie got right that Aaron Sorkin didn’t

Published: Salon (October 26, 2015)

As the new biopic “Steve Jobs” continues to receive rave reviews, it seems appropriate to stop and take a look at its predecessor —  the “Citizen Kane” of made-for-TV movies, “Pirates of Silicon Valley.” I’m not simply comparing this film to “Citizen Kane” as a way of drawing attention to its quality. Much like Orson Welles’ 1941 magnum opus based loosely on the life of William Randolph Hearst, Martyn Burke’s 1999 motion picture is at its core the tale of how massive business empires can be built and destroyed by the egos and weaknesses of their creators’. That said, there are two key differences between these films: read more

Is God One of Us?

Published: The Good Men Project (October 24, 2015)

It’s somewhat amazing that, despite having written more than 400 articles in the past four years, I’ve never really touched on my religious beliefs. My Asperger’s Syndrome and depression, romantic relationships and childhood traumas, even my Jewish background (from a heritage standpoint)… All these sensitive and personal matters have been explored in my previous articles. Yet until this week, I’ve never discussed my opinions about God. read more

Biden: The president we deserve, but not the one we need

Published: The Good Men Project (October 22, 2015)

To paraphrase a famous line from “The Dark Knight”: Joe Biden is the president we deserve, but not the one we need.

I’ve written quite a bit about Biden over the course of my career because – as a PhD student focusing on American political history – I can’t help but admire such a quintessential throwback. We live in a time of “authenticity” rather than authenticity, one in which presidential candidates can skyrocket to the top of the polls for blatant pandering and demagoguery that seems “real” rather than offering actual substance. By contrast, Biden has always been a politician who speaks his mind from a clearly genuine place (even if that makes him a bit gaffe-prone), usually with the underlying message that we need to create an America which focuses less on partisan bickering and more on helping those who need it most. read more

Here’s why Donald Trump is hosting ‘SNL,’ as explained by Twitter

Published: The Daily Dot (October 21, 2015)

Donald Trump is a racist blowhard who shouldn’t step foot anywhere near theWhite House—but that doesn’t mean he also shouldn’t be allowed on TV.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda recently denounced Republicanpresidential candidate Donald Trump’s forthcoming appearance on Saturday Night Live. Referring to his “bigoted comments” about undocumented workers, the group called next month’s hosting gig a “slap in the face.” While they’re correct to target Donald Trump’s anti-Latino views, the NHLA wrong in one important respect: Racism will not be given a “thumbs up” when Trump hosts an episode ofSaturday Night Live next month. read more

Why Biden’s Decision Matters (for the Vice Presidency)

Published: The Good Men Project (October 20, 2015)

As America prepares for Joe Biden’s decision on whether or not to run for president next year, it is perhaps appropriate to reflect on the impact his choice will have on the office he currently holds – the vice presidency of the United States.

In one sense, Biden’s legacy as vice president is already secure. While scaling back the excesses that caused his predecessor, Dick Cheney, to be widely viewed as the secret power behind the throne, he still played a key role in shaping and pushing for the Obama administration’s agenda on issues ranging from fiscal policy and gun control to the war in Afghanistan. He also deserves a great deal of credit for improving his commander-in-chief’s political fortunes, in particular turning attention away from Obama’s poorly-reviewed performance in the first 2012 presidential debate by decisively besting Paul Ryan in the vice presidential match-off. Despite occasionally attracting the wrong kind of attention with highly publicized gaffes, Biden ultimately falls into the modern tradition established by predecessors like Walter Mondale, Al Gore, and even Cheney himself – namely, that of an important player in the administration of the president whose name will always be associated with his own. read more

We were promised hoverboards: Of course “Back to the Future II” got 2015 mostly wrong — here’s why

Published: Salon (October 19, 2015)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Wednesday is October 21, 2015 – the date visited by Marty McFly in the time-traveling DeLorean 26 years ago in “Back to the Future: Part II” – and we do not have hoverboards. I repeat, hoverboards do not exist — these toys don’t count.

In fact, not much of the technology that appears most ubiquitously in the 1989 classic seem to have materialized. Our cars don’t run on garbage — indeed, as ahilarious College Humor skit observed, our refusal to break free from carbon fuels has destroyed our planet in the twenty-six years since the film’s release — and our highways are still confined to terra firma. That’s just the tip of the iceberg: We don’t have self-lacing sneakers or self-drying jackets, there are no robots to pump our gas, our weather forecasts are still unreliable, doorknobs haven’t been phased out by thumb scanners, and miniature pizzas still remain fun-sized after you stick them in an oven.

Instead of merely observing where “Back to the Future: Part II” was wrong — or, for that matter, noting the occasional odd area where it may have actually been prophetic (could the Chicago Cubs win the World Series?) — perhaps it would be more useful to analyze why it was wrong in certain areas. What does that tell us about how we viewed the near-future back in the late ‘80s and how does that compare to other famous sci-fi stories that also made their own prognostications? More importantly, how can we apply those lessons to the predictions we might make today? read more