Thank “God” for John Boehner!

Published: The Good Men Project (April 28, 2016)

I’ve never liked John Boehner. From the moment he weaseled his way into the House Republican leadership by virtue of his corporate connections (which, to be fair, is how most modern politicians get the job) to his penchant for maudlin emotionalism, virtually everything about the Ohioan rubbed me the wrong way. I’m still nauseous at the fact that, thanks to the Republican takeover of the House in 2010, he was two heartbeats away from the presidency for more than four years. read more

The Trump Jokes Are On Us

Published: Salon (April 26, 2016)

There is an element of the Shakespearean to the Donald Trump campaign. Comedy and tragedy are often inextricably linked in melodrama, and as Trump rambles and bloviates his way through the American presidential election process (and perhaps, one fears, to the presidency itself), an intriguing narrative arc is taking shape. It began almost exactly five years ago, at a moment when the most powerful people in the world literally laughed at him. Being humiliated on international television tends to become a defining moment, and for Trump it led to a personal quest that he prove himself not to be a joke. In his effort to do so, he has managed to drag much of the country down to his level. read more

How will we preserve our digital future?

Published: The Daily Dot (April 24, 2016)

Some of my fondest childhood memories were set in libraries. I still recall wandering through stacks of books, my eyes glancing from title to title in the hope that they would land on some previously-undiscovered treasure. Sometimes I would take a step into the past by setting up a roll of microfilm and letting it whir through the scanner until it landed on an intriguing story from a bygone era.

The sights, the sounds, even the smells of these libraries linger in my brain long after I last set foot in them. As the Library of Congress celebrates its 216th anniversary today, it’s worth taking a moment to ask: What sources will be available to future young scholars? read more

Laptop Love Letter

Published: The Good Men Project (April 21, 2016)

When I was a child, I had a stuffed bear named (appropriately) Mr. Bear. He went wherever I did, and whenever he was damaged or lost, I’d feel devastated. It is normal for children to anthropomorphize inanimate objects – particularly stuffed animals – because, even if on a subconscious level we know better, there is nevertheless unshakable sense that they are truly alive.

This brings me to Croc, my laptop computer.

I don’t think I’ve ever owned a single computer longer than Croc. When I first purchased the Lenovo Thinkpad in 2012, I couldn’t have imagined the memories we would soon share. I had just started my PhD program studying history at Lehigh University, moved into a new house in a new city, and was preparing for the next phase of my adult life. read more

Why Andrew Jackson never should have been on the $20 to begin with

Published: Salon (April 21, 2016)

It’s official: Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew has announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. And, while Jackson will still reportedly remain on the reverse side of the bill, the move is nonetheless a momentous one.

Naturally there are many people who will complain about this decision, but since Tubman’s legacy leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad is beyond reproach, these critics will most likely turn to defending Jackson. As a preemptive rebuttal to such arguments, here are the four reasons why Jackson needs to go: read more

Why Bernie Sanders lost the Jewish vote

Published: Quartz (April 20, 2016)

Senator Bernie Sanders is the most successful Jewish presidential candidate to date. But he did not prevail in the Apr. 19 Democratic primary in New York–despite the state’s massive Jewish community and his personal ties to Brooklyn. Even if Sanders does not end up the Democratic nominee, his efforts to push Americans politics to the left will be remembered for years to come. Among the most notable parts of his legacy may well be his attitudes toward Israel–which may also have cost him the support of his fellow Jews at the polls (who voted against him 58% to 42% in New York). read more

Why have we forgotten about free speech?

Published: The Good Men Project (April 19, 2016)

Last week I had a conversation with Mark Schierbecker, and it has put me in a bit of a bind. I reached out to him for an interview because I care about First Amendment issues and he has, without question, qualifications to discuss them. While covering a student protest at the University of Missouri, a professor named Melissa Click led a mob of students to physically eject him from the area – a clear violation of his constitutional rights as a journalist. read more

How Pennsylvania Could Save America

Published: The Good Men Project (April 16, 2016)

If you’re a liberal Democrat and want cause to hope, take a look at the Pennsylvania Senate race right now. Even as the Democratic Party establishment frustrates progressives with its tendency to support bland moderates over inspiring idealists (see: the Clinton-Sanders presidential primary), my home state is giving Americans a sign that local leaders can actually listen to their voters.

Some background: Right now Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is up for reelection. Three candidates are competing on the Democratic side to oppose him – Admiral and former congressman Joe Sestak, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, and former Secretary of Environmental Protection Kathleen McGinty. Because McGinty is widely regarded as the “smart” choice, she’s been heavily pushed by former governor Ed Rendell and endorsed by President Obama and Vice President Biden. This is in spite of the fact that McGinty has a very problematic history of being linked to fracking interests, which if nothing else calls into question her credentials as a legitimate advocate for environmental protection. read more