America has had a tyrant like Trump before: We fought a revolution to get rid of him

Published: Salon (July 4, 2016)

As America celebrates its 240th anniversary, the Donald Trump campaign confronts us with the vivid possibility that our democracy could look vastly different if he’s elected.

No, I’m not implying that Trump is another Adolf Hitler. You don’t need to be a latter-day Fuehrer to hold positions antithetical to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. That said, when you look at Trump’s avowed ideology, it becomes apparent that he has inadvertently aped the very tyrant whose reign prompted the American Revolution in the first place… King George III.

read more

What the end of the NSA’s bulk phone record collection really means

Published: The Daily Dot (December 2, 2015)

It’s official: The NSA was legally required to terminate its bulk phone record collection program this week. That may not provide much comfort if you happen to use the Internet (and particularly if you communicate using social media)—but it’s a major win worth acknowledging.

If you’re wondering why the government can still monitor what you do online but can’t access your phone records (at least not without permission from your cellular service provider), the reason is a little complicated. Although the National Security Agency has collected phone records since terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the public wasn’t made aware of this practice until the Edward Snowden leaks almost 12 years later. Shortly thereafter, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuitclaiming that the program was unconstitutional, resulting in a two-year legal battle that ended when an appeals court ruled that the NSA’s actions were indeed unjustified.

read more

2 Ways We Need to Redefine ‘Masculinity’ in American Foreign Policy

Published: Good Men Project (July 7, 2015)

American foreign policy has long been governed by ideas of masculinity. Now it’s time to evaluate what that has meant for our nation – and how we should redefine “masculinity” in the future.

 

Why do we equate “masculinity” with “aggressiveness” when conducting our foreign policy?

“In the aftermath of September 11 Bush enacted a highly masculine ideology through his treatment of the press and emphasis upon two masculine themes–strength and dominance–and that this approach facilitated wide circulation of his masculine discourse in the press.”

Even without summarizing the rest of the article, it isn’t hard to remember the tropes of machismo that Bush demonstrated throughout his presidency: The “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric, the cowboy swagger, the retrospectively ironic aircraft carrier landing in front of a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished”… all used in the service of waging two wars to avenge a terrorist attack whose perpetrator remained at large (and quite comfortable) in spite of them. Seven years later, when President Obama was being criticized for not using the military to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine and various Islamic extremists in the Middle East, his manhood was inevitably drawn into the discussion. This choice quote from conservative columnist David Brooks neatly summed up the thinking (which, he noted, he does not entirely share):

read more

The TSA can’t find hidden explosives because the security state is failing you

Published: Daily Dot (June 2, 2015)

A recent internal investigation revealed that the Transportation Security Administration failed 95 percent of its security checkpoint tests. When the Department of Homeland Security made 70 attempts to smuggle explosives and weapons past the citadels of American airport security, they succeeded 67 times.

This is part of a larger pattern of post-9/11 incompetence, one in which we grant increasing, often invasive power to government agencies in the name of national security, only to find out that they aren’t coming even remotely close to doing their job well.

read more

4 surprising reasons Rand Paul might be the liberal candidate you’re looking for

Published: Daily Dot (May 29, 2015)

At a time when the Republican Party has developed a reputation for voting and thinking in lockstep, it is worth noting that Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul has a surprisingly bipartisan appeal, which is becoming an important part of his growing presidential campaign. In the wake of an Internet-breaking filibuster on the Patriot Act, the outspoken National Security Agency critic has “reached out to African-American Republicans, spoke to a group of moderate Republicans, and held a news conference with House Democrats,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

read more

5 ways Republicans can reboot their brand in the Internet era

Published: Daily Dot (May 28, 2015)

In his new book, Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America, Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul declares that the GOP brand “sucks” and is “broken.” From those big declarations, he goes on to discuss his personal affinity for nature (describing himself as a “tree hugger”) and his ability to find common ground with racial minorities (mainly through his opposition to the growing prison-industrial complex).

All of this is well and good insofar as Paul’s political ambitions are concerned, but what relevance does it have to the GOP’s future in the digital era? Let’s look at some ways that the Republican Party can become relevant as the Baby Boomers hand off the future to a new generation of engaged voters.
1) It needs to stop being viewed as staunchly conservative

read more

Why Rand Paul can win

Published: Daily Dot (May 27, 2015)

While Rand Paul’s name often appears on lists of leading Republican presidential nominees, his well-known libertarian streak is often cited as a prime reason why he most likely won’t be nominated. His National Security Agency opposition might make him popular on the Internet, but he’s the definition of a wild card.

Make no mistake about it: If history serves as a reliable precedent, the nomination won’t go to Paul. Indeed, the last non-establishment candidate to head the Republican national ticket was Barry Goldwater, whose upset over Nelson Rockefeller occurred more than 50 years ago (in the 1964 election). That said, there is a plausible path to victory that lies ahead for Paul, and it is worth exploring.

read more

It’s time to kill the PATRIOT Act

Published: Daily Dot (March 26, 2015)

It’s doubtful that the PATRIOT Act will be repealed in this legislative session, but make no mistake about it: Dispensing with this bill, one of the more pernicious legacies of the post-9/11 erosion of American civil liberties, is long overdue.

First, here’s an introduction to the measure that could theoretically pull this off: the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which was sponsored by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). If implemented, it would do more than simply repeal the PATRIOT Act; after all, getting rid of that one bill won’t eliminate National Security Agency spying and other surveillance state activities anyway (especially since the PATRIOT Act is already set to expire in June).

read more