Politics

Trump in China and the Limits of Authoritarianism

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As President Trump visits China, the contrast between the president — at war with the national media, the corporate establishment, almost all of academia and even his own party — and the sure-handed Xi Jinping seems almost unbearable. Xi has consolidated power to an extent not seen since Mao’s time, while directing a global expansion of Chinese power, notably in central and south Asia as well as Africa.  read more »

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The GOP Establishment No Bargain Either

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Perhaps nothing has been more ironic than the canonization of respectable, moderate-seeming Republicans. People like Mitt Romney and the Bush family, once castigated as practitioners of unmitigated greed or even Hitlerian fascists, have suddenly become laudable in the mainstream media.  read more »

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Why Is the Trump Administration Promoting Further Economic and Media Centralization?

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The Federal Communications Commission is planning to lift ownership restrictions on local media. This would allow, for example, ownership of multiple major TV stations in the same market by the same company:  read more »

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Is There A Civilization War Going On?

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“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” — Arnold J. Toynbee

From the heart of Europe to North America, nativism, sometimes tinged by white nationalist extremism, is on the rise. In recent elections, parties identified, sometimes correctly, as alt-right have made serious gains in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, pushing even centrist parties in their direction. The election of Donald Trump can also be part of this movement.  read more »

The New State Role Models

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With Congress on what appears to be a permanent hold, the search for a workable political model now shifts increasingly to states and localities. Today America’s divergent geographies resemble separate planets, with policy agendas from immigration and climate change that vary wildly from place to place.  read more »

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Local Empowerment Should Be About Local Matters

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I’ve generally been someone who wants to see local governments have more power and flexibility to meet local needs. My rationale is simple. States are full of diverse communities that are a bad fit for one size fits all policies. Chicago, Danville, Peoria, Cairo, etc. are radically different places. They have different circumstances, needs, and local priorities. Hence it makes sense for them to have the ability to chart their own course to some degree. Some states have accommodated this to some extent through classes of cities with different powers based on size.  read more »

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Bringing Soviet Planning to New York City

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to bring the same policies that worked so well in the Soviet Union, and more recently in Venezuela, to New York City. “If I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed,” he says. “And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents.”  read more »

The Bottom Line of the Culture Wars

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America’s seemingly unceasing culture wars are not good for business, particularly for a region like Southern California. As we see Hollywood movie stars, professional athletes and the mainstream media types line up along uniform ideological lines, a substantial portion of the American ticket and TV watching population are turning them off, sometimes taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the bottom line.  read more »

Big Tech Finds Itself Lacking Political Allies

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Our nation’s ruling tech oligarchs may be geniuses in making money through software, but they are showing themselves to be not so adept in the less quantifiable world of politics. Once the toast of the political world, the ever more economically dominant tech elite now face growing political opposition, both domestically and around the world.  read more »

Trouble in Trump County, USA

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By rights, Scott County, a rural Indiana community of 24,000, should be flourishing. It’s in a pro-business state. It’s part of the large, successful 1.2 million-person Louisville, Kentucky, metro area that’s been growing total jobs (75,300, or 12.9 percent) and manufacturing positions (19,600, or 31.6 percent) in the last five years. Scott County is an easy half-hour commute from downtown Louisville.  read more »