Ron Berger — One of the influential books I read while studying sociology in graduate school was Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Kuhn revised the conventional view that scientific progress evolves through the accumulation of accepted facts and theories. This he referred to as “normal science.” But Kuhn also thought that the discovery of puzzling anomalies that could not be explained by … Continue reading The Deficit Myth
Dave Gillespie — Do you think of yourself as something of a political junkie? Are you interested in, or concerned about, problems like partisan polarization and the future of free constitutional government in the United States? If you gave yes as your answers to these questions, I predict that you would find, as I did, much in Emily Conrad’s The Faithless? The Untold Story of … Continue reading The Faithless? The Untold Story of the Electoral College
Dave Gillespie — James is the name his parents gave him; James as in Bond, the hero in Ian Fleming novels and movie spy thrillers. But unlike Bond, that famous but fictional character, Hedges has friends and fellow partisans who know him simply as Jim. He is currently at the helm, insofar as anyone is, of the nation’s third oldest living electoral political party. The … Continue reading Old Prohibition: Party and Leader in the Latter-day
Jeff Berger — Conor Dougherty’s new book, Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America, is an important contribution to understanding the housing crisis in the United States. Dougherty is a New York Times journalist who grew up in San Francisco and who returned to his home city in 2013. While the book focuses on California, and especially the Bay Area, the housing crisis is by … Continue reading The California Housing Crisis
Ron Berger — When I think about the myriad issues that are being raised during the current Democratic Party presidential primary, I am reminded of the advice given by James Carville, Bill Clinton’s political strategist, during the 1992 presidential campaign: “The economy, stupid.” It is often the case, however, that when people think about the economy they are thinking about elements such as un/employment, economic … Continue reading Antitrust Law and the Regulation of Corporate Concentration
Jeff Berger — I recently read Madeline Albright’s latest book, Fascism: A Warning, published in 2018, which she completed while Donald Trump was still engaged in a war of words with Kim Jung-un of North Korea—before the two of them began their love affair. The book seems to have been prompted by her concerns about Trump, whose behavior is very similar to many 20th century … Continue reading Madeline Albright’s Contribution to U.S. Foreign Policy
Ron Berger, Jeff Berger, Charles Cottle, and Dave Gillespie — Eric Levitz is a journalist, opinion writer, and associate editor of the “Daily Intelligencer” blog of New York Magazine. In July 2017, six months after the inauguration of Donald Trump, he published an article titled “Democrats Can Abandon the Center—Because the Center Doesn’t Exist.” In it he reviews contemporary polling data, political science research, and … Continue reading Deconstructing the Center of American Politics: A Wise Guys Conversation
Charles Cottle — Reputable sources report that advances in technology now take more jobs from American workers than China. In the past, our educational system has confronted the challenge of technological change by educating workers in new skills. That tactic may be less effective in the future as we face new developments in artificial intelligence. The video below is a discussion of these issues using … Continue reading Technology and Jobs of the Future: The View from Karl Marx
Larry Lancit — In the United States we have spent the last two years enduring all manner of insult to our democracy. With the election of Donald Trump, an era of autocracy began. The hints of its arrival have been foreshadowed for the past 20 years by movements like the Tea Party, the Alt Right, and the Freedom Caucus. But then, on January 20, 2017, … Continue reading Can the Majority Rule in the Era of Trump?
Ron Berger — Last November I was one of two speakers at a forum on “Fascism and the Holocaust in Historical and Contemporary Perspective” that was part of the Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Memorial Lecture Series at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I was there to talk about classical European fascism and the Holocaust; and Stas Vysotksy, my colleague in the sociology department at the University of … Continue reading Is Donald Trump a Fascist?
Jeff Berger — In August of 2017, I published an article in Wise Guys about Ukraine entitled “Understanding Ukraine: The Historical Context of Current Events.” Ukraine is in the news again as it struggles against Russia, once again exacerbating the tensions between Russia and the United States. On November 30, 2018, Vice News spent 12 minutes on the current situation in Crimea. (I have not seen … Continue reading Russia and Ukraine: Ongoing Tensions
Ron Berger — In his slim but useful book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018), Francis Fukuyama offers insights into one of the most perplexing questions of our times, the issue of identity and identity politics. In doing so, Fukuyama takes us on a tour of the globe, though his emphasis is on Europe and the … Continue reading The Politics of Identity: Insights from Francis Fukuyama
Ron Berger — For people of my generation, the baby boomers, Lawrence O’Donnell’s Playing With Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics (Penguin Press, 2017), is a trip down memory lane. It was not only a year that changed U.S. politics, but our very lives. For starters, there were the traumatic assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. There … Continue reading 1968: The Year That Changed U.S. Politics, and Our Lives
John Kozlowicz — With the retirement of US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy there is considerable speculation about what effect this will have on future Supreme Court decisions. In the larger area of Supreme Court decisions, 5-4 decisions are the most infrequent ones, with unanimous decisions being the most frequent. The interest in Justice Kennedy comes from his role in close decisions affecting individual rights. … Continue reading The Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy
Jeff Berger — Why do people choose to remain in California in spite of its problems? Some people do it because they don’t want to leave their friends and family. Others love the climate, the environment, and the culture. Nature is readily accessible to everyone 365 days out of the year, even to those living in the heart of a big city. But, Californians pay … Continue reading California Dreamin’: Too Many Jobs, Not Enough Houses
Charles Cottle — It appears, thanks to a Trump administration initiative, that the lives of many tipped employees in restaurants may soon get much worse. On December 5, 2017 the U.S. Department of Labor filed a request to rescind several regulations imposed on employers by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under an executive order issued during the Obama administration, businesses with tipped employees (restaurants, … Continue reading Do Tips Belong to the Employees Who Receive Them?
Larry Lancit — When I was in High School in the mid 1960s, I was a tenor in the A Cappella Choir. One of the most inspiring pieces of music we did was a rendition of “Give Me Your Tired Your Poor,” originally composed by Irving Berlin and, of course, written by Emma Lazarus. Lazarus’s words are inscribed on the base of the Statue of … Continue reading The Dream Deferred: The Assault on DACA
Jeff Berger — Last January Donald Trump tweeted that immigrants to America should not be allowed to come from “shithole countries” like Haiti and nations in Africa. Instead, he said, he preferred people from countries like Norway. People on Twitter, including some who are actually from Norway, were quick to remark that, for many Norwegians, America may seem to be the shithole. Of course, Donald … Continue reading Let’s All Move to Norway
Stephen J. Ducat — Debates rage in the increasingly politicized world of mental health clinicians about how to name and understand Donald Trump’s evident psychopathology. Is he a narcissistic psychopath, a psychopathic narcissist, or simply a ruthless con man who managed to grift his way into business and then into the White House? The Problem of Diagnosis There are those cautious souls that still abide … Continue reading Trump’s Pathology Is Also His Brand