The Last Adults Left in the Room

At Georgetown University, Jeff Sessions accused American universities of having ties to Russia. At William and Mary, Black Lives Matter protestors labeled the ACLU a white supremacist organization. And in Indianapolis, Vice President Mike Pence staged a walk out of an NFL game rather than witness black athletes kneeling during the national anthem. Trigger warning: irony can no longer contain our politics. We are beyond an Age of Fracture, a Politics of the Absurd. The most recent dust-up over campus free speech happened at William & Mary College in Virginia, where ACLU lawyer Claire Gastañaga was scheduled to give a talk. Given that the ACLU helped white supremacists get a permit to … [Read more...]

The End of Craft Beer

The Brewers Association (the trade organization representing small, independent, and traditional breweries) recently announced that craft brewers made 24.6 million barrels of beer in 2016 and achieved a 12.3% share of the American beer production market. This is mindboggling, if one considers that in 2000, their market share was less than 3%.[1] Craft brewers have not just dominated all new markets for beer over the past decade—they have owned InBev and their global corporate peers. Beyond the metrics of the marketplace, craft beer has helped change how we live by establishing itself as a leading voice in the artisanal food and drink movement. The proliferation of restaurants, food trucks, … [Read more...]

Originalism: The Original Trigger Warning

Neil Gorsuch will soon be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Barring any eleventh-hour scandal (unlikely, if one is to judge by his haircut), the Senate will confirm him. It will be confirming a young man, in judge years, a reliable conservative in politics and an originalist in legal philosophy. The first two traits are unobjectionable in a judicial nominee—we expect presidents to nominate people with views consummate with their own ideology (or, in Trump’s case, the ideology he promised Christian conservatives he would have at the time of the nomination). There is some opprobrium hanging over the fact that it is a “stolen seat,” but that shame attaches to the Senate, not to Trump … [Read more...]

A Brief History of Sanctuary Cities

As everyone with a Twitter feed already knows, Donald J. Trump is no friend of immigrants. In a spate of hot-headed executive orders this week, he slammed the door shut on refugees, banned visitors from seven Muslim countries, and promised to build a “Great Wall” physically separating us from Mexico. But his wrath extended past Mexican day laborers and Muslim asylum seekers to take aim at the traitors within. In an executive jeremiad, Trump torched “sanctuary jurisdictions” for “willfully” violating federal law and causing “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.” To such harmers of the Republican Fabric he threatens to withhold all federal funds, … [Read more...]

Trump doth bestride the narrow world, like a tiny-handed Colossus…

Is Trump sui generis? The culmination of forty years of oblique race-baiting in the GOP? A reality television hack? An avatar for fascism? We are asking the wrong questions. The real question is how our political culture has become so denigrated that we would allow a rank amateur so clearly out of his depth to rise this far, this fast. Then again, the questions always seem to outpace the answers when it comes to Trump’s nettlesome presence in the 2016 presidential election. A year and some ago, he was only the most orangey in a crowded field of GOP attention-seekers, from Ted “Puddin’head” Cruz, Mike “not quite primetime” Huckabee and Ben “Egyptologist” Carson. How long til the Donald … [Read more...]

When Trump Loses

By now, we should all be tired of hearing how Trump has tossed the playbook out the window. He opened his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, insulting POWs, and verbally assaulting women. He called prominent members of his own party “pathetic” and “losers.” He was an insurgent with no ground game, no donors, and no shame. He did it his way, and Republican voters have rewarded him with elevation to the position of de facto leader of his party. Democrats once rubbed their hands with glee at the prospect of running a general campaign against a party with Trump at the head of the ticket. Now they are nervous. Trump has not just narrowed the polling gap with Hillary—he has obliterated it.[1] … [Read more...]

Was the Constitution Racist? Sanders and Wilentz May Both Be Wrong

Bernie Sanders thinks America was founded on racist principles. Sean Wilentz, the Pulitzer Prize nominated historian, disagrees. “The myth,” wrote Wilentz in an op-ed published in the New York Times, “that the United States was founded on racial slavery persists, notably among scholars and activists on the left who are rightly angry at America’s racist past.” So who’s right? Neither. Bernie Sanders’s statement about America’s racist Founding was not a proper argument, nor was it really meant to be. Sanders’s concern is justice today, and whether it is income equality or racial injustice he is targeting, the past is more of a convenient backdrop than a site of serious inquiry. Sean … [Read more...]

Why Kim Davis Matters

It is not hard to see why Kim Davis’s story is being received with a collective national eye roll. It may be getting a lot of press, but that’s only because Deflategate finally seems to be over. One suspects that a slow news cycle is to blame when CNN dispatches reporters with cameras to film a leering Mike Huckabee leading a pie-eyed Kim Davis to a podium before a cheering crowd to a bootleg recording of “Eye of the Tiger.” But Kim Davis matters. Granted, not in the way she thinks, and certainly not in the way that Mike Huckabee thinks (if one can call his brain poop “thought”). Kim Davis matters because American constitutionalism is as much about managing dissent as it is proclaiming … [Read more...]

In Search of the Incredible Cult Riesling

Christie’s_Auction_House.zip reports that a live-by-Skype multi-estate-auction recorded the highest price for a single bottle of American wine ever. A rare 1997 Smith-Madrone Riesling fetched $196,000. The buyer of record was Raoul Messier, a well-known agent who made an additional $2,400,000 in purchases at the auction. Messier will not reveal his master, but all signs point to Halston Sturge, that shadowy purveyor of tawdry 4-D immersion software who has made a habit of collecting cult wines with the wealth garnered from his exploits in Mobile’s Tech Alley. -- Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2064 Why the Cult Cabernet? Why not the Cult Riesling? Why do we pay upwards of $100 for a … [Read more...]

Relax, Historians: As Long as There’s a Roy Moore, You’ll Be in Business

On February 8, Roy Moore issued an administrative order to Alabama’s probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite a federal district court’s holding that the Alabama ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Moore based his order on a couple of technicalities, the primary one being that the federal order was directed at the attorney general and not the probate judges. A lot can change in three days. On Thursday, February 12, Judge Callie Virginia S. Granade of the Federal District Court ordered Alabama’s probate judges to issue the licenses. Undaunted, Roy Moore continues to insist that Alabama is not bound by the federal district court, and took to the … [Read more...]