Posted by: George | September 9, 2019

American Gulag: Lessons from the Federalist Papers, No. 27

Man is very much a creature of habit. A thing that rarely strikes his senses will generally have but little influence upon his mind.

Alexander Hamilton

In Federalist No. 27, Hamilton addresses the interplay of contradictory forces that are at the heart of the debate over the proposed constitution: Concerns about recreating the tyranny that the American Revolution overthrew versus the need to establish authority for a central government. Would Americans, who identified more with their states, follow federal laws? Must we have a standing army to enforce those laws? Would a standing army give too much power to the federal government?

To answer these questions, Hamilton returns, as he often does, to assumptions about human nature.

Human beings are creatures of habit. As a general rule, they behave well and follow laws and cultural norms. As Aristotle wrote, our values and ethics are embodied in our habits.

Human beings are rational. If the federal government is well managed—Hamilton argues it will likely be better managed than state governments—then, citizens will made the rational decision to follow its laws. Rationality is good, Hamilton would say, and rationality had been good at least since Plato’s Republic. This is a value important to forming and maintaining a republic.

As we read The Federalist Papers looking for the original intention behind the constitution, we might overlook that these papers, these essays, embody values that are important to our democracy. They are not, however, the only values. We also need to look beyond The Federalist Papers to other moments in our history and beyond our history.

We are a nation founded by Puritans, and we think we know what that means. We think the origin of our nation has made us judgmental, uptight, and sexually repressed. But the Puritans were far more complicated. In “A Modell of Christian Charity,” written in 1630, John Winthrop wrote: “If thy brother be in want and thou canst help him, thou needst not make doubt, what thou shouldst doe; if thou louest God thou must help him.” This is part of our history. This is one of our values. This is important to our republic.

In our zeal to protect ourselves from immigrants, we seem to have lost this compassion. Recently, the president’s men recently twisted themselves into verbal knots trying to distance themselves from the words on the Statue of Liberty. For them, too much rest of fear of immigrants. So, we have national debates that amount to Fear vs. Compassion, and we resolve nothing.

Often, habits guide us. Sometimes, they shut down thought.

If we are willing to entertain a little rationality, both sides should admit that the entire complex of problems posed by immigration is complex, beyond most of us. This historical moment is not the late nineteenth century, when we still had a frontier and vast expanses of land that need settlers. We have limited resources. At the same time, despite nativist desires for isolation, we are living in a global society. Movement of people, ideas, products is inevitable. As Hannah Arendt wrote in Men in Dark Times, “Being able to depart for where we will is the prototypical gesture of being free, as limitation of freedom of movement has from time immemorial been the precondition for enslavement.” Immigration cannot be separated from basic human rights.

We don’t study our past, and we don’t seem to want to look to the future. The future is too frightening. What we don’t talk about, now, even those who want to reach out to immigrants, is that many of the people at our southern border are fleeing early effects of climate change. As climate change progresses, as more people flee their homelands, how will we be able to maintain our compassion? When Florida begins to disappear into the ocean, when citizens of that state begin to immigrate to the Midwest, when water and food are scarce, how will we react when we cannot now show compassion for immigrants from Guatemala or Honduras?

If we look beyond our past, to the past of another country, we also find values. In Sergei Lebedev’s Oblivion, a Russian novel that looks into that country’s history, a young geologist is flying in a helicopter over the site of a Gulag:

Barely visible through the white mist, [the sites] somehow did not seem to belong to a concrete place. . . . The outlines of the barracks appeared to push the barracks themselves into the background: you couldn’t say you were seeing buildings, human dwellings. The barracks stood like plywood cargo crates in which people were stacked, unnaturally long—this correlation of length and width appears only in coffins.

How can we read this passage and not think of how we are warehousing people along our southern border? How can we read this without wanting a serious dialogue on immigration?

Posted by: George | June 22, 2018

Lessons from The Federalist Papers, No. 26

It is impossible that the people could be long deceived; and the destruction of the project, and of the projectors, would quickly follow the discovery.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 26

Throughout the Federalist Papers, Hamilton and Madison begin with their lessons from history and foremost in these lessons is the belief that individuals often bow to greed and abuse of power, and these corrupt individuals may capture the attention of the people, leading to a demagogue and the loss of liberties. We must recognize the dark side of human nature and create a government with checks and balances to check this danger.

In Federalist No. 26, as Hamilton continues to argue for the need of a standing army, he seems to switch his view of human nature. He says that “Americans have too much discernment to be argued into anarchy,” that Americans have a hereditary impression of danger to liberty,” that schemes “to subvert liberties . . . require time to mature” and “a continued conspiracy for a series of time” between the legislature and the execute. He asks, “Is it possible that such a combination would exist at all?”

But maybe this is not so much a reversal as a recognition of a necessary tension that must be present in democracy.

We must recognize the dark side of humanity and be vigilant against demagogues while we believe that the majority of citizens will recognize threats to liberties. We must recognize the worst about humanity while we maintain faith in the best of humanity.

Hamilton begins Federalist No. 26 with the recognition that this is a delicate balance, but what Hamilton could not perhaps see, as he was looking only origin of modern democracy, is that broad social forces can disrupt the balance and these forces change historically.

When Hamilton was writing, we did not have political parties. What happens when the same political party controls the legislature, much of the judiciary, and the executive branches? What happens when that party becomes a cult of personality, as politicians from both sides of the aisle have now stated?

When Hamilton was writing, we did not have cable news and social media. What happens when so many of us, throughout the political spectrum, right and left, live in media bubbles that reinforce and never question their assumptions?

When Hamilton was writing, we had greater economic equality and opportunity. What happens when a segment of our population lives in material or virtual gated communities?

What has not changed since Hamilton was writing is that the greatest threat to democracy is fear. When we fear immigrants, even each other, we are more likely to have our liberties to what we perceive to be a strong leader. Ultimately, preserving our liberties is about moving past our fears, moving past our level of comfort.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at

Posted by: George | May 20, 2018

Lessons from The Federalist Papers, No. 25

For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25


In Federalist No. 25, Alexander Hamilton continues his argument for a standing army and navy. As I have written in earlier posts, some of the arguments for the adoption of the new constitution have long lost their relevance. We have had a standing army and navy for so long that its need is beyond question. Some argue for a smaller military. We spend more on ours than the next six nations combined. Some argue for more funding. Even though Trump has said he wants to bring more of our military home, he has been increasing the military’s budget. But we don’t hear arguments about whether or not we should have a military in times of peace, if we ever have peace again. So, the need for the arguments in Federalist No. 25 seemed to have been lost to another time. And, this means that essays like this do not receive much attention from constitutional scholars, or, that matter, from historians and political scientists.

Yet, even here, we can find some wisdom, some advice for our age, our crisis.

The sentence above begins “for it is a truth.” In our time, as our president tweets “fake news” in response to any criticism, the assertion seems almost as quaint as the argument for a standing military.

But only if we allow ourselves to forget.

If we allow ourselves to forget that fake news is not new. Even the founders of the republic hired reporters to spin the news in their direction.

If we allow ourselves to forget that the founders also struggled to find truth in the noise of public debate. Hamilton’s assertion to truth is followed by the clause “which the experience of ages has attested.” This is where John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton sought truth—in an intense study of history, philosophy, and law. It takes effort.

If we allow ourselves to forget that the survival of democracy, which the founders called an experiment and Whitman, about a hundred years later, still called an experiment, requires our vigilance. Even the power of those who seem trustworthy require our scrutiny.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at

Posted by: George | May 4, 2018

Lessons from The Federalist Papers, No. 24

If he happened to be a man of calm and dispassionate feelings, he would indulge a sigh for the frailty of human nature, and would lament, that in a matter so interesting to the happinesss of millions, the true merits of the question should be perplexed and entangled by expedients so unfriendly to an impartial and right determination. Even such a man could hardly forebear remarking, that a conduct of this kind has too much the appearance of an intention to mislead the people by alarming their passions, rather than to convince them by arguments addressed to their understandings.

Alexander Hamilton

On the surface, Federalist No. 24 repeats a common theme: To protect the country and improve commerce, the new constitution needs to grant the power to support a standing army and navy. Here, however, Hamilton focuses on what Cicero called refutatio, the part of the argument where you present the opposition’s arguments and explain them away.

From another angle, Hamilton is giving a reading lesson, maybe even practicing dialectical thinking. He imagines a “stranger to our politics” and how this person would read the proposed constitution. After saying that this person might assume that the power to raise and maintain an army would rest with the president, Hamilton writes: “If he came afterwards to pursue the plan [the proposed constitution] itself, he would be surprised to discover, that neither the one nor the other was the case; that the whole power of raising armies was lodged in the legislature, not in the executive.”

Most of Hamilton’s readers would not have read “the plan,” and they would have assumed, being familiar with a monarchy,that “the plan” gave the president enormous, unchecked power. Not true, Hamilton says.

In the quote at the beginning of this post, a section that is almost an aside, Hamilton imagines the ideal citizen. This person would acknowledge “the frailty of human nature,” yet possess “calm and dispassionate feelings.” He or she would be able to find the “true merits of the question,” even when someone is trying “to mislead the people by alarming their passions.” While Hamilton and Madison held a deep distrust in human nature, Hamilton here seems to acknowledge that separation of powers might not be enough to preserve our experiment. We also need good citizens.

In Democratic Vistas, Walt Whitman also called for a new kind of citizen, a “democratic personality,” who would act both as individuals and a collective, men and women, who would develop themselves, develop democracy, protect our fragile experiment. Whitman felt we could develop citizens through exposure to a new American literature, which he was trying to help create. His work embraced difference and diversity.

In Reverence, Paul Woodruff argues that we need to pay attention to an ancient, almost universal, virtue: “To forget that you are only human, to think you can act like a god—that is the opposite of reverence. Ancient Greeks thought that tyranny was the height of irreverence, and they gave the famous name of hubris to the crimes of tyrants. An irreverent soul is arrogant and shameless, unable to feel awe in the face of things higher than itself.” You can have reverence for god or nature or other people. You can even have reverence for the constitution. We need to remember that moment when Khizr Khan, an immigrant to our country, pulled a copy of our constitution from his coat pocket at the Democratic National Convention.


Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at



Posted by: George | April 15, 2018

Lessons from The Federalist Papers, No. 23

This is one of the truths which, to a correct and unprejudiced mind, carries its own evidence along with it, and may be obscured, but cannot be made plainer by argument or reasoning.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 23

As a rhetorician, I was struck by the idea that a proposition could carry “its own evidence along with it.” Of course, Hamilton qualifies this idea. It only works for someone with “a correct and unprejudiced mind.”

In Federalist No. 23, Hamilton is arguing that the federal government should not be limited in protecting us against foreign threats. This proposition carries “its own evidence along with it” because it implies what Aristotle would call a common topos, an accepted argument that can apply to most situations—the necessary relationship between the ends and the means. If we agree the federal government should protect us (the end), then it should have the necessary means to do so (the means).

This is not the ends justifies the means argument in a qualitative sense, that is, a good end justifies bad means. Rather, it is the ends warrants an appropriate means argument in a quantitative sense, that is, a necessary end warrants a sufficient response. Hamilton does not argue here for moral expedience. He does, rather, argue for the democratic process.

The argument is interesting, but what is more interesting is Hamilton’s faith that this argument will find minds that are “correct and unprejudiced.” Can we, in this time, advance sound arguments with the same optimism? If Hamilton were here, I think he would say, “We must.”

M.M. Bakhtin, the Russian discourse theorist who lives through the Stalinist purge, wrote about addressivity. The audience we address can shape our discourse because we expect a certain kind of reaction. The reverse is true, also. The nature of our arguments can shape the response of our audience—potentially even transform the audience.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of maintaining our values. We should not allow Trump to turn us into Trump. We need to practice sound arguments, hold to our values, and trust our fellow citizens. If we are unwilling to trust the democratic process to protect democracy, then we have already lost.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at

Posted by: George | April 2, 2018

Lessons from the Federalist Papers, No. 22

Hence it is that history furnishes us with so many mortifying examples of the prevalency of foreign corruption in republican governments. How much this contributed to the ruin of the ancient commonwealths has been already delineated. It is well known that the deputies of the United Providences have, in various instances, been purchased by the emissaries of the neighboring kingdoms.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22

Numbers 21 and 22 of the Federalist Papers catalog “other defects” of the “present Confederation.” In the middle of No. 22, in the middle of a paragraph, almost hidden, Hamilton expresses his concern that other governments might “purchase” influence with our government, especially with “persons elevated from the mass of the community.”

While this is included in “other defects,” both Hamilton and Madison have already written about their fear of foreign influence. Repeatedly. Here, in Number 22, Hamilton could not avoid returning to this theme, even in an essay that is meant to be a bit of a waste bin, a place to throw the bits and pieces of arguments that didn’t quite deserve the weight and scope of an entire essay.

So, Hamilton returns to the core theme of the papers. History shows us that human beings are easily corrupted. They give way to their own egos and greed and petty revenge. They focus on what is expedient in the short run. They ignore the commonwealth, the collective good of the people and the nation. Only checks and balances will prevent a corrupt individual or privileged group from destroying the republic.

And now, it is accepted as fact by anyone who is capable of sorting fake news from real news that the Russians tried their best to swing the election to Trump or, failing that, create enough discord to render Hillary Clinton ineffective. And now we are learning that Cambridge Analytica stole personal information from Facebook so that it could be used in the Trump campaign.

Not surprisingly, Trump seems to have no interest in insuring a fair and just midterm election in 2018, and he even congratulated Putin on his reelection, which was never in doubt.

And now, the Sinclair Group has made reporters at every one of its 190 some stations read the same script claiming that real news is actually fake news and this is not good for our democracy. Local reporters were forced to read the script in what could be described as the first appearance of state television in our country. While there might not be a smoking gun, smoke is drifting from Russia to Trump to the Sinclair Group.

And now, our country has progressed from appearing to be Orwellian to being Orwellian. When I read Animal Farm in high school, I knew it was a tale of what was happening in Russia. That is what happens over there, I thought. It could not happen here.

And now, it is here.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at

Posted by: George | November 12, 2017

Why I Hate Kurt Vile

Before I explain about why I hate Kurt Vile, I need to explain why I love Courtney Barnett. At this moment (may it pass sooner than the Trump presidency), they are, though it leaves a dent in my soul to acknowledge it, a package deal of sorts.

For about two years, I have been fixated on Courtney Barnett. I hope not in an unhealthy way, but maybe. She’s a place I like to visit often, and it is a good place.

If I had to analyze it, I would say I am drawn to her authenticity. She is like the cool chick you wanted to hang out with in high school but you never had the guts to talk to because she moved on the edge of cliques as if she belonged without belonging, as if she were accepted without even caring about being popular. And you were the guy who wanted to belong to any group but ended up eating lunch alone. Even when you were a stupid teenager, you knew these two worlds could orbit near each other but never synch up.

And yes, the “you” here is “me,” but maybe a little less pathetic. I didn’t always eat lunch alone. I had some friends. But I never talked to that girl.

When I listen to Barnett’s music, I feel like I am recapturing some lost opportunity, like I am hanging with that girl. It’s a pretty powerful feeling.

So, when I found out she was doing a show at the Ryman, my favorite place to see live music, I bought a couple of tickets and invited my friend Rod. He’s a bass player in Nashville. He’s a great person to take to shows because he hears things I would never hear on my own. This was going to be a good night. The Ryman, Courtney Barnett, and my best music buddy Rod.

Then, I heard Kurt Vile was going to be part of the show. I had listened to him before, on the recommendation of a student. I didn’t care for him, but I didn’t have a visceral reaction. I assumed he would be opening, so I wasn’t worried yet. Then, Lotta Sea Lice, their collaboration album, came out. I did not like it at all. I started to worry, but I thought it would be okay. She would probably do a set on her own. I could suffer through a little of Lotta Sea Lice (Courtney with Kurt) for a little of Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Courtney without Kurt).

No such luck. They came on together and remained together. It was nada but a Lotta Sea Lice.

After the first song, Rod leaned to me to complain about how the “bass player” was playing on a regular guitar run through a bass amp. I was wondering why everything sounded flat.

After about seven songs, I leaned to Rod and said, “Let’s go. This sucks.” He smiled and nodded and I am sure was glad I was going to put an end to it. As we were walking out, Courtney began to sing “Depreston” while Kurt was futzing around with his guitar knobs. (I mean “nobs” literally, not “nobs” as in a good Blues song, where “nobs” means something sexual, like “balls.”) This song (Courtney without Kurt) was what I drove five hours, each way, ten hours total, to hear. I asked Rod if we could listen to this song. We stood by the door with the ushers and I was almost ready to suggest we go back to our seats, and then Kurt, happy with his nobs, began to play what I am sure he would call a “guitar solo.” I said to Rod, “That was great until he started to play. Let’s go.”

I vented all the way to the car and part of the drive to Rod’s house.

Here is a highly edited summary:

I hate Kurt Vile.

I hate the way he looks.

I hate how he walks, all bent over, like Bartleby the Scrivener, without Bartleby’s work ethic.

I hate how his guitar tech (who wears a nice suit, by the way) tuned his guitar eight times before the show began and then his guitar was out of tune.

I hate how he can screw up the mix at the Ryman, which has about the best acoustics of any music hall in the world.

I hate his song writing, which shows a profound disrespect for the language, any language.

I hate how he counts off before every song and then plays off the beat, not in the way a good jazz musician plays slightly off the beat to add texture, but totally off the beat, like the way a junior high school drummer plays off the beat while thinking, “This is awesome.”

I hate how he thinks he is some kind of combination of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits without any understanding of their craft.

I hate how he stares into the microphone when he sings, as if it were a mirror.

I hate how he thinks he’s Kurt Cobain when all they have in common is half a name.

I hate how he thinks he’s shredding when he’s playing half notes where a sixteenth note would have fit.

I hate, most of all, how he may have ruined Courtney Barnett for me. Forever.

I do not express all this with any sense of satisfaction. I wish I could be more Zen about the whole affair. I am afraid I’m finally becoming that old guy who doesn’t understand the new wave of disaffected youths. I’ll get over it. I’ll be okay. I needed to vent. I will get back to writing about The Federalist Papers soon.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at

Posted by: George | September 29, 2017

Lessons from The Federalist Papers, No. 21

No. 21The most palpable defect of the subsisting Confederation is the total want of a sanction to its laws. The United States, as now composed, have no powers to exact obedience, or punish disobedience to their resolutions, either by pecuniary mulcts, by a suspension or divestiture of privileges, or by any constitutional mode.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers, No. 21

I have not posted a while. I have been stuck. I have been trying to find a lesson from Federalist No. 21, and I have been lost.

I have had trouble finding an important lesson here. I have also been watching Ken Burns’ documentary about Vietnam.

I was one of the student who protested the war in Vietnam. I went to Washington, DC, more than once to protest. I was there on November 15, 1969, when about a half a million people said that the war should end.

I think I have been stuck because Alexander Hamilton was, in many ways, a radical. He was also, in many ways, a conservation. He wanted order. He wanted a strong central government that could enforce it laws. He was also a constant foil of Thomas Jefferson, who advocated constant revolution.

I appreciate everything that Hamilton did for our nation. I also appreciate his dapple-ganger, Thomas Jefferson.

I understand the need for order. I also understand the need for change. I also understand the need to disrupt. I am feeling that more and more right now.

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for Vietnam?” This is the question John Kerry asked this is 1969. I am proud of my country. I am proud that my father served in World War II. I am proud that my brother served in Vietnam. I am proud that I protest the war, which my brother came to question. I believe that we need to embrace the best values of our country.

This is the message in Whitman’s Democratic Vistas. He said that we do not have a democracy—yet. But we can get there. We need to get there. We will get there.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at

Posted by: George | September 3, 2017

Lessons from the Federalist Papers, No. 20

Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred. The important truth, which it unequivocally pronounces in the present case, is that a sovereignty over sovereigns, a government over governs, a legislation for communities, as it is a solecism in theory, so in practice it is subversive of the order and the ends of civil polity, by substituting violence in place of law, or the destructive coercion of the sword in place of the mild and salutary coercion of the magistracy.

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 20

In Federalist No. 20, Hamilton and Madison offer another “melancholy and monitory lesson of history,” this one from recent times—the troubles produced by the loose confederacy of the United Netherlands. They explain how a weak confederacy like that in the United Netherlands leads to problems and they attempt to solve the problems by covering it with patches, essentially ad hoc committees without clear authority or traditions. The result is that the “government over governs” in an attempt establish order.

What I find most interesting about this essay is what drives the analysis. Hamilton and Madison trust in the unequivocal truth that can be found in history and experience. History and experience may not be simple, but we can find truth there. We are also better off with a government that establishes order through rule of law rather than violence. But, to have rule of law, we need laws and a legal system. For Hamilton and Madison, the first step toward rule of law was the adoption of a strong constitution with checks and balances.

We have those institutions. They were established, at least as concepts, by the very constitution that Hamilton and Madison promoted in their essays. Since the adoption of our constitutions, these institutions have historically evolved, building the traditions that add strength and authority to a concept.

Notice the word concept. Go searching for the material reality of our legal system. You will find buildings, yes. A building can be turned into a parking lot easy enough. You will find lawyers and judges and police officers, certainly. They can be fired. You don’t even have to fire all of them, just some of them. If those who remain feel vulnerable, the institution collapses.

The only material reality, the only foundation we can trust, is informed citizens who support our institutions.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at


Posted by: George | August 8, 2017

Lessons from The Federalist Papers, No. 19

Whatever efficacy the [Polish] union may have had in ordinary cases, it appears that the moment a cause of difference sprang up, capable of trying its strength, it failed.

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 19

Our constitution, as the Federalist Papers attest, is a product of smart people who learned the lessons of history.

Hamilton and Madison wrote their essays quickly, which means they wrote from the knowledge of history they carried with them, the knowledge they used to construct a constitution and a form of government that could survive not just mundane events of normal times but also the more extreme challenges of abnormal times, the kind of threats that fill the history books of Greece, Rome, Germany, Poland, France, and England, times distant and recent.

But I’m not so sure Hamilton and Madison anticipated the kind of threat we face at this moment, a time when we are obsessed with scandals and distracted from the machinery of government.

We can see it in the rhythm of news coverage, especially on 24/7 news channels. The anchors often began their shows by saying, “We have a lot to talk about today.” Then, they launch into the enduring scandals of the Trump administration, like potential collusion with Russians to tamper with elections, and the handful of new scandals that broke in the last day—or the last hour. These are not normal times.

Sometimes, with nostalgia, even tears in my eyes, I think back on news coverage about scandals during the Obama administration. News shows might spend the better part of a week talking about how Obama bowed too deeply before the Emperor of Japan or held a Latte in his right hand as he saluted a marine.

These were normal times. We were not so distracted and could attend to a broader range of news about our government, mundane and subtle changes that often affect our lives.

We might even have time to talk about cultural values. Again, with nostalgia, I remember when Miley Cyrus danced on her stripper pole. On Morning Joe, for several days, the panel spent entire blocks on Miley and her stripper pole. Mika Brzezinski, a mother of daughters, was particularly concerned about the message Miley was sending young women. Rightly so. I miss Miley and her stripper pole.

In these abnormal times, if Miley started to act trashy again, I’m not sure we would notice. If we did, we would probably say something like, “Well, that’s not so bad. At least, she’s not working in the West Wing.”

In these peculiarly abnormal times, our attention is diverted. Our attention is distorted. When Trump began criticizing his own Attorney General, I began to hope that Sessions would remain strong and assert the independence of the Department of Justice. I was cheering him on. Then, I thought, “Damn, I’m defending Jeff Sessions.” I hadn’t given much thought to what the Attorney General is doing to reverse policy on voter ID laws, protection of LGBT rights, punishment for minor drug offenses, and Affirmative Action.

Secretary Sessions is working the machinery of government every day. He doesn’t attract much attention, but his actions have consequence.

Consult for background and texts relating to The Federalist Papers.

I also invite your to read Homo Academicus, my serial novel, which is being published at



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