Dystopia Journal #6: Paris Burning

On election night, of all the bleak things I imagined, the worst was that Trump would take America out of the fight against global warming. Unsurprisingly, he has.This is the consequence that counts. The embarrassment and the decline in our national prestige are real, but will fade in time when a competent administration takes power. No matter how badly Trump and the GOP mismanage the economy, even the worst depression ends eventually. However many people terrorists may kill in their … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #5: Nixonian

I'm not at all surprised that an abuse-of-power scandal is threatening to topple the Trump administration. I admit I'm a little surprised that it's all happening so fast.I've already written about the deep and worrying ties between Trump and his cronies and Russia. It's gotten even worse since then, with news that Trump disclosed highly classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a level of detail that might jeopardize its source. It's an open question whether … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #4: Incompetence Trumps Evil

This isn't really what I'd call a victory, but I'll take it.On election night, I was sure that Obamacare was doomed. It seemed certain that the safety net would be ravaged, that all our painfully hard-won gains would be rolled back. But just a few months later, that's looking a lot less likely. I didn't expect to hear, from Paul Ryan of all people, that "Obamacare is the law of the land" after a Republican-controlled Congress failed miserably in their attempt to replace it and then … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #3: The Unamerican President

Last month, when I wrote about the unprecedented badness of the Trump administration, I neglected to mention something else unique and terrifying about his presidency. Namely, it's that he seems to value the goodwill of foreign autocrats above the well-being of America.This was, of course, brought forcefully to my attention by the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions secretly had contact with the Russian ambassador during the campaign and lied to Congress about it during his confirmation … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #2: Is It Really That Bad?

One month into the Trump administration, I'm looking for any reason to be optimistic. One that's occurred to me is that I have to wonder whether I'm not falling into the trap of present bias - exaggerating how bad things are now, just because I wasn't around in past eras when things were far worse, so I don't have the proper baseline for comparison.After all, we've been through bad times before. The U.S. has had awful presidents and Congresses, wars and depressions and all kinds of … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #1: A Vast Unreality

This past weekend's inauguration didn't feel real. It still doesn't.Despite the evidence, it's hard for me to accept that the presidency of Donald Trump is really happening. Watching the news feels like we've been granted a collective glimpse into an alternate timeline, a bad future, as a warning and a means of averting it. But this is no dream or fantasy, it's the reality we live in now and we'll be facing it for years to come.It feels all the more unreal because it's such a sharp break … [Read more...]