Democracy in Crisis

  • Cowardly committee puts own slight discomfort above suffering of millions of Americans

    Cowardly committee puts own slight discomfort above suffering of millions of Americans

    The prohibitionist puritans in the House Rules Committee showed their true cowardice when they blocked Congress from voting on amendments that would protect people in states where cannabis is legal from federal prosecution. This move could open the doors for Attorney General Jeff—"I thought states'...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Politics as Crime in the Age of Trump

    Democracy In Crisis: Politics as Crime in the Age of Trump

    Donald Trump's pardon of former Maricopa County sheriff and top-notch torturer Joe Arpaio is, in many ways, the quintessential Trumpian act, the tarry, shit-smelling extract of the president's politics. In the same Phoenix campaign rally—yes, it was actually paid for by Trump's 2020 campaign—where...

  • Democracy in Crisis: This Ain't the Summer of Love

    Democracy in Crisis: This Ain't the Summer of Love

    One night last week, I suddenly started pouring sweat, heart pounding, as I fell off my couch. I couldn't feel my hands or my feet and my vision was narrowing, occluded by static, into a small spot. It was the beginning of a high-fever, five-day stomach flu. To paraphrase Joan Didion, it was not...

  • D.C. courts protect government data while ruling against protection for private citizens

    D.C. courts protect government data while ruling against protection for private citizens

    In two recent rulings District of Columbia courts sent confusing signals about individual privacy in a world of mass surveillance and digital information. Both of the decisions address the J20 case—200 defendants charged with rioting, conspiracy to riot, inciting riot, and destruction of property...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 29: Wil Hylton on Breitbart and Bannon

    Democracy in Crisis Episode 29: Wil Hylton on Breitbart and Bannon

    This week, co-host Baynard Woods talks with Wil Hylton, whose New York Times Magazine story "Down the Breitbart Hole" came out just two days before Steve Bannon, booted from the White House, returned to the site. And then Bannon called Wil... Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard...

  • White Supremacy, Monuments, and Power

    White Supremacy, Monuments, and Power

    Donald Trump's press conference, in which he defended the racists in Charlottesville and attacked those there to protest them, was one of the worst performances of his presidency. And it came a day after the Durham statue to Confederate soldiers came down thanks to activists who took it into their...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 27: Charlottesville

    Democracy in Crisis Episode 27: Charlottesville

    On this week’s episode Marc Steiner talks to co-host Baynard Woods and City Paper editor Brandon Soderberg about their experiences at the racist rally in Charlottesville. Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and engineered by Calvin Perry for...

  • Charlottesville and the shattering of America

    Charlottesville and the shattering of America

    Two middle-aged men, one black and one white, were walking up a street in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia yelling at each other. It was a moment of relative normalcy in a day otherwise defined by mayhem. Both men use the phrase “born and bred” to define their relationship to the smallish Southern...

  • Democracy In Crisis Episode 26: With Fire and Fury (We're all gonna die!)

    Democracy In Crisis Episode 26: With Fire and Fury (We're all gonna die!)

    On this week’s episode co-hosts Marc Steiner and Baynard Woods are back after a two-week hiatus just in time to talk about the possibility of nuclear war. Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and engineered by Calvin Perry for The Center for...

  • The kind of police violence Trump encouraged in Long Island speech marked his inauguration, according to ACLU suit

    The kind of police violence Trump encouraged in Long Island speech marked his inauguration, according to ACLU suit

    Donald Trump's authoritarian streak has been on full display in recent weeks, nowhere more so than when talking to cops in Long Island. "Please don't be too nice," he said and told the officers that when they arrest someone they don’t need to protect the prisoner's head. "I said, 'You can take...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 22: WTF is up with the alt-right?

    On this week’s episode co-host Baynard Woods talks with Baltimore City Paper editor Brandon Soderberg and Center for Emerging Media's Imani Spence about the racism, rallies, and the rift on the far right. Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced...

  • Alt-Right in Fat Elvis Mode: 100 or so Nazis gather for “Freedom of Speech” rally

    "Can I get some sunscreen?" one young Nazi asks another young Nazi near the Lincoln Memorial where the alt-right's "Free Speech" rally—the more edgy of two right-wing rallies scheduled for the same time in Washington, D.C. on June 25—is about to kick off. The second rally, which is supposed to...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Sad little scenes from the White House Briefing Room

    1. The White House briefing room feels like a mansion's pool house, but with the carpet of a church basement. On the eve of the summer solstice, after a week without an on-camera press briefing, the room smells like a grill doused with too much lighter fluid. Cameramen and techies move around in...

  • Democracy In Crisis Episode 21: Black Bloc and the Prosecution of Journalism

    On this week’s episode co-host Baynard Woods talks with Baltimore City Paper editor Brandon Soderberg and Center for Emerging Media's Imani Spence about the charges against journalist Aaron Cantú stemming from the black bloc actions on Inauguration Day. Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted...

  • Dream Darker: The indictment of journalist Aaron Cantú portends grim future for First Amendment

    Dozens of defendants, each sitting with their own lawyer, fill a Washington, D.C. courtroom, looking like college students wearing their nicest clothes for a job interview. It is far more serious than that. They are all facing charges of felony rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property...

  • I took my Trump-loving father to Mar-a-Lago

    A couple of weeks ago, my dad and I stood on a Palm Beach sandbar staring at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf club and resort. My dad didn't dress up much for the trip. He was wearing his quintessential summer garb of kneehigh white sport socks, a faux polo shirt from the sale rack, and a pair...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 20: Maryland AG Brian Frosh sues the president

    On this week’s episode co-host Marc Steiner interviews Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh about the Emoluments Clause. Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and engineered by Imani Spence for The Center for Emerging Media. Theme music by Ruby...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Amid Comey chaos, lessons from the history of America's secret police

    Hundreds of people lined up in the marble hallways of a Senate office building, hoping to get one of the 88 public seats in Room 216, where James Comey, the FBI director Trump fired over the Russia investigation, was scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. That was at 8:30 a.m. More came. Some of the people...

  • Amid Comey chaos, lessons from the history of America’s secret police

    Hundreds of people lined up in the marble hallways of a Senate office building, hoping to get one of the 88 public seats in Room 216, where James Comey, the FBI director Trump fired over the Russia investigation, was scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. That was at 8:30 a.m. More came. Some of the people...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 19: Politics and the Counterculture

    On this week’s episode co-hosts Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, joined by producer Imani Spence, talk about the Fugs, exorcising the White House and the state of the counterculture. Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and engineered by Imani...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Reinventing the underground part one—a countercultural exorcism

    Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, poet and provocateur Ed Sanders shouts "Out demons, out!," his arms raised in clenched fists above his head, a computer bag hanging from the shoulder of his powder-blue sports coat. With a wild halo of white hair exploding from his balding pate, small...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Marching for truth days before Comey testimony

    Ten members of St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band gathered at the trolley turnaround at the corner of Market and Powell St in San Francisco last Saturday. The New Orleans second line brass band usually just “marries ‘em and buries ‘em,” as one band member told me, but today the band volunteered...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 18: Hannah Arendt in the Age of Trump Part 2, Global Fascism

    In the second part of a two-part conversation, cohost Baynard Woods talks with scholar and writer Kathleen B. Jones about the relevance of political theorist Hannah Arendt in the age of Trump. Jones is a professor emerita at San Diego State University and the author of numerous books, stories and...

  • Jackson, Trump, Hitler and the seeds of global fascism

    I'm writing this week from North Carolina, the state that may be the center of our current illiberal, anti-democratic and yet ostensibly populist politics; the place that should be called North Coup-d'etat-arolina after the Republican legislature tried to disempower the democratically elected Democratic...

  • Democracy In Crisis Episode 17: Hannah Arendt in the Age of Trump

    On this week's podcast, cohost Baynard Woods talks with scholar and writer Kathleen B. Jones about the relevance of political theorist Hannah Arendt in the age of Trump. Jones is a professor emerita at San Diego State University and the author of numerous books, stories and essays, including "The...

  • Democracy in Crisis: What we can learn from Turkey's populist regime

    I fucked up on Twitter last week when sending out a story I wrote about Kurds and other activists who were attacked by Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security forces outside of the Turkish ambassador's Washington, D.C. residence. Instead of typing "Turkish security forces," I inadvertently wrote "Trump...

  • Kurds and other anti-Erdoğan protesters detail attack by Turkish forces at D.C. embassy and demand justice

    Shortly after Donald Trump tweeted “It was a great honor to welcome the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to the @WhiteHouse today!,” members of Erdoğan’s security staff, many of whom appear to have been armed, attacked a peaceful protest across from the Turkish ambassador’s residence...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Brutal attack on protesters outside Turkish ambassador's residence

    Shortly after Donald Trump tweeted "It was a great honor to welcome the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to the @WhiteHouse today!" members of Erdoğan's security staff, many of whom appear to have been armed, attacked a peaceful protest across from the Turkish ambassador's residence in...

  • Whose Autocracy Is It Anyway?: 13 authoritarian jokes on America

    I. FBI Director James Comey was speaking to federal agents when news of his firing flashed across the television behind him. The regime blamed new Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and cited Comey's treatment of the Clinton email investigation—as if daring us to pretend they are telling the...

  • Democracy In Crisis Episode 15: On the canning of FBI Director James Comey

    On this week's episode, cohosts Marc Steiner and Baynard Woods talk with Mark Trahant about Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI director James Comey. Mark Trahant is an independent print and media journalist who writes at TrahantReports.com. He is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Populism, Belonging, and Inside Jokes at Trump's Reality Show Rally

    It's hard to know what to make of these post-election Trump rallies. The latest one, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was intended to celebrate his first 100 days in office. It it also served as a distraction from the People's Climate March, which brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to D.C.,...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Comey, Comey, Comey Chameleon, You Come and Go

    Back in March when then-FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Select Intelligence Committee—chaired by Devin Nunes, who had yet to jump out of an Uber in the middle of the night for a shady White House meeting—he began the substance of his remarks by saying, “I have been authorized...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Inauguration Day protesters face decades in jail

    It was almost like a smaller, less intense recap of inauguration day as socialist Wobblies waving red Industrial Workers of the World and the black masked anarchist ranks of ANTIFA marched up to the line of police officers standing in attention outside the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse in Washington...

  • Democracy In Crisis Episode 14: Trump's Harrisburg Rally and May Day Marches

    On this week’s episode, cohost Baynard Woods and Baltimore City Paper editor Brandon Soderberg talk about the strange political landscape after attending both the Trump rally in Pennsylvania and the May Day marches in D.C. Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc...

  • Democracy in Crisis: The complexities and hypocrisies of the March For Science

    Twenty years ago I was arrested for occupying the office of Sen. Pete Domenici in Albuquerque, N.M. The senator and one-time segregationist Dixiecrat presidential candidate Strom Thurmond had threatened to defund the Environmental Protection Agency if it did not approve the Waste Isolation Pilot...

  • Democracy in Crisis: How to question science without becoming a chemtrail-chasing cynic

    Donald Trump rode to the White House on a wave of widespread distrust of institutions, a cynical view that sees truth merely as a discourse of power. In that, this view resembles the skepticism of postmodernism and deconstruction (a word Steve Bannon has come to favor). The same theory can be applied...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Archaeological Notes on "Russia"

    After the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian interference with the U.S. election, I had to renew my press credentials and took the elevator down to the private subway that runs beneath the Capitol. As the train approached and the glass doors opened, I imagined a...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Paul Ryan’s No Good Very Bad Day

    Friday afternoon, after a dramatic capitulation, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan walked out before the press and conceded defeat on what had been his party’s primary concern for the last seven years. “Obamacare is the law of the land,” Ryan said. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 8: House Hearings on Possible Russian Involvement in the Election

    In this week's episode, hosts Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner talk about the House Intelligence Committee hearings on possible Russian involvement in the U.S. election and ask—where does this all lead? Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Congress going "berserk" over Russia

    Like the rest of the country, Congress has gone crazy. "The idea that Russia could come in and interfere with our election, all of us should be going berserk," Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings said Thursday, summarizing the mood on at least half of the Hill.  On Monday, the House Intelligence...

  • Democracy In Crisis Episode 6: Department Of Justification & International Women's Strike

    Emily Bazelon, staff writer at the New York Times Magazine, joins us to discuss her latest piece called "Department of Justification," which discussed the long shared vision of Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Jeff Sessions. Then, we discuss the International Women's Strike with Kate D. Griffiths,...

  • Democracy in Crisis: The Man Behind FOIA

    Last week, reporters from the Indianapolis Star filed a state public records request and learned that while Mike Pence was governor he communicated using a hackable AOL account to conduct state business. And reporters used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law in 2015 to show that Hillary Clinton...

  • Democracy in Crisis: General Flynn's brother responds to "From Skater to Hater"

    Joe Flynn, the brother of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, wrote this letter in response to our story "From Skater to Hater: Mike Flynn's Wipe Out." We verified the identity of the author but did not edit the letter.  Baynard: I hope this finds you well. I am just so pissed at all the...

  • Democracy in Crisis Episode 5: Shane Bauer on Private Prisons & Stoned at CPAC

    Shane Bauer joins us to talk about private prisons in the Trump era. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo supporting the federal government's continuing use of private prisons, rescinding an Obama administration directive last year that aimed to reduce and eventually phase out...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Stoned Reflections from the Opposition Party

    I am stoned at CPAC. I am in hell. Here’s how it happened: Shortly after Steve Bannon laid out his vision of nationalism and the deconstruction of government on the first day of CPAC, I was writing a story over a beer at the National Press Club. On the television was Sean Spicer who said the regime...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Against Normalization—journalism in the ages of Hitler and Trump

    In the latest episode of the Democracy in Crisis Podcast, hosts Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner speak with Ron Rosenbaum. He is the author of "Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil," which includes a chapter on the Munich Post, a German newspaper that was highly critical of Hitler...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Church and Trump

    In front of the illuminated columns of the Supreme Court Building, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney and several other Christian activists gathered together, waiting for Donald Trump to announce his pick for Supreme Court justice—a spot left vacant for nearly a year after Republicans refused to acknowledge...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Occupying airports and the future of protest

    Donald Trump, Russian sex workers, and Vladimir Putin aren't the only ones who need to worry about piss. In a recent column about the Women's March in Washington on the day after the inauguration, Kate Drabinski wrote: "There's much to say about the politics and critiques of these events, but in...

  • Democracy in Crisis: A podcast discussing the BWI protest with one of its organizers

    In the first episode of the Democracy in Crisis podcast, hosts Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner speak with Payam, one of the organizers of a protest at Baltimore's BWI airport, about the Trump administration's indefinite ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, and...

  • Democracy in Crisis: Lawyers at Dulles fight for travelers trapped by Trump's 'Muslim ban'

    Lawyers are huddled up, poring over papers on the floor of Dulles International Airport, outside of Washington D.C. a couple hundred feet away from the throngs of protesters cheering, chanting and welcoming home people coming out of customs from international flights. Since Donald Trump signed...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Solidarity for the Inaugural Six

    Six journalists have now been charged with felonies for reporting on the black bloc protests on inauguration day in Washington D.C. Police allege that they have violated the district's laws against rioting. Evan Engel of Vocativ; Jack Keller, a producer for the web documentary series "Story of...

  • Democracy In Crisis: Darkness at noon

    Dozens of police officers blocked off the corner at 12th and Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., gripping their batons and big canisters of pepper spray, their faces obscured behind shields, as nearly 100 activists who had already been arrested were cordoned off behind them, waiting to be...

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