John Duffy/Wikimedia

The use of the term "counterinsurgency" conjures up images of the American fight to get Iraq and Afghanistan under control after the United States invaded. 

Law and political science professor Bernard Harcourt says techniques learned in those counterinsurgencies are being used against the American people.  Here at home.  That is the thesis of his provocative book The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens. 

The author writes of tactics from militarized police forces to bulk collection of electronic communications and beyond, and makes the case that they are used to rule ordinary Americans. 

Mstyslav Chernov,, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Put the United States 2016 election aside for a moment and consider the rest of the world. 

Countries that we once thought of as reliable democracies are taking turns for the autocratic and nationalistic.  Even Germany has far-right groups in parliament for the first time since the demise of the Nazis. 

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt track the longstanding erosion of political norms in their book How Democracies Die

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Dennis Richardson broke a losing streak for the Republican party when he got elected Secretary of State in the 2016 election. 

And he's kept himself in the news with actions on elections, audits, and other duties of his office. 

Plus, he's raised a few eyebrows with his opinion on gay people, and his trade mission to China. 

Richardson hails from Southern Oregon, but spends less time in the region since his election. 

Choe Kwangmo/Wikimedia

Take a look at your property tax bill and note how much money goes to local government.  And still schools and cities and counties struggle to provide services with the money that comes in--especially in counties that traditionally depended on federal timber receipts, now mostly gone. 

So counties and cities look to the private sector to take on what were public services, from libraries to mental health. 

Matt Rowe is a former mayor of Coquille, with a perspective on what leads smaller cities to consider outsourcing. 

Bruce Sorte from the Rural Studies Program at Oregon State University studies policy options that face smaller governments. 

DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

In an age of "libtards" and "cuckservatives," is there any reason to believe we can conduct our discussions of government more with more civility?  The Institute for Civility in Government thinks so. 

The institute's name is its mission, a tall order in a time when opposite sides of an argument don't even agree on the facts. 

The Rev. Cassandra Dahnke is the co-founder of the institute. 

The Power Of The People To Change The Law

Apr 18, 2016
Basic Books

Major changes in American society are made by Congress (sometimes) and the president (rarely), but the Supreme Court has great power to reverse years of tradition and oppression, right?

Yes, but... the justices live in our country and observe what's going on around them. 

Which is why just plain folks can still have an enormous impact on policy, in the view of law professor David Cole. 

In his book Engines of Liberty, he argues that citizen activists have succeeded many times in turning their views into law--take gay marriage and gun rights as examples. 

The Government You Can't See

Jan 5, 2016
Viking Press

Mike Lofgren is by no means the first person to say that our federal government is largely unresponsive to the will of the people. 

But he's one of the few to have spent a good deal of his career working inside the government, most recently as a Congressional budget committee staffer. 

Lofgren's book The Deep State examines the interconnections between people and organizations that lead to decisions far beyond the grasp of the American people. 

Basic Books

  Free speech in America?  You bet.  Free to shout "fire!" in a crowded public space?  Absolutely not.

See, right there the Constitution is not as absolute as some people make it out to be. 

The annual observance of Constitution Week is September 17-23, and we tack an observance of our own onto the end: Paulsen and Paulsen's The Constitution

The book gives history on perspective on our founding document, including shedding light on some of the major disagreements and perceptions about it. 

Oregon Liquor Laws Under Study

Nov 8, 2013

An Oregon Liquor Control Commission task force says the state needs to change the system to increase consumer access to spirits.

It will be up to the Legislature to decide, and the task force suggested some ideas Thursday in recommendations to the commission.

State Marijuana Laws Trump Local Ordinances

Oct 16, 2013

Oregon law trumps local laws that try to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.  Ashland Representative Peter Buckley who sponsored the measure passed by the Oregon legislature legalizing the dispensaries, says the state Legislative Counsel made that ruling yesterday.
 The law takes effect in March 2014.
The City of Medford has voted to prohibit any dispensaries in the city. The vote last month, and revealed this week, bans any business licenses if they violate local, state, or federal law.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber repeated his vow Thursday to veto the bills passed in next week's special session unless all five of the measures reach his desk.

That's one element of a deal reached by the Democrat and four top legislative leaders in Salem. 

Jackson County Oregon county commissioners may become non-partisan. The county's Board of Commissioners is considering a ballot measure that would change the current partisan set-up of the governing body. 

The Mail Tribune reports that if the measure makes it to the May 2014 ballot and is passed, the language of the county's home rule charter would be amended to make commissioner seats nonpartisan by the May 2016 primary election.

Some Unemployed Californians Need To Wait For Their Checks

Sep 18, 2013

About 50,000 unemployed Californians have had their benefit checks delayed as the state struggles to implement a computer system upgrade.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the Employment Development Department processed about 15,000 of the delayed claims by Tuesday morning and hoped to finish the rest by the end of the week.

Inside the 2012 Race to the White House

Sep 5, 2013

Before the talk about the 2016 presidential election turns serious, can we look back?  Washington Post correspondent Dan Balz enjoyed great access to both major-party campaigns during the last election cycle, and he shares the access with readers in his book Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America.