The Talented Mr. Bin Laden

Mohammed bin Salman is a charming fellow. The tall, dark, and handsome Saudi prince known as MbS has seduced world leaders and eager pundits left and right. To his supporters, MbS became first in line to the Saudi throne by championing reform in a deeply conservative Gulf kingdom, taking on corruption, confronting religious extremists, and promising to modernize the economy. “Someone had to do...
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Beating Back the Far Right

After four years of shock, confusion, and paralysis, the United States is finally taking action against the far right. Perhaps most dramatic has been the deplatforming of Donald Trump: the suspension of his Twitter and Facebook accounts and the targeting of his prominent followers across social media platforms. Even a few months ago, such a radically sensible action would have been inconceivable....
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People to Autocrats: Not So Fast

Despite all the obstacles, Americans are voting in huge numbers prior to Election Day. With a week to go, nearly 70 million voters have sent in their ballots or stood on line for early voting. The pandemic hasn’t prevented them from exercising their constitutional right. Nor have various Republican Party schemes to suppress the vote. Some patriotic citizens have waited all day at polling places...
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COVID-19 and the End of Autocrats

The outbreak of COVID-19 initially looked like a gift to autocrats around the world. What better pretext for a state of emergency than a pandemic? It was a golden opportunity to close borders, suppress civil society, and issue decrees left and right (mostly right). Donald Trump in the United States, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and others took advantage of the...
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Feds Attack!

Federal agents poured into Portland, Oregon this month to crack down on anti-racism protests. They beat up peaceful protesters and fired impact munitions at demonstrators, seriously injuring one of them. They drove around the city in unmarked vans pulling people off the street. Oregon officials at every level — the city, the state, and congressional representatives — have demanded that these...
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The Global Rushmore of Autocrats

Donald Trump would dearly like to add his face to Mt. Rushmore as the fifth presidential musketeer. His fireworks-and-fury extravaganza on July 3 was the next best thing. Trump’s dystopian speech was almost beside the point. Much more important was the photo op of his smirking face next to Abraham Lincoln’s. More fitting, however, would be to carve Trump’s face into a different Rushmore...
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