It’s Hard to Be an American Traitor, Even If You Try

Legal Scholars Tell Warren Olney Why Treason Is So Difficult to Commit in the United States

Why is it so hard to commit treason in the United States?

The short answer—offered at the debut of a Zócalo/KCRW event series, “Critical Thinking with Warren Olney”—amounted to this: America was founded by traitors.

“The American Revolution was a massive act of treason against the British government,” said UC Davis legal scholar Carlton F.W. Larson, who is working on a book about treason. And even before the war, American colonists had been accused of treason under English law for acts of protest like the Boston Tea Party.

So, Larson said, the Founders pointedly …

How Trump’s Staff Could Save Him from Himself

Collegiality and Careful Deliberation Can Overcome Cronyism and Chaos

The stupefying deeds of the Trump White House are passing in such a blur these days that it is hard to parse the incompetence. From policies foreign and domestic that …

Is California Too Exceptional to Be Part of the U.S.?

We're a Progressive Check on Red-State Power—but We Unbalance the Constitutional System

America is terribly polarized.

And it’s all on account of California.

The trouble is not merely that California itself is such a politically polarized place. Or that California contributes to the many …

How Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Drove My Generation into Politics

Trump’s Cynical Policies Make the Same Mistake That California Republicans Made 20 Years Ago

It’s often said that California is just like America, only sooner. We confront the same issues as the rest of the nation, just earlier. Perhaps no issue exemplifies that sentiment …

Could a “Trigger Moment” Imperil Civil Liberties?

Surveillance, Government Secrecy, and an Unpredictable Political Landscape Raise Difficult Questions

In December 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor was the “trigger moment” that eventually led the U.S. government to herd tens of thousands of Japanese Americans into internment camps. If …

Inaugurations Are More Than a Hail to the (New) Chief

How This Enduring Ritual Highlights the Strengths—and Tensions—that Define the American Presidency

On Jan. 20, tens of millions of people will watch the pomp and spectacle of a uniquely American tradition. The hushed politicos in the pews of prayer service, the …