President-elect Joe Biden should create the digital equivalent of FDR’s Works Progress Administration to build durable continuously improving public digital assets, restore faith in government, and most importantly, to protect our democracy from the steady encroachment of fascist authoritarianism.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. should create the U.S. Digital Progress Administration (DPA) and elevate it to a crisis intervention role similar to FDR’s Works Project Administration (WPA). The overall goal of this new DPA: build durable public digital assets that more affordably meet public needs and continuously improve over time. Acting on this recommendation would not only help our citizens…


If we don’t fix the circumstances that led to Trump’s rise to power the tyrant who comes after him will likely be much smarter and pose even more serious dangers.

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels

As we await official confirmation of the final, formal results of the 2020 presidential contest I want to share a thought about the shock and surprise many have expressed regarding the stunning strength of support for Donald Trump despite all his many obvious and glaring flaws, and most notably, his unspeakable cruelty, which rises at times to outright sadism (taking pleasure in the suffering of others). …


Join our free online global dialogue featuring leaders from philanthropy, government, and the social sciences working to have an impact on the current crisis.

Public domain image

I want to extend a special invitation to everyone who reads this, especially former colleagues. This won’t cost you anything and you might help change our world.

But first, some background.

I’ve enjoyed many blessings in my life. Among the most memorable are the many times I had the honor to represent the Obama administration overseas. …


The Biden Campaign and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Must Make it Psychologically Safe for Trump Voters to Switch Sides: understanding the role that cognitive dissonance plays is key.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Like many others, I’ve found it stunning that roughly 40 percent of American voters continue to support President Trump despite all his obvious flaws. Many wonder, how could even one voter still support Trump?

And then I remembered something I learned while picking up my Behavioral Sciences degree some 40 years ago. The key is understanding the role of cognitive dissonance when it comes to making and changing a decision. …


The tables are starting to turn and maybe, just maybe, the public is ready for my style of broadcasting again.

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

At age 63, I’ve had lots of different jobs in my life, starting at age 14 as a gas station bathroom cleaner, and moving on, to name just a few, to pizza maker, drug store clerk, office assistant, news reporter, columnist, college trustee, more recently, presidential appointee, to currently, senior scholar. Some of those jobs could be exhilarating at times, others sometimes frustrating and, on occasion, even humiliating. I’ll let you figure out which was which (hint: the answers are not always obvious).

But looking back, some of my favorite jobs were those I held in the late 1970’s and…


When Governor George Deukmejian killed California’s Office of Appropriate Technology in 1983 it marked the end of government efforts to make sure new technologies improve our lives. It’s been all about the Benjamins ever since.

“Money” by Ervins Strauhmanis is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about former California Governor Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown, Jr.’s Office of Appropriate Technology (OAT) and what might have been. Brown created the OAT, which was mothballed by his GOP successor, during his first term as California’s governor in the mid 1970's. It was the dawn of the digital age. Al and Heidi Toffler had just published Future Shock, their runaway bestseller that explained how microprocessors and digital technologies were accelerating the pace of change, including in ways that might not always be welcome. Big tech-induced changes were looming.

Another popular book of that era…


Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was supposed to be a temporary fix. Times up.

I have a confession to make. I was complicit in what may have been the biggest public policy mistake of the last century. I didn’t know it was a mistake at the time. Instead, I am embarrassed to say, like most other Silicon Valley-based tech reporters back then I thought we were doing the right thing, which explains why I inadvertently contributed to the error. My role, which I very much regret, was joining those who passed on self-serving claims from for-profit Internet entrepreneurs and their venture capital backers that in retrospect we should have treated with far more skepticism…


“strategy” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In a time of chaos the strongman wins. That simple lesson from history is why Donald Trump may win re-election in November notwithstanding current polling. In fact, I’m convinced there is only one reliable way to stop Trump from triumphing yet again: by unmasking him as a complete and total wimp, a weakling. Elections are all about images. If Trump goes into election day 2020 looking like the strongest leader on the ballot he will win. If he looks like what he really is, the wimpiest wimp to ever crawl across the American political stage, he will lose. …


Photo Credit: Mark Nozell, CCBY 2.0

“You go to war with the army you have not the army you want or might wish to have at a later time,” Donald Rumsfeld once observed. Something similar can be said about presidential races. You get elected president with the electorate you have, not the voters you want or might wish to have at a later date. That’s the main reason I strongly and proudly support Joe Biden for president. Unless and until someone proves otherwise, former Vice President Biden is clearly the candidate best positioned to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. …


Primarily for Two Reasons the Former President Never, Ever Talks About: Legal Pot and Free Open Educational and Job-Training Resources

Photo Credit: The White House

Serving as a presidential appointee in the Obama administration was an enormous privilege. But it also could be pretty frustrating. One of the biggest frustrations was seeing President Obama routinely denied credit for many of his most significant accomplishments. In some cases, that happened because of the huge disinformation campaign waged against him by the likes of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. In other cases, including two I will focus on here, it happened because President Obama left big victories unclaimed.

But first, some background information. As every Obama administration insider knew, our mantra was to stay busy…

Hal Plotkin

Hal Plotkin is a Senior Scholar at ISKME, in HMB, CA. Senior Advisor, U.S. Dept of Ed (2009-14) and Senior Open Policy Fellow, Creative Commons USA (2014-2017)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store