Jim Lardner

Jim Lardner is a journalist and political activist.

Recent Articles

What? No Harvard?

Passed over in the admissions fraud story, the college on the Charles must deal with its disappointment.

Conspicuously absent from the list of colleges implicated in last week’s epic admissions scandal was my alma mater, Harvard. The story continues to unfold, of course. Perhaps in time, the Harvard community will learn of an underachieving child of privilege or two who did gain entry into our school through the good offices of William “Rick” Singer of Newport Beach, California, and his system of phony test scores, coach-bribing and manufactured records of athletic accomplishment, carried out under cover of a counseling firm called The Key. For now, however, it appears that Harvard, unlike Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, Wake Forest, and USC, was not considered worthy of the trouble and expense. I don’t know how my fellow alums are feeling. Personally, I’m disappointed. When I hear about TV stars, Wall Streeters, corporate executives and a vineyard owner spending megabucks to get their offspring into prestigious institutions of higher education and then...

How Many Manaforts Will Never Be Indicted?

Big-time white-collar larceny is seldom prosecuted. Manafort’s mistake was hooking up with Trump.

Pleading for leniency in a federal courtroom Wednesday, Paul Manafort’s lawyers pointed out that he would never have been charged in the first place “but for a short stint as campaign manager in a presidential election.” That is sadly true, and a point worthy of our attention. Manafort pled guilty to bank fraud, tax fraud and multiple counts of conspiracy after netting more than $50 million for ten years of illicit services to overseas dirtbags. And yet, had he merely resisted the temptation to offer his talents to Donald Trump in 2016, he would very probably be a free man and still in possession of most of his homes, vehicles, clothes and the other accoutrements of what Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson called an “ostentatiously opulent and extravagantly lavish” lifestyle. The “but for” scenario failed to move Judge Jackson, who added another 43 months to Manafort’s previous (and widely decried) sentence of 47 months on weightier charges...

On Beyond Howard: Let’s Think About Bigger Things than a Schultz Candidacy

Our real challenge is to come out of 2020 with a progressive government.

It’s been fun, the Howard Schultz blowback. Sources close to Schultz say he was seriously unprepared for the experience of being called an egotistical billionaire asshole by just about everyone he had not hired to help his presidential candidacy boot up. Perhaps the response will lead the Starbucks founder to decide he is not our great national savior after all. I join with many others in wishing him a speedy journey to that conclusion. That said, I suspect there is a warning here not just for Schultz but for us, his critics. To begin with, we should watch out for the danger of thinking small—of approaching the 2020 election from a place of fear. Behind the anti-Schultz mobilization lies the nightmare of another close contest in which victory is undone by the combination of third- and/or fourth-party candidates and a less than ideal Democratic nominee. Memories of 2000 and 2016 make that scenario vivid. Anticipation of a second Donald Trump term makes it horrifying.But a...

What the Democrats Must Do First

Absent radical reform of our politics, they’ll always be at a disadvantage. So will we.

The midterms are over and my newsfeed is filled with pronouncements on what the Democrats should do next. Go bolder. Go centrist. Be inspirational. Be careful. Nominate Beto. Nominate Sherrod. Draft Michelle. So many opinions. So many reactions. One of my reactions is, Hold on a damn minute! Before we plunge into all these testy debates, could there be a more immediate question on the table? More immediate and more unifying? The first order of business for Democrats and progressives, it seems to me, is to advance a serious clean elections/clean government agenda, and do all we can to make democracy reform a front-of-mind issue for voters, office-holders, candidates and the media. That project should be at the top of their To Do list for three reasons: necessity, political advantage, and readiness. Necessity. Consider a few thought experiments with a common plotline of “Even after we accomplish X, it won’t be easy to do Y.” That is sadly true where: X = win the House...