Who’s Afraid of the Mandate?
May 22, 2012
BOSTON—One of the most interesting stories about health care reform in Massachusetts, where I’m on a learning tour this week, is a story that never developed: The backlash against the mandate. In last year’s poll by the Boston Globe and Harvard School of Public Health, the most recent comprehensive survey I’ve found, 51 percent of respondents said they supported the requirement that almost everybody get insurance or pay a fine, while 44 percent said they opposed it.
Meet the Romney Campaign’s Snarkiest Wonk
May 21, 2012
Since Lanhee Chen joined the Romney campaign in March last year, his public pronouncements have been liberally seasoned with snark. Tweeting about Newt Gingrich during the first Florida debate, he wrote, “Thanks for explaining why you were forced to resign in disgrace, Mr. Speaker.” In April, he tweeted: “[David Axelrod] says Obama to be judged on his record.
The Price of Everything
May 18, 2012
What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of MarketsBy Michael J. Sandel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 244 pp., $27) For over thirty years, Harvard undergraduates have packed Sanders Theater for Michael Sandel’s course on justice. PBS has broadcast the lectures and more than three and a half million people have clicked to watch them on YouTube.
The Facebook Part of Your Brain
May 08, 2012
Why do I post my opinions online, day after day? Ostensibly it's to earn money to feed my family. But there are much easier ways to do that. According to a new study by Harvard psychologists Diana I. Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (and written up in the May 8 Wall Street Journal), I suffer from a "species-specific motivation to share one's beliefs and knowledge about the world" that kicks in at about 9 months, which means I've been doing it almost 54 years.
That Elizabeth Warren claimed in the 1990s that she is a Native American is, among other things, a sign that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had a point. When Roberts famously wrote in a 2006 opinion, “It’s a sordid business, this divvying us up by race,” he was castigated by many liberals for not understanding that Race Matters—that race is at the root of considerable societal injustice, and the country must address the issue squarely.
The Problem With Romney’s “Good Deeds,” Ctd.
April 18, 2012
Another day, and yet another story about the Romney campaign’s efforts to get their man to open up more to voters. This time, it’s Jason Horowitz’s turn to tackle the subject, in the Washington Post Style section, and he does as good a job of it as anyone, if you ask me, because he correctly diagnoses the problem as one of “trying too hard.” And like previous examples of the “what’s up with Mitt” genre, the piece includes examples of anecdotes that Romney’s supporters ardently believe that the candidate would do well to invoke more often on the trail.
Yes, Obama's Comments on the Court Made Sense
April 10, 2012
President Obama caused quite a stir last week with a pair of comments he made about the Supreme Court. Some critics said he was citing constitutional law incorrectly. Others said he was trying to intimidate the justices. Some said he was doing both things. The intimidation charge was just silly. Obama told reporters he was “confident” the Supreme Court would uphold the Affordable Care Act. That’s the sort of thing politicians say all the time.
The Great Legal Paradox of Our Time: How Civil Libertarians Strengthened the National Security State
March 16, 2012
When Michael Ratner argued in a February 2002 lawsuit that British citizen Shafiq Rasul had a legal right to challenge his detention at Guantanamo Bay, there was little reason to believe he and his colleagues at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) would play any role in shaping America’s national security landscape. The country was still seething with anger over the attacks of 9/11, and longing for revenge. The few legal precedents that existed were not very encouraging.
The Big Split
March 14, 2012
In May 2007, when Barack Obama was but an upstart challenger of Hillary Clinton, he attended a gathering of several dozen hedge fund managers hosted by Goldman Sachs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not a fund-raiser, just a chance for Obama to introduce himself to the investment wizards who had helped turn the hedge fund sector into the most lucrative and alluring corner of the financial universe. And the first question for Obama was as blunt as one would expect from this crowd.
The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak
March 13, 2012
In the last years of the nineteenth century, Charles Dow created an index of 12 leading industrial companies. Almost none of them exist today. While General Electric remains an industrial giant, the U.S. Leather Company, American Cotton Oil, and others have long since disappeared into bankruptcy or consolidation. Today, the Dow Jones includes giant corporations that hadn’t even been created when Ronald Reagan first sat in the Oval Office.