October 13, 2008

Marriage Actually
12:00 AM

Over the weekend, I read the Connecticut Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision. It’s actually a rather moving document: a cogent defense of gay rights that efficiently demolishes the chief arguments against marriage equality, while offering what struck me as a reasonable defense of judicial intervention in the matter. If you have a free hour, I highly recommend reading it. A few things popped out at me as I read the ruling: First, the decision lays bare the absurd illogic at the heart of civil unions.

A Problem of Persuasion
12:00 AM

Like the recent series of bestselling books by authors such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher’s documentary Religulous takes ferocious aim at religion in all of its forms.

Playing Balz
12:00 AM

Washington Post news analyst Dan Balz has written a missive to the campaign press corps urging them to, well, there's no other way to put it: start holding Barack Obama to a higher standard than his opponent. Balz is one of the most prestigious members of the Washington press corps, and his commentary has already been fronted by conventional wisdom-arbiter The Page, so it's likely to be influential. Why should the press train its sights on Obama? Balz says because the election is all but over: He leads nationally in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll by 53 percent to 43 percent.

Bill Warms Up To Barack
12:00 AM

Since I noted earlier that Bill Clinton didn't have a ton of nice things to say about Barack Obama in Scranton, I've been alerted that Clinton was more full-throated at a subsequent event in Richmond. See Jonathan Martin for details. Also see, unrelatedly,  Clinton's somewhat curious machine-gun metaphor at an event in Roanoke: The administration keeps plowing an Uzi's worth of bullets into the McCain-Palin ticket every time they have something else go wrong." --Michael Crowley

October 12, 2008

Another Way To Look At Mccain's Odds
12:00 AM

Presently, we show John McCain with a 5.9 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, a figure that will seem implausibly low to many of you. But here's a bit of context from John Harwood at the New York Times: In the latest Gallup tracking poll, Mr. Obama leads Mr. McCain 50 percent to 43 percent among registered voters. Mr.

What Iraq Means To Muslims
12:00 AM

I must be on somebody's list in Minnesota. I get daily and often several times daily e-mails from the North Star state. From the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, which has an intriguing history having once been dominated by the Communist Party until Hubert Humphrey and Gene McCarthy came along. From Al Franken's campaign. And from various public commentators on the contest between Norm Coleman and Franken.

October 11, 2008

Wall Street's Lemmings
12:00 AM

st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Some of the most interesting work in modern economic theory explores a pervasive social phenomenon: the informational cascade. The concept, first elaborated in a brilliant 1992 paper by Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch, illuminates countless social and economic surprises. It is impossible to understand the real estate bubble, or the current financial crisis, without exploring the dynamics of informational cascades.

The Philadelphia Story
12:00 AM

Fifty-Second Street, in West Philadelphia, could easily be a Hollywood backlot stand-in for any depressed inner-city strip in the country. There are signs on streetlamps that advertise shared van service rides to visiting hours at distant state prisons. The awning of the deli announces that the store accepts food stamps and also sells wigs. There’s a tax-refund joint, of course, and it’s even collocated with a McDonald’s. This afternoon, though, the streetscape features some less familiar pieces of vernacular decoration: Billowing American flags.

Obama And Ayers: The View From Hyde Park
12:00 AM

In view of the truly despicable efforts, by Sarah Palin and others, to discredit Barack Obama by association, I thought that it might be appropriate to repost a relevant post of mine from this past April. I would add that some of the recent personal attacks fall outside the bounds of decency. Consider, for example, this statement: "This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America. Our opponent is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.

October 10, 2008

Millennium Development Grotesquery
12:00 AM

Eight years ago, nearly all United Nations member states and many international organizations committed to a series of ambitious steps designed to respond immediately to critical needs within the developing world, and particularly in Africa. Known as the “Millennium Development Goals” (MDG), these included the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, reduction in child mortality, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other major diseases. 2015 was set as the deadline for meeting specific targets in all of these areas. But the reconvening of the U.N.