October 12, 2008

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.

Run Like It's 1932
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Hope versus fear, new versus old: Barack Obama and John McCain have placed their bets. These are the terms on which the 2008 presidential campaign will be decided. That's why it's unfair for political bystanders to attack Obama and McCain for offering few specifics as to how they'd fix an ailing economy.

Two Takes On Gay Marriage Jurisprudence
12:00 AM

The Connecticut Supreme Court struck down a state ban on gay marriage today, making Connecticut the third state--along with Massachussetts and California--to legalize gay marriage.  Now's a good time, then, to revisit the exchange between Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Just on the efficacy of state rulings on gay marriage. After the California Supreme Court's decision this spring, Rosen feared the political backlash might help elect Republicans, ensuring a more conservative judiciary and ultimately hampering civil rights. Just found that argument less than convincing. 

Will Gay Marriage Have An Impact In Florida?
12:00 AM

 Ordinarily, I'd say that today's pro-gay marriage ruling by Connecticut's Supreme Court would be bad news for Obama. Save for abortion, nothing energizes wingnut cultural warriors quite so much as the thought of his-and-his wedding registries. But with most of America too busy watching their 401ks dissolve, who has time to worry overmuch about what a bunch of uppity jurists did in some elitist northeastern state?  That said, I am uneasy about the amendment to ban gay marriage on Florida's ballot next month.

October 09, 2008

Silencing the Students
12:00 AM

For the first time since 1964, Democrats actually have a chance of winning Virginia’s 13 electoral votes. Barack Obama is up 4.8% according to the Real Clear Politics average, and according to Nate Silver, Virginia could be one of this election’s decisive swing states. And, in a state with 161 colleges and 483,159 students, the predominantly Democratic youth vote could play a huge role in tipping the election Obama’s way. But there’s a hold-up: Virginia’s local laws make it exceedingly difficult for students to register in their college towns.

In Search of SWF

One of the major reasons why the current financial crisis is so threatening is the absence of what Tokyo-based investor Peter Tasker calls “strong hands”--long-term, patient, deep-pocketed investors that a teetering financial system needs to function in times of great uncertainty and stress. When Japan suffered its financial crisis in the 1990s, the strong hands that invested and kept the system afloat included private equity funds, insurance companies, and banks. But today, those financial actors are too leveraged, weak, or frightened to play a similar role.