Don't Believe the Polling on Gay Marriage!
May 17, 2012
Admirable as President Obama’s decision was to support same-sex marriage last week, its implications for his reelection chances are still being debated. Indeed, the latest polling has been less than reassuring. Both a New York Times/CBS News survey and a USA Today/Gallup poll released in the last week suggest that a quarter of Americans are less likely to back President Obama for re-election because of his announcement. Is this a sign that the Obama campaign misinterpreted the country’s support for gay rights?
There is a passage in Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby in which David Huxley (Cary Grant) and Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) are lost at night in the forest of Connecticut searching for a leopard called Baby and a fox terrier named George. If you don’t know the picture, don’t bother to ask, “Why a leopard?” Your every instinct is correct—there are (and should be) no leopards in Connecticut. Yet there might have been. We know now that the ingenious German plan to have a U-boat unload a cargo of fierce cats on that state’s shore in 1942 was aborted only at the last moment.
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.
Bright College Years, Sans Salinger
February 24, 2012
Before the week’s out, and while the cheers of the barely 1,000 people arrayed within the Detroit football stadium for Mitt Romney’s big speech today are still ringing in our ears, I wanted to be sure to recommend that everyone read Jason Horowitz’s in-depth Washington Post piece last weekend about Romney’s college years at BYU. This is one of the least-examined chapters in Romney’s life, the years after he returned from his mission in France. Even The Real Romney, the comprehensive new biography by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, skips relatively quickly through the BYU years.
February 22, 2012
Newt Gingrich’s attack on judicial independence—in particular, his call for Congress to subpoena judges and force them to explain their rulings under threat of arrest—is widely viewed as one of the reasons his now-moribund presidential campaign jumped the shark. Both conservative and liberal pundits were alarmed by Gingrich’s assault on the concept of judicial review, and rightly so. But, if Gingrich’s judge-bashing was extreme, it was not an isolated phenomenon.
A Tour of Egypt’s Half-Finished Revolution
February 17, 2012
I arrived in the Egyptian town of Edfu on a Friday in early February. The temple there, a wondrous reminder of the Egyptian pharaohs’ obsession with eternity and architectural monumentalism, was eerily quiet and empty of tourists. But the silence was more than filled by the blaring sound of the Friday sermon, broadcast over loudspeakers at unavoidably high volume.
Will This Be the First Election Where Class Trumps Race?
February 13, 2012
As stirring as Occupy Wall Street's exhortations about the 99 percent were, it's important to realize that they were the symptom, not the cause, of a wider trend. Inequality, of course, has recently become a much more integral part of the American conversation. But it's more than that: There is now an unprecedentedly widespread understanding of economic class as the primary dividing factor in the nation. Indeed, this year seems to mark a historic tipping point for the United States: the year that our primary concerns about inequality went from being about race to being about class.
On Football: Dumb Coach, Smart Players
January 03, 2012
This is a policy blog, yes, but I’m a football fan, too. So before I say anything more about health care reform, taxes, or the presidential campaign, allow me a few random observations about some recent news. Football coaches can be stupid. If you saw the Fiesta Bowl, or if you are a Stanford fan, then you may still be shaking your head at how Coach David Shaw managed the end of regulation. For those who missed it, here's the situation he faced... Fifty seconds to go, tie game at 38. First and ten for Stanford, ball at the Oklahoma State 17-yard line.
Better Bowl Game Matchups Through Economics!
January 02, 2012
Today, millions of Americans (who, unlike your humble blogger, are still on vacation) are trading the champagne of December 31st for the six-packs of January 2nd. That’s right: It’s time for college football. Today, Houston and Penn State play in the TicketCity Bowl, Ohio State and Florida play in the Gator Bowl, Michigan State and Georgia play in the Outback Bowl, Nebraska and South Carolina play in the Capital One Bowl, Wisconsin and Oregon play in the Rose Bowl, and Stanford and Oklahoma State play in the Fiesta Bowl.
Can Electronic Medical Records Improve Our Health Without Jeopardizing Our Privacy?
November 25, 2011
[Guest Post by Darius Tahir] Early this September Stanford Hospital discovered that somebody had posted personal data for nearly 20,000 emergency room patients online, so that anyone who happened across the page could look up everything from the patients’ names to the codes identifying their various diagnoses. Worse still, the data had been online for more than a year. The tale of how the data ended up online involves the sort of slapstick you expect from a bad sitcom.