In Defense of Dick Vitale
March 11, 2012

When I was 18, I met ESPN announcer Dick Vitale on a flight to Charlottesville, Virginia. The photo I had taken with him that day is still, years later, proudly displayed in my apartment. The reason is simple: I absolutely, unapologetically love Dick Vitale.  It’s safe to say that many, maybe even most, sports fans would deem this opinion crazy.

Idaho's Mormons, Vermont's 17-Year-Olds, North Dakota's Dirty Tricks: A Super Tuesday Primer
February 29, 2012

Ohio Delegates at stake: 66 The Buckeye State is considered by many to be Super Tuesday’s most important prize. Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, said that Ohio matters so much “because it is so representative of the rest of the country.” A Feb. 27 Quinnipiac poll had Santorum up over Romney 36-29 in the state, but the former Pennsylvania senator failed to qualify for the ballot in three of Ohio’s 16 Congressional districts, which will automatically deny him the nine delegates to be won from those districts.

How Much Does 2012 Matter?
February 20, 2012

In honor of Presidents’ Day, it’s worth taking up a thought-provoking piece by Yale political scientist David Mayhew that ran in Sunday’s Washington Post, which attempts to get beyond the quadrennial hyperbole of candidates claiming that the election they are running in is the “most important ever” and to ask the question: how should one assess which elections are, in fact, the most important ever? I’ll let you read the piece to arrive at Mayhew’s rankings of the years that were most consequential of all, which are hard to disagree with (hint: they involved slavery and depression).

The Mobility Myth
February 08, 2012

When Americans express indifference about the problem of unequal incomes, it’s usually because they see the United States as a land of boundless opportunity. Sure, you’ll hear it said, our country has pretty big income disparities compared with Western Europe. And sure, those disparities have been widening in recent decades. But stark economic inequality is the price we pay for living in a dynamic economy with avenues to advancement that the class-bound Old World can only dream about.

How SOPA Could Have Hindered Our Democracy Promotion Efforts
January 21, 2012

When the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) were put on hold late this week, many had cause to celebrate, including Internet companies, free speech advocates, and the millions who signed petitions against the bills.

More Cordray
January 06, 2012

Akhil Amar of Yale Law School and I have a piece today proposing a way to fix the troublesome recess appointments. 

Is Inequality Necessary?
December 20, 2011

My friend Charles Lane, former editor of the New Republic and now a Washington Post editorialist, didn't like President Obama's speech about income inequality ("Obama's Simplistic View of Income Inequality"). What Obama fails to grasp, Lane writes, is that there's a trade-off between economic growth and economic redistribution. He cites in support of this point the late Yale economist Arthur Okun's book Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff, published in 1975, in which Okun argues that at some point economic redistribution undermines economic growth.

A Former Treasury Adviser On How To Really Fix Wall Street
December 17, 2011

Any serious program for Wall Street reform should start with two words: “term out.” “Terming out” is a financial term of art, but its meaning is easily grasped. It simply means funding your business with long-term financing instead of short-term IOUs. To a far greater extent than is commonly understood, our financial sector funds its operations with extremely short-term borrowings. These IOUs must be paid back in a day, a week, or a month. By contrast, termed-out financial firms shun borrowings that come due in less than a year.

The Browbeater
November 23, 2011

Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain By Dwight Macdonald Edited by John Summers (New York Review Books, 289pp., $16.95) Dwight Macdonald, the greatest American hatchet man, applied his merciless craft also to himself. When he collected his essays, he added footnotes, appendices, and other forms of addenda taking issue with his own writings.

Harold Bloom's Anxiety of (Mormon) Influence
November 14, 2011

One odd feature of this bizarre Republican primary season is what we haven't seen yet: a full-bore re-litigation of Mitt Romney's Mormonism. There was a one-day tizzy last month over the anti-Mormon comments by Southern Baptist Convention leader Rev. Robert Jeffers, a Rick Perry supporter, but that's pretty much been it, which is all the more notable given that Romney's not the only Mormon in the race. Instead, the only ones to really contend with the implications of Romney's Mormonism have been a few voices about as far from GOP circles as one can get.