October 30, 2009

Finally, a counter to Freedman

One of my colleagues is married to an economics professor and he told me recently that most economics departments are still dominated by Milton Freedman-type economics theory. Every other department has been influenced by broader philosophical trends, but for some reason, the economics field has continued to be quite conservative. With that in mind, I am glad to see that Soros has decided to fund a new economics institute. It isn't that Freedman was completely wrong about everything, or that Keynes was completely right. But our thinking about economics has been too narrowly accepting of free-market ideology, and as a result, we have entire populations (and one political party) that believes that free-market economics is magical while government regulation and intervention is always wrong. This last 20 year period should make us rethink that, but so far, we have continued with many of the same assumptions.

Time to rethink a little.

October 25, 2009

More on the right wing's violent side

I have read Niewert's blog off and on, and he writes at Crooks and Liars as well. I hope he is overstating the threat, but fear that he isn't. Anyway, here is the book: Amazon.com: The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right (9780981576985): David Neiwert: Books

October 20, 2009

couple of interesting stories

Associated Baptist Press - Fear Not: What does virtual rumor-mongering say about Christians?: "Gullibility may grow out of fear and anxiety, he added. And that directly relates to what people believe.
“I suggest to my students, ‘Tell me something about your fears, and I will tell you something of your theology,’” Tillman said. “Dealing with our fears -- an action usually dismissed or ignored -- may be one of the keys to understanding just which e-mails we forward and those we don’t.”"

and this one as well, which I can't help but think is a bit related.

Secret Service under strain as leaders face more threats - The Boston Globe.

October 19, 2009

Good news/Bad news for Republicans

According to a report by Democratic pollsters, the conservative wing of the Republican party does not hate Obama because of his skin color. That is the good news. The bad news is that they do hate him for irrational reasons. They believe that he has a "'secret agenda' to bankrupt the United States."

Better than open racism, and actually confirms a lot of what I see myself, but not terribly wedded to reality. What is further interesting and confirming, is that while this group tends to mock minority groups for their "victimology," they themselves are absolutely whining that their shared beliefs are mocked by elites. Of course, when some of your shared beliefs include a belief that Obama as President wants to bankrupt the country, perhaps some of your beliefs need to be mocked.

October 7, 2009

Well, this will ruin your evening

Everyone here knows I am adamantly against the death penalty. I think it is barbaric and beneath us, and I am amazed at the bloodlust that arises in this country. The evidence is growing that Texas has executed at least one innocent man, and I would be absolutely stunned if it were not a very high and shocking number. I know from past reading that Texas has executed people even when their defense attorney slept through trial, or slept with the judge.

And if you want to see the face of this death machine, watch the two clips at Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog. Watch them deny science and say that they are quite comfortable with using folklore and old wives tales to send a man to prison. Or that they consider a person who listens to heavy metal to be likely to worship the devil.
Texas justice is essentially sorcery, and there will be people who say that we can perfect it, that we can close the loop-holes. They're wrong. The problem isn't with loopholes--it's with us. We are fallible. Conservatives, more than anyone, should know that--it undergirds their entire philosophy. They don't think government can perfect much of anything. What makes them think we can perfect murder?

October 6, 2009


At once a cool website from a design standpoint and one of the more offensive paintings I have ever seen. Just check out which side they placed Satan.

October 5, 2009

The myth of the middle class

Saw a great historian speak Friday night (James Kloppenberg) on Obama's connection to broader political philosophical trends. He made several really great points, but one was how Obama was unconvinced by the idea of "original intent" after noting the intense compromise necessary to get the constitution through. How could there be "one" intent?

During a post-talk discussion, he also spoke to the legacy of Roosevelt and the economic boom of the 1950s. (This column speaks to that as well.) Real quickly, as I run out the door to teach, I am reminded of what seems to be the biggest bit of conservative blind faith--that the middle class came out of some historical ether. The middle class that so many of us grew up in, was a creation of government programs dedicated to a more shared prosperity. That is derided by today's conservatives as "socialism" or worse, but it allowed one hell of a lot of Americans to live the middle class dream. Removing that government hand has led to the decline of that middle class (not the only reason, obviously) and conservatives seem to hold to some fantasy that a libertarian approach to governing will bring it back.

It won't.