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Archive for June, 2009

Great stuff, hot off the virtual press.

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It seems that for all the civil rights progress that the United States has made in the last few decades, we still have a ways to go.

And for all the things that I like about Obama, there are a few issues on which I think he is seriously lacking.

*update: 6/30: Also, this.

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From MSNBC:

An Indonesian painter puts out a painting of the late U.S. pop star Michael Jackson in front of his booth for sale on the street in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Friday, June 26.

An Indonesian painter puts out a painting of the late U.S. pop star Michael Jackson in front of his booth for sale on the street in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Friday, June 26.

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Weiner26Which popular white supremacist, anti-feminist, nativist, homophobic right-wing media personality:

  • Holds a Ph.D. in “nutritional ethnomedicine” from UC-Berkeley?
  • Is a self-proclaimed expert in herbal and nontraditional medicine?
  • Has authored more than 15 books about food and diet, the environment, herbal medicine and childcare?
  • Once swam naked with Allen Ginsberg?

Outdated, but utterly fascinating.

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This 70+-year-old argument has been resurrected as of late: can/should government have a role, via manipulating interest rates, tax rates, and spending, in curbing the extremes of the business cycle and minimizing unemployment?

Of course, I say- just look at the successes of Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The counterargument should be familiar enough by now- that the New Deal isn’t what ended the Great Depression, as evidenced by the further economic downturn of 1937- four years after New Deal policies had been in place.

If anything, I would argue that this happened because New Deal policies were too restrained and not aggressive enough-due to a stiflingly conservative Supreme Court, FDR’s loss of political capital following his harebrained “court-packing” scheme, and that it was prolonged by the Republican ascendancy in Congress in 1938. In a similar vein, Paul Krugman has argued that our more recent stimulus effort has been too meek.

The conservative counterargument goes on to say that what truly ended the Great Depression was World War II, and, now and in Johnson’s and Roosevelt’s time, they have cried “socialist” and “communist” when anyone argues that peacetime Keynesianism should guide us towards policies that can alleviate the suffering that follows economic downturns.

Well, what was World War II other than a massive government spending drive, complete with a whole battery of policies (price and wage controls, rationing of goods and massive government takeover of industry)  that, had they taken place outside a wartime setting, would have been wholly politically unpalatable?

Therein lies the contradiction in the arguments put forth by hawkish fiscal conservatives. Barney Frank coined a nice term for it yesterday.

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Men in transition

men in transI’m not particularly religious, but I am impressed by the social power of religious feeling, and the potential of religion to be a force for good in the world. Have a listen.

More here.

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What next?!

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