Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Judges and Politics

Its a common perception to see the judiciary as somehow operating 'above' politics. Yet legal decisions always have a political component, which becomes more evident in times of crisis. The decision today, for example, by the Turkish Consititutional Court not to ban the ruling Islamist party is particularly naked example of this.

However, it happens all the time in the U.S. A perfect historic example is how the Supreme Court during FDR's administration cleared most of the obstacles to the New Deal, even though the justices - mostly conservatives appointed by Republican presidents - contradicted earlier rulings they'd made.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reality vs. Ideology

NYTimes piece on how deregulation in financial markets has led to the current collapse of the mortgage industry.

Markets have never, anywhere, ever been 'free.' Governments have always manipulated them as much as they were capable of doing, often with unintended consequences. Yet the myth of the 'free market' and the deregulation drive of the last twenty years first further enriched our nepotistic oligarchy, and now has led to the impoverishment and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Americans. And guess who's going to pay for it?
You and me, brother.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Economists Won't Save You (especially right-wing ones)

This very elegant review by Alan Wolfe critiques the faddish field of psychological economics and also casually dismantles many of the assumptions of neoclassical economists (Chicago School).;utm_medium=email;utm_campaign=rad_20080703_text;utm_content=Today%27s%20Review&utm_source=review-a-day&utm_medium=email&utm_term=&utm_campaign=rad_20080703_text&utm_content=%54%6F%64%61%79%27%73%20%52%65%76%69%65%77

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eight Thousand Empty Words on Rush

Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker rightly skewers the utterly banal Zev Chavets profile of Rush Limbaugh for the NYTimes Magazine. I had the misfortune to read the piece - it was like being suffocated in a swimming pool filled with vanilla yogurt. I'll never get those twenty minutes of my life back.
I think the competent shittiness of the piece speaks to what's wrong with the NYTimes Magazine writing in general - all originality or daring in tone or analysis is strictly verboten.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Circle the Drain

If these two government-backed mortgage companies collapse - and that's what it looks like will happen - it will make Countrywide's crumbling seem like a quarter dropped on the street.

Obama = Sell Out

As Obama dances ever further to the right, wiping his ass with the Bill of Rights on the way, his most idealistic supporters are shocked, shocked! that the shining beacon of hope and change could betray them so callously.
Yet the fact is, except for his early opposition to the Iraq invasion, Obama has always been a centrist politician, with very few real working-class credentials. Yet I had a friend, a rabid Obama groupie, stop speaking to me when I suggested that his positions were very little different from Hilary's. 'You're just parroting he DNC line!' he shouted.
Oddly enough, I recently interviewed a Chicago political consultant who couldn't understand the outpouring of fervor for Obama. 'All of us who have worked with him here have no idea what this is all about. This person that we're getting is a complete creation of the DNC. He did very little of substance in his years with us.'
My Obama groupie former friend claimed 'character' was the most pertinent issue with Obama and that, I think, speaks to why he was groomed for the post. The Clintons' biggest stumbling block with the electorate at large was 'character' and Obama lacks that particular weakness.

I wonder how many people are now regretting their gushing Obama paens on their permanent Face Book records?