Politics

A Little Snooki in the French Presidential Campaign

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As a reality television series, it’s hard to beat the prime-time adventures of the French presidential election; as endless as the Republican primaries, but racier than Snooki's antics on “Jersey Shore”. This ought to give pause to anyone who is relying on Parisian politics to save the European Union.

To ensure that the Élysée Palace is inhabited occasionally by bigamists (François Mitterand), megalomaniacs (Charles de Gaulle), diamond smugglers (Valéry d’Estaing), or influence peddlers (Jacques Chirac), the presidential electoral system works like this: In the first round on April 22nd, candidates from a diverse number of parties across the spectrum will face off. If none of the candidates get more than 50 percent of the vote (unlikely), a runoff is then held two weeks later, featuring the top two finishers of round one.  read more »

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Enjoying the Kool-Aid in Omaha

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I left Santa Monica for Omaha less than 3 months before the collapse of the global financial infrastructure in September 2008. The impending problems in housing and credit markets – obvious from early 2007 and exacerbated by the pile-on effect of derivatives gone wild – were increasingly in the bank of my mind. I made the decision to leave the dense urban population center of southern California and head to a place where —as recently described in an episode of The Walking Dead – there is a small population and lots of guns. I figured if the world was going to fall apart (something short of being over-run by zombies but worse than a minor recession) I’d rather not be sitting with my back to the ocean and no boat.  read more »

'Protestant Ethic' 2.0: The New Ways Religion Is Driving Economic Outperformance

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In this season when most Americans are more concerned than usual with spiritual matters, it may be time to ask whether religion still matters. Certainly religiosity’s worst side has been amply on display in recent years, from the fanaticism of Islamic terrorists to the annoying sanctimoniousness of Rick Santorum.  read more »

The Next Public Debt Crisis Has Arrived

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In July of 2009, while the smoke from the global financial bonfire was still thick in the air, I wrote for this website about another crisis of massive proportions just looming on the horizon: the Global Crisis in Public Debt.  read more »

The Expanding Wealth Of Washington

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Throughout the brutal and agonizingly long recession, only one large metropolitan area escaped largely unscathed: Washington, D.C. The city that wreaked economic disasters under two administration last year grew faster in population than any major region in the country, up a remarkable 2.7 percent. The continued steady growth of the Texas cities, which dominated the growth charts over the past decade, pales by comparison.  read more »

Rick Santorum’s Ugly Appeal to Rural Voters

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Not all of them are “clinging to guns and religion,” as Barack Obama famously said in 2008, but Rick Santorum has catapulted to the top of the Republican field by connecting with a bitter streak among rural voters. This is bad news for the Republican party and for rural America, which in fact has some pretty good reasons to be optimistic.  read more »

The Republican Party's Fatal Attraction To Rural America

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Rick Santorum’s big wins in Alabama and Mississippi place the Republican Party in ever greater danger of becoming hostage to what has become its predominate geographic base: rural and small town America. This base, not so much conservatives per se, has kept Santorum’s unlikely campaign alive, from his early win in Iowa to triumphs in predominately rural and small-town dominated Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Oklahoma.  read more »

Honolulu’s Money Train

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Honolulu is set to construct an ambitious urban rail project. It’s a $5.125 billion behemoth that this metropolitan area with less than a million residents may not be able to afford.

Honolulu's Beleaguered Residents

Critically, there is plenty of competition for the scarce dollars that Honolulu residents have to spare. The city’s basic infrastructure is in bad shape.  read more »

The Return of the Monkish Virtues

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“[The author of Leviticus] posits the existence of one supreme God who contends neither with a higher realm nor with competing peers. The world of demons is abolished; there is no struggle with autonomous foes, because there are none. With the demise of the demons, only one creature remains with ‘demonic’ power – the human being. Endowed with free will, human power is greater than any attributed to humans by pagan society. Not only can one defy God but, in Priestly language, one can drive God out of his sanctuary. In this respect, humans have replaced demons…..[The author of Leviticus] also posits that the pollution of the sanctuary leads to YHWH’s abandonment of Israel and its ejection from the land….Israel pollutes the land; the land becomes infertile; Israel is forced to leave.” – Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus  read more »

Shale Revolution Challenges the Left and the Right

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In his State of the Union address, President Obama invoked the 30-year history of federal support for new shale gas drilling technologies to defend his present day investments in green energy. Obama stressed the value of shale gas—which will create thousands of jobs and billions in profits—as part of his "all of the above" approach to energy, and defended the critical role government investment has always played in developing new energy technologies, from nuclear to solar panels to wind turbines.  read more »