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Showing posts from June 3, 2018

What we owe Monica Lewinsky

What we owe Monica Lewinsky An article that appeared in the Politico yesterday stirred people up. Written by Alicia Munnell, it presents a case for thinking that retirement, that dream which rests upon the foundation of social insurance – social security and medicare – is over for the millennials, who should just plan to work until they are seventy, and then I guess go off to the euthanasia center. The article reminded me, once again, of one of my strongest beliefs: that we as a nation owe a big thanks to Monica Lewinsky. By all accounts, Bill Clinton came into his second term determined to care though a very ruthless neo-liberal plan. The era of big government was over. And part of it he succeeded in cramming through. He signed into law “reforms” that deregulating mortgages and led to the great crash of 2008. And he got rid of  # GlassSteagall , which made our response to 2008 concentrate on saving the great too big to fail banks. But the big piece de resistance, for the Cli

The rule of law, or being screwed up the wazoo by the Supreme Court

James Fitzjames Stephen, Virginia Woolf’s uncle, was nothing if not ferociously direct. Thus, in his book on the Criminal Law of England, he tells us why the subject is of interest: “Its object is to give an account of the general scope, tendency, and design of an important part of our institutions, of which surely none can have a greater moral significance, or be more closely connected with broad principles of morality and politics, than those by which men rightfully, deliberately, and in cold blood, kill, enslave, and otherwise torment their fellow-creatures.” This is a blunt disposition of the case, and in a satirist’s hands, or a Tolstoy’s, a condemnation of the system: but for Stephen, it is rightly how things are. And, really, for most of us. We might not be down for the cold blooded executions, but we are all down for the enslaving and tormenting. When we blather on about the rule of law, it is on these foundations of meted out pain that we are arguing. It is, of

what is it like to be a voter?

Neo-liberalism's attempt to shake the existential edge off politics is a futile and ultimately damaging enterprise, although you wouldn’t know it from the thumbsuckers. Every new election, every new populism, proves it. The left, when it is healthy, and the right, when it is not, both know that politics is all about dread and ecstasy. That politics might be an existentialist errand is very much part of what I take to be the salient characteristic of contemporary election-based democracies. The common lament of editorialist and well heeled country clubber alike is that election based democracy allows those without an intelligent grasp of the issues, at least if that grasp is defined in terms of having informed opinions about policy. In our opinion, a philosophical defense of democracy has to begin with a better description of how voting functions in a democracy in the first place. What is the meaning of voting? What is it about? I propose that we look for the answer to that qu