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Black by choice?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | July 14, 2015

A couple of weeks back, we witnessed two quite different but intriguing cases of people laying claim to an African-American identity without having the lineage that we generally assume provides that identity – biological descent from African slaves in the United States. These two people were, in effect, asserting that they could choose to be … Continue reading »

U.S. strategy on ISIL: What’s the endgame?

Mahmood Monshipouri, visiting associate professor, Middle Eastern Studies | September 19, 2014

In a speech to the world from the White House on Sept. 10, 2014, President Obama authorized renewed airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to defeat and dismantle the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL), as well as the deployment of 475 additional military advisers to Iraq, bringing the number of American troops in that … Continue reading »

President Obama Capitulates on FERC Chairman

Patrick Donnelly-Shores, former student, College of Natural Resources | December 11, 2013

Last week, President Obama named retired utility executive Cheryl LaFleur as the acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It was a move likely aimed at pleasing interests in the natural gas and coal sectors. His previous nominee for chairman, longtime regulator Ronald Binz, had drawn the ire of the coal lobby, as reported on the BERC … Continue reading »

The GOP’s war isn’t over. It’s only a ceasefire

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | October 18, 2013

The war isn’t over. It’s only a cease-fire. Republicans have agreed to fund the federal government through January 15 and extend the government’s ability to borrow (raise the debt ceiling) through Feb. 7. The two sides have committed themselves to negotiate a long-term budget plan by mid-December. Regardless of what happens in the upcoming budget … Continue reading »

Three cheers for phallocracy!

Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics | September 10, 2013

I have been listening to all the arguments, pro and con, about military intervention in Syria, and I will of course be listening to the President’s speech. But to date I find much of the rhetoric from the President and his supporters, Congress, and the punditry not merely unpersuasive, but intellectually obtuse and even morally … Continue reading »

Obama’s political capital and the slippery slope of Syria

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | September 4, 2013

Even if the President musters enough votes to strike Syria, at what political cost? Any president has a limited amount of political capital to mobilize support for his agenda, in Congress and, more fundamentally, with the American people. This is especially true of a president in his second term of office. Which makes President Obama’s … Continue reading »

Fear of a Black President?

Brad DeLong, Brad DeLong | August 30, 2013

A few thoughts provoked by reading Mann and Ornstein this morning… Barack Obama has, after all, been pursuing Bill Clinton’s gun-control policy, Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, John McCain’s climate policy, Mitt Romney’s health-care policy, George W. Bush’s immigration policy, the bipartisan Squam Lake Group’s financial-regulatory policy, Bill Clinton’s tax policy, George H.W. Bush’s spending policy, … Continue reading »

The verdict on class and voting

Michael Hout, professor emeritus of sociology and demography | November 13, 2012

Class issues stood out more in the 2012 presidential election than in previous ones, even more than in 2008. The campaigns invoked, as always, issues of all sorts, but seldom in American politics are the issues of class so prominent as they were this year. Governor Romney’s personal wealth and how he accumulated it were … Continue reading »

It’s the Tea Party, stupid

Lawrence Rosenthal, executive director, Center for Right-Wing Studies | November 5, 2012

Apart from certain quarters on the Right predicting a Romney victory on Election Day, the final weeks of the campaign witnessed a gathering sentiment, almost a last-minute conventional wisdom, about the election’s outcome. It went something like this: Obama had a significant and reliable lead until the first debate. Pre-debate, Republicans lamented a lackluster Romney … Continue reading »

Neoncons and the foreign-policy presidential debate: The ism that dare not speak its name

Lawrence Rosenthal, executive director, Center for Right-Wing Studies | October 23, 2012

In Monday’s final presidential debate, President Barack Obama came full circle and more from his conflict-averse showing in the first debate. Obama not only attacked his opponent, but, in the absence of much challenge from Mitt Romney, took it upon himself to raise the very points required to mount his attacks. For the most part, … Continue reading »

Why Obama lost the first debate

George Lakoff, professor of linguistics | October 5, 2012

You don’t win a presidential debate by being a policy wonk. Obama violated all the basics of presidential debating.  The best defense is a good offense. You have to set the terms of the debate and press those terms. Obama failed. Here are those basics: State your moral values. Contrast them with your opponent’s. Project … Continue reading »

Was debate #1 a Pyrrhic victory?

Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics | October 4, 2012

Debate 1 is over, and the pundits have declared Mitt Romney the victor. The only remaining question is: was his victory overwhelming, or did Romney only win because Obama didn’t? That is today’s story. But will it be the way we tell it after November 7? On the surface it seems set in stone: Romney … Continue reading »

The first presidential debate

Robert Reich, professor of public policy |

In Wednesday night’s debate, Romney won on style while Obama won on substance. Romney sounded as if he had conviction, which means he’s either convinced himself that the lies he tells are true or he’s a fabulous actor. But what struck me most was how much Obama allowed Romney to get away with: Five times … Continue reading »

A side-by-side comparison of Romney and Obama on energy and environment

Dan Farber, professor of law | April 23, 2012

I’ve put together a table of language from the issues sections of the official campaign websites dealing with energy and environment. I decided to use the candidate’s own language to avoid interposing my own views on the issues. Please keep in mind that the table uses their language, not mine. Not surprisingly, the candidates frame … Continue reading »

End times and presidents

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | March 16, 2012

The heated controversies around President Obama – the questioned birth certificate, the supposed Muslim connections, his seeming foreignness – have generated more than a whiff of fire and brimstone. Snopes.com, the website devoted to fact-checking common rumors, felt compelled in 2011 to fact-check whether the president was the antichrist. They decided he was not. The … Continue reading »

Corporations don’t need a tax cut, so why is Obama proposing one?

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | February 23, 2012

The Obama administration is proposing to lower corporate taxes from the current 35 percent to 28 percent for most companies and to 25 percent for manufacturers. The move is supposed to be “revenue neutral” – meaning the Administration is also proposing to close assorted corporate tax loopholes to offset the lost revenues. One such loophole … Continue reading »

Racial bias and bankruptcy: Implications for the 2012 election

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, associate professor of psychology | January 26, 2012

In the news this week, more evidence of discrimination under our seemingly egalitarian noses: A forthcoming study in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies shows that lawyers are about twice as likely to steer blacks debtors filing for bankruptcy towards the harsher chapter 13 than they are other filers, whom they are more likely to … Continue reading »

The most important economic speech of his presidency

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | December 7, 2011

The President’s speech today in Osawatomie, Kansas — where Teddy Roosevelt gave his “New Nationalism” speech in 1910 — is the most important economic speech of his presidency in terms of connecting the dots, laying out the reasons behind our economic and political crises, and asserting a willingness to take on the powerful and the privileged … Continue reading »

Why we need Obama now, more than ever

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, associate professor of psychology | September 23, 2011

In this Top Ten countdown, David Letterman recently announced Barack Obama’s top ten plans for Labor Day weekend. Coming in solidly at #2: “Pretty much whatever the Republicans tell him he can do.” If a lot truth is said in jest (as Eminem would have it), then the plain truth here is that the public … Continue reading »