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Obama versus McChrystal: Winning the battle but losing the politics of war

Harry Kreisler, visiting scholar, Institute of International Studies | June 30, 2010

In ousting General Stanley McChrystal, Obama conjured up images of President Harry Truman firing General Douglas MacArthur. This comparison is misleading because the Truman-MacArthur conflict was over substance. Though Obama was justified in firing McChrystal for showing poor judgment in bad-mouthing his civilian partners in the military led counterinsurgency strategy, McChrystal must have been frustrated … Continue reading »

Listening to arsonists

Brad DeLong, professor of economics | June 29, 2010

I had always thought that Barack Obama made a significant mistake in naming the Republican ex-senator Alan Simpson to co-chair the president’s deficit-reduction commission. Simpson was a noted budget arsonist when he was in the Senate. Indeed, he never met a budget-busting, deficit-increasing initiative from a Republican president that he would not lead the charge … Continue reading »

Dead babies, brothels, contraception and presentist history

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | June 26, 2010

“Are dead babies good evidence for a Roman brothel?” That’s the question raised by a BBC story about analyses of materials from an almost century-old excavation at a Roman villa in the Thames Valley. The data: remains of 97 infants, all of whom died close to birth. To the researchers, the coincidence suggests deliberate killing … Continue reading »

As manufacturing economy matures, China must turn to services sector for growth

Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics and political science | June 25, 2010

China is getting its exchange rate adjustment whether it likes it or not. While Chinese officials continue to mull the right time to let the renminbi rise, manufacturing workers are voting with their feet — and their picket lines. Honda has offered its transmission factory workers in China a 24% wage increase to head off … Continue reading »

Alberta’s tar sands a slow-motion equivalent of the Gulf disaster

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | June 24, 2010

If you were President Obama, what would you do about the tar sands fields in Alberta?  He is being asked to approve or reject a pipeline extension that would carry 900,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude deep into the United States.  It has to be exceedingly tempting to just say “yes”.  After all, Canada … Continue reading »

Fannie and Freddie delinquent on climate change and clean energy

Ethan Elkind, director, Climate Program at Berkeley Law | June 23, 2010

Mortgage insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have thrown a wrench into one of the most promising programs to finance climate change solutions and promote clean energy. The program, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), helps homeowners pay for the upfront costs of environmentally friendly upgrades, from energy efficiency retrofits to solar panels. Here’s how it … Continue reading »

Why China’s currency announcement is hokum

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | June 22, 2010

The stock market is euphoric over China’s apparent decision to allow its currency to rise against the dollar. Watch your wallets. China isn’t really changing anything. It’s only doing the minimum to prevent Congress from listing China as a currency manipulator, leading to a squeeze on Chinese imports. Over time – and I’m talking about … Continue reading »

The slow march to justice for children

Barry Krisberg, distinguished senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice |

America’s foremost legal philosopher, Roscoe Pound (1870-1964), once observed that the American juvenile court was the greatest step forward in Anglo-American law since the Magna Carta. He was referring to an ideal of justice that was individualized, compassionate and infused with the value of human redemption. This was the vision of Jane Addams, Judge Ben … Continue reading »

The free feedom: Why the end of “free checking” is good for consumers

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | June 19, 2010

Oh noes! The Wall Street Journal’s Robin Sidel misreports the end of free checking: Bank of America Corp. and other banks are preparing new fees on basic banking services as they try to replace revenue lost to regulatory rules, in a push that is expected to spell an end to free checking accounts for many … Continue reading »

Boomer blues

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 18, 2010

A June 6 story in the New York Times, “Rise in Suicides of Middle-Aged is Continuing,” reported that 45-to-54 year-olds have the highest rate of suicide and that their rate is rising (see here, and a complex follow-up on June 13 here ). Although there are technical reasons to put a big asterisk on that … Continue reading »

Governing through war

Jonathan Simon, professor of law |

When I talk to people about how the “war on crime” transformed American politics and law since the late 1960s (the subject of the book Governing through Crime) one of the most interesting questions I get is whether the problem is more with making “crime” such a privileged target of national anxiety and identity, or … Continue reading »

Can Obama and Congress repair their broken promises on early ed?

David Kirp, professor emeritus of public policy | June 15, 2010

Kids’ advocates stood on the sidelines last March, watching helplessly as the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a $1 billion-a-year initiative to strengthen the quality of early education and child care, was stricken from the health care reform bill. The fact that early education wasn’t important enough to merit an up-or-down vote, instead becoming ensnared in … Continue reading »

Two cheers for PG&E “Democracy”

Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics | June 13, 2010

The results of last Tuesday’s primary elections were mixed. But one result gives me hope: the failure of Prop 16, PG&E’s so-called Taxpayers Right to Vote ballot initiative. I am cheered not so much because of what the proposition was about (requiring a vote to municipalize utilities), as because of the way in which it … Continue reading »

The Nature kerfuffle: Boycott the business model, not the price

Michael Eisen, Professor of molecular and cell biology | June 10, 2010

Last week a letter was sent to UC faculty by librarians from the 10 UC campuses describing a 400% increase in the cost of access to the 67 journals published by Nature Publishing Group (including the prestigious research  journal Nature). The letter also described plans being set in motion by some prominent faculty to organize … Continue reading »

Cleopatra and other powerful women

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology |

“Her name is synonymous with power and glamour”: so starts an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer prompted by the opening of a new exhibit last week at The Franklin Institute. This opening, and the exhibit itself, reflects the long-standing fascination of the public, shared by archaeologists, for women who ruled in ancient states, and the … Continue reading »