liberalism tagged posts

Gauntlet Thrown: President Obama’s Howard University Commencement Speech

We live in such a cynical, angry, contentious political climate that there’s a popular meme circulating and reproducing itself like a virus with every blustery speech on the campaign trail: We’ve lost our way; America is hopelessly gridlocked, wayward, paralyzed. The only hope for our country, of course, is if the candidate describing this abysmal state of affairs is elected and can thus wave a magic wand, turn three times in each direction, stomp both feet and wipe out all of our problems (ISIS, the immigrants, the atheists, Wall Street tycoons…).

This is a far cry from the themes that permeated then-candidate Obama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail eight years ago. Sure, he sounded a few pointed barbs at the way things were, but his predominant message and tone was about how things could be.

Not deriding the country’s deficiencies but pointing the way to still more improvements before we could ful...

Read More

Liberals, Conservatives and “The Big Short”

What do liberals and conservatives have to say about capitalism and the human heart? How to assign blame for the massive bubbles and frauds perpetrated in the financial markets in recent decades? Can the relentless pursuit and possession of capital be effectively shaped by any ethic save for the unfettered freedom to pursue its own ends?

These questions—and quite a few more—occurred on a few recent long drives during which my car’s CD player offered up Michael Lewis’s greatly entertaining and gravely dismaying The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Lewis’s book chronicles the subprime mortgage episode that brought the U.S. economy to its knees in 2008, just in time for Barack Obama to stride into the Oval Office in that confident way of his, glance at the up-to-date economic data and ask, “Now what the hell just happened here?”

What happened, as the gifted Lewis (Moneyball, Liar’s Poker...

Read More