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Friday, April 5, 2019

On the Unitary and Imperial American Presidency

In December 2009, Abdullah II, King of Jordon, dismissed the prime minister and replaced him with a palace aide and loyalist, dissolved Parliament, and postponed legislative elections for a year.   For all the defects of a representative democratic system, it is far superior to autocratic rule, especially by a dictator.   It is natural for people to resist preemption. “The nature of humans is they want democracy,” said Ali Dalain, an independent member of the Parliament that was dissolved. “One person cannot solve all problems and cannot make everyone happy, so people must share in determining their fate.”[1] These quotes are revealing from the standpoint of the American notions of the unitary executive and the imperial presidency.    

The full essay is at "The Unitary and Imperial U.S. Presidency."

1. Michael Slackman, "Jordan's King Remakes His Government," The New York Times, December 22, 2009.

Should Health Care Be a Right?

In the Spring of 2019, President Trump promised that a Republican alternative to "Obamacare" would soon be unveiled; the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, quickly informed the president that the prospects of such legislation passing the Democratic-controlled U.S. House were zilch. This virtually guaranteed that health care would be play a salient role in the upcoming 2020 presidential race. The underlying question, I submit, has been whether health care ought to be a right, which the government would be obligated to ensure. Such a right would obviously not be one of those that hold government back (e.g., the right to liberty). Whether a right ensured by government or holding government back, the nature of a right is such that it is to be respected by others, whether individuals, organizations, or the state. Such respect, being an obligation, constrains those others. Hence, health care as a right has been controversial in the U.S. 

The full essay is at "Survival of the Fittest."

Monday, April 1, 2019

Dorian Gray: Evil or Immoral?

The Picture of Dorian Gray, a Gothic and philosophical novel written by Oscar Wilde, was first published in 1890. The first motion picture, taking the same title, came out in 1945. Relative to The Secret of Dorian Gray (1970), the initial adaptation of the book can seem quite restrained, or Victorian, even though the novel had been controversial in its day. The 1970 film is awash in the sexual revolution, and is thus also affected by its times. The next film adaptation, Dorian Gray (2009), goes back to a classy nineteenth-century Dorian. The emphasis is on sexual immorality, albeit different than in the sexual revolution in the next century. The film largely departs from the plethora of religious symbolism and language in the 1945 film, though unlike in the 1970 film, a spiritual realm is not presumed to be an antiquated notion. Instead, the 2009 film substitutes supernaturalism for religion, especially in the climax. 

The full essay is at "Dorian Gray."

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Undermining the Dodd-Frank Act: An Incessant Desire for Profit

In the Dodd-Frank financial reform Act of 2010, financial firms in the U.S. are required to set aside higher reserves to cover losses on trades of securities, including those that “swap” the risk of default of a given security, such as bonds based on subprime mortgages. Almost immediately, the Wall Street bankers set about minimizing the new hindrance.  

The full essay is at "Undermining the Dodd-Frank Act."

Jack Lew at his confirmation hearing for U.S. Treasury Secretary. Lew had been the chief operating officer at units at Citibank.     NPR