Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” spills from the speakers and dribbles into your soul, at least if you have one. The jazz classic, from 1931, was the first to use “swing” in the title and predated the “swing” era of music by a solid three years. The song was not just ahead of the curve, it defined an age. Though not his most accomplished or sophisticated composition, it is one of Duke Ellington’s standards,… Continue Reading ››

Crony Capitalists have been uber’d! What a glorious outcome!

It is probably part of my flesh that still needs serious work (Prov 24:17), but I have to publicly confess I get a thrill of “Justice!” when I see those that are profiting from political power get their comeuppance.  Crony capitalism is perhaps, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.  But at its simplest, it is the bestowing of a special privilege to someone, that by definition restricts others.  For example, it is not crony capitalism for the government… Continue Reading ››

States Limit Local Regulation: Finally

An interesting development has arisen on the issue of regulation.  It seems that some state legislatures have moved to limit how much local governments will be allowed to regulate businesses and people.  This is quite a development.  In the past usually the states were only too happy not only to regulate directly themselves but to leave it to local governments, especially cities, and particularly large cities, to tax and regulate to their heart’s content.  It looks like some have finally… Continue Reading ››

The Catholic Church and the Pope on Politics and Economics: A Threat?

It began when the current Pope, Francis, succeeded Benedict XVI and proceeded to issue an encyclical dealing with economics.  Many at the time defended him and argued that he could be interpreted in such a way as not to be overly critical of markets and capitalism.  But Francis seems to have continued down an interesting road.  He is from Argentina, known to produce churchmen at least sympathetic to Liberation Theology (Christianity combined with Marxism).  He himself already had a record… Continue Reading ››

Update on Trade Deal: Senate agreement gives new life with separate “currency manipulator” bill

The WSJ reports today that a day after the Democrats in the Senate repudiated Mr. Obama, the Senate agreed to allow a vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), once the Republican leadership agreed to allow a vote to force the administration to punish “unfair” trade in the form of currency manipulation. The concern have over currency manipulation is that some nations–Asian nations in particular–have artificially lowered the value of their currencies to make their exports more competitive, which has cost… Continue Reading ››

Like a stopped clock being right twice a day, Mr. Obama is right on Trade Promotion Authority

Readers of this blog know I’m critical of the Obama administration generally on economic matters, nevertheless, as we say from my home state of Arkansas, “even a blind hog can find an acorn every now and again.”  The Democratic party has been generally hostile toward free trade for most of my life, while Republicans are generally supportive–obviously there are exceptions in both directions.*  Nevertheless, in my life presidents of both parties have always been the champion for free trade, able… Continue Reading ››

GOP Field Expands, Outnumbers Those Who Care

I recall a time when I delivered an academic paper in San Diego.* There were three of us on the panel, joined by a moderator. As I looked side-to-side at my colleagues, I noticed, quickly, that we outnumbered the audience by one. It was a riveting topic, eclipsed only by the aplomb with which we regaled the trio, all of whom stayed without dying of boredom. I survived that ignominy, but I might fall before the advancing horde of Republican… Continue Reading ››

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The history of blockbusters is littered with poor sequels that were only sharp enough to pierce our expectations. These movies deflate. Like a beach ball that pops as soon as it touches the hot sand, we, the movie faithful, suckers that we are, are always in search of good times that are too rarely had. Jaws 2. Jurassic Park 2. The Matrix Reloaded. Ernest Saves Christmas. We go to sequels because we maintain the faintest hope the sequel will build… Continue Reading ››

Inner Cities, Part 2: A Partial Response

After a couple of responses to my first post on the solution to the problems of inner cities, I decided I ought to delve a little deeper.  I am responding here to two similar but different types of responses. One asks what can Christians do?  The other is a bit irritated at my alleged “Gospel-without-solutions” post.  I will treat both as raising fair concerns.  Before I go the specifically Christian route, however, let me also say something about “solutions in… Continue Reading ››

The Only Hope for Inner Cities in the Long Run

President Obama simply can’t resist taking shots at Republicans anytime something bad happens (to foreclose any response from those who will reply that Republicans do it too, I will challenge that if you wish).  In this case it was the Baltimore riots, which by now everyone knows about.  In his press conference today, the president said that if the Congress had adopted his proposals, much of what happened in Baltimore would not have occurred (in fairness, he did call the… Continue Reading ››

Quote of the Week!

“The Church certainly does have a vital stake in legislation; involvement in the social arena it neglects both to its own detriment and to the detriment of society.”–Carl F.H. Henry