Michael Maiello's picture

    The Problem of Waiting on Civil Rights Issues

    In 2003 and 2004, I had the unique opportunity to have written an experimental musical that was produced off-off Broadway and in the New York International Fringe Festival.  The framed poster from the debut is in my apartment.  To me, it's a major accomplishment.  Somewhere along the run, two men met and fell in love.  They were together for years after I went separate ways with the company that produced the show but technology has allowed us all to meet, disperse and stay in touch.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Dag Pardon and Clemency Project

    President Obama will be in office quite awhile longer but the time to tell him who to pardon on the way out is now.  It won't due to wait until his last months in office because the decisions will largely have been made by then.  Let's start a pardon and clemency list.  Put your suggestions for who should be pardoned, and why, in the comments and I'll sweep through and move all of the new suggestions, without comment, into the main thread.  Of course. we can debate the merits below.

    Pardon and Clemency List

    1. Piper Kerman

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Seveneves: A Short Review of a Long Book

    By sheer coincidence, I finished Neal Stephenson's Seveneves a couple of days before learning that two friends from college, including the former managing editor of The Daily Lobo, our independent school paper, were in town.  Back in the 1990s, the staff of our paper passed around copies of Stephenson's Snow Crash, a witty send-up of the cyber-punk genre.  We loved that book. 

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Financial Illiteracy and Bill Clinton's "Secret Company"

    The right wing is all agog about Bill Clinton's "secret" company called WJC LLC.  The "secret" company, which has twice incorporated itself with public documents naming Bill Clinton as its majority shareholder in two states (New York and Delaware), is not actually a secret company at all.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Re-Free Martha Stewart

    This week brought news that five large global banks had admitted to felonies and agreed to pay $5.6 billion in fines to the U.S. Treasury for colluding to rig global currency markets.  The amount of the fines captured headlines but the amounts are actually relatively small.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Well, A Blog I'll Just Call Crime and Punishment

    Federal prosecutors convinced a Massachusetts jury to give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the death penalty.  One might assume that would be a tough sell in a highly educated blue state and maybe it was a tough sell that happened to close.  Few tears will be shed, even by the staunchest death penalty opponents.  Tsarnaev is not a sympathetic person.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Age of Marvel

    I haven't seen Avengers: Age of Ultron yet, but there's no doubt that will happen.  I actually haven't seen the second Captain America either.  Parenthood will do that.  But I have seen most of the Marvel movies, I watch Agents of Shield and just finished Daredevil on Netflix.  I know what all the plans for the Marvel cinematic universe are and I know the term "Marvel cinematic universe."

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Nature of Poverty

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and then don't give him a rod, a boat, a bucket, bait, access to well-stocked waters and a place to store, cook and eat his catch, then you must be some sort of sociopath.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Drones -- Making War Safer!

    At Slate William Saletan has long defended drone warfare because it minimizes both civilian and military casualties.  Drone are preferable, certainly, to high altitude bombing.  From the U.S. military perspective, only the equipment is at risk.  From the perspective of civilians, drone strikes are more carefully targeted than bombs from 50,000 feet or cruise missiles launched from hundreds of miles away.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Flash Crash Boy

    When I was at Forbes I learned that the American Stock Exchange, once known as "the curb," also had the nickname, "The Scam-ex."  This was where people bought and sold shares of subprime public companies and where insiders and bucket shops conducted pump and dump scams on retail investors.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Another Thing About the 47%

    You heard, during the last campaign, that 47% of Americans "don't pay taxes," by which we mean Federal Income taxes (they pay many others at all levels of government).  It has somehow been difficult to convince people that 47% of the population does not actually make enough money that they can be taxed in any meaningful way but at a median income of $50,000 a year and long-term, inflation-adjusted wage stagnation, I've always suspected it's true.  From The Big Picture, some further evidence:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Religion Is Not A Counterculture

    I spend too much time on Ross Douthat and his sensei, David Brooks. Today, Douthat wrote a piece casting America’s practicing religious communities as a counterculture.  He then calls for the same tolerance that most countercultures, from beats to hippies to punks to vegans to gays have asked for but rarely received.

    Douthat says:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Tolerance Doesn't Cut It

    This week, Ross Douthat and his mentor David Brooks both wrote pieces cautioning the “victors” of the battle for civil rights for gay people to be “gracious” in their ascendance.  Both have made this argument before.  First, they say, that the civil rights proponents could very easily go too far in an essentially conservative culture and second, they say, they owe a nod to tolerance of dissent by the religious.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Cane-Do Lee Kuan Yew

    In the Times this morning, Roger Cohen eulogizes Lee Kuan Yew, the "Father of Singapore" and a man who has benefited greatly, alongside monarchs throughout the Middle East, from the absurd notion of the "benevolent dictator."

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Morality Tale Economics

    David Brooks and Ross Douthat are both singing the same tune about Robert Putnam's work on income inequality -- They believe that the tribulations of poorer Americans are caused as much by a breakdown in the culture as by a lack of money.  On the face of it, this is a bit like treating somebody with hypothermia by delivering a cold weather safety lecture while not sharing your coat.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Olds and Scolds

    Well, I just can't let this one go.  David Brooks looks at the struggles of poor families in America (through the eyes of Robert Putnam) and determines that the biggest problem with growing up poor in America isn't all the poverty but a glut of moral relativism.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Democracy's Tricky Ending

    Over at Vox, Matthew Yglesias argues that American Democracy is Doomed.  The flaws that have taken down every other constitutional republic in the world will one day come for America, irrevocably altering the system and ending the experiment of 1776.  It's a neat essay.  He's also set up his argument so that you'd have to be an extremist American exceptionalist to say he's wrong.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Leonard Nimoy Open Thread

    I admit, it hits me whenever somebody from the original cast dies and I'll probably feel the same way about Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager.

    The whole Star Trek vision and, believe me, some of it has its problems, has always struck me as a bit of necessary hope in a society that can very easily turn cranky.  The whole show, and Nimoy embodied this, has always been about humanity overcoming its want for resources and its inane and unproductive tribalisms.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    How WalMart Fooled The World

    Yesterday, The Daily Beast asked me for my take on WalMart's big "wage hike." WalMart raised its starting wage to $9 an hour across all locations, with the goal of getting all of its 1.4 million employees to $10 an hour next year.  The company handled the PR very well.  From the press I saw, you'd think WalMart had grown a heart, that economic conditions had improved for our lowest wage workers and that the system basically works.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Why Don't Overworked, Underpaid People Get Involved In Politics?

    Adam Seth Levine, a professor of government at Cornell University, took to The Times this morning to promote his book American Insecurity: Why Our Economic Fears Lead to Political Inaction.  We on the left have been wondering forever why people "vote against their economic interests" or why progressive political messages fail to inspire or convince so many people.

    Levine observes, based on experiment:

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