Meditations on the Politics of Limited Knowledge

Taking Ownership of Our Democracy – 2020 and Beyond

In Current Events, Economics, Political Theory, Politics on June 13, 2019 at 2:41 pm

Looking out at the Democratic primary field for the 2020 presidential election, I am hopeful for what may come out of debate over the most urgent, rational, achievable policies and the most viable means of saving the democratic project and advancing it into the future. I lay out some thoughts here on what I would like to see prioritized by a Democratic president elected in 2020.

While I am happy to see leftward movement in the party, I believe we need to think seriously about an agenda that is more socialist than even leftist social democrats by tackling distribution of wealth and ownership, and at the same time less statist by centralizing decision-making power only to the extent necessary for each challenge we face.

Bernie powerfully lays out the stakes in recent speech on his vision of “democratic socialism” as an extension of the unfinished work of FDR’s New Deal. Worth watching and keeping in mind throughout primary.

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Kavanaugh on SCOTUS? Some thoughts…

In Current Events on October 3, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Some thoughts on Kavanaugh confirmation, via Twitter thread and prefatory notes, from the day following hearing with Christine Blasey Ford…

I thought he handled himself quite well strategically in the initial hearings. But I was furious at HIM yesterday watching his meltdown. It undermined every suggestions of decency he managed to perform previously. I deeply disagreed with him before, but as of yesterday, he disgusts me.

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic?

In Current Events, Epistemology & Theory of Knowledge, Science on June 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm

So I’m sitting at dinner and my host decides to spark conversation with a blanket denial of global warming. Needless to say, this is not a conversation that I am used to having. Then again, it is not every evening that I am sitting across the table from an extremely wealthy, elderly, intelligent, conservative libertarian bachelor with a flair for provocation and not-entirely-pleasant self-confidence. Maybe he was worked up from our squash games at the Union Club – the second-oldest private club in the United States – where he had to buy me a set of “whites” to wear before I could go on the squash court (my plebeian pink polo was not up to code). This fellow is an interesting character: heir to wealthy Southern Jewish investment bankers whose fortune stretches back to share cropping and Reconstruction, practicing lawyer whose clients have included post-Soviet oligopolies, and confidant of conservative power players and GOP leadership. His worldview rationalizes his social status: he unapologetically parks his beliefs at his own station.

While I had rather enjoyed our prior meeting and the hours of arguing about core political principles and ideological frames for analyzing policy that ensued over a dinner of coq au vin followed by cigars and cognac back at his Upper East Side bachelor pad (complete with burgundy-walled den with built-in hard-wood bookcases, studded-leather couch, chaise and bar), his challenge to climate orthodoxy made me cringe, roll my eyes and squirm in my seat a bit. I just didn’t know if I had the patience for such dialogue between bites of otherwise-delicious saag paneer. And frankly I immediately doubted the rationality of my interlocutor. He had seemed a learned man with a strident ideology with which I disagree. With one (pseudo)scientific conjecture he became a dogmatic anti-realist nut-job fundamentalist.