Category Archives: In the News

When the Pope is a better lawyer than Amy Coney Barrett

God

I had thought that we were basically done with the legality issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States, but the elevation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and a recent Supreme Court dissent by Justices Alito and Thomas demonstrate that we still have “a failure to communicate” here. The right of LGBTQ people to cohabit legally… Read more »

Donald Trump’s tax problems revisited

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Trump Hotel Sign

Note: This is a cross-post with the Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. Ever since I began this blog in January of 2018, Donald Trump’s “not-normal” finances have been in my head and have appeared in this blog numerous times. Now that the media frenzy over his Covid diagnosis has abated somewhat, perhaps we can get back to Trump’s financial frauds. In… Read more »

Moral luck, Donald Trump and the coronavirus

Trump Covid

The concept of moral luck is one of the more curious sidelines in the study of ethics, at the intersection of moral philosophy and mathematics. However, Donald Trump’s bizarre reactions up to, during, and after contracting Covid-19 make for a great opportunity to look at the concept. In short, President Trump first ascribed his escape from Covid for the first… Read more »

The disqualifying hubris of Amy Coney Barrett

Trump & Barrett

Hubris was a common theme in ancient Greek theater. Excessive pride and arrogance were punished by the gods with a spectacular fall from grace and power. And hubris seems to be a requirement for recent nominees to the Supreme Court. However, the hubris being shown by Judge Amy Coney Barrett in her ill-timed nomination is so egregious that she must… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 2

Nursing home

Part One of this series laid out the cashflows draining middle-class estates in the final years of life into the “eldercare industry.” In my view, this is a significant contributor to rising income inequality. Middle-class wealth in the U.S. does not get passed on to the next generation, leaving that group to start over from scratch.  My own children’s generation… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 1

Nursing home corridor

Rich people pass on wealth to their children; poor people don’t. And increasingly, middle-class people don’t either. We know that this lack of inheritance in the middle and lower ends is a significant force behind rising income inequality over the last 30 years. Much of the “extraction” of net worth from middle-class families happens in the last years of their… Read more »

History and the math of “probably not”

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On a day when we can’t get an agreed-upon historical reckoning of the sequence of governmental Coronavirus response in the United States in early 2020 (despite extensive video evidence), I’d like to share my thoughts on “the probability of history” using some classic (and potentially dangerous) examples. In the mid-1990s, the late religious historian Marcus Borg authored a series of… Read more »

When Chuck Grassley was “pwned” by the televangelists

Donald Trump & Paula White

Note: This is a repost from a piece that first appeared in the Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. In a recent Bleeding Heartland piece, Laura Belin contrasted Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s aggressive attack on then-Vice President Al Gore’s use of a government telephone in 1997 to make a fundraising call to his silence after repeated and blatant Trump administration violations of… Read more »

Lifting the veil of ignorance in Minneapolis and Kenosha

One more week, one more caught-on-video incident of a policeman shooting an unarmed Black man who was not posing an imminent threat, this one in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Honestly, my first thought on seeing this particular episode after all of this ugly summer’s “repeats” was “How stupid a policeman are you?” The “veil of ignorance” may have been lifted for you… Read more »

Type I versus Type II errors in election security

I-Voted

You likely first encountered the “Type I versus Type II error problem” in grade school and didn’t realize it. Perhaps some kid in the class played a practical joke on the teacher, and because nobody confessed, the entire class got detention. In some situation or another, you were likely punished undeservedly as a group for the actions of a small… Read more »