It's been a while since pals
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West took up the task of challenging President Obama
from his left flank. The talk-show host and the philosopher have taken some
heat for their criticism of the president, notably from political scientist
Books on Barack Obama are proliferating. Recent additions include biographies, political analyses, a look into Obama's African family tree, books on his handling of specific issues and books on race and politics in American society. Among these, James Kloppenberg's intellectual contextualization stands out.
This week, a former Google
executive asked President Obama to raise his taxes so that more people will
have the chance to succeed as he has. It was nice to hear the president defend
the idea that individual wealth is built in part by collective investment--even if he didn't state it as forcefully as Elizabeth Warren, and even if he mostly
avoided the word "taxes" itself.
"Constantinian" has lately been a favored pejorative in
theological circles. The term--an allusion to the fourth-century Roman emperor
whose conversion to Christianity turned a marginal sect into a state religion--has
been used to deplore any alliance between the church and the state or, more
broadly, between the church and the dominant political culture.
Jay Stooksberry argues that the way to reduce gun-related homicides in the United States is to halt the war on drugs. Nearly half of homicides involving guns today are drug-related. He notes that during the Prohibition era, gun deaths increased, as did alcoholism, which Prohibition was meant to prevent. Gangs then controlled the black market, just as they control the distribution and sale of illegal drugs today. Prohibition was a failure, and for similar reasons the war on drugs hasn’t worked—but it has led to the killing of innocents in gang warfare and the militarization of law enforcement, at the cost of a trillion dollars spent over the past four decades (Newsweek, August 16).