Obama’s preacher

wright.jpg By Nick Li

Barack Obama’s religiosity has always been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it makes liberal atheists like me think that maybe he will be more electable to Americans who like their politicians to fear/love God and wear their Christianity on their sleeve. The Democrats have always been seen as "weak" on religion and since America is such a religious country, maybe an overtly religious Christian man who also adopts some of the speaking styles of a preacher and preaches a message of unity can help win some of the "red" states. On the other hand, it has always made me a little wary. Maybe this is just pandering or tactical or a political strategy to get elected; or maybe this is a canidate who really cares deeply about his faith. That would worry me except that Obama has been pretty explicit about his support for abortion, gays, and stem cells, the three issues that lie at the intersection of religion and politics in America. But recently the cable news outlets have been going crazy attacking Barack Obama’s preacher Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The reverend has indeed made some controversial comments. What follows is a sample I culled from the internet. Continue reading

The Invisible College

JBD_square.jpg By Nick Li

Brad DeLong is an economics professor at UC Berkeley where I go to school. I recently came across an article of his that provides his musings on the "invisible college" and he uses the phrase in his title (well before this blog was founded) – clearly the phrase coined by Oscar Schachter is beginning to enter the popular lexicon. The important background to this article is that Brad sometimes gets criticism these days for not publishing "serious" economic papers and devoting so much time to his blog, which is one of the most popular economics blogs on the web. So this article constitutes a defense of blogging as a worthwhile activity by a serious academic, and helps people like us feel less like ego-maniacs who think we have something important to say or serial procrastinators who should be doing real work (though we are those things sometimes too). The full article is reproduced below. 

CAN BLOGGING DERAIL YOUR CAREER? The Invisible College By J. BRADFORD DELONG Right now I’m looking out my office window, perched above the large, grassy, Frisbee-playing, picnicking, and sunbathing area that stretches through Berkeley’s campus. I’m looking straight out at the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a view that I marvel at every day I wonder why the chancellor hasn’t confiscated such offices and rented them out to hedge funds to improve the university’s finances. Continue reading

What does this talk about NAFTA really mean?

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By the time you read this the fate of the free world may already have been decided by voters in Texas and Ohio. At least, to the extent that it matters whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama answers the phone at 3am. As things have heated up in the last few weeks, there is one issue that the candidates have been raising alot – NAFTA. In the last debate in Ohio both candidates promised to force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA by threatening to pull out. Meanwhile,CTV news in Canada revealed that a senior Obama policy adviser spoke with Canadian officials at the consulate in Chicago and reassured them that all this talk about pulling out of NAFTA was just campaign rhetoric. But what could either candidate possibly mean?
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On Mike Huckabee’s chances, vagueness and specifics, and Berkeley

ra1372479976.jpg By Nick Li

The battle to be `leader of the free world’ continues this week with primaries in Hawaii, Washington and Wisconsin. The Republican race is all but sealed by John "transcendental threat of radical islam" McCain. If you haven’t seen the Barack Obama’s Yes We Can video by now then you should, and while you’re at it, why not check out Yes He Can, which is the McCain version of the same video. Continue reading

Naomi Klein on the “why” of human rights violations

naomik.jpg By Nick Li

For those who haven’t read it, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" by Canadian uber left-wing activist Naomi Klein is a must read for anyone interested in economics, human rights, or the world generally. One of the most interesting chapters of her book, "Entirely Unrelated," discusses the rise of the international human rights movement in the 1960s and its acute limitations. Continue reading

Why are so many politicians lawyers?

By Nick Li

art.2114.obama.hill.gi.jpgAnyone observing the fireworks during the Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in South Carolina on Monday can be forgiven for focusing on the glaringly obvious. The gloves finally came off as the first potential female and first potential black president of the United States slung the mud thick: Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton: "Because while I was working on those streets [as a community organizer] watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart. Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama: "I was fighting against [the ideas of Ronald Reagan] when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Resco, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago." And lest the lone white male contender feel left out, we had this little exchange: John Edwards to Hillary Clinton : When somebody gives you millions and millions of dollars, I think they expect something. I don’t think they’re doing it for nothing. Hillary Clinton: Well, John, trial lawyers have given you millions and millions of dollars. So… John Edwards: And what they expect from me is they expect me to stand up for democracy, for the right to jury trial, for the right for little people to be heard in the courtroom. And that is exactly what I stand up for. That is not the same thing. That is not the same thing as corporate lobbyists who are in there every single day lobbying against the interests of middle-class Americans. While people tend to play up the minor policy differences and the major generational/racial/gender/personality differences of these candidates, what is most striking to me is that all three were lawyers before entering politics. Continue reading

Nick Li

nickli.jpgLike my other co-bloggers I am a priviliged and possibly overeducated globetrotter and internationalist. I was born in Singapore but spent most of my life in Halifax, N.S. where I went to high school with Richard. I studied philosophy and economics at Dalhousie University/University of King’s College (while managing to pick up Spanish and spend a semester visiting the Faculty for Latin American Social Studies at the University of Havana http://www.flacso.org/cuba.php ). I later completed an MA in economics at Queen’s University http://www.econ.queensu.ca/. I subsequently worked as an intern for the Center for Studies of Economic Integration and International Trade http://www.f-integral.com/index.php in Buenos Aires where I researched multilateral trade negotiations and foreign aid for trade. I am currently pursuing a PhD in economics at the University of California, Berkeley http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/econ/. When not working I love basketball, guitars and jazz music. My academic research http://works.bepress.com/nicholas_li/, largely divorced from my blogging, concerns measurement of international price differences and international/intertemporal consumption-based welfare comparisons. My blogging interests run the gamut from American, Latin American and South-East Asian politics (Canadian politics are generally too boring), foreign aid policy, international trade negotiations, the relationship between human rights, democracy and economic growth, and generally being as left-wing as my economics training allows. My previous blogging with Richard and Otto at 1948blog was fun and informative, and I look forward to broadening my knowledge of international law as well through our new collaboration with "the Core."