April 16, 2014
"

In other words: Political money and hence influence at the top levels is disproportionately white, male, and with almost no social context that includes significant numbers of African Americans and other people of color.

This is why money isn’t speech. Freedom of speech as a functional element in democratic life assumes that such freedom can be meaningfully deployed. But the unleashing of yet more money into politics allows a very limited class of people to drown out the money “speech” of everyone else—but especially those with a deep, overwhelmingly well documented history of being denied voice and presence in American political life.

"

Ta-Nehisi Coates, on John Roberts and the color of money.

April 16, 2014
What the Left and Right Both Get Wrong About the Moynihan Report

The 1965 document is a touchstone in the debate over black culture and the War on Poverty. The author’s call for full employment and a welfare state, however, is mostly forgotten.
Read more. [Image: Library of Congress]

What the Left and Right Both Get Wrong About the Moynihan Report

The 1965 document is a touchstone in the debate over black culture and the War on Poverty. The author’s call for full employment and a welfare state, however, is mostly forgotten.

Read more. [Image: Library of Congress]

April 14, 2014
Obama on Voter Suppression: The Right Speech in the Wrong Place

There was great truth in the stern message President Obama delivered Friday about Republican voter-suppression efforts around the country. These measures are pernicious and partisan. They do further separate rich from poor, whites from minorities, state from state in this country. And they are based upon the demonstrably false idea that voter fraud by citizens is such a pervasive problem that it only can be thwarted by making it more difficult for already the most marginalized citizens to exercise their right to vote.
"The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago," Obama told Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote,” he said, relating anecdotes of voters turned away because they didn’t have the right identification or because they needed a passport or birth certificate to register.”
The president should be saying these things now. This fight is essential to our democracy, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings. The idea that the Court’s five conservatives would within 10 months make it far easier for rich people to influence politics and far more difficult for poor people to cast a ballot is an affront to what we teach our kids about civics and the Constitution. We don’t teach them that you have a right to vote only if you can afford to drive.
But if the president is going to change the voting-rights debate, if he is going to win the argument he evidently feels strongly about making, he is going to have to preach to more than the converted. And few groups today are more converted on the perils of voter suppression today than NAN. By taking on the topic in New York with Sharpton, Obama made precisely the right speech to precisely the wrong crowd.
Read more. [Image: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Obama on Voter Suppression: The Right Speech in the Wrong Place

There was great truth in the stern message President Obama delivered Friday about Republican voter-suppression efforts around the country. These measures are pernicious and partisan. They do further separate rich from poor, whites from minorities, state from state in this country. And they are based upon the demonstrably false idea that voter fraud by citizens is such a pervasive problem that it only can be thwarted by making it more difficult for already the most marginalized citizens to exercise their right to vote.

"The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago," Obama told Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York. “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote,” he said, relating anecdotes of voters turned away because they didn’t have the right identification or because they needed a passport or birth certificate to register.”

The president should be saying these things now. This fight is essential to our democracy, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings. The idea that the Court’s five conservatives would within 10 months make it far easier for rich people to influence politics and far more difficult for poor people to cast a ballot is an affront to what we teach our kids about civics and the Constitution. We don’t teach them that you have a right to vote only if you can afford to drive.

But if the president is going to change the voting-rights debate, if he is going to win the argument he evidently feels strongly about making, he is going to have to preach to more than the converted. And few groups today are more converted on the perils of voter suppression today than NAN. By taking on the topic in New York with Sharpton, Obama made precisely the right speech to precisely the wrong crowd.

Read more. [Image: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

April 14, 2014
The Irony of Cliven Bundy’s Unconstitutional Stand

The Nevada rancher isn’t just resisting the Bureau of Land Management—he’s also fighting against his state’s unusual constitutional history.
Read more. [Image: Jim Uquhart/Reuters]

The Irony of Cliven Bundy’s Unconstitutional Stand

The Nevada rancher isn’t just resisting the Bureau of Land Management—he’s also fighting against his state’s unusual constitutional history.

Read more. [Image: Jim Uquhart/Reuters]

April 14, 2014
Are Pot Reformers Too Optimistic? The View from 1977

hey say the grass is always greener on the other side, but for grass activists, things look pretty green right here and now. But look back at the heady days of the late 1970s teaches a lesson in how fragile political movements are, how quickly momentum can shift, and why it’s important for activists to keep their hubris in check.
To be blunt, these are high times for cannabis campaigners. After years of slow expansion of support for medical marijuana, two states fully legalized recreational use in 2012, and so far the results look promising: plenty of tax revenue and none of the chaos naysayers predicted. Now more states are considering following in Washington and Colorado’s footsteps. And most promising of all, popular support for legalization crossed 50 percent in the last couple of years and continues to grow.

Read more. [Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]

Are Pot Reformers Too Optimistic? The View from 1977

hey say the grass is always greener on the other side, but for grass activists, things look pretty green right here and now. But look back at the heady days of the late 1970s teaches a lesson in how fragile political movements are, how quickly momentum can shift, and why it’s important for activists to keep their hubris in check.
To be blunt, these are high times for cannabis campaigners. After years of slow expansion of support for medical marijuana, two states fully legalized recreational use in 2012, and so far the results look promising: plenty of tax revenue and none of the chaos naysayers predicted. Now more states are considering following in Washington and Colorado’s footsteps. And most promising of all, popular support for legalization crossed 50 percent in the last couple of years and continues to grow.

Read more. [Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]

April 11, 2014
Why Won’t Washington Take On Wall Street’s Biggest Crimes?

Yesterday, the judge in the SAC case accepted the firm’s plea deal with the Justice Department, in which the firm and its subsidiaries pled guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud and agreed to pay a $900 million penalty and $300 million in disgorged profits. The Southern District hailed the deal as the crowning victory in their multi-year campaign against insider trading, which notably has resulted in more than 70 convictions and exactly zero acquittals. Congratulations.
But what many of us want to know is: why, immediately after the most severe financial crisis in more than seventy years, which resulted in the loss of almost nine million jobs, did the Justice Department choose to train its heavy artillery on insider traders? Sure, insider trading is bad. It’s very rich people cheating to make themselves extravagantly rich. It should be illegal, and people should go to jail for it. But it’s far from the biggest thing wrong with our financial markets and institutions.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Why Won’t Washington Take On Wall Street’s Biggest Crimes?

Yesterday, the judge in the SAC case accepted the firm’s plea deal with the Justice Department, in which the firm and its subsidiaries pled guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud and agreed to pay a $900 million penalty and $300 million in disgorged profits. The Southern District hailed the deal as the crowning victory in their multi-year campaign against insider trading, which notably has resulted in more than 70 convictions and exactly zero acquittals. Congratulations.

But what many of us want to know is: why, immediately after the most severe financial crisis in more than seventy years, which resulted in the loss of almost nine million jobs, did the Justice Department choose to train its heavy artillery on insider traders? Sure, insider trading is bad. It’s very rich people cheating to make themselves extravagantly rich. It should be illegal, and people should go to jail for it. But it’s far from the biggest thing wrong with our financial markets and institutions.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

April 11, 2014
Hacking the Political Platform: Why One Candidate Is Using Github

New Jersey’s second district lies vast across its south. Atlantic City to the Delaware River, cranberry bogs and the Pine Barrens: Where the state’s other districts have been gerrymandered into twiddly bits, the second district seems large, substantial, and plausibly contiguous.
Unlike the state’s Gotham-gorged north, south Jersey is known for farmland, shore towns, and a struggling economy. It’s not exactly the district where you’d expect a ‘coder to run for Congress’—but that’s exactly what Dave Cole, native New Jerseyan and Obama campaign veteran is doing.
In fact, that’s his core pitch: He began his campaign with a Medium post announcing, “I’m a coder running for Congress.” He calls himself an engineer, and he brings a startup’s sensibility, systems—and, perhaps, naïveté—to the campaign.
Chief among these? He’s placed his full campaign platform on the code management software Github, and he’s invited anyone to edit it. 
Read more. [Image: Cole for Congress]

Hacking the Political Platform: Why One Candidate Is Using Github

New Jersey’s second district lies vast across its south. Atlantic City to the Delaware River, cranberry bogs and the Pine Barrens: Where the state’s other districts have been gerrymandered into twiddly bits, the second district seems large, substantial, and plausibly contiguous.

Unlike the state’s Gotham-gorged north, south Jersey is known for farmland, shore towns, and a struggling economy. It’s not exactly the district where you’d expect a ‘coder to run for Congress’—but that’s exactly what Dave Cole, native New Jerseyan and Obama campaign veteran is doing.

In fact, that’s his core pitch: He began his campaign with a Medium post announcing, “I’m a coder running for Congress.” He calls himself an engineer, and he brings a startup’s sensibility, systems—and, perhaps, naïveté—to the campaign.

Chief among these? He’s placed his full campaign platform on the code management software Github, and he’s invited anyone to edit it.

Read more. [Image: Cole for Congress]

April 11, 2014
What Kathleen Sebelius’s Exit Means for Obama—and Obamacare

With the healthcare law finally on track after a disastrous start, the secretary of Health and Human Services is leaving the administration.
Read more. [Image: Jason Reed/Reuters]

What Kathleen Sebelius’s Exit Means for Obama—and Obamacare

With the healthcare law finally on track after a disastrous start, the secretary of Health and Human Services is leaving the administration.

Read more. [Image: Jason Reed/Reuters]

April 10, 2014
Campaign Finance and the Nihilist Politics of Resignation

Most Americans want to take money out of government but don’t think it’s possible. Here’s a plan for overcoming our defeatism.
Read more. [Image: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Campaign Finance and the Nihilist Politics of Resignation

Most Americans want to take money out of government but don’t think it’s possible. Here’s a plan for overcoming our defeatism.

Read more. [Image: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

April 9, 2014
Rand Paul’s Secret Weapon: Hillary Clinton

Consider this post another installment in the series: “Rand Paul could win the Republican nomination. Please stop laughing.”
In previous installments, we’ve argued that Paul will inherit from his father a preexisting campaign structure in Iowa and New Hampshire that few, if any, of his rivals can match. We’ve argued that Paul is showing the ability to raise real money, both from GOP insiders and via small donations over the web. And we’ve argued that, at least so far, Republican primary voters in key early states see Paul as a mainstream conservative, not a libertarian wacko bird.
Which brings us to Paul’s other great, unnoticed, strength: Hillary Clinton. While things could always change, the 2016 Democratic nomination is so far shaping up as the least competitive, non-incumbent presidential primary contest in memory. It looks increasingly likely that if Clinton faces any opposition at all, it will be from a Don Quixote like Bernie Sanders or Brian Schweitzer, not a challenger with any genuine political base or ability to raise substantial money.
For Rand Paul, that’s fabulous. It means lots of Democrats and independents will cross over to vote in Republican primaries, where the action is. And most of them will vote for him.
Read more. [Image: Jim Bourg/Reuters]

Rand Paul’s Secret Weapon: Hillary Clinton

Consider this post another installment in the series: “Rand Paul could win the Republican nomination. Please stop laughing.”

In previous installments, we’ve argued that Paul will inherit from his father a preexisting campaign structure in Iowa and New Hampshire that few, if any, of his rivals can match. We’ve argued that Paul is showing the ability to raise real money, both from GOP insiders and via small donations over the web. And we’ve argued that, at least so far, Republican primary voters in key early states see Paul as a mainstream conservative, not a libertarian wacko bird.

Which brings us to Paul’s other great, unnoticed, strength: Hillary Clinton. While things could always change, the 2016 Democratic nomination is so far shaping up as the least competitive, non-incumbent presidential primary contest in memory. It looks increasingly likely that if Clinton faces any opposition at all, it will be from a Don Quixote like Bernie Sanders or Brian Schweitzer, not a challenger with any genuine political base or ability to raise substantial money.

For Rand Paul, that’s fabulous. It means lots of Democrats and independents will cross over to vote in Republican primaries, where the action is. And most of them will vote for him.

Read more. [Image: Jim Bourg/Reuters]

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »