[Below] "As Georgia’s six-week abortion ban moves toward possible implementation later this month, listen out for Democratic arguments that the Georgia Constitution still has privacy protections that would protect abortion access for women, even if the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not."
"Opinion: Heed Georgia Constitution on abortion." By Anthony Michael Kreis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 30, 2022
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "The Court's originalist justification for striking down a New York gun law is more than capricious—it relies on a fundamentally anti-democratic historical record that deliberately excludes women and people of color."
From the article:
"In Bruen, lawyers for the State of New York presented a rich, centuries-long tradition of restrictions that balance two interests: gun ownership and public safety. Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, dismissed all of it. 'The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791; the Fourteenth in 1868,' Thomas wrote. 'Historical evidence that long predates either date may not illuminate the scope of the right.' That chronological rule didn't stop him from dismissing, as well, evidence between those two dates, or after them, that supported New York's case. For Thomas, the rule of evidence appears to be: if I agree with it, it’s evidence—if I don’t, it’s not....
"The court’s opinion in Bruen suggests that you can't beat originalism by following its growing number of strictures on what counts as historical evidence. There is no method to it, nothing but inconsistency and caprice...."
"The Supreme Court's Selective Memory." By Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, June 24, 2022
[Below] "In striking down the New York law, Justice Clarence Thomas’s six-justice majority purported to rely on history, albeit a very selective reading of history. The opinion rather frenetically plucks examples out of the often contradictory morass of history to make its point, all while claiming to be simply relying on the original public meaning of the amendment....
"The ruling Thursday says that all these judges got it wrong. Instead, the majority said, courts must assess gun rules especially focusing solely on 'history and tradition.' Don’t look at public safety; search for analogies to past laws from a very different time.
"That means the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights lawyers get a do-over. They will go to court to challenge dozens of laws that have been upheld in recent years, to say, no, you must apply 'history and tradition.' The NRA is a husk of its former self, but its views live on in the lifetime-appointed justices who have now ruled."
Opinion: "The most dangerous gun ruling in history, at the worst possible time." By Michael Waldman, Washington Post, June 23, 2022
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "The Supreme Court’s 6-to-3 decision striking down New York’s licensing requirements for handguns is not nearly as broad as some are characterizing it. But the convoluted reasoning behind the ruling is perhaps more dishonest than even the court’s worst critics imagine.
"Justice Clarence Thomas's majority opinion striking down the law, which permitted state authorities to exercise discretion in issuing a concealed-carry license, is an exercise in sophistry. He perfectly distills the intellectual dishonesty deployed by self-described 'originalists' to reach an outcome they favor....
"In the meantime, the justices inadvertently make a powerful argument for term limits. If they are going to act like lawmakers unbound by history or precedent, then there is no reason to give them lifetime tenure. With each intellectually rickety decision, they give further justification to stop treating them like neutral judges and instead as the partisan figures they are."
Opinion: "The Supreme Court's gun ruling is bad, but not for the reasons you might think." By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, June 23, 2022
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "A secret donor network helped create the high court’s conservative supermajority and toxic caseload — and we’re about to witness the devastating results."
"Dark Money Went In, Supreme Court Rulings Are Coming Out." By Andrew Perez & Aditi Ramaswami, The Lever, Jun 23, 2022
[Below] MESSAGING: "...alternating issues make driving a coherent narrative impossible – particularly in an information environment defined by an overabundance of content and a scarcity of attention. This all presents quite the paradox: if Democrats talk about everything, voters will likely hear nothing; but if we don’t talk about everything, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable and letting the Republicans off the hook.
"Is there a way to weave these various threads into a coherent story about why this election matters?..."
In my very biased opinion, the former President [Obama] is the most talented communicator in modern political history. His undeniable success comes from an intuitive penchant for storytelling and an instinctual rejection of traditional political messaging tropes.
"Obama's most important messaging principle is that slogans, soundbites, and hashtags come from a larger, longer story. Not the other way around. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had over the years about the need for a slogan. Democrats need a slogan! But if we start with the slogan, we are doomed to fail. I have a friend who uses the term 'long story long' to describe some people's inability to abridge their tales. The foundation of a good, all-encompassing narrative is a 'long story long' – or at least longer than a tweet or a 30-second sound bite.
"President Obama began every discussion of messaging or meeting about a big speech by saying 'Let's start with what’s true.' This edict was about more than pandering to the fact-checkers. Obama wanted the core truth of what was happening and what people were feeling. To be effective, a message must be believable, and to be believable it must reflect what people are seeing and feeling in their lives."
"A Unified Dem Narrative for 2022." By Dan Pfeiffer, Message Box, June 21, 2022
NEW! [Below] "Progressive policies that help the working class are wildly popular with voters. Why are we letting Republicans and corporate Democrats dictate our agenda?"
"Democrats risk a crushing defeat this year. They must change course now." By Bernie Sanders, The Guardian, June 16, 2022
[Below] "One of the most thoughtful analyses of the role that narratives play specifically in Democratic political strategy, however, appears in Dr. Drew Westen's influential book The Political Brain. As Westen noted:
'Our minds naturally search for stories with a particular kind of structure... a coherent story has an initial state or setting ("once upon a time"), protagonists and antagonists, a problem, obstacles, often a clash between the protagonists trying to solve the problem and those who stand in their way and a denouement in which the problem is ultimately resolved.'
'Any compelling political narrative must have the following elements
'It should have protagonists and antagonists
'It should be clear and coherent requiring few leaps of inference or imagination
'It should have a clear moral
'It should be moving
'It should have central elements that are readily visualized
'It should be rich in metaphor so that it is emotionally evocative
'It should take elements of the opposition’s story including its metaphors and recast them as its own....'
"...the basic extremist narrative is actually undergirded by three profoundly important subsidiary narratives that are nested within the larger narrative and which long pre-date the modern MAGA ideology. The central fact is that these subsidiary narratives are not inherently extremist and many working class people deeply identify with them while not accepting extremist views.
"The three sub-narratives are: [p. 5]
"1. The past era of 'good times' when society was fair.
"2. The breakdown of the 'Fair Deal' beginning in the 1970’s. [See "Powell memo."]
"3. The growth of 'chaos' and the loss of order.
TDS Strategy Memo: "To Regain the Support of 'Culturally Traditional but Not Extremist' Working Class Voters Democrats Need to Understand the Compelling Political Narrative That Leads Them to Vote for the GOP." By Andrew Levison, The Democratic Strategist, June 16, 2022
[Below] MESSAGING:"When we talk about message framing, we’re aiming at a fairly narrow target because most Americans, both on the right and left, are not persuadable. Who is persuadable and what do they need to hear?
"While micro-targeters can segment endlessly (NASCAR dads, soccer moms, etc.), when you’re communicating to the public at large, there are really only two kinds of people who are persuadable today: infrequently voting (mostly young) leaning Democrats and big-lie-rejecting (mostly educated) leaning Republicans...."
"Who’s persuadable in 2022?" Public Leadership Institute, June 15, 2022
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the counting of undated mail-in ballots in an undecided 2021 election for a Pennsylvania judgeship in a case that again revealed the tensions among the justices over voting rights....
"The action by the justices left in place a May ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the undated ballots could be counted....
"The 3rd Circuit ruled in Ritter's case that under a provision of the federal Civil Rights Act, the failure to include the date on a mail-in ballot is 'immaterial' to whether the ballot was valid and therefore should be counted. The provision in question is aimed at protecting the right to vote."
"U.S. Supreme Court allows counting of undated mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania." By Lawrence Hurley, Reuters, June 9, 2022
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "What recourse do ordinary citizens have when federal agents violate their rights? After Wednesday, not much."
"The Supreme Court Keeps Chipping Away at Your Constitutional Rights." By Matt Ford, The New Republic, June 8, 2022
[Below] "It’s a question Dan Pfeiffer, the former Obama communications director and Pod Save America cohost, recalls getting many times. In his new book, Battling the Big Lie, Pfeiffer diagnoses the party’s messaging troubles—and calls for building a bigger megaphone."
"Why Do Democrats Suck at Messaging?" By Dan Pfeiffer, Vanity Fair, June 6, 2022
[Below] POLLING: "Black voters overwhelmingly support Democrats and still back Biden more than other groups. But that support has fallen, and fewer say the election matters than in 2020."
"Black voters' support for Biden has cooled, poll finds." By Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Scott Clement, Matthew Brown and Emily Guskin, Washington Post, June 4, 2022
[Below] I know, I know. The military calls the AR-15 by a different name, and the military version can select fully automatic. That is, if you hold the trigger down, it will keep firing until the clip is empty. The civilian version is semi-automatic so only fires as fast as you can keep pulling the trigger. The effect on live human bodies is the same.
"AR-15s Were Made to Explode Human Bodies. In Uvalde, the Bodies Belonged to Children." By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, May 26 2022
[Below] GUNS: "Whenever there’s a mass shooting, conservatives mobilize all their powers of creativity to come up with explanations for gun violence that have nothing to do with guns themselves. Was it an inadequate mental health system? Schools with too many doors where a shooter could enter? Video games? Sugary drinks?
"But this time around, many on the right are homing in on what they see as the real culprit: American culture.
"In other words, it’s us. Well, not conservatives themselves, of course — the rest of us. We’re the real problem."
Opinion: "Conservatives' new scapegoat for mass shootings: 'Culture.'" By Paul Waldman, Washington Post, May 26, 2022
[Below] SUPREME COURT; GUNS: In 2008, conservatives led by Justice Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court rewrote the stated meaning of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution to suit gun-lobby arguments.
From the article:
"Republicans have twisted the 2nd Amendment to suit their extremist purposes, blocking sensible checks on gun ownership and enabling the unceasing procession of mass shootings."
"The Right-Wing Lie That’s Killing Our Children." By Jay Michaelson, Rolling Stone, May 24, 2022
[Below] ABORTION; SUPREME COURT: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still remembers the shock he felt when Donald Trump won the 2016 election. He also recalls what happened next.
"'The first thing that came to my mind was the Supreme Court,' McConnell said in an interview this past week.... He soon called Donald McGahn, campaign counsel to the president-elect, who was slated to become the top White House lawyer.
"A week later, Leonard Leo, the head of the conservative Federalist Society and a McConnell ally, was sitting with the president-elect and his advisers in Trump Tower in New York with a list of six potential conservative nominees....
"As incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, came in and out of the room, Leo laid out a road map for Trump on the federal court system, potentially transforming the foundational understanding of rights in America."
"A 49-year crusade: Inside the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade." By Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Caroline Kitchener and Rachel Roubein, Washington Post, May 7, 2022
[Below] ABORTION: "It’s time to take a page from the conservative playbook and bring a torrent of lawsuits against every state that passes a forced-birth mandate."
"3 Test Cases Progressives Should Bring in a Post-Roe World." By Elie Mystal, The Nation, May 5, 2022
[Below] ABORTION: "There is no mention of the procedure in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. This seems to be a surprise to Samuel Alito."
"Of Course the Constitution Has Nothing to Say About Abortion." By Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, May 4, 2022
[Below] ABORTION: "This figure significantly understates the role that corporate America has played in ending constitutional protections for abortion rights. First, it only includes 13 corporations and, even for that group, does not include PAC contributions donated directly to anti-abortion politicians. It does not include money donated to the NRSC, RSLC, and RGA by corporate trade organizations. It also excludes corporate support for anti-abortion non-profits like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society because those contributions do not have to be disclosed.
"But the figure makes clear the central role of corporate money in the imminent reversal of Roe — including money from many corporations that claim to be champions for women's rights and equality."
"These 13 corporations have spent $15 million supporting anti-abortion politicians since 2016." By Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby, Popular Information, May 4, 2022
NEW! [Below] "As the 2022 and 2024 elections approach Democrats have responded to their declining working class support by proposing variations on one or another of two strategies that they have advocated ever since the 1970’s – to either (1) emphatically focus on 'kitchen-table issues' and offer ever more ambitious progressive economic programs and policies or (2) jettison unpopular positions on social, cultural and racial issues and reposition the party more toward the 'center.'
"Democratic strategists can obsessively parse opinion data to debate the relative merits of these two approaches but the (extremely) inconvenient reality is that dozens if not hundreds of Democratic candidates have tried both of these approaches in various campaigns at the Senate, Congressional and State levels since 1970 and neither has halted the slow, grinding. secular decline in white working class support for Democrats since that time. The elections of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each temporarily slowed this decline but when the overall 50 year record is examined the steady, gradual decrease in working class support for the Democrats is unmistakable."
A TDS Strategy Report: "The Culturally Traditional but Non-extremist Working Class Voters: Who They Are, How They Think and What Democrats Must Understand to Regain their Support." By Andrew Levison, The Democratic Strategist, May 2, 2022
[Below] "...Biden surprised us all by resolving to govern in the spirit of FDR. His program of public investments and social supports was the boldest since Roosevelt. Better yet, it delivered concrete benefits to the very people who had been deserting Democrats for decades. The benefits were direct and easy to grasp. Biden was able to use the annual budget reconciliation process, which cannot be filibustered in the Senate, to enact the March 2021 emergency legislation titled the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA), which passed...on straight party-line votes....
"The idea of governing like Roosevelt with a working majority of three in the House and zero in the Senate was as risky as it was audacious. But I will argue that reclaiming FDR’s legacy was and is exactly what the country needs...."
"The Fate of American Democracy Rests on Bold Progressive Choices." By Robert Kuttner, Literary Hub, April 28, 2022
[Below] ELECTORAL COUNT ACT OF 1887: "...After watching 2020 unfold, some elected officials and election experts fear the Electoral Count Act could be exploited in ways that might give Trump or someone else a victory in 2024, whether they win enough votes or not. No laws even need be broken....
"'The most important question is how do we ensure there is no political actor in Congress or state government that can elevate those fake electors into something that might actually get counted,' said Matthew Seligman, a Yale Law School fellow who has been advising Congress on how best to revamp the Electoral Count Act, according to a Senate aide. 'And, unfortunately, that’s exactly what the law permits.'
"Whether the law gets changed in time for the next presidential election is by no means certain. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is part of a bipartisan group of senators working to revamp the Electoral Count Act. 'It’s not clear' that the negotiations will result in passage of a bill, she told NBC News. 'First of all, the group that has been working on it has to come to some agreement. And then we have to get agreement from the leadership on both sides.'"
"Lawmakers worry 2020 will provide a blueprint for stealing a future election." By Peter Nicholas, NBC News, from AOL.com News, April 17, 2022
[Below] TRUST; SOCIAL MEDIA (DAMAGE): "Historically, civilizations have relied on shared blood, gods, and enemies to counteract the tendency to split apart as they grow. But what is it that holds together large and diverse secular democracies such as the United States and India, or, for that matter, modern Britain and France?
"Social scientists have identified at least three major forces that collectively bind together successful democracies: social capital (extensive social networks with high levels of trust), strong institutions, and shared stories. Social media has weakened all three...."
This author, a social psychologist, finds some fault with the left as well as the right—but there is no doubt where the major damage is being done.
"Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid." By Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic, April 11, 2022
[Below] MESSAGING: "Progressive activists generally know how to talk to each other. That’s what we do every day! But the language and approaches we use with each other don’t work on persuadable Americans."
"Five most common mistakes in political persuasion." Public Leadership Institute, April 6, 2022
[Below] RURAL AREAS: "There is no one-size-fits-all economic development strategy for rural communities. How can local leaders—including governments, businesses, and individuals—put rural regions on track to thrive?"
"Rural rising: Economic development strategies for America's heartland." By Mike Kerlin, Neil O’Farrell, Rachel Riley, and Rachel Schaff, McKinsey & Company, March 30, 2022
[Below] EXECUTIVE ORDERS; PROGRESSIVE GROUPS: "WASHINGTON — Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus released its agenda for executive action from the Biden administration as part of its ongoing effort to deliver on the President's agenda.
"The slate covers eight policy areas that will activate agencies across the federal government to affect change for all families who call America home: lowering health care costs, canceling federal student loan debt, expanding worker power and raising wages, advancing immigrants' rights, delivering on the promise of equal justice under law, combatting the climate crisis and reducing fossil fuel dependence, investing in care economy jobs and standards, and regulating for economic and tax fairness. If implemented, the agenda would lower prescription drug costs for 38 million people, relieve the burden of student debt for more than 43 million borrowers, give millions of workers a raise by increasing the overtime eligibility threshold to $83,000, and more....
"A summary of the agenda can be found here [3 pp.] and the full policy list can be found here [7 pp.]."
"Congressional Progressive Caucus Issues Executive Action Agenda for Biden Administration." Congressional Progressive Caucus, March 17, 2022
[Below] UKRAINE: "Foreign leaders have addressed Congress before, including Churchill and Nelson Mandela. But they have never done it virtually from a war zone.
"Read Zelensky’s speech to the US Congress, along with context, below."
"Zelensky’s address to Congress, annotated." By Zachary B. Wolf, Curt Merrill and Ji Min Lee, CNN, March 16, 2022
[Below] LANGUAGE; MESSAGING: This article, like one posted earlier, references and discusses George Orwell's Politics and the English Language, which is linked at the same location.
"Putin's brazen manipulation of language is a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak." By Mark Satta, The Conversation, March 14, 2022
[Below] OIL INDUSTRY: "It was a double-whammy for two of then-President Donald Trump’s biggest patrons, Vladimir Putin and American fossil-fuel billionaires and their industry: the price of oil was too damn low.
"Between the pandemic-induced collapse in demand for oil and the price war Saudi Arabia was then fighting with Russia — two of the world’s largest producers — Putin was being pinched badly. And in America, from Pennsylvania to Texas, oil producers were outright losing money on the oil they pumped. Gas prices were at record lows, gutting the profits even of refiners.
"So, Trump acted...."
"Exposed: The Trump, Putin and Saudi connection to high gas prices." By Thom Hartmann, Raw Story, March 12, 2022
NEW! [Below] "...An outline of exactly such a legislative agenda was introduced two weeks ago — by the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). The sweeping plan caused a kerfuffle for a couple of days, but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) stepped in to disavow it, the coverage died down and the issue faded.
"That the Republican’s plan is not kitchen-table conversation across America is a testament to the asymmetry of our current politics, in which Democrats are at a decided disadvantage.
"Scott's proposal is easily the most radical document to be put forward by a member of the leadership of a major political party in modern times. 'Americans deserve to know what we will do,' Scott, who is in charge of the GOP bid to retake the Senate, wrote in the introduction to his 'An 11-Point Plan to Rescue America.'" (A copy of Sen. Scott's "11 Point Plan" is archived here [corrected 2022-05-06] in case what the Republicans wish that he had not "said out loud" is removed from public view on the Internet.)
Opinion: "Yes, voters 'deserve to know' this GOP plan would raise taxes by $1 trillion." By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, March 11, 2022
NEW! [Below] "...Whatever [the Republicans in Congress] do, they’ll have to show the base that they're sticking it to the libs and moving ahead with a conservative agenda.
"There's another key part of this dynamic that wasn't present before: State-level Republicans have gotten so extreme and aggressive that they may have created a new set of expectations that congressional Republicans will have to satisfy.
""When your state representatives are essentially outlawing abortion, banning books and passing 'Don't Say Gay' bills, you may not be satisfied unless your member of Congress is willing to go just as far. Which will put pressure on congressional Republicans — but unlike those at the state level, they won't be able to put their agenda into law.
"That is, unless and until they take over in 2024, at which point they'll have to follow through on all the radical policy changes they said they wanted but were stymied by President Biden from enacting."
Opinion: "Why the GOP agenda will grow even more extreme in the coming years." By Paul Waldman, Washington Post, March 8, 2022
[Below] OIL INDUSTRY: "The oil and gas industry won’t increase production because it’s enjoying the profits from high prices."
From the article:
"There are two important things to remember about how oil and gas production work: The government doesn't place any production limits on oil and gas companies, and there's no such thing as an immediate production increase. Oil and gas companies decide, all by themselves, whether or not to increase production, and new drilling now generally translates to oil and gas on the market in six to 12 months. A new fracking well takes six to eight months to produce oil, for example....
"...oil and gas executives don't want to increase production because the high prices are working for them financially at the moment. They've said so explicitly, out loud and in public....
"Which brings us to the elephant in the room: the United States's supposed energy independence. As a net exporter of oil and gas, that's what the country was promised by industry. But you can't have independence if you are ruled entirely by global commodity markets. The other big oil-exporting countries are able to use their production capabilities to protect themselves from sudden price changes because their fossil fuel industries are nationalized. Because the U.S. energy sector is entirely private, we have no such luck. For all the industry's squawking about federal leases, only 10 percent of U.S. drilling happens on public land, the rest is on private land that the government has zero control over. And, again, there is no government entity overseeing production; it’s left entirely up to companies to produce as much or as little oil as they think will be profitable."
"The U.S. Government Doesn't Control Domestic Oil Production. But It Should." By Amy Westervelt, The Intercept, March 11, 2022
[Below] POLLING: "It's become commonplace among observers of U.S. politics to decry partisan polarization in Congress. Indeed, a Pew Research Center analysis finds that, on average, Democrats and Republicans are farther apart ideologically today than at any time in the past 50 years.
"But the dynamics behind today's congressional polarization have been long in the making. The analysis of members' ideological scores finds that the current standoff between Democrats and Republicans is the result of several overlapping trends that have been playing themselves out – and sometimes reinforcing each other – for decades."
"The polarization in today’s Congress has roots that go back decades." Pew Research Center, March 10, 2022
[Below] "Even before the Ukraine war, Intelligence agencies have developed psychological profiles of Vladimir Putin. Is the Ukraine invasion a sign that the Russian President is mentally unwell, or is this just another case of a dictator holding onto power for far too long with a distorted view of history and reality?"
"The Intelligence Community's Assessment of Putin: Psychopath or Rational Leader?" By Yossi Melman, Haaretz (Israel), March 6, 2022
[Below] "Critics say the endorsements by the powerful lobby's new PAC endanger its declared bipartisanship and increase its association with the Republicans. AIPAC's reply: 'We are a single-issue organization focused on Israel.'"
"AIPAC's Endorsement List: Dozens of Republicans Who Deny Biden's Election Win." By Ben Samuels, Haaretz (Israel), March 6, 2022
[Below] FASCIST NETWORK?
"Rep. Paul Gosar's lengthy ties to White nationalists, pro-Nazi blogger and far-right fringe received little pushback for years." By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN, Updated March 6, 2022
NEW! [Below] "Historian Mary Elise Sarotte tells the inside story of the west's efforts to secure a post-cold-war settlement — and how Putin seized on missteps and Russian grievances to destroy it."
"Russia, Ukraine and the 30-year quest for a post-Soviet order." By Mary Elise Sarotte, Financial Times, February 25 2022
[Below] FINANCIAL SANCTIONS: "Corporate lobbyists thwarted measures that could strengthen sanctions against the Putin regime — and they were lobbying as the threat of war intensified."
"Biden's Ukraine Plans Face Wall Street Roadblock." By Julia Rock, David Sirota, The Daily Poster, February 24, 2022
[Below] "More Americans say strengthening the economy should be a top policy priority for Biden and Congress to address this year than say the same about any other issue. Most U.S. adults (71%) identify this as a top concern, according to a Center survey conducted in January that asked about the importance of 18 policy priorities."
"Public's Top Priority for 2022: Strengthening the Nation's Economy." Pew Research Center, February 16, 2022
[Below] SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: "Saul Alinsky, the famed community organizer who wrote 'Rules for Radicals,' had a useful metaphor: For a revolution to be successful, he argued, it has to follow the three-act structure of a play. The first act establishes the characters and the plot, the second act sharpens the conflict, and in the third act, 'good and evil have their dramatic confrontation and resolution.' From women's suffrage to the midcentury civil rights struggle, movements mastered this narrative, leaving a permanent mark on society. But by the early 1970s, Alinsky had started to worry that overeager revolutionaries were jumping straight to that third act — a losing proposition.
"Those first acts matter because that's where activists hammer out ideology, define goals, set strategy and build lasting identity and solidarity. It’s also where the essential work of organizing occurs.
"If skipping over these steps seems especially tempting today, it’s because the tools are available to do so...."
"Radical Ideas Need Quiet Spaces." By Gal Beckerman, The New York Times, February 10, 2022
[Below] SUPREME COURT; RELIGION; CHURCH-STATE: "The newest Supreme Court Justice isn't just another conservative—she's the product of a Christian legal movement that is intent on remaking America."
From the article:
"Nelson Tebbe, a constitutional-law professor at Cornell, told me that most religious-freedom litigation is now 'being brought by the largest religious groups, including Protestant evangelicals and Catholics.' Tebbe explained that these litigants would likely say that such lawsuits have become necessary 'because the government has become more progressive, and more willing to regulate long-cherished beliefs and practices.' Various Christian groups have framed the recognition of same-sex marriage, civil-rights protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people, and the guarantees of contraception coverage under the A.C.A. as violations of other Americans' right to exercise their religion.
"It's an argument that assertively expands the scope of the free-exercise clause to cover not just worship, proselytizing, and religious education but, increasingly, activities in the public square that impinge directly on other people—such as refusing to get vaccinated or to provide wedding goods for a same-sex couple. Robert Tuttle, a law professor at the George Washington University who writes extensively about the religion clauses, described this phenomenon as trying to 'insure that the faithful can exempt themselves from norms that legal or majoritarian processes have changed.' He went on, 'The battle is to get control of institutions, reverse these norms, and reinstate a moral order compatible with their faith.'"
"Amy Coney Barrett's Long Game." By Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, February 7, 2022 (February 14 & 21, 2022 Issue)
[Below] EDUCATION; SCHOOL BOARDS: "As impassioned as people may be about issues like mask requirements, keeping schools open or confronting issues of race in the curriculum, running a school district is about much more than any one of those single issues. With that in mind, here are three actions that future school board candidates should be prepared to take."
"More than masks and critical race theory – 3 tasks you should be prepared to do before you run for school board." By Casey D. Cobb, The Conversation, January 18, 2022
[Below] LABOR; WAGES; WORKING CONDITIONS: "Pandemic supply chain disruptions are exacerbating a yearslong trucker shortage."
From the article:
"The United States is experiencing a shortage of more than 80,000 truck drivers, according to an estimate from the American Trucking Associations. The ATA also estimates that about 72 percent of America’s freight transport moves by trucks, which shows just how dependent consumers are on the drivers who deliver turkeys to stores or gas to pumps or the Christmas presents you order to your doorsteps.
"This is not just an American problem. Trucks haul comparable amounts of freight in places like the European Union and China, and countries and regions around the world are experiencing driver shortages....
"But truck driving also isn’t the job it used to be. In the United States, for example, deregulation of the industry, which accelerated in the 1980s, alongside the decline of unions, means trucker wages have been shrinking for years. But the work itself hasn’t really changed. It involves long hours, and a lot of that can be time spent uncompensated....
"...In the US, the Biden administration announced a trucker retention plan, which includes recruiting more veterans and studying working conditions to improve the industry. But those won’t transform the industry overnight, or be a quick fix to supply chain problems."
"Where have all the truck drivers gone?" By Jen Kirby, vox.com, January 2, 2022
[Below] "...Section 4 of Article IV of the Constitution:
"'The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.'
"...to this day, it’s up to Congress, not the [Supreme] Court, to decide what a 'Republican Form of Government' is and how Congress will guarantee it to and/or within every state.
"Which brings us to today, and how Congress can end partisan gerrymanders, dial back the power of money in politics, and guarantee the right of every American citizen to vote without undue difficulty.
"The opening of the Freedom To Vote Act lays it out clearly:
"'Congress also finds that it has both the authority and responsibility, as the legislative body for the United States, to fulfill the promise of article IV, section 4, of the Constitution, which states: ‘The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a "Republican Form of Government...."'
"TheFreedom To Vote Act ensures a 'Republican Form of Government' in America by providing [the details listed in the article]."
"This 232-year-old power has never been used by Congress — but it could save the republic." By Thom Hartmann, Independent Media Institute, AlterNet, December 23, 2021
[Below] MEDICARE ADVANTAGE: "Benefytt Technologies has been shaking off lawsuits and regulators for years. It’s now peddling Medicare Advantage plans to seniors—where if someone picks a subpar plan, the results can be disastrous."
"The Troubled Insurance Sales Firm Behind Those Joe Namath Ads for Medicare Advantage." By Joanna Robin, The New Republic, December 13, 2021
[Below] "A federal judge ruled Thursday against motions to dismiss eight pending lawsuits against Georgia's new voting law.
"U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee's orders allow the cases to move forward as they contest many provisions of the law, including stricter voter ID requirements, ballot drop boxes limitations, shorter absentee ballot request deadlines and a ban on handing out food and water to voters waiting in line."
"Judge denies attempts to dismiss lawsuits over Georgia voting law." By Mark Niesse, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 9, 2021
[Below] "After January 6, Peter Meijer thought he could help lead the Republican Party away from an abyss. Now he laughs at his own naïveté."
From the article:
"The fundamental problem, Meijer said, is that Republicans are offering no plans for improving lives and making the future a more promising place. Instead, the party continues to rely on grievance and fear—and misinformation—to scare voters into their ranks...."
"What the GOP Does to Its Own Dissenters." By Tim Alberta, The Atlantic, December 7, 2021
[Below] "Georgia's 2021 municipal runoff elections saw dozens of progressives elected as new mayors, city council members and local officials in a wave that challenges the political narrative that only centrists can win in Southern battleground states, according to several organizers of voter outreach efforts....
"The organizers' approach combines the use of cutting-edge digital analytics and voter contact tools with 'relational organizing,' which emphasizes listening to overlooked people’s concerns, helping with their upward mobility, and then asking them to register and vote. Both McClendon and Miller said that this strategy's impact in 2021's elections was a template for 2022's midterm elections."
"Progressives sweep 2021 municipal elections across Georgia." By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet, December 7, 2021
[Below] "A bipartisan panel of legal scholars examining possible changes to the Supreme Court voted unanimously Tuesday to submit to President Biden its final report, which describes public support for imposing term limits but 'profound disagreement' about adding justices....
"It is not known whether the Biden administration will act on any of the policies detailed in the report, which does not recommend a certain path to follow, but lays out arguments on either side....
"'I don’t expect President Biden to endorse any structural reforms after the final report comes out, though I do hope the White House takes a look at the bipartisan proposals out there on judicial ethics, financial disclosure and live-streaming and puts some political capital behind these popular, pro-transparency fixes....'
"Should Congress seek to impose term limits, the commission suggests a constitutional amendment would be the preferred approach rather than a change in statute...."
"Biden's Supreme Court commission endorses final report noting bipartisan public support for term limits." By Ann E. Marimow, Washington Post, December 7, 2021
[Below] "January 6 was practice. Donald Trump’s GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election."
From the article:
"Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect.
"The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already.
"Who or what will safeguard our constitutional order is not apparent today. It is not even apparent who will try. Democrats, big and small D, are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real...."
"Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun." By Barton Gellman, The Atlantic, December 6, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "...All civil liberties are in danger. Roe’s death would signal a high court prepared to restore the power of states to discriminate against their residents, wrote historian Heather Cox Richardson. 'Make no mistake,' she said this week, 'it is not just reproductive rights that are under siege. If the Supreme Court returns power to the states to legislate as they wish, any right currently protected by the federal government is at risk....'
"A little history. Once upon a time, the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states. The Supreme Court applied it only to the federal government. That left state governments to discriminate in various and sundry ways against their residents, according to the will of their white Protestant majorities. The Jim Crow regime in the south is the most notorious example, but any private conduct was fair game, including who got to marry whom, what people read, how they worshipped and so on.
"The process began in the 1920s, but after World War II, the Supreme Court accelerated a pattern that later became known as incorporation. That’s when the court read the Bill of Rights through the lens of the 14th Amendment’s due process clause. The text: 'No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'
"The consequence of the incorporation doctrine was radical change, as it privileged equality under law and gave the federal government the power to overrule state statutes for the purpose of protecting individual liberties...."
"The Supreme Court threatens to undermine the core of protection for American civil liberties." By John Stoehr, AlterNet, December 3, 2021
NEW! [Below] SUPREME COURT: "Do not mistake today’s lineup for a 3-3-3 court — three conservatives, three moderates, three liberals. There are three extremely conservative, extremely impatient justices — Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch — who would go to extraordinary lengths to undo some of the most entrenched constitutional doctrine....
"But even the more patient justices — Roberts, sometimes Kavanaugh, and, at least judging from her first year, Barrett — are no moderates. All three, for instance, joined a particularly radical Alito opinion last term that neutered the remaining major enforcement mechanism in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 'I dislike the fact that journalists refer to the six as conservative,' said Harvard Law School professor Charles Fried, who served as solicitor general under Reagan. 'They’re not. They’re reactionaries. That’s the only correct term for them....'
"But it was clear in the 2018-2019 term that Kavanaugh's arrival had shifted the court measurably to the right. On the final decision day of the term, for instance, Kavanaugh voted with the other four conservatives to reject a theory that his mentor, Kennedy, had toyed with for years: that partisan gerrymandering can be so extreme as to violate the Constitution. With Kavanaugh on the court, that door was firmly shut, and with it, a potentially powerful tool to combat political polarization was lost....
"...This much was clear in the smoking ruins of the Voting Rights Act: A court that could do this could do anything.
"If six conservative votes make abortion the biggest issue at the Supreme Court this term, gun rights are close behind. No issue of constitutional law is simultaneously as politically potent and as legally undeveloped as the Second Amendment.
"The clause has been in the Constitution for two centuries, but it was not until 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that the court declared it protected an individual right to bear arms....
"What could be the sleeper case of the term concerns the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to combat climate change. That’s an important topic, but the case is even more significant, as a measure of the court’s eagerness to roll back the power of regulatory agencies....
"The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation." By Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, updated December 2, 2021
NEW! [Below] CONSERVATISM: "They hate the establishment. They want to destroy the system. Meet the illiberal upstarts trying to remake conservatism."
"The Radical Young Intellectuals Who Want to Take Over the American Right." By Sam Adler-Bell, The New Republic, December 2, 2021
NEW! [Below] "An emerging culture idolizes a twisted version of 'toughness' as the highest ideal and despises a false version of 'weakness' as the lowest vice."
"The New Right’s Strange and Dangerous Cult of Toughness." By David French, The Atlantic, December 1, 2021
[Below] MESSAGING: "Here are five economic messaging lessons learned the hard way from the Obama Era."
"Messaging Economic Progress to an Angry Public." By Dan Pfeiffer, Message Box, November 21, 2021
[Below] "But everything we thought we knew from the past said that while overheating the economy does lead to higher inflation, the effect is modest, at least in the short run.... And those rising wages aren’t the main driver of inflation; if they were, average wages wouldn’t be lagging consumer prices.
"So what is going on? The Bank for International Settlements — a Switzerland-based institution that is sort of the banker to the world’s bankers and has a formidable research team — argues that it’s largely about the bottlenecks, the now-famous supply-chain snarls that have ships steaming back and forth in front of Los Angeles and factories shut down for lack of chips.
"What’s causing these bottlenecks? Overall demand still isn’t that high, but demand has been skewed: In the pandemic era, people have been consuming fewer services but buying a lot of durable goods — home appliances, exercise equipment, etc....
"This surge in demand for durable goods has overstressed the ports, trucking and warehouses that deliver durables to consumers, leading to rapidly rising prices for stuff whose prices normally fall over time as technology advances....
"In other words, it seems to be the pandemic skew in demand, not excessive spending across the board, that’s driving current inflation."
"Wonking out: Going beyond the inflation headlines." By Paul Krugman, New York Times, November 19, 2021
[Below] "One answer might be that expectations were so high that hopes were bound to be dashed."
"Why are Americans so unhappy with Joe Biden?" By Robert Reich, The Guardian, November 18, 2021
[Below] "We know that now, in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, the majority of Black residents live in the suburbs. Now the majority of immigrants live in the suburbs. Now the majority of Latinx and Asian Americans live there. But most news media, when they say 'suburban,' they mean 'white....'
"So we have to be specific about whom we're talking about. And if we continue to think of the suburbs as only white, we never ask suburban Black mothers or suburban Asian mothers what they actually think about these politics. Unfortunately, we have been trained to say, 'If white women are thinking about this as an issue, this is the voice of the suburbs.' And frankly, it’s not....
"But it also raises the question of what coalition politics are going to look like. So many folks have assumed, because the suburbs are becoming more Black, more brown, more poor, that they’re just going to vote straight-line Democrat. And I think when we look, we actually see that there are moments in which the Republican Party has made significant inroads in terms of mobilizing suburban voters of color. It varies significantly by racial and ethnic group. Black folks remain solidly Democratic in the suburbs.
"Latinx folks, it depends a lot on the geography. Asian American folks, again, it depends a lot on the geography and the ethnicity at hand...."
"The suburbs are poorer and more diverse than we realize." By Jay Caspian Kang, New York Times, November 18, 2021
NEW! [Below] This is a detailed examination of the 2021 redistricting process and outcomes in Georgia. (Other states' results also are available on this website.)
Princeton Gerrymandering Project: Georgia (maps), November 17, 2021
[Below] MESSAGING; POLLING: "Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics. Republicans and Democrats agree on very little – and when they do, it often is in the shared belief that they have little in common.
"Yet the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats sometimes obscures the divisions and diversity of views that exist within both partisan coalitions – and the fact that many Americans do not fit easily into either one."
"Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology." Pew Research Center, November 9, 2021 (complete PDF report here, 125 pages, 169 with appendices)
[Below] "The bipartisan bill includes $550 billion in new investments in roads, bridges, broadband and more. It is widely expected to create a lot of jobs."
"What’s in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package." By Heather Long, Washington Post, November 5, 2021
[Below] "...Democrats ultimately worked out an arrangement that allowed for the adoption of the infrastructure bill in exchange for a pledge from moderates that they would hold a vote by November 15 [using the reconciliation process in the Senate], providing the spending plan does not add to the deficit, as Democrats have promised.
"'I am confident that during the week of November 15, the House will pass the Build Back Better Act,' Biden said in a statement."
"Congress approves $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending measure to Biden for enactment." By Tony Romm, Marianna Sotomayor, and Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, November 5, 2021
[Below] MESSAGING: "Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin connected with parents, and Terry McAuliffe did not. This, not critical race theory, is what Democrats need to reflect on."
"Here’s How Democrats Need to Talk About Education." By Maya Wiley, The New Republic, November 5, 2021
NEW! [Below] "America’s unresolved racial identity crisis continues to define US politics."
From the article:
"Terry McAuliffe's defeat in Virginia shows what happens when you are in a war, and only one side fights. The raging battle over whether America is primarily a white nation or whether it is a multiracial democracy continues to define US politics, and we now have painful proof that Democrats' approach of ignoring the attacks and trying to change the subject to non-racial topics is woefully inadequate.
"Republican Glenn Youngkin's campaign caught fire when he ratcheted up his attacks on so-called critical race theory (CRT), code for criticisms of any educational curriculum that addresses the country's long history of racism and oppression of people of color. In complaining that CRT—a law school construct and not actually taught in pre-college courses in Virginia or anywhere else—'teaches children to see everything through a lens of race,' Youngkin made the issue into the 2021 equivalent of Trump's 2016 proposed wall along the Mexican border—a symbolic rallying cry for whites worried about the country's rapid racial diversification...."
"Lessons From Virginia: You Can’t Ignore the Civil War." By Steve Phillips, The Nation, November 3, 2021
[Below] "Democrats worried about 2022 don’t need a crystal ball to understand what needs to be done. Supermajorities of Americans are already shouting their preferences: They want as much of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as possible—and a Democratic Party willing to stand behind his ambitious and necessary promises. The worst thing that could possibly happen, then, is for the party’s conservatives to read McAuliffe’s loss as a sign that Americans are turned off by the Democratic agenda....
"In a moment of party panic, Manchin wants Democrats to believe that the way to please voters angry over the lack of a big Biden spending bill is to make that spending bill even smaller and potentially kill it entirely. The opposite is true...."
"Dear Moderates: The Left Isn't Why McAuliffe Lost Virginia." By Max Burns, Daily Beast, November 3, 2021
[Below] "This should be a wake-up call for Democrats: Give people something to vote for or watch yourselves become the very thing they resoundingly vote against."
"Left Coalition Says McAuliffe Campaign Was a 'Controlled Experiment for What Not to Do in 2022.'" By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, November 3, 2021
NEW! [Below] "For those pushing for changes in society on race and other issues, words matter. They can also muddle."
"BIPOC or POC? Equity or Equality? The Debate Over Language on the Left." By Amy Harmon, New York Times, November 1, 2021
[Below] "We (the public, journalists and some lawmakers) have focused more on the cost of the package than its contents — even though our society is all but starved of supports that other first-world nations take for granted....
"Child care and other types of home care are historically undervalued and underpaid fields. Women make up the majority of unpaid caretakers of the elderly. As for paid home health-care workers, 90 percent are female. Democrats' proposals would also benefit those who receive home services via Medicaid — more than two-thirds of such recipients are women.
"Our society takes women's underpaid or free labor for granted. 'Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women,' as sociologist Jessica Calarco puts it."
Opinion: "Debate over which Democratic proposals to invest in shortchanges our needs." By Helaine Olen, Washington Post, October 18, 2021
[Below] "Sen. Joe Manchin III is very worried about the cost of passing President Biden's agenda. But what about the cost of not passing it?
"The West Virginia Democrat is making new demands that could badly impair our ability to combat child poverty and global warming, by shrinking two key components of the multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation bill.
"Manchin's new moves reveal the folly of arbitrary centrism. This posture is essentially that any effort to restrain liberal governance is an inherent good, with no serious acknowledgement required of the real-world trade offs it entails."
Opinion: "Joe Manchin's ugly new demands expose the absurdity of arbitrary centrism." By Greg Sargent, Washington Post, October 18, 2021
[Below] FASCISM: "Fascism only took power in a few countries, but in interwar Europe every country had fascist movements, denouncing liberal democracies and attacking communists and Jews. Understanding their allure is just as relevant today."
Opinion: "The 'Thrill' of Fascism: Explaining the Brutality, Hatred and Powerful Appeal of the Radical Right." By Roland Clark, Haaretz, October 18, 2021
[Below] "For the life of me, I can't see how it helps middle-of-the-road Democrats in swing districts to do less to help beleaguered households with child-care and elder-care costs, or less to expand health coverage and to beef up Medicare benefits, or less to contain the obvious and dangerous warming of our planet.
"Nor is it good for any Democrat to have these priorities set off against each other in a legislative cage match. Those whose programs are lost or gutted will feel very bruised.
"Finally, shouldn't Democrats be eager to bypass Senate filibuster rules as quickly as possible to stop the GOP-led attacks being leveled against democratic elections in states across our nation?...
"...'Republican senators have not represented a majority of the population since 1999 — yet, from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2015 to 2021, Republicans had a majority of members of the Senate itself. That means that, for 10 years, Republican senators were passing bills — and not passing others — on behalf of a minority of Americans....'"
Opinion: "Our system is biased against reform. Get used to it, Democrats." By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, October 17, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "Expectations were low when President Biden appointed an ideologically diverse commission to consider reforms to the Supreme Court. Inherent in a commission composed of legal scholars is the desire to reach consensus and to avoid worsening partisan rancor. Ideally, we would have gotten recommendations such as 'Justices should not go to partisan settings to deny they are hacks,' or 'Nominees should not accuse an entire party of a conspiracy to prevent his confirmation.'
"That is not to be. And, in fact, what is clear from the commission's release of a draft report is that institutional changes cannot spare us from hyperpartisan appointees who lack self-awareness and honesty about their innate partisan biases.
"The commission nevertheless offers some sage observations...."
Opinion: "Biden's Supreme Court commission has good ideas. But the court's problems run deeper." By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, October 17, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "The draft report, while long on critiques of court-packing, failed to address the root of the high court's predicament—the confirmation process itself."
"The White House Report on Supreme Court Reform Made a Glaring Omission." By Matt Ford, The New Republic, October 15, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "If he wants the public to see the Court as apolitical, he should try meeting that standard himself."
From the article:
"The term shadow docket was coined by a former Roberts clerk six years ago; it is not an invention of Alito’s Lügenpresse. The negative connotations it has more recently assumed are entirely a product of the Court’s selective use of the mechanism to make sweeping decisions and deliver rapid victories to right-wing causes.
"The Supreme Court is making greater use of emergency orders in that it is issuing them more frequently, in more significant and lasting ways, and with outcomes that favor the right. This is not a matter of opinion; it is statistical fact....
"It would be wrong to say that Roe has been overturned, but it is beyond dispute to say that its protections are no longer in effect in Texas. In a word, it has been nullified....
"The justices’ claims to be apolitical are belied by the decades of advocacy by the conservative legal movement and oceans of cash that it has spent to put them on the Court...."
"By Attacking Me, Justice Alito Proved My Point." By Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, October 12, 2021
[Below] MESSAGING: "...two bigger, related problems for Democrats. What we say doesn’t matter much...because our voters aren’t hearing it.
"First, the Right-Wing media ecosystem, defined by Fox and powered by Facebook, consistently drowns out Democratic messaging. The Right-Wing defines the four corners of the political conversation....
"The second problem is this: while Republicans spent decades building a massive media operation to deliver their messaging directly to their voters, Democrats continue to rely on the traditional media as the primary means of distribution. This is a real problem....
"In other words, the success of any Democratic messaging depends on the whims of mainstream media executives like Jeff Zucker [president of CNN Worldwide, oversees CNN, CNN International, HLN, and CNN Digital] and Dean Baquet [executive editor of The New York Times]. The challenges of adhering to this old model of communication are present every single day....
"Democrats are talking about the popular details of Biden’s plan, but the messaging is not reaching the people we need it to reach because the people carrying the message do not share our interests...."
"Popular-ism and the Democratic Messaging Deficit." By Dan Pfeiffer, Messagebox, October 12, 2021
[Below] MESSAGING: "What Shor gets wrong
"1. The conflicted voters in the middle who toggle between the two parties — and thus the voters who determine elections — are not 'moderate.' They are low-information voters who are not paying attention....
"The core for the conflicted middle is not ideology, but who they see as like them and on their side, versus hostile to them and a threat. If there’s stability in their voting patterns, it’s the stability of identity rather than ideology.
"2. Democratic messages fail to persuade conflicted voters when they center on policy issues. These voters are not able to make heads or tails of policy debates, especially because the opposition Republican messaging consistently claims to be seeking the same end goals.... They will instead use identity issues as a proxy for whom to trust.
"3. Democratic messages alienate voters when they are predicated on a sense of identity that voters do not share....
"4. ...The fundamental challenge for Democrats is to develop a unified, effective response to the intense polarization around race intentionally driven by Trump and boosted by the interlocking elements of the rightwing propaganda machine.
"...Shor 'and those who agree with him argue that Democrats need to try to avoid talking about race and immigration.' This is Shor’s most dangerous piece of advice to Democrats....
"...Shor is making the same mistake leaders of the Democratic Party have made for decades: to jump from the insight that attacking racism as a white problem backfires with most voters (true) to the unsupported/seemingly unshakeable article of faith that Democrats should largely stop talking about racism (false).
"The GOP has made racial identity the main driver of political polarization since 1970.... The best evidence calls for a new approach that reframes racism as a tool of division that threatens all racial groups."
"Shor is mainly wrong about racism (which is to say, about electoral politics)." By Ian Haney Lopez, October 11, 2021
[Below] "NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 11, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day."
"A Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples' Day, 2021." The White House, October 8, 2021
"A Proclamation on Columbus Day, 2021." The White House, October 8, 2021
[Below] "The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has released a sweeping report detailing how former President Donald Trump and a former high-ranking lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
"The Democratic-led committee's 394-page document contains intricate details about the former president's actions in the days after the presidential election was called for President Joe Biden. A number of bombshell claims were revealed in the report and — here are six key takeaways from it."
"'Stunning distortion of DOJ’s authority': Here are 6 key findings in Senate Judiciary's report on Trump election interference." By Meaghan Ellis, AlterNet, October 7, 2021
NEW! [Below] STUDENT LOANS: "Including the borrowers eligible for immediate forgiveness under these actions, the Biden-Harris Administration has now approved more than $11.5 billion in loan cancellation for over 580,000 borrowers."
"U.S. Department of Education Announces Transformational Changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Will Put Over 550,000 Public Service Workers Closer to Loan Forgiveness." U.S. Department of Education, October 6, 2021
"In certain situations, you can have your federal student loans forgiven, canceled, or discharged. Learn more about the types of forgiveness and whether you qualify due to your job or other circumstances.
"Student Loan Forgiveness."
NEW! [Below] "Many discussions of hope veer toward the saccharine, and speak to a desire for catharsis. Even the most jaded observers of world affairs can find it difficult not to catch their breath at the moment of suspense, hoping for good to triumph over evil and deliver a happy ending. For some, discussions of hope are attached to notions of a radical political vision for the future, while for others hope is a political slogan used to motivate the masses. Some people uphold hope as a form of liberal faith in progress, while for others still hope expresses faith in God and life after death.
"Arendt breaks with these narratives. Throughout much of her work, she argues that hope is a dangerous barrier to acting courageously in dark times....
"For Arendt, the emergence of totalitarianism in the middle of the 20th century meant that one could no longer count on common sense or human decency, moral norms or ethical imperatives. The law mandated mass murder and could not be looked to for guidance on how to act. The tradition of Western political thought broke, and Plato’s axiom — that it is better to suffer harm than to do harm — was reversed. The most basic human experiences, such as love, loss, desire, fear, hope and loneliness, were instrumentalised by fascist propaganda to sway the masses...."
"When hope is a hindrance: For Hannah Arendt, hope is a dangerous barrier to courageous action. In dark times, the miracle that saves the world is to act." By Samantha Rose Hill, Aeon essays, October 4, 2021
"Hannah Arendt" (1906-1975). Wikipedia, accessed 10/9/2021
[Below] The savvy journalist’s view of politics is based in part on the assumption that ideologues are problematic — they’re inflexible, they’re impractical, they care more about purity than that most noble of objectives, Getting Things Done.
"Centrists and moderates, on the other hand, supposedly understand the real world and are willing to work with others to solve problems. Which is why, for instance, a bipartisan group of House centrists named themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus.
"But what if all those ideas are backward? What if it’s the ideologues who are able to get things done, and it’s the centrists who stand in the way of solving problems while they knuckle under to special interests who don’t have the welfare of the country at heart?...
"...from where centrists sit, the status quo is not so bad. Yes, there are things to be concerned about and problems to be solved, but it’s nothing that gets their blood boiling....
"That general lack of urgency about addressing issues may be one reason that the Problem Solvers Caucus, which was formed in 2017, can’t say it has actually solved any problems....
"Which brings us to another characteristic of centrists that they don’t share with ideologues: They’re much more susceptible to influence by special interests, whose primary goal is often to keep change from happening.
"While a lack of ideological rigidity is often portrayed as a virtue, it’s also just the kind of open-mindedness corporate lobbyists are looking for....
Opinion: "What if everything we think about centrists and ideologues is wrong?" By Paul Waldman, Washington Post, October 1, 2021
[Below] "At a time when communities who have long been silenced in the U.S. are finding their voices and learning to see themselves, the language of identity has become an important part of the conversation around social justice. This debate over naming and identity and what to call oneself is, in many ways, a generational rite of passage on the path to gaining greater political power."
"Different names, unifying power: Hispanic, Latino, Latinx." By Fola Onifade, democracyincolor.com, September 30, 2021
[Below] "African American burial grounds and remains have exposed deep conflicts over inheritance and representation."
From the article:
"The movement to save Black cemeteries has been growing for decades, led by Black women...who have families to care for and work full-time jobs but volunteer countless hours and formidable organizing skills looking after the dead and upending American history....
"Underneath America lies an apartheid of the departed. Violence done to the living is usually done to their dead, who are dug up, mowed down, and built on. In the Jim Crow South, Black people paid taxes that went to building and erecting Confederate monuments. They buried their own dead with the help of mutual-aid societies, fraternal organizations, and insurance policies. Cemeteries work on something like a pyramid scheme: payments for new plots cover the cost of maintaining old ones. "Perpetual care" is, everywhere, notional, but that notion relies on an accumulation of capital that decades of disenfranchisement and discrimination have made impossible in many Black communities, even as racial terror also drove millions of people from the South during the Great Migration, leaving their ancestors behind....
"In an interview Toni Morrison gave in 1989, she explained why she'd written 'Beloved,' a novel whose title is an epitaph. 'There is no place that you and I can go to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves,' she said. No marker or plaque, no museum or statue. 'There's not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit, or you can visit, in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi.' Three decades after 'Beloved,' people everywhere are tending to markers."
"When Black History Is Unearthed, Who Gets to Speak for the Dead?" By Jill Leport, The New Yorker, September 27, 2021
[Below] LATINOS: "But the difficult reality is that major social movements and powerful political alliances between ethnic groups do not arise simply because progressives wish that they would. They emerge because the very distinct historical experiences of different ethnic groups convince them to set aside their differences and work together in unity....
"In contrast, although both African Americans and Latinos suffered racial prejudice and discrimination, their historical experience since the 1960’s has been quite distinct and has shaped their political consciousness in profoundly different ways....
"...today the fact that Latino support for Trump actually increased in 2020 has profoundly shaken the 'natural Democrats' assumption...."
"Democrats: Let's Face Reality—The Term 'People of Color' Doesn't Describe a Political Coalition That Actually Exists." By Andrew Levison, The Democratic Strategist, September 23, 2021
NEW! [Below] HEALTHCARE: "For Scott Atlas, as for Republican governors like Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Tate Reeves, and Kay Ivey, the human cost of our shredded public health system is a feature, not a bug."
From the article: "The recent attacks on public health, the willingness on the part of Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Tate Reeves, Kay Ivey to defy standard public health practice—even as they see their constituents suffer—has its roots in a deep ideological commitment. This isn’t about the CDC’s shifting mask guidance, or about the belated acknowledgement of airborne transmission of the virus. This isn’t what matters to these leaders. And it’s simply willful ignorance to suggest that 'bad communication' is at the root of what is happening now. As Naomi Klein notes, every catastrophe is an opportunity.
"The pandemic has enabled these leaders to pursue policies they have wanted to push way before SARS-COV-2 had entered the scene. As the poet Anne Sexton said of self-destruction in another context: 'Suicides have a special language. Like carpenters they want to know which tools. They never ask why build.' The GOP is looking for ways to undermine access to health care, public health regulations and programs—the whole already-frayed safety net."
"Herd Immunity: Covid Deaths Devouring the South Are No Accident." By Gregg Gonsalves, The Nation, September 22, 2021
NEW! [Below] "'This is an area where the distinction between a religious and ethical objection and a political and policy objection will get really fuzzy really quickly, and that’s going to put employers in a very difficult position,' says Jamie Prenkert, professor of business law at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington.
"'The courts have been pretty clear that the religious exemption process can apply to non-theistic ethical or moral objections, but not to policy or political objections,' Professor Prenkert says. 'But depending on how people voice those objections, that becomes a very difficult line to draw.'"
"Vaccine mandates: How sincere is a 'sincerely held belief'?" By Harry Bruinius, Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2021
[Below] GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE: "...a new landmark study in The Lancet Planetary Health, released on a pre-publication basis on September 14, is the largest and most international-in-scope to demonstrate the immense psychological toll the climate crisis is wreaking on young people across the world. It is also the first study to suggest a link between the complex feelings related to ecological and climate crises — such as despair, hurt and grief — to a sense of anger, confusion or abandonment regarding government action, or inaction, in the face of the climate emergency, which is swiftly worsening before young people’s eyes.
"Youth Climate Anxiety Is Skyrocketing — and Government Inaction Is to Blame." By Leanna First-Arai, Truthout, September 16, 2021
NEW! [Below] "We are hurting, in the throes of a global health pandemic, a recessionary economy, and ongoing police and policy violence, 140 million poor and low-income individuals have been called to sacrifice more than we can afford to give up. This fact sheet provides just a handful of indicators of how people are suffering from these crises in Georgia and across the nation.
"Nationally, the pandemic has worsened conditions for 140 million poor and low-income people already struggling to survive."
"Georgia and the COVID-19 Pandemic" (impact on poor and low-income people), The Poor People's Campaign, September 15, 2021
[Below] "After considering the For the People Act this past summer, Senator Joe Manchin, along with other key Senate Democrats, used the August recess to draft a long-awaited revision of the landmark voting rights bill.
"The Freedom to Vote Act, introduced this morning, reveals a surprisingly good voting rights bill. It reflects a sobriety and understanding of the challenges facing voters that is worthy of its lofty name. It is not just a reformulation of the prior For the People Act, but in many places, it is an improvement."
"My Thoughts on Manchin's Compromise Bill." By Marc Elias, Democracy Docket, September 14, 2021
[Below] FREEDOM: "...the freedoms of those who would refuse vaccines or decline to wear masks when exercised, in effect, impinge on the freedoms of others.
"This is a well-trodden area of political theory. It’s the difference between so-called 'positive freedom' or liberty — that is, the government giving us the freedom to choose a course of action — and 'negative freedom' or liberty — which is the absence of obstacles or barriers, which might be erected by others exercising their own freedoms.
"Political theorist Isaiah Berlin reflected upon the difference in 1958 in 'The Two Concepts of Liberty.' He described the difference as being between 'the freedom which consists in being one’s own master, and the freedom which consists in not being prevented from choosing as I do by other men.'
"Berlin noted that political philosophers have long said that freedom 'could not, as things were, be unlimited, because if it were, it would entail a state in which all men could boundlessly interfere with all other men.'
"...the concept that fighting the pandemic via governmental regulations might actually aid freedom has been largely and puzzlingly missing from the debate over Biden’s new policy."
"Biden, mandates and the other freedom — from the coronavirus." By Aaron Blake, Washington Post, September 13, 2021
"Isaiah Berlin: Two Concepts of Liberty." 1969 (archived copy)
[Below] "Medicare Advantage is a massive, trillion-dollar rip-off, of the federal government and of taxpayers, and of many of the people buying the so-called Advantage plans.
"It's also one of the most effective ways that insurance companies could try to kill Medicare For All, since about a third of all people who think they're on Medicare are actually on these privatized plans instead.
"Nearly from its beginning, Medicare has allowed private companies to offer plans that essentially compete with it, but they were an obscure corner of the market and didn't really take off until the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress rolled out the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. This was the GOP's (and a few corporatist Democrats') big chance to finally privatize Medicare, albeit one bite at a time....
"Medicare Advantage plans are not Medicare. They're private health insurance most often offered by the big for-profit insurance companies (although some nonprofits participate, particularly the larger HMOs), and the rules they must live by are considerably looser than those for Medicare."
"It's time to end the Medicare Advantage scam." By Thom Hartmann, Independent Media Institute, September 10, 2021
[Below] "In the case of labor rights, the PRO Act, which stands for Protecting the Right to Organize, narrowly passed the House on a party-line vote, but has no chance of gaining 60 votes in the Senate as freestanding legislation. However, the rule that Congress passed on August 24, authorizing Congress to proceed with a reconciliation measure that could spend up to $3.5 trillion, also explicitly authorized several pro-union provisions, using Congress’s power to tax, spend, or levy fines....
"Doing voting rights via reconciliation would be a heavier lift. In principle, the strategy would be similar—come up with fines or outlays that make voting rights fit under reconciliation. Two law professors, Jonathan Gould and Nicholas Stephanopoulos, recently provided a menu of such strategies in a piece for The Atlantic: Give citizens a financial incentive to vote; provide funding to states that enact pro-democracy reforms; provide federal money to counties and towns for election administration; use public funding of campaigns to crowd out PACs.
"This makes sense. But since the House and Senate leaders, balancing multiple political trade-offs, did not explicitly put voting rights into the rule covering the specifics of reconciliation, it seems a political long shot."
"Voting Rights and Labor Rights: The Two Sleepers in Budget Reconciliation." By Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect, September 10, 2021
[Below] "Attorney General Merrick Garland has the power, under federal civil rights laws, to go after any vigilantes who employ the Texas law to seek bounties from abortion providers or others who help women obtain abortions....
"...Section 242 of the federal criminal code makes it a crime for those who, 'under color of law,' willfully deprive individuals 'of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States....'
"...Section 241 of the federal criminal code makes it an even more serious crime for 'two or more persons' to agree to 'oppress, threaten, or intimidate' anyone 'in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same.' This crime may be committed even by individuals not found to be acting “under color of law” but as purely private vigilantes, as long as they’re acting in concert with others.
Opinion: "What the Justice Department Should Do to Stop the Texas Abortion Law." By Laurence H. Tribe, The Washington Post, September 6, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, SHADOW DOCKET: "...the shadow docket is 'where the justices hand down largely unsigned short opinions without going through standard hearings, deliberations, and transparency.' Traditionally, it's mostly upholding lower court orders or emergency petitions that aren't especially controversial. But this court, controlled by Chief Justice John Roberts, has started to use the shadow docket to issue far-right rulings under the radar, avoiding the press coverage that more traditional rulings get...."
"The Supreme Court's latest salvo exposes the trick John Roberts has played on the country." By Amanda Marcotte, Salon, September 1, 2021
[Below] ABORTION: "A recent friend-of-the-court filing in that case [expected to be argued this fall at the U.S. Supreme Court, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] implicitly claims that biology – and therefore biologists – can tell when human life begins. The filing then goes on to claim explicitly that a vast majority of biologists agree on which particular point in fetal development actually marks the beginning of a human life.
"Neither of those claims is true."
"When human life begins is a question of politics – not biology." Sahotra Sarkar, The Conversation, September 1, 2021
[Below] This article is an interview with the author of a document listed earlier on this page. That document goes into more detail (than the article immediately below) on why the spread of false information; statements containing false, illogical or unlikely representations; and statements containing blatant falsehoods are perceived to give a group purveying them an advantage in inter-group conflicts.
"A social scientist's terrifying new theory: Fake news and conspiracy theories as an evolutionary strategy." By Paul Rosenberg, Salon, August 8, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, INDEPENDENT STATE LEGISLATURE DOCTRINE: "But there has been a subtle shift in how Trump and his allies have talked about the supposed 'rigging' of the 2020 election in a way that will make such claims more appealing to the conservative judges and politicians that held the line last time around. Come 2024, crass and boorish unsubstantiated claims of stealing are likely to give way to arcane legal arguments about the awesome power of state legislatures to run elections as they see fit. ...[E]xpect white-shoe lawyers with Federalist Society bona fides to argue next time about application of the 'independent state legislature' doctrine in an attempt to turn any Republican presidential defeat into victory....
"So how does this argument work? Article II of the Constitution of the United States provides that state legislatures get to set the 'manner' for choosing presidential elections. Similarly, Article I, section 4 gives the state 'legislature' the power to set the time, place, and manner for conducting congressional elections, subject to congressional override. In practice, these clauses have been understood as allowing the legislature to set the ground rules for conducting the election, which are then subject to normal state processes: election administrators fix the details for administering the vote, state courts interpret the meaning of state election rules, and sometimes judges and officials decide when state rules violate state constitutional rights to vote....
"Republicans challenged that extension [by the Pennsylvia Supreme Court of the deadline for certain ballots to arrive], arguing that the U.S. Constitution makes the legislature supreme, even if the state legislature would otherwise be violating the state constitution as determined by the state supreme court. This is the 'independent state legislature' doctrine because it proposes that the legislature is supreme against all other actors that might run elections. This is a wacky theory of legislative power, but it is one that four Supreme Court justices (Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas) expressed support for in various opinions during the 2020 elections, and it echoes an alternative argument that former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, joined by Justice Thomas and former Justice Antonin Scalia, made in the Bush v. Gore case ending the 2000 election and handing victory to Republican George W. Bush.
"Justice Alito thought enough of the argument in the 2020 Pennsylvania case to order ballots arriving in Pennsylvania in the three days after Election Day to be set aside for possible exclusion from the count. Fortunately, there were only about 10,000 such ballots, and they did not determine the outcome of the presidential race (Biden won there by about 80,000 votes.)
"The 2020 fight over the independent state legislature doctrine was a close call. It would not be at all surprising to see at least five or perhaps all six conservative justices embrace the argument next time it comes before the court in a timely way."
"Trump Is Planning a Much More Respectable Coup Next Time." By Richard L. Hasen, Slate, August 7, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, INDEPENDENT STATE LEGISLATURE DOCTRINE: "Like many conservatives of her generation, Cleta Mitchell was galvanized by the disputed 2000 election, in which George W. Bush and Al Gore battled for weeks over the outcome in Florida. She repeatedly spoke out on behalf of Bush, who won the state by only five hundred and thirty-seven votes. A dispute over recounts ended up at the Supreme Court.
"Few people noticed at the time, but in that case, Bush v. Gore, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, along with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hinted at a radical reading of the Constitution that, two decades later, undergirds many of the court challenges on behalf of Trump. In a concurring opinion, the Justices argued that state legislatures have the plenary power to run elections and can even pass laws giving themselves the right to appoint electors. Today, the so-called Independent Legislature Doctrine has informed Trump and the right’s attempts to use Republican-dominated state legislatures to overrule the popular will. Nathaniel Persily, an election-law expert at Stanford, told me, 'It’s giving intellectual respectability to an otherwise insane, anti-democratic argument....'
"It’s a surprisingly short leap from making accusations of voter fraud to calling for the nullification of a supposedly tainted election. The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a group funded by the Bradley Foundation, is leading the way....
"More than a year before the 2020 election, Cleta Mitchell and her allies sensed political peril for Trump and began reviewing strategies to help keep him in office. According to a leaked video of an address that she gave in May, 2019, to the Council for National Policy, a secretive conservative society, she warned that Democrats were successfully registering what she sarcastically referred to as 'the disenfranchised.' She continued, 'They know that if they target certain communities and they can get them registered and get them to the polls, then those groups . . . will vote ninety per cent, ninety-five per cent for Democrats.'
"One possible countermove was for conservative state legislators to reëngineer the way the Electoral College has worked for more than a hundred years, in essence by invoking the Independent Legislature Doctrine. The Constitution gives states the authority to choose their Presidential electors 'in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.' Since the late nineteenth century, states have delegated that authority to the popular vote. But, arguably, the Constitution permits state legislatures to take this authority back. Legislators could argue that an election had been compromised by irregularities or fraud, forcing them to intervene.
"...After the election, [Shawnna Bolick, a Republican state representative from Phoenix,] signed a resolution demanding that Congress block the certification of Biden’s victory and award Arizona’s electors to Trump. Then, early this year, Bolick introduced a bill proposing a radical reading of Article II of the Constitution, along the lines of the Independent Legislature Doctrine. It would enable a majority of the Arizona legislature to override the popular vote if it found fault with the outcome, and dictate the state’s Electoral College votes itself—anytime up until Inauguration Day....
"Bolick has since announced her candidacy for secretary of state in Arizona. Her husband, Clint Bolick, is an Arizona Supreme Court justice and a leader in right-wing legal circles. Clarence Thomas, one of the three U.S. Supreme Court Justices who signed on to the concurring opinion in Bush v. Gore laying out the Independent Legislature Doctrine, is the godfather of one of Clint Bolick’s sons. If Shawnna Bolick wins her race, she will oversee future elections in the state. And, if the Supreme Court faces another case in which arguments about the Independent Legislature Doctrine come into play, there may now be enough conservative Justices to agree with Thomas that there are circumstances under which legislatures, not voters, could have the final word in American elections...."
"The Big Money Behind the Big Lie." By Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, August 2, 2021
NEW! [Below] SUPREME COURT EXPANSION: The article below also contains a chart of "The Worst Decisions of the Roberts Court."
From the article:
"The U.S. Supreme Court is not a democratic institution. It consists of nine unelected elite lawyers armed with the tools and techniques of judicial review. They, not 'the People,' often get the last word on vital questions of social, economic, and even political policy.
"Whether this is a smart way to run a democracy has largely been a moot point since the court declared in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that it had the authority to find acts of Congress unconstitutional. The big question today, as always, is whether the court can operate in a politically neutral manner and stay above the partisan fray while discharging its awesome power....
"...on July 1, just before the court broke for summer recess, ...the release of a stunning 6-3 majority opinion written by Alito in the case of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee...tore another gaping hole in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and signaled that the panel's rightwing ideologues were fully in control.
"The court also handed down another ideologically tinged decision on July 1 with a 6-3 majority opinion written by Roberts in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta. The decision struck down a California regulation that requires registered charities and nonprofits to disclose the identities of major donors (those contributing more than $5,000). Americans for Prosperity is a tax-exempt organization long linked to the Koch brothers. Critics of the decision charge that it will open the door to more 'dark money' in elections.
"The damage caused by the Roberts Court to democratic norms and values runs deep. Harvard Law School professor Michael Klarman summed up the panel's cumulative record under Roberts's stewardship in an essay published last February in The Atlantic...."
"The day the Supreme Court showed its disturbing new face."; By Bill Blum, The Progressive, August 2, 2021 (Posted on AlterNet)
[Below] UNIONS: "Even if they don’t realize it, all workers protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) have rights. Workers have the right to form or join a union, to negotiate with employers over the terms and conditions for employment, and to be protected from being fired or demoted for attempting to unionize, having union discussions at work, or going on strike. Regardless of the workplace, when employees band together to unionize and fight for their rights, it can change the nature of an industry....
"But despite the positive effect it can have on employees, unionizing isn’t always easy, and recent court rulings, aggressive anti-union campaigns, old tropes about union corruption, and stereotypes about union workers have made it even more challenging...."
"Not sure if joining a union is right for you? Here are some things to consider." By Carolyn Copeland for Prism Reports, Daily Kos, July 23, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, VOTING RIGHTS: "The Supreme Court isn’t even pretending that it’s bound by legal texts in its voting rights cases."
"How America lost its commitment to the right to vote." By Ian Millhiser, Vox, July 21, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, VOTING RIGHTS: The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court has already spoken, in past decisions, as have some of his conservative colleagues. This author says that, essentially, they will support "states rights"—the right of states to suppress voting rights as they please—over equal voting rights. There IS a solution....
"The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is a valuable piece of legislation. So is the For the People Act. Both are destined to fail in front of the Supreme Court."
"The Democrats Are Bungling Voting Rights—but Not in the Way You Think." By Elie Mystal, The Nation, July 21, 2021
NEW! [Below] MESSAGING: "Political labels tell a story about politicians or constituent groups. Unfortunately, the media and even progressive activists often use the wrong label. The audience, as a result, gets the story wrong...."
"Don't Say Nationalist, Populist or Authoritarian." Public Leadership Institute, July 14, 2021
NEW! [Below] SUPREME COURT, VOTING RIGHTS: "Brnovich v. DNC is a bad opinion for voting rights. It’s also much better than could have been expected from a 6-3 conservative SCOTUS."
"The Supreme Court leaves the Voting Rights Act alive — but only barely." By Ian Millhiser, July 1, 2021
NEW! [Below] ECONOMICS, MILTON FRIEDMAN: "The famed economist’s theories were embraced by Beltway power brokers in both parties. Finally, a Democratic president is turning the page on a legacy of ruin."
"The End of Friedmanomics." By Zachary D. Carter, The New Republic, June 17, 2021
[Below] "A novel idea for House Democrats to thwart Joe Manchin: Sue the Senate all the way to the Supreme Court."
"Let’s Take the Filibuster to Court." By Thomas Geoghegan, The New Republic, June 14, 2021
[Below] LANGUAGE, MESSAGING: "After every election, Democrats seem to talk about how they failed to craft a clear message. So how about bombarding people with a new kind of campaign ad?"
"What does the Democratic Party stand for? What do voters think the Democratic Party stands for? How can Democrats communicate to voters that they actually do stand for things...?
"...The two analyses [linked in the article] agree on one key point: The Democratic Party failed to define itself, and what it is for, in the mind of much of the electorate. The reports diverge in an interesting way on the topic of how Republicans brand Democrats....
"...In the progressive view, conservative propaganda is something in the air that true swing voters (as opposed to dedicated conservatives) largely tune out. In the Third Way view, it is incumbent on Democrats (and, implicitly, Democratic supporters) to avoid doing or saying things that might provoke the bear.... Neither side really asks how Democrats expect to perform a task that Republicans have mastered: actually reaching marginal voters with these messages at all."
"Here’s an Idea for Liberals: Propaganda." By Alex Pareene, The New Republic, June 12, 2021
NEW! [Below] "In the 2020 election cycle, the Latino electorate in the state of Georgia continued to grow with significant influence exponentially. This report’s analysis showcases that the Latino electorate became more politically and civically aware. Georgia’s electoral outcomes reflect this change. Based upon the statewide voter data file and the analysis on this report from March 5th, 2021, the Latino electorate now has 385,185 registered voters, representing 4.1% of Georgia's total voters....
"Latino voters were identified through the application of a 'surname-match' process. Using a surname dictionary of 12,248 known Latino surnames, NALEO cross-referenced voter file records to match any of the 12,248 Latino surnames....
The dictionary of Latino surnames used by NALEO Educational Fund contains a combination of surnames that have been known to capture up to 95% of the Latino population within a given list. In circumstances where auxiliary data on race and ethnicity is available (as is the case with Georgia’s statewide voter file), individuals who may not possess a common Latino surname but self-identified as 'Hispanic/Latino' on their registration form are also included in the final likely Latino voter count.
"...research suggests that Latinos in Georgia are more likely to identify racially as 'White.' In Georgia, 2000 Census figures demonstrate that 50% of adult citizens who said they were Hispanic/Latino also identified as racially 'white.' This means that a majority of Latinos eligible to register to vote consider themselves 'White.' This fact and the considerations mentioned previously on the issue of self-identification should be considered when determining what figures are most appropriate for your analysis of Latino voters."
"2020: The Georgia Latino Electorate Grows in Power." GALEO, June 10, 2021
[Below] "We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk."
"Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards." New America, June 1, 2021
[Below] "People have been manipulated to think that beliefs needn’t change in response to evidence, making us more susceptible to conspiracy theories, science denial and extremism."
From the article:
"...The GOP now trades almost exclusively in manufactured bogeymen. 'Death panels,' 'feminazis,' and the 'war on Christmas' are obvious ploys, but fearmongering is now the defining feature of American conservatism. Socialists aim to destroy our way of life. The government is planning to seize your guns. Secularists will steal your freedom to worship. Gays will destroy the institution of marriage. BLM protesters will burn down your neighborhood. Cognitive scientists call what Republican strategists do 'amygdala hijacking,' after the brain module that responds to fear.
"But brains manipulated in this way lose the capacity for reasoned reflection...."
"The Cause of America’s Post-Truth Predicament." By Andy Normal, Scientific American, May 18, 2021
[Below] Is there a strategy for getting the For the People Act (S. 1) passed in the U.S. Senate, to make it effective for 2022 elections?
"A timeline for the For the People Act." Indivisible, May 15, 2021
[Below] CRITICAL RACE THEORY: "It's a concept that's been around for decades and that seeks to understand and address inequality and racism in the US. The term also has become politicized....
"To get a deeper understanding of what critical race theory is -- and isn't -- we talked to one of the scholars behind it.
"Critical race theory recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish.
"'Critical race theory is a practice. It's an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what's in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it....'"
"What critical race theory is -- and isn't." By Faith Karimi, CNN, Updated Monday, May 10, 2021.
"Critical Race Theory." By Wikipedia, accessed May 13, 2021
"A Lesson on Critical Race Theory." by Janel George, American Bar Association, January 12, 2021
[Below] LANGUAGE, MESSAGING: President Biden's remarks as prepared for delivery are below. This is the transcript provided by the White House. Also below are Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word copies of the speech, which you can mark up with appropriate software.
"Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by President Biden — Address to a Joint Session of Congress." White House, April 28, 2021 (Adobe PDF copy archived here.) (Microsoft Word copy archived here.)
NEW! [Below] LANGUAGE, MESSAGING: "James Carville on the state of Democratic politics."
"Wokeness is a problem and we all know it." By Sean Illing, vox.com, April 27, 2021
[Below] "...Care work, too, is infrastructure, as many left-wing economists, organizers, and advocates have argued for years. Republicans seem to believe that physical infrastructure simply appears, as if a giant hand descends from the sky and builds a road by itself. Construction isn’t sorcery — people have to build things, and those people need other people to care for their children, teach them, and look after relatives while they’re building that road. There is no giant hand. There are no robots, either. Workers are human beings, with human requirements. Society cannot function without care work or the laborers who perform it. A collective good, care work is a collective responsibility too. The only question remaining is the law. Will it pay for care work, or not?...
"...The GOP doesn’t have a plan because it doesn’t think care work matters. They don’t value the people who perform it. When members of the party rail against the elites, and fashion themselves champions of the worker, they aren’t talking about low-income Black women who take care of the elderly. They aren’t even referring to the archetypal white man in a hard hat. That man has a family, and that family has needs. They’re thinking of themselves, and their own families, because they have the means to pay for care. Most Americans aren’t so fortunate...."
"The GOP’s Barebones America." By Sarah Jones, Intelligencer, April 16, 2021
[Below] "The restrictions across the Northeast are relics of the urban Democratic machines, which preferred to mobilize their voters precinct by precinct on Election Day rather than give reformers a lengthier window to rally opposition. Democrats who have won election after election in states such as New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have had little incentive to change the rules that helped them win.
"The party has been more concerned with expanding access to the polls in places where it has struggled to obtain and keep power (although it’s not clear whether Democrats’ assumptions about the impact voting laws have on turnout are correct). In Congress, Democrats are prioritizing legislation called the For the People Act, or H.R. 1, which seeks to curb GOP efforts to suppress voting...."
"The Blue States That Make It Hardest to Vote." By Russell Berman, The Atlantic, April 15, 2021
[Below] GEORGIA REDISTRICTING (GERRYMANDERING): "Later this year, Georgia’s General Assembly will convene for a special session to redraw the boundaries of the state’s legislative and congressional districts based on data from the 2020 census....
"For the next several months, the Georgia News Lab and GPB News will bring you data and stories about Georgia’s demographic and political changes over the past decade — before final numbers and maps are created. This reporting recipe will outline what data we are using, provide highlights of the redistricting process and explain what to expect from your lawmakers."
"Reporting Recipe: How To Be A Redistricting Watchdog." By Stephen Fowler, David Armstrong, and Isaiah Poritz , GPB News, April 15, 2021
[Below] LABOR: "Earlier today the National Labor Relations Board announced the results of the vote on whether workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., would join a union. The vote was 738 in favor to 1,798 against. It’s bad news, but it doesn’t mean workers in future Amazon campaigns won’t or can’t win. They can. The results were not surprising, however, for reasons that have more to do with the approach used in the campaign itself than any other factor....
"Three factors weigh heavily in any unionization election: the outrageously vicious behavior of employers—some of it illegal, most fully legal—including harassing and intimidating workers, and telling bold lies (which, outside of countries with openly repressive governments, is unique to the United States); the strategies and tactics used in the campaign by the organizers; and the broader social-political context in which the union election is being held."
"Blowout in Bessemer: A Postmortem on the Amazon Campaign." By Jane McAlevey, The Nation, April 9, 2021
[Below] "With their opposition to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, Republicans are doubling down on a core bet they’ve made for his presidency: that the GOP can maintain support among its key constituencies while fighting programs that would provide those voters with tangible economic assistance." (rural voters)
"The GOP Is Voting Against Its Base." By Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic, April 9, 2021
NEW! [Below] "It’s become something of a trend in recent decades for Republicans, who don’t think government can work, to spend their years in power breaking it in order to fulfill their own prophecy; it then falls to Democrats to spend their years in power fixing what Republicans destroyed....
"Where the clean-up effort gets complicated is around the laws and norms we’ve set up to keep our system functioning. While previous Republican administrations tried to break government, Donald Trump tried to break democracy. He did this boldly and brazenly, by attacking elections, and he did it less boldly but no less brazenly, by working alongside Mitch McConnell to take over the unelected branch of government that sets the rules for all the others: the federal judiciary. That branch is now stuffed with conservative ideologues masquerading as jurists.
"When Trump took office in 2017, he inherited 108 federal judicial vacancies, thanks to McConnell’s systematic obstruction of Obama’s judicial nominees. During the next four years, he appointed 226 judges, including three US Supreme Court justices, 54 US court of appeals judges, and 174 US district court judges. Those judges represent just over a quarter of the federal bench and helped flip entire federal courts of appeals...."
"Can Biden Fix the Courts That Trump Broke?" By Elie Mystal, The Nation, April 7, 2021
[Below] "Economic Innovation Group think tank offers tools that introduce 'geographic inequality' into the national conversation and bring rural America’s economic distress to the forefront."
"Commentary: Which Think Tanks Think About Rural America?" By Joe Belden, The Daily Yonder, April 7, 2021
NEW! [Below] "Sectarian politics will only be defeated through a long-term commitment to equal dignity and rights for all people."
"Liberals Must Rebuild Their Intellectual Infrastructure." By John Halpin, March 31, 2021
[Below] "Biden has only months to enact change, and his legacy will be defined by whether he saved voting rights from Republican assault."
"The Most Important Thing Democrats Can Do With Their Power Is Protect the Vote." By Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, March 24, 2021
[Below] "Democrats did the work, Republicans didn’t—and that says a lot about the two parties."
"The Real Reason Republicans Couldn’t Kill Obamacare." By Jonathan Cohn, The Atlantic, March 22, 2021
[Below] "Like Lyndon B. Johnson, McConnell is a master of the Senate. But although Johnson often used his mastery to pass important bills, McConnell uses his to kill them—while simultaneously generating outrage that yields considerable benefits for his party. McConnell possesses a rare understanding of mass psychology and knows that the American political system is unusually opaque to voters. Not only does the United States have multiple branches and levels of government, but voters elect their representatives in Congress separately from the president.... In this complex system, determining who has done what can be like figuring out a mystery novel. The filibuster, an arcane procedure that prevents those who seem to be in charge from actually passing the legislation they want, only deepens the mystery.
"The upshot is that party accountability in the American system mostly centers on the president. Even in midterm elections, when the president isn’t on the ballot, dissatisfied voters tend to punish the president’s party at the polls. This has a certain logic: Figuring out who is president is easy. So is deciding whether you like what you think the president is doing. By contrast, a strikingly large share of voters struggle to identify their representatives in Congress, or even which party controls the House or the Senate.... In this context, voters are unlikely to punish a minority party wielding the filibuster—and, indeed, are far more likely to punish a president and a president’s party for policy failures caused by the filibuster, even if it is wielded by the other party."
"Why McConnell Gets Away With Filibustering." By Jacob S. Hacker (Political scientist at Yale) and Paul Pierson (Political scientist at UC Berkeley), March 21, 2021
[Below] "...you can't let the threat of possible future bad stuff prevent you from doing good stuff when you have the power to do it.... By any measure, Democrats will come out well ahead, because we are the party that wants to enact progressive change and Republicans are the party that wants to stop stuff. We simply have more things that we can get passed in the next two years that will move the ball down the field and provide us a lot of insurance against the bad things Republicans might possibly do in the future."
"Joe Manchin's filibuster demands might end up making Republican obstruction even worse." By Igor Derysh, Salon, March 20, 2021
[Below] "The filibuster is no cornerstone of senatorial greatness. It is an accident that has spun out of control."
"The Filibuster's Ugly History and Why It Must Be Scrapped." By Sean Wilentz, Rolling Stone, March 16, 2021
NEW! [Below] "The synecdoche problem is just this: when people consistently advocate for a particular group, they come to believe that they know what’s best for that group, can speak for that group, or just literally are that group. The constant advocacy creates a sense of identification that deludes the advocate. They become incapable of seeing that their point of view is not universally shared, or even broadly shared, by the people who make up that group...."
"the Synecdoche Problem." By Freddie deBoer, March 8, 2021
[Below] "...Four months after America last went to the polls, Democrats are still refining their autopsies of the 2020 race and already governing with an eye toward the 2022 midterms. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Republicans are trying to figure out just how firm Donald Trump’s grip on their party really is — and debating whether that grip should be stronger or weaker.
"To gain some insight into these matters, Intelligencer turned to our favorite socialist proponent of ruthlessly poll-driven campaigning, David Shor. A veteran of the 2012 Obama campaign, Shor is currently head of data science at OpenLabs, a progressive nonprofit. We spoke with him last week about how his analysis of the 2020 election has changed since November, what Democrats need to do to keep Congress after 2022, and why he thinks the Trump era was great for the Republican Party (in strictly electoral terms)."
"David Shor on Why Trump Was Good for the GOP and How Dems Can Win in 2022." By Eric Levitz, New York Magazine (Intelligencer), March 3, 2021
NEW! [Below] ORGANIZING. "Though Care in Action is not affiliated with Stacey Abrams, who has been widely credited with turning Georgia blue, its work is a direct extension of Democrats’ decade-long effort to reshape the state by organizing voters of color. 'What it takes to win in Georgia is a multiracial coalition,' says Rep. Nikema Williams, who served as Care in Action’s deputy director in 2018 and now holds the US House seat formerly held by Rep. John Lewis. And just as that coalition did not come together overnight, it also drew upon generations of organizing by Black domestic workers." (Care in Action; Ai-jen Poo; National Domestic Workers Alliance; National Domestic Workers Union--NDWU)
"How a Legacy of Organizing Among Domestic Workers Helped Turn Georgia Blue." By Becca Andrews, Mother Jones, March-April 2021 issue
[Below] "Next Tuesday [March 2], the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could shred much of what remains of the right to be free from racial discrimination at the polls. The defendants’ arguments in two consolidated cases, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee, are some of the most aggressive attacks on the right to vote to reach the Supreme Court in the post-Jim Crow era....
"The most important question in the DNC cases isn’t whether these two particular Arizona laws will be upheld or stuck down, but whether the Court will announce a legal rule that guts one of America’s most important civil rights laws. And there is reason to fear that it will. The Supreme Court doesn’t just have a 6-3 Republican majority; it’s a majority that includes several justices who’ve shown a great deal of hostility toward voting rights generally and the Voting Rights Act in particular."
"The Supreme Court is about to hear two cases that could destroy what remains of the Voting Rights Act." By Ian Millhiser, Vox, February 23, 2021
NEW! [Below] MESSAGING. "The evidence shows we all lose when society's overwhelmed by white resentment and win when we organize across our differences."
"Opinion: The Way Out of America's Zero-Sum Thinking on Race and Wealth." By Heather C. McGhee, New York Times, February 13, 2021
[Below] "These data underscore the extent to which black voters are not a monolith and cannot be assumed to belong to the Democrats simply on the basis of racial justice advocacy and rhetoric. In the end, the loyalty of black voters will likely depend on the ability of the Democrats to provide material improvements in their lives, particularly for those in working class and poor communities."
"The Black Vote Was Good But Not Great for the Democrats in 2020." By Ruy Teixeira, The Liberal Patriot, February 12, 2021
NEW! [Below] "It may take 10 years. Do it anyway."
"How to Turn Your Red State Blue." By Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo, New York Times, February 11, 2021
NEW! [Below] "... America has lacked a dominant party since the downfall of the New Deal coalition at the end of the 1960s; the partisan standoff has lasted longer than any such period in history and shows no sign of ending.
"What can Democratic politicians and activists do to gain the upper hand in electoral combat? How might they become, again, a force that can win consistently, govern effectively, and help bring about the more egalitarian and climate-friendly society Biden and Kamala Harris advocated on the virtual campaign trail?
"Like most adherents of left egalitarian politics, I believe the only path to such a future lies in adopting a populist program about jobs, income, health care, and other material necessities, while making a transition to a sustainable economy. And Democrats have to convey their goals in language that a majority of Americans can understand and endorse.
"But any realistic discussion of such a strategy must begin by acknowledging the structural impediments to its success....
"Then there’s the problem of big money...."
"How the Democratic Party Can Create a Majoritarian Coalition." By Michael Kazin, The New Republic, February 11, 2021 (archive copy)
[Below] "Former President Donald Trump has blamed the election results on unfounded claims of fraud and malfeasance. But at the top levels of his campaign, a detailed autopsy report that circulated among his political aides paints a far different — and more critical — portrait of what led to his defeat.
"The post-mortem, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO [see below], says the former president suffered from voter perception that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy and that he was crushed by disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. And while Trump spread baseless accusations of ballot-stuffing in heavily Black cities, the report notes that he was done in by hemorrhaging support from white voters.
"The 27-page report, which was written by Trump chief pollster Tony Fabrizio, shows how Trump advisers were privately reckoning with his loss even as the former president and many of his supporters engaged in a conspiracy theory-fueled effort to overturn the election. The autopsy was completed in December 2020 and distributed to Trump’s top political advisers just before President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration."
"Trump pollster's campaign autopsy paints damning picture of defeat." By Alex Isenstadt, POLITICO, February 1, 2021
[Below] This analysis of exit polls from the 2020 Presidential election, "which was written by Trump chief pollster Tony Fabrizio, shows how Trump advisers were privately reckoning with his loss even as the former president and many of his supporters engaged in a conspiracy theory-fueled effort to overturn the election. The autopsy was completed in December 2020 and distributed to Trump’s top political advisers just before President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration."
"Post Election Exit Poll Analysis, 10 Key Target States." Prepared by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, December 2020 (archived copy)
[Below] LANGUAGE; MESSAGING: — "Seventy-five years later, Orwell’s basic criticisms of political writing remain valid. And the consequences of misused political language for democracy are growing as poor language helps to fuel declining trust, rising polarization, and partisan gridlock. Without agreement on what is going on in the country, or even how to describe it, Americans and their political leaders will face difficulties forging collective action to overcome our biggest challenges, most importantly on the pandemic and economic crisis.
The left and the right in American politics today both have their own problems on this front that fall into three main categories that Orwell might recognize...."
"On the Uses and Abuses of Political Language." By John Halpin, The Liberal Patriot, February 1, 2021
"Politics and the English Language." By George Orwell, April 1946. (Another discussion of this essay is here.)
[Below] "Despite signs of growing support for unions, workers face formidable barriers to organizing and winning improvements in workplace standards, especially in Southern states. In his first days in office, President Biden took a number of steps advocated by union leaders, including personnel changes in key agencies and a handful of pro-labor executive orders.
"But the real test of the new administration's commitment to labor will come on the legislative front, where Democrats have proposed sweeping reforms to the country's labor laws — measures that grassroots activists agree could transform the climate for workers and unions in the South."
"A new day for labor in the South?" By Chris Kromm, Facing South, January 29, 2021 (See also Resources—Progressive Legislation: Labor Unions - H.R.2474 - Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019).
NEW! [Below] "How to make the Senate functional without forcing Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to go back on their word"
"Fine, Keep the Filibuster. Kill the 60-Vote Requirement Instead." By Alex Pareene, The New Republic, January 27, 2021
NEW! [Below] DISINFORMATION, MESSAGING — "...Together, these streams of disinformation have undermined trust in public-serving institutions and even our democracy as a whole.
"Disinformation like this has been effective in part because it preys on the raw emotion of fear. In moments of heightened uncertainty, disinformation offers easy scapegoats and appeals to a primal 'us versus them' mentality. Disinformation also depends on old and often racialized narratives to gain traction in people’s minds and in the public debate. For example, false claims of voter fraud piggyback off of old narratives about government corruption and Black and brown criminality. 'Plandemic' disinformation relies upon anti-Asian and anti-communist narratives. Because of this, we need to combat disinformation not only at the level of social media posts, news articles, and communications platforms, but also at the broader level of narrative strategy."
"Defanging Disinformation: 6 Action Steps Nonprofits Can Take." By Jen Soriano, Hermelinda Cortés, and Joseph Phelan, NPQ (Nonprofit Quarterly), January 26, 2021
NEW! [Below] "There are a few reasons conspiracy theories are so “sticky” once they’re in someone’s head. First, conspiracy theorists are far more likely to have a Manichaean worldview, meaning they interpret everything as a battle between good and evil. That makes it harder for dispassionate evidence-based arguments to break through....
"Second, those who seek to debunk conspiracy theories are precisely the people that true believers distrust. If someone believes the media is controlled by sinister but unseen puppet masters, fact checks from CNN will never convince them they’re wrong....
"Third, these organized mass delusions are designed to resist debunking. When Armageddon fails to materialize on a precise date predicted by a cult leader, believers often chalk it up to miscalculation and simply pick a new date. The same is often true for conspiracy theories....
"But while political science and psychology have effectively demonstrated the cognitive biases that cause such deranged beliefs to stick, there’s a crucial dimension that isn’t getting enough attention. Conspiracy theories, for too many people, are fun. That’s particularly true because groups such as QAnon have developed into robust online communities in which believers forge digital friendships. Our mental image of tinfoil-hat-wearing loners isolated in dark basements is outdated. Modern conspiracy movements such as QAnon, are thriving in church groups and yoga classes. They’re social. And that means that deprogramming is that much harder...."
"Opinion: Why is it so hard to deprogram Trumpian conspiracy theorists?" By Brian Klaas, Washington Post, January 25, 2021
[Below] "After Black voters propelled Joe Biden to the White House, the new president faces the dual challenges of reversing an economic downturn that has devastated communities of color while also addressing decades of racial economic disparity.
"Black Americans want President Biden to narrow systemic racial inequalities that have left them trailing Whites on every economic measure, gaps that are worsening amid the coronavirus recession."
"The Trump economy left Black Americans behind. Here’s how they want Biden to narrow the gaps." By Tracy Jan, Washington Post, January 22, 2021
[Below] "Rural communities provide much of the food and energy that fuel our lives. They are made up of people who, after decades of exploitative resource extraction and neglect, need strong connective infrastructure and opportunities to pursue regional prosperity. A lack of investment in broadband, schools, jobs, sustainable farms, hospitals, roads and even the U.S. Postal Service has increasingly driven rural voters to seek change from national politics. And this sharp hunger for change gave Trump’s promises to disrupt the status quo particular appeal in rural areas.
"Metropolitan stakeholders often complain that the Electoral College and U.S. Senate give less populous states disproportionate power nationally. Yet that power has not steered enough resources, infrastructure investment and jobs to rural America for communities to survive and thrive...."
"5 ways Biden can help rural America thrive and bridge the rural-urban divide." By Ann Eisenberg, Jessica A. Shoemaker, Lisa R. Pruitt, The Conversation, January 21, 2021
[Below] SOCIAL MEDIA — "How Thousands of Americans Were Convinced to Storm the Capitol—and What Comes Next"
"...in the days since [the Capitol insurrection], researchers who study online dynamics and radicalization have been piecing together the chain of events and working to understand how the attack might have been prevented. Echo chambers, networked activism, hyperpartisan media, and peer-to-peer misinformation are not going anywhere. U.S. policymakers and social media companies must therefore seek to comprehend and address the forces at work, particularly those that appear likely to become persistent threats."
"The Insurrection Hiding in Plain Sight." By Renee DiResta and Alex Stamos, Foreign Affairs, January 14, 2021
[Below] SOCIAL MEDIA — How do we know what we "know"? Conventional media at least had editors who we could identify and complain to when they said something questionable. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), by current law, can't be held responsible for what's said by the millions of people using their platforms, and the platforms are interactive—their computer algorithms see what we're reading and direct us to similar material, amplifying what we've read whatever its quality or intent, to keep us "hooked."
"Social media platforms helped radicalize the crowd that stormed the Capitol, banning Trump won't solve the bigger problem."
"Banning Trump isn't Enough." By Dan Pfeiffer, The Message Box, January 10, 2021
[Below] Polling, for all of its shortcomings, may help to describe dominant characteristics of people by their political identity. This can help to guide messaging: "A significant number of Americans believe misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus and the recent presidential election, as well as conspiracy theories like QAnon, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll."
"Even If It's 'Bonkers,' Poll Finds Many Believe QAnon And Other Conspiracy Theories." By Joel Rose, NPR, December 30, 2020
[Below] "It wasn’t because voters were turned off by leftist sloganeering but because Dems failed to inspire their own base—and the data prove it."
"Centrist Dems Are Wrong About November’s Losses." By Steve Phillips, The Nation, December 21, 2020
[Below] The number of Black registered voters in Georgia increased by about 130,000 between Oct. 11, 2016, and Oct. 5, 2020, the largest increase among all major racial and ethnic groups, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Georgia Secretary of State’s Office data.
"Black, Latino and Asian Americans have been key to Georgia’s registered voter growth since 2016." Pew Research Center, December 21, 2020
[Below] Black eligible voters in Georgia have played a significant role in driving the growth of the state’s electorate over the past two decades. Between 2000 and 2019, Georgia’s eligible voter population grew by 1.9 million, with nearly half of this increase attributed to growth in the state’s Black voting population, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new census data.
"Black eligible voters have accounted for nearly half of Georgia electorate’s growth since 2000." Pew Research Center, December 15, 2020
[Below] "For about a decade, voters have been more favorable to Democratic positions on health care, climate, immigration, taxes, and gun safety. Yet, the public support for our policy agenda has not translated into commensurate political support especially in redder states.
"Historically, the Republican Party has been less popular than the Democratic Party - although neither party is adored. But Republicans have generally been more popular than their policies. The Republican policy agenda is incredibly unpopular. Voters oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and allowing corporations to melt the planet and poison people for profit.
"The fact that Democrats are the more party popular and have a more a popular agenda, but struggle to win enough elections to implement that agenda is a source of great frustration.
"Our party is better liked and trusted than the Republicans. We have won the popular vote in seven of the previous eight elections. Yet, our political power comes nowhere near matching our popularity. Why is this? Because our electoral system is inherently biased against Democrats. The Electoral College and Senate give massively disproportionate power to the GOP’s shrinking base of white non-college educated voters....
"Up until the moment the Electoral College is abolished and/or we add a half dozen states to the Union, Democrats will be playing a lot of the game in Republican territory. Therefore, Democratic politicians need to win over more voters that are inherently skeptical of the Democratic Party. We need to improve perceptions of the brand...."
"The Democratic Brand in 2020 and Beyond." By Dan Pfeiffer, The Message Box, December 8, 2020
[Below] The first link below is an overview of the longer article in the second link.
"As Pandemic Soars to Deadly New Heights, 'Conservative Ideology Itself' Blamed for Disastrous US Response." By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, December 3, 2020
"It's Not Just Trump: COVID-19 Is The Test That Conservatism Was Built To Fail." By Michael Linden and Sammi Aibinder, TPM, November 30, 2020
[Below] “The election has shattered the Democratic illusion that demography is destiny. A far-right nativism can appeal to many voters (including those of Hispanic and African-American ethnicity) who were assumed to be part of an emerging left-of-center consensus…. Trump, win or lose, doesn’t merely have a post-November 3 afterlife. As a political force he has never been anything but an afterlife. One of the reasons there cannot be a postmortem on Trumpism is that Trumpism is postmortem.
“Its core appeal is necromantic. It promised to make a buried world rise again: coal mines would reopen in West Virginia, lost car plants would return to Detroit. Good, secure, unionized muscle jobs would come back. The unquestionable privilege of being white and male and native would be restored. Trump did not manage to do any of this, of course. But, in a sense, that very failure keeps the promise pure, unadulterated by the complexities of reality….
“…What Trump stumbled on was that the solution to the [Republican] party’s chronic inability to win a majority of voters in presidential elections was to stop trying and instead to embrace and enforce minority rule. This possibility is built into the American system. The electoral college, the massive imbalance in representation in the Senate, the ability to gerrymander congressional districts, voter suppression, and the politicization of the Supreme Court—these methods for imposing on the majority the will of the minority have always been available. Trump transformed them from tactical tools to permanent, strategic necessities.
“As we are now seeing, the difference for a democracy is existential…. A program of consolidating the means by which a minority can gain and retain power must try to institutionalize itself, to become so embedded that it can withstand the majority’s anger. To do that, it must not merely evade the consequences of losing the popular vote in this or that election. It must, insofar as it can, make those elections irrelevant.
“This is the most important thing to understand about the postmortem Republican Party. The logic is not that a permanently minority party may move toward authoritarianism but that it must. Holding power against the wishes of most citizens is an innately despotic act. From 2016 onward, the GOP has become not so much the RINO Party, Republican in name only. It is the RIP party, repressive in perpetuity. When Trump said on Fox & Friends at the end of March that Democrats want ‘levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,’ he was openly redefining the meaning of the vote. Voting, in this formulation, is something to be ‘agreed to’—or not—by Trump himself. Democracy is no longer rooted in the consent of the governed, but in the contingent permission of the indispensable leader.
“In all the noise of the 2020 election, it was easy to miss the signal that was not being sent. The incumbent president made no effort even to go through the motions of presenting a future open to deliberation by citizens. He had no policy agenda for a second term—the GOP merely readopted its platform from 2016, without even bothering to delete its multiple attacks on ‘the current president.’ Why? Because arguments about policy are the vestiges of a notion that Trump has killed off: the idea that an election is a contest for the support, or at least the consent, of a majority of voters. Such arguments implicitly concede the possibility that there is another, equally legitimate choice. That is precisely what the posthumous Republican Party cannot and does not accept.”
"Democracy's Afterlife: Trump, the GOP, and the rise of zombie politics." By Fintan O'Toole, The New York Review, December 3, 2020 issue
[Below] RURAL AREAS: "I’m the chair of the local Democratic Party in a Wisconsin county that Donald Trump won. It wasn’t for a lack of progressive organizing. It was because national Democrats have failed communities like mine."
Opinion: "Why Democrats Keep Losing Rural Counties Like Mine." By Bill Hogseth, POLITICO, December 1, 2020
[Below] "The 2020 presidential election shows that, more than ever, the Democratic Party has become the party of educated voters. For the next four years, Republicans will play up that divide to expand their own base."
"Why Republicans Want to Make Class, Not Race, the New Political Fault Line." By Ken Stern, Vanity Fair - Hive, November 30, 2020
[Below] "The moderate Republican is a myth. For all the Lincoln Project’s assertions that it would peel away Republican voters, the president actually secured a larger share of the Republican vote than he did in 2016. Some 94% of Republicans looked back on the debacles and racism of the last four years and concluded that they wanted more. This is not a delusion; it is the core of the Republican party. Biden would like to frame his presidency as a return to normality after the Trumpian exception. The reality, however, is that Trump doesn’t represent something new; it emerges from the long shadow that white supremacy cast over American history."
"Why Biden shouldn't extend an olive branch to Republicans." By Joshua Craze and Ainsley LeSure, The Guardian (UK), November 26, 2020
[Below] "Expecting 2008, Democrats got 2016 again, an unnervingly close election that Joe Biden appears to have won by razor-thin margins in a few states....
"...But what happened in the seven major Texas border counties whose population of 2.6 million is 90 per cent Mexican in origin (Tejanos)? The national party has many neglected or abandoned constituencies, including Puerto Rico, Indian Country and Appalachia, but southern Texas has a unique strategic significance.....
"As the fantasy of great gains in Texas dissipated, Democrats were stunned to discover that a high turnout had instead propelled a Trump surge along the border.....
"...As Congressman Filemón Vela (Brownsville) was quoted as saying in the Valley Morning Star, a Harlingen newspaper, 'I think there was no Democratic national organisational effort in South Texas and the results showed. The visits are nice, but without a planned media and grassroots strategy you just can’t sway voters. When you take voters for granted like national Democrats have done in South Texas for forty years, there are consequences to pay.'"
"Rio Grande Valley Republicans." By Mike Davis, London Review of Books, November 19, 2020
NEW! [Below] RELATIONAL ORGANIZING. "The pandemic wrecked traditional campaigning. Relational organizing stands to reinvent it."
"The first thing relational organizing evangelists say is that their approach is nothing new. Word-of-mouth and community-based activism were the backbone of the civil rights, women’s rights, farmworkers’, and labor movements. Political parties once had their own local networking machines, for better or worse, facilitated by free holiday turkeys, reliable snowplowing, and government jobs for somebody’s nephew. But in the second half of the 20th century, just as more Americans gained access to the ballot box, campaigns turned to consumer-based approaches like television advertising, and mass marketing became the primary way politicians reached voters."
"Community-based groups already steeped in organizing have been quicker to use the strategy than candidates have. Political campaigns are often cautious, risk averse, and shaped by what’s worked before. With high stakes and limited resources, innovation is constrained. So while Democratic candidates have taken note of relational organizing, few, including Joe Biden, have fully embraced it. To the dismay of organizers who believe the resources of a presidential campaign could be harnessed to engage Americans on a transformative scale, his campaign’s strategies skew toward the conventional. 'We’re in the fight right now for the soul of our democracy,' says Paschall, 'and more digital ads and more television isn’t the answer.'"
"The Secret to Beating Trump Lies With You and Your Friends." By Pema Levy, Mother Jones, November+December 2020 Issue
[Below] "'The true power and possibility of this project is not onscreen,' explains executive producer Naomi Klein. 'That resides in the movement of movements that is fighting for this vision of radical repair every day.'"
"'Years of Repair': New Animated Film Imagines the Future to Come Inspired by a Vision of Justice and the Common Good." Common Dreams, October 3, 2020
[Below] "Beneath the dreary furor of the partisan wars, most Americans agree on fundamental issues facing the country. Large majorities say that government should ensure some form of universal health care, that it should do more to mitigate global warming, that the rich should pay higher taxes, that racial inequality is a significant problem, that workers should have the right to join unions, that immigrants are a good thing for American life, that the federal government is plagued by corruption. These majorities have remained strong for years. The readiness, the demand for action, is new."
"Make America Again." By George Packer, The Atlantic, October 2020 issue.
[Below] "In his book The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, legal scholar and public policy analyst Ganesh Sitaraman writes the following: 'When it is used today, ‘progressive’ is not usually thought of as describing someone with a coherent worldview or philosophy. Instead, it is generally thought of as a term to describe those who prefer not to be called ‘liberal,’ those who are on the far left side of the political spectrum, or those who are part of a conglomeration of center-left groups in American politics.
"...Sitaraman is telling us the word progressive, which has become virtually ubiquitous in contemporary American political discourse, is effectively meaningless: A word that carries several different and conflicting meanings has, essentially, no real meaning...."
"How to Make Progressivism Mean Something Again: A Message to the American left." By Win McCormack, Res Publica column, The New Republic, October 2020
NEW! [Below] PSYCHOLOGY: Abstract: "Truth is commonly viewed as the first casualty of war. As such the current circulation of fake news, conspiracy theories and other hostile political rumors is not a unique phenomenon but merely another example of how people are motivated to dispend with truth in situations of conflict. In this chapter, we theorize about the potentially evolved roots of this motivation and outline the structure of the underlying psychology. Specifically, we focus on how the occurrence of intergroup conflict throughout human evolutionary history has built psychological motivations into the human mind to spread information that
(a) mobilize the ingroup against the outgroup,
(b) facilitate the coordination of attention within the group and
(c) signal commitment to the group to fellow ingroup members.
In all these instances, we argue, human psychology is designed to select information that accomplishes these goals most efficiently rather than to select information on the basis of its veracity. Accordingly, we hypothesize that humans in specific instances are psychologically prepared to prioritize misinformation over truth."
From the article: "...three ways in which falsehoods can serve adaptive functions. First, the spread of false information can facilitate the coordination of groups because such information more strongly can send the key signal that it is time to "go!". Second, statements containing false, illogical or unlikely representations can serve as enhanced signals of group commitment because such representations can be a signal of awareness of group-specific representations and exclusive commitment to the group. Third, statements containing blatant falsehoods can function as signals of dominance."
"The Evolutionary Psychology of Conflict and the Functions of Falsehood." PsyArXiv Preprints, August 29, 2020