People who follow politics often reach the conclusion that average Americans are kind of dopey and don't really understand what's going on. After all, they often hold contradictory views and vote against their self-interest.
thenation.com — In early April, an anti-immigrant bill like those that swept through legislatures in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina was stopped cold in Mississippi. That wasn't supposed to happen. Tea Party Republicans were confident they'd roll over any opposition. They'd brought in Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who co-authored Arizona's SB 1070. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had its agents on the scene. Their timing seemed unbeatable. Yet the seemingly inevitable didn't happen. Instead, from the opening of the legislative session just after New Years, the state's Legislative Black Caucus fought a dogged rearguard war in the House. Over the last decade the caucus acquired a hard-won expertise on immigration, defeating over two hundred anti-immigrant measures. After New Year's, though, they lost the crucial committee chairmanships that made it possible for them to kill those earlier bills. But they did not lose their voice.
By Scott Keyes and Ian Millhiser and Tobin Van Ostern and Abraham White
April 8th, 2012
alternet.org — The right to vote is under attack all across our country. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates new barriers for those registering to vote, shortens the early voting period, imposes new requirements for already-registered voters, and rigs the Electoral College in select states. Conservatives fabricate reasons to enact these laws — voter fraud is exceedingly rare — in their efforts to disenfranchise as many potential voters among certain groups, such as college students, low-income voters, and minorities, as possible. Rather than modernizing our democracy to ensure that all citizens have access to the ballot box, these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow laws enacted in the South to disenfranchise blacks after Reconstruction in the late 1800s. Talk about turning back the clock!
thenation.com — Conservatives love to rail against “big government.” But the surge of cynicism engulfing the nation isn’t about government’s size. It flows from a growing perception that government doesn’t work for average people but for big business, Wall Street and the very rich—who, in effect, have bought it. In a recent Pew poll, 77 percent of respondents said too much power is in the hands of a few rich people and corporations. Not a day goes by without Republicans decrying the budget deficit. But its biggest driver is Big Money’s corruption of Washington. “Big government” isn’t the problem. The problem is the Big Money that’s taking over government. Government is doing fewer of the things most of us want it to do — providing good public schools and affordable access to college, improving infrastructure, maintaining safety nets and protecting the public from dangers — and more of the things big corporations, Wall Street and wealthy plutocrats want it to do.
https: — Sometimes in a dumbfounded moment the only response to the news is to rub your eyes in disbelief. Both of mine are quite irritated today at the audacity of corporate broadcasters as reported in a story online at The Washington Post. The headline sums it up: “Broadcasters Fight Plan to Post Names of Political Ad Buyers on Web.” That’s right: The mega-media giants CBS and News Corp. (Rupert Murdoch’s minions), enriched beyond the imagination of Midas by money pouring into their local stations from political advertising in an election year, are stamping their feet like spoiled children and shouting: “No! We will not!” They are defying the Federal Communication Commission’s request that they post on the Web the names of billionaires and front organizations — many of them super PACs — paying for those ads. That’s all: Give citizens access online to find out who’s buying our elections.
propublica.org — The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the way for unlimited corporate spending on politics and has led to the proliferation of nonprofit political groups that do not have to disclose the identities of their donors. But corporations may be getting another benefit from anonymous donations to these groups: a break on their taxes. It all starts with the so-called social welfare groups that have become bigger players in the political world in the wake of Citizens United, which knocked down restrictions on campaign activity by such groups. Tax experts say it's possible that businesses are using an aggressive interpretation of the law to wring a tax advantage out of their donations to these groups.
On Tuesday House Republicans, led by Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, will unveil a suicide pact in the form of a new budget that ignores the clear views of the majority of Americans – and which, if they embrace it almost unanimously, as they did last year’s similar Ryan Budget, will put a gun to the head of Republican attempts to keep control of the House – and then pull the trigger. more »
The fight to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and to undo its effects on our democracy is now being ratcheted up as a spectrum of progressive organizations are cooperating on multiple fronts. more »
baselinescenario.com — A dispute has broken out between the Cato Institute, a leading libertarian think tank, and two of its longtime backers – David and Charles Koch. The institute is not the usual form of nonprofit but actually a company with shares; the Koch brothers own two of the four shares and are arguing that they have the right to acquire additional shares and thus presumably exert more control. The institute and some of its senior staff are pushing back. According to Edward H. Crane, the president and co-founder of Cato, “This is an effort by the Kochs to turn the Cato Institute into some sort of auxiliary for the G.O.P.” Bob Levy, chairman of the Cato board, told The Washington Post: “We would take closer marching orders. That’s totally contrary to what we perceive the function of Cato be.” Far from being just an unseemly row between prominent personalities on the right, this showdown reflects a much deeper set of concerns for American politics and society.