fresh voices from the front lines of change








Steven Rosenfeld

Wisconsin's Voter Purge Is Coming To Your State

Wisconsin has become early 2020’s Exhibit A for political fights surrounding the updating of statewide voter lists, where escalating court battles over conflicting law, procedures and underlying data could lead to removing thousands of legal but infrequent voters. The fray’s epicenter is a series of rulings by a county judge against Wisconsin’s bipartisan but deadlocked state election board, which has refused to immediately delete 209,000 voter registrations in a swing state with 3.3 million voters. The conflict may preview legal battles coming to other states. California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia have all received letters from Judicial Watch, a right-wing group, threatening to file suits like the complaint from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC). WILL’s lawsuit, where two of its three plaintiffs are donors to state Republican campaigns, seeks the immediate removal of 209,000 infrequent voters who were flagged for the WEC by an interstate data consortium run by top election officials. But Wisconsin is not the only state wrestling with voter analytics. In Georgia, the process used last fall to remove 300,000-plus old registrations (out of 7.4 million statewide) led to 22,000 voters being reinstated in December. Thus, in early 2020, there is an emerging trend of the potential disqualification of thousands of infrequent voters in swing states. While partisan claims surrounding these developments often dominate their news coverage, this trend is driven by a confluence of conflicting laws, regulatory precedents and imperfect voter data.

Trump's Mishandling Of Coronavirus Crisis Deepens

Trump seeks a 'miracle' as virus fears mount. CNN: "President Donald Trump is hoping for a "miracle" that will make the coronavirus disappear but tanking stock markets and signs the disease is stalking America are delivering their verdict on his scattershot management of the crisis. A historic Wall Street sell off, the first case on US soil that could not be traced to travel to countries battling the virus, and news of drug shortages outpaced White House efforts to show everything was under control. 'It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear,' Trump said at the White House Thursday as the virus marched across Asia and Europe after US officials said the US should brace for severe disruption to everyday life. The President also warned that things could 'get worse before it gets better,' but he added it could 'maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows.' The President's comments, which seemed divorced from the gravity of the situation, followed CNN reporting that raised new questions about Trump's capacity to handle the crisis.

The Right's War On The Judiciary

If we don’t reform the Supreme Court, nothing else will matter. The Nation: "ot a single significant policy or initiative proposed by the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination is likely to survive a Supreme Court review. Nothing on guns, nothing on climate, nothing on health care—nothing survives the conservative majority on today’s court. Democrats can win the White House with a huge popular mandate, take back the Senate, and nuke the filibuster, but Chief Justice John Roberts and his four associates will still be waiting for them. If the Democratic candidates are serious about advancing their agenda—be it a progressive agenda or a center-left agenda or a billionaire’s agenda—then they have to be serious about undertaking major, structural Supreme Court reform. That reform is not airy wish-casting by a hard left dreaming of revolution. It is the practical first step toward getting any meaningful Democratic policies through all three branches of government. Either court reform happens or nothing happens. People who focus only on Congress or the presidency are like people who plan a road trip thinking only about their eventual destination. They forget that without gas, nobody is going anywhere. Court reform can take a variety of forms, some blunt and partisan, others intricate and geared toward balance. But at its core, Supreme Court reform involves shaking up the configuration of the court. And at its core, it is constitutional. That’s because the Constitution provides Congress with wide latitude in structuring the court."

How Trump's SCOTUS Wants To Remake America

How will Trump’s Supreme Court remake America? NYT: "The line between law and politics has always been blurry, and judges have often professed to sharpen it. Claims of unblinking fidelity to the text have increasingly become the crowning orthodoxy on the right in recent decades. Now Gorsuch and his conservative colleagues have a chance to harness that energy to transform the law. “The Trump vision of the judiciary can be summed up in two words: ‘originalism’ and ‘textualism,.” Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, who was instrumental in Gorsuch’s and Kavanaugh’s appointments, said in 2017 at an event for the Federalist Society, a group that has been a juggernaut for propelling the courts to the right. Placing judges on the courts is “the most important thing we’ve done for the country,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said last spring. He earlier promised that Trump judges (192 and counting) will “interpret the plain meaning of our laws and our Constitution according to how they are written.” Since the 1960s, conservatives have often derided liberal judges as “activists” who bend the law to make big changes. And until his departure in 2018, Justice Kennedy held the Supreme Court’s swing vote and (like Sandra Day O’Connor before him) restrained his fellow conservatives by forging a kind of national compromise on abortion rights, marriage equality, gun laws, the regulatory powers of federal agencies and the scope of the death penalty. But now Gorsuch, along with Thomas and Alito, has become “the leading edge of a second generation of conservatives who are not afraid of exercising judicial authority” — in other words, making decisions that can significantly change the law."

The True Cost Of Underfunding Schools

Don't blame teachers for selling their lesson plans. Blame the system that makes it necessary. EdWeek: "When I was hired to be a 1st grade teacher, I was given absolutely no curriculum for reading or science. While my school did have a math curriculum, it was out of date from the brand new, controversial Common Core State Standards and did not match our assessments. This often led me to Teachers Pay Teachers, a website where you can buy lessons made for current standards, created by current teachers. However, there is a growing number of disdainful educators who are downright angry that teachers are daring to sell their materials on TPT. It also makes me pause that many of those behind this "movement" on Twitter have sold millions of dollars worth of books on education. Their message seems to be: Publish a book full of strategies and ideas about education and profit off of it for years? No problem! Sell your lessons, decor, posters, or ideas? How dare you! The real problem here isn't that teachers have made their own lessons and sold them. Teachers have been publishing their ideas and worksheets since there have been teachers. No, the real problem here is that so many teachers aren't given what they need in order to do their job—for kids—that they have to pay other teachers to get what they need. The lack of funding in our schools is shocking, and it's no surprise that schools can't afford up-to-date curriculum when many can't even afford basic furniture or actual teachers. Why are we angry with the teachers who are selling what they made in order to benefit others, make money, and, yes, help kids? Those teachers created resources because they didn't have what they needed, and saving me the time and effort of creating it myself is worth a few dollars to me."

Trump Can Beat Bernie: Here's The Math

Bernie Sanders can beat Trump. Here’s the math. NYT: "Whatever you think about Bernie Sanders as a potential president, it is wrong to dismiss his chances of winning the office. Not only does most of the available empirical evidence show Mr. Sanders defeating President Trump in the national popular vote and in the critical Midwestern states that tipped the Electoral College in 2016, but his specific electoral strengths align with changes in the composition of the country’s population in ways that could actually make him a formidable foe for the president. Almost all of the current polling data shows Mr. Sanders winning the national popular vote. In the most recent national polls testing Democratic candidates against Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders beat him in every single one. The empirical evidence shows that there is no need for alarm about Mr. Sanders being the Democratic nominee, and even some cause for confidence. If you want to engage in theoretical thought experiments, a useful exercise would be to ask how many people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 would switch their votes to back Mr. Trump just because Mr. Sanders was the nominee? Common sense suggests that the answer is infinitesimally small. If that is the case, then Mr. Sanders would win the popular vote. As for the roughly 78,000 votes in three states that flipped the Electoral College, the particular strengths that Mr. Sanders brings to the contest strongly suggest that he could close that gap and make the leap into the Oval Office."

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