prospect.org — Early last year, when Attorney General Eric Holder took a strong stand against voter-identification laws, he emphasized how much they violate core American ideals. “What we are talking here is a constitutional right,” he said. “This is not a privilege. The right to vote is something that is fundamental to who we are as Americans. We have people who have given their lives—people have sacrificed a great deal in order for people to have the right to vote. It’s what distinguishes the United States from most other countries.” The problem is: Eric Holder is wrong. Unlike citizens in every other advanced democracy—and many other developing ones—Americans don’t have a right to vote. Popular perception notwithstanding, the Constitution provides no explicit guarantee of voting rights.
washingtonpost.com — The growing progressive coalition that helped elect President Obama has emerged at the end of a failed and exhausted conservative era. The media now chronicle the flailings of Republican leaders slowly awakening to the weaknesses of a stale, pale and predominantly male party in today’s America. But the central challenge to this progressive coalition is not dispatching the old but rather defining what comes next. Will it be able to address the central challenge facing America at this time and reclaim the American Dream from an extreme and corrosive economic inequality?
thegrio.com — Let’s make no mistake about it: as the years pass, America is becoming a “browner” nation. With the present discourse over immigration reform, we have an extraordinary opportunity to mix our understanding and appreciation for race, culture and language with public policy. We, the people of America, have been wrestling with our self identity, and will continue to do so in the near future. With Black History Month imminently upon us, we can not only celebrate our history, heritage and culture, but we can also insert ourselves in a critical national debate on how to fix our broken immigration system. Likewise, this immigration debate provides the black community an opportunity to learn more about the stories and challenges of black immigrants who increasingly populate our states as asylees, refugees, legal immigrants, and undocumented persons.
colorlines.com — Yesterday the U.S. Senate set down the path toward the most significant shift in U.S. immigration policy in two generations. It has been more than a quarter century since the last significant immigration legalization passed. So when a bi-partisan group of senators appeared yesterday on a Capitol Hill stage to declare 2013 the year of immigration reform, they restored a vision of a way forward for many. The senators released a document of guiding principles that provides a path to legal residency for many of the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. It also creates avenues for new immigration, while bolstering immigration enforcement at the border and in workplaces. If these principles lead to a bill, as expected, it could transform the social and political fabric of the country. Yet even as senators yesterday offered a genuine reform outline, with striking new areas of consensus, some worry they also wove into the agreement enough loose strings to cause its unraveling.
tomdispatch.com — Compromise, conflict, or collapse: ask an Afghan what to expect in 2014 and you’re likely to get a scenario that falls under one of those three headings. 2014, of course, is the year of the double whammy in Afghanistan: the next presidential election coupled with the departure of most American and other foreign forces. Many Afghans fear a turn for the worse, while others are no less afraid that everything will stay the same. Some even think things will get better when the occupying forces leave. Most predict a more conservative climate, but everyone is quick to say that it’s anybody’s guess. Only one thing is certain in 2014: it will be a year of American military defeat. For years, a modest-sized, generally unpopular, ragtag set of insurgents has fought the planet’s most heavily armed, technologically advanced military to a standstill, leaving the country shaken and its citizens anxiously imagining the outcome of unpalatable scenarios.
ideas.time.com — Last week came news that the share of America’s workforce that’s unionized hit a 97-year low. Most Americans yawned at this news. On one level that’s understandable. After all, most Americans aren’t in a union. It’s a vicious cycle: as unions decline, fewer people see their fates as bound up with unions, which just accelerates the decline. But on another level, America’s non-reaction is striking. We remain in the wake of the Great Recession. Inequality and wealth concentration are at levels not seen since just before the Great Depression. This would seem as ripe a time in modern memory for a revival of organized labor. Instead, a basic assumption now shapes most Americans’ mindset about labor: the belief that the death of unions isn’t my problem because I’m not in a union. That assumption is wrong in two critical ways.
robertreich.org — As President Obama said in his inaugural address last week, America “cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” Yet that continues to be the direction we’re heading in. A newly-released analysis shows that the top 1 percent of earners’ real wages grew 8.2 percent from 2009 to 2011, yet the real annual wages of Americans in the bottom 90 percent have continued to decline in the recovery, eroding by 1.2 percent between 2009 and 2011. But the President is exactly right. Not even the very wealthy can continue to succeed without a broader-based prosperity. That’s because 70 percent of economic activity in America is consumer spending. If the bottom 90 percent of Americans are becoming poorer, they’re less able to spend. Without their spending, the economy can’t get out of first gear.
washingtonpost.com — Republicans shouldn’t worry that President Obama is trying to destroy the GOP. Why would he bother? The party’s leaders are doing a pretty good job of it themselves. As they try to understand why the party lost an election it was confident of winning — and why it keeps losing budget showdowns in Congress — Republican grandees are asking the wrong questions. Predictably, they are also coming up with the wrong answers. They prefer to focus on flawed tactics and ineffectual “messaging” rather than confront the essential problem, which is that voters don’t much care for the policies the GOP espouses.
guardian.co.uk — The news that the UK, with negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2012, faces the prospect of a triple-dip recession, should be the final blow to the intellectual credibility of deficit hawks. You just can't get more wrong than this flat-earth bunch of economic policy-makers. They're pretty much batting zero. They failed to foresee the collapse of housing bubbles in the US and Europe and its consequent downturn. They grossly underestimated its severity after it hit. And their policy prescription of austerity has been shown to be wrong everywhere that applied it: in the US, the eurozone and, especially, the UK. By all rights, these folks should be laughed out of town. They should be retrained for a job more suited to their skill set – preferably, something that doesn't involve numbers, or people.
huffingtonpost.com — Wasn't it fitting that Sarah Palin's exit from Fox News was made official the same week President Obama celebrated his second inauguration? Didn't it just seem apt that the once-future star of Fox News and the Tea Party movement lost her national media platform just days after the president she tried to demonize for four years basked in the glow of his easy reelection victory? Palin's breakup with Fox was expected, but it's still significant. A "milestone," is how former Bush speechwriter David Frum put it. The move represents the end of a brief, ill-conceived era within the conservative media movement, and specifically at Fox, where in the wake of Obama's first White House win Palin, along with preposterous cohort Glenn Beck, was irresponsibly tapped to become a high-priced pundit who trafficked in hate.