Archive

  • Why Netroots Nation Was Exactly the Right Place for a #BlackLivesMatter Protest

    (Photo: AP/Ross D. Franklin)
    (Photo: AP/Ross D. Franklin) Black Lives Matter and Black Immigration Network activists shout down Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders during the presidential candidates' forum at Netroots Nation on Saturday, July 18. W hen protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement disrupted the presidential candidates’ forum at an annual gathering of progressives from both grassroots movements and the professional left, a predictable response was heard from many white liberals and progressives: Why are you picking on us? We’re your allies! If movement needed any more fuel, it was granted as much by the mysterious death, just days before, of Sandra Bland, which occurred while she was in custody of the sheriff of Waller County, Texas. Her arrest seems to have been prompted by her defiance of a state trooper’s order to put out her cigarette after he pulled her car over for Bland’s alleged failure to use her directional signal while changing lanes. The trooper’s dash-cam video shows the officer...
  • Why Liberals Have to Be Radicals

    (Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
    (Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall) Democratic presidential candidates stand on stage during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner on July 17 in Cedar Rapids. From left, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Hillary Clinton, and Lincoln Chafee. J ust about nothing being proposed in mainstream politics is radical enough to fix what ails the economy. Consider everything that is destroying the life chances of ordinary people: Young adults are staggered by $1.3 trillion in student debt. Yet even those with college degrees are losing ground in terms of incomes. The economy of regular payroll jobs and career paths has given way to a gig economy of short-term employment that will soon hit four workers in 10. The income distribution has become so extreme, with the one percent capturing such a large share of the pie, that even a $15/hour national minimum wage would not be sufficient to restore anything like the more equal economy of three decades ago. Even the mainstream press acknowledges...
  • The Real Debt Problem

    (Photo: AP/Rex Features)
    (Photo: AP/Rex Features) Demonstrators protest the recent deal imposed on Greece by the European Union outside the German Embassy in London. Note: This is adapted from the new preface to the just-published paperback edition of Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility . (Vintage) I n the era when it was common to throw people in jail as a punishment for debts they could not pay, the result was perverse for both debtor and creditor. The debtor’s economic life ended—in prison there was no way the inmate could earn money to repay debt; thus there was no way the creditor could be made whole. The invention of bankruptcy in 1706 during the reign of Queen Anne of England offered an ingenious solution. A magistrate would evaluate the assets of the bankrupt party; creditors would be repaid at so many pence on the pound; the debt would be considered discharged and the debtor could get on with his life. This was the origin of the modern Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in which a...
  • If the Pope Wanted to Help the Poor, He’d Be a Feminist

    (Photo: Alfred Borba)
    (Photo: Alfredo Borba) Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square B y all accounts, Pope Francis can claim his recent tour of South America as a great success. News reports were largely fawning, and the throngs who greeted him came away feeling that he heard their plight, addressed in his message decrying the ravages of capitalism . Likewise, environmentalists of all (and no) religious convictions are enthralled by the pontiff’s evangelism on the topic of climate change , a development destined to irritate right-wing Catholics in the United States, who take with theological certainty the lies advanced by the mouthpieces of the fossil-fuel industries—those laughable claims that the warming of the earth, and all of the disruption that comes with it, have little or nothing to do with the effects of carbon emissions. But as the pope’s messages on climate and capitalism enchant progressive types, their enthusiasm for the man in white poses a harsh danger to progress for women, and to economic...
  • Andrew Jackson's Dark Legacy Belongs to All of Us -- Democrat and Republican Alike

    (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
    (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) D uring the height of the 2008 presidential campaign, I paid a visit to what was then an annual gathering of the Conservative Caucus, a right-wing group founded by the late Howard Phillips, who also helped found the religious right. Unlike his compatriots among the religious right’s founding fathers, Phillips, a large man with the voice of a radio actor, relished the use of extreme language to characterize his perceived enemies: Gays were “sodomites” and “perverts”; Planned Parenthood was “Murder Incorporated.” He also cozied up in public to neo-militia groups such as Missionaries to the Pre-Born. In a small meeting room at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, the Conservative Caucus convened for its yearly Constitution Day awards event, a notably low-budget affair with nothing on the menu but hotel-supplied hard candies and pitchers of water—and vitriol, no small measure of it trained on the surging Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama. Receiving the...
  • Women as the Loyal Opposition

    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senator Elizabeth Warren, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Senator John Kerry's nomination to be secretary of state on January 24, 2014. A version of this article first appeared at The Huffington Post . L ong ago, when I began writing newspaper columns, a wise editor advised me that a column is about one thing. I am about to violate that rule. This piece is about three different things (which are connected if you look hard). One is a 25th anniversary; the second is some Mother's Day musings; the third is the latest in a string of losses for the left, namely the trouncing of the British Labour Party in Thursday's election. Let me explain. In 1990, Robert Reich, Paul Starr and I founded a new progressive magazine, The American Prospect , to try to breathe some intellectual spirit and political backbone into American liberalism. At the time, liberals were getting whacked both by...
  • Should We Relitigate the Iraq War in the 2016 Campaign? You Bet We Should

    (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images News)
    View image | gettyimages.com I f all goes well, in the 2016 campaign we'll be rehashing the arguments we had about the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003. You may be thinking, "Jeez, do we really have to go through that again?" But we do—in fact, we must. If we're going to make sense of where the next president is going to take the United States on foreign policy, there are few more important discussions to have. On Sunday, Fox News posted an excerpt of an interview Megyn Kelly did with Jeb Bush in which she asked him whether he too would have invaded Iraq, and here's how that went : Kelly : Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? Bush : I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. Kelly : You don't think it was a mistake? Bush : In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty. And in...
  • Some More Radical Ideas for Hillary Clinton

    (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
    (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during the sixth annual Women in the World Summit, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in New York. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . I am going to periodically suggest ideas that Hillary Clinton might consider—both to establish that she is a real-deal progressive and to rally political support from voters whom the economy is leaving behind. Clinton might even outflank some leading progressives by going beyond what is considered politically safe in the current environment. Another name for that is leadership. So if Hillary wants to show that she's a fighter, let her pick some good fights. Control Drug Costs. On Thursday, Medicare released a detailed breakdown of the staggering costs paid for drugs prescribed under Medicare Part D. That's the privatized prescription drug insurance program sponsored by the Bush administration in 2003 as a gift to the drug and insurance industries, taking advantage of Medicare's good...
  • Drafting the Script of Campaigns: Reporters Define Candidates' Flaws, Real or Imagined

    (Rex Features via AP Images)
    W hich of Hillary Clinton's character flaws do you find most troubling? If you're a Republican, you may not have quite decided yet, since there are any number of things about her you can't stand. But if you're hoping to defeat her, you'd do well to home in on whatever journalists think might be her primary character flaw, because that's what will shape of much of their coverage between now and next November. The determination of that central flaw for each of the presidential candidate will soon become one of reporters' key tasks as they construct the frames that are going to guide their coverage of the race. And the idea that Clinton can't be trusted is an early contender for her central defect, the one journalists will contemplate, discuss, explore, and most importantly, use to decide what is important and irrelevant when reporting on her. Take a look at the lead of this article by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post , titled " For Hillary Clinton, a trust deficit to dismount ":
  • A Test for Hillary Clinton: Obama's Trade Deals

    (White House photo/ Public Domain via Flickr)
    (Official White House Photo via Flickr) President Barack Obama delivers remarks with then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (left) at the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue reception at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 2010. O pposition to the Obama administration's proposed major trade deals is getting firmer among Democrats in Congress. Both chambers must approve trade promotion authority, better known as fast-track, in order for the deals to move forward. One Democrat who has avoided taking a position is Hillary Clinton. In the past, she has supported deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but lately she has tried to give herself some wiggle room without opposing fast-track, saying last Tuesday that any agreement has to create jobs, as well as increase prosperity, and improve security. That's pretty amorphous. Clinton, of course, does not get to vote on the measure because she is no longer a senator. But pressure is increasing from...

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