Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Darrell Issa's Tight Spot

AP Photo/Nelvin Cepeda, Pool

Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the status of the undocumented produced a united front of Republican support for legalizing those immigrants, but not allowing them to become citizens. Well, an almost united front.

Guns—Not the Mentally Ill—Kill People

Flickr/JenXer

After a year of violent tragedies that culminated with the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, America is finally having a conversation about gun control. For the many who want to decrease access to firearms in the wake of several mass shootings, new laws being proposed around the country to limit and regulate guns and ammunition represent a momentous first step.

Brennan and the Grump Bowl

Get ready: Tomorrow is the second coming of the Super Bowl, at least for Beltway junkies. Everyone who's anyone will be stocking up on wings and six-packs and flipping the channel to C-SPAN to watch the John Brennan hearings, the mid-season peak of Obama's second-term appointment marathon. The reason this is must-see television? Thank Republicans, who have turned a once routine procedure into over-the-top political theater starring Walter Matthau John McCain as the very grumpiest of old men. 

Why Fox Dumped Dick Morris

I suppose I should have weighed in on this already, given that it's been an entire day, but in case you were wondering, here's what I think about Fox News' decision to finally give Dick Morris the boot. Erik Wemple probably spoke for many people when he said, "this is a time to celebrate Fox News. It has seen the lunacy of Dick Morris, and it's taking the appropriate step to inoculate itself against the ravages." This comes fast on the heels of Sarah Palin being shown the door, some post-election house-cleaning that thankfully has left sage contributors like Karl Rove standing.

So what does this show? It doesn't, alas, indicate that real accountability is coming to the pundit industry. I've always thought it's too simplistic to view Fox News as nothing more than a partisan organization, as many people on the left do. Since he started the network in 1996, Roger Ailes' genius has lied in a careful melding of business and ideology, in which neither one ever moves too far ahead of the other and each serves the other's needs. Fox is extremely valuable to the Republican party and the conservative movement, and it's also a huge money-maker for Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. Anyone who appears on the channel has to satisfy both strands of that ideological/financial double helix...

The NRA Is Ruining Its Reputation

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Last month, I noted the extent to which the National Rifle Association was digging a hole for itself by hewing to the most extreme rhetoric in its arsenal. Rather than quietly agree to sensible reforms—like an assault weapon’s ban and universal background checks—the NRA has taken a maximalist position on gun control, pushing the view that safety requires a gun in every home and a holster on every belt.

Debt Reduction Is Hurting the Economy

Wall Street Journal

For left-leaning writers, at least, it’s almost cliché to note the extent to which the press defers to deficit hawks, despite clear evidence that deficits are not a pressing problem for the United States. Even still, it’s worth noting when reporters pass along received wisdom, especially when we have fresh data to show the folly of Washington’s obsession with deficit reduction. To wit, here’s The Wall Street Journal with a piece that just cedes the idea there’s a deficit problem and it requires further “belt tightening” from the federal government:

No More Saturday Mail? Blame Yourself.

Flickr/hajee

Later today, the Postal Service will be releasing a plan intended to deal with its ongoing financial difficulties, the most headline-grabbing part of which is that they want to end Saturday delivery. People will be displeased, no doubt. Who among us doesn't like getting mail on Saturdays? But there may be no way out, because the agency's financial situation is so dire. Why did it come to this? There are three reasons: politicians, technology, and the greedy American public. First, Congress has screwed the Post Office, imposing rules that make it almost impossible to balance its books. Second, the rise of electronic communication has drastically reduced the volume of mail it handles, cutting its revenues. And third, we all expect to get fast, efficient, and universal postal service at absurdly low prices. So if mail delivery ends up being just five days a week, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.

Since I'm guessing you're not particularly inclined to peruse the Postal Service's annual reports yourself, here are some details...

A Shiny New GOP?

(Flickr/republicanconference)

On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor swung by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank, to offer yet another "rebrand" for Republicans—the latest in a string of efforts to reinvent the struggling party. Speaking on the top floor of AEI's office in downtown Washington, D.C., Cantor steered clear of culture-war issues and refrained from talk about lowering taxes, which has become the party’s sole policy prescription over the past several years. His speech—focused on education, workers' woes, and immigration—lacked details behind the broad goals he outlined. But Cantor's vision for the Aggrieved Old Party showed a shift in emphasis, a way forward for a party that has failed to convince voters that they have an economic vision for the middle class.

The Real Debate over Citizenship

Flickr/Aaron Webb

Sometimes we have a national conversation without realizing it. We talk about different aspects of the same larger issue without connecting the dots.

An Addictive, Imperfect House of Cards

AP Photo/Netflix, Melinda Sue Gordon

So help me, I almost gave up on House of Cards. After zipping through the first three or four episodes of Netflix's new 13-part, Americanized remake of the 1990 BBC miniseries about political intrigue, I figured I'd seen enough to cook up a reasonably brainy-sounding takedown, starting with how some of the supposedly sophisticated power plays executed by Kevin Spacey as scheming House Majority Whip Frank Underwood—a Democrat from South Carolina, and how likely is that in 2013?—would have left Machiavelli yawning at their crudeness in eighth grade. The idea that a single planted piece by a junior reporter could instantly vault someone into front-running contention for the job of Secretary of State had me groaning, and so on.

Wonder Warren

AP Photo/Win McNamee

Since the start of the new Congress, liberal Democrats have anxiously awaited senior Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren’s initial moves. Celebrity entrants into the Senate—from Hillary Clinton to Al Franken—have tended to take a modest approach, immersing themselves in committee work and issues of local importance, building relationships with their colleagues, and operating as a “workhorse, not a show horse.” By contrast, Warren said during the campaign that she wanted to use her new position as a platform for her ideas. And one of her first actions suggests she will spend her time as Senator much the way she did as chair of the TARP oversight panel and at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: shedding light on the harm caused by unscrupulous financial interests.

Citizens? They Want to Be Citizens?

Flickr/willpix

 

House Republicans convened their first hearing on immigration reform on Tuesday and made clear that they were scared to death of immigrants actually getting the vote. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia set the tone when he made clear he was looking for a mid-range position somewhere between deporting and granting citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. A nice, safe legal “resident” status, he suggested, never to be upgraded to that of citizen and voter.

Economy to Spending Cuts: Ouch!

If you went perusing big conservative web sites today—National ReviewWeekly Standard, Glenn Beck's "The Blaze"—you would have searched in vain for any mention of the report released today by the Congressional Budget Office, the latest of their periodic assessments of the state of the budget and the economy. That's not because it was full of good news that the Obama administration will cheer. It's because most of what the CBO had to say undermines the arguments Republicans routinely make about these topics.

Voter Turnout in 2012: Meh

Flickr/zzazazz

Thanks to Michael McDonald at George Mason University, we have the final turnout statistics for the 2012 presidential election, and the verdict is ... eh. Not too bad, not too great. A total of 129,058,169 votes were counted, out of an eligible population of 221,925,820, for a turnout figure of 58.2 percent. How does that compare to previous years, you ask? Or rather, can you show me a chart comparing that to previous years? Why yes. Yes I can.

The Virginia GOP Just Made Voting More Difficult for Poor People

New York State Government

Virginia doesn’t make it easy to vote, and this afternoon, the state lawmakers have tightened requirements, passing a voter-identification bill that would eliminate several forms of ID currently accepted at the polls:

Senate Bill 719, sponsored by Sen. Richard H. Black, R-Loudoun, would not go into effect until 2014 and stipulates a voter education component – the result of a Democratic amendment the chamber adopted Monday, also thanks to Bolling’s tie-breaking vote.

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