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America's last political taboo

We were left wondering why a man who served 16 terms in Congress and who bravely came out as gay all the way back in 1987 felt the need to hide his atheism until he was out of office. Was it really harder to come out as an atheist politician in 2013 than as a gay one 25 years ago? Incredibly, the answer might be yes. For starters, consider that there is not a single self-described atheist in Congress today. Not one.
posted by Chrysostom on Dec 10, 2013 - 165 comments

501(c)(3) "charities" at work

State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax. The policy goals are contained in a set of funding proposals obtained by the Guardian. The proposals were co-ordinated by the State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at state level.
posted by T.D. Strange on Dec 5, 2013 - 163 comments

"Doing the 'hezza', which is believed to be slang for heroine"

In case you were starting to miss the daily insanity that is Rob Ford, Toronto's admitted crack-smoking, tax-cutting, drunken stupor of a Mayor, your wait is over. Newly-unredacted wiretaps from the police investigation into attempts to retrieve the infamous video of Rob Ford smocking crack, calling his football team "a bunch of fucking minorities", and Justin Trudeau a "fa**ot", have re-ignited the inquiry into the Mayor's actions. [more inside]
posted by dry white toast on Dec 4, 2013 - 147 comments

The achilles heel of the Occupy movement: Special Snowflake-ness?

RAWStory.com reports on a study published by Psychology Today that claims the reason the OWS movement has not gained more traction within the Democratic Party (as compared to the rapid growth of the Tea Party on the other side) is that liberally-minded people see themselves more as a unique collection of beliefs that happen to be joining with other individuals, where conservatives see themselves more as part of a homogenous group of people with similar beliefs.
posted by softlord on Dec 3, 2013 - 70 comments

Indirect fusion's nothing less than HiiiPoWeR

Installed solar capacity is growing by leaps and bounds, led by Walmart and Apple, and helped by bonds backed by solar power payments,[*] which have sent industry stocks soaring, even as molten salt and new battery technologies come on line to generate storage for use when the sun doesn't shine. Of course we could always go to geostationary orbit -- or the moon -- as well we may (if politics allow it) as thirst from the developing world grows beyond the earth's carrying capacity. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 30, 2013 - 41 comments

Thankfully, the Constitution says you only have to do this once a year.

It's time for Americans to gather around the dinner table, eat too much, and argue about politics! A new genre of Thanksgiving-themed web pages seems to be taking off this year, that being the "How to argue with your [opposite political party] family members at Thanksgiving" genre. From the left side of the political spectrum, the Democratic National Committee has launched "The Democrat's Guide to Talking Politics with Your Republican Uncle", and The Huffington Post chimed in with "Here's Every Argument You'll Need To Win Your Obamacare Debate This Thanksgiving". Not to be outdone, conservatives have responded with cheat sheets of their own, including RedState.com's "Thanksgiving dinner with your liberal relatives" and The Washington Examiner's "The Thanksgiving guide to making conservative arguments liberals can understand". [more inside]
posted by tonycpsu on Nov 28, 2013 - 126 comments

"Our problem is civil obedience."

Matt Damon reads from Howard Zinn's 1970 speech "The Problem is Civil Obedience" (via) [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Nov 24, 2013 - 41 comments

Instant Potemkin village

Suzdal awaited the Emperor's arrival... So the ancient Russian town had to acquire a duly imperial lustre, somehow, anyhow. [more inside]
posted by hat_eater on Nov 22, 2013 - 6 comments

Look at that guy with the typewriter on the Eagles' bench!

The NFL's Modern Man: How Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin — a bike-riding, socially conscious, Animal Collective–loving hipster — is redefining what it means to be a football player.
posted by Drinky Die on Nov 20, 2013 - 52 comments

The Meltdown

Peter Hartcher, political editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, tells the story of the self-immolation of the Australian Labor party and the political destruction of two prime ministers, in a five part series: Meltdown. [more inside]
posted by kithrater on Nov 20, 2013 - 11 comments

25 years later, the Cabinet on abortion

The Canadian Press has released minutes from the Cabinet's discussions of abortion. The conversations began after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unconstitutional the restrictions on abortion (wiki). [more inside]
posted by Lemurrhea on Nov 18, 2013 - 21 comments

Economist warns of the coming robot apocalypse

The robots are here. George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen predicts that the trend towards automation will squeeze the middle class further still, and compares its effects on American politics to a too-overlooked 1955 short story by Isaac Asimov.
posted by Jacob Knitig on Nov 14, 2013 - 81 comments

"I am not a prop. I am part of the new generation of suffragettes."

Madison Kimrey is a rather exceptional 12-year-old girl whose speech protesting North Carolina's removal of a voting preregistration program for 16-and-17-year-olds has been making the rounds lately, thanks to Kimrey's intelligence and astonishing eloquence. Her blog, Functional Human Being, is similarly an engaging read, whether she's writing about Miley Cyrus, Daisy Coleman, or supporting the saner elements of the Republican party.
posted by Rory Marinich on Nov 12, 2013 - 35 comments

Hey, let's make our best salesman the regional manager.

The Myth of the Visionary Leader. "But just knowing that great leadership is not always going to look great, or even make us feel inspired, could help gird us against the power of big personality and encourage us to make more sober choices."
posted by Sticherbeast on Nov 11, 2013 - 40 comments

"...research that is scientifically valuable but morally disturbing."

The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
posted by zarq on Nov 6, 2013 - 28 comments

What worked well 224 years ago is no longer the best we can do.

According to researchers who analyzed all 729 constitutions adopted between 1946 and 2006, the U.S. Constitution is rarely used as a model. What's more, "the American example is being rejected to an even greater extent by America's allies than by the global community at large"...

"There are about 30 countries, mostly in Latin America, that have adopted American-style systems. All of them, without exception, have succumbed to...constitutional crisis[es]—your full range of political violence, revolution, coup, and worse. But well short of war, you can end up in a state of "crisis governance," he writes. "President and house may merely indulge a taste for endless backbiting, mutual recrimination, and partisan deadlock. Worse yet, the contending powers may use the constitutional tools at their disposal to make life miserable for each other: The house will harass the executive, and the president will engage in unilateral action whenever he can get away with it." [Juan Linz] wrote that almost a decade and a half ago, long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama, let alone the Tea Party.
The Atlantic's Alex Seitz-Wald makes a case against the U.S. Constitution: The U.S. Needs a New Constitution—Here's How to Write It.
posted by zardoz on Nov 5, 2013 - 78 comments

Social Network Analysis Collaboration Knowledge Service (or, SNACKS)

No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A.
posted by crossoverman on Nov 3, 2013 - 38 comments

Words are weapons

"Unspeak is language that deliberately loads the dice. War on Terror. Weapons of mass destruction. Climate change. Failed asylum seekers. File sharing. Austerity measures. Oil spill. Erectile dysfunction. Once we tune in to unspeak we start seeing and hearing it everywhere" -- UK journalist Steve Poole's book Unspeak has been turned into a six part interactive documentary series by Dutch new media group Submarine Channel, narrated by Poole himself. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 31, 2013 - 37 comments

We draw a thick line on what has happened in the past.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki has died. The first prime minister after the fall of communist regime in Poland was later an UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Bosnia and resigned this post in protest over the failure of international community to prevent the Srebrenica massacre. [more inside]
posted by hat_eater on Oct 28, 2013 - 6 comments

There's plenty of blue chip hill rats 'round here ready to jump ship

The unexpected death of U.S. Representative Edgar Englewright (VA-14) launches the beginning of a whirlwind morning for Chief of Staff, Elliott Clarice, and his happy band of misfits. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 28, 2013 - 6 comments

Ownership in Britain is broken

After a trade dispute, Grangemouth plant will remain open. Just another case of a greedy union almost driving a company out of business? Perhaps not. Robin McAlpine argues that this case underlines the broken nature of British industry and its relationship with the unions, as well as the media's ability to report on stories outside of London
posted by Cannon Fodder on Oct 25, 2013 - 6 comments

Countries within Nations

Chinese Provinces and Indian States : "local leaders are increasingly running much of India and China, which are home to a third of all humanity, from the bottom up. That is affecting how both countries act in the world, which means that these countries need to be understood from the inside out"
posted by Gyan on Oct 25, 2013 - 5 comments

Love Him, Hate His Politics

Jeanne Safer writes about being "married to [Richard Brookhiser] with whom I violently disagree on every conceivable political issue, including abortion, gun control, and assisted suicide. I thought the recent government shutdown was absurd, infantile, and destructive; he was a fan. And not only is he a conservative Republican, he’s a professional conservative Republican, a Senior Editor of National Review, the leading journal of conservative opinion in the country."
posted by Jahaza on Oct 23, 2013 - 380 comments

The New York Review of Books turns 50

In February 1963, a new publication took advantage of the New York City printers strike and launched with a daring editorial: It does not, however, seek merely to fill the gap created by the printers’ strike in New York City but to take the opportunity which the strike has presented to publish the sort of literary journal which the editors and contributors feel is needed in America. The New York Review of Books is now 50. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Oct 21, 2013 - 7 comments

Steve Buscemi

"so many working-class people across the country vote against their own interests. It all comes down to culture wars: the right has always been able to use abortion and gay marriage, and in the past women's rights, but all those things are starting to erode. There really isn't much they can throw up as a smokescreen any more." " interviews, he says in his quick, metallic, slightly strangulated way, "aren't my favourite thing to do". But, he does a pretty good job with this one...
posted by HuronBob on Oct 20, 2013 - 75 comments

I didn't get your vote but I hope through my work to earn your respect

In a special election to fill the seat of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (Booker previously on the Metafilter) has defeated Tea Party favorite Steve Lonegan. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Oct 17, 2013 - 154 comments

Nightmare in Maryville

Nightmare in Maryville - The Kansas City Star investigates the backlash against the victims family after rape charges were brought (and dropped) against local atheletes. The pattern of victim blaming and local indiference have brought comparisons to the Steubenville, Ohio case (previously) and anger on the internet.  Meanwhile the Grand Jury investigation into Steubenville has brought it's first charges against an adult involved with the cover-up.
posted by Artw on Oct 15, 2013 - 168 comments

"Pedantic moralizing won’t mobilize Americans."

Outrage: "The world gives us no shortage of things to be outraged about, and in the right context outrage can be politically useful as well as morally appropriate. But outrage can also be reactive and unreasoned, and too often it leads us astray. It is understandable that the left, in its prolonged weakness, has come to rely on such defensive rhetoric. Over the past four decades, as unions were busted, wealth redistributed upwards, and Iraq invaded—all with electoral sanction—the American left has had little to enjoy besides the sense of righteous camaraderie which outrage can provide. But if the left has any ambitions for the twenty-first century—if it hopes to bring about good, not just decry evil—it must kick its outrage habit."
posted by anotherpanacea on Oct 14, 2013 - 86 comments

The Ultimate (Frisbee) Argument For Visiting Healthcare.gov

John Hodgman posted about the ACA, which led his followers to tweet him about the various health problems they had encountered and the effect insurance or a lack thereof had to their lives. Hodgman retweeted many of the stories from people in their 20's and then posted 17 reasons for young people to get insured to his blog.
posted by reenum on Oct 9, 2013 - 189 comments

Even a rising tide can't raise a sinking ship...

With the government shutdown now well underway and the effects beginning to be felt, the first debt default by a major world power in modern history since the collapse of the Soviet Union speeding toward us in what could be as little as a week, what will Americans and the world think of the US Congress that refused to pay the nation's outstanding debts, making America look like a dead-beat nation to potential investors around the world? Polls show Americans overwhelmingly blame congressional Republicans for the political standoff and shutdown. With some Republican congressmen on the record arguing that a US debt default may actually be necessary to rein in further government spending, it's easy to see why many Americans blame them. [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on Oct 9, 2013 - 2833 comments

McCutcheon v. FEC

Supreme Court to consider lifting campaign contribution limits. Reversing McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission would allow unlimited individual campaign contributions.
posted by kliuless on Oct 7, 2013 - 101 comments

"October is a fine and dangerous season in America"

Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 1, 2013 - 2207 comments

Leave Putin Alone, Says Chief Henchman

"Putin has long kept a veil of secrecy over his personal life. Thus, he startled the world with an abrupt announcement on state television in June that he was divorcing his wife, Lyudmila, after 29 years of marriage. The news revived long-running speculation that the 60-year-old president was seeing another woman, possibly the 30-year-old Kabaeva, a State Duma deputy with United Russia and one of the most decorated gymnasts in the history of rhythmic gymnastics."
posted by rhombus on Sep 30, 2013 - 42 comments

Data You Can Believe In

The data analysis group that used Facebook and set top TV data to help Barack Obama win the latest election is taking its talents to the private sector. (SL NYTimes)
posted by reenum on Sep 30, 2013 - 16 comments

Golden Dawn declared a criminal organisation

Earlier today, the leader of Golden Dawn and three deputies were arrested (BBC, Guardian, NYT) after the neonazi party was declared a criminal organisation. Two more deputies are wanted. The criminal investigation started after the murder of a 34-year-old rapper Pavlos Fyssas that sparked waves of protests and a police shakeup as the ties between Golden Dawn and the police are under investigation. Supporters of the neonazi party knifed a woman (video interview) the day after the murder of Fyssas and have caused violence against immigrants to skyrocket. The police connects Golden Dawn to 30 such attacks. This map of attacks on migrants provides more details about separate incidents. Previously: 1 2 3.
posted by ersatz on Sep 28, 2013 - 55 comments

Game behind gamed: your narrative programming for the day

How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio[1] actually makes a case against austerity[2] and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 25, 2013 - 28 comments

A Thousand Years In 3 Minutes

Watch the political borders of Europe shift, expand, and disappear from 1000 AD to today (via)
posted by The Whelk on Sep 23, 2013 - 49 comments

"Stopping bad things is a significant public service."

"Ted Cruz: The Distinguished Wacko Bird from Texas"
posted by zarq on Sep 23, 2013 - 348 comments

Every night somebody's talking about something real

"2013 has brought an unprecedented wave of new late night shows, some more formally innovative than others. But years before The Colbert Report, another topical show occupied its coveted post-Daily Show spot. A mix of the roundtable debates of Politically Incorrect and the unpredictability of live standup, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn was possibly the purest form of comedy ever on television."
posted by Potomac Avenue on Sep 17, 2013 - 52 comments

By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN Published: September 11, 2013

A Plea for Caution From Russia (SLNYT) My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
posted by philip-random on Sep 11, 2013 - 316 comments

There is a man wandering around California with three mules.

His name is Mule, and he has been wandering for 29 of his 65 years. He has a website, and a presence on Facebook, but otherwise lives a very simple life, traveling on foot with his three mules, sleeping mostly outside and living hand to mouth. In his effort to make a statement about urban sprawl and our increasing dependence on cars, he often faces harassment from police. If you ever have come across him, it is a sight you will not forget.
posted by Blogwardo on Sep 11, 2013 - 35 comments

Australia Decides: Old Moon-faced McPsychopath vs Sleazy McNoPlans

Australia goes to the polls tomorrow. Want the skinny on three word slogans? Want to know about the fabled voters of 'middle Australia'? Are you confused about preferential voting? Aussie comedian Dan Ilic has you covered with #C@%TASTROPHE 2013: Guide to the Election. [more inside]
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts on Sep 6, 2013 - 280 comments

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government. "Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT) which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision-relevant science. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Sep 5, 2013 - 20 comments

Flight to safety, flight to liquidity, flight to quality.

Always totalize! This is the majuscule axiom — the maxiom, let us say — for revolution. Revolution is a total thought, a thought of the totality; they are necessarily entangled. Reform, repair, regime change, recuperation: all of these are the politics of the partial, of isolating specific problems as if they admitted of independent solution. Ezra Pound said that the epic is a poem that contains history. What matter that we might amend the last word, a minor amendment at that, a swapping out of inseparable concepts? The epic is the poem that contains totality. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Sep 4, 2013 - 53 comments

Let’s try and see if that HDTV will fit in my trunk.

The truth is the human race has never been better off. We live in an age of plenty. The problem is one of distribution: Instead of being used for the benefit of all, that plenty is exploited for the benefit of a select, privileged few, who profit from polluting and in some cases sabotaging the commons. If a rich person has something you need, you should take it. And if a big corporation has something you want, you should steal it. Instead of paying retail prices when you go to a chain store, just don’t pay. After all, you earned it. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Sep 2, 2013 - 106 comments

Why do I get just £1 pocket money a week?

Robert Peston answers a question from a disappointed six-year old. (As picture) [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Aug 31, 2013 - 33 comments

"the boomers and their institutions look like parasitic aliens"

"Generation Z will arrive brutalized and atomized by three generations of diminished expectations and dog-eat-dog economic liberalism. Most of them will be so deracinated that they identify with their peers and the global Internet culture more than their great-grandparents' post-Westphalian nation-state. The machineries of the security state may well find them unemployable, their values too alien to assimilate into a model still rooted in the early 20th century. But if you turn the Internet into a panopticon prison and put everyone inside it, where else are you going to be able to recruit the jailers? And how do you ensure their loyalty?" Charlie Stross on the future demographic peril faced by spy agencies.
posted by Pope Guilty on Aug 29, 2013 - 86 comments

The Traffickers, the Militias, and the State

Over the last year and a half, I have been visiting São Paulo and, especially, Rio de Janeiro, observing the process of “pacification,” by which the government attempts to peacefully enter and reestablish state control over the most violent enclaves of the city, those dominated by drug gangs called traficantes, or by syndicates of corrupt police called militias. Until 2008, when the pacification program started, the traficantes controlled roughly half of the favelas, and the militias the other half. Both still hold power in most favelas. The ultimate aim of the state government of Rio’s plan, called the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP), or Police Pacification Unit, is to drive both of these groups out and replace them by the state. (SLNYRB)

posted by Rustic Etruscan on Aug 29, 2013 - 6 comments

From Protest to Politics

From Protest to Politics by Bayard Rustin, the civil rights leader almost erased from history. "From Protest to Politics" talks about the difficulty of moving beyond symbolic victories into lasting justice for the Civil Rights Movement.
posted by klangklangston on Aug 28, 2013 - 13 comments

Here's Why America Stopped Caring About The Public Good

Not even Democrats still use the phrase “the public good.” Public goods are now, at best, “public investments.” Public institutions have morphed into “public-private partnerships” or, for Republicans, simply “vouchers.” [more inside]
posted by Obscure Reference on Aug 26, 2013 - 64 comments

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