The poor in America: In need of help Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does. You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families’ basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing.
Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation’s promise”.
No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama’s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word.
posted by infini
on Nov 8, 2012 -
A Vast Left-Wing Competency
: "How Democrats became the party of effective campaigning — and why the GOP isn’t catching up anytime soon." Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab
, has been writing a series of posts on Slate that focus on different aspects of "the new science of winning campaigns". [more inside]
posted by flex
on Nov 8, 2012 -
And think about it for a second: this is bizarre. If Americans are in fact divided between two extremely different political ideologies, it would be an extraordinary coincidence if each of those philosophies were to hold the allegiance of nearly equal blocs of support. [more inside]
posted by memebake
on Nov 7, 2012 -
is a longtime sportswriter and author who has, among other things, reported for Grantland
, and the Boston Globe
, paneled on more than a few games
of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
, and fished diapers out of trees
as a state forest ranger. He's also made a name for himself as one of the sharpest and most incisive political columnists since Molly Ivins. The lead writer for Esquire's Politics Blog
ever since a caustic article
on former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell cost him his Globe job
, Pierce has churned out an uninterrupted stream of clever, colorful, and challenging commentary
on the 2012 election season and its implications for the nation's future, dispatches often seething with eviscerative anger but shot through with deep love of (or perhaps grief for) country. Look inside for a selection of Pierce's most vital works for some edifying Election Eve reading. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 5, 2012 -
Jim Lehrer and Bob Schieffer continue their trend of moderating the first and last presidential debates, as they did in 2004 and 2008
. Both grew up in Texas, and got their starts in journalism there, too, both covering the JFK assassination in 1963
. Following Lehrer's role as moderator in this year's presidential debate, subsequent moderators have been under significant scrutiny before and after their performances, and Schieffer, who has covered all four of the major Washington beats
, is ready for his role in the political process, in the middle of partisan divide, which is deeper than any time he can recall from his 43 years in Washington
. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Oct 22, 2012 -
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will have the final debate
of the US Presidential race tonight. Yawning at the thought of a formulaic back and forth, while secretly hoping for a rap battle? Then look beneath the fold for examples of explicit lyrical parodies. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher
on Oct 22, 2012 -
Our leaders -- of both parties -- have systematically infantilized Americans to believe that perfect security is attainable. This is one reason the White House reacts so defensively to any intimation that its conduct of the war on al-Qaeda is less than perfect. It’s one reason Republicans cynically argue that the administration is incompetent in its prosecution of the war, and in its mission to keep U.S. personnel alive. So long as both parties react so small-mindedly and opportunistically to the terrorist threat, we won’t be able to have a rational, adult conversation about the best ways to wage this war.
- Jeffrey Goldberg, Benghazi Attack Brings Infantilizing Response
posted by beisny
on Oct 16, 2012 -
When Rex Conte's letter to the editor -- "Why I am Voting for Mitt Romney"
-- was featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and then reached top-tier status on Google News, several commenters pointed out that Rex had a similar letter published in the Chicago Sun-Times
. Nothing too abnormal there, but in the Post-Dispatch letter he claimed his residence was "Chesterfield," outside of St. Louis, and in the Sun-Times letter, he claimed that his residence was "Oak Hills," outside of Chicago. So, "where does Rex live?"
curious readers wanted to find out. An editor from the Post-Dispatch called Rex to find out and followed up with a note at the bottom of the letter: "Mr. Conte wrote a similar letter to the Chicago Sun-Times that said he lived in Oak Park, Ill. Comments and emails questioned how he could live in two places and whether he was a real person. I talked on the phone with Mr. Conte, who says he used to live in Chesterfield but not any more. So we've changed his hometown in this letter." So, we now know he doesn't live in Chesterfield any more but the editor doesn't go into whether he still lives in Oak Park now or if he just "used to live there." The Sun-Times hasn't added any notes to Conte's letter in their publication but critics on the web are claiming
that the GOP is "planting fake Letters to Editors." [more inside]
posted by Jagz-Mario
on Sep 28, 2012 -
There's been little discussion about the problem of poverty in the current Presidential election, the conventions pretty much ignored it.
"The Circle of Protection, composed of Christian leaders from across the religious spectrum, released President Barack Obama's and GOP nominee Mitt Romney's video responses today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C."
Both candidates responded.
posted by HuronBob
on Sep 13, 2012 -
Now that we're in the homestretch toward the November Presidential election, it's time to choose your favorite electoral-vote projection oracle. All of these are sites that monitor individual state polls and voter sentiment trendlines. Here are some options:
has been at it since 2004 and is a bonanza for polling stats junkies. Currently it's calling the electoral vote at 332 for Obama, 206 for Romney, with no toss-ups. (It takes 270 to win.) The site is run from The Netherlands by Andrew S. Tanenbaum
, who prepares daily commentary and news analysis. His leanings are Democratic; for those who are bothered by that, he suggests a Republican-leaning alternative: [more inside]
posted by beagle
on Sep 4, 2012 -
In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will hand down its final judgment in what has become one of the most crucial legal battles of our time: the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark health care reform law.
The product of a strict party line vote following a
of debate, disinformation
, and tense legislative wrangling, the Affordable Care Act
would (among other popular reforms
) require all Americans to buy insurance coverage by 2014, broadening the risk pool
for the benefit of those with pre-existing conditions.
The fate of this "individual mandate," bitterly opposed by Republicans despite its similarity to past plans touted by conservatives
(including presidential contender Mitt Romney
) is the central question facing the justices today
. If the conservative majority takes the dramatic step
of striking down the mandate, the law will be toothless, and in danger of wholesale reversal, rendering millions uninsured
, dealing a crippling blow to the president's re-election hopes, and possibly endangering the federal regulatory state
But despite the pessimism of bettors
, some believe
the Court will demur, wary of damaging
its already-fragile reputation
with another partisan 5-4 decision
. But those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know
. Watch the SCOTUSblog liveblog
for updates, Q&A, and analysis as the truth finally comes out shortly after 10 a.m. EST.
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 28, 2012 -
Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is booked on all the major morning shows tomorrow, and with good reason.
After two months of gaffes
, impolitic stands
, and bizarre speeches
that quickly waned his once-strong odds
of winning the Republican nomination, Perry went into Wednesday's CNBC debate
sorely needing a win... only to deliver a tortuous, cringingly forgetful attempt [video]
to recall just which three cabinet departments he'd vowed to abolish, a stunning failure political scientist Larry Sabato deemed "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate"
in his memory.
While Perry's slow-motion flameout has boosted the fortunes
of dark horse candidate Herman Cain, the unlikely challenger is facing troubles of his own in a volley of sexual harassment claims
-- an oddly ineffective
scandal Cain is doing his best to (somewhat dubiously) disavow
. If Cain collapses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may reap the benefits
, but his moribund campaign has issues of its own
. Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, Cain, Gingrich... the base is loathe to rally round him, but after so many failed, flawed, or forfeited challenges, can anyone topple Mitt Romney?
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 10, 2011 -