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E.J. Dionne Jr. at the Washington Post writes—Threatened by the Armageddon Caucus:

[A]fter three years of congressional dysfunction brought on by the rise of a radicalized brand of conservatism, it’s time to call the core questions:

Will our ability to govern ourselves be held perpetually hostage to an ideology that casts government as little more than dead weight in American life? And will a small minority in Congress be allowed to grind decision-making to a halt? [...]

The right wing’s recent rejection of a significant government role in ending the scandal of “a health-care system that does not even come close to being comprehensive and fails to reach far too many”—the words were spoken 24 years ago by the late Sen. John Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican—tells us why Congress no longer works.

David Carr at The New York Times writes—War on Leaks Is Pitting Journalist vs. Journalist:
If the revelations about the N.S.A. surveillance were broken by Time, CNN or The New York Times, executives there would already be building new shelves to hold all the Pulitzer Prizes and Peabodies they expected. Same with the 2010 WikiLeaks video of the Apache helicopter attack.

Instead, the journalists and organizations who did that work find themselves under attack, not just from a government bent on keeping its secrets, but from friendly fire by fellow journalists. What are we thinking?

Molly Ball at The Atlantic writes—Why Do Liberals Hate Cory Booker?
What's curious about the criticism is there's very little substance to it. It's not based on Booker's record as mayor or the policies he espouses. Most of his policy stances are conventional liberal ones: pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, in favor of raising taxes on the rich and increasing government spending on welfare and infrastructure programs. As he told Salon's Matt Taylor last month, "There's nothing in that realm of progressive politics where you won't find me."
More pundits can be found below the fold.

Chris Lehmann at In These Times writes—Rats in the Laboratory of Democracy—State legislatures are gaining power, but not for the people:

On paper, advocates of decentralized government might find much to endorse in this project, which made its modern debut in the Nixon years as the “new federalism.” Aren’t states meant to be, in former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ famous formulation, “the laboratories of democracy”? Don’t they offer a more level playing field for local interests and policy entrepreneurs than the forbidding, graft-garlanded corridors of power in Washington?

Such, at any rate, were the gauzy rationales proffered for the New Federalism, which gained real momentum under the deregulating stewardship of Ronald Reagan and hasn’t let up since. Unfortunately, though, the shift of power and resources over to the states hasn’t produced any upticks in democratic policy innovation—quite the contrary. Under the direction of conservative activists, most of the nation’s state legislatures have become clearinghouses for raw reactionary lawmaking that won’t fly even in the unprincipled, well-lubricated lobbies of Capitol Hill.

Harry J. Enten at The Guardian writes—There are extreme Republicans, but the leadership is not about to allow the party to go the way of the Whigs. But his argument that the leaders are more moderate than the median Republican has a little problem—The median has shifted way to the right over the past few decades:
As Nate Silver did originally, you can average scores across different systems to get a good idea of where a candidate stands. In the case of Christie, he'd be the most moderate Republican candidate in the past 50 years.
Christie's scoring on the two rankings we have available place him more toward the center than any other candidate to win a Republican nomination since 1964. Some of you might say that Christie is more conservative than these scores indicate. But it seems to me that for every issue where Christie takes a conservative stand, he takes a moderate stance. So that while he's conservative on taxes, he's for campaign finance reform and green energy.
David H. Autor and David Dorn at The New York Times write—How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class:
Computerization has therefore fostered a polarization of employment, with job growth concentrated in both the highest- and lowest-paid occupations, while jobs in the middle have declined. Surprisingly, overall employment rates have largely been unaffected in states and cities undergoing this rapid polarization. Rather, as employment in routine jobs has ebbed, employment has risen both in high-wage managerial, professional and technical occupations and in low-wage, in-person service occupations.

So computerization is not reducing the quantity of jobs, but rather degrading the quality of jobs for a significant subset of workers. Demand for highly educated workers who excel in abstract tasks is robust, but the middle of the labor market, where the routine task-intensive jobs lie, is sagging. Workers without college education therefore concentrate in manual task-intensive jobs — like food services, cleaning and security — which are numerous but offer low wages, precarious job security and few prospects for upward mobility. This bifurcation of job opportunities has contributed to the historic rise in income inequality.

Greg Kaufmann at The Nation writes—This Week in Poverty: '90 Percent of Workers Aren’t Getting Bupkis':
One of the obstacles to addressing poverty in this country is that too many people think of low-income people as different, flawed or less than, which often leads not only to a lack of empathy but to outright blame.

However, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows just how much Americans across the economic spectrum have in common when it comes to stagnating wages. [...]

The report demonstrates that during the recession and its aftermath, from 2007 to 2012, wages fell for the entire bottom 70 percent of workers despite productivity growth of 7.7 percent. But Mishel emphasizes that the cause of stagnating wages isn’t the recession.

Shaul Arieli at Haaretz writes—It must be asked: What if the peace talks fail?:
If the talks fail, Kerry will be accountable to President Barack Obama and the American public. He will be required to explain why he invested his time and energy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than in other acute problems like North Korea, Iran or the economic crisis in Europe. But mainly, he’ll have to explain the failure of his Middle East policy in view of the fluctuations in the Arab world.

If the talks fail, Kerry will also have to explain to the Europeans why, in the past year, he demanded that the European Union refrain from initiatives to settle the conflict or from intervening in the negotiations, although the European states have been financing the Palestinian Authority for two decades and investing their money in economic enterprises in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Asawin Suebsaeng at Mother Jones writes—Is "Dads" the Year's Most Racist Sit-Com?
In the pilot episode, the main characters (played by Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) insist that Veronica dress up like a "sexy Asian schoolgirl"—one who giggles like a Japanese teenage stereotype—in order to impress a group of Chinese investors. Chinese people are mocked and declared untrustworthy. The "Asian men have tiny dicks" stereotype is gleefully deployed. The term "Oriental" is used because…funny. And it doesn't help that Dads co-creator Alec Sulkin once tweeted, "If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google 'Pearl Harbor death toll.'" Sulkin sent this tweet on March 11, 2011, the day a tsunami struck Japan and killed thousands. None of the victims, Japanese or otherwise, was ever implicated in the plot to bomb Americans in the 1940s. (Sulkin soon deleted the comment and apologized via tweet.)
Molly Redden at The New Republic writes—Republicans Only Have As Much Leverage As Obama Gives Them:
It’s a no-brainer, if only Obama hadn’t made substantial concessions in return for raising the debt ceiling back in 2011. His track record of oversensitivity to Republicans’ blustering demands is one of the biggest wild cards in the coming negotiations (or non-negotiations). Time and again, the administration has blinked in high-stakes negotiations—when the Bush tax cuts were expiring, in 2011 when the debt ceiling needed raising, and in negotiations, in 2012, over the fiscal cliff. This spring, when sequester cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration threatened to eat into Congressional home visits, the White House hastily agreed to undo that portion of the cuts—rather than hold steady until Republicans came to the negotiating table, where more sequester cuts might have been reversed.

The administration and Senate Democrats are signalling that this time will be different. Whether that proves true will turn as much on GOP petulance as it will on the White House’s resolve to hold fast in the face of it.

Leonard Pitts Jr. at the Miami Herald writes—Living in a time of moral cowardice:
“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” —Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963

This is “tomorrow.” [...]

Here in tomorrow, after all, the president is black. The business mogul is black. The movie star is black. The sports icon is black. The reporter, the scholar, the lawyer, the teacher, the doctor, all of them are black. And King might think for a moment that he was wrong about tomorrow and its troubles. [...]

King would see that for all the progress we have made, we live in a time of proud ignorance and moral cowardice wherein some white people—not all—smugly but incorrectly pronounce all racial problems solved.

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