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Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes Springtime for Bankers:

By any normal standard, economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure. It’s true that we avoided a full replay of the Great Depression. But employment has taken more than six years to claw its way back to pre-crisis levels—years when we should have been adding millions of jobs just to keep up with a rising population. Long-term unemployment is still almost three times as high as it was in 2007; young people, often burdened by college debt, face a highly uncertain future.

Now Timothy Geithner, who was Treasury secretary for four of those six years, has published a book, “Stress Test,” about his experiences. And basically, he thinks he did a heckuva job.

Charles Blow at The New York Times writes Poverty Is Not a State of Mind:
Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush, the didactic-meets-dynastic duo, spoke last week at a Manhattan Institute gathering, providing a Mayberry-like prescription for combating poverty in this country: all it takes is more friendship and traditional marriage.

Ryan said: “The best way to turn from a vicious cycle of despair and learned helplessness to a virtuous cycle of hope and flourishing is by embracing the attributes of friendship, accountability and love.”

Lovely, Mr. Ryan. Really, I’m touched. But as every poor person in America will tell you, you can’t use friendship tokens to pay the electricity bill, and you can’t simply hug the cashier and walk away with groceries.

Furthermore, the statement makes a basic and demeaning assumption about the poor: that they suffer a deficiency of friendship, accountability and loving relationships. That, sir, has not been my experience. Poverty is demonstrative not of a lack of character, but a lack of cash.

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes No more liberal apologies as Elizabeth Warren takes the offensive:
Warren’s book tells her personal story in a folksy way and documents her major public battles, including her successful effort to establish a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But the book is most striking for the way in which her confident tone parallels Ronald Reagan’s upbeat proclamations on behalf of his own creed.

Conservatives loved the Gipper for using straightforward and understandable arguments to make the case for less government. Warren turns the master’s method against the ideology he rhapsodized. Even former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, who tangled with Warren, acknowledges in his new book “Stress Test” that she has “a gift for explanation.”

At the end of a long liberal era, Reagan electrified conservatives by telling them they didn’t have to apologize anymore for what they believed. Now, Warren insists, it’s the era of liberal apologies that’s over.

You can read more pundit excerpts after the orange swirly-ma-gig.

When the Republicans lose Richard Cohen as they done in his latest op-ed, The GOP’s unhinged Benghazi fixation, at the New York Daily News, you know they have truly gone too cray-cray. Unsurprisingly, Cohen spends a big hunk of his pixels in this piece proving he has more problems with Obama than with Republicans, but he does wish their criticisms of the president were more courteous:

I am not sure if this rancorous partisanship is something new in American history or just the same old, same old. But I know that what I am seeing looks both petty and mean. House Speaker John Boehner talks about Benghazi with synthetic solemnity. Fox News dissects it, parsing White House talking points with the ferocious intensity of a hunting dog pointing at some prey. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.
John Nichols at The Nation writes in Easy and Instant Voting: A Great Idea Whose Time Has Come, Again of how registering and voting on the same day in Wisconsin—a reform pushed four decades ago by reform Gov. Pat Lucey, who died earlier this month—made a big turnout difference in a state whose leaders are now trying the suppress the vote:
When Wisconsin enacted rule changes to remove barriers to voting, it was national news. The New York Times highlighted Wisconsin’s 1975 plan for “easy and instant voting.” Critics screamed that this was a recipe for fraud, expressing particular concern about language that allowed for registration with a Wisconsin driver’s license, a student ID or fee card “or any other ID judged to be acceptable by local election officials.” There were demands for monitoring of elections by the US attorney’s office in Milwaukee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But after a review of the 1976 election, officials confirmed that the FBI “found no evidence of fraud or voter theft.”

What was found was high turnout. In November 1976, 210,000 Wisconsinites—11 percent of the total electorate—registered at the polls. The Times reported that “in Milwaukee, for example, registration in 1974 was at the comparatively high level of 65 percent. After Wisconsin adopted Election-Day registration in 1976, registration jumped to 86 percent.” Hailing the Wisconsin accomplishment, along with more modest advances in Minnesota (which also embraced Election Day registration), the paper argued that all America should “trust democracy by enlarging it.”

President Jimmy Carter agreed. He tried to take the Wisconsin model national, with a proposal for universal Election Day registration. It never quite happened. This country continues to have a patchwork of different registration rules, some of them absurdly restrictive. And there have been efforts in a number of states, including Wisconsin, to eliminate Election Day registration and limit related reforms such as those allowing for early voting.

Isaac Chotiner at The New Republic declares Hey, Class of 2014: It's OK to Shun Commencement Speakers, But Please Pick Better Targets:
As I said, there are all sorts of reasons that could be used to justify the various objections that are greeting the different invitees, and not all of them are inane. Hirsi Ali, for starters, was being offered an honorary degree, and it can certainly be argued that some of her more extreme (and stupid) views meant that she didn't deserve one. But the current crop? Rice was one of the people who oversaw the Iraq war, and thus the anger is understandable. Lagarde works for an institution that used to be famous for imposing stringent and cruel policies on poor countries, but plays a mostly honorable role today.

Birgeneau, in the view of many students and faculty, erred by initially supporting an attempt by the police to break up and Occupy demonstration on his campus in 2011. Birgeneau's case is the most interesting because he isn't a famous figure, and he quickly condemned the police actions after they occurred. This didn't prevent Haverford students from sending him an open letter demanding several apologies, and saying that unless he offered them, they would continue to protest his presence at the graduation. As with Hirsi Ali, Birgeneau was not simply being invited to give his opinion; he was being honored, presumably for upholding the values that students and universities hold dear. So in this sense the students are well within their rights to protest the university's choice.

Still, while I think we can all imagine figures who would cross some sort of red line in our minds, colleges are supposed to be places of open engagement. They are supposed to be places where opposing viewpoints clash. They are supposed to be places where people hear from those who may offend their deepest beliefs. Everyone has a red line, but it sure seems like people are drawing them hastily.

Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times writes To achieve the American dream, mind the opportunity gap:
Education has long been the traditional route to opportunity for American families of modest means. But a growing educational achievement gap between low-income and affluent kids is making that path both harder and less accessible.

And the gap is getting wider, mostly because wealthy kids' test scores have been improving dramatically while middle-class kids' have improved only slightly over time. "The top has pulled away from the middle," says Sean Reardon of Stanford's Graduate School of Education.

Strikingly, much of that income differential in test scores shows up among kids who are tested in the first months of kindergarten, before they've spent significant time in school. "It's preschool," Reardon said, along with "the out-of-school environment, that creates the gap." Affluent kids are far more likely to get a good preschool education and have parents who read to them and nurseries full of educational toys.

David Sirota at In These Times laments Journalism Without Guts—Too often these days, journalists are afraid to challenge those in power.:
[A] new survey from [...] Indiana University suggests things are fast changing in the news industry—and not for the better.

The latest in 42 years worth of surveys of journalists, this one polled more than 1,000 reporters in the latter half of 2013. That timeframe is significant—it was right when revelations about the NSA’s mass surveillance were being published.

You might think such an historic time period in the annals of journalism would only strengthen reporters’ belief in the necessity of responsibly—but fearlessly—publishing information, even if the powers that be do not authorize such publication. Instead, it seems the exact opposite has happened.

As IU researchers note, “the percentage of U.S. journalists endorsing the occasional use of ‘confidential business or government documents without authorization,’ dropped significantly from 81.8 percent in 1992 to 57.7 percent in 2013.”

Gary Younge at The Guardian writes Racism is far more than old white men using the N-word—Discrimination is in reality carried out by well-mannered people:
And so the perception—on both sides of the Atlantic—takes hold that racism is not a system of discrimination planted by history, nourished by politics and nurtured by economics, in which some groups face endemic disadvantage—it's about ignorant old people getting caught saying mean things. By privileging these episodes— outrageous as they are—racism is basically reduced to the level of a private, individual indiscretion made public. The scandal becomes not that racism exists but that anyone would be crass enough to articulate it so brazenly.

The reality of modern racism is almost exactly the opposite: it's the institutional marginalisation of groups performed with the utmost discretion and minimum of fuss by well-mannered and often well-intentioned people working in deeply flawed systems. According to a recent US department of education report, black preschoolers (mostly four-year-olds) are four times more likely to be suspended more than once than their white classmates.

According to a 2013 report by Release, a UK group focusing on drugs and drug laws, black people in England and Wales are far less likely to use drugs than white people but six times more likely to be stopped and searched for possession of them. In both countries black people are far more likely to be convicted, and to get stiffer sentences and longer jail time.

Nick Surgey at The Progressive writes Revealed: ALEC’s 2014 Attacks on the Environment:
An internal tracking document obtained from the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC—by the Center for Media and Democracy/the Progressive Inc. under Texas public records law—reveals the scope of ALEC's anti-environmental efforts in 2014.

The spreadsheet (dated from late March 2014 and made public by CMD/The Progressive today) reveals ALEC tracking a total of 131 bills that, amongst other things, roll back state renewable energy standards, increase costs for American households with solar, hype the Keystone XL pipeline, push back on proposed EPA coal regulations that protect human health, and create industry-friendly fracking rules despite growing national and international concerns about fracking.

ALEC's colorful spreadsheet provides insight into the lobbying agenda it pushed in the 2014 legislative sessions in states across the country. For example, an entire section is devoted to the thirty-one items of legislation concerning state standards for renewable energy generation.

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