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categorization of political bystanders
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Rick Hasen:
I don’t care what federal district court judge Richard Kopf says in private about Supreme Court rulings. I don’t care whether I agree with him on the merits or not of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College rulings. But I do care about this:

A judge who blogs should not say “STFU” to the Supreme Court.

Pew Research:
As Republicans and Democrats gear up for midterm elections this November, there’s one group of Americans that is paying very little, if any, attention to the whole ordeal.

Overall, 10% of Americans are what we call Bystanders, or the politically disengaged, according to Pew Research Center’s Political Typology report. None of this cohort say they’re registered to vote, and none say they follow government and public affairs most of the time (this compares with 48% of Americans overall). Virtually all of this group (96%) say they’ve never contributed money to a candidate running for public office.

Ryan Cooper:
Obama's greatest failure: The rapidly falling deficit

The falling deficit is a pointless exercise that has come at the cost of keeping millions out of work

AP:
An American flag stolen from the family of a firefighter killed on Sept. 11 has been returned with a note that says: "I am so sorry, I had no idea."

NBC New York (http://nbcnews.to/...) reports that the flag was returned Thursday. It has resumed flying on the porch of Melissa Brengel's home in Huntington Station on New York's Long Island.

More politics and policy below the fold.

John Sides:

Imagine that you’re a state legislator thinking about running for Congress. The polarization in Congress is pretty apparent to you. Democratic members are increasingly liberals and Republican members are increasingly conservative. But here’s the problem: you don’t fit that pattern. You’re a moderate. What will you do?

According to new research (gated version here) by political scientist Danielle Thomsen, you’re much less likely to run for Congress.

 NBC News:
Still searching for a defining issue for upcoming midterms

Now less than four months until Election Day 2014, everyone is so sure about what is going to happen in November. Republicans are either going to have a good night (picking up four to six Senate seats), or a great night (picking up more than six, including in blue and purple states). And yet, given this apparent certainty in the Acela Corridor about how the elections are going to play out, here is something to ponder: We still don’t know what the fall campaign is going to be about. Is it health care? (Premium increases could be news in fall; then again, health care hasn’t received much national attention in the last two or three months). Will it be about the economy? (Maybe, maybe not -- see below for more on its limited midterm impact in the past.) What about immigration? (Possibly, but we haven’t seen Democratic or GOP campaigns eager to run on this subject, especially Democrats in the red states) Foreign policy? (Remember Ukraine or Bowe Bergdahl? Or the debacle that is America’s Syria policy?) Will the midterms be about President Obama and Democrats suffering from a thousand different cuts? (Perhaps.) Or will it simply be about the red-leaning map and the fact that key parts of the Democratic base just don’t turn out in midterm elections? (Could be.) Bottom line: Election Day is a little more than 100 days away, and it’s hard to come up with a defining issue, even as so many folks are so sure about the outcome.

Africa is a country:
Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, an anthropologist at the University of São Paulo, has a range of astonishing insights around this historic survey; her paper, Not black, not white: just the opposite. Culture, race and national identity in Brazil, from which the table is reproduced, is a gem. (She also has a book that examines the early history of the subject: The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Question in Brazil, 1870-1930).

Schwarcz’s work is filled with thoughtful, original analysis, and is characterised by an unusual fearlessness. (Unusual, that is, for a subject so complicated). Reading her is a revelation; it turns out there is a real place hiding under that avalanche of clichés. If you’ve ever wondered how crushing racism can flourish in a country where, apparently, race itself has been crushed, consider that everything Brazil is defined by – from its “we-are-all-mixed” anthem, to feijoada, capoeira and candomblé, right down to samba and soccer – is the result of an insidious, revisionist, far-sighted political manoeuvre of the 1930s, courtesy the combined skills of popular intellectual Gilberto Freyre and populist dictator Getúlio Vargas. The battered body of slave culture was abducted by national culture in order to renew white culture.

Think "Neymar".

Austin Frakt:

On Oct. 24, 1995, Newt Gingrich made an assertion about what would happen to Medicare if its beneficiaries could choose between it and private plans. Medicare is “going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it — voluntarily.” Though he later walked this statement back, many observers viewed it as an attack on the program.

In fact, over the nearly two decades since, Mr. Gingrich’s claim has undergone something of a test — and it has largely passed it.

Paul Waldman:
The conservative reformers are about to have their moment—or so it would appear, if you're a reader of some publications predominantly read by liberals. A small band of thoughtful conservatives has been saying, for some time, that if the Republican party is going to survive—and, more specifically, win a presidential election in the next decade or two—it has to change. It has to get serious about policy again, grapple with contemporary economic and social realities that simple appeals to free markets and small government don't address, and find a way to attract voters from outside the demographic of old white people.

This weekend, the "reformicons," as E.J. Dionne dubbed them in a recent essay in Democracy, were the subject of a cover article by Sam Tanenhaus in the New York Times Magazine. (If you want to learn who they are, read Tanenhaus' piece; if you want to learn about their ideas, read Dionne's.)

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