23
Apr
Does the [Working Families Party] exist primarily for the purposes of contracts and pensions, or for the broader ideals of economic and social justice? … Is there any line an official can’t cross, if that official is willing to cut deals at election time?
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Capital New York

A recent poll found that a remarkable 24% of voters in New York would support a progressive third party candidate in the upcoming gubernatorial race. The presumptive Republican nominee, Rob Astorino, also polled at 24% in a hypothetical three-way contest. Democrat Andrew Cuomo holds a decisive lead regardless of who he’s running against, but a progressive candidate would cut his margin of victory in half. The question then is whether a progressive third party should serve the purpose of squeezing as much out of conservative Democrats as possible or if it should, at least in some instances, run against conservative Democrats in order to both make a statement and establish itself as a force to be reckoned with.

If progressive third parties conclude that all Democrats are worth supporting because hell, at least they’re not Republicans, then third parties serve no purpose. But if they run against every Democrat to the right of Bernie Sanders, then they risk becoming borderline irrelevant (like the Green Party, for instance). Unlike virtually all other progressive parties, the Working Families Party has some momentum behind it, thanks, in part, to the elections of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James. And if the WFP were to run their own candidate against Cuomo, it would hinder, if not destroy, any possibility of Cuomo running as a liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton in a Presidential primary. So the WFP is in the unique position of being a third party that could significantly damage a prominent Governor’s second term as well as potentially effect a national election.

My feeling is that the WFP, if it can find a respectable person to oppose Cuomo, should nominate its own candidate. If progressivism cannot assert itself now, in one of the most liberal states in the country, than it will remain a fairly impotent force nationwide. And if anyone deserves to be challenged from the left, it’s Cuomo, whose Clintonian strategy of being fiscally conservative and socially liberal deserves a harsh rebuke. Whether it’s refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy, dithering on fracking, undermining public schools, failing to implement campaign finance reform, or supporting a ridiculous plan to revive upstate New York’s economy by building a bunch of casinos, Cuomo has proven himself to be a disappointing and uninspiring Governor. He’ll likely be Governor for at least a few more years, but it’s not in the interest of working class New Yorkers to help him maintain his power.

22
Apr

Study of Pot Smokers' Brains Shows That MRIs Cause Bad Science Reporting

Researchers at Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital used MRIs to compare the brains of 20 young adults who reported smoking pot at least once a week and 20 controls who had used marijuana no more than five times in their lives and had not consumed it at all in the previous year. The pot smokers had higher gray-matter densities in the left nucleus accumbens, and there were “significant shape differences” between subjects and controls in that area and in the right amygdala. The differences were more pronounced in subjects who reported smoking marijuana more frequently. “Because this is a cross-sectional study,” the authors noted, “causation cannot be determined.” In other words, it is not clear whether the brain differences were caused by marijuana. It also is not clear how long the differences last or whether they have any functional significance.

A nice rebuttal to exaggerated media claims about the effects of marijuana use.

21
Apr

letterstomycountry:

Why You Need To Pay Attention To Gary Johnson’s Lawsuit To Fix Presidenial Elections In America

Gary Johnson has released an ad for his “Our America Initiative,” which is asking for crowd-sourced donations to his lawsuit to sue the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a private organization created by both the Democratic and Republican Parties which controls access to the Presidential debates.

The Issue

The Democratic and Republican parties have secured a monopoly on access to Presidential Debates by working with institutionalized media to create a system that blocks candidates from other parties from entering the debates.  Eric W. Dolan summed up the details during the 2012 debates:

The debate rules specify that to be included, candidates must receive at least 15 percent in a major poll. Most major polls do not even list [third party candidates] as an option. Televised presidential debates date back to 1960, and have been a regular event since the 1976 election. Originally administered by the League of Women Voters, they’ve been jointly organized by the Democratic and Republican parties through the Commission on Presidential Debates—a group the two parties jointly formed—since 1987.

In other words, the CPD has created a shell game.  In order to have access to the Presidential Debates, you need at least 15% approval rating in a major national poll.  But most major national polls do not list third party candidates as an option, making it de facto impossible for most third party candidates to enter the debates.

What The Lawsuit Would Achieve

Gary Johnson’s lawsuit would ask the court to order the CPD to allow any candidate access to the Presidential Debates who is listed in enough states to garner at least 50% of the electoral college votes.  This requirement would give third party candidates access to the debates, while ensuring that only serious candidates were allowed in.

Why It Matters

Access to the debates is not simply a token gift to third parties to make them feel better.  As recent lawsuits over campaign finance laws indicate (i.e. Citizens United McCutcheon), access to mass media is a very big deal.  When third parties are denied access to the debates, large swathes of voters are not given an opportunity to compare the ideas of the candidates in real time.  

The forum of the Presidential Debate itself also grants an air of legitimacy to the candidates.  Candidates who are denied access to the debates are both literally and figuratively shoved into the unwilling role of “outsiders,” which makes many voters afraid to commit to them for fear of wasting their vote.  The CPD and institutionalized media have thus created a system that effectively prevents third party candidates from achieving legitimacy in America’s 2-party system.

If Gary Johnson’s lawsuit is successful, third party candidates would have real access to the Presidential Debates, and would have an opportunity to bring their message to the largest national media platform during election season.  Third party candidates would finally have an opportunity to bring their message to a national media platform which has historically been denied to them, and in the process, be given an opportunity to change voter’s minds at the time when it matters most.

20
Apr

been thinking a lot about pogroms lately

jakke:

For hundreds of years, Easter weekend was the time for European Christians to go into Jewish communities and wreck everything in sight and beat anyone who was in public. Family members I knew when I was young (who have since passed away) had horrific stories about watching Christians butcher their parents and siblings during pogroms and about their families adopting children who had been orphaned in previous attacks. And for the very few Jews still left in Europe, every time things start go badly (like in Ukraine, or in Hungary over the last few years) they face the same threats of violence from the same people. No idea what to do about this or how to help them. Feel so incredibly lucky that I’m one of the first generations of my family to have absolutely no risk from pogroms.

20
Apr
Two months after legal marijuana sales began in Colorado, its legalization has become more popular in the state. 57% of Colorado voters now say they think marijuana usage should be legal to only 35% who think it should be illegal. That 22 point margin in support represents an increase since the November 2012 legalization ballot measure that passed by 10 points with voters in the state.
20
Apr

Ending white supremacy isn’t really in the American vocabulary. That is because ending white supremacy does not merely require a passive sense that racism is awful, but an active commitment to undoing its generational effects. Ending white supremacy requires the ability to do math—350 years of murderous plunder are not undone by 50 years of uneasy ceasefire.

A latent commitment to anti-racism just isn’t enough. But that’s what we have right now. With that in mind, there is no reason to believe that a total vanquishing of white supremacy is necessarily in the American future.

20
Apr

I've been laughing about the Sienfeld/Seinfeld thing. I assume it's a photoshop, right?

- Asked by kohenari

I suspect it is. But if it was real, it would probably still rank among the least embarrassing/terrible things CNN has done. 

19
Apr
Dear CNN,
1. This isn’t breaking news.
2. You spelled “Seinfeld” wrong.
Otherwise, great work.

Dear CNN,

1. This isn’t breaking news.

2. You spelled “Seinfeld” wrong.

Otherwise, great work.

17
Apr
[The advance of gay rights] is ultimately a triumphant story, but not because politicians finally came to their senses. Instead, activists and citizens made politicians feel safe enough to do what they should have done years earlier.
15
Apr
New Jersey casinos brought in 15% more from online gambling in March over the previous month, but it wasn’t nearly enough to offset the diminishing revenue from Atlantic City’s long-struggling brick-and-mortar casinos.
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The Wall Street Journal

Andrew Cuomo thinks casinos will revitalize upstate New York tourism and jump-start local economies. Considering that the east coast mecca of gambling, Atlantic City, has a 13.1% unemployment rate and is the second “most violent city in New Jersey,” I’m going to go ahead and disagree.  

15
Apr

Police Unit That Spied on Muslims Is Disbanded

This is a big deal.

14
Apr

retrocampaigns:

Al Smith, the first Catholic nominated for the presidency by a major party, faced vicious anti-Catholic prejudice during his 1928 run against Herbert Hoover. The opposition claimed that under a Catholic president, Protestant marriages would be annulled, bibles would be banned and the Pope would have a special office in the White House. The Lincoln Tunnel, then under construction, was rumored to be a secret passage to bring him from Rome to Washington.

Should Al Smith Be President? by Selsus E. Tull, D.D., Pine Bluff, Arkansas, via Baylor University - Central Libraries

10
Apr
[E]lements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony.
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Paul Craig Roberts, writing for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Roberts served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan and is a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Because nothing fosters “peace and prosperity” like accusing your own government, without any evidence whatsoever, of murdering thousands of people. Also, one would hope that Ron Paul’s staff would think twice before publishing insane editorials (you know, after this whole thing) but apparently that lesson has not yet been learned. 

10
Apr
So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.
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Jim DeMint, head of the Heritage Foundation, helpfully proving that he does not understand how slavery ended in the United States. Lincoln’s love, while real, needed millions of troops and workers to enforce, for example.

Ht: Lawyers, Guns and Money

(via politicalprof)

07
Apr
Warpaint in Washington, DC (photo by Matt Condon)
1. I love this band.
2. Their new music video is terrific (or at least the first half is).

Warpaint in Washington, DC (photo by Matt Condon)

1. I love this band.

2. Their new music video is terrific (or at least the first half is).

Elsewhere