Government for the People
383 views | +0 today
Follow
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

THE FIRST PROBEM — Our democracy no longer represents the people. Here's how we fix it | Larry Lessig | TEDxMidAtlantic

Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig makes the case that our democracy has become corrupt with money, leading to inequality that means only 0.02% of the United States population actually determines who's in power. Lessig says that this fundamental breakdown of the democratic system must be fixed before we will ever be able to address major challenges like climate change, social security, and student debt. This is not the most important problem, it's just the first problem.

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, former director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption. He has authored numerous books, including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress—and a Plan to Stop It, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Free Culture, and Remix.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Understanding Congressional Gerrymandering: 'It's Moneyball Applied To Politics'

Understanding Congressional Gerrymandering: 'It's Moneyball Applied To Politics' | Government for the People | Scoop.it
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross, who's off this week. Our guest today, Salon's editor-in-chief David Daley, has a new book that he says began with a simple question. When President Obama won re-election in 2012 and a Democratic tide gave the party a big majority in the Senate, why did the House of Representatives remain firmly in Republican hands? The result was even more striking since voters cast 1.3 million more ballots for Democratic House candidates than Republican ones.

The answer, Daley decided, was effective gerrymandering of House districts following the 2010 census. And it's state legislatures that draw most of the congressional boundaries across the country. The result of Daley's research is his new book, which details an effort by Republican strategists to put money and campaign resources into targeted state legislative races in key states in 2010, so Republicans could control the statehouses and control congressional redistricting. Daley's book has a title I can't say on the radio. It refers to a crude term for a political dirty deed done cheaply. I'll approximate the title as "Rat-bleeped: The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America's Democracy" [Actual book title is "Rat-F*****: The True Story Behind The Secret Plan To Steal America's Democracy."]
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Karl Rove's Wall Street Journal March 4, 2010 Op-Ed - "The GOP Targets State Legislatures"

To understand the broader political implications, consider that the GOP gained somewhere between 25 and 30 seats because of the redistricting that followed the 1990 census. Without those seats, Republicans would not have won the House in 1994.

Control of redistricting also has huge financial implications. The average winner of a competitive House race in 2008 spent $2 million, while a noncompetitive seat can be defended for far less than half that amount. Moving, say, 20 districts from competitive to out-of-reach could save a party $100 million or more over the course of a decade.

There are 18 state legislative chambers that have four or fewer seats separating the two parties that are important for redistricting. Seven of these are controlled by Republicans and the other 11 are controlled by Democrats, including the lower houses in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Republican strategists are focused on 107 seats in 16 states. Winning these seats would give them control of drawing district lines for nearly 190 congressional seats. Six of these states are projected to pick up a total of nine seats, and five are expected to lose a combined six seats.

Nationally, the GOP's effort will be spearheaded by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). Funded by 80,000 donors, it spent more than $20 million in the last election cycle on legislative races and for attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state campaigns.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Romney says Trump will change America with 'trickle-down racism'

Romney says Trump will change America with 'trickle-down racism' | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Mitt Romney suggested Friday that Donald Trump's election could legitimize racism and misogyny, ushering in a change in the moral fabric of American society." • "'I don't want to see trickle-down racism," Romney said in an interview here in a suite overlooking the Wasatch Mountains, where he is hosting his yearly ideas conference. "I don't want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.'"
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Federal Judge Upholds North Carolina Voter Rules

Federal Judge Upholds North Carolina Voter Rules | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge on Monday upheld sweeping Republican-backed changes to election rules, including a voter identification provision, that civil rights groups say unfairly targeted African-Americans and other minorities. The ruling could have serious political repercussions in a state that is closely contested in presidential elections. • The opinion, by Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of Federal District Court in Winston-Salem, upheld the repeal of a provision that allowed people to register and vote on the same day. It also upheld a seven-day reduction in the early-voting period; the end of preregistration, which allowed some people to sign up before their 18th birthdays; and the repeal of a provision that allowed for the counting of ballots cast outside voters’ home precinct. • It also left intact North Carolina’s voter identification requirement, which legislators softened last year to permit residents to cast ballots, even if they lack the required documentation, if they submit affidavits. • The ruling could have significant repercussions in North Carolina, a state that Barack Obama barely won in 2008, and that the Republican Mitt Romney barely won four years later."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Senate Republicans, do your job

Senate Republicans, do your job | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM recently appeared on 'The Daily Show’' to endorse Ted Cruz for president. During the interview, host Trevor Noah ran an earlier clip in which Graham said that the choice between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz was like picking between getting shot or poisoned. Graham shrugged and said he’d decided to support Cruz because, well, Cruz is poison and maybe there is an antidote. What an endorsement! • The question that Graham and Noah didn’t discuss is how the Republicans painted themselves into this corner. The answer, at least in part, can be found in the Senate, where Republicans have spent years nurturing the extremism for which Trump and Cruz are merely the next logical step. In other words: Republican senators laid the foundation for their presidential front-runners."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

The Governing Cancer of Our Time

"Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power. • Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine. • This antipolitics tendency has had a wretched effect on our democracy. It has led to a series of overlapping downward spirals: • The antipolitics people elect legislators who have no political skills or experience. That incompetence leads to dysfunctional government, which leads to more disgust with government, which leads to a demand for even more outsiders. • The antipolitics people don’t accept that politics is a limited activity. They make soaring promises and raise ridiculous expectations. When those expectations are not met, voters grow cynical and, disgusted, turn even further in the direction of antipolitics. • The antipolitics people refuse compromise and so block the legislative process. The absence of accomplishment destroys public trust. The decline in trust makes deal-making harder."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Scalia Led Court in Taking Trips Funded by Private Sponsors

Scalia Led Court in Taking Trips Funded by Private Sponsors | Government for the People | Scoop.it

"When Justice Scalia died two weeks ago, he was staying, again for free, at a West Texas hunting lodge owned by a businessman whose company had recently had a matter before the Supreme Court.

 

Though that trip has brought new attention to the justice’s penchant for travel, it was in addition to the 258 subsidized trips that he took from 2004 to 2014. Justice Scalia went on at least 23 privately funded trips in 2014 alone to places like Hawaii, Ireland and Switzerland, giving speeches, participating in moot court events or teaching classes. Just a few weeks before his death, he was in Singapore and Hong Kong.

 

Many of the justices are frequent expenses-paid travelers, a practice that some court scholars say is a minor matter, given that many of the trips involve public talks that help demystify the court. But others argue that the trips could potentially create the appearance of a conflict of interest, particularly when the organizations are known for their conservative or liberal views. Some groups at times use the presence of a Supreme Court justice as a way to pull in members or other paying guests."

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dennis Richards from Learning, Teaching & Leading Today
Scoop.it!

True Scandal of Deflategate Lies in the N.F.L.’s Behavior

True Scandal of Deflategate Lies in the N.F.L.’s Behavior | Government for the People | Scoop.it

"John Leonard is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who roots for the Philadelphia Eagles, listens to sports talk radio when he is exercising, and teaches a course called Measurement and Instrumentation. When the Deflategate story broke after last year’s A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, he found himself fixated on it, yearning to dig into it from a scientific point of view.

On the off chance you have spent the last year on Mars, Deflategate refers to the scandal that ensued after the Colts accused the Patriots of deflating their footballs to give quarterback Tom Brady an unfair edge — an accusation that the N.F.L. and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, ultimately determined was probably true.

'Of course, I thought of the Ideal Gas Law right away,' Leonard says, 'but there was no data to test it.' Although the N.F.L. had measured the pounds per square inch (p.s.i.) of the Patriots’ footballs at halftime after the Colts complained — under the rules, game balls must be inflated to pressures ranging from 12.5 to 13.5 p.s.i. — it had not released any numbers."

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dennis Richards from Kids Global Climate Change Institute (KGCCI)
Scoop.it!

2015 Was Hottest Year in Recorded History, Scientists Say

Scientists reported Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history by far, breaking a record set only the year before — a burst of heat that has continued into the new year and is roiling weather patterns all over the world.

In the continental United States, the year was the second-warmest on record, punctuated by a December that was both the hottest and the wettest since record-keeping began. One result has been a wave of unusual winter floods coursing down the Mississippi River watershed.

Scientists started predicting a global temperature record months ago, in part because an El Niño weather pattern, one of the largest in a century, is dumping an immense amount of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere. But the bulk of the record-setting heat, they say, is a consequence of the long-term planetary warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

“The whole system is warming up, relentlessly,” said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

It will take a few more years to know for certain, but the back-to-back records of 2014 and 2015 may have put the world back onto a trajectory of rapid global warming, after period of relatively slow warming dating to the last powerful El Niño, in 1998.

Politicians attempting to claim that greenhouse gases are not a problem seized on that slow period to argue that “global warming stopped in 1998” and similar statements, with these claims reappearing recently on the Republican presidential campaign trail.

Statistical analysis suggested all along that the claims were false, and the slowdown was, at most, a minor blip in an inexorable trend, perhaps caused by a temporary increase in the absorption of heat by the Pacific Ocean.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

‘Dark Money,’ by Jane Mayer

‘Dark Money,’ by Jane Mayer | Government for the People | Scoop.it
Thirty years later, the midterm elections of 2010 ushered in the political system that the Kochs had spent so many years plotting to bring about. After the voting that year, Republicans dominated state legislatures; they controlled a clear majority of the governorships; they had taken one chamber of Congress and were on their way to winning the other. Perhaps most important, a good many of the Republicans who had won these offices were not middle-of-the-road pragmatists. They were antigovernment libertarians of the Kochs’ own political stripe. The brothers had spent or raised hundreds of millions of dollars to create majorities in their image. They had succeeded. And not merely at the polls: They had helped to finance and organize an interlocking network of think tanks, academic programs and news media outlets that far exceeded anything the liberal opposition could put together.

It is this conservative ascendancy that Jane Mayer chronicles in “Dark Money.” The book is written in straightforward and largely unemotional prose, but it reads as if conceived in quiet anger. Mayer believes that the Koch brothers and a small number of allied plutocrats have essentially hijacked American democracy, using their money not just to compete with their political adversaries, but to drown them out.

A staff writer for The New Yorker, ­Mayer spent five years working on “Dark Money,” which originated with an article on the Koch family she published in the magazine in 2010. Neither Charles nor David Koch agreed to talk to her, and several of the most important figures in their political network were unavailable. But she reached hundreds of sources who did want to talk: longtime conservative campaign operatives, business associates, political opponents and political finance scholars. Some of these sources spoke on the record and some did not, but all in all “Dark Money” emerges as an impressively reported and well-documented work.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Sued Over Old Debt, and Blocked From Suing Back

"The use of arbitration by the companies is the latest frontier in a legal strategy orchestrated by corporations in recent years. By inserting arbitration clauses into the fine print of consumer contracts, they have found a way to block access to the courts and ban class-action lawsuits, the only realistic way to bring a case against a deep-pocketed corporation. Their strategy traces to a pair of Supreme Court decisions in 2011 and 2013 that enshrined the use of class-action bans in arbitration clauses. • The result, The New York Times found in an investigation last month, is that banks, car dealers, online retailers, cellphone service providers and scores of other companies have insulated themselves from challenges to illegal or deceptive business practices. Once a class action was dismantled, court and arbitration records showed, few if any of the individual plaintiffs pursued arbitration. • In the last few years, debt collectors have pushed the parameters of that legal strategy into audacious new territory. Perhaps more than any other industry, debt collectors use the courts while invoking arbitration to deny court access to others. The companies file lawsuits seeking to force borrowers to pay debts. Because borrowers seldom show up to challenge the lawsuits, the collectors win almost every case, transforming debts that banks had given up on into big profits. • Other industries have tested the boundaries of arbitration in different ways. Auto dealers, for example, successfully lobbied Congress in 2000 to make sure that they could go to court when they had a dispute with their manufacturers. Today, though, dealers regularly require their customers to go to arbitration, while they can still sue manufacturers in court."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Hospitality and Gambling Interests (read Lobbyists) Delay Closing of Billion-Dollar Tax Loophole

Hospitality and Gambling Interests (read Lobbyists) Delay Closing of Billion-Dollar Tax Loophole | Government for the People | Scoop.it

"WASHINGTON — In the span of a mere 11 days this month, $1 billion in future federal tax payments vanished. • As congressional leaders were hastily braiding together a tax and spending bill of more than 2,000 pages, lobbyists swooped in to add 54 words that temporarily preserved a loophole sought by the hotel, restaurant and gambling industries, along with billionaire Wall Street investors, that allowed them to put real estate in trusts and avoid taxes. • They won support from the top Senate Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, who responded to appeals from executives of casino companies, politically powerful players and huge employers in his state. And the lobbyists even helped draft the crucial language. • The small changes, and the enormous windfall they generated, show the power of connected corporate lobbyists to alter a huge bill that is being put together with little time for lawmakers to consider. Throughout the legislation, there were thousands of other add-ons and hard to decipher tax changes."

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

The N.R.A.’s Complicity in Terrorism

The N.R.A.’s Complicity in Terrorism | Government for the People | Scoop.it
“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” one spokesman for Al Qaeda said in a 2011 recruitment video. “So what are you waiting for?”

Few places on earth make it easier than the United States for a terrorist to buy assault weapons to mow down scores of people in a matter of minutes. The horrific massacre in Orlando last weekend is only the latest example. And all this is made vastly easier by a gun lobby that has blocked sensible safety measures at every turn, and by members of Congress who seem to pledge greater allegiance to the firearms industry than to their own constituencies. There is a word for their role in this form of terrorism: complicity.

On Wednesday, Senate Democrats began a filibuster to force a vote on gun-control legislation. If Congress is serious about the threat of terrorists using guns, there are several steps it can take right away.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Romney warns Trump’s rhetoric could lead to ‘trickle-down racism’

Romney warns Trump’s rhetoric could lead to ‘trickle-down racism’ | Government for the People | Scoop.it
Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has been the most vocal leader of the “Never Trump” movement, delivered one of his strongest rebukes yet of Trump’s candidacy in an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.

“I don’t want to see trickle-down racism,” Romney told Blitzer. “I don’t want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Trump hits back at PGA with ominous warning: ‘If I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop’

Trump hits back at PGA with ominous warning: ‘If I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop’ | Government for the People | Scoop.it
The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that it was moving a tour date of its elite World Golf Championships from South Florida to Mexico City, beginning in 2017.

"Can you believe it?" Trump asked the crowd at a rally here Wednesday evening. "Think of it: They moved the PGA Tour — moved the World Golf Championship — from Miami, where they're furious, to Mexico City. Not good."

He continued: "But that's okay. Folks, it's all going to be settled, you vote for Donald Trump as president. If I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

How the Other Fifth Lives

How the Other Fifth Lives | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"For years now, people have been talking about the insulated world of the top 1 percent of Americans, but the top 20 percent of the income distribution is also steadily separating itself — by geography and by education as well as by income. • This self-segregation of a privileged fifth of the population is changing the American social order and the American political system, creating a self-perpetuating class at the top, which is ever more difficult to break into. • The accompanying chart, taken from “The Continuing Increase in Income Segregation,” a March 2016 paper by Sean F. Reardon, a professor of education at Stanford, and Kendra Bischoff, a professor of sociology at Cornell, demonstrates the accelerating geographic isolation of the well-to-do — the upper middle and upper classes (a pattern of isolation that also applies to the poor, with devastating effect)."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

More than 900 'Democracy Spring' protesters arrested in D.C. - so far

"Police have calmly arrested hundreds of people in Washington, D,.C. protesting the influence of money in politics during the last week, in what several participants described as a striking display of restrained law enforcement. • More arrests are expected Monday, the final day of protests when the focus of the non-violent protests turn to voting rights and timely consideration of the Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court. U.S. Capitol Police have arrested more than 900 protesters through Saturday. • Mass demonstrations by a group called "Democracy Spring" began last Monday. A related group, "Democracy Awakening," joined the efforts on Saturday and are holding often integrated sit ins and other demonstrations to protest laws it considers discriminatory, such as Voter ID laws. • "Here what you have is a very professional, carefully calibrated and wonderfully orchestrated means of dealing with law enforcement in Washington," said Cornell Brooks, national president and CEO of NAACP."
more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dennis Richards from Learning, Teaching & Leading Today
Scoop.it!

Can democracy exist without trust? - Ivan Krastev

Five great revolutions have shaped political culture over the past 50 years, says theorist Ivan Krastev. He shows how each step forward -- from the cultural revolution of the '60s to recent revelations in the field of neuroscience -- has also helped erode trust in the tools of democracy. As he says, "What went right is also what went wrong." Can democracy survive?
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

The 199 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List

The 199 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"In the seven months since declaring his candidacy for president, Donald Trump has used Twitter to lob insults at presidential candidates, journalists, news organizations, nations, a Neil Young song and even a lectern in the Oval Office. We know this because we’ve read, tagged and quoted them all. Below, a directory of sorts, with links to the original tweets. Insults within the last two weeks are highlighted."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

State [doesn't] act[s] on nursing homes

"Dr. Monica Bharel, the health commissioner, also revealed Wednesday that the state has a backlog of consumer complaints about nursing homes.Bharel said that her department will hire and train more staff but did not detail how the agency will pay for the hires. • As part of the changes Bharel announced, consumers will have access to a new online system to file complaints and find more detailed information about nursing homes. • Families with relatives in nursing homes have long expressed frustration with the state’s system for filing complaints. • Last year alone, the Department of Public Health was flooded with about 11,000 complaints from consumers and reports of problems filed by nursing homes, Bharel said. • “We need to find a better way to triage and address the backlog of complaints,’’ Bharel said as she presented the overhaul to the Public Health Council, an appointed body of academics, consumer advocates, and physicians that approves health regulations. • Roughly 40,000 residents live in the 400-plus nursing homes in Massachusetts. • Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed state budget includes money for two additional nursing home inspectors."
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Leonardo DiCaprio receives the Crystal Award at World Forum in Davos

"The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants. Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. LDF works in 4 key areas:

 

* PROTECTING BIODIVERSITY 

* OCEANS CONSERVATION 

* WILDLANDS CONSERVATION 

* CLIMATE CHANGE"

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Will you commit to making reforms that change the way campaigns are funded a primary objective of your administration?

Will you commit to making reforms that change the way campaigns are funded a primary objective of your administration? | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Support this question!" • "We are not a representative democracy any more. The concentration of power in the funders of campaigns has radically undermined the capacity of Congress to represent us. • The President is the only political leader who could make reforming our crippled and corrupted Congress a priority. Congress won't do it. The courts can't do it. It is up to the President to lead on this issue. • But no President would have a mandate powerful enough to make such a fundamental change unless s/he makes it a primary commitment of his or her administration. • We know that -- like 72% of voters -- every Democratic candidate for President supports reform. Each of you has committed to small dollar citizen funding of campaigns. • But which of you will commit to making that reform primary? Which of you will give us a reason to believe in government again? "
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dennis Richards
Scoop.it!

Making America safer for predatory capitalism

Making America safer for predatory capitalism | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"The point of these arbitration clauses is to take away the right of consumers to bring class action lawsuits against improper practices. For example, if a telephone company charges an outlandish fee for ending a contract early, without clear notification in the initial agreement, an arbitration clause may prevent customers from bringing suit. • The point of getting the case into arbitration is not just to get a referee that is likely to be sympathetic to the company; arbitration also hugely tilts the playing field in their direction. As a practical matter, it is unlikely to make sense for an individual customer to hire a lawyer to try to win back $500 or $1,000 that a phone company is improperly charging. Legal fees can easily exceed these sums and of course there is no guarantee of winning. • The most common form of redress is to bring a class action suit. This allows hundreds or thousands of people who were victimized by the same clause to join together to bring a legal case. But the arbitration clauses specifically block legal actions. This means arbitration is the only form of redress. • The latest Times article in this series reports on how debt collectors are taking advantage of these clauses. They can use the courts for abusive forms of debt collection, and then hide behind arbitration clauses to prevent their victims from suing back. "
more...
No comment yet.