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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
Number of posts: 53,475

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Clueless in Wisconsin

But seriously, how many times ...

The Future of the Innerweb

The good thing about science ...

The Third Party That’s Winning


That was just one of several big successes for the Working Families Party around the country this fall, perhaps the most notable being the election of Mayor Bill de Blasio and a progressive slate of candidates in New York City — including Public Advocate Letitia James, the first black woman to hold citywide office, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina Speaker of the Council. These WFP candidates are expected to push a progressive agenda for New York that includes expanding paid sick days, levying a tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-kindergarten, and much more. The New York City victories have attracted new attention to how the WFP exercises power at the ballot box and in city and state legislatures, leveraging quirks in local electoral systems and existing progressive bases to make a third party viable.

But it is the ways that Working Families is wielding its power outside of liberal New York that deserve a closer look. As public discontent with mainstream Democrats builds, is it possible for a third party to grow — not by running a famous big name on a presidential ticket, but from the bottom up? And if it succeeds at that task, can Working Families pull national politics back in the direction of ordinary people and away from the one percent?


When the major parties agree, as they often do in supporting, say, corporate-style education reform, a third party can promote ideas and issues that would be otherwise neglected. In Oregon, for example, the WFP worked with local student groups to put forward a plan for rethinking college funding. They found a WFP-backed Democrat to sponsor it, and the measure wound up passing unanimously in the state legislature. The party is now working on a bill that would create a state bank to invest Oregon’s public money at home instead of with Wall Street and provide cheaper loans to state residents. Such proposals are unlikely to come from the major parties, which each receive massive campaign contributions from big banks, even at the state level.


It all comes down, in the end, to how power gets built. It requires coalitions and trust; institutional support and enthusiastic activists; lots of organizing, and perhaps most of all, a willingness to pick the right fights. Bertha Lewis knows perhaps better than anyone else how hard those fights can be. But she thinks they’re worth it. “Sometimes, in years past, you couldn’t tell a Democrat from a Republican. No one wanted to talk about race; no one wanted to talk poverty. This whole conversation that we’re having nationally about inequality is because [groups like WFP] kept to our principles and our ideas and kept saying, ‘There is inequality, there is inequality, there is inequality.’ ”

Said on the TeeVee (Academy Awards Special)


Travolta accidentally called Idina Menzel “Adele Dazeem.” And I guess that wasn’t the only flub. Leonardo DiCaprio says Jennifer Lawrence flubbed his name when she presented the best actor award and pronounced it “Matthew McConaughey.”


Last night was the fourth time Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar and the fourth time he has lost. Being Leonardo DiCaprio must be a living hell. I don't know how he goes on.


Anybody see the Academy Awards last night? I watch every year to make sure I'm not in the dead actors montage.


Last night the Academy Awards telecast was more than three hours long. They actually had to do a second “In Memoriam” montage because quite a few actors passed away during the broadcast.

John Nichols: Scott Walker's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad February


Scott Walker’s had a lousy February. Tens of thousands of emails detailing the ethical and legal lapses, political misdeeds, insensitivity, sexism, racism and homophobia of his "inner circle" of closest aides were released.

The governor tried to spin it all away, only to be criticized by Fox News for not answering basic questions. Then Walker started stonewalling in a manner that made New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie look like a model citizen. Then a new Citizen Action of Wisconsin report identified patterns of partisanship in the practices of the Walker administration’s primary job-creation agency, the steadily troubled Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The best a defensive Walker could muster in response was a claim that “business leaders more often than not happen to be Republicans.”


Third, Walker’s email trail, and that of his aides, has provided fodder for discussions that do not reflect well on the governor. The governor did not write the most crudely racist and irresponsible of the emails. But he hired the people who did, put them in positions of authority and continued to find them work even when their wrongdoing began to be exposed. And there are plenty of emails that suggest Walker went along with his aides when — neglecting their duty to the taxpayers — they placed political calculations ahead of the public interest.


Walker has experienced a series of bad breaks in February. The question is whether Burke can take advantage of the opening she has been handed to present herself as a credible alternative to the governor — by focusing primarily on economics but also by speaking in smart ways about restoring responsible and ethical governance.

Burke will have to capitalize on the ethics questions if she's going to win, as her policy positions and track record don't inspire many.

Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser explains how stimulus packages work

Fred's one of the good guys.

The Wrong Right

Standardized Testing

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