Nation editor-at-large and host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.
Just three months after Jamie Leigh Jones' horrific account of Halliburton gang-rape was heard in Congress, Karen Houppert talks to Lisa Smith, a KBR contractor who alleges she was raped by a co-worker.
And thanks to KBR's secret arbitration process, like Jones, Smith's case may never see the light of a courthouse.
The problems facing progressives in a post-Bush landscape are not problems of "what". We know more or less what has to happen: withdrawal from Iraq, closing gitmo, universal healthcare, a cap and trade program for carbon emissions. (I could go on). And there are technical policy debates about the best policy architecture to achieve each of these, but those debates are, I think, fairly secondary at this point. Because the major intellectual and political problem to untangle, for everyone from journalists like myself charged with chronicling the capital, to activists and organizers and staff members, is how. How, in the face of tremendous entrenched interests, in the wreckage of a system that has been discredited and gutted over the last seven years, how do you get actual, positive, progressive reform actually enacted.
This is why you should read Ezra Klein's piece in Slate about how to fix healthcare. Notice this:
On health care, the vital question for the next president isn't merely what to do but how to do it. Reform requires much more than a willing executive, as anyone who worked in the Clinton White House between the years of 1992 and 1994 can tell you. The problem is not just policy--Washington is stuffed with wonks and idea entrepreneurs eager to explain how to fix the health care system--it's politics. Without 60 votes in the Senate, you don't have a policy. You have a position. And nobody is going to get good, affordable medical care from a position paper. Sadly, there's a long history of executives coming in with a clear position paper explaining what they want to do to fix health care but no political strategy for how to achieve it. The next president need not repeat that mistake. He or she needs, first, a clear political approach--based, in part, around a solid understanding of the mistakes made by the Clintons in 1994--that's backed up by a solid set of policy principles.
This is exactly right. There are hard policy problems out there (the current crisis in financial markets is a good example), but there are so many problems that progressives have clear solutions to if we can solve the fundamental political meta-problem.
Following up on Chris's post, a quick stat from the current Foreign Policy's military survey on a related theme: an overwhelming 78% of officers support granting citizenship to legal permanent residents in exchange for service.
And an equal percentage think that we really, really can't afford to wage another major war right now.
I'm not entirely sure why there's something about John Yoo and our nation's fond embrace of torture which bothers me even more than do Dick Cheney and George Bush. Obviously they're the ones who have ultimate responsibility for all of this stuff, but there's something peculiarly evil about not just doing bad stuff but providing elaborate justifications for it.
I agree. But I think the other reason the Yoo situation is particularly enraging is that after he he left his job in the administration, he was rewarded with a tenured post at one of the nation's finest law schools. A perch from which he can continue to play a role in the nation's discourse just like any other legal academic. But at what point does advocating for, well, war crimes, get you barred from teaching law, or at the very least, being part of polite society?
There simply seems to be no recriminations for anyone who helped plan and execute this seven-year-long parade of moral abominations.
These days, when Sen. Dorgan (D-North Dakota) makes the case that the FCC has moved from referee to cheerleader in the fight over media control -- "shaking the pom-poms for more media concentration" -- he's sounding increasingly prescient.
Yesterday, FCC chair Kevin Martin took to the stage before a cheering industry audience at a Las Vegas trade show with a variant of that message, namely: Corporations don't need any regulation, because we trust you. Responding to Verizon's recent statement that it supports open-access principles, Martin was quick to soothe any fears that the FCC might feel the need to actually enshrine the principle in policy. "In light of the industry's embrace of this more open approach, I think it's premature for the commission to adopt any other requirements across the industry," he said.
But Verizon's statement was just that--a statement. And like Comcast, which last week announced (after intense pressure) it would stop blocking BitTorrent software, Verizon has been chary with its guarantees of future nondiscrimination in its dealings.
The Senate Commerce Committee was slated to vote on Dorgan's attempt to overturn the FCC's recent efforts to promote media cross-ownership today; the vote has been rescheduled for April 24.
One of the most outrageous casualties of the nation's immigration stalemate are the tens of thousands of young immigrants whose parents brought them to the US as children and who now find themselves in danger of being deported and unable to receive federal financial aid for college. There's a simple way to fix this, and it's called the DREAM Act. Sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the legislation would allow immigrants who've grown up in the US and who were brought here through no decision of their own, to become US citizens. Here are two stories that drive home just how important the legislation would be.
This one is from an 2007 episode of This American Life.
And this video, which was just recently posted by the very smart folks over at the Movement Vision Lab:
"Everybody, this is not an April Fools joke," said Sen. Reid yesterday in an announcement with Sen. McConnell. "This is important ...and the only way it's going to be solved is for us to work together. The time has come for us to legislate."
(Sometimes a spring break does wonders to clear the mind.)
By noon today, Sens. Dodd and Shelby are expected to produce a bipartisan housing bill, subject to amendment by both sides. And after the GOP stonewalled the issue all last month, Sen. Isakson (R-Ga.) urged Republicans leaders to move quickly on an agreement. "You can play that game when it doesn't matter. But people's lives, their fortunes, their largest single asset is at stake," he said.
Meanwhile, frustrated cities are taking action in their own hands. Last week, Philadelphia suspended sales of foreclosed homes; Cleveland and Baltimore are considering similar actions.
As I wrote earlier this month, under the leadership of Rep. Cohen (D-Tennessee), an apology for slavery and Jim Crow is currently making its way through Congress. Now on the state level, in a bid for "reconciliation and healing," Florida has issued a landmark apology for its role in American slavery. Since just last year, five other states have passed similar resolutions, including New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Alabama.
In case you missed it, there was a stellar moment in a related House hearing last December, in which Cohen deftly interrogated a witness who criticized the notion of a US apology. To me, this particular exchange got to the heart of the matter:
COHEN: The United States permitted slavery, made it legal....For a hundred years thereafter [we] made people unequal citizens. For 100 years we perpetrated, perpetuated that racism and that badge of slavey! It was a second-class slavery system!WITNESS: Now when you say we....COHEN: We're a country.WITNESS: Well, I don't look at it that way.
In other words: the United States is proud to accept full credit for its virtues as a country, but none of the collective responsibility for its sins.
Watch the clip here: