How Republicans created a kind-of-legit oversight program to suppress Democratic-leaning voters

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When Crosscheck was kicked off in 2005 by then Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—an anti-immigration lawyer with an itch for white nationalist sympathies—it was a regional, four-state consortium of some of the demographically whitest and Republican states in the American heartland looking for a way to clamp down on any hint of people-of-color voting power. But by 2012 it bloomed to include 15 states (pdf); in 2013 it was 22. And by 2014 it was 29….

…Kobach now enjoys national acclaim as co-chair of the Trump administration’s nefarious new voter-fraud commission.

pub. 05/2017

The politics behind right-wing climate change denial

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“Most Republicans still do not regard climate change as a hoax,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “But the entire climate change debate has now been caught up in the broader polarization of American politics.”

“In some ways,” he added, “it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican.”

pub. 06/2017

A quick explanation of how the budget works

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The spending we’ve discussed so far is “mandatory,” meaning the government has to pay it to fulfill its own rules. When somebody becomes eligible for social security payments, for example, the law says they start getting the money, so there it goes…

…What’s left is discretionary spending, meaning the amounts can more easily change from year to year, at Congress’s discretion.

pub. 05/2017

Why the census is really, really important–and in jeopardy right now

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1. Literally every American social program uses census numbers to allocate resources.

Your fire department, your schools—the data gathered in the decadal census, determines, for example, whether new schools are opened or current schools are shut down. Transportation grants and education grants, among others, are distributed proportionally. If the Veteran’s Administration wants to place a hospital for elderly veterans, they obviously want to select a location heavily populated by elderly veterans. If the numbers are off, the hospital gets mis-sited—and the vets don’t get health care.

pub. 05/2017

Why a special prosecutor might keep Trump’s secrets

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A special prosecutor, by contrast, seeks crimes. The criminal law is a heavy tool, and for that reason it is thickly encased in protections for accused persons. The most important protection from the point of view of the Trump-Russia matter is the rule of silence. A prosecutor investigating a crime can often discover non-criminal bad actions by the people he is investigating. If those bad actions do not amount to crimes, the prosecutor is supposed to look away.

pub. 05/2017