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International Politics Meets Domestic Politics

by: tmess2

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 01:05:21 AM EST

Next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before a joint session of Congress at the invitation of the Republican Party.  There are many reasons why this speech is unprecedented, but the biggest reason may be that this speech occurs smack in the middle of the Israeli elections which will be held on March 17.  Simply put, Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be speaking before Congress as the representative of Israel but rather, through his speech to Congress, will be presenting the position of the Likud Party to the voters of Israel.  The tone deafness of the Republicans in scheduling this speech for this moment in time, however, reflects a more general failure of American politicians to recognize the impact that elections have on the foreign policy of other countries (and the possible adjustments that we will have to make in reaction to those elections).

With only three weeks to go until the elections in Israel, it is hard at this time to determine whether or not Prime Minister Netanyahu will still be Prime Minister in four weeks or if the position of Israel on the U.S.'s position in negotiations with Iran will change.  In Israel, rather than electing members by districts, Israel elects members by proportional representation.  This situation tends to lead to multiple parties with no party being close to a majority and the formation of a government depending upon negotiations between the parties to form a government.

Based on current projections, Likud and associated parties that take a "hardline" position on negotiations with Palestinians and Iran is likely to fall slightly from 43 seats to 40 seats.  On the other hand, Labor and other parties that take a more moderate position on these issues is likely to rise from 21 seats to 30 seats.  That will leave the balance of power with three groups:  1) Arab parties (representing the approximately 10% of the Israeli population that is not Jewish) -- likely to hold 10-15 seats; 2) Religious Parties (representing ultra-Orthodox Jews who seek preferred treatment for the ultra-Orthodox as well as to make Israel law comport to their interpretation of rabbinic law) -- likely to hold 15-20 seats; and 3) secular parties (parties that seek to focus on economic issues first and to reduce the preferential treatment currently given to the ultra-Orthodox) -- also likely to hold 15-20 seats. 

The split among the minor parties reflects the difficulty anybody will have in forming a government.  The Arab parties will not formally join a government (but might support a Labor government on "no confidence" votes.  The secular and religious parties are unlikely to agree to a joint coalition.  Even among the religious party, there are ethnic differences between Ashkenazi (Central European) Jews and Sephardic (Middle Eastern) Jews.  While the religious parties will sometimes join together to support a government, it takes a lot of effort to keep them on the same page (particularly as they are all interested in the same cabinet ministries). 

Of course, Israel is not the only significant ally having elections this year.  In May, the United Kingdom will have elections.  The last election resulted in a hung parliament and a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.  Since the last election, both of these parties have lost some of their popularity. Also since the last election, the Scottish Nationalist Party (seeking Scottish independence or, at least, greater Scottish autonomy) and the United Kingdom Independence Party (a semi-isolationist party seeking to leave the European Union) have gained substantial popularity.  While it is unclear whether UKIP will win any seats (given that it finished in third or four place in most of the seats in the last election), by taking votes away from the Conservative Party, UKIP is making it likely that the Labour Party will win the elections.  (Although Labour's loss of seats in Scotland to the SNP may force a coalition government of some type).  Even the current Conservative government has been reluctant to commit the UK to any great involvement in the Middle East.  If Labour wins, it is very likely that any proposal from the U.S. for military intervention against ISIS or Iran would be met with a deaf ear by London.

Additionally, Turkey will hold elections in June.  Current projections suggest that the present government (a moderate Islamic Party) could win re-election.  Like Israel, Turkey uses a system based on proportional representation with the kick that, if a party fails to meet the required threshold for votes, their seats are transferred to the party that finishes first.  According to the latest polls, the government is expected to get 40% of the vote and the next three parties are expected to get 55% of the vote.  However, the fourth largest party is currently polling just under the 10% required to win seats.  If they can pick up the extra votes, there could be a hung parliament.  If not the government would get those seats and probably keep the majority.  Most of the differences between the major parties center on domestic issues and will not impact relations between the U.S. and Turkey.  All of the major parties share similar concerns about wanting stability on their border while not seeming to be part of colonial-type Western actions against Islam.  Most of them are also greatly concerned about the exact scope of Kurdish autonomy in Iraq (given the restless Kurdish population in eastern Turkey).

Lastly, in the fall, Canada will hold elections.  In the last elections, back in 2011, the Liberal Party had a very bad election, falling to third place behind the mildly socialist New Democratic Party.  The collapse by the Liberal Party resulted in the governing conservatives winning a substantial number of seats by narrow margins in three-way contests giving the Conservatives a slim majority.  For the 2015 election, there will be 30 more seats in the Canadian Parliament.  Since then, the NDP have fallen back somewhat and the Liberals appear to have regained parity with the Conservatives. A return to a hung parliament with a minority government seems likely.  A loss of control by the Conservatives, however, would likely result in a less intense support for a new Keystone pipeline by the new government.

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Indy for #RNC2020 or #DNC2020?

by: Oreo

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 12:16:40 PM EST

It's never too soon to start looking (way) ahead...

The requests for bids for the 2020 Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention are expected to be sent out to cities in late 2017 or early 2018, and there’s already speculation that Indianapolis will be a heavyweight contender for either convention.

If Republicans and Democrats come calling on Indianapolis—as expected—to host their 2020 national political conventions, they’re likely to get the same answers they got for 2016.

That answer: Thanks, but no thanks. That doesn’t mean city officials wouldn’t give either bid serious consideration. But recent history gives heavy hints as to how this would end. - Indianapolis Business Journal


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The last time Philadelpha hosted a Democratic Convention was....

by: Matt

Thu Feb 12, 2015 at 20:38:24 PM EST

We wrote earlier today:

The last time Philly hosted a Democratic convention was 1948. - See more at: http://www.democraticconventionwatch.com/#sthash.VoHHpL6p.dpuf
The last time Philly hosted a Democratic convention was 1948. - See more at: http://www.democraticconventionwatch.com/#sthash.VoHHpL6p.dpuf
The last time Philly hosted a Democratic convention was 1948. - See more at: http://www.democraticconventionwatch.com/#sthash.VoHHpL6p.dpuf
The last time Philly hosted a Democratic convention was 1948. - See more at: http://www.democraticconventionwatch.com/#sthash.VoHHpL6p.dpuf

The last time Philly hosted a Democratic Convention was 1948

Well, not exactly:

Discredited and traumatized by the debacle of 1980, the Democrats who gathered in Philadelphia for their midterm convention saw everything coming their way, and no one wanted to mess up the prospects. They are looking toward the congressional elections this fall, and drooling.
Wherever Democrats convene, the hotel elevators do not work, nor does the air conditioning. This tradition, at least, endured in Philadelphia. In the lobby of the Bellevue Stratford, a swarm of sweaty delegates was elbowing and bumping onto crowded elevators. One overloaded car jammed on the fourth floor –– Philly firemen to the rescue –– and aggravation was rising. The delegates' destination was the 19th floor, where Walter Mondale, putative candidate for president in 1984, was holding a big reception in the Rose Garden room. Mondale is so popular among his fellow Democrats that in the last Gallup poll, all of 12 percent of them named him as their favorite.

1982 was the third, and last, mid-term convention the Democrats held. (KC in 1974, Memphis in 1978). Above is a picture of the convention taken from the podium. (Credit: John O'Leary, DNC)

The last time Philly hosted a Democratic convention was 1948. - See more at: http://www.democraticconventionwatch.com/diary/6037/philadelphia-named-as-host-of-the-2016-democratic-national-convention-dnc2016#sthash.r1rZMHE0.dpuf
The last time Philly hosted a Democratic convention was 1948. - See more at: http://www.democraticconventionwatch.com/diary/6037/philadelphia-named-as-host-of-the-2016-democratic-national-convention-dnc2016#sthash.r1rZMHE0.dpuf
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Philadelphia named as host of the 2016 Democratic National Convention #DNC2016

by: Oreo

Thu Feb 12, 2015 at 09:58:06 AM EST

Washington, DC— Today, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Philadelphia will host the 2016 Democratic National Convention the week of July 25, 2016. The DNC signed the final contract with Philadelphia this morning.

“I am thrilled to announce that Philadelphia will host the convention where we will nominate the 45th President of the United States,” Wasserman Schultz said. “In addition to their commitment to a seamless and safe convention, Philadelphia’s deep rooted place in American history provides a perfect setting for this special gathering. I cannot wait to join Democrats across the country to celebrate our shared values, lay out a Democratic vision for the future, and support our nominee.”

The DNC’s Technical Advisory Group evaluated cities across the country, looking at factors such as hotel capacity, transportation, security, financing and logistics.

“The City of Philadelphia is excited and honored to be selected as the host city for the 2016 Democratic National Convention,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter said. “We believe that it was our proven track record of hosting big events safely and efficiently with a dynamic team of top-tier professionals to organize and manage a conference of this magnitude, paired with our City’s tremendous amenities, its accessible location and historical significance, which made Philadelphia the ideal choice for the 2016 DNC.  I want to thank our great team at PHL DNC 2016, Governor Rendell and Governor Wolf, Senator Casey, Congressman Brady, Congressman Fattah, and former Congresswoman Schwartz.  I especially want to acknowledge our great partners in the Labor unions, business and political communities, clergy and our citizens, who are eager to see Philadelphia on the national stage as the host city.  We’re all delighted to make history again, here in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”

Additional details on the convention structure, host committee, and staff, will be made available in the coming weeks.

The last time Philly hosted a Democratic convention was 1948.

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Quarantines and Vaccination -- The Law and Politics

by: tmess2

Tue Feb 03, 2015 at 22:01:14 PM EST

In the past, epidemics of serious disease were much more common than they are today.  During the late 1800s and early 1900s (at the same time that courts were regularly striking down economic legislation), courts had to decide whether governments could impose quarantines on people with contagious diseases and whether states could require vaccinations -- especially for school children.  While the case law on the right to privacy was much less developed than it is today, there was some recognition of personal autonomy (the same concept of autonomy underlying the right to contract case law) and parental primacy in making decisions on behalf of their children.  The bottom line in these cases is that -- when scientifically supported -- quarantines and mandatory vaccinations could be appropriate.

In recent months, this well-settled law has run smack into a political movement that simply does not respect science.  This disrespect for science leads the same politician to rush to quarantine individuals with Ebola even though the quarantine policy may not be legally valid due to a lack of scientific support while opposing mandatory vaccinations which have a solid base of scientific support. 

The science underlying mandatory vaccinations and quarantines share some basic ideas.  (Doc Jess can probably give a more detailed explanation than I can, but this is the lay/lawyer understanding of the basic science). 

Diseases tend to be caused by one of two things -- a virus or a bacteria.  A bacteria is a single-cell organism.  If you have a bacterial infection, the bacteria will multiply by stealing food away from the healthy cells (sometimes releasing a toxic waste that injures the host cells).  A virus is (at the simplest level) a piece of genetic material.  Like all genetic materials, a virus wants to replicate itself.  It achieves this goal by taking over a host cell, killing the natural genetic material in that cell, and reprograming that cell to reproduce the virus rather than host cells.  Eventually, the host cell is overloaded with viruses and bursts letting the new viruses free to attack neighboring cells.  As more cells fall prey to the virus, the body begins to show negative effects -- some potentially permanent or fatal.

Each disease has a natural progression and spreads by a different way (e.g., airborne, insect bite, touch/sharing fluids).   The natural progression of a disease determines when the host (i.e. the sick person) is contagious.  Some diseases are contagious before any significant symptoms are noticeable.  Others are only contagious after symptoms are apparent.  This difference is significant for designing quarantine programs as a person only needs to be quarantined if they might be contagious.  Similarly, an airborne disease requires a different quarantine approach than a disease spread by contact.

The human immune system is designed to defend against diseases.  It does so by attacking potentially infections invaders.  Before the human body can adequately defend against an invader, the immune system must be able to recognize the invader and respond before the invaders.  The concept of vaccination is to introduce a dead or weakened version of the virus into the human body so that the immune system is prepared to respond if it ever faces a strong live version of the disease. 

A proper vaccination system works in two ways.  First, for most people, vaccination leaves them with a strong enough defense that -- even if they encounter the disease -- their body will be prepared to kill the invader (either preventing the development of any symptoms or minimizing the symptoms).  Second, if enough people have developed an immunity to the disease, there are few potential hosts for the disease and those hosts are naturally scattered (reducing the chance of the disease spreading from the initial patient to others or even getting to the initial patient -- frequently referred to as herd immunity)   It is this second aspect that is put at risk by the current hostility to vaccination.  When 90% of families in a school district have been vaccinated, it is very hard for measles or mumps or polio to take root.  As that number gets lower, the disease rapidly passes from one family to another. 

As recently as 30-40 years ago, many diseases did not have a viable vaccines and everybody knew somebody who died from or had serious complications from measles, mumps, or polio.  Now, vaccination has made these diseases very rare (and have effectively made smallpox extinct), and people have forgotten why we need vaccinations.  Meanwhile, some Republican politicians are willing to play game with our children's health.  Shame on them, and double shame on Rand Paul who as a doctor is supposed to know better.

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DNC visits host cities for 2016 Democratic Convention

by: Matt

Fri Jan 30, 2015 at 21:28:40 PM EST

Following visits to Columbus and Philadelphia earlier this week, DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz visited Brooklyn today:

New York City made its final pitch Friday to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn.

Mayor Bill de Blasio met with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the Democratic National Committee's chairwoman, who toured the Barclays Center, the arena at the center of the city's proposal.
"I know it's highly competitive," de Blasio told reporters at an unrelated news conference. "I know we're coming down to the wire."

Wasserman Schultz went with the mayor to Barclays about 3:30 p.m.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), at a separate news conference, said that the city would subsidize hotel rooms for delegates to keep costs in line with cheaper cities.

Though past New York conventions for both parties have been held at Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan, Schumer said visitor accommodations in the Brooklyn proposal would generally be closer than in almost any other convention the Democrats have held in the past.

A February decision is expected.

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2016 Democratic National Convention to be held week of July 25th #DNC2016

by: Oreo

Fri Jan 23, 2015 at 16:01:36 PM EST

This just in from the DNC...

Dear DNC Member,

Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will announce today the 2016 Democratic  National Convention will be held the week of July 25, 2016.  The Committee is still in final contract negotiations to decide a host city for the convention and will announce the decision in the coming weeks. 

Stay tuned for an announcement of which city will host the convention

Update:This is the earliest an incumbent Democratic party has held their convention since the Truman convention started on July 12, 1948, and the earliest either incumbent party has held their convention since the Nixon convention started on July 25, 1960.

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GOP 2016 date is earliest since 1980

by: Matt

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 21:45:43 PM EST

With a date of July 18th this is the earliest GOP convention since the 1980 Reagan convention in Detroit which started on July 14, 1980.

It also the earliest of either major party since the Clinton Dem convention in NY which started July 13, 1992.

Is going back to July conventions a mistake? With social media, and all the web-based news outlets, it's certainly easier to get coverage in the dead of summer than it might have been 22 or 34 years ago. But a late August convention, leading into September just as many voters are starting to pay attention, still seems preferable to me.

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GOP announces July 18-21st for #RNC2016 in Cleveland

by: Oreo

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 19:42:40 PM EST


WASHINGTON – The Republican National Committee has selected July 18-21 as the official dates for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

"I'm pleased to announce the 2016 Republican National Convention will kick off on July 18," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.  "A convention in July is a historic success for our party and future nominee.  The convention will be held significantly earlier than previous election cycles, allowing access to crucial general election funds earlier than ever before to give our nominee a strong advantage heading into Election Day.  
“We're excited to continue working with our partners in Cleveland and we look forward to showcasing everything the city has to offer to our delegates and the world in 2016.”
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Supreme Court-Preview of Remainder of Term

by: tmess2

Sun Jan 11, 2015 at 12:06:44 PM EST

This past Friday, the Supreme Court returned from its Christmas recess with the January arguments scheduled to begin on Monday.  This time of year is a transition period on the Supreme Court calendar.  Enough time has passed since the first arguments that the Supreme Court is beginning to issue opinions from the early arguments.  On the other hand, on cases that the Supreme Court decides to hear, there is barely enough time between this month's orders accepting review and the April argument session to allow cases to be heard and decided this year.  Starting in February, any cases accepted will be for the fall's argument dates with decisions likely to be issued in 2016. 

The Supreme Court has already announced its argument schedule for January (10 arguments on five days) and February (11 argument on six days).  Based on the grants before the Christmas recess (and the dismissal of one of those cases when the petition disappeared and did not file a brief), the Supreme Court has 10 cases that could be (probably will be)heard on the six days of the March argument session.  On Friday, the Supreme Court rescheduled a case from earlier this year for a second round of briefing and argument (on an additional issue) and the rest of the April argument session will be filled by the cases that the Supreme Court decide to grant review on this month. 

January has a lot of cases of moderate interest.  First up is Reed vs. Town of Gilbert.  The issue involves a the Town's regulations on temporary signs -- a regulation that favors certain categories of signs (political) over others (churches and other non-profits) -- and whether those categories are "content-neutral" or not (a fact determines what test should be applied to review of the ordinance with content-neutral ordinances normally being upheld).  Next up is Mach Mining vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  The issue involves the EEOC's duty to attempt to negotiate a settlement before filing suit against a company that discriminates based on race or gender.  The company wants the Supreme Court to rule that courts can dismiss an otherwise valid claim of discrimination if the court believes that the EEOC did not act fairly in the pre-filing negotiations.  During the second week of arguments, the Supreme Court will hear Williams-Yulee vs. Florida Bar.  This case involves a rule barring judicial candidates from personally soliciting donations to their campaigns.  Needless to say in a court that has been hostile to campaign finance regulations, those supporting this rule may face a very hostile court.  Finally, in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs vs. Inclusive Communities Project, the Supreme Court will decide if the Fair Housing Act (like other anti-discrimination laws) allows a claim based on discriminatory impact (that the rules actually do discriminate against minorities) or whether the victims of discrimination must show that the rule or practice was intended to discriminate against minorities. 

In February, the big case is King vs. Burwell -- the case on subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  In the latest attempt by conservatives to gut the bill, the petitioners are claiming that the proper way to interpret the statute is that the subsidies are only available for people who purchase insurance on a state-run exchange but that subsidies are not available in those states in which the federal government runs the exchange because the state has not established an exchange.  Needless to say, as most states have not established an exchange, if the Supreme Court finds that the subsidy is only available on state-run exchanges, a significant number of people will lose the subsidy and will not be able to afford health insurance.  Also in February, the Supreme Court will hear Arizona State Legislature vs. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.  This case involves whether the U.S. Constitution requires that state legislatures draw congressional district lines or if that duty can be reassigned by the voters (or legislature) to an independent commission.

Looking at the likely March arguments, the big case is actually three consolidated cases challenging whether the EPA improperly gave insufficient weight to potential costs in enacting regulations on hazardous pollutants generated by electrical companies. Additionally, there is another significant First Amendment case, Walker vs. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans,  concerning the ability of states to refuse to allow certain groups the ability to have a specialty license plate. 

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Could NYC Police strife cost NY the convention?

by: Matt

Thu Jan 08, 2015 at 22:30:54 PM EST

Officials in Columbus seem to think so:

Columbus might up end hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention, in part because of another city’s problems.

City officials and Democrats statewide said this week that the turmoil in New York City between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD union has all but spoiled that city’s shot at getting the convention.

As one official said at Columbus City Hall this week, “No way the DNC picks New York with all the issues going on there now.”

That just leaves Philadelphia and Columbus. The feeling at City Hall is that it’s Columbus’ convention to lose.

DNC officials plan to announce their selection this month, though we’ve heard that before.
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Mario Cuomo - 1932 - 2015

by: Matt

Thu Jan 01, 2015 at 21:38:10 PM EST

Mario Cuomo, three-term Govenor of New York, never quite a candidate for President, and keynote speaker of the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, passed away today at his home in New York.

His forceful speech was the highlight of the convention:

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Ferguson in its Local Context

by: tmess2

Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 12:43:41 PM EST

There are a lot of different angles to the Ferguson story.  On the one hand, there are some national implications as the situation in Ferguson is not unique.  But, there is also the fact that -- while these problems exist in communities across the country, the key people with the ability to effect real change will ultimately be elected at the local level.  (And as Doc Jess has frequently noted, there is a dangerous tendency in this country to focus primarily on the presidency and to ignore the most important elections.)  This post is about the local context.  (I will probably have a follow-up focusing on the grand jury system, both in Missouri and nationally).

Ferguson is a city in St. Louis County.  As an initial point, St. Louis City is not part of St. Louis County.  St. Louis City is, in Missouri's legal language, "a city not within a county."  Basically, the City of St. Louis is similar to the boroughs of New York City having both city-type officials (a mayor and city council) elected in annual municipal elections and county-type officials (prosecutor, recorder of deeds, sheriff) elected in the regular state elections (mid-term and presidential).  More significant, because it is a de facto county, the boundaries of St. Louis City are set by statute and it is unable to annex new territory.  On the east side, the City is bordered by the Mississippi River.  On the remaining sides, St. Louis City is surrounded by St. Louis County.  Not too surprisingly, like many similar cities, St. Louis is gradually shrinking -- down to around 320,000 in the 2010 Census.

St. Louis County on the other hand has a population of just under 1,000,000.  St. Louis County also has almost 100 municipalities ranging in size from just over 52,000 to towns with 100 or 200 people.  Ferguson with a population of 21,203 is only the eleventh largest city in St. Louis County.  Overall, St. Louis County is approximately two-thirds white, and one-quarter African-American.  In Ferguson, however, those numbers are flipped.  As you hear northwest out of the City, Ferguson is the second city out (after Jennings and before Hazelwood and Florissant).  In St. Louis County, North County (like Ferguson) tends to be more heavily minority, South County tends to be more blue collar white, and West County tends to be the outer suburbs/conservative. 

Ferguson is a little bit poorer than Missouri as a whole, but not that much.  Similarly, it has a slightly lower percentage of college degree, but has about the same percentage of high school graduates as the rest of the state.

Like many communities around the country, Ferguson has the problem of under-representation by minorities and local residents on the police force.  In inner suburbs like Ferguson, this problem is complicated by competition for police officers.  When a young officer (particularly a minority officer) shows promise, a small city like Ferguson has to compete with the St. Louis City Police Department, the St. Louis County Police Department (effectively the equivalent of the Sheriff in most counties as the St. Louis County Sheriff -- an elected position -- basically serves as the court marshal rather than a full-fledged law enforcement agency) and the other 100 municipalities in St. Louis County to keep that officer. 

Additionally, while based on the population, African-Americans should control the city council and the mayor's office, the majority of the city council and the mayor are white.  Based on conversations with activists from St. Louis County, this unusual situation has arisen from a disinterest for city politics in the African-American community in Ferguson.  As Nate and the folks at 538 have discussed in recent months, there is a direct relationship between African-American participation in elected city positions and the efforts that a city makes to recruit and retain African-Americans on the police force.

Some of these problems create a reinforcing situation of conflict between the city government and the police department on the one side and the minority residents on the other side.  The police department deals with the minority community primarily as suspects, the friends and families of suspects, and uncooperative witnesses -- in other words, as a danger to be controlled rather than as part of the community from which the officers come (and many officers work for one jurisdiction while living in another).  In turn, the residents see the police department as an occupying force and anyone who cooperates with (or worse goes to work for) the police force as collaborationists.  The growing distrust and fear between the police department and the community leads to police officers being more likely to "reasonably" interpret ambiguous actions by minorities as threatening (thereby warranting the use of force) and the community interpreting any actions by the police force as unwarranted acts demonstrating racial hostility (with no actions ever being justifiable, and the small number of incidents being a bigger concern than the much larger acts of violence committed by members of the minority community on other members of the community).

There are no easy solutions to the problems of Ferguson and similar communities.  An effort at dialogue has begun.  Real progress will require, however, that the minority communities in these cities get and stay engaged in local politics -- the politics that has the highest potential for having real impact on their lives.  The ultimate solution, however, will require changes in attitudes.  Until minorities apply for and join police forces in similar percentages to whites, there will not be enough minority police officers so that all urban and suburban police departments resemble their communities and these communities will continue to compete with each other for the limited number of minority police officers.  As long as police officers have little interest in living in the communities that they police, there will remain a disconnect between officers and the people that they police.   

My own experience is that most police officers and most of the community leaders of minority communities are people of good faith who are trying to do the best for their communities.  It will take an extended period of engagement before real change can take root and grow.  Whether the members of the community are willing to take the time that is required remains the question.  

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Dems narrow 2016 convention choice to New York, Philly, Columbus

by: Matt

Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 20:42:11 PM EST

And then there were three:

Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz today announced the finalist cities under consideration to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention: Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia. The announcement comes after a round of site visits by the DNC’s Technical Advisory Group to five cities.

“We’re thrilled to move to the next step of the selection process to determine where Democrats will come together to nominate the 45th President of the United States,” said Wasserman Schultz. “We are fortunate to have such a diverse and vibrant group of cities interested in hosting this special event and we thank Phoenix and Birmingham for showcasing their special communities. We look forward to working with Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia as we go forward.”

In addition, the DNC announced the potential weeks for the 2016 convention that will be under consideration: Weeks of July 18, July 25, and August 22. The DNC will announce a final city and date early next year.

I find it fascinating that the constant drift to later conventions over the last few cycles has abruptly reversed itself this cycle. With the GOP still claiming it will go in June or July, the Democrats may be simply covering, not wanting to let weeks go buy between the two conventions. But I think they'll go for the late August date.

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Not an Important Election?

by: DocJess

Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 04:49:20 AM EST

Since the election, there have been a couple large themes going from article to article. The first is that far more people over age 65 voted than people under 30. The percentage for those over 65 was higher than usual, and the under 30's were especially abysmal. The other one is that turnout overall was the lowest since 1942, and remember, that was a year that many were away fighting WW2. 

I have a small group of friends who discuss things like this, and attached to the FB post was a comment from a friend who said, in response to a comment about voter suppression being one of the factors that kept turnout low, which said in part:

Turnout was low, but I think voter suppression played only a small role in it. 

I think there are two big things that kept turnout down: 

1) This really wasn't a particularly important election. ... 

Really? Not important? 

So here we have, from a man who is not under 30, and who is very smart, and someone interested in politics and policy, the pronouncement that there are elections that are not important.

If people like this man hold that opinion, the overall problem is more serious than I'd thought.  

ALL elections are important, and I'm incredibly confused as to why someone would think otherwise. Here in Pennsylvania, our primaries are late because that's when school budgets and some ballot initiatives show up. Where my taxes go are important to me.

In odd numbered years, in a lot of states, that's when the state legislatures are elected. You remember them, the folks who write the redistricting maps every 10 years and in some states appoint judges. Also in odd years are often row officers, the ones that set local policies, run the schools, decide whether local potholes are fixed and storm water problems are solved, to name a few.

Off-year even year elections? EVERY member of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate. You remember them: the folks who set policy on things like health care, climate change, foreign policy, declaring war not to mention confirm presidential nominees like SCOTUS. The current Congress is why we have measles at the highest rate in 30 years and no Surgeon General. 

There is no such thing as an unimportant election. And since too many people are mistaken about that, individual votes in local and off-year elections count more. Which is how some elections are won or lost by five votes, or one vote.  

Voting matters. Being involved matters. Get involved NOW. Carry voter registration forms in your car, so when you come across someone who isn't registered you can fix that problem quickly and easily.  

Sometimes I email copies of my articles to a distribution list. I did that with this article. I received a note back which asked why I was sending it because it was preaching to the choir. Why? Because that's how you get them to sing. 

Get out there NOW.  

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