Latest GOP “Block the Vote!” efforts —

A Michigan state representative says the GOP needs to “suppress the Detroit vote” in order to win. The Detroit vote happens to be 83% black and largely Democratic. Meanwhile, Ohio has begun purging its voter rolls. Is anyone supervising? And Jeb is at it again, this time eliminating the form that ex-felons use to request reinstatement of voting rights so that they have to call Florida’s Office of Executive Clemency to request a hearing. (See here, too. Thanks, C.) He must be very handsomely rewarded for his tireless and creative efforts.

Living on Pennies —

I should have been linking to this series all along, but now all six installments are available. The Los Angeles Times has been running a very important and moving series on the brutal basics of daily life in Africa, “Living on Pennies.” Hurry up and read it while it’s free. Here are the six segments:

Part 1, Eking out an income

Part 2, Staving off hunger

Part 3, Settling for castoff clothes

Part 4, Living in 100 square feet

Part 5, Locked out of school

Part 6, Surviving AIDS

The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party —

Wasn’t that Senator Paul Wellstone’s classic line, originally? We’ve been reading quite a bit in recent weeks (of course I haven’t been saving the links; feel free to post examples in the Comments section if you have!) about the relative quiet from the left wing of the Democratic party, which is being attributed to the unprecedented unity of purpose binding us all this year: removing Bush from his appointed office. Perhaps we’re learning something. Among the observations EJ Dionne Jr. makes in his book Stand Up, Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge (which, alas, is a little heavy on the observations and light on remedies, and is – in any case – not the fire-breathing call to arms its title suggests) is that “because Republicans are so certain about whom and what they represent, they are better able to compromise when necessary…” Democrats have finally found something they can all agree on – the need to compromise this year. But where does the party go after (we pray) Kerry and Edwards are safely in office? One of the messages that seems to be coming from writers like Thomas Frank is that the Democratic party lost its soul during the last 30 years — trying to counter conservatives on all the wrong terms. THEIR terms. For some reason, Democrats got embarrassed about being the party that agitates for fair wages and safe working conditions, that protects the environment, that cares for the disadvantaged… I wonder if we can get that party back? (Body and Soul misses it, too.) Mark Green lays out his vision for revival here (the final pages of Dionne’s book describe a similar vision “progressive patriotism”).

Why-oh-why-oh —

For a week, beginning Tuesday, I’ll be visiting family in northwest Ohio. Posts will be sporadic, but inevitable, since I can’t stop myself from looking at the infuriating Findlay Courier when I’m there and will probably need to vent. Findlay, for those who don’t know, is the home district of the ethically challenged Rep. Mike Oxley.

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