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- Why Democrats Might Need to Play Dirty to WinTo hear Democratic leaders decry gerrymandering as part of their current bid to enact landmark voting-rights legislation, you’d think the centuries-old practice was a mortal threat to the republic. But political necessity could soon demand that Democrats drop their purity act. To keep their narrow House majority, they might have to deploy the tactic everywhere they can, and every bit as aggressively as Republicans do.Nowhere are the stakes higher for Democrats than in New York. The party there has its largest legislative majorities in a century and more sway over more seats than anywhere else in the country. A cutthroat approach to redistricting in New York could eliminate or substantially alter as many as five GOP-held seats—a number equivalent to the Democrats’ entire edge in the House.The early maneuvering by New York Democrats is already revealing the party’s shaky commitment to its national anti-gerrymandering push, one that has long been… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago
- America’s Rural-Jail-Death ProblemThis is the second in a five-part series about deaths in American jails. Read the first here.Illustrations by Molly Crabapple In the early-morning hours of January 7, 2019, when it became clear that 30-year-old Christopher Hall might die, no medical staff were on duty at the Boyd County Detention Center.Hall had been booked into the rural eastern-Kentucky jail in the final days of 2018 on a drug-possession charge. During intake, he informed officers that he typically used heroin or methamphetamine every day, that he had high blood pressure and hepatitis C, and that he had experienced delirium tremens or other serious withdrawal symptoms when he’d gone off drugs in the past. But there is no record of Hall seeing a physician during his time in the jail. Instead, medical consultations were made over the phone.Court records note that during Hall’s first few days at BCDC, “nothing was documented to verify… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago
- The Pandemic Made My OCD WorseBrushing my teeth is a struggle. I brush so hard, and for so long, that sometimes my gums bleed. I can’t spit until I’ve touched each tooth carefully with the tip of my tongue. I open and close the medicine cabinet repeatedly, pressing my palm into the pointy corner of the mirror, until it feels like enough. I can’t leave the bathroom until I’ve flipped the light switch on and off a dozen times. Some nights, the routine takes 30 minutes. Some nights, I lean over the sink and cry.My obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests in rituals: small, repeated behaviors that my anxious little brain demands. If you do not do this thing, my brain explains, something terrible will happen to someone you love. Fear of contracting a deadly virus, combined with the total disruption of my work and social life, has multiplied my compulsions, which now require much more of my… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago
- Biden’s Media Strategy: Talk Less, Send ChecksJoe Biden is hardly in hiding. Barely a week passes when he doesn’t tour a factory or host a meeting in the Oval Office. He gives interviews and takes questions from time to time as he moves through his calendar. What he has yet to do is hold a formal news conference. Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton—every president since Calvin Coolidge had given a news conference by a comparable point in his term. Biden’s debut comes tomorrow—65 days into his presidency—when he’ll appear in the East Room before a press corps who will ask questions, squeeze in follow-up questions, and, in rising desperation as the spectacle winds down, shout questions unbidden.Pressure for Biden to conduct his first news conference had been mounting for weeks. Reporters were quizzing Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, at her daily briefings. Opinion writers were chiming in. Which led to… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago
- Republicans Want to Upend the Electoral College TooA few months after losing the White House, Republicans across the country have had a revelation: The Electoral College could use some improvements. The problem is that they have contradictory proposals for how to fix it—and contradictory arguments for why those proposals would help Americans pick their president. In Wisconsin, Michigan, and New Hampshire, GOP lawmakers want to award Electoral College votes by congressional district, just like Nebraska and Maine currently do. But in Nebraska, Republicans want to do the opposite, and return to the same winner-takes-all method used by, well, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, and almost every other state.These Republicans do agree on one thing, however: They insist that their proposals have nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election.“I think people would just feel better knowing that their vote went to the candidate that they chose in their area,” Gary Tauchen, a GOP state legislator… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago
- The Show That Changed Television ForeverAdapted from Rock Me on the Water, HarperCollins Publishers, 2021.When CBS first placed All in the Family on the air, on January 12, 1971, it irrevocably transformed television. After a shaky first season in which it struggled to find an audience, the show prospered, rising to become No. 1 in the ratings for five consecutive years, a record unmatched at the time. All in the Family commanded national attention to a degree almost impossible to imagine in today’s fractionated entertainment landscape. Archie Bunker’s catchwords—stifle, meathead, and dingbat—all became national shorthand. Scholars earnestly debated whether the show punctured or promoted bigotry. Its success not only helped lift The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, and the other great topical comedies of the early 1970s, but also cemented the idea that television could be used to comment meaningfully on the society around it—an idea the networks had uniformly rejected throughout all the upheaval… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago