Ten Headlines Tell the Tale of How Conservatives Defeated Themselves on the Shutdown

Conservative icon Grover Norquist famously voiced the right wing’s hopes and dreams for our federal government: “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government,” Norquist quipped, “I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Well for almost three weeks archconservatives in the House of Representatives, enabled by House Speaker John Boehner, held the federal government’s head under the water. It was the American people who, ultimately, forced Republicans to pull the plug.

Public Skeptical About Incarceration Policies

By Jhanidya Bermeo

With more than 1.5 million people currently in prison, the United States maintains the highest prison population of any country in the world by far. The International Centre for Prison Studies calculates that for every 100,000 individuals in the United States, 716 will be in prison. These numbers amount to a prison occupancy capacity level of 99%, with budgetary costs close to 7 billion dollars. According the Bureau of Justice Statistics, incarceration rates have been decreasing by 1% - 2% for three consecutive years since 2012. This slight decrease has been attributed to a changing legislative and public mindset in recent years, a mindset which has emphasized curbing the excessive growth of the prison system. This emphasis is thought to be due in part by state and federal level budgetary restrictions, decreasing crime rates, and a more lenient attitude towards low-level non-violent drug offenses. Though recent public opinion polls about the criminal justice system are lacking, we can draw insights from several studies conducted in the last decade, particularly on attitudes towards incarceration and non-violent drug offenses. 

To read more, visit Public Opinion Monthly page.

Why Conservatives Can’t Afford a Real Government Shutdown


President Obama should hang tough if conservatives in Congress continue their irresponsible threats.

It’s conventional wisdom that voters will mostly blame House Republicans if the federal government shuts down over their effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. That’s probably true, but it’s only part of what conservatives are risking. A real government shutdown, if it happens, will fundamentally undermine the conservative narrative in ways that could be profound and lasting for the right wing.

The Land(scape) of Opportunity

The photo above reads "Dear economy, don't eat my mom!" Removing unnecessary barriers to equal opportunity like antiquated zoning rules and concentrating residents in segregated neighborhoods is the smart thing to do. 

By Alan Jenkins

It’s the rare occasion when a significant social challenge is raised up in rigorous economic research and almost instantly answered by a creative and dynamic public policy response. Yet, in broad strokes, that’s what’s happening on a critical question of equal opportunity in America.

Talking Racial Profiling in the Wake of Two Landmark Developments

Mapbox.com shows density of stop-and-frisk practices in Manhattan. In the image shown above, intense activity occurs in Upper Manhattan.

Amazing things are happening on the criminal justice front. 

On Monday, August 12th, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of New Yorkers of color, calling it a "policy of indirect racial profiling" that has led to officers routinely stopping "blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white." In a lengthy and comprehensive decision, Judge Scheindlin found that New York officials demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. And she concluded that "the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.” 

Selling for Your Time


Zakeia Tyson-Cross shares her thoughts on pop culture in the following poem: 

Can I have your attention?
Just for one moment
I have a point to stress
A product for you to see
It’s made with the best synthetic materials
Often passed as organically natural
If you eat or drink it
You will instantly become hooked
Like a junkie looking for its last fix
It may devastate your system over a period of time
Cause you to develop erratic cells
To form more violent ones
Make your youth look depressingly old and worn
But you will get your monies worth
And I will capitalize ….

In Trayvon’s Name: Tools for Turning Outrage to Action

Photo courtesy of Flickr/David Shankbone (CC-BY-2.0) 

A Florida jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin has sparked protests around the nation and a highly personal statement from President Obama. One of the protesters’ demands is for an investigation of whether Trayvon Martin’s killing violated federal civil rights laws, and the U.S. Justice Department is reportedly investigating that possibility.

Calling on Congress to Advance Home Opportunity

In tough times, there’s some good news on the housing front. In slow but meaningful steps around the country, decisionmakers are adopting key elements of the Compact for Home Opportunity, and the reality for American homeowners and communities is beginning to improve. But there’s a hitch. The hitch is Congress.

Thinking about the public mindset in the road ahead post-SCOTUS decisions

By Eleni Delimpaltadaki Janis

In the last two weeks, the Supreme Court issued decisions on landmark cases concerning equality and people's rights, including Affirmative Action, voting rights, and rights for same-sex couples. The Opportunity Agenda has issued public opinion reports and media coverage analysis, which examine a range of issues concerning equality and rights. Most relevant today are The Opportunity Agenda's studies on LGBT rights and Affirmative Action, the highlights of which are shared below. 

For concerned activists and advocates who are thinking about the road ahead post-Supreme Court decisions, this is an important time to better understand the public mindset around these issues.   

SCOTUS Decision on DNA Collection from Arrested Individuals and the Impact on Black Men and Boys


A DNA collection kit

Amid many recent challenges to Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless or unreasonable search and seizure, including revelations of widespread National Security Agency internet and telephone surveillance and the Department of Justice subpoena of phone records from Associated Press journalists, earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled on a case that tests the limits of personal privacy from the state.

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