The Origins of Foreigners
August 24, 2012

Rethinking the Other in AntiquityBy Erich S. Gruen (Princeton University Press, 415 pp., $39.50)   MITT ROMNEY, along with other Republicans, has worked hard over the last few months to present Barack Obama as something other than a genuine native-born American. He has stopped short of the absurdities of the “birther movement,” but he has insisted that the president, in all the ways that really matter, is somehow less American, and more foreign, than he and the members of his party.

The Barnes Foundation's Disastrous New Home
August 24, 2012

THE BARNES FOUNDATION, that grand old curmudgeonly lion of a museum, has been turned into what may be the world’s most elegant petting zoo. I am not surprised that the members of the press, after touring the Foundation’s new home on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, have by and large been pleased. We live in a period when everything is supposed to be easy, whether preparing dinner, accessing the news, or looking at art. And the old Barnes, for three quarters of a century a splendidly ornery landmark in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, was not easy.

It’s Time to Revisit the Voting Rights Act
August 21, 2012

Voter suppression isn't just for the South anymore

Pennsylvania Voter ID: Ask Not Why
August 16, 2012

There's no use parsing Pennsylvania's motive for passing a voter ID law. The answer is obvious: to suppress Democratic turnout.

Pennsylvania Voter ID: Ask Not Why
August 16, 2012

    Don’t waste any time wondering why Pennsylvania passed a voter ID law. The state’s House Republican majority leader, Mike Turzai, blurted it out in June: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania? Done.” Every Democrat voted against the bill for the perfectly obvious reason that its intent was to suppress Democratic turnout (principally by minimizing participation by low-income blacks). Whether it can succeed in doing so I couldn’t tell you.

America: ‘Watering Down’ Voting Rights Since 1776
August 07, 2012

You may have heard rumblings about a fight going on in Ohio over the elimination of early voting on the weekend prior to Election Day. Here are the basics: after the 2004 election, when urban precincts experienced very long lines that surely kept many from voting, the state allowed for several weeks of in-person early voting. After Republicans took control of state government in 2010, they eliminated early voting on the weekend just prior to the election, when 93,000 people voted in 2008. But they left it in place for members of the military.

Art of War
August 02, 2012

THE GOP IS supposed to pretend that its 2012 strategy doesn’t include the systematic disenfranchisement of lower-income blacks and Latinos. But in June, Mike Turzai, Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania House, blew his party’s cover by blurting out: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania? Done.” The press was jubilant.

What the Latest Obama-Favoring Quinnipiac Polls Mean
August 01, 2012

It’s been a pretty rough week of polling for Mitt Romney. Last week, NBC/WSJ showed Obama opening up a 6 point lead nationally, and Democracy Corps showed Obama at 50 percent among likely voters with a 4 point advantage. This morning’s trifecta of swing state surveys conducted by the venerable pollsters at Quinnipiac added to the fire, showing Obama leading by a substantial margin in the three largest battleground states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. It’s hard to understate just how badly Romney fared in these polls.

Why Would a Church Youth Group Pretend to Kidnap Teens?
July 31, 2012

A Pennsylvania church and its youth pastor were charged last week with false imprisonment and assault for pretending to kidnap youth group members in order to teach them about religious persecution. You know you’re an evangelical when your first reaction to that news isn’t shock but, “Man, I can’t believe fools are still doing that.” Let me explain. When I was growing up in southeastern Michigan, I was an enthusiastic Jesus nerd, attending all manner of Baptist youth fellowship conferences, winter retreats, summer church camps, and a year-long leadership program for young Baptists.

Why the Obama Campaign Isn’t Sweating Voter ID Laws in Pennsylvania
July 30, 2012

A widely-held belief is that voter-ID laws endanger Obama's chances in Pennsylvania, but the campaign's don't seem to buy it. Last week, Romney allies withdrew advertisements from Pennsylvania, and the Obama campaign cut their buy in half. This week, the Obama campaign is going even further: withdrawing advertisements from the Keystone State altogether, making this the first week that Obama has gone without airing advertisements in Pennsylvania.