Alan Greenblatt at The New Republic writes—Have Democrats Found Their ALEC?
Jay Livingstone knew something had to be done about Massachusetts’s abortion law. The state, despite its liberal leanings, still had a ban on its books that predated—although it was superseded by—Roe v. Wade. If today’s Supreme Court overturned that 1973 decision, returning the issue to the states, abortion would become illegal immediately in Massachusetts.
Writing a bill codifying the protections of?Roe?was easy, but Livingstone, a state representative, wanted to go further. He turned to the State Innovation Exchange?(SiX), an organization that assists progressive legislators around the country. It helped him with all the ancillary information required to sell a bill—policy materials, a press strategy, even a video to share on social media. It also connected him with legislators in other states who had crafted similar bills, so he could learn from their successes and failures. “It’s great that there’s an organization looking nationally at pushing progressive policies,” Livingstone said, “and figuring out how to share best practices and successes at the state level, where so much innovation happens.”
In the end, the Massachusetts legislature?repealed?the 173-year-old abortion ban—the first effort to protect abortion rights in the state in decades. Livingstone has also co-sponsored?legislation?that would not only enshrine?Roe?in Massachusetts law but expand youth access and guarantee that women could receive abortions past 24 weeks in pregnancies involving fatal fetal anomalies.
For decades, the left has dreamed of building an organization to rival the?American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative group that has crafted and coordinated Republican legislation in the states since the early 1970s. Every few years, it seems, a new progressive group appears—only to quickly vanish because it was unable to establish a winning strategy or sustain enough donor interest. But?SiX, five years after its founding, is showing signs of staying power. [...]
[Here’s a link to my 2016 story on the State Innovation Exchange.]
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BLAST FROM THE PAST
At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Ring of Truth:
I went to see The Two Towers last night, and I enjoyed it immensely—although not quite as much as the first Lord of the Rings movie, for aesthetic reasons I won’t bother with here.
My real problem with the movie—the one I do want to talk about—is political, and it applies to the entire Lord of the Rings saga. As much as I love and admire Tolkien’s books, and Peter Jackson’s brilliant adaptations, I think it’s probably unfortunate these particular stories are being re-injected into the popular culture at this particular moment in history.
My fears were best captured in a single scene from The Two Towers, in which the traitorous and lecherous Grima Wormtongue accuses one of King Theoden’s bravest soldiers of being a "warmonger." This at a time when the foul orc brigades of the evil wizard Saruman are overrunning Theoden’s kingdom.
The scene is unquestionably effective—and true to the spirit, if not the precise text, of Tolkien’s original. But it also comes dangerously close to an Ann Coulter view of the world, in which anyone who seeks to avoid war is, by definition, either a traitor, a terrorist stooge, or both.
The entire Lord of the Rings saga can—and has been—interpreted the same way: As a parable for our times, a mythic lesson in the virtue and necessity of moral clarity in the face of evil.
And that is wrong: wrong and ignorant and, yes, in its own way, evil—or at least an open invitation to evil. Because this isn’t Middle Earth. Our enemies are human beings, not subhuman orcs. George W. Bush isn’t Aragorn son of Arathorn. Osama bin Laden isn’t the Dark Lord Sauron, and neither is Saddam Hussein.
But I don’t know if our culture—or, as Aragorn might put it, "our peeepul"—can still recognize the boundary between fantasy and reality. So much of what we say, do, believe and expect has been shaped by the entertainment industry, I don’t know if we’re capable of seeing the world as it really is, instead of as we would like it to be.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Friday's news was the Soleimani assassination, leaving the whole weekend for lies about it. Greg Dworkin rounds ‘em up. Back on impeachment, Trump's hiding still more emails, and Republicans are pretending they're impatient for the trial to start.
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