3 guarantees: Death, taxes and Scottie Scheffler at the Masters!

Scottie Scheffler Winning the Masters with caddie Ted Scott.  The New York Times.

Dear Commons Community,

A dominant Scottie Scheffler won his second green jacket at the Masters championship in Augusta, Georgia yesterday, shooting a 68 to finish 11-under while everyone around him splashed and crashed through the back nine. Ludvig Åberg finished second, four strokes back. Scheffler beat everyone else by seven or more.  As reported by Yahoo Sports and The New York Times.

The tournament was essentially locked up when Scheffler tapped in for birdie on 14. Or maybe it was even before that; the man had a nine-hole stretch Sunday with six birdies.

It may be absurd — or absurdly premature — to think a guy who now has two Masters championships could one day challenge Jack Nicklaus’ record six. Yet there may have never been a player with a more perfect mentality, if not game, for conquering Augusta National.

This place is famous for its final-round pressure that has rattled even legends. Yet the 27-year-old Scheffler walks around here staring at his feet and noticing nothing, like he’s just out on a country stroll.

The more the intensity increased, the calmer he appeared. He bombed drives (305.7). He drained putts (1.5 average per hole). He was his typical master of efficiency here, scoring par or better on 87.5 percent of his 72 holes. He’s been par or better in 18 of his 20 career rounds at Augusta.

In 2022, he won his first Masters in similar fashion, cruising almost unchallenged through the final round as Cam Smith faded. Scheffler wound up winning that one by three strokes.

The Masters isn’t really about the golf. There are dozens of players who play golf well enough to win. It’s all the things that happen between the golf that separates the champions from the pretenders.

“I feel like I’m as in control of my emotions as I’ve ever been, which is a good place to be,” Scheffler said. “I feel like I’m maturing as a person on the golf course, which is a good place to be.”

The man is unflappable, unconcerned, maybe even unaware.

“I was very focused out there,” he said.

As if possibly winning the Masters wasn’t enough to rattle him, Scheffler knew his wife, Meredith, was back in Texas, expecting the couple’s first baby any day — or any minute — now. He vowed to leave the tournament if needed — a private jet was waiting in case she went into labor.

It didn’t appear to affect Scheffler. Nothing appears to affect Scheffler.

“That’s a testament to how good of a head space I was in,” Scheffler said. “I wasn’t thinking about it that much. I was doing my best to stay in the moment, stay calm, execute shots.”

This week will be his 48th consecutive where he is ranked No. 1 in the world. He hasn’t posted a round above par since last November, a ridiculous 40 of them in a row (Tiger Woods holds the PGA Tour record at 52 set from 2000-01).

Scheffler was the picture of consistency here this week. Just nine bogeys and one double. He hit 79 percent of fairways and 64 percent of greens in regulation. He three-putted just twice. It’s all in line with his five-year Masters averages.

There is no reason to think anything will change, even with fatherhood on the horizon.

“I’m going to continue to put in the work, keep my head down,” Scheffler said.

Only Horton Smith, who won two of the first three Masters (1934, 1936), became a repeat champ quicker than Scheffler’s five starts.

As for age, Nicklaus won his third at 26. So did Tiger Woods, who has five green jackets. So, in that regard, Scheffler is behind schedule. Give it a year or so though. This guy doesn’t seem prone to massive swings of fortune.

Boring works. Boring pays. Especially at Augusta.

I am a professional golf fan and enjoyed watching the Masters this weekend.

Scottie Scheffler was something special!


Maureen Dowd on O.J. Simpson, Othello, and Monster Jealousy!

David Swanson/Reuters

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, had a piece yesterday entitled, “O.J. and the Monster Jealousy”, in which she compares O.J. Simpson to Shakespeare’s tragic character Othello.  She comments on the uncontrollable rage that results in the killing of their wives.  Dowd’s take on O.J. Simpson during his trial and now is completely unsympathetic.

Her conclusion:

“O.J. escaped in his criminal trial but not in his civil trial, though he never paid the penalty or expressed any penance.

He did not, however, escape the opprobrium of many in America who felt that he got away with murder.

In 1995, as an acquitted O.J. plotted to rehabilitate himself, I felt that the victims had gotten lost in the circus.

I drove an hour outside Los Angeles to the Ascension cemetery in Lake Forest. There were bougainvilleas, carnations, sunflowers and daisies heaped on the plain dark marble marker at Nicole Brown Simpson’s grave. People had left teddy bears and rosaries.

One little boy wrote a note promising he would never be mean to a woman when he grew up. A mother wrote a note assuring Nicole that her two kids would be OK: “Your children’s guardian angels will take care of them.”

I talked to a woman named Teresa Myers, who stood staring at the grave for a long time. “Maybe she’s better off now because she’s at peace,” Myers told me. “But maybe she’s not because she knows now that nobody can touch him.”

When I left South Bundy on Thursday, I said a little prayer for the victims and their families.  Fred Goldman, Ron Goldman’s  father, said upon hearing of O.J.’s death, “No great loss.”

I feel the same.”


Tufts cut tenured faculty’s pay. They’re suing!

Dear Commons Community,

Along with a secure post and academic freedom, tenured professors enjoy financial security—or so many outsiders imagine. In fact, many tenured faculty are expected to cover much of their salary with grants, and may be penalized with salary reductions if they do not. That’s what happened at Tufts University School of Medicine—and some researchers are fighting back.  As reported by Science.

Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court sent a case brought by eight of the school’s faculty members to trial, writing that their claims have merit: “Tenure would seem to be a hollow promise if it came without any salary commitment.” The case, likely to be heard in 2025, could set an important precedent for tenure expectations across the country.

At issue is a policy the medical school enacted in 2017, stating that tenured faculty members in the basic sciences need to cover 50% of their salary with external grants. If they fail to obtain sufficient funding, they could face a salary reduction and lose their full-time status; the school could also take away their lab space. Similar policies are in place at many medical schools around the country.

In 2019, the eight faculty members—who had been granted tenure between 1970 and 2009—sued the university after their salaries were reduced, claiming their tenure rights had been violated. They point to a key sentence in the university’s policy on academic freedom, tenure, and retirement, which states that tenure includes “a sufficient degree of economic security to make the profession attractive to men and women of ability.” A court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims in 2023, but they appealed, leading to the recent ruling that the case should proceed.

“This case, this decision, will be very influential to other state courts looking at contractual issues of the meaning of tenure,” says Risa Lieberwitz, a professor of labor and employment law at Cornell University and general counsel for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). In an amicus brief submitted on behalf of AAUP, Lieberwitz argued that the Tufts plan was “fundamentally incompatible with the principles of tenure, economic security, and academic freedom.”

The faculty bringing the case saw salary reductions ranging from roughly $4500 to $95,500. Some also had their workload cut to part time and their lab space taken away. “My salary is [about] $60,000,” says cancer biologist Amy Yee, a plaintiff who has been a tenured faculty member at Tufts since 1998. “It’s created significant financial hardship.” She’s taken on work in real estate to supplement her income.

“It’s created significant financial hardship.”

In court filings, Tufts has contended it was within its rights to reduce the salaries. “The Plaintiffs for many years have failed to meet the performance expectations,” reads a brief filed during the appeals process. “They have failed to maintain independent research programs which result in impactful scholarship and failed to secure meaningful external funding to support their research.” Court documents indicate that in 2020, the plaintiffs fell well short of covering 50% of their salary.

The plaintiffs point out that they were hired to do research, teach, and carry out service work—not simply to write grants. “I disagree with any language … that considers any of our faculty in the medical school as unproductive,” a plaintiff who requested anonymity told Science.

They also point out that many funders limit how much of a grant can go toward a principal investigator’s pay. Some “won’t pay a penny of my salary,” says Ana Soto, a plaintiff who has been a tenured faculty member at Tufts since 1994 and is known for research showing that bisphenol A, a chemical found in some plastics, is an endocrine disrupter. Pushing faculty members to avoid such grants in favor of others without that restriction infringes on their academic freedom, their lawyer contends.

For Soto, the 2017 policy put her in the difficult position of either satisfying the new university requirement or keeping her lab personnel. “They are not disposable,” she says. Soto chose not to adhere to the policy; court records show she covered 25% of her salary in 2020.

Tufts’s lawyers have argued that the statement in the tenure documents about economic security—which is a customary part of the documents at many U.S. universities, copied from a seminal 1940 AAUP statement—is “aspirational” and not contractually binding because it lacks specificity. But in the judicial court’s decision last month, it concluded that “economic security is an important substantive provision of the tenure contract.” Although the court added that “further evidence … is required to define what types of reductions are consistent with, and not in violation of” the contract, the decision was largely a win for the plaintiffs. The court sided with Tufts on one matter: The professors were not entitled to their own lab space.

The case’s outcome could reverberate around the country. In an amicus brief filed last year, the Association of American Universities—which represents 69 research universities around the country—wrote that accepting the plaintiffs’ argument would “create a financial crisis” because medical schools rely on external grant funding to support their operations. “The understanding for at least the past few decades has been that a medical school can reduce a tenured faculty member’s salary due to lack of productivity.”

Soto counters that universities have a mission that goes beyond doing big-dollar research and that many projects can be done with very little funding. “Universities are not businesses and running them as such is detrimental to the creativity and insight that only academia can produce.”


Harvard will again require standardized test scores for those seeking admission!

Dear Commons Community,

Harvard University announced Thursday that it is reinstituting standardized tests as a requirement for admission beginning in fall 2025, joining other colleges that are again mandating tests for those hoping to enter the schools.

In June 2020, Harvard began a temporary test-optional policy under which students could apply to the college without submitting scores. The change was adopted as access to standardized testing during the pandemic became limited.

Other schools like Yale, Dartmouth, Brown and MIT are also again requiring standardized tests for those seeking admission.  As reported by The Associated Press.

Harvard had initially said it was going to maintain its test-optional policy through the entering class of the fall of 2026.

Under the change announced Thursday, students applying to Harvard for fall 2025 admission will be required to submit standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT exams to satisfy the testing component of the application.

In what the school called “exceptional cases” when applicants are unable to access SAT or ACT testing, other eligible tests will be accepted, including Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams.

School officials said test scores are weighed along with information about an applicant’s experiences, skills, talents, and contributions to their communities, as well as their academic qualifications in relation to the norms of their high school, and personal recommendations.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi Hoekstra said in a news release that standardized tests are a means for all students — regardless of background or life experience — to provide information that is predictive of success in college,

“In short, more information, especially such strongly predictive information, is valuable for identifying talent from across the socioeconomic range,” Hoekstra said.

The school said that all along it welcomed those seeking admission to submit test scores if they had them. Most of those accepted into the college during the past four years submitted test scores, according to the school.

The school also pointed to research that they said found that standardized tests are a valuable tool to identify promising students at less well-resourced high schools, particularly when paired with other academic credentials.


Goddard College will close after this academic year!

Dear Commons Community,

Goddard College in Vermont had done everything it could think to increase revenue and lower costs. It rented out building after building on campus. Turned the dining hall into a for-profit restaurant. Announced the institution would go fully online, with no students on its campus.

It didn’t work. Earlier this week, the college’s board announced it would close at the end of the academic year. “The board really had no choice,” President Dan Hocoy told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “We just couldn’t continue with 200 students.”

Goddard, known for its liberal education, has struggled for years with enrollment losses and its finances. According to audited financial statements, the college lost $535,000 last year. Its overall expense budget was $7.5 million, but it had less than $900,000 in its endowment, the records show. In 2021, its accreditor put it on a notice of concern around its finances.

“The demographic issues all of higher education is facing just became insurmountable for us,” Hocoy said. Vermont, which has seen other small private colleges close in recent years, is aging rapidly and has fewer and fewer college-age residents, Hocoy said. And even those who were attending Goddard weren’t necessarily living on campus and paying dorm fees.

In January 2024, the college announced it would move to an online-only model to cut costs. Before then, about two-thirds of its students had attended classes virtually. “That was just being responsive to our students,” Hocoy said.

The demographic issues all of higher education is facing just became insurmountable for us.

Goddard is also one of dozens of institutions across the nation with a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, often considered “last resort” measures tied to construction projects. Goddard’s loan was for $2.1 million in 2016, for a biomass heating plant. It secured the loan with mortgages on several campus buildings. Typically, the USDA would take over the campus if the college closed, but Goddard’s board hopes to sell its properties and use the proceeds to pay creditors, including the USDA, Hocoy said. The USDA loan is the college’s only long-term debt, financial records show.

The 220 Goddard students, down from 1,900 at its peak in the 1970s, will have a chance to finish their education at Prescott College, in Arizona, at the same tuition rate they had been paying at Goddard, the institution said in its closing announcement.

“We are committed to ensuring that Goddard students continue to have access to a high-quality education and thrive academically,” said Barbara Morris, president of Prescott, in the closing announcement. “Prescott College shares Goddard’s commitment to progressive education, and we are honored to welcome Goddard students into our community.”

There are about 90 faculty and staff members at Goddard. The college is setting up career fairs in the coming months.

Goddard’s closure is the latest in several closure announcements in recent days, including Oak Point University, in Illinois, Birmingham-Southern College, in Alabama, Notre Dame College, in Ohio, and Fontbonne University, in Missouri, all of which cited enrollment and financial issues.

Tough times for small, private colleges.


Republican Senator Joni Ernst Says Trump ‘Worked Very Hard’ to Overturn Abortion Rights

Joni Ernst.    Courtesy of MSNBC News

Dear Commons Community,

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst has weighed in on the decision of the Arizona Supreme Court to allow an 1864 near-total abortion ban to take effect.

The controversial law allows exceptions only if the pregnant person’s life is deemed at risk and includes jail time for providers who perform the medical procedure.

In an interview with Fox Business, Ernst suggested that the court’s decision is a direct result of Republican efforts to get Roe v. Wade overturned, making special note of former President Donald Trump’s role in the outcome.

“I am a mom, I am a brand new grandma, and I support life,” Ernst told Larry Kudlow. “And Senate Republicans, the GOP and President Trump really worked hard to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Ernst said that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs in June 2022 means that abortion will be dealt with on the state level going forward.

“We returned that back to the states; that is the law of the land with that Supreme Court decision, so the states are handling that,” Ernst said. “But again, we worked very hard to get this result. Now, the states will take that up.”

But on Wednesday former President Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential election, tried to distance himself from Arizona high court’s ruling.

Asked if the decision “went too far,” Trump told reporters: “Yeah they did, and that will be straightened out.”

However, Arizona Republicans blocked an effort by Democrats in the state to get the law repealed in both chambers of the legislature, prompting outrage.

“By their actions, the message from this chamber is that they are so pro-life they will kill you,” Democratic state Sen. Anna Hernandez wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Parties now have two weeks to file legal claims in hopes of stopping the law from taking hold.

Despite Trump’s opposition to the Arizona legislation, his position on the issue of abortion remains murky as he recognizes the GOP’s stance on abortion has proven to be unpopular with voters.

In a video statement Monday meant to clarify his position on abortion ahead of the 2024 presidential race, Trump said he supports leaving abortion up to the states to decide as he took direct credit for setting the state for the reversal of Roe by appointing three conservative Supreme Court justices during his time in office.

“My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land. In this case, the law of the state,” he said.

On Wednesday, Trump said “no” when asked if he would sign a national abortion ban if he returned to the White House. Still, he didn’t specifically rule out implementing a back door ban. Additionally, Trump made no reference to how he would handle a bill imposing a nationwide ban on the procedure in his lengthy Monday statement.

Despite his preference to appear evasive on the issue, his track record speaks for itself, Michael Tyler, a spokesperson for Biden’s reelection campaign, said.

“Trump lies constantly ― about everything ― but has one track record: banning abortion every chance he gets,” Tyler said.

During his time in office, he with anti-choice leaders who support a nationwide ban, and also tried to make it harder for people to get access to medication abortion, among other things.

Trump can lie but he can’t hide!


‘Rosie the Riveters’ awarded Congressional Gold Medal for their Efforts during World War II

Dear Commons Community,

They were the invisible warriors on the home front who became known as “Rosie the Riveters” for their work in helping to lead the United States to victory during World War II. Eighty years later, they were honored Wednesday with a Congressional Gold Medal.

“Rosie the Riveter” was the moniker given to women who went to work during World War II, taking on roles historically dominated by men while men were drafted to fight overseas.

Around 5 million civilian women went to work during the war, many helping to build equipment for the war, while around 350,000 American women served in the military, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Twenty-eight ‘Rosie the Riveters,’ women who entered the US defense workforce during WWI…  Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA via Shutterstock

“This recognition is long overdue, but today Congress finally bestows this honor on these deserving patriots,” said Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, a cosponsor of The Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act, legislation that was passed in 2020 and led to the women receiving the medal Wednesday.

One of the dozens of original “Rosie the Riveters” who traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the medal in person was Lucille “Cille” MacDonald, a 98-year-old who lives in Hawaii.

When the war broke out, MacDonald, then a 17-year-old, left her family’s farm in South Carolina and hopped on a Greyhound bus to Georgia to help.

MacDonald told ABC News that she was “scared to death” when Japan dropped a bomb on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

“That’s when I said, ‘Do something about it. Just do something about it. Stop worrying and do something about it,'” MacDonald recalled. “So I became very patriotic and very much in love with my country.”

MacDonald became a journeyman welder in Brunswick, Georgia.

“I was the best welder in the entire shipyard,” she recalled. “I can’t forget that. I can’t ever forget that. The best, and boy that’s saying a lot. And I launched one huge ship a week. In just a week. I mean, imagine. You know how big a ship is? A ship is huge.”

Another woman honored Wednesday was Mae Krier, a Levittown, Pennsylvania, resident who built B-17 and B-29 bombers in Seattle from 1943 to 1945. Years later, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Krier, 94 years old at the time, began making face masks in the same red polka dot fabric worn in the famed “Rosie the Riveter” poster.

She was credited Wednesday for being an “unrelenting advocate” in making sure the women of her generation received their due.

Krier, dressed in a red polka dot vest, accepted the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of all the Rosies, calling it a “great honor.”

“Up until 1941, it was a man’s world. They didn’t know how capable us women were, did they,” Krier said to loud applause, later adding that she is most proud of the path she and other women set for future generations.

“We’re so proud of the women and young girls who are following in our lead,” she said. “I think that’s one of the greatest things we left behind is what we’ve done for women.”

Krier ended her remarks with the words that came to symbolize the motto of “Rosie the Riveters,” saying, “We can do it.”

Without as doubt, America’s greatest generation!



Kevin McCarthy says Matt Gaetz ousted him as House Speaker to stop ethics complaint over sex scandal!

Wall Street Journal

Dear Commons Community,

The far-right Florida Republican Matt Gaetz forced Kevin McCarthy out as House speaker last year “because he slept with a 17-year-old” and wanted a congressional ethics investigation to end, McCarthy charged on Tuesday.  As reported by The Guardian and other media.

“I’ll give you the truth why I’m not speaker,” McCarthy said, at an event at Georgetown University in Washington.

“Because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old, an ethics complaint that started before I ever became speaker. And that’s illegal and I’m not gonna get in the middle of it.

“Now, did he do it or not? I don’t know. But ethics was looking at it. There’s other people in jail because of it. And he wanted me to influence it.”

The House ethics investigation of allegations against Gaetz opened in 2021, when Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, was speaker.

The House investigation was paused when Gaetz was investigated by the US Department of Justice for sex trafficking, over allegations that he paid for sex and had sex with an underage woman. In December 2022, Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to the investigation of Gaetz, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for offenses including sex trafficking a minor.

In February 2023, prosecutors said they would not issue charges. The House ethics investigation then restarted.

Gaetz denies wrongdoing. On Tuesday, he told Politico: “Kevin is a liar. Which, actually, is why he isn’t speaker. Just ask any of the 224 people who voted to remove him.”

McCarthy became the first speaker ever ejected by his own party, last October, after Gaetz introduced a motion to vacate and attracted support from seven other Republicans. Because Democrats refused to come to McCarthy’s aid, that was enough to show him the door. McCarthy left Congress at the end of last year.

Citing a review of private correspondence, the Daily Beast has reported that Gaetz “indicated to a friend that his effort to undercut, isolate and ultimately remove McCarthy was, indeed, payback” for the House ethics investigation.

The Beast said “other Republican congressional sources” also said Gaetz was motivated to move against McCarthy by the ethics investigation, not policy differences.

Gaetz told the Beast: “As I’ve answered likely 100 times on the record, I led the charge to remove Kevin McCarthy from his role as House speaker because he failed to keep his promises.”

McCarthy lost his job shortly after relying on Democratic support to pass a spending package, thereby averting a government shutdown. His successor as speaker, Mike Johnson, now faces a similar threat, a motion to vacate filed by another right-wing extremist, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, but not yet forced to a vote.

At Georgetown, McCarthy said: “So then they come out and they say [I was ejected] because I kept government open. I’d do it all over again. We’re not going to pay our troops? I’m going to pay my troops, you can do the job …

“I think today if you went back for the people that voted [to remove me] they think that was a smart vote? I don’t think so … I made everybody stand up, because I think historically, it’ll be viewed as a very bad thing that happened to our Congress.”

Asked if he thought the same would happen to Johnson, McCarthy said: “No. The Democrats will never let it happen.”

God save us from the Republicans!


Paul Krugman on the Economy, Inflation and the American Public’s Views!


Dear Commons Community

Inflation ticked higher in March, according to new Labor Department data released yesterday.

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.4 percent last month and 3.5 percent annually, largely in line with economist projections. Economists had anticipated inflation would increase 0.4 percent in March and 3.4 percent annually.

The latest numbers come after two months of hotter than expected inflation data. Consumers prices were up 3.2 percent year over year in February and 3.1 percent in January.

The American public has been responding to inflation negatively for some time and yesterday’s CPI will only add to their angst.  Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman analyzes people’s perceptions of inflation in his column in today’s New York Times.  Here is an excerpt.

“I wrote recently about a couple of Quinnipiac swing-state polls that asked registered voters about both the economy and their personal finances. In both Michigan and Pennsylvania — states crucial to the outcome of this year’s presidential election — more than 60 percent of respondents rated the economy as not so good or bad; a similar percentage said that their own situation is excellent or good.

Americans are upbeat not just about their own circumstances; they’re also upbeat about their local economies. A recent Wall Street Journal poll of swing state voters found that voters have negative views of the national economy but significantly more positive views about the economy in their state. This is consistent with the Federal Reserve’s report on economic well-being for 2022 (published in 2023), which shows a much higher percentage of Americans assessed their local economy as good or excellent than the percentage who said the same about the national economy.

Basically, Americans are saying, “I’m doing OK, people I know are doing OK, but bad things are happening somewhere out there.” As The Journal’s Greg Ip wrote, “When it comes to the economy, the vibes are at war with the facts.”

What explains this disconnect? Inflation surely contributes to bad feelings about the economy. New research by Harvard’s Stefanie Stantcheva confirms an old insight: When both wages and prices are rising, people tend to believe that they earned their wage increases but that inflation took away their hard-won gains.

However, inflation aversion doesn’t explain why people think their state is doing well but the nation is a mess.

The elephant in the room — and it is mainly an elephant, although there’s a bit of donkey too — is partisanship. These days, Americans’ views of the economy tend to be determined by political affiliation rather than the other way around.

This is true for supporters of both parties, but statistical analysis shows that the effect of partisanship on economic perceptions is much stronger for Republicans — who for much of last year were roughly as negative about the economy as they were in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and during the stagflation of 1980 — so the fact that a Democrat is president drags down average consumer sentiment. Any discussion of economic perceptions that doesn’t take this factor into account is missing a big part of the picture.

It’s not hard to see where this asymmetry comes from. Republican politicians and media are united in trashing the Biden economy, which Donald Trump says is “collapsing into a cesspool of ruin,” in which “stores are not stocked” — something that simply isn’t true. Democrats, on the other hand, are divided, with some progressives talking down the economy because they fear that acknowledging the good news might undermine the case for strengthening that weak social safety net.

If you ask me, more progressives should celebrate the current economy, not just to help Biden get re-elected, but because economic success vindicates the progressive vision. I’d argue that Biden deserves some credit for the good news, but the more important point is that policies like the expansion of Obamacare and student debt relief have not, contrary to conservative predictions, dragged the economy down — which means that it’s OK to call for more.”

Fine analysis!


Arizona Supreme Court Rules State Can Enforce 1864 Law Criminalizing Almost All Abortions!

Photo by Gloria Rebecca Gomez | Arizona Mirror

Dear Commons Community,

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in a 4-2 decision that a 150-year-old law criminalizing almost all abortions can go into effect, according to a court filing yesterday.

The law would override a previous 15-week abortion ban in the state, which went into effect in March 2022. The 19th-century law has been stayed for 14 days, allowing for a lower court to hear additional arguments. But if allowed to go into effect, it would be a near-total ban, making exceptions only in the case that the pregnant person’s life is threatened. Health care providers who perform abortions could face prison time between two to five years.

An October 2022 order from the Maricopa County Superior Court requires a delay of 45 days after a mandate in the case is issued before the 1864 law can go into effect.

Citing that order, Planned Parenthood Arizona said in an emailed statement that it will continue to provide abortions on pregnant patients up to the 15-week mark for an unspecified period of time.

The 1864 law is set to face legal challenges if it goes into effect.

Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, stated that during her term, “no woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law in this state.” Mayes said the ruling was “unconscionable” and “an affront to freedom.”

Several reproductive rights groups in a coalition called Arizona for Abortion Access are pushing forward with a ballot initiative that would allow voters to choose whether language guaranteeing abortion access up to 24 weeks of pregnancy should be added to the state’s constitution. Exceptions could be made after the 24-week mark if a provider finds that an abortion would “protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.”

The groups, which include the state’s Planned Parenthood and ACLU affiliates, have successfully collected the required signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

An August 2023 poll by Indivisible and Data For Progress, two progressive organizations, suggests that 60% of Arizonans consider themselves “pro-choice.”

“Today’s ruling is devastating. It’s also wildly out of step with where Arizona voters are at. Arizona Republicans in the courts and in public office have been playing political football with abortion rights, and voters are tired of it,” Mari Urbina, Managing Director at Indivisible, said in a statement. “The only course now is going directly to the voters to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution.”

Since the Dobbs decision in June 2022 overturned the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, abortion has been banned in at least 14 states.

“Today’s decision to allow Arizona’s archaic, near-total abortion ban to be enforced is devastating for reproductive freedom,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said.

“We have already seen the effect of similar bans in states like Texas and Oklahoma, where some patients have been unable to get care even when their lives are at risk and health care providers fear criminalization. This is untenable, and it is not what the majority of Arizonans want.”

The president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, Angela Florez, said in an email to HuffPost that the ban would disproportionately impact people from marginalized communities and set Arizona back by nearly 150 years.

“We know that today’s ruling does not reflect the will of the people, as Arizonans are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion access. Instead, it is the latest card in anti-abortion extremists’ deck of cruel and harmful tactics to strip Arizonans of their right to live under a rule of law that respects our bodily autonomy and reproductive decisions,” Florez said.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris each condemned the ruling.

“This cruel ban was first enacted in 1864—more than 150 years ago, before Arizona was even a state and well before women had secured the right to vote,” Biden said. “This ruling is a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women’s freedom.”

Harris largely blamed former President Donald Trump, who has taken credit for overturning Roe v. Wade.

“President Biden and I are doing everything in our power to stop Trump and restore women’s reproductive freedom, but it is going to take all of us,” she said.

Meanwhile, a number Arizona Republicans who previously celebrated the end of federal protections for the procedure sought political cover by distancing themselves from the ruling.

Republicans in the state issued a wave of statements in opposition to the ruling.

Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake, who two years ago called the 1864 statute “a great law,” said yesterday that it was “out of step with Arizonans.”  You can’t have it both ways and go back and forth with your views on such an important issue, Ms. Lake!