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Go It Alone, Obama, for Democracy

Pete Souza/The White House, via Getty

He’s been hammered for going around Congress with executive orders. But he’s within his authority—and he should go further on voting and transparency to make government work better.

With Congress paralyzed, President Obama has promised to use his “pen and phone” to overcome the ongoing dysfunction and get some work done. And the White House has already acted several times to help improve America’s economy. But such policies, no matter how valuable, will achieve little if we do not fix our broken democracy.Allow me to suggest some ideas for how the president can do just that.First, some historical context. Presidents have long acted within their authority, from Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana without consulting Congress to Lincoln’s freeing the slaves by proclamation.

LOW BALLIN’

Krugman Is a Steal at $225K

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

The only thing hypocritical about acclaimed economist Paul Krugman’s CUNY salary is the right-wingers suddenly begrudging someone his free-market value.

When I first read those articles Wednesday about Paul Krugman’s new City University of New York salary, I didn’t even understand what the “story” was supposed to be. I don’t mind admitting that I had to have it explained to me that the $225,000 figure was supposed to mark some kind of hypocrisy on Krugman’s part. Oh, please. The only hypocrisy on display here, as usual, is that of his right-wing critics, suddenly begrudging someone his free-market value.

ON THE DEFENSE

Stop Stockpiling Web Glitches

The Daily Beast

Members of the President’s Intelligence Review Group declare that playing defense by alerting the public to hacks is the best response when situations like Heartbleed occur.

When word spread last week about the greatest cyberspace vulnerability in years, the aptly named Heartbleed vulnerability, the first question that many asked was “Did NSA know?” Because of the prior revelations about NSA activity, there is now a natural suspicion among many citizens that the NSA would be using such a weakness in the fabric of cyberspace to collect information. Bloomberg even reported that the NSA did know and had been exploiting the mistake in encryption.

Strange Bedfellows

Are Atheists the New Mormons?

The Daily Beast

Atheists are holding their annual convention in Salt Lake City, but things have been surprisingly cordial. Maybe these uniquely American groups have more in common than they think.

It’s a bit like holding the Republican National Convention in Berkeley: This weekend, the American Atheists are gathering in Salt Lake City for their annual conclave. Attendees can hear a keynote speech by outspoken former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, attend workshops with titles like “So you want to debate Christians?” and mingle during a karaoke night and a costume dinner.The whole event is taking place at a downtown Hilton, just three blocks away from Temple Square, spiritual and administrative capital of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

SEX SCANDAL

Rape Allegation Rocks Hollywood

AFP/Getty

The man claiming to have been sexually abused by 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer reveals a shocking catalog of alleged abuse that has ‘destroyed’ his life.

Michael Egan III, the 31-year-old man accusing X-Men director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him as a teenager, says he considered committing suicide as he struggled to come to terms with what he alleges happened to him.In an exclusive interview, Egan told The Daily Beast: “I didn’t know who to talk to, or how to deal with the demons eating away at me. Suicide absolutely went through my mind. I had a horrible time with drinking. If it hadn’t been for the support of my mother and family, I don’t know what I would have done.

Hatred Nation

Where Racists Breed Online

The Daily Beast

In the wake of the Kansas City shootings, a new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center sheds light on the rampant violence that has been perpetrated by users of right-wing extremist sites.

The day after long-time white supremacist and anti-Semite Frazier Glenn Miller allegedly opened fire outside two suburban Kansas City Jewish centers, killing three people, he was denounced by the founder of Stormfront.org, one of the Internet’s oldest and largest white nationalist forums.“We have enough of a problem with how we are portrayed without some homicidal whack job coming along and reinforcing that,” Don Black told The Daily Beast at the time.

Second Chances

No, You Can’t Check if I’m a Felon

The Washington Post/Getty

A job hopeful might have an arrest record, but employers can’t find out until after making a job offer. It’s just one of many bills nationwide rolling back criminal background checks.

Wantwaz Davis served 19 years in prison for second-degree murder after shooting someone who he says raped his mother and threatened to do so again.When Davis got out in 2010, he couldn’t find steady employment. He began advocating for the rights of ex-felons before the City Council in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and found his first real job since being locked up at 17 when he won election to the council last November.Now Davis is helping lead an effort in Michigan to make it easier for those with a criminal history to find work by making it more difficult for employers to find out about their past.

New Boss Like Old Boss

NYPD Spying Is Alive and Well

Mark Ovaska/Redux

Officials inside the police department say the end of the Demographic Unit is not the first step in dismantling an intelligence program meant to protect the city from terrorist attacks after 9/11.

The New York City Police Department is curtailing its spying ON the Muslim community, but it will continue spying IN the Muslim community.And it will do so as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism effort that includes the use of undercovers and confidential informants.In fact, the department is training more undercovers even now.So, despite what some may say, the shutdown of the Zone Assessment Unit—previously named the Demographic Unit—is not the first step in dismantling the intelligence operation created under the previous police commissioner, Raymond Kelly.

HATE

Frazier Miller’s Racist Mayor

Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/Getty

Danny Clevenger says he agrees with the racist alleged murderer that Jews are destroying America.

Frazier Glenn Miller wasn’t the only racist in his area.The alleged killer of three at Jewish sites in Kansas hails the town next door to Marionville, Missouri (population 2,000) whose mayor says he agrees with the white supremacist.Newly elected mayor Danny Clevenger was a friend of Miller, who used to be a customer at Clevenger’s engine repair shop. Clevenger told KSPR-TV, that he “kind of agreed with [Miller] on some things but, I don’t like to express that too much.

Evil

The Murder of Innocents

CRIME LAW HEADSHOT/Reuters

A Utah mother charged with killing six of her infant children was described as cold and aloof by a neighbor. Police are still searching for answers in the tragedy.

The woman who sits in a suicide suit in a Utah County Jail cell traded one prison for another. Megan Huntsman, charged with murder for the deaths of seven children that she claims to have birthed, then killed, had lived with her secretive deeds beginning in 1996, according to her statements to police. While some neighbors have praised her in the terms many use when confronted with a horrible crime committed by a seemingly gentle person, others thought Huntsman was, quite simply, “cold.

Who Is Frazier Glenn Miller?

Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon dissects the story of Miller, a 'nightmare image' of 'hate groups nestled in the heartland' who went on a Kansas killing spree on Sunday.

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Go It Alone, Obama, for Democracy

Go It Alone, Obama, for Democracy

He’s been hammered for going around Congress with executive orders. But he’s within his authority—and he should go further on voting and transparency to make government work better.

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