Commentary

Senior Fellow David Callahan shows why most of the recent corporate wrongdoers are likely to walk free because of weak laws and even weaker law enforcement agencies.

The failure of our legal system to ensure accountability for corporate abuses that cost investors so dearly sends a terrible message: Ordinary Americans are being reminded once again that the rich live by a different set of rules, while would-be corporate criminals are seeing that crime pays.

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NEW YORK -- Nine months after the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) -- whose passage was sparked by the disputed 2000 presidential vote -- became law, the action on election reform has shifted to the state level. State governments are now charged with implementing the legislation, and while that poses the danger that some states will take the opportunity to cook up new methods for voter suppression, it also offers election reform advocates the best chance in a long time to improve the way America votes.

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The president is changing tactics. Forget weapons of mass destruction, the war in Iraq is about terrorism; time to go back to the United Nations to get some help with the military occupation and with paying the $87 billion reckoning for staying in Afghanistan and Iraq that is now being acknowledged. But he has reaffirmed his strategic vision: It is America's strategy of preventive war against rogue states, the very concept that has been the source of America's inability so far to defeat terrorism or establish anything resembling democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Unlock the Block Project Director Jazz Hayden observes that the "felony disenfranchisement" laws that bar 4.65 million Americans from voting have an explicitly racist history.

Is it coincidence that the harshest disenfranchisement laws are mostly in former slave states? Not in the slightest. Like poll taxes and literacy tests, the ostensibly race-neutral disenfranchisement laws were created to keep blacks from voting.

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NEW YORK -- As New York City peers into the abyss of deep budget cuts, many city leaders are infuriated by Gov. George Pataki's unwillingness to do more to help the five boroughs. This is hardly the first time city leaders have howled about not getting their fair share from Albany, but the problem has become so pronounced that the City Council even held a hearing recently to consider seceding from New York State.

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NEW YORK -- As Congress debates next year's budget, alarm bells are sounding among groups that work with the poor. Every day, it seems, brings a new report about drastic cuts at the state level to health insurance, child-care, and other programs that help low-income families. Advocates predict that Republican budget proposals, with their meager aid to the states, will mean ever more pain for Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder.

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President Miles Rapoport looks at the challenge of implementing the new Federal election law in a way that will maximize voter participation.

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Senior Fellow David Callahan discusses how charities and other nonprofits radically tighten their belts, marking a heady golden age for America's nongovernmental sector as coming to an end. Emerging hopes that this sector could do better than government at easing social ills -- hopes championed by the right, but not uncommon on the left -- seem naive in the context of recent funding trends.

The endowments of many US philanthropic foundations have declined by a third or more in the past several years, and individual giving is also way down.

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Senior Fellow David Callahan suggests that the anti-war movement hints at growing disenchantment with American democracy and a new concern about sustainable energy policy.

What might today's antiwar movement say about domestic politics? Two undercurrents of the protests hint at larger critiques of United States society that seem to be gaining momentum. One relates to consumption, the other to democracy.

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In making the case for war, there is one thing on which President Bush and his critics agree: It's all about trust. The leaders of eight European countries who signed on to the war effort in a commentary in the Wall Street Journal and European papers last week didn't make a judgment on the evidence; they argued that history and the North Atlantic alliance demanded that Europe trust America.

But if the case for war rests on trust, there are good reasons why this president, like any powerful democratic leader, needs to be distrusted.

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