Government

Law, power and political participation

RECENT POSTS

Visualization: How America Responded to the State of the Union via Tweet

Includes interactive visualization

screenshot

As President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address last night, the Twittersphere was, unsurprisingly, abuzz with commentary and reactions. To show which parts of the speech struck a chord — or a nerve —  Twitter data viz whiz Nicolas Belmonte created the following interactive visualization. It attempts to gauge the resonance of the various topics Obama addressed by linking every paragraph in the speech to the thousands of Tweets submitted directly in response, and geographically tracing where those Tweets originated. Continue reading

How Poverty Is Measured in America, Explained in Two Cartoons

Includes video and cartoon infographics

During his State of the Union Address delivered 50 years ago on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared “unconditional war on poverty in America.” At the time, roughly 19 percent of Americans were living below the newly developed federal poverty line. Johnson’s declaration ushered in a wave of social welfare legislation — part of a set of domestic reforms that became known as “The Great Society.” It led to the creation of health and education safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and food stamps. By 1969, when he left office, the poverty rate had dropped by more than a third, to about 12 percent. Continue reading

Forget Miles per Gallon: Why We Should Switch to Gallons per Mile

Includes visualizations
Pumping_gas

Wikimedia

To begin, a quiz:

Bob and Jane Smith have two vehicles: One is a 15 MPG (miles per gallon) pickup truck that Bob uses for his construction job. The other is a 28 MPG sedan that his wife Jane uses for her work commute. The couple wants to upgrade to something more fuel efficient, but only has the cash to replace one of their vehicles. Assuming each drives the average American distance of about 13,500 miles per year, which of the following options would save the most gas?

 

a. Replacing the 28 MPG sedan with a 38 MPG compact

Or

b. Replacing the 15 MPG truck with a 20 MPG truck Continue reading

The Voting Rights Act: A Cartoon History

Includes cartoon infographic

The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the first of his three-part illustrated series on voting rights in America, comic journalist Andy Warner tells the story of the Voting Rights Act. Scroll through the slideshow or read it as a single image graphic below.

View as slideshow

Continue reading

Cartoon: How the Supreme Court Stripped the Voting Rights Act of its Muscle

Includes cartoon infographic

SupremeCourt_Slice7_typocorrect(1)The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act significantly weakens the federal government’s authority toi prevent voter discrimination in state and local elections. In the second of his three-part illustrated series on voting rights in America, Andy Warner explains the court’s decision and the immediate implications of the ruling (see part 1 here). View the full graphic below the slideshow. Continue reading

Cartoon: New Age of Voter Suppression Tactics in Wake of Supreme Court Ruling

Includes cartoon infographic

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision last June to strike down a key oversight provision in the Voting Rights Act, a handful of states enacted controversial new voting rules that had previously been barred. In the third part of his illustrated series (see part 1 and part 2), Andy Warner explains some of these changes. View the full graphic below the slideshow.

Continue reading

These Disunited States: Two Geographic Visions of America’s Deep Divides

Includes maps
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Courtesy of Dante Chinni_ACP

Courtesy of Tufts Magazine

Courtesy of Tufts Magazine

America as 11 separate “nations”

“There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way.” That’s according to author and Portland Press Herald reporter Colin Woodward. In a recent Tufts Magazine article — and in greater detail in his book American Nations — Woodard argues that much of North America can be neatly divided into 11 separate nation-states — from Yankeedom and the Far West, to the Left Coast and the Deep South — each shaped heavily by its unique geography and dominant ethnicities, Shaped since the early days of settlement, the distinct cultures of these regions, he notes, are determinate factors in a wide range of social and political positions, from voting patterns to attitudes on government and violence.  Continue reading

Poverty Line Problems: The History of an Outdated Measurement (Infographic)

Includes Cartoon Infographic

Poverty_Line_Problems_Slice6Following up on his last cartoon infographic exploring “the poverty threshold” in the United States, graphic journalist Andy Warner digs into the concept behind “the poverty line,” the origins of that measurement and why it’s considered so outdated today. View it below in full, or in segments as a slideshow. Continue reading

The Debt Ceiling: What Is it, Why Do We Have It and What Do We Owe?

Includes images, video and charts
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This is what U.S. federal debt looks like in physical dollars (and bear in mind that today’s debt has grown to more than $17 tirllion). Image by demonocracy.info

And here I was just starting to get my government shutdown groove on.

I mean, without the thrill of waking up every morning to the debt default doomsday machine ticking down to the brink of economic catastrophe, life honestly seems a bit mundane. At least Congress didn’t go too nuts and actually resolve the issue;  they just went ahead and did what any rational group of people do when confronted with a difficult situation: they put it off for another day — you know, kicked the can down the road. Anyone smell a sequel? (And yes, I’ve already reserved front row tickets for Round 2 in January. I hear it’s gonna be awesome. My sources tell me that before the final death match, John Boehner reveals himself as President Obama’s real father).

But seriously … With the stroke of a pen, the government sputtered back to life last Thursday morning after Obama and Congress ended a 16-day political standoff that had left large swaths of the federal government shuttered and put the U.S. at risk of losing it’s ability to borrow money. The compromise allows federal agencies to resume operations, reopen public facilities and abruptly end the unpaid staycations of hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees. Continue reading

Chart: How BART Pay Compares to Pay at Other Big Transit Agencies in California

Includes interactive charts
Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Ah, BART. Never a dull moment.

If only its unions and management could learn the virtues of unity and cooperation that our elected officials in Washington have so magnanimously exhibited (hmmm …).

Well, it’s happened again. At the stroke of midnight, following a breakdown in negotiations, unionized BART workers went on strike, grinding the entire rail network to a disgruntled halt just in time for the Friday morning commute. Continue reading