These are your weekly non-Beltway political stories.
The Daily 202 generally focuses on national politics and foreign policy. But as passionate believers in local news, and in redefining “politics” as something that hits closer to home than strictly inside-the-Beltway stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international importance.
But we need your help to know what we’re missing! Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. (They don’t have to be from this week, and the submission link is right under this column.) Make sure to say whether we can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too, as long as you give a location.
Americans love old houses
My colleague and old friend Chris Moody wrote a beautiful piece (the free link is here) about Americans increasingly buying relatively inexpensive old houses. It starts with “a gaping, burned-out hole in the roof,” but Moody quickly gets us to the politics.
“Houses constructed more than a century ago account for barely six percent of homes in the United States, according to the market research firm Statista. But interest in relatively cheap, old fixer-uppers has boomed as the cost of newer houses has skyrocketed over the past few years. The median price of homes in the United States rose to $416,100 in 2023 from $322,600 just three years earlier, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Meanwhile, the mortgage interest rate topped seven percent this year.”
- “For people who didn’t or couldn’t buy a home before the price boom or while interest rates were low, achieving homeownership — long seen as a cornerstone of the American Dream — seems depressingly out of reach,” Moody wrote.
The politics: All economics news is politics news. Moody’s piece encapsulates American struggles to achieve home-ownership. The Fed decision to raise rates has real effects on that aspiration.
Vous ne passerez pas (you will not pass)
West Virginia University students staged a walkout this week to protest deep proposed cuts at the school, according to Alexandra Weaver of WBOY. An anonymous reader in Montana flagged the issue for us.
“The proposed cuts impact 32 majors that were recommended for discontinuation, including cutting all foreign language degrees and ‘reviewing plans to eliminate the language requirement for all majors.’ Other cuts include downsizing staff in several departments,” Weaver wrote.
An earlier WBOY piece, from Sam Kirk and Joey Rather, said the university was looking at partnering up with a foreign language app or online instruction.
The proposed cuts include 12 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs, out of its total 338 majors. “A press release said that changes would affect 147 undergraduate and 287 graduate students,” Kirk and Rather reported.
The politics: Remember that our definition of “politics” includes how a society organizes itself to allocate finite — or even scarce — resources. And who teaches what to whom has always been a deeply political question.
Ohio tokes a look at legal pot
Ohio voters will decide in November whether to legalize — and limit — recreational marijuana, Haley BeMiller of the Columbus Dispatch reported.
- “The proposal would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults,” BeMiller wrote.
- “Products would be taxed 10%, with revenue going toward administrative costs, addiction treatment programs, municipalities with dispensaries and a social equity and jobs program,” BeMiller reported.
Even if voters approve the ballot measure, the state legislature “could modify or repeal the law,” according to the piece. “Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, are staunchly opposed to adult-use marijuana, but Haren previously said he expects lawmakers to respect the will of the voters.”
The politics: Even in Red states, Americans are voting to legalize pot.
Mural, mural on the wall (but hidden)
A federal appeals court has ruled that Vermont Law and Graduate School isn’t violating federal law by covering a controversial campus mural over the artist’s objections, Hannah Feuer of Seven Days reported.
“The law school covered the mural with acoustic panels after previously announcing in July 2020 it would paint over the controversial artwork. Students objected to the mural’s cartoonish portrayal of Black people and framing of white people as ‘saviors’ in the abolition movement.”
The politics: Free expression? School’s rights? The mural is indeed [low whistle]. But mostly we wanted to flag the law under which the artist sued — the Visual Artists Rights Act. Who knew? (Not us.)
Fed chief says more ‘ground to cover’ to get inflation under control
“There’s more ground to cover to get inflation down to normal levels, and the Federal Reserve is resolved to keep a tight grip on the economy until it is confident the job is done, the Federal Reserve chief said Friday,” Rachel Siegel reports.
This latest covid variant could be the best yet at evading immunity
“While only about a dozen cases of the new BA.2.86 variant have been reported worldwide — including three in the United States — experts say this variant requires intense monitoring and vigilance that many of its predecessors did not. That’s because it has even greater potential to escape the antibodies that protect people from getting sick, even if you’ve recently been infected or vaccinated,” Fenit Nirappil reports.
Workers give union leaders okay to call strike against automakers next month
“Members of the United Auto Workers edged closer to a strike with 97 percent voting to support giving their union leaders permission to call a work stoppage at the Big Three automakers, after their contract expires Sept. 14, the union announced Friday,” Jeanne Whalen reports.
As China’s economy slows, the buck stops with leader Xi Jinping
“The Chinese government expects the economy to grow by 5 percent this year — only half the rate recorded in 2008, when Xi Jinping became vice president — but economists are warning that target is looking unachievable because of a looming property market bust and local government debt crisis,” Christian Shepherd reports.
Lunchtime reads from The Post
An oral history of the March on Washington, 60 years after MLK’s dream
- “Some arrived with intent, others by happenstance. They were college students and college dropouts, activists who organized in city offices and in sharecropping shacks, workers on Capitol Hill and at the post office.”
- “An estimated 250,000 Americans in all arrived by bus, by train and on foot to participate in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Together, they forged a cornerstone moment in American history and in the struggle for African American equality that enslavement and Jim Crow had long denied.”
Maui utility may have compromised evidence in fire probe, lawyers say
“The Hawaii power utility believed to have started the deadly Lahaina fire removed damaged power poles and other equipment from a key fire scene, potentially affecting evidence that is part of an official investigation into how the blaze ignited,” Brianna Sacks and Allyson Chiu report.
The last days of Wagner’s Prigozhin
“Yevgeny Prigozhin spent his final days planning for the future. Last Friday, the warlord’s private jet touched down in the capital of Central African Republic, on a mission to salvage one of the first client states of his Wagner mercenary company. His African empire had come to include some 5,000 men deployed across the continent,” the Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon, Drew Hinshaw, Joe Parkinson and Nicholas Bariyo report.
- “In the riverside presidential palace in Bangui, the capital, Prigozhin told President Faustin-Archange Touadera that his aborted June mutiny in Russia wouldn’t stop him from bringing new fighters and investments to his business partners in Central Africa, according to three people familiar with the meeting.”
Will politicians ban their best way of reaching young voters?
“In interviews with nearly two dozen digital consultants, political aides and voter mobilization experts, mostly but not exclusively Democrats, sources took me inside the quietly booming campaign ecosystem that is spreading on [TikTok] and that has become crucially important in connecting with voters of color. These strategists aren’t turning to TikTok just for brand-building, messaging and mobilizing on behalf of candidates and causes, but for establishing trust and combatting disinformation, which have proven to be particular challenges in connecting with these voters in recent years. But TikTok is also in serious jeopardy,” Nancy Scola writes for Politico Magazine.
Russia scolds Biden for remarks on Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plane crash
“Russia on Friday scolded U.S. President Joe Biden for expressing his lack of surprise that Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had been killed in a plane crash and cautioned that it was not appropriate for Washington to make such remarks,” Reuters reports.
- “Biden on Wednesday said he was not surprised by reports about Prigozhin’s death, adding that not much happens in the country that President Vladimir Putin is not behind.”
Biden campaign targets answers at Republican abortion debate in new ad
“The advertisement is part of a $25 million push by Biden’s campaign, this time targeting women in battleground states. It will run online and in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” NBC News’s Megan Lebowitz reports.
What GOP-debate watchers thought, visualized
“The Washington Post, FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos conducted a poll before and after [Wednesday’s] debate with potential Republican primary and caucus voters, including those who watched the debate,” Emily Guskin, Shelly Tan, Kati Perry and Clara Ence Morse report.
- “And they thought Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came out on top Wednesday night, with 29 percent of Republican voters who watched the debate saying he performed best. He was nearly matched by former pharmaceutical executive Vivek Ramaswamy, with 26 percent saying he performed best. The findings may be surprising because DeSantis generally stayed above the fray in a raucous debate, though Ramaswamy received and delivered lots of barbs.”
Plus, some big results for Haley:
Nikki Haley came in third at 15%, but posted two other impressive results:
-17-point increase in the share of debate-watchers who are considering voting for her (29%->46%)
-14-point increase in favorable ratings (51%-65%)
More from the poll ->https://t.co/8pUcY4RwUK https://t.co/gDizhoyr0b
— Scott Clement (@sfcpoll) August 24, 2023
Long-awaited rules on private equity mostly involve disclosure
“Private equity firms and hedge funds have troubled many over their practices affecting workers and competitor businesses, but the way that America works is that the interests of investors more frequently get the attention of regulators. And for years, investors have complained that they don’t realize all the financial value from sprawling operations like this, and in fact private equity investments primarily enrich the fund managers,” David Dayen writes for the American Prospect.
- “That’s the subject of a sweeping new set of rules advanced this week by the Securities and Exchange Commission on a 3-2 vote. The so-called ‘private funds rule’ attempts to attack a number of opaque financial-engineering practices used by private equity.”
- “Under the new regime, private funds will have to send quarterly financial statements to investors that include fund performance and all expenses. They will also be subject to annual audits. The costs of investigations for violations of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 will not be allowed to be funneled through to investors to pay.”
GOP chair says candidates must talk about abortion to win in 2024
Chairwoman of the Republican Party Ronna McDaniel “noted that Democrats had successfully campaigned on the issue of abortion rights in last year’s midterm elections and were likely to do so again in 2024. Democrats have sought to harness a backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion. The issue appears to have helped motivate voter turnout for Democrats and has become politically risky for Republicans. Many have sought to play down the subject,” the New York Times’s Michael Gold reports.
- “If our candidates aren’t able to find a response and put out a response, we’re not going to win,” Ms. McDaniel said.
Biden is in Lake Tahoe today with no public events scheduled.
Trump joins the lineup of history’s most famous mug shots
“Trump avoided the booking photo with his first three indictments, but that changed Thursday when he surrendered at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta in connection with his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. Photos of his alleged co-conspirators have trickled in over the past few days as well, including former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani,” Gillian Brockell reports.
- “Mug shot aficionados now have a new historic photo to add to this pantheon. Here is a look at some others.”
Thanks for reading. See you next week.