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Sasha Abramsky
Sasha Abramsky is a senior fellow at the New York City-based think tank Demos. He is the author of several books, including The American Way of Poverty,(Nation Books, 2013) The House of Twenty Thousand Books, (New York Review Books, 2015) American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment (Beacon Press, 2007) and Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It (PoliPoint Press, 2009). His newest book, Inside Obama's Brain, was published by Penguin Portfolio in December 2009.

Abramsky’s writings have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, the Nation, the New Yorker online, the American Prospect, Mother Jones, the New Statesman, and many other magazines. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian newspaper’s Comments is Free website. Abramsky has appeared on many national radio and television shows and lectures regularly on politics, and on the criminal justice system in America. He lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and two children. For more you can check out

Entries by Sasha Abramsky

Tiny Trump

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2016 | 1:45 PM

"Crooked Hillary! Crooked Hillary!"

Over and over again, Trump drums this phrase into audiences. If you look at the neuroscience, what he's doing is etching a pattern association into the brains of his viewers. Once etched in, the association is extraordinarily hard to erase. He did the same in the...

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Romney's Safety Net

(11) Comments | Posted February 1, 2012 | 4:05 PM

Even in an era of increasingly inane political oratory, Mitt Romney's latest comments stand out. Fresh off his primary win in Florida, an ebullient Romney told CNN's Soledad O'Brien, that he wasn't concerned about the very poor in America -- that he was choosing to focus his...

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The Voices of Poverty

(27) Comments | Posted December 29, 2011 | 9:39 AM

As the year winds down, we tend to take stock: what was good about the year just ending, and what was bad? What can we expect in the days and months to come?

Here's a raft of things that were, definitively, bad: poverty in America continued to increase,...

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America's Disenfranchisement Scandal

(23) Comments | Posted March 29, 2011 | 1:17 PM

Earlier this month, Rick Scott, Florida's new Republican governor, announced that Florida would make it harder for felons who had completed their sentences to vote. From now on, non-violent felons will have to wait five years from the completion of their sentence to even apply for their voting...

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Time to Be Smart On Crime and Punishment

(8) Comments | Posted October 14, 2010 | 2:11 AM

Two weeks ago, I attended the first Meg Whitman-Jerry Brown gubernatorial debate in California. One of the things that struck me was the time-warp quality of Whitman's discussion of crime and punishment.

Time and again, she told her audience how she would be "tough on crime," contrasting her...

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Obama: The Resurrection of a Transformative President

(155) Comments | Posted March 21, 2010 | 11:08 PM

Late Sunday night, Obama's presidency, written off by so many, was resurrected. In securing passage of health care reform in the House of Representatives -- a holy grail for Democratic presidents going back to at least the New Deal years, and one seen by many as being impossible in the...

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When the Extraordinary is Taken for Granted

(9) Comments | Posted January 29, 2010 | 3:22 PM

Fifteen months ago, Barack Obama's election was widely heralded as an epochal moment, a healing event, in the nation's history. He was the first African American president; the first black man elected to lead any western democracy. And whatever else he was, whatever specific policies he was proposing, that, inevitably,...

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Time to Take the Gloves Off

(13) Comments | Posted January 22, 2010 | 12:01 AM

Barack Obama's modus operandi has long been to find consensus, to tack toward the middle - and to bring as many people with him in this process as he can. His idea has always been to engorge the middle and, in so doing, to cut off the blood-supply of the...

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Inside Obama's Brain

(7) Comments | Posted December 9, 2009 | 11:07 PM

Is Barack Obama a faux populist? Is he a player of politics-as-usual masquerading as an agent of change? Is he a do-nothing centrist frittering away the hopes of millions? Is he just a flashy front man for the military-industrial complex?

A year ago, these questions would have seemed absurd. A...

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In Defense of Good Government

(2) Comments | Posted November 4, 2009 | 12:36 AM

A couple days ago, I wrote a piece for the Guardian newspaper, in which I posited the notion that President Obama's singular achievement in his first year in office has been to wrestle the great ship of state onto a new rhetorical course - one in which government again...

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Obama's Free Space Moment

(5) Comments | Posted October 28, 2009 | 2:43 PM

Next Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of Barack Obama's election. So much has happened in that year that it's easy to forget just how improbable the election victory was, just how world-shaking was the election of a young, charismatic, liberal black man to the presidency. It's easy to forget...

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Obama at the United Nations

(3) Comments | Posted September 23, 2009 | 1:28 PM

President Obama's speech to the United Nations this morning borrowed thematically from Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. It was an example of American idealism, and internationalism, at its soaring rhetorical best - a blending of principles and aspirations, hope and optimism.

Obama talked of the four...

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Don't Mistake Discontent for Failure

(81) Comments | Posted August 23, 2009 | 5:23 PM

This is, according to the punditocracy, the summer of our discontent, the moment when utopianism slides into profound disillusionment and "change" in D.C. morphs into "business as usual." There's an inevitability to the narrative: newbie hits town, promises change, gets corrupted by power, and the town changes him. And we...

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Breadline USA Part III

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2009 | 12:23 AM

Over the past several days, my family and I have been driving across country. A couple days ago, we were in Moab, a remote part of Utah situated in the heart of red-rock country. One evening, my daughter and I took a boat ride up the Colorado, the trip narrated...

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Breadline USA Part Two

(4) Comments | Posted June 15, 2009 | 6:21 PM

A new movie hit theaters this past weekend: Food, Inc. Want to know why so much of the food we eat is so bad for us, who benefits from industrial agriculture and who suffers, this is the movie to watch. For people concerned about what goes into their daily...

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Breadline USA

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2009 | 12:25 AM

Last year, an elderly lady named Billy MacPherson recounted to me a story. When she and her husband George were young, she said, they'd often run out of money before their next pay checks came through. They and their children would eat pancakes with syrup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,...

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The Long Exhale

(20) Comments | Posted November 5, 2008 | 6:22 PM

When I went to bed last night, I was weeping; when I woke up in the middle of the night, I was still weeping. And when I opened my eyes this morning, with my one year old son sleeping peacefully in between my wife and me, I was still weeping....

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Blaming the Poor

(54) Comments | Posted October 11, 2008 | 12:12 PM

I posted the following article on the Guardian's Comments is Free site yesterday. It says things that I think need to be said, about the moral crassness of the commentators who have taken to blaming poor people for the financial collapse we're undergoing. With the permission of the Guardian,...

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Waiting for the Deluge

(7) Comments | Posted September 29, 2008 | 8:52 PM

Some brief thoughts on the failure of today's bail-out vote.

1) This represents a failure of leadership of a truly historical scale. Yes, the plan proposed was flawed, but the reasons for voting against it were even more flawed. With an election only five weeks away, what should have been...

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Sweetening the Trillion Dollar Bailout

(6) Comments | Posted September 22, 2008 | 12:37 AM

It's been said so many times this week, it hardly needs restating, but I'll restate it anyway: the financial collapse we're in the middle of, and the trillion dollar federal bailout now planned, is a once in a century event. We're living through the collapse of an entire economic -...

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