Jamelle Bouie

Rick Perry Attacks Wendy Davis in the Worst Way Possible

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie Rick Perry on the trail at the Lizard Thicket restaurant in South Carolina Wednesday. Texas Governor Rick Perry is speaking to the National Right to Life Convention, and given the events of the last few days, it’s no surprise he’s commenting on Wendy Davis and her filibuster of harsh anti-abortion restrictions. (You can read Abby Rapoport on Davis's filibuster here .) In criticizing Davis, Perry had a choice. He could dispute the state senator on the substance of her opposition, or he could attack her motives and her experiences. To no one’s shock, Perry—who occupies the far-right of the Republican Party—chose the latter. Jay Root, a reporter for the Texas Tribune , tweets one of Perry’s statements: . @GovernorPerry says @WendyDavisTexas was a "teenage mother herself" and it's unfortunate "she hasn't learned from her own example." — Jay Root (@byjayroot) June 27, 2013 The full quote is here: In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into...

America's Fatigue in the Fight Against Racism

White House
White House “The stated purpose of the Civil War Amendments was to arm Congress with the power and authority to protect all persons within the Nation from violations of their rights by the States,” writes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent against the five justices who ruled to overturn Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) today. The reason for citing this fact of history is straightforward: In it resides the core dispute of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder , the case decided by the Supreme Court this morning. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was the last of the three Civil War amendments and arguably the most controversial. It was one thing to emancipate the slaves (the Thirteenth Amendment) or guarantee equal protection under the law (the Fourteenth Amendment), but the Fifteenth granted suffrage to black men, which was a bridge too far for many whites, in both the North and South. To Southern politicians of the time, it was “the most revolutionary measure” to...

Ed Markey is Not Martha Coakley

Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
Three years ago, a special election to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate resulted in a surprise winner, Republican Scott Brown, and the near-death of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reform law. Brown’s win was the work of several elements. In addition to strong skills as a candidate, he had the advantage of Tea Party enthusiasm, anti-Obama fatigue, and a complacent Democratic Party, which fielded Martha Coakley, a weak candidate who compounded her problems by refusing to campaign. Today, Massachusetts voters—or at least, a small subset of them—will again head to the polls to choose a replacement senator, this time for John Kerry, the long-serving Democrat who joined President Obama’s cabinet as Secretary of State at the beginning of the year. And again, Massachusetts Democrats have chosen a party stalwart to lead the charge—Representative Ed Markey, a 37-year veteran of Congress, who has spent most of his adult life in elected office. He faces Gabriel...

Is Racism Over? The Supreme Court says, "Who knows?"

AP Images/Susan Walsh
For the Supreme Court, the key question in Fisher v. University of Texas was this: “Is diversity in college admissions a compelling interest for the government, and are race-conscious policies a legitimate way of pursuing that interest?” Put another way, is racism over and do we still have to deal with it? To my—and many other’s—surprise, the Court decided to sidestep this question. Rather than support UT’s claim that its race-conscious policies fall within the Court’s standards for affirmative action, or Fisher’s claim that race-consciousness has no place in the business of college admissions, the Supreme Court—in a 7–1 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy—sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on a technicality. Writing for the majority , Kennedy notes that the University of Texas’ affirmative action plan could only withstand constitutional scrutiny if “no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” The problem...

The GOP Loses Big if Immigration Reform Fails

As a member of the Gang of Eight, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham is one of the most prominent Republican proponents of comprehensive immigration reform. His motives are straightforward: For the GOP to stay competitive, it needs to make inroads with Latino voters. Creating a path to citizenship for existing immigrants—and smoothing the process for future ones—is the only way Republicans can begin to repair their relationship with a community that has been alienated by the party’s harsh—sometimes xenophobic—rhetoric on immigration. Graham’s latest word on the subject was yesterday, on Fox News Sunday , where he warned Republicans of what would happen if they failed to get behind the comprehensive reform bill currently making its way through the Senate. “If it fails,” he said, “and [Republicans] are blamed for its failure, our party is in trouble with Hispanics; not because we are conservative but because of the rhetoric and the way we’ve handled this issue.” Insofar that there...

Americans Disagree and That's OK

Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect
I’ve written before about the odd focus political pundits have on President Obama’s culpability for the current era of partisan and hyper-polarization, despite the fact of categorical Republican opposition to nearly everything that comes from the White House. John Harwood’s piece on Obama’s travel schedule —there are deep red states the president has never visited—is the latest entry in this genre. In fairness, it’s better than most, since Harwood acknowledges the existence of Republican obstruction. Still, the basic idea—that Obama has contributed to polarization by ignoring certain states—puts far too much weight on the president’s ability to change public opinion (which is limited), and not enough on the reality of genuine disagreement between different groups of Americans. Here’s Harwood in his own words: Mr. Obama has not given North Dakota his time. It is one of six states he has not visited as president, along with South Dakota, Arkansas, Idaho, South Carolina and Utah. He has...

The Republican Reform Problem

Derek Bridges / Flickr
Among many other things, the fight for immigration reform is a test of whether the Republican Party is able to move in the direction of reform. I’m skeptical, and Ed Kilgore captures why with a post at the Washington Monthly that outlines the groups of Republicans who oppose reform for one reason or another. When you add up the different groups, it amounts to most Republicans. As he says, “The surprising thing isn’t that rank-and-file Republicans or most of their representatives in Washington aren’t in lockstep agreement with a move-to-the-center strategy, but that the belief in the chattering classes this is the obvious path ahead for the GOP remains so very strong.” This is the lens through which to understand Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s bizarre op-ed earlier this week, in which he launched a vicious attack on the imaginary liberals who—he says—want “red meat to be rationed” and who think “factory-style government is a cool new thing.” There have been a fair number of...

Whither White America?

Flowizm/Flickr
“Majority-minority” is an unusual term—by definition, minorities are no longer such if they’re in the majority—but it’s a convenient shorthand for what most people expect to happen in the United States over the next few decades. A growing population of nonwhites—driven by Asian and Latino immigration—will yield a country where most Americans have nonwhite heritage, thus “majority-minority.” The most recent analysis from the Census Bureau seems to bear this out. Last year was the first year that whites were a minority of all newborns, and based on current rates of growth, they’ll become a minority of the under–five set by next year, if not the end of this one. Overall, the government projects that within five years, minorities will compromise a majority of all Americans under the age of eighteen, something to keep in mind when trying to project future political support for both parties. There’s more: For the first time in more than a century, the number of deaths among white Americans...

Where Do Americans Stand on Affirmative Action?

Eddie~S/Flickr
Eddie~S/Flickr The last week or so has seen several polls on the popularity of affirmative action, as a preface (of sorts) to the Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas. But major differences between the polls make it difficult to judge where Americans stand on racial preferences One survey from The Washington Post and ABC News, for example, found a huge, diverse majority against “allowing universities to consider applicants race as a factor in deciding which students to admit.” Overall, 76 percent of Americans opposed race conscious admissions, while only 22 percent gave their support. This was consistent among all racial groups: 79 percent of whites opposed using race as a factor, along with 68 percent of Hispanics and 78 percent of blacks. For opponents of affirmative action, this seems to be a welcome sign that the whole of American society has turned against race-based efforts to increase diversity in higher education. But that’s only one poll...

Why the Public Doesn't Care about Surveillance

Pew Research Center
If there’s a major political problem faced by civil libertarians—on both sides of the aisle—it’s that there isn’t a large constituency for civil libertarian ideas. It’s not hard to see why. We have concrete examples of what happens when the federal government doesn’t make anti-terrorism a priority. The United States isn’t a stranger to civil liberties violations, but overwhelmingly, they’ve targeted the more marginal members of our society: Political dissidents, and racial and religious minorities. For the large majority of Americans, the surveillance state is an abstraction, and insofar that it would lead to abuses, they don’t perceive themselves as a target. And, in general, it’s hard to get people motivated when there isn’t a threat. Which is why it’s not a surprise to find that most Americans support the National Security Agency’s program of mass data collection. According to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center, a majority (56 percent to 41 percent) say it’s acceptable...

The School-to-Prison Pipeline Works!

Google
Criminal justice reform activists have long argued that the “school-to-prison” pipeline—the process that places children in the criminal-justice system for misbehavior in school—has a destructive effect on future outcomes. A recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research gives a sense of just how destructive. According to economists Anna Aizer and Joseph Doyle Jr., juvenile incarceration—one result of getting caught in the pipeline—drastically reduces the probability of completing high school, and substantially increases the odds of adult incarceration. From the paper: We find that juvenile incarceration reduces the probability of high school completion and increases the probability of incarceration later in life. While some of this relationship reflects omitted variables, even when we control for potential omitted variables using IV techniques, the relationships remain strong. In OLS regressions with minimal controls, those incarcerated as a juvenile are 39...

What's Next for Immigration Reform?

pamhule/Flickr
Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr For the first time since 2007—and arguably, for the first time in decades—a comprehensive immigration-reform bill stands a good chance of passing the Senate. Built over the last seven months by a bipartisan group of senators (the “Gang of Eight”), the 867-page proposal comes to the floor of the Senate this week, where lawmakers will debate its provisions, and Republicans will have to decide if passing reform is more important than avoiding the political consequences of working with President Obama (and thus becoming a target for conservative activists). In the Senate, we’re almost there. On Saturday , New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte—a conservative favorite—announced her support for the bill, praising its pathway to citizenship as “tough but fair,” saying that immigrants would “go to the back of the line, pay taxes, pass a criminal background check, learn English.” “Our immigration system is completely broken,” she said on CBS’s Face the Nation , “This...

The Republican Party Is Clearly, Absolutely, Broken

Iowapolitics.com
Iowapolitics.com On the domestic front, the first six months of President Obama’s second term have been dominated by two issues: i mmigration reform and the budget. On the former, a consensus has emerged between Democrats and more pragmatic members of the Republican Party, with Congress poised to vote on a bill that combines a path to citizenship with more border security and tougher enforcement mechanisms. The two parties are sharply divided on how to approach the budget, but—again—there’s room for Democrats to work with more pragmatic members of the opposition. But that’s only in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, where majorities have near-absolute control over the conduct of business, there are no negotiations and there is no agenda. Instead, there is a fractured, squabbling Republican Party. In today’s Washington Post , Paul Kane details the extent of the dysfunction. “[T]he most momentous policy decisions, including an immigration overhaul and a fresh deadline for...

Republicans Land a Solid Blow on the Obama Persona

Intel Photos / Flickr
Intel Photos / Flickr President Obama’s key asset as a politician has always been his personal brand. Most Americans have always held him in high esteem, even as they disapproved of his overall job performance. During the presidential election, for instance, Obama’s approval ratings always lagged behind his favorability. For Republicans, this has been a difficult problem to overcome. The GOP hasn’t had much trouble convincing the public that Obama isn’t up to snuff on his handling of the economy, or his overall ability to get stuff done (although a large chunk of that has to do with the Republican stance of categorical obstruction). Even still, the public hasn’t rejected Obama, for the simple reason that voters like the president, and want him to succeed. Which is why Benghazi and the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service has been such a godsend for the Republican Party. Does the White House have anything to do with the IRS decision to heighten scrutiny for conservative groups...

Michele Bachmann's Powerful Legacy

Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect Michele Bachmann’s retirement from the House of Representatives is an obvious loss for political journalists and their editors, who could guarantee web traffic by just reprinting anything she said, with minimal comment. That was especially true during the Republican presidential primaries. In her short time as a candidate, Bachmann blamed natural disasters on America’s unwillingness to cut non-defense discretionary spending, accused Texas Governor Rick Perry of spreading autism with mandatory vaccinations, warned that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had plans to bomb the United States with a nuclear weapon, and pushed for a full ban on pornography. The unhinged insanity of all of this is worth noting. But what we should also point out is that none of this disqualified her from consideration as a presidential candidate . Not only did Bachmann win the Iowa straw poll—a symbolic victory, but a victory nonetheless—but at one point, she led her...

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