You already knew that Texas governor Rick Perry was, as they say down in the Lone Star state, dumb as a stump. But Perry has been working hard to convince Americans that he's also mean as a scorpion (which they probably don't say down there, but maybe they ought to). With the highestproportion of uninsured residents of any state in the union, Perry gleefully declined the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions of Texans without access to medical care despite the fact that the federal government would have picked up nearly all of the tab.
Welcome to the first installment of a new Prospect weekly feature, where we take a big chewy topic in the news and tell you everything you need to read about it to look like a smarty-pants at happy hour. First up, the Whitey Bulger trial! There’s no shortage of coverage of the unfolding trial proceedings, but you need a lot of context to understand the decades-long drama surrounding the mythologized South Boston gangster. As the trial continues, you should read Slate’s ongoing series, but if you want a handle on the story’s full Homeric sweep, read on.
Sometimes it's hard to tell which Republicans in Congress fear more: immigration reform passing, or immigration reform not passing. They need to help pass reform to show America's Latino voters that, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, the Republican party doesn't actually hate them. But their base doesn't actually like the idea of comprehensive reform, particularly if it involves a path to citizenship (even a long and painful one). What to do?
The story of voting rights in recent years has been largely about conservatives and legislators in Republican states working hard to restrict them, and progressives trying to counter those moves with legal challenges and organizing drives. The most prominent fights have been over voter ID laws, which are supposed to address the "problem" of voter impersonation, something that occurs about as often as two-headed sharks. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld voter ID laws in 2008. But today saw an unexpected defeat for those who would like to make voting as difficult as possible, when the Court struck down an Arizona law requiring voters to prove their citizenship.
Being a politician requires a certain comfort with transparency. You have to accommodate yourself to being recorded all the time and accept that you'll have to be more open about your private life than most people. Not only will you have to parade your family before the cameras and worry that the girlfriend you dumped in college will tell her tale of woe to the local TV station, but you'll probably also have to make your finances public. And you'd better not forget to mow your lawn, lest your next opponent tar you as a bad neighbor who can't be trusted to keep America in tip-top shape.