Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Filibuster, Public Knowledge, and Accountability.

For all of Washington's chatter about filibuster reform, most Americans know very little about the filibuster or its rules: In a January 2010 Pew Research poll, at the height of the Senate debate over health care reform, just 26% of Americans were able to correctly answer that it now takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate. About as many (25%) mistakenly said a simple majority of 51 votes can break a filibuster, while a 37%-plurality admitted they just didn't know. As with most other questions on a news quiz, well-educated people, older Americans and men were more likely to know that 60 votes are required to break a filibuster. There was not much difference among partisan groups; as 30% of Republicans, 25% of Democrats and 29% of independents answered the filibuster question correctly. A few things: First, while procedural complaints are a regular part of the partisan battle, both parties are fooling themselves if they think procedural complaints will have any traction with...

Obama Follows My Advice.

Well, not exactly. But, in line with my recommendations on this blog, the president has nominated -- or renominated -- dozens of judicial nominees: Faced with the prospect of increasingly lengthy court vacancies, the White House on Wednesday formally renominated more than 40 judicial candidates whose possible appointments were left in limbo during the last congressional session. The Obama administration sent the dozens of nominations -- 23 of which an official categorized as "emergency" nominees -- back to the Senate, where they will be considered anew by the Judiciary Committee. They may face an additional round of committee hearings, a Senate aide said, but that will be determined by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the ranking Republican, likely to be, according to a Senate aide, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Among the nominees? Goodwin Liu , the University of California law professor who is on the shortlist for a Democratic Supreme Court appointment. This is a good...

Congressional Quirks.

I've always thought that this was a little ridiculous: Mr. Clarke is one of as many as a dozen freshman House members who plan to bunk in their offices when Congress is in session. Though no one has hard numbers, anecdotal evidence suggests that at least 40 to 50 House members, both new and old, will be sleeping at work. For many of them, joining the unofficial Couch Caucus is a practical way to save money and a symbolic gesture that they are both fiscally conservative and serious about changing how business is done in Washington. “It just seemed like sleeping in my office, just focusing totally on my work when I’m here, made the most sense,” said Joe Walsh , Republican of Illinois. “I don’t want to think about where I’m living, I don’t want to think about what I’m eating; I want to get in, do my work and then get home and talk to the people who sent me here.” Refusing a good night's sleep and a decent diet doesn't actually say anything about your fiscal conservatism. Indeed, I'm not...

Really, There Is No Link Between Vaccines and Autism.

This doesn't bode well for the anti-vaccination crowd: One of the most famous flawed studies ever conducted, Dr. Andrew Wakefield's now-retracted 1998 paper that linked vaccines to autism has been found to be not a scientific error, but a deliberate lie. BMJ, a British medical journal, has just published its investigation of the matter and concluded that Dr. Wakefield purposely falsified his data. They report that he was contracted by lawyers determined to sue the vaccine manufacturers, regardless of scientific truth. Of course, the claim that vaccines are the cause of autism has long since moved from the reality of fact and into the realm of belief. And like creationists who refuse to accept the plain evidence of evolution, invested parents are very unlikely to change their minds, even with explicit knowledge of the fraud. Which, unfortunately, will only lead to more needless child suffering and death. On a related note, there is a broader story here about the rise -- or perhaps,...

Natural Majorities.

Even at this moment of Republican ascendancy, Democrats maintain a slight advantage in party identification: When someone says that the Democratic Party is a "natural governing party," this is what they mean. It's not that Democrats are always popular or that their policies are particularly good but that the party is so large and encompassing that at most times, it draws support from a plurality -- if not a majority -- of the public. This doesn't always translate into electoral success, but it does shape the landscape in important ways: i.e., Democrats almost always control at least one chamber of Congress, and their majorities tend to be much larger than Republican ones. Of course, Republicans benefit hugely from malapportionment in the House and Senate, so it's not clear that this Democratic advantage matters that much, as far as electoral success is concerned. -- Jamelle Bouie

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