Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Musings From a 20-Something.

I finally got around to reading The New York Times Magazine piece on the aimless 20-something, and as a somewhat aimless 20-something, it strikes me as a little blinkered. For starters, outside of a few nods to the recession, there isn't much of an effort to understand why financial independence is so hard to find. But the truth is that the recession has wrecked havoc on job and career prospects for 20-somethings. Last year , for college graduates with bachelor degrees, the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent -- lower than the overall rate, but not by much. When combined with with the lower-than-typical earnings that come from graduating during a recession, it's not a shock to see that many college-educated 20-somethings are a ways away from financial independence. That said, my main problem with the piece was simply the fact that there wasn't much of an attempt at making class distinctions. It delves into the "extended adolescence" of relatively sheltered graduates from major...

Using the Other Side.

Unlike one of Andrew Sullivan's readers , I'm not exactly shocked to learn that conservatives are touting Muslim -- or rather, ex-Muslim -- opponents to the Cordoba House project in Lower Manhattan. By and large, it fits with the general strategy of using women and racial minorities to oppose policies that would benefit women and racial minorities. For instance, conservative women like Wendy Wright are always happy to help attack feminism and oppose measures to further reproductive rights. Ward Connerly is always around to rail against affirmative action, and Niger Innis is a reliable go-to guy for whenever the NAACP needs demonizing. For some conservatives, there isn't any validation better than that which comes from having a member of a marginalized group speak in favor of said marginalization. And to be fair, liberals enjoy something similar when they tout conservative dissent from the Republican Party; there's simply a lot to be said for the satisfaction that comes when one of the...

More on Presidential Appointments.

Jonathan Bernstein responds to my post on reforming the presidential appointment process with a convincing case for the merits of the status quo: At it's best, the system will achieve input from national level interests (through the presidency), relevant local and narrow interests (through Congress), and expertise (through the bureaucracy). Moreover, at its best, the incentives within the system will push everyone to compete for control of policy, which should -- by forcing people to defend their positions, and choose which things are worth fighting for -- yield better policy in the long run. I should say that I broadly agree with Bernstein. To walk back a little from my previous stridency, it's a good thing that the president can staff the bureaucracy with people committed to his political ideals, and a good thing -- as far as democracy goes -- that the bureaucracy is permeable and (somewhat) responsive to electoral demands. As someone who mostly supports robust presidential action,...

Bob McDonnell's Creative Accounting.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has been touting the state's $403.2 million budget surplus since it was announced earlier this summer. On Fox Business Network yesterday, he took that advocacy a bit further and offered Washington lawmakers some advice on balancing the budget: Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com "What we need to do is incentivize the free enterprise system which has been the strength of American democracy for hundreds of years to grow. I hope Richmond would be a model for Washington." Ahistorical nonsense aside -- for the first hundred years or so, chattel slavery was the economic core of American democracy -- Gov. McDonnell's "advice" obscures two things about the state's surplus; first, it's mostly the product of nifty accounting tricks. The state delayed payments to the Virginia Retirement System by $620 million and required retailers to pay its sales taxes earlier than expected (in fairness, this program was approved by his predecessor). The retirement...

There Are Too Many Political Appointees.

Yesterday, President Obama made four recess appointments to vacancies in the Department of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the State Department. There isn't anything "special" about these appointments, but they're worth noting, since they illustrate the ridiculousness of our system for staffing the executive branch. Put another way, why exactly is the president of the United States responsible for providing HHS with an assistant secretary for public affairs, or Agriculture with an undersecretary for food safety? Unlike agency heads and their immediate subordinates, these are fairly low-profile positions that fall largely outside the public's radar. Assuming there are able administrators within the respective agencies, there isn't any particular reason for why they are held by political appointees rather than career civil servants. To borrow an analogy, imagine if -- on her first day -- the president of a major university...

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