Jamelle Bouie

The Ted Cruz Immigration Shuffle

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr National Journal ’s Beth Reinhard has a great look at Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s transformation from pro-immigration policy advisor for George W. Bush, to right-wing, fire-breathing opponent of reform. When he was working for Bush, he crafted the campaign’s immigration policy, which included a sped-up application process, a greater number of work visas, and a provision that allowed relatives of permanent residents to visit the United States. Now, Cruz seems categorically opposed to anything that smacks of comprehensive reform. Reinhard notes that this transformation is a little baffling to people who have followed his career over the years: The route Cruz chose, from working on the reform-minded Bush campaign to voting against the bill Wednesday as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, confounds some of those who crossed paths with him. His role on the Bush campaign is a lesser-known part of the biography of a politician increasingly viewed as a potential...

How E.W. Jackson Throws a Wrench into the Cuccinelli Plan

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli speaking at the 2012 Liberty Political Action Conference in Chantilly, Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli’s plan for winning the Virginia gubernatorial race is straightforward. Avoid outspoken statements on social issues—the same ones that alienate most Virginians but excite his rightwing base—and focus the campaign on jobs and growth. So far, he’s done exactly that. Of his three television advertisements, for example none mention abortion or same-sex marriage. Instead, the first—narrated by his wife—presents Cuccinelli as a defender of the vulnerable, highlighting his time working in homeless shelters and prosecuting human traffickers. The second is a straightforward ad on the economy—where he touts his Ryan-esque tax plan of cuts—and the third is meant to humanize Cuccinelli, and features the widow of a slain Fairfax County police officer, who endorses the attorney general. E.W. Jackson, the newly-minted GOP nominee for...

How the "Obama Recovery" Makes Scandals Irrelevant

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) President Barack Obama waves to the crowd at his election night party celebrating his victory over challenger Mitt Romney. Do you remember Mitt Romney’s election-year promise to create 12 million jobs during his first term? It came in for a fair amount of criticism, not because it was too ambitious—and thus unattainable—but because it was banal. Twelve million was the baseline for job creation over the next four years. Absent a major economic shock, the U.S. economy would have created that many jobs regardless of who was president. In essence, Romney had promised to take credit for the turning of the calendar, and the public would have given it to him. After all, they would have seen a simple causal relationship: Romney got elected, and the jobs came. Post hoc ergo propter hoc . It’s with this in mind that you should look at the latest poll from The Washington Post , which shows President Obama with a 51 percent approval rating, despite the two weeks of...

Michelle Obama Sends the Wrong Message

Over the weekend, the Obamas—both Barack and Michelle—gave commencement speeches to historically black colleges and universities. At Bowie State University in Maryland, the First Lady mixed praise and encouragement with the kind of moral scolding that is familiar to anyone who has spent time with a certain generation of African Americans: But today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of “separate but equal,” when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper. […] And as my husband has said often, please stand up and reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white. Reject that. The perennial problem with this kind of...

IRS "Scandal" Turning Out to be Less Dastardly than Conservatives Think

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Over the weekend, the New York Times published a comprehensive, deeply-reported look at the Internal Revenue Scandal. Far from finding evidence of a White House aiming to undermine its opponents, the Times uncovered a much more banal story—that of an understaffed and under-resourced agency, straining to do its job in difficult circumstances. Here’s the Times with more: Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers, stalled by miscommunication with I.R.S. lawyers and executives in Washington and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name. But their review went beyond conservative groups: more than 400 organizations came under scrutiny, including at least two dozen liberal-leaning ones and some that were seemingly apolitical. Over three years, as the office struggled with a growing caseload of advocacy groups seeking tax exemptions, responsibility for the cases moved from one group of...

Virginia GOP Says YOLO, Nominates Most Conservative Ticket Ever

E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor
E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor At the end of their two-day convention on Saturday , Virginia Republicans had nominated the most conservative ticket in the state’s history. At the top, of course, is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Tea Party zealot who has used his office to build a national following among conservative activists. In his three years as attorney general, Cuccinelli has filed suit against the Obama administration (challenging the Affordable Care Act), investigated climate scientists (for allegedly falsifying data), and attacked abortion providers, working to undermine reproductive rights throughout the commonwealth. For attorney general, Republicans chose Mark D. Obenshain, a three-term member of the state senate, and son of Richard Obenshain , a key figure in the history of the Virginia GOP (he died in a plane crash in 1978, just months after receiving the party’s Senate nomination). Like Cuccinelli, Obenshain stands at the right-wing of the Republican Party...

Virginia Is More Moderate, But It Doesn't Help McAuliffe

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mou-ikkai/Flickr Here’s the thing about Virginia gubernatorial contests: More so than even midterm elections, they have abysmally low turnout. From 2008 to 2009, for example, more than 46 percent of voters left the electorate, and overwhelmingly, those voters were African Americans, Latinos, and young people. This gives Republicans a built-in advantage, which is why—in most polls of this year’s race—Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has the lead over his opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The last several surveys of the race, however, have shown McAuliffe with a small but meaningful lead. In the latest from Quinnipiac University, for example, McAuliffe leads 43 percent to Cuccinelli’s 38 percent, an improvement over the last poll , where he trailed by two points, 40 percent to 38 percent. What’s more, a new Washington Post poll shows a Virginia that has moved closer to the center of American politics, which should advantage McAuliffe, who—if he has an ideology at all—is the gauzy,...

Damage Control!

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza In the last 24 hours, President Obama has gone full throttle on damage control on the three scandals that have emerged over the last week. To address concerns over Benghazi—which resurfaced last week, following a new (mistaken) report on the administration’s approach—the White House released 100 pages of emails made between the government agencies responsible for drawing up talking points for the attacks. Far from showing a cover-up, or an attempt to protect the president’s re-election bid, they confirm the administration’s long-standing position—that White House officials weren’t involved in framing talking points. This won’t kill Republican conspiracy mongering, but it should lead journalists to dismiss Benghazi as a “scandal” worthy of heightened scrutiny. Likewise, in a press conference yesterday afternoon, Obama moved to deal with the controversy at the Internal Revenue Service by dismissing the acting commissioner, Steven Miller. Now,...

Is the IRS "Scandal" Even a Scandal?

Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect The details of the current scandal at the Internal Revenue Service are straightforward, which might be surprising, given the reputation of the agency. In early 2010 —as right-wing opposition to President Obama reached a fever pitch—an IRS office in Cincinnati, Ohio saw a sudden sudden influx in applications for 501(c)4 status. That’s the IRS’s designation for “social welfare” organizations, which exist—ostensibly—to provide a service that benefits the broad public. As Josh Barro notes for Bloomberg, this can include lobbying and political activity, as long as that’s not the primary purpose. These groups aren’t required to pay taxes on their income, nor are they required to reveal their donors, which makes them an excellent vehicle for ideologically-motivated action—hence groups like American Crossroads, which is listed as a 501(c)4. The large majority of these applications were for Tea Party organizations—the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens...

There Still Aren't Any Racists in America

Heritage Foundation
Byron York’s interview with former Heritage Foundation scholar Jason Richwine is illuminating, not because of any new information—it’s well-established that Richwine has written for white nationalist websites and drew ideas and inspiration from “race realists” like Charles Murray—but because Richwine follows the pattern of everyone outed for their racism. He denies it. Strenuously: Richwine knew he was in trouble the minute the first story broke. “The accusation of racism is one of the worst things that anyone can call you in public life,” he says. “Once that word is out there, it’s very difficult to recover from it, even when it is completely untrue.” […] Remember, this isn’t an idle accusation—Richwine is part of a community of race and IQ researchers who maintain that IQ differences between racial groups are partially explained by genetics, despite the fact that there’s nothing genetic that makes someone “black” or “white.” It’s historical and social circumstance that places Barack...

Is Impeachment Only a Matter of Time?

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza Over the weekend, the Internal Revenue Service faced criticism for targeting Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups for heightened scrutiny. This included nonprofits that criticized the government, as well as groups involved in educating Americans on the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It sounds bad—and it is—but there are important details worth noting. First, this wasn’t an effort to suppress dissent. Back in 2010, the IRS was saw an explosion 501(c)4 groups seeking tax-exempt status. Since this is only legal for groups that educate or serve some general welfare beyond electioneering, the office responsible for viewing all applications—located in Cincinnati—needed an easy way to sort legitimate applications from ones that needed additional scrutiny. At the time, Tea Party groups were registering for the designation in large numbers. And while many fit the criteria, there was no doubt that some existed solely to promote the...

Hillary Clinton Gets Brief Preview of 2016 (If She Runs)

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Titanic Belfast / Flickr One thing I neglected to mention in today’s post on “ demand-side scandals ” was the attention Republicans gave to Hillary Clinton during yesterday’s hearings over Benghazi. NBC News’ First Read has the details : Wednesday’s congressional hearing probing last year’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi revealed this political development: Key parts of the conservative movement are turning their attention from President Obama to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I find it stunning that four and a half months after the attack, Secretary Clinton still has the gall to say it wasn’t us,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said at yesterday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Added Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “Tell me, who is Cheryl Mills?… She is the fixture for the secretary of state; she is as close as you can get to Secretary Clinton.” In addition, for the first time since Feb. 2008 (when Obama overtook Hillary in the Democratic...

Deficit Reduction Is Ruining America

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Flickr/Talk Radio News Service It’s official: The spending cuts of 2011 and 2012, pushed by Republicans as necessary given our deficits, have damaged the recovery and kept more people out of work. According to Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times , “The nation’s unemployment rate would probably be nearly a point lower, roughly 6.5 percent, and economic growth almost two points higher this year if Washington had not cut spending and raised taxes as it has since 2011.” That period, the Times notes, “coincides with the time that Mr. Obama and Congressional Republicans have shared governance since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, promising an immediate $100 billion in spending cuts.” And while we didn’t see that level of austerity at the time, the budget compromises of the last year will lower annual discretionary spending to its lowest levels in fifty years. To put that it slightly different terms, if not for two years of deficit reduction, 1.5 million...

Demand-Side Scandals

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr Darrell Issa’s control of the House Oversight Committee began with a bold claim . He declared Barack Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times,” and pledged to uncover the assumed misconduct and corruption of the administration. Two years later, and we’re still waiting for evidence. The Obama administration hasn’t been perfect, and it’s disappointed liberals on a wide variety of issues, ranging from national security to the environment. But in its four years, and to its credit, the Obama White House has been remarkably scandal-free. There have been controversies—the tax problems that plagued the administration in its first year, for example—but absolutely nothing on the scale of Whitewater or Valerie Plame. But rather than reevaluate their belief in the administration’s corruption, conservatives have opted—instead—to obsess over anything that could prove wrongdoing on the part of Obama or his officials. It’s not at all hard to find right-wing...

That Time Mitt Romney Lost 83 Percent of Minority Voters

Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect The Pew Research Center has done its full analysis of the Census Bureau’s report on the diversifying American electorate, and it confirms the big takeaway from the 2012 elections—Republicans are in trouble with minority voters. Mitt Romney won just 17 percent of nonwhite voters in the 2012 election. That includes African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and all other groups that fall under the umbrella of “nonwhite.” If last year were an aberration—if nonwhites were projected to fall as a share of the electorate—this would be a concern, but not a huge one. But the trend is moving in the opposite direction. Nonwhites were 26.3 percent of all voters last year. This is a record high, but it’s still below their overall share of the adult population—33.9 percent. By 2020, minorities will comprise 37.2 percent of all voters, and by 2060 it will be 54.8 percent, according to the Census Bureau. What makes this even more significant is that the fastest...

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