Jamelle Bouie

"Stand Your Ground"

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Like many people, I’ve been following the Trayvon Martin case with sadness and horror. If you’re not aware of the facts of the case, I recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blogging on the subject, as well as work from The Huffington Post and The New York Times . While the racial dimensions of the case—a young white man follows a “suspicious-looking” black teenager, confronts him, and kills him in “self-defense”—have garnered national attention, it's worth pointing out the extent to which Florida law has made this kind of vigilante action disturbingly common. Over the last five years, according to the Tampa Bay Times , the number of “justifiable homicides” in Florida has doubled from 40 to 50 at the beginning of the last decade, to upward of a hundred since 2007. The key fact in all of this—and the reason Martin’s shooter isn’t sitting in a jail cell—is Florida’s “stand your ground” legislation, which was signed by Governor Jeb Bush in 2005. The law gives citizens the right to use deadly force...

Relative Optimism

Gallup
This week begins with a little positive news about economic expectations: according to Gallup , 19 percent of Americans say that this is a “good time” to find a “quality” job, the highest since September 2008: Of course, the larger lesson is that “good” is relative. Five years ago, before the economy collapsed in a horrible mess, 45 percent of Americans said that it was a good time to find a quality job. But the labor market is far worse than it was then, and at the moment, things are actually looking up if one in five Americans think that they could find a decent job in this environment.

Base Problems

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BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller looks at the Obama campaign’s attempt to bring health-care reform into the spotlight for the first time since the “shellacking” Democrats received in the 2010 midterm elections: The new case, though, is less factual, and more emotional. It emerged first in the 17-minute “documentary” the campaign released last week, narrated by Tom Hanks. […] The campaign also commissioned a pair of “Face of Change” videos portraying ordinary Americans helped by the reform bill. One includes a North Carolina mother, Rebecca Freiert, retelling the story of having to reduce her infant son’s insurance coverage in the face of a $100 premium hike, which the Affordable Care Act reversed. Miller correctly notes that this is partly out of necessity and partly a response to opportunity. By virtue of taking the case, the Supreme Court has placed the Affordable Care Act in the public eye and forced the administration to defend it in a big way. What’s more, the recent fight over...

"Dumb and Obnoxious"

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One thing that has gone unremarked upon in the continuing story of Latino disdain for the Republican Party—and its desperate attempt at damage control—is the degree to which Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court was a pivotal event for the GOP’s relationship to the Latino community. More than almost anything else, her nomination was defined by the viciousness of her opponents. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for example, declared that she was unfit for the Court because of her service in an “extremist” organization, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a well-regarded nonprofit group. Former Bush advisor Karl Rove attacked her record and qualifications, while conservative writers like The National Review 's Mark Hemingway [see correction below] disparaged her as “dumb and obnoxious.” If you’ve forgotten—it’s been three years, after all—you can watch this clip from Media Matters for a taste of the abuse Sotomayor received from the Right: According to Glenn Beck...

Halftime

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What do you get when you combine Mitt Romney and Lucille Bluth? Hilarity. . I haven’t played the new Mass Effect (I don’t have a device that can run it!), but I have heard a lot about the controversy surrounding the ending. Here is a quick thought: It seems clear to me that the entire game is “the ending,” as would be the case in any kind of trilogy. That the last 10 minutes aren’t what players expected doesn’t negate the fact that players had a real part in how the proceeding 30 hours unfolded. Of course Goldman Sachs is involved in a predatory lending scheme. Barbara Ehrenreich on the pervasive notion that poverty is the result of a bad attitude. I was catching up on Key & Peele last night, and thought this skit was hilarious:

When Race-Baiting Is Unintentional

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Reporting from a campaign event in Rosemont, Illinois, Felicia Sonmez (of the Washington Post ) tweeted this odd attack from Mitt Romney on Obama’s private sector experience: “It’s hard to create a job if you never had one,” Romney says of Obama. There are a few things going on here, all of them wrong. First is the assumption, common in Romney’s rhetoric, that private sector experience is a necessary part of understanding job growth. But that’s not true at all. The tools and skills that make a successful businessperson are only somewhat related to the tools and skills that make a successful lawmaker or chief executive. Just because you’ve run a successful firm doesn’t mean that you’ll have a sound understanding of macroeconomic forces. To wit, the policy preferences of businesspeople during the recession—cut spending and lower the deficit—are the exact opposite of what the economy needs right now. Beyond the conceptual error, it’s also true that Romney is running with the lie that...

Dreams Never End

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Even after losing the Deep South primaries, Newt Gingrich refuses to back down from his bid for the Republican presidential nomination: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says there’s probably no circumstance that would lead him to pull out of the Republican presidential sweepstakes before the party’s August nominating convention. “I’ll be with you in Tampa,” Gingrich tells CBS’s “This Morning” show, when asked about his plans. The former congressman from Georgia has won primaries in only two states, South Carolina and Georgia. But when asked Friday what conditions could lead him to withdraw from the race, he says, “Probably none.” If you believe that there is a path for Rick Santorum to win the nomination, then there are two ways you can look at this. The first is to say that Santorum doesn’t have a chance; both him and Gingrich are vying for the same set of conservative voters, and by splitting the electorate, they allow Mitt Romney to eke by with slight wins and small delegate...

State-Level Republicans Focus Their Time on Shaming Women

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At Talking Points Memo , Pema Levy reports on the Republican state houses that have taken the failed Blunt amendment—which would have granted a broad “conscience” exemption to employers for virtually anything—and run with it: Several state legislatures were inspired rather than dissuaded by the contraception debate in Washington, and are considering their own versions of the Blunt Amendment — keeping alive an issue national Republicans thought they were putting to bed. Arizona, New Hampshire, Idaho and Georgia have taken up bills to expand exemptions for contraception coverage. Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Idaho and Wyoming lawmakers are moving symbolic resolutions condemning the administration’s contraception coverage rule. The Arizona bill, in particular, is an exercise in conservative disregard for “liberty” when it comes to the rights of women: [The bill] would require women who need hormonal contraception for medical reasons to prove that they are not using birth control to...

Stakes on Stakes on Stakes

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Writing for Reuters, David Cay Johnston describes the wildly divergent recovery from the Great Recession: The 1934 economic rebound was widely shared, with strong income gains for the vast majority, the bottom 90 percent. In 2010, we saw the opposite as the vast majority lost ground. National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent. Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain I said yesterday that there are actual stakes to this election, even if we’re all inclined to treat the event like a good ball game. Well, this is one of them. President Obama’s policies on income inequality aren't great—at most, his push for higher taxes on the rich will make social investments more affordable—but they are radical compared to the GOP’s plan to increase...

Halftime

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It’s entirely possible that everyone is losing the GOP primary, in one way or another. As much as I want to endorse the well-founded notion that Mitt Romney will cruise through the rest of the primary, actual events are keeping me from making that plunge. The idea that Barack Obama intrinsically hates America is partly because he’s a Democrat, and partly because he’s black, and because the patriotism of African Americans has long been doubted by some on the right. Senate Republicans are angry that Democrats are using the Violence Against Women Act to protect vulnerable immigrants. Also, I’m stunned that I just wrote that sentence. On a brighter note, the forthcoming Super Best Friends looks awesome. I’m glad to see that DC is using its animated universe to highlight its female roster of heroes:

What About Black Republicans?

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Even though the vast majority of African American voters and lawmakers are Democrats, it may be black Republicans who have the best chance to reach the U.S. Senate or win governorships, at least in the near future. Unlike their counterparts on the other side of the aisle, black Republicans in Congress—few as they are—usually represent white districts for the simple reason that most African Americans vote Democratic. This has huge implications for the ability of black Republicans to advance up the political ladder. South Carolina’s Tim Scott, one of two African American Republicans in the House, is a prime example. A first-term congressman, Scott represents a mostly white district that stretches from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. As a Republican aligned with the Tea Party, he is in tune with his district and with the majority of South Carolinians, who elected a Tea Party governor in 2010 and revere Senator Jim DeMint. Scott’s district isn’t particularly affluent, but as an up-and-comer...

Blame It (on the GOP)

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Writing in Politico , Glenn Thrush finds Republicans terrified of the possibility that their likely nominee—Mitt Romney—has completely alienated Latinos with his harsh, anti-immigration rhetoric, and left Obama with the space to rack up a huge margin of support among the Latino community. Here’s Thrush : Hispanics, a powerful bloc whose vote could decide the outcome in pivotal states such as Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Arizona, seem to have responded by abandoning Romney, with only 14 percent of Hispanic voters favoring him over Obama in a recent Fox Latino poll — one-third of the Hispanic support George W. Bush enjoyed in 2004. “In 2008, John McCain paid the price with Latinos for what other Republicans … had said and done,” said Ana Navarro, a Republican Party operative who worked for McCain in 2008 and is a longtime friend of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who remains popular with that state’s large Latino population. “Romney could very well pay an even higher price with Latinos, but it...

A Get-Together to Tear It Apart

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Thus far, I’ve been convinced that Republicans will rally around Mitt Romney if and when he wins the nomination. The former Massachusetts governor might not be popular with Republican voters, but Barack Obama is the most hated figure in the GOP, and unity is necessary if Republicans want a shot at taking the White House. But the latest Pew poll suggests division within Republican ranks; in a general-election contest between Obama and Romney, 75 percent of Romney supporters in the primary say that they would back the former governor “strongly.” Among Santorum supporters, that number drops to 55 percent. On the other end, in the unlikely event of an Obama-Santorum matchup, the former Pennsylvania senator could count on strong support from 83 percent of followers, while only 47 percent of Romney supporters say that they would strongly back Santorum. In fact, 20 percent of Romney supporters say that they would vote for Obama if Santorum is the nominee. There is always some division during...

This Station Is Non-Operational

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I’m kind of a nerd for productivity software and writing applications in particular. My favorite text editor for the Mac, Byword , just made its iOS debut , and you should check it out. Mitt Romney can’t help but sound like a huge tool when it comes to discussing his wealth. I can’t say that I’m too sad about the end of Encyclopaedia Britannica, which always struck me as useless, even before the advent of Wikipedia. Mark Bittman’s most recent column on animal suffering is a must read. Happy Pi Day:

Can't Stop, Won't Stop

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Analysts predict that Apple will sell a whole lot of iPads: “With our checks indicating record pre-orders and 2–3 week wait times for new iPads, we anticipate a record iPad launch this weekend,” said analysts T Michael Walkley and Matthew Ramsay. They raised their iPad unit estimate to 65.6 million from 55.9 million for 2012, and to 90.6 million from 79.7 million for 2013, saying rivals will likely struggle to introduce competitive products over the next couple quarters. This is why I’m skeptical of calls for Apple to build a smaller iPad, to compete with the Amazon Fire or other competitors. Apple won’t have any trouble selling iPads, and the tablet market is new and malleable enough that the company doesn’t have to worry about matching competition—they can continue to grow the market by finding new customers. Nintendo’s success with the Wii is a perfect example of this. Instead of competing with Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo moved horizontally in an attempt to bring in non-gamers...

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