Newt’s Personal Hypocrisy on ‘Death Panels’
October 17, 2011

If Newt Gingrich holds to form in Tuesday night's GOP presidential primary debate in Nevada, he may well decide to answer a question on health care policy by invoking the threat of "death panels." He backed up Sarah Palin when she first tossed that rhetorical grenade against the Democrats' universal health care legislation in the summer of 2009 and he wielded the dread phrase again at the last debate in criticizing the new recommendations against routine testing for prostate cancer in older men. My colleague Jonathan Cohn did yeoman's work last week in rebutting Gingrich's specific attack on

The Senate’s Option Wasn’t “Nuclear”
October 07, 2011

Last night there was a rule change in the U.S. Senate that Republicans wasted no time in branding a "nuclear option." The phrase "nuclear option" was coined by Sen. Trent Lott (R., Miss.) in 2003 to describe a parliamentary maneuver in which the Senate could eliminate or modify the filibuster by a simple majority vote. (Under the dread Rule 22, you need 67 votes to change existing filibuster rules.

Capital Tracks
September 28, 2011

Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern AmericaBy Richard White (W.W. Norton, 660 pp., $35) I. The scene is iconic, known to many Americans even casually acquainted with their history. Locomotives of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads come engine grate to engine grate, separated by a mere railroad tie, at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Who Counts as a 'Person'? Mississippi Decides This November
September 08, 2011

[Guest Post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] On November 8 Mississippians will vote by popular referendum to legally define the beginning of a person’s life “at conception.” Until now, there was a reasonable doubt that the pro-life-backed “personhood amendment” would never make it to the ballot, since Mississippi law forbids amending the state constitution by voter initiative.

A Radical New Ploy to Destroy Roe v. Wade—Which Just Might Work
September 02, 2011

2011 has been a banner year for abortion opponents. Thus far, 87 state laws restricting abortion have been enacted, the most in any year since Roe v. Wade and more than double the previous high. But one rogue wing of the pro-life movement sees no reason to celebrate: the budding “personhood movement,” which wants to turn abortion into homicide by methodically amending state constitutions to define conception as the beginning of a person’s life. This November, Mississippi votes on the personhood issue by popular referendum.

Rebirth on the Bayou: Lessons from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast
August 26, 2011

What we learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

‘The Help’ Isn’t Racist. Its Critics Are.
August 17, 2011

In the week since its release, The Help, a movie telling the story of a group of black maids in the South in the early 1960s, has been derided repeatedly in blog posts and reviews as a lazy collection of racist tropes, an irredeemable expression of naive bigotry. In an article in the New York Times, film critic Nelson George condemns the filmmakers for failing to properly “come to terms” with America’s racist past.

Pull Yourself Together, D.C.! Perrymania Is Overrated
August 16, 2011

Like much of his career, Rick Perry’s entry into the presidential campaign was exceptionally well-timed. Announcing the very day that his main rival for the “electable conservative alternative to Mitt Romney” mantle, Tim Pawlenty, was driven from the race by a poor third-place showing at the Iowa Straw Poll, the Texan has a lot of open political space to occupy.

What Is The Worsening Obesity Epidemic Costing Us?
July 14, 2011

There was more grim health news earlier last week when a new study revealed that obesity rates in every U.S. state have risen sharply since the 1990s. The state with the highest rate today is Mississippi, where more than one-third of all adults are obese. And even the state with the lowest obesity rate today—Colorado, with an obesity rate just below 20 percent—would have had the highest rate in 1995. Colorado estimates that its obesity problem costs the state over $1 billion per year.

Core Curriculum
June 23, 2011

In the fall of 2008, EnergySolutions Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the world’s largest nuclear-waste processors, began approaching nuclear utilities with an offer. Guided by a team of science teachers and industry p.r. staffers, the organization had developed a trove of materials on nuclear power for use in sixth-through-twelfth-grade classes.