May 08, 2012
That Elizabeth Warren claimed in the 1990s that she is a Native American is, among other things, a sign that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had a point. When Roberts famously wrote in a 2006 opinion, “It’s a sordid business, this divvying us up by race,” he was castigated by many liberals for not understanding that Race Matters—that race is at the root of considerable societal injustice, and the country must address the issue squarely.
May 07, 2012
Put aside all the questions about regulating interstate commerce and whether declining to buy health insurance constitutes “inactivity.” Is the Obamacare mandate a tax? And, if so, does that make it constitutional? In a new piece for the Atlantic, Jack Balkin argues that the answer to both questions is plainly “yes”—and wonders why that argument hasn’t loomed larger in the court cases challenging the Affordable Care Act. It’s a very good question.
Put me squarely in the camp of Robert Caro admirers, even if I’m woefully behind in making my way through the biographer’s LBJ canon. But it’s also been clear to me for some time now that Caro’s exhaustive, colorful depiction of Johnson’s rise to power in Washington has not exactly been helpful when it comes to our country’s weakness for the Great Man Theory of politics and history.
There is no shortage of good reasons to oppose the proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution that would ban gay marriage in the state. There’s the matter, for instance, of its inherent bigotry, not to mention its essential redundancy (the state already banned gay marriage in 1996.) But in the run-up to the decisive May 8 vote, a burgeoning grassroots movement in North Carolina is offering an entirely different justification for opposing Amendment One.
If Marco Rubio is chosen as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate, as many have speculated, we’ll soon learn a lot more about the Florida Senator and young Republican superstar. But we’re also likely to continue hearing about another part of Rubio’s past: whether his family are Cuban exiles or not.
May 05, 2012
What Does Ron Paul Really Want?
In 2008, nobody much cared what Ron Paul wanted: He was dismissed as a fringe candidate, someone defined by the decades he spent losing 434-to-one votes in the House and refusing to endorse his party’s presidential candidate. In this presidential cycle, however, questions about Paul’s intentions have risen, precisely because his performance has begun to resemble that of a conventional politician who can compete if not win.
May 04, 2012
Politicians aren’t always especially thoughtful about, or even familiar with, information technology. George W. Bush used the term “Internets” during not one but two presidential debates. The late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens famously referred to the World Wide Web as a “series of tubes.” And John McCain drew ridicule in 2008 when he conceded that he was still “learning to get online myself.” Much worse than these gaffes, however, are some of the policies that have been promoted by lawmakers and candidates who seem to fundamentally misunderstand the importance of a free and open Internet.
Any honest discussion of Obama and populism arrives pretty quickly at two conclusions. The first is that Obama has become a more populist politician than anyone detected early in his presidency. The second is that, even so, there’s probably never been a less populist president who’s stirred up so much vitriol on Wall Street. The obvious question is why, and this forthcoming Times magazine piece on Obama's fundraising hints at the best explanation yet: For the next hour, the [Wall Street] donors relayed to Messina what their friends had been saying.
More About Broccoli (and Liberty)
The justices of the Supreme Court may have reached a final decision on the Affordable Care Act. And they may not have. On Tuesday, as Dahlia Lithwick noted, Justice Anthony Kennedy told an audience of Nevada judges and lawyers that “cautious decision-making is not indecisiveness” and expressed deep concern over the deterioration of political discourse in America. Was that a sign he’s still deliberating over the case and struggling with the arguments, as he’s been known to do? Or was that a sign of nothing at all?