Texas Tornadoes: Where Are Twisters Most Deadly?
April 04, 2012

Cleanup is underway after a series of fierce tornadoes ripped through Dallas. As many as thirteen twisters touched down in the northern part of the state, but so far, no fatalities have been reported. Why weren’t the storms more deadly? According to one 2007 study, Texas’s good fortune this week was uncommon. Surveying tornado fatalities in the U.S.

If Justice Kennedy Wants to Play Solomon
April 04, 2012

If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, must it throw out the entire health care law? Or is there a way to perform a salvage operation, rather than a wrecking operation, as Justice Ruth Bader Gisburg suggested at oral arguments? On Tuesday, I suggested that the Court could preserve the rest of the statute, including regulations prohibiting insurers from discriminating against the sick. Far fewer people would get insurance coverage and the government would have to spend more, per person, on subsidies. The whole system would be less stable.

Romney Cleaned Up; It's Still Gonna Cost Him
April 03, 2012

The good news for Mitt Romney is that he comes out of Tuesday night with a boatload of delegates and a symbolically important win in Wisconsin, where it was once tempting to imagine Rick Santorum pulling off an upset.

The Haunting Ordinariness of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman
April 03, 2012

Civil rights movements have often sought out figureheads with unblemished pasts. The Montgomery bus boycott would have started nine months earlier if Claudette Colvin, who refused to yield her seat to a white person, just as Rosa Parks was to do, had not turned out to be pregnant out of wedlock. Forty-two years later, similar sentiments led legal strategists for gay rights to downplay the fact that John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, of the Lawrence v.

The Odd Couple: How Two Wildly Different Congressmen Made Peace Over Privacy
March 15, 2012

On February 17, three members of Congress sent a concerned letter to Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. They were spurred by a report in The Wall Street Journal detailing how Google had deceptively tracked users of Apple’s Safari web browser “without their consent or knowledge”—and in violation of a Safari setting designed to protect against such tracking.

Romney, Texas, and the 'War on Women'
March 14, 2012

Republicans and their allies reject the suggestion that they are waging a war on women. Fine. How about we call it a war on women's health? During a local television interview in Missouri on Tuesday, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.” As Steve Benen notes, Romney was reiterating a previous promise to “Eliminate Title X family planning programs benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.” Romney isn't alone: His presidential rivals have pledged to the same thing.

Wait, Can the Democrats Take Texas in 2012?
March 08, 2012

Political observers know that Republicans tend to perform poorly with Latino voters, but even they might have been surprised by a recent poll showing that, among Latinos, Barack Obama would beat Mitt Romney 70-14. Numbers like that are making Democrats more and more optimistic that they’ll be able to consolidate recent gains in Colorado and maybe even turn Arizona blue. But while flipping Arizona would certainly be a major coup for Democrats, it’s not the biggest prize: That honor belongs to solidly-red Texas, with its huge Latino population and its 38 electoral votes.

Does Romney Have a 'Southern Problem'?
March 07, 2012

After just barely pulling out a win in Ohio, Mitt Romney has “won Super Tuesday” by most media accounts. But even with his successes (wins in Virginia, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Idaho, and a decent shot in Alaska), you’ll likely hear some people echo a recent claim by Newt Gingrich: that Romney can’t be confident of the nomination if he can’t win anywhere in the South. This concern didn’t suddenly present itself: Mitt’s first real stumble in the race, of course, was in South Carolina, where he got righteously stomped by Newt.

Mission Impossible
February 23, 2012

In late January, on the eve of the Florida primary, Bettina Inclán, the 32-year-old head of Hispanic outreach for the Republican National Committee (RNC), appeared on Fox News opposite progressive activist Simon Rosenberg to discuss the Latino vote. To say that the deck was stacked against Inclán in this fight would be an understatement. Over the past year, the major Republican candidates have gone out of their way to make anti-immigrant sentiment a centerpiece of their campaigns.

February 08, 2012

Some months ago, I phoned my 84-year-old grandmother on a quiet Saturday afternoon after enduring a torrent of pleading from my father. I hadn’t spoken to her in two or three years, and she was lonely, he said.