University of Texas

The Data Plan

Don't like affirmative action? The alternative could be much worse.

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On Wednesday the Supreme Court heard arguments in Fisher v. Texas, the most important affirmative action case in a decade. The Court is sharply divided on the question of the permissibility of racial preferences in university admissions, and the questions posed by the justices reinforced the possibility that Fisher will produce a 5-3 decision pitting five conservatives who want to severely restrict if not eliminate affirmative action in higher education against three liberals who want to preserve it. (Justice Elena Kagan is recused because she worked on the case as Solicitor General).

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Rick Perry wants Texas to reject Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, even though it’d bring health insurance to several million people. But plenty of Texans disagree. And some of that have a lot of influence. As Jay Hancock reports today at Kaiser Health News, two groups of powerful interests are preparing to pressure Perry if, come next year, the state really does decide to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. One group is the hospitals that, absent the Medicaid expansion, will be bearing the cost of charity care even as they cope with declining revenue from other resources.

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FOR ALL THE soccer played by Spain, and fine tennis at Wimbledon, something was ailing me this past month. It’s called Tour Fever. My promiscuous love for sports includes rugby (which I played a very long time ago), skiing (which I still relish as an aging downhill daredevil), and cricket (despite the English weather). For obscure reasons, I follow the Red Sox, with little joy at present, and thanks to the hospitality of the University of Texas, where I sometimes lecture, I consider myself a long-range Longhorns fan.

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The Visionary

If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.

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The Operator

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.

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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.

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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.

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Neither Rick Perry nor Mitt Romney should have been surprised by a single serious question during Thursday night’s clunker of a debate sponsored by Fox News and an obtrusive Google promoting word clouds and grainy average-citizen videos.

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Rick Perry is wrong about many things, including (but not limited to) the reality of climate change, the treasonous nature of quantitative easing, and the execution of innocent men. But give the man credit: He’s got some smart ideas about higher education. The fact that most liberals think otherwise reveals a glaring weakness in the progressive education agenda.  Perry’s push to reform the academy came late in his decade-long tenure as Texas governor, after he finished filling the state’s public university governing boards with his personal appointees.

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