Follow up on recent stories:
* On Wednesday I wrote about potential challengers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and listed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as a significant challenger and Rep. Luis Gutierrez as capable of mounting a passionate campaign. A lot of people asked about Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. I like Dart, but Dart doesn’t have a natural constituency. He may have credibility but he doesn’t have the deep roots or ethnic/racial identification of the other candidates. I say if it’s Emanuel and Dart, Rahm slaughters him.
* Earlier this month, I wrote about Jason Richwine, a researcher with the Heritage Foundation, who co-wrote their recent anti-immigration report. Richwine was forced o resign from Heritage after it was discovered his doctoral thesis at Harvard had as a central premise that Latinos have a lower IQ than whites and that Hispanics lack “raw cognitive ability or intelligence.” Since then, more than 1,200 Harvard students signed a petition to the president and dean of the Kennedy School urging an investigation into how such a thesis could be accepted. Twenty-four Harvard student groups wrote to the school’s president saying that approval of Richwine’s thesis “debases all our degrees.”
* Last month, I wrote about the immigration reform bill before the Senate and about Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, one of its principal architects. The bill has passed the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, loaded down with 17 useless amendments sent up by the GOP, and it should get a vote in June. But Rubio, who’s taken this on as a show of leadership, is still trying to have it both ways. Without some meaningful outreach to Latinos and/or at least one serious legislative credit, Rubio can’t run for president in 2016. But if he crosses too many lines on immigration, his Tea Party and other conservative support—which is what put him in the Senate in the first place—will evaporate. The result is that now you have Rubio publicly standing with the Senate’s Gang of Eight, and privately criticizing the bill he helped write. It’s pathetic.
* I wrote about Venezuela several times, including just before the voting on April 14. It was the first election after the death of Hugo Chávez and I expected his protege, Nicolás Maduro, to win. That’s what happened. But I was dead wrong about the challenger, Henrique Capriles, whose campaign I saw as purely quixotic. Capriles, I think, surprised everyone—including Maduro and his cohorts—by either winning the vote count and forcing them to steal the election, or coming so close—mere fractions of percentages—that it’s terrified them. I also wrote about the electon results over at In These Times, pointing out that Maduro’s support dropped by a half million votes from Chávez’s last election. The Chavistas, who control all the branches of government, including a Supreme Court that’s heavily partisan, have been relentless in their post-election attacks but Capriles has emerged as a formidable foe. He’s shown more fortitude and staying power than imagined. He’s not going to get he re-count he wants, or the new elections, or international help, but Capriles, who’s only 42, will likely challenge Maduro in five years and give him a run for his money. In the meantime, the country has had a toilet paper crisis (I’m not making this up!) and Maduro has been steadily alienating his fellow Latin American presidents.
* Back in February, I decried President Obama’s illegal use of drones and illegal wars. He recently stepped out to defend his use of drones, a policy filled with contradictions and dangerous precedents. Then, within days, drones took out another high-profile target that may have violated all the new and improved guidelines he’d just set out.
* In January, I wrote about the House GOP’s 36th repeal of Obamacare. I really thought that was it. Then this month, they did it again, just for good measure. But that’s not all. Sen. Rubio says Obamacare repeal will be his new project in the wake of the IRS contretemps, presumably after he’s figured out what he’s doing with immigration.