TPM Cafe: Opinion

You could be excused for not noticing that the International Criminal Court just elected an all-female presidency—the news, after all, did not garner many headlines. Given the continuing under-representation of women in positions of leadership and power throughout the world, however, we might do well to pay more attention.

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On Ash Wednesday this year, which fell on February 18, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page about how people were asking her what she was giving up for Lent. She’s not Christian, and she didn’t plan on celebrating it. “I don't want to make a mockery of your religion for my own purposes,” she wrote. When I asked her about it recently, she said celebrating it would give credence to something she doesn’t believe, and would be insulting to true believers.

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Ted Cruz, who has become one of the Tea Party's most prominent voices, has officially announced his bid for president. But how is it that a graduate of Princeton and Harvard, a Bush appointee, can pass muster as the standard-bearer for a movement that is supposed to represent anti-elitist, anti-establishment, “real America”?

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I learned to swim in the Charlottesville, Virginia, public schools. My teacher was a giant, gregarious man named Mr. Byers of whom I was more than a little intimidated and a lot in awe. I can still remember the firm but caring way he comforted us as we watched the Challenger explosion live on a small television in his poolside office. In his main job as a lifeguard, Mr. Byers had demonstrated the same care; he had been struck by lightning on multiple occasions while trying to get swimmers out of pools during storms. Yet in the 1970s and 80s Charlottesville, in which both he and I lived, there were many swimming pools to which Mr. Byers, who was African-American, was not allowed or welcome.

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Back when I was a much younger man, I worked briefly for a Democratic member of Congress from my home state. (This was when West Virginia still had Democratic members of Congress.) I performed the sorts of duties still executed by eager young things today, unglamorous tasks but nevertheless important ones to the good taxpaying people back home: answering constituent mail, helping widows get their husbands’ black-lung benefits and so on.

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Advocates for looser restrictions on gun ownership and use often portray themselves not as defenders of a noisy and expensive hobby, but the protectors of freedom itself. Wrapping themselves in the Second Amendment and claiming to speak for the Founding Fathers is central to the anti-gun control argument, right up there with claiming that “guns don’t kill people” and peddling fantasies of heroic self-defense against a largely imaginary crime wave.

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So Ted Cruz became the first official 2016 presidential candidate yesterday. And a lot of people want to know what the two-degree Ivy Leaguer and national debate champ could possibly be thinking.

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My neighborhood has a lot of the usual features of a well-established community that happens to be in the middle of a major city: farmer’s market, library, bars, specialty stores, schools, restaurants. Oh, and the crisis pregnancy clinic.

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On Monday September 9, 2013, the first of four days of now-infamous lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that triggered paralyzing traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee, N.J., the mayor of that town, Mark Sokolich, placed a phone call to Bill Baroni, the No. 2 executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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