TPM Cafe: Opinion

Yesterday morning, American U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, in prison for five years on charges of covert action against the Cuban government, was released after months of negotiations. In addition, the U.S. traded three jailed Cuban spies for another of our jailed intelligence assets. And the news grew bigger: At noon, Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro gave concurrent speeches. President Obama told the nation that his administration was taking the first steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba—establishing embassies and ambassadors; re-assessing Cuba’s position on the list of state sponsors of terrorism; increasing travel, commerce, and the flow of information between the two countries. President Castro told his country that the economic embargo should stop, and that President Obama deserves respect for taking the first step towards healthier relations between the two nations.

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This morning, I was in Havana in a room filled with Cubans watching their president, Raul Castro, announce the news that diplomatic relations with the United States would be resumed. When his speech ended, the room filled with cheers. The Cubans sang their national anthem and stood at their seats clapping with tears wetting their faces.

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Jeb Bush’s much-discussed presidential candidacy came closer to a reality yesterday as the former Florida governor and dynastic scion announced he was considering it and setting up a leadership PAC. But a funny thing has happened since the last presidential cycle, when National Review editor Rich Lowry tried to loft a Draft Jeb balloon: the conventional wisdom that Jeb was right in the sweet spot of a party that loved his family and must therefore love its most conservative member has been turned upside down.

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Last week, 32 Democratic senators joined Republicans in supporting the CRomnibus budget bill. The bill contained terrible provisions such as rolling back Wall Street reforms, cutting education funds, and stopping D.C. from legalizing marijuana. The fact that a majority of Senate Democrats supported this bill means that it’s high time progressives swept out bad Democrats by way of primaries. In other words, we need to clean house.

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It’s a strange feeling to have to walk past protestors to go to a party, but that was the case at a holiday party I went to last week for the DC Abortion Fund. Approximately a dozen protestors stood outside the venue, several holding full-color posters of what purported to be aborted fetal remains. (I say “purported” because the origin of some of these images has come under scrutiny in recent years.)

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I don’t care that the torture report makes George W. Bush and Dick Cheney bad. I care that it makes us all look bad. Now that the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee has been released, more or less, to the public—and that’s a very good thing—we should seize this opportunity to agree that there is no place for torture in our national security toolbox.

It’s time for us to be the good guys again.

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Now it’s not just one, but two extremely famous models who have added their names to the growing list of women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual abuse and misconduct. Beverly Johnson, in a piece referencing fellow model Janice Dickinson’s accusation, has published an article in Vanity Fair accusing Bill Cosby of drugging her in his home in the eighties, after luring her there with promises of a shot at being on The Cosby Show.

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One silver lining that some Democrats seem to be taking away from the 2014 midterm elections is that the party’s fortunes in “the South” have reached such abysmal levels that the troublesome region can finally be either icily ignored or angrily anathematized. I’d argue, as I have for decades, for an unsentimental view of southern politics that treats Dixie as just another collection of challenges and opportunities, and neither the great hope nor the evil temptation for the donkey party.

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