TPM Cafe: Opinion

This is the week to say the things that go without saying. Mainstream Republicans—not just their Gorgeous George nominee, shock-radio echo-chamber, and Bibi cheerleaders—are mocking President Obama for speaking of terror and not “radical Islam.” The inference to be drawn is that Muslims, especially Arab Muslims, are predisposed to intolerance and violence, as if the Muslim religion is a subtle ideological toxin that can be managed in homeopathic doses, but is fatal full force. If we said “radical Islam,” presumably, then we’d be acknowledging the real danger, now suffered for the sake of political correctness.

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Right after Barack Obama’s election in 2008, I flew off to Australia and New Zealand to attend a conference and take some vacation time. At the end of the long flight, when I got to Sydney, I picked up one of the local newspapers and read that the president-elect had chosen Rahm Emanuel, poster boy for corporate Democrats and the status quo, to be his chief of staff.

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Democrats love to talk about Republican voter suppression, and various ways, such as strict voter identification laws, that have been employed to keep Democrats from registering and casting effective votes. But ironically, the path to Democratic victory in November could be to adopt some methods to depress the Republican vote, specifically to encourage conservatives to stay home on Election Day or to vote for third party candidates. This may be an unsavory tactic but smart politics. The better long-run solution for Democrats is automatic voter registration, or even mandatory voting.

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“Darkness at Noon had staying power,” Michael Scammell writes in The New York Review of Books, “for Rubashov’s story…powerfully illuminates the human condition, men’s moral choices, the attractions and dangers of idealism, the corrosive effects of political corruption, and the fatal consequences of psychological and ideological fanaticism.”

The occasion for Scammell’s essay is the chance retrieval of Koestler's original German manuscript, by a doctoral student named Matthias Weßel, who was combing an archive in Zurich. Until now, Scammell reminds us, all translations worked from the English version Koestler produced hastily with his translator (and lover) Daphne Hardy, as they were preparing to flee France and the Nazi invasion. Presumably, the two themselves worked from this very manuscript, once thought lost.

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