TPM Cafe: Opinion

As the protests and violence unfold on the streets of Ferguson, in the aftermath of Monday night’s announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, one of the phrases used to describe the unrest will almost certainly be “race riot.” For many Americans, the phrase conjures up a particular series of events, including the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in the early 1990s and the late 1960s riots in cities from Watts to Detroit to New York. But there are histories that have been largely excluded from our collective memories that shed a much different light on the phrase and how it has been developed and deployed.

Read More →

The first layer of conservative grousing about President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action has been mostly complaints about separation of powers and the president-who-would-be-king’s “lawless...executive diktat.” Close behind that oddball hyperbole come others who claim that Obama’s shift is somehow “destructive” to American workers and the country at large.

Deep down, though, I think that this round of American immigration debates are really driven by competing visions of what America is — and ought to be. To put a sharper point on it, there’s a tension etched into the national seal on those dollar bills in your wallet. Each American’s ideological mileage on immigration varies according to which end of the “e pluribus unum” (“Out of many, one”) equation pulls strongest on their heartstrings. Either we’re a country primarily constituted by our breadth of diversity (‘plures’), or an ‘unum’ nation that constitutes a common cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic whole.

Read More →

Here we go again. For the third time since 2011, Ohio’s legislature is debating a heartbeat ban – a blatantly unconstitutional ban on abortion starting as soon as an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, often at four weeks past fertilization or sooner. In 2011, the bill passed the house but never made it up in the senate for a vote, not even when lawmakers used their post-election lame duck session to try to force it back onto the floor, figuring with no one’s reelection campaigns jeopardized in the process the ban was sure to pass. It popped up in 2013 with a new sponsor and a room full of Duggars (of “19 Kids and Counting” fame) promoting it, but it failed, too.

Read More →

The deadline for Iran to achieve a nuclear agreement with the international community is fast approaching, set for later this month. Over the past year, our nation’s diplomats along with other world powers have worked tirelessly to produce an agreement that will prevent both an Iranian nuclear weapon and another war in the Middle East. Keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is central to keeping American safe—and achieving this through diplomacy is difficult, but absolutely critical for us to pursue.

Read More →

There is no doubt about what happened in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963; President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. When it comes to the who or the how, though, the majority of Americans remain skeptical about the official narrative. The broad belief in some conspiracy theory regarding his death tells us that it’s quite mainstream to have at least some “fringe” convictions.

Read More →

I guarantee you’ll hear the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” in the aftermath of President Obama’s immigration address. It’s almost impossible to find any conversation about immigration—between elected officials, pundits, online commenters—in which at least one participant doesn’t use the phrase. It’s an understandable position, through which the speaker can both defend his or her family history and critique current illegal immigrants who choose to do things differently. It helps deflect charges of hypocrisy (since most Americans are descended from immigrants). It’s hard to argue with. And it’s also, in nearly every case, entirely inaccurate.

Read More →

On television these days, there are no shortage of complex, interesting, and imperfect female characters. Take Liz Lemon on “30 Rock,” Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” Jessica Day on “New Girl,” and Mindy Lahiri on “The Mindy Project.” We no longer have to cry for women to be portrayed as human — the golden age of television has flawed women in droves. But these women are so flawed as to lose another kind of character: the role model. How can we possibly look up to women who are mentally unstable, victims of emotional or even physical abuse, or people who inflict harm on others? Today, in an era that is making the discussion of feminism new again,it is surprising how many women we idolize on television still allow themselves to be subservient to men, at times dangerously so. As viewers, how are we to reconcile the two extremes?

Read More →

Like it or not, the 2016 presidential cycle has begun. It’s theoretically an open process for both parties. But what characterizes it so far is a remarkable contrast between a Democratic Party that seems almost settled (though not universally happy about it) on a single candidate, Hillary Clinton, and a Republican Party with a potentially gigantic field and no true front-runner.

There are perils and advantages associated with both conditions. But the Republicans elites that have successfully sought to make their party’s nominating calendar more compact are clearly worried that a protracted competition among a large field could be destructive. And after the experience of 2008 and 2012, Republicans have good reason to fear that even their most “electable” candidates could be pulled to the right in a nomination struggle dominated by conservative activists and rank-and-file Tea Parties in early states.

Read More →

The Supreme Court may soon be pushed, however reluctantly, to address the question of whether there’s a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. So far, it has punted on the issue. But last week, gay and lesbian couples filed petitions asking the court to rule on the matter now that federal appeals courts have issued contradictory decisions. They hope the court will hear the case before their current session ends in June.

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

TPMLivewire