TPM Cafe: Opinion

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer as well as a chance for us to reflect on the achievements of American workers. This year, workers across the country have a lot to celebrate, thanks in part to a series of executive orders signed by President Obama, including the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which cracks down on federal contractors who violate labor laws.

In a significant step towards greater accountability for private contractors, corporations will be required to report their labor violations in updates to government agencies every six months, and contractors will also be responsible for making sure any subcontractors are playing by the rules as well. Additionally, the report directs contractors not to require employees to enter into pre-dispute arbitration agreements for sexual assault and harassment crimes, as well as violations of the Civil Rights Act.

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Yesterday Arizona’s nasty and competitive Republican gubernatorial primary concluded with the right-wing favorite in the race, State Treasurer Doug Ducey, winning with a plurality of the vote over five rivals, including former Mesa mayor Steve Smith, who was endorsed by incumbent governor Jan Brewer. Ducey will have a serious challenge from Democrat Fred DuVal even in this reddish state.

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The image last week of James Foley kneeling in front of a masked terrorist made me feel something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I’m a lawyer, a father, and an active member of my community, but in another life I was an Army Ranger. Years ago, I carried a gun in the Middle East and fought against the brutal forces like the masked man who murdered Foley.

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There’s been a lot of discussion this summer about how to talk about abortion. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have published articles and op-eds focusing on the words that people use when talking about abortion: “pro-choice,” “difficult,” and that infamous phrase, “safe, legal, and rare”

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Exactly two hundred years ago this weekend, on the afternoon of August 24, 1814, a British army of some 4,000 redcoats routed an American army of mostly 6,000 militia at Bladensburg in an affair often laughingly referred to as “The Bladensburg Races” because of the precipitous retreat of the largely poorly trained and panicked militia. That evening, the redcoats marched into and then proceeded to burn the public buildings of Washington, D.C. British Army commander Major General Robert Ross even had the temerity of enjoying wine and a meal laid out for the hoped-for American victors at the Executive Mansion, that we now refer to as “The White House” — allegedly painted white to hide the burn marks left by the British. Those are the facts that many people know, and, to this day, the scorch marks at the White House and at the U.S. Capitol are still there for the public to see as graphic proof of what happened. A definite low point in the life of Washington and of this nation.

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The White House burned. So did the U.S. Capitol, and most of the public buildings in Washington, D.C. Invading British troops burned the city in this most humiliating episode in American history 200 years ago today. Some are tempted to call the War of 1812 “the forgotten war,” but that is absurd. Out of it came the national anthem, a daring act of bravery to save the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the most lopsided defeat of the British military in all of their conflicts.

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There is a moment in Richard Linklater’s subtle and unique Boyhood (2014, IFC Films) where your breath catches in your chest, and you’re aware of the reality of what you’re watching. Mason (played beautifully by reserved newcomer Ellar Coltrane) and his girlfriend Sheena are headed to Austin to visit his sister at college and explore what could be their hometown in a year’s time. Seeing him behind the wheel, you’re struck by that same feeling of awe that hits when you see a neighbor’s son or family friend’s daughter after many years- feelings of awe and shock at how the years pass. The only difference is, by that point in the film, we’ve been watching Mason’s transformation unfold in relative real time.

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It’s always mushroom clouds with these guys. Secure America Now, a 501c4, has released a sequel of sorts to Lyndon Johnson’s infamous Daisy ad that equated electing Barry Goldwater with nuclear Armageddon. Daisy 2 accuses Barack Obama of “failing” to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, a humdinger of a lie that overlays the original ad’s message of peace with the drumbeats of war.

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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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