TPM Cafe: Opinion

Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator, where this article first appeared. His most recent book is Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency.

American politics is not easy for believers.

“This is a forum where our candidates can share their faith and testimony and not feel ostracized. Except maybe by the press,” Mary Frances Forrester told me. “Here, we can ask questions and candidates can include their faith when they’re talking about important social issues.”

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When Pope Francis visits the United States in two months and becomes the first pontiff to address Congress, his speech will be a seminal moment in American history. A pope who pumps fresh energy into the world’s most influential religious institution and humanizes the papacy will likely find his toughest audience in this country. Several polls released last week show both the challenges and opportunities that await a pope who denounces an “economy of exclusion” and in bracing language prods political leaders to wake up to the reality of climate change.

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As the video of Sandra Bland’s arrest makes its way into homes and offices around the country, people are aghast that the failure to use a turn signal led to a woman’s arrest and, ultimately, her death by what officials have identified as suicide. People want to know if the officer’s actions—asking that Bland put out her cigarette and demanding that she step out of her car—were legal. But that’s the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking whether it was good policing.

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Last week David Brooks wrote about being slapped, figuratively, by the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates. “I read this all like a slap and a revelation,” wrote Brooks, referring to Coates’ new book Between the World and Me. Brooks hastened to join the choir in praising Coates as America’s racial conscience, an heir apparent to James Baldwin (at least according to Toni Morrison, though not everyone agrees), and named his “mind-altering account of the black-male experience” a must-read. But what bothered Brooks the most about the Baltimore-born father’s “letter” to his 14-year-old son was Coates’ treatment of the American Dream.

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As silly as Donald Trump’s presidential bid has proven thus far, and as indefensible as some of his recent remarks have been, there is a sanctimonious tone to the criticism leveled at both that would be far less grating if it weren’t so hypocritical.

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When Scott Walker was elected Wisconsin governor in 2010, he came into office with a playbook he’d followed as the Milwaukee County executive: he declared an emergency.

Taxes: too high. Public benefits: too generous. Businesses: too burdened. Unions: too coddled.

One of his first acts in January 2011 was to call an emergency session of the state legislature. One of the first pieces of legislation he signed as governor, Act 7, privatized the state’s department of commerce by turning it into a public-private hybrid called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. WEDC’s board of directors was to be chaired by the governor himself to help him make the state more “business friendly” by doling out grants and tax incentives to businesses, helping Walker fulfill a campaign promise to add 250,000 new jobs to the state during his first term.

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There are certain demographic groups that endlessly fascinate political people in both parties. Latinos are the obvious example: They’re the fastest growing part of the electorate, with characteristics that offer some potential to Republicans (if they could ever clean up their act!) and Democrats alike. Progressives are forever seeking to “wedge” women away from the GOP because of that party’s views on gender equity and reproductive rights issues. And conservatives never give up hope that fears over Israel’s security will lead Jews to forswear their ancient attachment to liberal politics.

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As a political scientist, I am reluctant to make predictions about elections, especially about the behavior of a single individual. But I'm willing to make an exception this year, because the presidential campaign is turning out to be such an exceptionally crucial (and entertaining) one. Here is what I see as the step-by-step best case scenario for putting a Democrat in the White House next year, with a little help from Donald Trump.

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While there’s still much more investigating to do and much more that will undoubtedly be discovered, with every detail we learn it seems clearer that last week's shootings at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, did indeed comprise another horrific act of domestic terrorism.

The 24-year-old shooter, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, like his South Carolina counterpart Dylann Roof, apparently left behind a trail of statements that indicated his intentions to commit an act of war, one that would play into a larger societal conflict. And while debates over connections between the shootings and ISIS reflect the global side to that conflict, the truth is that Abdulazeez, who was born in Kuwait but had been in the United States since 1996 (that is, since he was 5 years old), was like Roof a thoroughly homegrown killer.

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While most of the major players are making their lawyers happy by being purposefully vague in public, Ellen Pao’s resignation as CEO of Reddit has reignited the debate over how to handle the squirming underbelly of the internet. This underbelly consists mainly, but not exclusively, of angry white dudes who want to spew as much hate as possible at women, people of color, and LGBT people. While most of them hide behind the auspices of “free speech,” it’s increasingly clear that these trolls are motivated mainly by a deep desire to silence: to use harassment as a tool to run off anyone who values meaningful discourse or wants an environment that is inclusive to all sorts of people. This silencing campaign has harmed Pao and, as she fears, the “trolls are winning."

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