TPM Cafe: Opinion

Advocates for looser restrictions on gun ownership and use often portray themselves not as defenders of a noisy and expensive hobby, but the protectors of freedom itself. Wrapping themselves in the Second Amendment and claiming to speak for the Founding Fathers is central to the anti-gun control argument, right up there with claiming that “guns don’t kill people” and peddling fantasies of heroic self-defense against a largely imaginary crime wave.

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So Ted Cruz became the first official 2016 presidential candidate yesterday. And a lot of people want to know what the two-degree Ivy Leaguer and national debate champ could possibly be thinking.

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My neighborhood has a lot of the usual features of a well-established community that happens to be in the middle of a major city: farmer’s market, library, bars, specialty stores, schools, restaurants. Oh, and the crisis pregnancy clinic.

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On Monday September 9, 2013, the first of four days of now-infamous lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that triggered paralyzing traffic jams in the town of Fort Lee, N.J., the mayor of that town, Mark Sokolich, placed a phone call to Bill Baroni, the No. 2 executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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Gov. Rick Perry’s political action committee, RickPAC, grabbed headlines this week by hiring Jamie Johnson as senior director. It’s a surprising choice, because Johnson is a sexist. Not the usual kind that swears up and down he’s not a sexist while talking down to women or minimizing the impact of sexism, either. Johnson, who previously worked for Iowa Right to Life and the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, is bluntly sexist. In 2012, an email Johnson wrote surfaced in which he wrote, “The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will…to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?’”

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If Obamacare survives its current Supreme Court challenge, it will really be the cat with nine lives.

The death of what became the Affordable Care Act has been predicted regularly ever since President Obama’s election in 2008. Right after Obama’s election, I got a wave of calls from reporters, each highly skeptical that the President-elect would really try to get health care passed. When you consider the relentless attacks and near-death experiences ever since, the reporters’ skepticism was understandable.

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This week, President Obama discussed some of the most pressing global matters of our time: ISIS, climate change, nuclear deals, and...weed. As in, he begrudgingly discussed the potential federal legalization of marijuana. I say begrudgingly, because the president made it clear that he thinks young people these days have misplaced their priorities. Instead of thinking about marijuana, they should be thinking about things like climate change.

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The killer of Boris Nemtsov has confessed, signing a written statement that “confirms” his participation in the shooting of the prominent reformist and opponent of Vladimir Putin. The case might be closed in Putin’s Russia. But at home and around the world, it shouldn’t be. Which is why proponents of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act pending in Congress should take note and seize the moment to pass it.

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Research has long shown that empathy stems from two different factors. One is emotional, meaning empathy is triggered by your baggage, your family experience, what you bring to the table. The other is cognitive, which is your perspective, and, say, how interested you might be in hearing another person’s side of the story. Empathy is also different than sympathy; the former is sharing someone’s feelings because you understand that feeling, explains Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, in this amazing video. Sympathy is about feeling sadness for someone’s problems, but it doesn’t connect you to that person.

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In this space a couple of weeks ago I made the argument that partisan and ideological gridlock was feeding on itself by creating an insatiable craving for the occasional Big Election with big consequences. What didn’t fully occur to me is that the next Big Election might be the one just ahead, in 2016.

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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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