TPM Cafe: Opinion

On the surface, a business decision by Google doesn’t have much in common with a pending court case involving women’s health. But both involve abortion, and both just might show a way to break out of the morass that the national debate has fallen into. When it comes to abortion, it’s far too easy to let emotion and assumptions take precedence. But here more than ever, it pays to take a step back and give the same respect to the evidence and facts as less sensitive subjects receive.

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As midterm elections grow closer and the battle for Congressional control heats up, the Democratic rallying cry of the Republican “War on Women” will likely continue to play a vital role in the Democrats’ attempt to retain control in the Senate. But Republican women are trying to combat this pervasive catchphrase with their own claim: we’re women and we’re Republicans; therefore there is no Republican War on Women. Unfortunately for them, simply being a woman doesn’t mean that you vote for women.

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Fans of the right to vote got two great pieces of news this week.

In Wisconsin, a federal judge has blocked a voter ID law that Gov. Scott Walker signed into law in 2011.

A few states away in Pennsylvania, meanwhile, the Commonwealth Court issued a new ruling against that state’s voter ID law, confirming an earlier decision that prevented the bill from taking effect.

In both cases, judges based their ruling on one basic fact: laws like these prevent a huge number of people from voting, without solving any real problem.

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A smartphone app could end the voting wars – but only if Republicans are willing to let all adult citizens vote.

Yesterday, a federal judge invalidated Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

While voter ID opponents, myself included, could not be happier, Judge Lynn Adelman’s words will not be the last on the issue. Both sides are gearing up for appeals that could go as high as the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, groups of Republican lawmakers will continue to push voter ID laws in other states, and Democrats and civil rights groups are organizing to resist them.

It does not have to be like this. Ironically, half the solution to the voter ID crisis is already law in Wisconsin. And the other half is sitting in your pocket.

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As we move into the heart of the 2014 election cycle, it’s not surprising that many Republican observers are predicting a 2010-style “negative referendum” on Barack Obama’s presidency in general and on Obamacare in particular, augering very well for Republican chances of a power-consolidating “trifecta” in 2016.

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When I think of the world’s worst boss, I think of Bobby in the movie Horrible Bosses, portrayed brilliantly by the actor Colin Farrell. Bobby is a business owner, and in his first major scene, dialogue between him and one of his company’s managers (played by the actor Jason Sudeikis) goes like this:

Bobby: "Oh yeah, we've got to trim some of the fat around here."

Kurt: "What do you mean by trim the fat?"

Bobby: "I want you to fire the fat people."

Kurt: "What?!"

Bobby: "They're lazy and they're slow and they make me sad to look at."

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It first appeared as an impassioned—if invented—attack on the Common Core State Standards. But at this point, “Common Core Syndrome” is really a description of the the truly bizarre politics surrounding the standards. Or, if that term doesn’t quite suit you, try this: the standards have been thoroughly captured by what David Brooks recently called “the ideological circus.”

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People who care about American democracy have recently been paying a lot of attention to new research by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, which shows that for decades wealthy Americans and business interests have consistently gotten their way in public policy – even when their views conflict with what the vast majority of Americans want. These troubling findings have many observers asking urgent questions: Why do the rich have so much influence in politics? And is there anything we can do about it?

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In February 2006, at a time when almost nobody was thinking about the future of broadband and network neutrality, we gathered a group of stakeholders at the Annenberg School for Communications to try to work out some common sense rules for the future. We had groups like Public Knowledge, former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials, telecom and content company executives and some of the brightest academic thinkers about networks. Over the course of a day and a half we came to a consensus and published The Annenberg Center Principles for Network Neutrality.

With the exception of Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing, almost nobody paid any attention to them. Imagine our surprise when this week we got indications that the FCC would publish a set of rules that adhere fairly closely to our principles.

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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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