TPM Cafe: Opinion

We know through Edward Snowden that the government, the National Security Agency (NSA) in particular, has been spying on all of us. But now we have conclusive proof that the NSA also had some specific targets for their surveillance: Muslim Americans. No one is entirely shocked given the treatment of Muslim Americans and even those perceived to be Muslim Americans in the post 9-11 era. In the thirteen years since that awful day, the Muslim community has endured much: numerous hate crimes; graffiti and vandalism on mosques, homes and businesses; and very public animosity against an entire community that is being targeted merely on the basis of their faith.

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A President elected twice in large part because Americans trusted his judgment in a dangerous and complicated world has seen that confidence dissipate. First-term national security accomplishments included the end of the Iraq War, unprecedented counterterrorist military-intelligence cooperation culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden, the restoration of badly-damaged partnerships in Europe, and the development of new ones in the Middle East and Asia. Now, the nightly news is dominated by disintegration in Iraq, questions about U.S. spine and leadership in Syria and Ukraine, the rise of new terrorist threats in the Middle East and Africa, and Snowden-infused pendulum shifts in public attitudes about the balance between privacy and security. All the while, public debate about America’s role in a complicated world has largely devolved into false choices between deploying the 82nd Airborne and helpless passivity.

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The longer the results of the Mississippi GOP Senate runoff remain in any sort of doubt, the more public discussion of the Republican Party’s attitude toward the African-American voters who seem to have played a key role in re-nominating Sen. Thad Cochran becomes a potentially dangerous topic for the party as a whole.

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During my time in Iraq and Syria, first as a soldier and then as a refugee advocate, I have had the pleasure of knowing many Sunni-Shia couples — some of whom charmingly dub their children “sushi.” During the initial reconstruction of Baghdad, I knew them as friends and colleagues. Later, as opportunistic fanatics of all stripes began turning Iraqis against one another through acts of ever-escalating violence, I knew them as courageous but increasingly threatened moderates. In the final years of the Iraq War, and through the civil war in Syria, I have mostly known them as refugees, survivors of violence and torture, widows, and orphans.

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The following is an excerpt from Part of the Family? Nannies, Housekeepers, Caregivers and the Battle for Domestic Workers' Rights by Sheila Bapat, released by Ig Publishing in May.

"Care can never be valued if its givers are exploited."—Michael Lyon, San Francisco Gray Panthers and Hand in Hand

Chevy Chase, Maryland, is a charming, upper-crust town of just under one thousand residents. Maple and oak trees line the streets, and houses are worth nearly a million dollars. The median family income is about $140,000 per year. It was here that Fatima Cortessi, at the age of twenty, landed after leaving her home country of Paraguay in 2011.

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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed a 72-hour waiting period between an initial consultation and an abortion, stopping the state from becoming the third to implement a three-day waiting period for a pregnancy termination. While the veto is fantastic news for women who are pregnant and wants to obtain an abortion in Missouri or the surrounding area, it is even better news for reproductive rights activists overall, as it signals a noticeable shift in the political waters when it comes to opposing abortion.

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The reignited cycle of violence in Palestine and Israel provides the Israeli government with exactly what it has been begging for months for, violence. However, for once, Israel may be facing a new fact of life—as the sole military power in the conflict, it has the full ability to start a widespread campaign of violence, but it may no longer be the party who single-handedly decides how it ends. This particular round of violence has the potential to surprisingly end with political progress towards peace.

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"It's always darkest before the dawn" sang Pete Seeger. "And that's what keeps me moving on."

The recent spate of reactionary decisions by the Roberts Supreme Court — including this week's outrageous Hobby Lobby ruling — triggers thoughts of a better day, when the right wingers on the court will have retired or died, replaced by thoughtful liberals who will restore some semblance of fairness and democracy to this great country. On this July 4th, let's consider what it would be like if our nation's highest court was actually committed to the notion of "liberty and justice for all."

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That Eric Cantor, leader of many ultraconservative House GOP maneuvers to block compromises with President Barack Obama, ended up losing his recent Virginia primary contest to an even more hardline political newcomer, David Brat, shows just how completely the ideological Tea has infused the Republican Party. By now, in fact, any discussion of which Republicans are "Tea Party" and which are not is a purely semantic game. But regardless of how the DC-focused political media characterize the latest outcomes, we need to keep the bigger picture in mind – a picture in which elite and grassroots Tea Party forces have pushed an already extremely conservative Republican Party further to the right since 2008.

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In the wake of Monday’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, critics — me included — have warned that Hobby Lobby’s claim is a slippery slope. If religious employers can opt out of providing birth control coverage based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), what will stop denials of other health care benefits on religious grounds? What about blood transfusions, vaccinations and psychiatric benefits? Beyond health care, can corporate heads simply refuse to abide by laws prohibiting discrimination based on race or sexual orientation if the laws counter their religious convictions?

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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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