TPM Cafe: Opinion

The White House was quick to tout the 7.1 million Americans who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health care benefits last week, and this week’s cover of The New Yorker depicts President Barack Obama’s revenge on Republicans now that healthcare appears to be working. Despite this messaging, Washington, the media, nor the law itself can guarantee that health care will be accessed in the intended way.

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Nothing, but nothing, enrages conservatives more than being accused of racism.

Yes, a whole wing of modern conservatism is rooted in the southern white struggle against civil rights. Yes, Republican politicians perpetually appeal to resentment of the beneficiaries of the “welfare state,” commonly (if mistakenly) understood as people of color. Yes, nearly all conservative political actors and writers treat minority grievances as an illegitimate projection of past injustices far past their point of relevance. Yes, in nearly every state where the GOP has the power and incentive to do so, their legislators are systematically seeking to make it harder for minorities to vote. Yes, the tea party movement has a foundational myth that the housing and financial crises which touched off the Great Recession were the product of loans made to uncreditworthy minority folk via the Community Reinvestment Act at the behest of the “black radical” group ACORN. And yes, the centrist technocrat Barack Obama has often been subjected to classic racist stereotypes in day-to-day conservative agitprop, as an alleged beneficiary of affirmative action, as a shiftless vacation-taker, as a boon companion to (and even a husband of) black radicals, and yes, as a Kenyan with a “neocolonial” outlook.

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If you miss one too many days of work or stay out for the night when you said you’d be home, you might find yourself in hot water, but chances are you won’t wind up in trouble with the law, or worse, in jail.

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Big data is revolutionizing commerce and government for the better, but it is also supercharging the potential for discrimination. Protecting civil rights in this new environment requires a thoughtful update to our nation’s policies on privacy and data.

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I recently received a text message from my friend proclaiming, with several exclamation points, that her son had achieved a 2110 on his practice SAT!!!!! That score will put him in the 98th percentile — equivalent to over 1400 on the old 1600 scale. My friend and her husband, both college-educated, revolved their lives around nurturing and enriching their kids’ lives – living in a good public school district, supporting their schoolwork, supervising their homework, volunteering in their school and extra-curricular activities, from orchestra to Boy Scouts, and …choosing to spend $3,000 on Kaplan SAT prep. They want the best for their son. They’ve saved for college, they’ve spent strategically on school-related expenses, and it’s paying off, especially in his SAT scores. So what’s the problem?

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Recently New York Mets baseball player Daniel Murphy decided to take two days of paternity leave to be with his wife as she underwent a cesarean section, missing the first two games of the season. (He is allowed three days of leave under Major League Baseball rules.) Sports commentator Boomer Esiason criticized Murphy for making this decision, stating, “C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money.” Esiason later apologized days after public outcry about his statement, but he was not alone in his sentiment. Another radio host, Mike Francesa, said of Murphy’s decision, “You are a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse.”

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Last month’s Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case raised a number of interesting questions about the Affordable Care Act, contraception, corporations, and the Supreme Court. But it is also notable for a specific question asked by Antonin Scalia.

No, not whether certain forms of contraception were “terribly expensive stuff,” as memorable as that question is. But for the comment that preceded that question—that the only forms of birth control that Hobby Lobby didn’t want to cover were abortifacients.

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David Letterman is calling it quits—and with his final late night on Late Night will fall the final pillar of the genre’s old guard. And so the question is: what will CBS do? NBC already made the bold move of replacing an older white man, Jay Leno, with a younger white man, Jimmy Fallon, on the Tonight Show; and that other funny Jimmy (Kimmel) is otherwise occupied. How will Late Night reinvent itself, if indeed it would like to compete as fresh and relevant?

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It will probably be days, maybe weeks or even months before we know exactly what happened at Fort Hood that led Specialist Ivan Lopez to kill three people and himself on Wednesday. This much is confirmed: Lopez served four months in Iraq in 2011, and had been under evaluation for possible Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress. In an information vacuum, this will undoubtedly be that prevailing narrative.

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On Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts used a slim five to four majority to strike down a major part of the 40-year-old “aggregate limits” on federal campaign donations. Is the decision as bad as Citizens United, the Court’s 2010 decision to overturn a century of precedents and allow unlimited expenditures by corporations seeking to elect or defeat political candidates? No ... but it’s not good. If Citizens United is the Charlie Sheen of bad decisions that undermine electoral equality, then the McCutcheon decision is the Justin Bieber -- smaller in scale but with plenty of capacity to do harm.

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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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