TPM Cafe: Opinion

I have a dream of walking into a classroom with a shirt that says “Trigger Warning: I’m the Prof” across the front.

Given the subject matter and space I teach in, I think it would be a valid critique the use of trigger warnings, but also a necessary intervention into the classroom space. There, I am designated to be the person who sits at the front of the room as a representation of knowledge and goals for the course.

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It’s just six months until Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker faces re-election, and he’s struggling. His years in office have been plagued by scandal, and the internal emails released as a part of the “John Doe” probe into possible illegal campaigning and coordination are doing little to help the governor’s already-battered image. Allegations of racism, sexism, and homophobia have been brushed off by Walker’s administration, and poll numbers show an incumbent whose race is in jeopardy.

With the race now neck and neck, both candidates are going to have to appeal to their bases like they never have before and passionately urge them to turn out on Election Day. However, the Burke campaign may have one advantage that has been working well in other states that Walker simply cannot replicate.

The women of Wisconsin.

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Having a glass of wine (or three) on a date and then retiring to the bedroom for some consensual sexing is not unknown in the liberal, feminist circles long-derided by the conservative media. So imagine my confusion when I read National Review writer and self-appointed expert on what “feminists” think, A.J. Delgado, argue that feminists “define rape as including any sexual activity in which the woman is not sober, claiming that consent is never truly given if one has had a few drinks.”

So sure is she of this assertion that she fails to cite any of the “prominent scholars and activists” that have offered this definition. I want to know who they are, so I can avoid drinking with them.

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According to the “Year of the Republican Establishment” narrative, it was the finest of nights for Mitch McConnell and his GOP elite friends. He crushed his own tea party opponent, Matt Bevin and the “Establishment” candidate for Senate in Oregon got lucky when a multi-faceted stalking scandal occurred after most voters had cast ballots by mail. And best of all, in a state where a wild primary threatened GOP calculations to take over the Senate, Georgia, the two “Establishment” candidates will meet in a runoff after snuffing potential Todd Akin clones Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey and possible trouble-maker Karen Handel.

It’s a nice picture, and welcome after the troublesome Senate results last week in Nebraska. But its linchpin, the Georgia Senate race, is a bit -- actually a lot -- more complicated than that.

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“What GM did was break the law,” Anthony Foxx, the secretary of transportation, announced as a news conference on Friday. The National Highway Safety and Transportation Agency imposed a $35 million penalty on General Motors, the largest ever imposed on an automaker, for its failure to correct and its cover up of known defects in the ignition switch of the Cobalt, a problem that contributed to at least 13 deaths.

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Last Thursday, the long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy aired its last episode that featured Dr. Cristina Yang, a surgeon who had been on the show from the very first episode. Played by Sandra Oh, Dr. Yang was arrogant, ambitious, caring, and brilliant—and a staunch supporter of reproductive rights who chose to have an abortion. And in this, Dr. Yang joins a very, very small list of lead female characters on a television show to not just talk about having an abortion, but also to realistically depict some of the reasons a woman might make that choice and what its wider effects can be.

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It seems like everyday, new research is confirming that the impacts of climate change -- heat waves, heavy rains, and flooding – are already being felt in America and around the world, and things stand to get worse. Just this week, TPM reported on new scientific papers concluding that large parts of the enormous West Antarctica ice sheet are melting and falling into the sea, and could lead to eventual rise in global sea levels of 10 feet or more.

Surprisingly, though, Congress – where many House Republicans reject the notion that anthropogenic climate change is happening at all – came together in March to do something. Did they take action to slow climate change or pass new policies to encourage building further away from beaches and floodplains? No. They agreed to roll back previous reforms and reinstate generous federal insurance subsidies for seaside homes.

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In an act of unadulterated joy, Michael Sam and his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, shared a kiss that has since eclipsed the actual reason for their celebration: The NFL’s St. Louis Rams drafting Sam, effectively making him the league’s first openly gay player.

Reaction to the kiss can be summed up in three words: shock, awe, and, for some, dismay. That it took an unsigned college football player, a few basketball players (NBA’s Jason Collins and WNBA’s Brittney Griner), and a kiss to show that there are black LGBTs who falsify existing stereotypes of the effeminate gay and the masculine lesbian athlete should be the true shock.

The reason for all the hubbub is that Michael Sam's athletic success, his sport of choice, and his kiss shatter common assumptions about LGBT Americans.

In my research on the lived experiences of urban black gay and lesbian Americans, I have found this point especially key. While many black gay men identify strongly with a racial identity over their sexual orientation, others, like Sam, resist this hierarchy.

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An event as big and sudden as the firing of Jill Abramson from her position as the executive editor at the New York Times is bound to have a whirlwind of gossip, speculation, and accusations swirling around it. This is particularly true since Abramson seems to have done a fine job as executive editor -- not flawless, of course, but the paper continued to be a source of top notch investigative journalism -- and may have been done in by forces beyond her control, namely the declining profitability of newspapers in the era of online media. As she’s also the first woman to hold the job in the paper’s history, accusations of sexism against publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., began immediately.

While it’s impossible at this time to determine exactly what’s going on with the Abramson firing, there are some damning pieces of evidence to uphold the charge of sexist discrimination. “Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs,” Ken Auletta reports at the New Yorker. It's an account confirmed by David Folkenflik.

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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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