TPM Cafe: Opinion

I met Cormac in France. I’m from Oklahoma and before him I had no ties to Ireland. Now I average about three yearly trips. Every January, after spending Christmas with his family, Cormac says we won’t go back for another year. But he knows he’s defying destiny. There are birthdays, family vacations, funerals, anniversaries and weddings. This summer we have another wedding—his cousin’s. She’s marrying a man so the referendum on gay marriage in Ireland this Friday won’t have an effect on their plans. But if the “no” side wins, I’m not sure how we’re going feel at the ceremony. I know it’s a selfish thought. The event isn’t about us. It’s their day, not ours.

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The size of the likely 2016 GOP presidential field has become the dominant story in the Invisible Primary so far. Comparisons to “clown cars” have become inevitable, even among people who don’t think of Republican presidential candidates as “clowns.” Party professionals are expressing serious concerns about fitting them—or even a portion of them—on a debate stage. And talk of that pundit’s hot fudge sundae, the Brokered Convention, has begun earlier than I can ever remember.

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All that waiting until your parents have given up on you is finally paying off, Millennials: New research from the Demographic Intelligence data-crunching firm suggests that, due to Millennials marrying later in life than their parents and grandparents, the marriage rate is going to hit an all-time low since anyone first started tracking the statistics. This is particularly surprising because Millennials are in the prime of their early adult years, when marriage rates are traditionally high. Since they are the biggest generation in the United States — bigger even than the Baby Boomers — it seems like the rate should be going up. But Demographic Intelligence projects that, by 2016, there will only be 6.7 weddings per 1,000 people, compared to 16.4 in 1946 or 10.8 in 1984.

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I always joked with my friends that Mad Men’s real title was White Men. Because that’s what it’s about. It’s about white dudes in New York City figuring out how to get everyone else to buy shit from their clients. It is about men in advertising, marketing and capitalism.

Normally, this would bore me. But that’s the strange thing about Mad Men: It doesn’t bore me at all. While the context is business and the majority of characters are white men, it certainly isn’t what the show is about. Somehow, the show displaces its own premise and becomes a vehicle to understand the American present.

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For one reason or another, it’s become a foreign policy stage on the early path to the 2016 election. Is Marco Rubio an empty tough-talker who happens to be smarter than his vacuous competitors? Or is he a now an elite voice on international relations? Or is he a klutz whose unwillingness to call out the mistakes of earlier Republicans on the Iraq War chained him to their errors?

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Jeb Bush had a very bad week. The presumptive Republican presidential candidate repeatedly failed the most basic foreign policy test of his candidacy. The question, offered up in a friendly Fox News interview, was straightforward. “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion (of Iraq).” His first answer, “Yes”, was diametrically opposed to the view of fully two-thirds of the American people as reflected in recent polling. Surprisingly, it even enraged the right wing echo chamber – the same voices that accused opponents of the war at the time of un-American and even treasonous behavior. One of the loudest conservative voices even questioned Mr. Bush’s sanity.

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A few months ago, I was at a dinner of a dozen students and a 60-year-old entrepreneur who made himself a fortune on Wall Street. At the time, I was a junior at Yale and the only person at the table studying a computer-related major. We went around saying what our big dreams were. When I said that I was studying computer science because I want to be a software engineer and hope to start my own company one day, he said, “Why waste so many years learning how to code? Why not just pay someone else to build your idea?!”

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As the record-setting and dangerous drought in California has made its way into our national conversations, many of the related stories have highlighted the role that a certain kind of elitism has played in exacerbating (if not contributing to) the state’s water shortage. I’m thinking about the central presence of bottled water in such stories, including Starbucks’ recent announcement that it will be moving its bottled water facilities out of California; the move makes sense, but also highlights the fact that Starbucks has bottled water facilities. Which is to say, if such stories (along with those about Nestlé’s bottled water operations in California) are partly about the damaging footprint of multinational corporations, they’re also about the demand among certain American communities for bottled water that is costly in every sense.

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After reading any number of essays (e.g., here and here) on the lessons American conservatives should learn from David Cameron’s triumph last week in the UK elections, my very first reaction was pure mockery:

Republicans should boast of their successful management of an economic recovery while attacking their opponent’s irresponsibility in office during the last decade and exploiting fears of a regional secession movement. Towards the end of the election cycle they should cannibalize the votes of their coalition partners and execute a surge to 36.9% of the electorate!

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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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