TPM Cafe: Opinion

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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A big U.S. social insurance program is enacted into law – only to face delays and fierce controversies. Regulations are imposed on businesses and taxes collected well before citizens get sizable benefits. Right-wingers fight for repeal or evisceration, and many on the left are also disgruntled. Outright failure remains possible for years after enactment.

Obamacare? No, we’re talking about the early life of the program called Social Security, now hugely popular and regarded as virtually untouchable politically.

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The good news this week: as the deadline for this year’s enrollment hits, the Affordable Care Act is working.

After all the obstacles, technological failures, political attacks and confusion, the new ACA exchanges have hit their goals: 7 million people have signed up for a plan in the new marketplaces.

One study suggests that, under all the ACA’s coverage provisions, some 9.5 million people who didn’t have insurance before have coverage now.

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We’re at that time of the election cycle when you start hearing a great deal about the relative “enthusiasm” of each major party’s “base,” with the assumption being this is the key to a robust turnout in November. Do this and don’t do that, we are told (especially by conservative Republicans, but increasingly as well by progressive Democrats), or you will dampen base enthusiasm and court disaster.

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With the recent closure of the initial enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is enormous jockeying around interpreting the number of enrollees in state and federal exchanges. Proponents and opponents of the law are interpreting the preliminary numbers in the way that best makes their case. But what neither side is emphasizing enough is that enrollment in the ACA is far from over now that March 31st has passed. This is because millions of individuals will lose their insurance during 2014 – and Obamacare will be there to catch them.

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Washington, D.C.’s Democratic Party is holding its mayoral primary today, and — for the first time in years, all's quiet on the education front. Sure, there are pending arguments around the shuffling of boundaries for neighborhood schools, but there's no serious push to roll back — or strenuously expand — the controversial reforms of Adrian Fenty’s Administration. The rapidly growing charter school sector and Fenty-era teacher evaluation system are in the city to stay.

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The little girl could not have been more than 5 years old. She was wearing a purple polka-dot dress and her hair was pulled tight into ponytails tied with purple ribbons. On her feet were sparkly shoes. Someone had taken great care to dress her and on this grey fall morning in October 2013 she was all sunshine and light.

She skipped towards the large, fortress-like building. She turned towards me and gave me a joyful smile, and said “I’m going to see my daddy today.”

And then together we walked through the doors of the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois.

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Move over, Georgia Right to Life! There is a new “pro-life” advocacy organization in town, and they are ready to take over as the lead anti-choice group in the state. Even worse? They may have the National Right to Life’s blessing to do so, too.

Here’s the background: Georgia Right to Life (GRTL), the state-based anti-abortion group that historically has held the most sway in the state of Georgia, but it’s been dealing with some heavy baggage this election cycle. With a highly combative GOP primary for an open Senate seat, the Republican primary candidates seem to be battling to see who can be the most extreme when it comes to opposing any form of abortion rights. For GRTL, this should be simple choice – with all candidates hostile to abortion, it would be hard to endorse a loser.

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