TPM Cafe: Opinion

President Obama’s commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York on Wednesday was both a recognition of the complex world the Class of 2014 will face and an acknowledgement that the United States must adjust its foreign policy to reflect a world more dynamic than ever before.

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You can pick up any of Maya Angelou’s seven autobiographies or any of her poetry and find the story of her life. Born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri then raised Stamps, Arkansas, she entered adulthood in various parts of California. She suffered through the trauma of racism, poverty, sexual assault, and other personal horrors to become one of America’s most well-respected authors and speakers. Maya Angelou’s death, announced on Wednesday and which came at the age of 86, leaves a tear in the fabric of American literature. Later in life, she became an easy target for parody, but her legacy of carving out a path of identity through defiance and confidence is undeniable.

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National security blogger John Schindler thinks it’s time for partisans on both ends of the political spectrum to do some soul-searching and realize how they’re hurting the country. Writing at his XX Committee blog, the scholar of military history and strategy who teaches at the U.S. Naval War College accuses true believers on the left and right of being disdainful toward any other perspectives and neglectful toward the facts — making our politics dysfunctional and our country ungovernable in the process. The sensible majority of Americans, according to Schindler, get caught in the middle of this political holy war and either get taken for granted or viewed as dupes whenever they tilt toward the other side.

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According to the quote from William Faulkner often used to describe his native state of Mississippi: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That’s still true today, and you can hear distinct echoes of old times not forgotten in the current red-hot Republican U.S. Senate primary between six-term incumbent Thad Cochran and right-wing challenger Chris McDaniel.

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Last Friday, after 22-year-old Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage in Isla Vista, California came to an end with his $40,000 BMW crashing into a parked van and a gunshot to the head, Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown described the tragic events as the work of a “madman.”

Clearly, a man who would do such a thing has to be sick. But as more information comes to light — several videos posted to YouTube, a 141-page “manifesto” entitled “My Twisted World,” and, according to Amanda Hess, digital footprints left all over the online Pick-Up Artist and Mens Rights communities — it’s apparent that this was a guy with some very clear motivation: revenge.

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When it comes to education, family engagement is a good thing. Or, rather, it’s a Good Thing. It’s one of those hallowed variables rumored to be potent enough to make or break the success of a student, class, or school entirely on its own. For instance, when analysis shows that charter schools outperform district schools serving similar students, many charter skeptics respond that this simply reflects the “fact” that charters have more engaged parents.

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Before Massachusetts law established a 35-foot buffer zone outside of family planning clinics, protesters dressed as the grim reaper and holding scythes would approach patients, shout threats, and literally stand between a patient and the entrance to a clinic. The opponents of buffer zones claim that they have a right to “counsel” women within this zone.

But what anti-choice protesters do outside of abortion clinics has never been counseling, which involves facts and occurs with trained medical professionals. Since the establishment of buffer zones in our state in 2007, medical professionals have seen real improvement in the atmosphere around freestanding clinics. Patients are no longer spat on and the yelling is a little quieter. Women and their families feel less afraid and are at less risk of a physical altercation on their way into a clinic.

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Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip use the Israeli currency, the New Israeli Shekel, for their daily business. However, as the peace negotiation efforts of Secretary John Kerry stumbled (many would say failed) in late April, Israel took many punitive measures to punish Palestinians for not accepting full political submission.

One such measure is that Israel informed the Palestinian side that it would no longer allow Palestinian banks to transport their surplus Israeli currency to the Israeli Central Bank, an act that is unheard of in the world of banking. Israel is refusing to serve its own currency. In effect, Israel is declaring war on the Palestinian economy, risking the collapse of the thriving Palestinian banking sector, and disrupting the flow of basic goods such as electricity, petroleum, and natural gas into Palestine.

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The only public figure who comes close in recent memory to as much public scrutiny, ridicule, character assassination and professional humiliation as departed New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. And even though he is in rehab, he still has his job.

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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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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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