TPM Cafe: Opinion

Progressives have had a lot of sport recently contrasting conservative attacks on Barack Obama as a vicious law-breaking tyrant in domestic affairs with their simultaneous attacks on him as a weak, trembling figure on the world scene. How could Vladimir Putin fail to notice that Obama has struck so much fear into the hearts of his enemies at home, who are cowering in their homes awaiting assaults from IRS agents and affianced gay people? Hard to say.

But conservative self-contradiction about Obama’s spine reflects a much broader and deeper ambivalence about whether they are winning or losing the great battle for America’s culture and political system.

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A tweet from Welsh-born comedienne Jenny Collier went viral on Friday, and not because it was funny. She posted a screen grab of an email from promoters Mirth Control that read, “Hi Jenny, I’m really sorry but the venue have decided they don’t want too many women on the bill and unfortunately we need to take you out of this one. We hope that this doesn’t cause any inconvenience.”

It makes you wonder how often men are dropped because a bill is too dude-heavy. (Hint: never.)

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Today is a good day to thank an abortion provider. In 1996, March 10th was declared National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. It’s one day, during Women’s History Month, for those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose an abortion to give thanks to those make that choice a safe one. From my time at Planned Parenthood to my current work on the board of an abortion fund, I can safely say that without abortion providers we do not have safe abortions. Considering the current climate surrounding abortion, these doctors are under assault both as supporters of abortion rights and as professionals.

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Alabama is poised to become the latest state to restrict abortions early in pregnancy — in fact, before many women know that they’re pregnant. The state House of Representatives recently passed a measure that would ban abortions from the time that a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. The bill, which contains other restrictions, now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate.

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Earlier this week, while announcing a major redesign of the SAT college admissions test coming in 2016, College Board President David Coleman publicly acknowledged something most of us have known for a long time: our use of the SAT favors privileged students.

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On November 27, 1770, John Adams began the most important trial of his legal career. His clients were eight British soldiers who, when confronted by an angry gathering of Boston patriots, fired into the crowd, killing five. The soldiers were accused of murder and threatened with the death penalty. Adams was a patriot, openly and adamantly opposed to British occupation of the colonies, with no love of the British army. He took the case, which he called “one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country,” because in this nation, even before its founding, every accused criminal is entitled to zealous legal defense.

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Ask a classical economist about unemployment, and the answer might surprise you: there is no such thing. In any society, there are always jobs that need doing by someone at some price. Therefore, theoretically, there is no unemployment; there is only an individual’s choice to work or not to work. Ask someone without gainful employment what he thinks of that answer, however, and the response is likely to be unprintable.

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Recently, a Texas judge ordered 16-year-old Ethan Couch to serve 10 years probation and rehabilitation for a drunken driving car crash for that killed four and injured two. An expert witness claimed “affluenza” as the underlying cause: Couch’s doting, wealthy parents infected their son with irresponsibility.

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Each month, we are treated to the release of several surveys of consumer sentiment. The most prominent come from the Conference Board and the University of Michigan. Markets and media treat these numbers as vital metrics about the health of the economy and its forward prospects. Investment funds pay for early access to the data. Negative readings are often treated as indicators that consumers are about to pare back their spending, while better reads are interpreted as positive signs for the weeks and months ahead.

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The biggest challenge of the next century is going to be tackling the complications of man-made climate change. Unfortunately, the U.S. political system is dealing with it in the worst possible way. We’ve decided that what is up for debate is the scientific facts behind climate change, or even the idea of science itself. And it’s left us with an unwinnable argument that doesn’t address the problem.

That scientific debate is over, and has been for a while. A new report from the top scientific organizations in the U.S. and the U.K. makes that abundantly clear.

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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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