TPM Cafe: Opinion

Senator Rand Paul came out of the gates swinging this week, and one of his biggest swipes was at foreign aid, development and diplomacy funding. While his stated reason of cost doesn’t pass the sniff test—foreign aid costs about what Americans spent on $1 smartphone apps last year—that isn’t the worst thing about Paul’s plan. The real problem is that Rand Paul’s national security policy is a mismatch both for the world we live in and public opinion about what America’s role should be.

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Michael Thomas Slager did everything by the book. The South Carolina police officer’s only mistake was being filmed. But his approach in killing Walter Scott, seeming to plant evidence, and initiating a cover-up was a classic scenario of how cops get away with murder. Given what we know about police shootings, it wouldn't surprise me if Slager was coached after he shot and killed Walter Scott. But judging by his dispatch call following the shooting, he was already pretty skilled at using the system to his advantage.

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Another white police officer has shot and killed yet another black person—this time it’s Walter Scott, who was killed by now-former officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina. As the body count of black lives and level of trauma inflicted on the black community continue to climb, we are confronted with a critical question: Why do the police keep shooting and killing unarmed black men and women?

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Maybe Jeb Bush really did just check the wrong box on his 2009 Florida voter registration form when he self-identified as “Hispanic.” There’d be some serious cosmic irony in a Bush brother being penalized for Florida electoral confusion, after all, and the universe does occasionally have a sense of humor. But Bush would certainly have motives for purposefully self-identifying in that way, from the personal (he is married to the Mexican-born Columba Gallo) to the political (his sustained efforts to appeal to Hispanic voters). And if he did choose to define himself as Hispanic, American culture and history include contexts that both support and complicate that choice.

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Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama have just succeeded where so many have failed (or not even attempted to try). Last week’s announcement of a framework for an agreement between the world’s major powers and Iran on the latter’s nuclear program was, according to President Obama, “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”—and a major win for American diplomacy.

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After months of anticipation, Rolling Stone has finally released a critical examination, performed by a team assembled at the Columbia School of Journalism, on all the journalistic failures regarding a December story on the problem of rape on campus at the University of Virginia. While the original story, “A Rape On Campus” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, reported on multiple rapes on campus, the centerpiece of her story, an alleged gang rape of a girl named “Jackie” at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, came under special scrutiny.

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Christmas came early in my house last month when Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced he was running for president. The GOP presidential primaries are my favorite TV show, and I’ve been waiting so long for the 2016 season.

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