TPM Cafe: Opinion

Gov. Rick Perry’s political action committee, RickPAC, grabbed headlines this week by hiring Jamie Johnson as senior director. It’s a surprising choice, because Johnson is a sexist. Not the usual kind that swears up and down he’s not a sexist while talking down to women or minimizing the impact of sexism, either. Johnson, who previously worked for Iowa Right to Life and the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, is bluntly sexist. In 2012, an email Johnson wrote surfaced in which he wrote, “The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will…to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?’”

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If Obamacare survives its current Supreme Court challenge, it will really be the cat with nine lives.

The death of what became the Affordable Care Act has been predicted regularly ever since President Obama’s election in 2008. Right after Obama’s election, I got a wave of calls from reporters, each highly skeptical that the President-elect would really try to get health care passed. When you consider the relentless attacks and near-death experiences ever since, the reporters’ skepticism was understandable.

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This week, President Obama discussed some of the most pressing global matters of our time: ISIS, climate change, nuclear deals, and...weed. As in, he begrudgingly discussed the potential federal legalization of marijuana. I say begrudgingly, because the president made it clear that he thinks young people these days have misplaced their priorities. Instead of thinking about marijuana, they should be thinking about things like climate change.

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The killer of Boris Nemtsov has confessed, signing a written statement that “confirms” his participation in the shooting of the prominent reformist and opponent of Vladimir Putin. The case might be closed in Putin’s Russia. But at home and around the world, it shouldn’t be. Which is why proponents of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act pending in Congress should take note and seize the moment to pass it.

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Research has long shown that empathy stems from two different factors. One is emotional, meaning empathy is triggered by your baggage, your family experience, what you bring to the table. The other is cognitive, which is your perspective, and, say, how interested you might be in hearing another person’s side of the story. Empathy is also different than sympathy; the former is sharing someone’s feelings because you understand that feeling, explains Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, in this amazing video. Sympathy is about feeling sadness for someone’s problems, but it doesn’t connect you to that person.

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In this space a couple of weeks ago I made the argument that partisan and ideological gridlock was feeding on itself by creating an insatiable craving for the occasional Big Election with big consequences. What didn’t fully occur to me is that the next Big Election might be the one just ahead, in 2016.

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“I reject that completely because we can’t leave this to someone else.”

That was Howard Schultz’s response to internal naysayers of Starbucks’ #RaceTogether initiative as he unrolled a plan for Starbucks’ “191,000 employees to talk about race relations with customers.” Using material written by Starbucks and USA TODAY, Starbucks stores plan to have supplementary reading material including race “conversation starters,” asking customers about how many times they broke bread with a member of a different race in the last year.

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A great deal has already been said and written about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address during her time as Secretary of State, and I’m sure there will be more such conversation over the 19 months leading up to the 2016 election. But little has been made of what I consider one of the more significant stories in response to this controversy/scandal/tempest in a teapot: Colin Powell’s statement that he also used a private email address during his time as Secretary of State, and that many of the messages he sent in that role have thus likely been lost.

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I made my son cry last week.

I made my brilliant, beautiful, cheerful, three-year-old son cry because he was goofing around instead of napping. I snapped at him. I took the book away. I lay on the bedroom floor and intoned flat litanies about how much we both needed to sleep. And he bawled.

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A growing contingent of privileged, white guys—the kinds that wear suits and have MBAs—has been standing on various high-profile soapboxes and arguing that gender and racial equality are good for business. You would think that I, a feminist and a pragmatist, would be thrilled to see arguments about the benefits of diversity popping up in the most unlikely of places, out of the most unlikely of mouths. But such discussions are intrinsically flawed.

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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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