TPM Cafe: Opinion

The nation's attention has been focused on the recent riots in Baltimore, but the harsh truth is that they could have happened in any major city. Indeed, we could see a long hot summer of urban (and, as in places like Ferguson, Missouri, suburban) riots that would make the two-day disturbances in Baltimore seem trivial in comparison.

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In an era when our wars seem too often fought far away, literally and figuratively, from the majority of Americans’ lives, Memorial Day serves a vital purpose: providing cultural space for those who have lost loved ones in war. It offers us images and commemorations of fallen soldiers—a communal chance to remember and honor the lost.

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In a speech delivered to the Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, President Obama displayed a dramatic shift in rhetoric on an issue he has defined as one of the biggest of our era: climate change. Recognizing that many Americans remain skeptical of the environmental impacts of global warming, he instead argued for action on the grounds of national security.

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Recently released records show that Cleveland Police would have wanted to charge 12-year-old Tamir Rice with inducing panic and being an “aggravated menace.” He was shot and killed by an officer in less than two seconds while playing in the park with a toy gun. This development is juxtaposed with the news that a violent biker gang in Waco, Texas shot up a restaurant parking lot. Nine biker gang members were killed. Police arrested 170 gang members, and confiscated countless weapons. Apparently those 170 weren’t an aggravated menace worthy of immediate death.

Tamir Rice was an African American, while the biker gangs were not.

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On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14 to 1 to adopt a citywide minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2020. The next day, marching behind a giant banner that read, "McDonald's: $15 and Union Rights, Not Food Stamps," 5,000 cooks and cashiers show up at the company's corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, to kick off the largest-ever protest to hit the burger giant's annual shareholder meeting.

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In recent weeks, the debate about holding colleges accountable has focused on schools’ responsibilities toward failing students, continuously rising tuition, and increasing student debt. What’s been overlooked is the role of colleges as a potential force for good within their more immediate communities. Indeed, one of the most profound ways a university can improve the holistic experience of its students is to invest more in the surrounding community.

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It would be a huge mistake for Democrats to dismiss the newfound economic populism of Republican presidential candidates as obviously laughable, given Republicans’ deep alliance with corporate America. Republicans are aiming to pull off a populist jiu jitsu, using anger at corporate influence over government to justify even more dismantling of government. It could work.

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I met Cormac in France. I’m from Oklahoma and before him I had no ties to Ireland. Now I average about three yearly trips. Every January, after spending Christmas with his family, Cormac says we won’t go back for another year. But he knows he’s defying destiny. There are birthdays, family vacations, funerals, anniversaries and weddings. This summer we have another wedding—his cousin’s. She’s marrying a man so the referendum on gay marriage in Ireland this Friday won’t have an effect on their plans. But if the “no” side wins, I’m not sure how we’re going feel at the ceremony. I know it’s a selfish thought. The event isn’t about us. It’s their day, not ours.

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The size of the likely 2016 GOP presidential field has become the dominant story in the Invisible Primary so far. Comparisons to “clown cars” have become inevitable, even among people who don’t think of Republican presidential candidates as “clowns.” Party professionals are expressing serious concerns about fitting them—or even a portion of them—on a debate stage. And talk of that pundit’s hot fudge sundae, the Brokered Convention, has begun earlier than I can ever remember.

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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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