TPM Cafe: Opinion

I really don't want to have to write this. I don't want to say that The Daily Show "needs to," "has to," "would be wise to, "must," "will hopefully" hire a female comedian to replace the irreplaceable Jon Stewart.

I'm not reluctant because I don't want a female host. I know that the argument that women just aren't as funny as men is absurd. As a female comedian, I get to spend time with lots of funny and smart ladies and I am confident that The Daily Show could find a hilarious woman to host the show. But I wish I didn't have to urge them to.

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At the latest National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama made some comments that, despite being objectively true, nonetheless kicked off the latest round of outrage-mongering on the right. Faith, he said, can inspire “people to lift up one another,” but it can also be “used as a weapon.” He also said this tendency is not unique to any faith, but happens across the board, citing many examples of Christians using their religion to perpetuate evils like slavery, the Crusades and Jim Crow.

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On March 4, the Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in the latest legal attack on the Affordable Care Act in a case dubbed King v. Burwell. The plaintiffs are advancing an argument against federal subsidies for health insurance that is almost comical in its bad faith, but even if the justices eventually decide not to sign off on pretzel logic, the fact that King got this far in the first place should cause us all to worry. This case represents the final dissolution of the once-formidable wall between serious conservatives and the mouth-breathers who worry that fluoride is a mind control agent created by communists.

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Most of the public controversy over the president’s remarks at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast involved his reminder that Muslims were not alone in harboring “sinful tendenc[ies] that can pervert and distort our faith.” By invoking the Crusades and the Inquisition as examples of violent and intolerant Christian iniquity, Obama provoked a few conservatives into actual defenses of these phenomena, including some that sought to reinforce the idea of an irrepressible conflict between Christianity and Islam. There’s little question the president was in part motivated by a desire to respond to almost constant conservative complaints about his unwillingness to identify terrorism with Islam.

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When Islamic extremists attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Kosher supermarket in east Paris, killing 17 people, the global response was instantaneous. More than 40 heads of state joined in a solidarity march in Paris. Memorials with millions of participants took place across the globe from Sydney to New York. The phrase “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) trended on Twitter and Facebook. President Obama even took the unusual step of visiting the French Embassy to pay his respects.

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The Supreme Court has now established that it isn't sex discrimination to fire a woman because of breastfeeding, in part because men can lactate, too. Critics have met the ruling with disbelief, indignation and dismay.

I disagree. I think it's great news. Finally, we have federal legal recognition that men can take part in this fundamental part of newborn care. At times the present Supreme Court has seemed retrograde and unconcerned with reproductive rights (Hobby Lobby, anyone?), but in this case the Justices have forged ahead, outpacing even biology and culture. I haven't seen too many men in lactation classes (maybe they're such naturals, they don't need the classes) or publicly chestfeeding their kids, and the Daily Mail ran a story about the now sadly defunct "Project Breastfeeding"'s campaign to get more dads involved. Their slogan was "If I could, I would"— and now you can!

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According to a report published last night in the Bergen (NJ) Record, federal investigators working for the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey in January subpoenaed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for records relating to the personal travel of its former chairman, David Samson. Included in the report, written by the indefatigable Shawn Boburg, were details surrounding a now-cancelled nonstop flight route that United Airlines briefly ran between Newark Liberty Airport and Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina, less than an hour from Aiken, South Carolina, where Samson has owned a home since 2006. United ran that flight for nineteen months before canceling the route on April 1, 2014, three days after Samson resigned from his position as the head of the bi-state agency with an annual budget of just under $8 billion. According to an insider, Samson referred to the briefly-lived and lightly-used Newark-Columbia route as “the chairman’s flight.”

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A long time ago, Harry Truman successfully desegregated the Armed Forces. And recently we lifted the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on gays and lesbians in the military to a collective yawn. Now is the time to finally let women do any job in the military. This means giving women the right to compete for any job in the Armed Services, and it’s a benchmark for progress that Defense Secretary nominee Ash Carter clearly endorsed in his confirmation hearing this week.

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In his State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled a number of proposals he grouped under the heading of "middle-class economics." These included things like raising the minimum wage and expanding the child care tax credit. Fair enough: We need new ideas for supporting working American families, since our child poverty rates remain among the highest in the developed world. One in four American kids is growing up poor in the United States. More than half of our children come from low-income families.

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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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