TPM Cafe: Opinion

When we first met, at the start of 2014, Donald Trump was already quite sure he would seek the presidency of the United States. He offered two reasons. First was his antipathy toward President Obama, whom he had spent years trying to delegitimize with absurd questions about his citizenship. (“There’s so much about him that’s a lie,” Trump later told me.) Second was his confidence in the encouragement he received from social media. He noted that every day he heard from Twitter followers who were encouraging him to run and this support represented, in his mind, the pulse of the people.

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When most people think of the great civil right achievements of the 1960s, two famous laws come to mind: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But there was a third great civil rights law that is far too often forgotten—and could not be more relevant to today’s presidential debate.

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Late this afternoon, on the eve of a storm that is set to bring high tides and heavy winds to the New Jersey coastline, Gov. Chris Christie announced the sudden dismissal of the head of his transportation cabinet agency.

Jamie Fox, a veteran Democratic powerbroker, was chosen by Christie to lead the state’s Department of Transportation in late 2014. It was a surprising appointment at the time, and interpreted as a way for Christie to deploy Fox’s considerable political capital in the state legislature, which is led by the same Democrats who sanctioned the Bridgegate investigation.

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Today Arne Duncan announced that he’s stepping down as U.S. Secretary of Education in December of this year. His replacement, John E. King, better have more game than Duncan displayed in pick-up basketball with the president. King has to help Democrats get elected into office in the 2016 elections.

But can King make education reform more progressive during the ten months that he has the position?

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Tzipi Hotovely might not be a great diplomat, but her blunt communication style can be a great help in clarifying matters. This was certainly the case with her interview with the Times of Israel, which was published on September 27. In it, Hotovely, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, openly declares that Israel has no intention of handing any of the West Bank over to Palestinian control.

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Here’s a newsflash for liberals who first swooned over Pope Francis’s U.S. visit, only to be stunned and dismayed by reports that he had met with Kim Davis at the Vatican Embassy before departing Washington on Thursday. Francis’s statements and gestures of inclusiveness for immigrants and the homeless, his exhortations to save the environment and address income inequality, his kisses and blessings to disabled children, and his meeting with Davis are all consistent with his role as head of the Catholic Church.

In other words, to use an old cliché, the Pope is still Catholic.

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One of the unifying moments at the last GOP debate was when the candidates agreed that in America, people should speak English, to raucous applause. It came on the heels of Bobby Jindal's declarations in the first debate that "immigration without assimilation is invasion." The Republican candidates were were echoing a sentiment that Americans are largely getting behind, one that reflects the immigration panic increasingly prevalent in America.

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Anti-Muslim sentiments and paranoid fears about sharia law are still taking center stage in our political and social debates. GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s concerns about the possibility of a Muslim gaining the presidency and his insistence that such a candidate would need to “renounce Islam” before taking office are, nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas writes, “caution, not bigotry.” The mayor of Irving, Texas—home to 14-year-old engineer Ahmed Mohamed—argues that her anti-sharia and anti-Muslim sentiments are “exactly what the American public is thinking.” And judging by stories such as this one, describing fears of a Muslim takeover of South Carolina in response to the idea of Syrian refugees coming to the U.S., there are indeed many Americans who share these concerns.

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To hear the conventional wisdom in Washington, John Boehner’s surprise resignation announcement last week represented a sort of 21st century secular passion play. The noble Ohioan, we are told, sacrificed his career at the peak of his powers to save his party from self-destructive conflict, and his country from a government shutdown. And indeed, the riches showered on us all by Boehner’s atonement for our sins might well include such Beltway prizes as the salvation of Eximbank, or yea, even a Highway Bill!

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Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) is running as the alternative to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House. He also has a decades-long affiliation with the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the controversial ministry whose founder, Bill Gothard, resigned last year after more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment. As TPM reported earlier this month, IBLP subjected young followers to victim-blaming “counseling” for rape, as well as grueling work schedules at its facilities for little or no pay, requiring women to engage in gendered tasks that included scrubbing carpets on their hands and knees.

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