TPM Cafe: Opinion

Like most progressives I tend to believe, in the words of playwright Tony Kushner that “the world only spins forward.” But two books I am reading, side by side, have had the combined effect of making me re-think that notion. It is just possible that the United States is spinning backward and that a change in course — while possible — is certainly not inevitable.

The two books are The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right by Thomas Frank.

Read More →

The deficiencies of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of national health have long been recognized. The responses, however, haven’t really gotten to the nub of the problem.

Yes, GDP only measure how much stuff a nation makes and consumes; yes, how that is defined changes over time; and yes, the production and consumption of stuff can be a great good, but it can also be a great problem. GDP goes up after natural disasters because of the rebuilding, but hurricanes, tornados, droughts and earthquakes are hardly a healthy recipe for economic growth.

Read More →

In 1972, at the young age of sixteen, Jigme Singye Wangchuck became the fourth king of the mountain country of Bhutan. Nestled in the high Himalayas, Bhutan is a landlocked country about the size of Switzerland (or a bit larger than Maryland). It sits north of India, south of China, and on the way to nowhere.

The British left India in 1947, but two centuries of their rule still marked the region, and the once and future king had been sent away to English schools in Darjeeling, India, and then in London. He came back to Bhutan as a teen to learn about his future kingdom, which at the time had fewer than a half million people. Most lived in remote fertile valleys in the south. In the vertiginous and steep mountains of the north, the few inhabitants tended herds of sheep and yak. Isolated geographically and culturally—television was banned until 1999—Bhutan was an unlikely venue for a bold experiment.

Read More →

In the annals of corruption in America, 2014 is off to an explosive start. Federal officials are investigating whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) used Hurricane Sandy relief funds to produce tourism ads starring his family while the Hoboken mayor accused him of threatening to withhold disaster relief money from her city. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been convicted by a federal jury of accepting bribes to rebuild a city reeling from Hurricane Katrina. While these scandals in cities historically rife with backroom deals might shrink in comparison to the global spectacle of the Olympic games, they all pose a unique 21st century challenge. They are examples of corruption in response to extreme weather, and such instances are piling up.

Read More →

The events in Ukraine have grabbed international attention but have usually been explained by recent history. With the deposition of Ukraine’s President Victor Yanukovich, and reports of people from eastern Ukraine waving Soviet, or, as it is happening in Crimea, Russian flags, while western Ukrainians clamor for Ukraine to ally itself with the European Union, it is worth taking a look at the recent events, which led to dramatic violence, in a longer historical perspective.

Read More →

With her first major film role and already-earned legendary spot on the fashion scene, Lupita Nyong’o — best known for her phenomenal performance as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave — has marked her presence in Hollywood. From her endearing award acceptance speeches to her delightful interviews, Nyong’o has proven she can handle stardom with aplomb, but we’ve seen the story of a rising black actress before, only to not hear much of her ever again. Will Hollywood avoid its biases and allow her to continue to shine?

Read More →

Last week thousands of emails from Scott Walker and his staff were released as the result of one of two lengthy investigations into Walker's political operation. We’ve learned a lot about how his team does business, but so far there’s no smoking gun proving Walker was directly involved in misconduct.

The investigation into Walker’s closest advisors isn’t getting the attention that’s going to Chris Christie’s controversies, and it isn’t as easy to understand as the grubby corruption surrounding former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Indeed, even though Walker’s talking like a guy who really wants this to go away, the Beltway press seems happy to oblige.

Read More →

Following the devastating trend of eroding abortion rights over the last three years, Alabama lawmakers have decided to begin 2014 with an egregious and draconian bang. On Tuesday, a committee in the Alabama House of Representatives advanced four separate anti-abortion bills — one of which aims to essentially end safe and legal abortion in the state altogether.

Read More →
Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com
Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

TPMLivewire