TPM Cafe: Opinion

As the New Year dawns, both major American political parties have grounds for optimism. Republicans obviously have an opportunity in 2016 to win a “trifecta,” controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House. Their House control is probably invincible until the next round of redistricting; they won just enough Senate seats to give them a good chance to survive a terrible 2016 Senate landscape; and at least some political scientists and pundits would put a thumb on the scale for Republicans in being able to succeed a less-than-heavily-popular two-term Democratic president.

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It's been more than a week since Ismaayl Brinsley, a deranged man with a long criminal record, murdered two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, in cold blood, but so far we haven’t heard a word from the National Rifle Association.

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With Olivia and Fitz on Scandal, and Annalise and Sam on How To Get Away With Murder, it has been noted that there’s a mainstream pop culture revolution happening in the representation of white men in relationships with black women.

Has post-racial dating finally trickled down to black women? Are younger people less hung-up on race and more accepting of interracial couples in media? Has powerhouse Shonda Rhimes singlehandedly flipped the script on the natural superiority of white women?

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Recently encountering anti-choice protestors at a holiday party has made me think more about the role of protestors in general. After all, the activities of people who protest outside abortion clinics have been in the news a lot this year, from a Supreme Court decision that struck down Massachusetts clinic buffer zones this summer to a recent video showing a pregnant woman confronting anti-choice protestors outside of a London clinic.

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In 1964, at the height of the civil rights movement, the organizer Ella Baker said: "Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest." Bernice Johnson Reagon later wrote “Ella's Song" based on those words, made famous by the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.

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In 2014, TPM's readers loved takes on everything from sexism on Fox News and rape in New Orleans, to illegal immigration and being the daughter of Cuban exiles, to interracial couples and black people (not) camping. We published open letters, tackled American myths, illuminated political flareups, and more. Below are the best pieces at TPMCafe—and a few from our new features section—in 2014:

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For both alarmed non-Christians and embarrassed moderate-to-progressive Christians, there were promising signs in 2014 that conservative Christian paranoia and determination to wage spiritual battles against “liberal secular culture” might finally be abating. Pope Francis has led the way in encouraging believers to look inward with self-criticism instead of outward with self-righteousness in encountering the world. As unlikely a voice as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore has lashed his co-religionists for aligning with political reactionaries in denying the need for racial progress. And even Bill O’Reilly appears to have declared victory in his annual Christian self-pity party, the War on Christmas, which implicitly compares the faithful to the persecuted saints and martyrs of the ages for having to suffer the torment of “Happy Holidays” greetings.

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It was entirely predictable that those in the “police can do no wrong” camp would blame the tragic murder of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, at the hands of Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, on the recent protests against police violence. But it was just as predictable that other, more clever rightwing sorts would use liberals denying that linkage as cover to excuse any and all rightwing terrorism, past or present, by blurring the distinctions between what Brinsley did and what other, more clearly ideological killers do.

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Ferguson with American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten last week, after participating in protests in DC the preceding weekend. He was the first member of Obama's cabinet to come since Eric Holder visited in August. "The division between young people and the police is huge," he said. “The division along race in this community is huge. The division along educational opportunity being based on where you live, your zip code, is huge. The inequities are huge.”

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The critics of President Obama’s actions on Cuba are trying to fit a decades-old problem into a post-9/11 “Axis of Evil” mindset. But while conservatives are condemning Obama for “coddling dictators” (just as they once attacked him for “palling around with terrorists”), their attack requires forgetting a huge amount of history. Here is what you need to know—and what they have forgotten.

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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

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