TPM Cafe: Opinion

In his State of the Union speech last month, President Obama said, “Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.” Remember 1999? It was a year worthy of playing the Prince anthem named after the year on repeat. A gallon of gas was less than a dollar, health care costs were high-but-not-too-high, and we were not yet a banana republic. Prince’s prophetic lyrics warned us that in “two thousand zero zero” the party would be over. And he was right.

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It seems that anti-vaccination advocates are immoveable. As in, they cannot be moved by rational arguments based on evidence. They weren’t moved when Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who authored the discredited paper linking autism to vaccines, lost his license to practice medicine. Retracting that paper, originally published in the Lancet, didn’t move them, either. They clearly are not moved by appeals to the public good. The recent outbreaks of whooping cough and measles don’t seem to be moving the needle much, either, as the New York Times reports that anti-vaxxers are digging in their heels, denying responsibility, and minimizing the dangers of the various diseases they have helped usher back when medical science thought they were nearly over.

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Black History Month has a new Twitter hashtag: #28daysarenotenough. It’s hard to argue with its message: Even among people who are committed to honor African-American history, many find the idea of Black History Month patronizing, even insulting. Setting aside only one month of the year to remember and celebrate these vital American stories and identities? And picking the shortest month to boot?

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One of the few missing ingredients in the film Selma is the centrality of music during the Selma-to-Montgomery, Alabama march. A tiny snippet of field recordings from the march can be heard at the very end of the movie's credits, but otherwise the movie ignores the constant singing that emboldened the marchers during the four-day, 54-mile trek.

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Since the tragic attacks in Paris earlier this month, voices on the right and left have been vigorously debating the issue of Muslims’ assimilation in the West. But this focus on assimilation is at best misleading and at worst disingenuous. What has attracted young men to the global jihad is not necessarily their incomplete assimilation, but rather estrangement from the values and aspirations of mainstream society and ruling elites.

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The judgments were virtually unanimous: The big winner of the first major “winnowing” event of the 2016 Republican presidential contest, the Iowa Freedom Summit, was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. So said National Review’s John Fund, whose early account of the day of speechifying was festooned with Walker’s iconic shirtsleeves-rolled-up image. So said the influential editor-in-chief of the Iowa Republican website, Craig Robinson, who called the speech Walker’s “coming out party.” Some thought the fiery Ted Cruz was a close second, and some thought Ben Carson maintained his base-pleasing rep, and some thought Carly Fiorina did surprisingly well. But for a proto-candidate most often described as having potential “on paper,” it was a pretty big step forward.

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Let’s be honest: The feminist movement is not exactly known for its savvy design. Too many women’s organizations have cliché, homogenous logos and visual identities that reinforce stereotypes and do no favors to momentum-building. There are countless examples of organizations with forgettable icons of pink, leaping, curvaceous women as their brand stamp, and too few with design language that strikes and sticks.

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The last two years of Obama’s presidency will largely be defined by his defense of key legislation: the Affordable Care Act, caps on carbon emissions and Dodd-Frank. While the broad shape of the first two battles is already known, the war on financial regulation, because of its abstract nature, will often be waged outside of the public eye. In his State of the Union Address last week, Obama said he plans to veto future provisions that would unravel his regulations of Wall Street. These words are welcome, though not as strong as Elizabeth Warren’s call to go on the offensive against the bank lobby. If Obama sticks to his promise, he’ll have a lot of fighting to do, because Republicans are itching to repeal his most important financial reform legislation.

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Woody Allen's critics see his continued achievements as an affront. The chorus calling for his banishment from social influence has grown louder since last year, when Dylan Farrow wrote publicly about her sexual abuse allegations just as Allen received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes. From the right, such criticism is to be expected as he has been mocking their mores and heroes on stage, page and screen for five decades. His well-intentioned critics on the left, however, are ignoring his decades of contributions to progressive thinking in the United States.

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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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