TPM Cafe: Opinion

“Macabre” seems somehow inadequate to describe what’s been going on in Texas. “Horrifying,” “insulting,” and “beyond Kafkaesque” also fall short.

For the past seven weeks, a hospital in Fort Worth has refused to take a brain-dead woman off of the machines that are keeping her body alive. This is despite the fact that keeping Marlise Munoz on life support violates the wishes of her husband, parents and Munoz herself. The hospital is continuing these measures because Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant at the time that she collapsed in her home from what is thought to be a blood clot in her lungs.

Read More →

Just six decades ago, American higher education was almost exclusively reserved for upper class women. Today, middle class and low-income students can go to college, although keeping college affordable is a major challenge. But women have made major inroads. During the academic year 2012-13, women constituted a remarkable 57 percent of all U.S. college students. If we are going to keep college affordable to everyone, we need to understand how we got here. Federal government policies and programs led the way in creating these huge changes in access to college.

Read More →

Extended unemployment insurance (UI) lapsed at the end of 2013, despite an unemployment rate that seems to be going down more because of labor market dropouts than an actual increase in the number of jobs. The best option would have been to extend unemployment insurance as part of the budget deal that averted another shutdown; now, Congress is left to try and figure out a way to pass a stand-alone extension. It hasn’t gone well so far.

Senate Democrats’ attempts to pass an extension of UI benefits for the long-term unemployed crashed into a Republican filibuster. Across the building in the Republican-controlled House, there doesn’t even seem to be a cursory effort to extend UI.

Read More →

This month we celebrate two important anniversaries: On Jan. 8, our country observed the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty and today we celebrate the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States. However, this month also saw the first hearing of the year by a subcommittee of the House of Representatives on a bill called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” At first glance, these events may seem entirely unrelated, but they are actually intimately intertwined.

They are connected in the lives of women like Erica,* a young woman in Pennsylvania who found herself pregnant with few resources. Already the mother of a preschool-aged child, she had been dis-enrolled from welfare when she could not get to a work training session because of a public transportation strike. While trying to get re-enrolled, she was evicted from her apartment because she couldn’t afford to pay rent. Although she received health insurance through Medicaid, that program excludes coverage for abortion care in all but the most limited circumstances. Lacking money to pay for an abortion, she told a counselor, “I’m thinking of ways I can fall or what I can do to end this pregnancy [myself].”

Read More →

Politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives have already made it clear that—once again—one of their top priorities for the new year will be to continue their relentless assault on women’s health and rights.

In one of its first acts of 2014, the House Judiciary Committee considered H.R. 7, the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” the true purpose of which is to deny insurance coverage of abortion care to women across the United States — and the effect of which would be felt disproportionately by women hit hardest by difficult economic circumstances.

Read More →

It’s often instructive when serious political analysts — those not engaged in spin, or airy generalizations, or in the snail’s-eye search for “game change” events — have a serious difference of opinion. That’s how I’d characterize political scientist John Sides’ critique of his Washington Post colleague Dan Balz’s assessment of the positioning of the two major parties going into the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Read More →

While a Super Bowl winner will soon be crowned, a shadow of a controversial settlement will hang over this match-up. Last week federal judge Anita Brody denied the preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement between the National Football League (NFL) and nearly 4,500 former players over concussion claims. Brody's denial while certainly about sufficiency of evidence, her primary concern was to ensure that players were compensated now and in the long term.

This is a story about science, sports, corporations and power. This is a lawsuit about money, accountability and risk -- ultimately matters that will impact the future of the NFL. Missing is the recognition that crucial to unearthing the nature and extent of the concussion cover-up in football was women: a female doctor armed with science, wives of the players and a female judge on the bench.

Read More →

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, millions of Americans will celebrate Dr. King’s unwavering commitment to the philosophy of nonviolence in pursuit of social justice. This year, however, we should also recall one of King’s most penetrating political insights: when it comes to protecting voting rights, there is no substitute for congressional action.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, large numbers of African Americans across the American South tried to register to vote, only to by turned back by militant opposition and an ever-shifting barricade of bureaucratic obstacles. Civil rights activists repeatedly challenged discriminatory voting laws and practices in the federal courts. But this approach was extremely inefficient: every time civil rights activists won a legal victory, recalcitrant state and local governments simply adopted new discriminatory measures.

Read More →

On MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornacki” this morning, Hoboken, N.J. mayor Dawn Zimmer offered an extraordinary account of her dealings with the administration of Governor Chris Christie concerning federal Hurricane Sandy relief aid. She described an effort by top state officials – the lieutenant governor and a cabinet member – to coerce Hoboken’s city government into fast-tracking approval of a proposed redevelopment project by withholding Sandy aid from the government and residents of her city. That project, she says she was told, was “very important to the governor.” And if she worked to get it approved, “the money would start flowing to you.”

It just so happens that the proposed project in question is situated on three blocks of land owned by the Rockefeller Group, a client of the law firm of Wolff & Samson. That firm was founded by Christie confidante David Samson, a former state attorney general who Christie tapped to head his transition team in 2009. In 2011 the governor appointed Samson to become the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he remains today.

Read More →

Teen pregnancy rates have been steadily declining in the United States within the last 40 years, but a new study argues that in recent years, that decline has become more rapid due to a surprising source: MTV. The National Bureau of Economic Research study argues that MTV reality shows "16 and Pregnant" and its spin-offs programs have reduced the teen pregnancy rate by 5.7 percent. But while these shows may have contributed to a decline in teen pregnancy rates, they also fit a larger trend in teen pregnancy prevention of using teen mothers as objects of shame.

The study found that "16 and Pregnant" and its spin-offs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers since 2010. It also found that after being introduced to "16 and Pregnant," teens and young women searched and tweeted about birth control and abortion. Obviously, this is encouraging. Women are seeking out information on reproductive health care, and in a climate where access to that information and care from traditional sources like school-sponsored sex ed programs is increasingly hard to come by, it is promising that a show may be inspiring teens and women to inform themselves by going online.

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