TPM Cafe: Opinion

The news from Beijing this week that the U.S. and China are committing to ambitious goals on climate change is, we think, monumental. No two countries are more important to tackling the problem than the largest carbon emitter over the past two centuries, the U.S., and the largest current emitter, China. While many observers are focusing on the ramifications of the announcement for upcoming international negotiations, we believe that the announcement also has potentially profound domestic effects for both countries.

For the U.S., the announcement could have significant implications, both legal and political, for the centerpiece of President Obama’s climate policy, proposed rules for electric power plants. For China, the announcement is a signal that economic transformation remains the long-term goal. Both countries will need to overcome significant domestic resistance to achieve their stated goals but in our view the joint announcement strengthens the hands of both the U.S. and Chinese Presidents.

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JUGGLING THE EUROPEAN CRISIS, battling with Congress to arm the Allies, and conducting his “softly, softly” campaign for a third term took a tremendous toll on the fifty-eight-year-old Franklin D. Roosevelt’s health. In February 1940, his devoted assistant Missy LeHand and William Bullitt believed he suffered a minor heart attack over dinner in the White House, which he shrugged off as indigestion. Instead of slowing down, he quickened his pace.

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When patients are harmed by medical care, the traditional response of health systems is to “deny and defend.”

Hospitals deny they are responsible for the harm, and when pressed, they defend their providers’ conduct throughout a protracted and arduous legal process. According to a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, hospital administrators say that this approach minimizes their liability.

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What do Airbus Group, the American Health Care Association (a lobby group for hospitals and nursing homes), Amgen, Eli Lilly, and GalaxoSmithKline (drug companies), the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce, Caesars Entertainment (a gambling casino outfit), the Canadian National Railway, Caterpillar (the farm equipment manufacturer), Chevron (the oil giant and America’s third largest corporation), Consumer Electronics Association (an industry lobby), JetBlue Airways, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (a union), PhRMA (the drug industry lobby), Raytheon (the giant defense contractor), the Republic of India, the State of Kazakhstan, Toyota, the University of Mississippi, the University of Florida, Xerox Corporation, the cities of Waukesha, Wisconsin, Johnsburg, Illinois, and Winter Park, Florida, and DuPage County, Illinois, have in common?

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On Election Day, the pro-choice Democratic women’s fundraising group Emily’s List went on twitter, proclaiming #womendecide. But women did not decide 2014. While women comprise 53 percent of registered voters, vast numbers of women — particularly poor women, young women, and women of color — stayed home. These no shows happened despite the Democrats’ vaunted 50 million dollar Bannock Street Project to turnout voters.

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The progressive philosopher and pedagogue John Dewey famously saw schools as key conduits for driving social change. That is, he thought that “social reorganization” depended upon “educational reconstruction.” For Dewey — like Plato, Rousseau, and countless others — education was a key factor in pursuing broad social, cultural, and political ends. It’s a relatively simple claim: control the schoolhouse and you control the future. To some degree, education determines our politics. Hence the hullabaloo about what we teach in schools: whether we promote religious theories of creation in science classes, and so forth.

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The midterm elections are over and now we are looking at a political landscape where voters have shown that for the moment they prefer conservatives in office, but at the same time want progressive policies enacted in their states. Ballot initiatives such as raising the minimum wage, implementing paid sick leave and extended background checks for gun owners all passed when put up for a popular vote.

Even when it came to abortion rights in a hostile midterm, statewide votes were more often successful than not. Two state votes on “personhood” amendments, which would have had the ability to potentially ban all abortions and even some forms of birth control, failed to pass in North Dakota and Colorado, each with two to 1 margins.. [A more limited anti-abortion measure in Tennessee managed to win, with yes votes outnumbering no votes 53 percent to 47. Out of a total of 3.5 million votes cast on anti-abortion ballot measures across three states this election, over 2 million voters rejected these amendments

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My grandfather Karl escaped from Nazi occupied Vienna in the fall of 1938. By 1940, everyone he had ever known in that city was either on the run from, or scrambling to leave, Europe. I found a collection of letters that documented that desperation. Among them, there were dozens of missives from his lover, Valerie – Valy – Scheftel. Of all his friends, no one was more intense in her efforts to escape. By 1940 she, too, was on the run – but she had run deeper into the Reich, rather than out. She moved to Berlin sometime in the winter of 1938/1939 and in this series of letters I found, excerpted here, I discovered that even those around her in the heart of Hitler’s Germany were lobbying my grandfather to help her. But as you will see from primary documents unearthed at the University of Minnesota’s Immigration Research Center archives, my grandfather was in no monetary position to help anyone.

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The 2014 midterm elections were about as thorough a victory for Republicans as might have reasonably been anticipated. Much of it, however, was baked into the cake by an insanely fortunate Senate landscape and turnout patterns that are increasingly dividing elections into midterms dominated by Republicans and presidential elections dominated by Democrats. But while Republican Senate and gubernatorial midterm victories in red states aren’t that great and accomplishment, the GOP also won Senate seats in two states carried by Obama in 2012 and another the president carried in 2008. And although some of the surprisingly strong Republican gubernatorial performances involve single-state quirks, they so exceeded expectations that some other explanation is called for.

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