TPM Cafe: Opinion

I started watching basketball as a child. As a 12-year-old girl growing up in suburban Arizona, I remember all too well the heated 1993 championship series the Phoenix Suns played against the Chicago Bulls, and the heartbreak I felt as Jon Paxson's 3-point shot led the Bulls to their first three-peat of the '90s. As a college student at the University of Arizona, I fell in love with the Arizona Wildcats and March Madness along with my classmates. The start of each new season still makes me giddy: now living in the Bay Area, watching the rise of the Golden State Warriors is probably my favorite pastime. It's hard not to become swept up in the pace of the game -- particularly the NBA, with all of the cult of personality and showboating and decadence it fosters.

And over these many years of enjoying games with friends and family, I recall one observation being regularly thrown around: the NBA is an "escape" for young black children from poor backgrounds.

Sometimes, this is true. Allen Iverson, who played in the NBA for 15 years (Detroit Pistons, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers) has a story of triumph over economic odds. Bleacher Report wrote in 2008 that, when he was a child, "Iverson's house would sometimes be engulfed in sewage after the sewage line blew under his house. His mother couldn't always work and the family would go without water, heating and lighting for days. When asked what he wanted to do after he left school, Iverson often referred to 'the Plan.' The plan was to make it through high school, go to college and earn a place in the NBA. He stuck to the plan and become one of the best basketball players ever."

But research published in the New York Times recently reveals that Iverson's story is not common at all. In fact, poor children have less of a shot of making it into the NBA -- and many professional sports -- than their wealthier competitors.

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People always ask when Veterans Day rolls around, what it stands for or what it means to me personally.

Is it just a day off of work or an event or family gathering? Is it a parade with floats and fire engines blazing their sirens, clowns on trikes adorning flags, or old men and women waving from classic sports cars and sporting a flat-billed hat with web netting in the back?

This is how I remember it. And of course I remember the candy and music and dancing. As a kid, this is all I knew. I knew that it was a day that those men and women in uniform were like Gods--towering in formations and stepping in unison through the streets of my neighborhood--keeping their own beat with the sounds of their heels striking the pavement.

I knew nothing of the day's meaning or why they were there, but I loved the military because that's what we do--and there was a connection to this significant day.

I remember the parades like they were yesterday--vivid and real. But more clearly now, I remember when Veterans Day became something I would never forget--something more than an event and something that became a part of my entire existence.

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I've been trying to understand Rush Limbaugh's almost pathological hatred of single women. Why would he want to antagonize the 43 million single women in America? We all remember when he called Sandra Fluke a slut, but Thursday morning's rant on the Virginia Governor's race takes the cake.

McAuliffe won a landslide among unmarried Virginians, 62 to 29%. That is huge. And, he was especially big with unmarried women, defeating Cuccinelli 67 to 25%, in unmarried women. Unmarried women are looking at government for everything, and when unmarried women look to government for everything, they find Democrats. ..Basically Obamacare and the entire Democrat agenda basically says to unmarried women, "You are discriminated against, you're treated unfairly, you get taken advantage of, you don't get any relationships. Nobody loves you. You end up having babies that you can't support. The dreaded fathers are never around; they walk out on you. They don't pay their child support; we will. They don't pay your prenatal, your postnatal; we will.

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On Thursday afternoon, the Senate made history when it passed a bill that would ban discrimination against an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It is, perhaps that latter part of the legislation that is most surprising, since as recently as 2007 some Democrats thought including transgender individuals under these protections would amount to its death sentence.

But first, a little context: At the federal level, there are a number of laws that prevent an employer from discriminating against members of certain marginalized groups. For instance, as an employer, you cannot discriminate against someone on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, citizenship, familial status, disability, veteran status, whether or not they are pregnant or may become pregnant in the future or their genetic information.

But those protections don't extend to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. This means that if a man in Arkansas posts a picture on a social media site with his partner, his employer can fire him for no reason other than the presumed knowledge of his sex life outside of work. This means that a future employer can look to this very article to decide whether or not they want to hire me, a transgender woman.

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On Tuesday night, as Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe eked out a win over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race, both the media and reproductive rights organizations heralded his victory as a win for and by women. Exit polls revealed that while 45 percent percent percent of men voted for McAuliffe, 51 percent percent percent of women did, revealing a gender gap of six percentage points. But if we dig deeper, we begin to see a recurring trend within that gender gap and the gender gap of recent presidential elections: it is women of color, particularly black women, who help drive it.

The gender gap in voting patterns is nothing new. It first emerged in 1980, when it was revealed that Ronald Reagan had won the presidency with more votes from men than women. In fact, the Center for American Women in Politics shows that a gender gap has been present in every single election since the presidential election of 1980. Overall, women tend to vote more Democratic, and men tend to vote more Republican. Hence, the gender gap.

Yet, as we all too well know, women are not a monolith, and their voting patterns reflect that.

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On Tuesday, Bill de Blasio won a landslide victory to become the mayor of New York City, voters in New Jersey and SeaTac, Wash. supported minimum wage hikes and the Illinois legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage. These are among the progressive victories that swept across the country.

Despite a few setbacks, progressives had much to cheer about, sensing that the tide is turning against the unholy alliance of big business, the Tea Party and the religious right. Growing protests -- such as the "Moral Monday" movement in North Carolina, militant immigrant rights activism, battles to protect women's health clinics from state budget cuts, local challenges to Wall Street banks that are foreclosing on "underwater" homeowners, strikes by low-wage workers, civil disobedience actions to challenge voter suppression and student campaigns against global energy corporations -- reflect a burgeoning progressive movement that is beginning to have an impact on elections.

By far the most impressive symbol of this rising tide is de Blasio's landslide win, which the New York Times called "a sharp leftward turn for the nation's largest metropolis." De Blasio campaigned on a bold progressive platform, promising to address the city's widening income inequality, gentrification, and hollowing out of the middle class. De Blasio, the city's public advocate, trounced Republican Joe Lhota (a transportation official and long-time advisor to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani) by a 73 to 24 percent margin. His victory represents a rejection of 20 years of business-oriented municipal policies under Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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I waited until the polls closed to say this: It's insulting to have only men running on women's issues.

I live in Virginia. I am a feminist. I am a Democrat. And, I am disgusted.

This is me and my daughter doing a September literature drop in Arlington for the Democratic slate. At the time, she was 15 weeks old:

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Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio has emerged victorious in New York City's mayoral election, and the Michael Bloomberg era will come to an end. In Bloomberg's 12 years in office, his personal fortune increased sevenfold, from $4.5 to $32 billion, while 46 percent of the city's residents now live in or near poverty. If Manhattan were an independent nation, its income inequality would rank with South Africa's and Namibia's.

Bloomberg has a reputation as a "moderate" or even in some circles "liberal," but it would be far more accurate to describe his politics as Mitt Romney with a sex life.

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On Oct. 26, thousands of people from across the U.S. attended the Stop Watching Us rally -- the biggest domestic protest against surveillance to date. The event showed off a diverse grassroots coalition consisting of more than 100 organizations, including the ACLU, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress, Free Press, Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty.

But while the NSA was the rally's official target, many of the speakers discussed events that predate the agency's post-9/11 spying programs. In fact, the mass surveillance of innocent people has been a problem for years.

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It's hard to imagine that Pennsylvania is preparing to become a failed state, but it is. Despite world-class universities, active industries, and a global economic footprint, the Commonwealth has decided to cut funding for students and place its bets on a growing prison population.

It's a shocking turn of affairs for a state that, on its own, would be the 20th largest economy in the world. But one need only look at a recent standoff between Governor Tom Corbett and the School District of Philadelphia to get a sense of how deeply a culture of failure has been ingrained in the state's governance.

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