TPM Cafe: Opinion

Eleven years ago today, the U.S. began a military action in Iraq – one that cost thousands of lives, American and Iraqi, and left us mired in a decade-long occupation.

There were a lot of reasons given, in those weeks leading up to the invasion, for why we had to send troops and treasure into Iraq. Over time, those reasons eroded away, as the intelligence behind the case for war proved false and we weren't greeted with rose petals. That leaves behind the saddest and most accurate explanation for why we actually did: because we had to be “tough.”

Read More →

This is part of TPM Cafe Book Club for Jake Rosenfeld's What Unions No Longer Do.

We hear a lot about “saving the labor movement” these days. If not because some state government or perhaps the Supreme Court is poised to dismantle yet another legal protection for labor unions in general or some specific set of unionized workers in particular, we're talking about some possible victory for workers and whether that win will revive the entire movement.

Read More →

Unions have long been active in politics, and unions’ political influence once extended to both political parties. When labor was strong, even during periods of Republican ascendancy, elected officials could not afford to disregard union leaders’ advice when devising policy.

Take the case of W. J. Usery Jr. (pictured, center) Usery was a longtime labor activist who got his start as a cofounder of a local branch of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in Georgia. For years he rose through the ranks of the IAM before President Richard Nixon nominated him to be assistant secretary of labor in 1969. While Nixon was no great supporter of the labor movement (and that’s our understatement of the day), he understood that labor’s assistance was essential for his legislative program. As he put it, “No program works without Labor cooperation.”

President Ford followed Nixon’s precedent, promoting Usery to secretary of labor in 1976. It would be as if a President Paul Ryan decided to tap Randi Weingarten – current head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – to be the Secretary of Education.

Read More →

This is part of TPM Cafe Book Club for Jake Rosenfeld's What Unions No Longer Do. Rosenfeld's latest contribution to this here book club is especially timely. For the past few weeks, the liberal commentariat has been having one of its perennial debates over whether the labor movement is dying and, if so, whether we should mourn its passing. This particular iteration of the old back-and-forth was kicked off by Bloomberg View columnist Evan Soltas, who argued that American unions are as good as dead and that's pretty much okay.

Read More →

When conservative Ohio Governor and former Lehman Brothers executive John Kasich feels compelled to remind his fellow conservatives that upon entering Heaven, “Saint Peter is probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor,” you know poverty has reached center stage.

From the homilies of Pope Francis, to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's (pictured) inauguration speech, poverty and its close cousin inequality are playing starring roles in the current political discourse. The President’s 2015 budget proposal, released earlier this month, calls for a significant increase in federal spending on anti-poverty programs, and while these proposals are likely DOA in the Republican-controlled House, Democrats across the land have promised to campaign on the issue leading up to the 2014 midterm races. This year, then, appears little different from much of 2013: the spotlight on poverty shows no sign of dimming.

Read More →

“This is our $%&#-ing city!” bellowed David Ortiz, as he offered Boston’s stirring, unifying rejoinder to last year's horrifying Marathon bombing. From that moment forth, the team took its place at the center of Boston's recovery. And when the season ended at the pinnacle, with the Red Sox as World Series champions for the third time in a decade, the team’s “Boston Strong” theme was only tangentially about baseball. Obviously.

Read More →

As progressives look with trepidation toward the midterm elections, there is naturally a renewed upsurge of complaints that the Obama administration — like the Clinton administration — has represented at best a series of pyrrhic victories for the left, and at worst a betrayal of the progressive cause. There’s been a tendency among left-leaning thinkers and writers to lump these arguments together and dismiss them as unrealistic or counterproductive. But in fairness, it is worth sorting them out, and also comparing them to similar grousing about the GOP on the right.

Read More →

Last month, the United Auto Workers (UAW) attempted to organize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The union failed. Media reports of organized labor’s demise have followed, with the debate divided between one camp that views the labor movement as beyond-resuscitation dead, and another that views the patient on life-support with only a slim chance of survival.

Read More →

It seems that ‘90s fashion isn’t the only trend from that decade back in style. Previewing his upcoming legislative proposals to reform American poverty programs, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently expressed his support for the 1996 welfare overhaul and affirmed his commitment to actually increasing work requirements for welfare recipients.

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