TPM Cafe: Opinion

After a blockbuster debut, the Shonda Rhimes-produced “How to Get Away With Murder” is off to an impressive start. But has its creator, Peter Nowalk, gotten lost in the shuffle?

In its first three weeks, ABC freshman drama “How to Get Away With Murder” has lived up to the expectations that its Thursday night predecessors have set. Like Grey’s Anatomy and “Scandal” before it, it is tightly written, driven by intriguing and complex characters, and leaves viewers wanting more at the end of what we’re positive can’t have been a full hour. And like the programs before it, “How to Get Away With Murder” is earning heaps of praise for Shonda Rhimes. So what’s the problem? It’s not her show.

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The up-front case for voter ID laws and other measures inhibiting voter turnout is so weak that it’s generally assumed its proponents just cynically want to skew the electorate in their favor. After all, as a new Government Accountability Office study of Kansas and Tennessee confirm (not that anyone really doubted it), voter ID laws significantly and disproportionately affect young and minority voters. And given the virtual non-existence of in-person voting via a mistaken identity, the “voter fraud” rationale for voter ID is a phantom menace, while ID laws (and for that matter, restrictions on early voting) have no effect on the one area of voting most susceptible to real fraud (not that there are any recent examples of any great note), voting by mail.

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Despite the road bumps and hurdles encountered last year during the first open enrollment period, the numbers show the Affordable Care Act was a success: 7.3 million enrollees and counting. But not everyone who sought to enroll was able to do so. Limited English speakers and immigrants faced major uphill battles that, without action in the next few weeks, threaten to hold them back again from enrolling come Nov. 15.

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As an organization distinct from the Al Qaeda transnational terror network, ISIL is a hybrid terrorist organization whereby it conducts itself more like an army waging a counter-insurgency that uses terrorism as a tactic. This distinction matters just as much as ISIL’s history vis-à-vis Al Qaeda, and it should inform the U.S. government’s response in the weeks, months, and years to come.

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Recently at the United Nations, President Obama vowed to dismantle ISIL’s “network of death.” As the United States returns to a war footing in Iraq and launches airstrikes in Syria against the Sunni militant group that calls itself the “Islamic State”—better known in this country as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shâm (ISIL)—many seem confused about its strategic objectives and its relationship with the transnational jihadist group, Al Qaeda.

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How do you know Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in serious re-election trouble? He just tried to declare himself pro-choice.

Of course, he didn’t use those words specifically. What the Republican governor did do, however, is attempt to repaint himself as someone who is not an extremist when it comes to abortion and birth control, despite a decade in politics that shows otherwise.

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We are less than a month from Election Day and courts around the country are issuing a dizzying array of voting rights decisions that will affect the upcoming elections. In Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas, among others, courts have issued important rulings that will affect how the midterm elections in those states are run.

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Lena Dunham’s book “I’m Not That Kind Of Girl” was released this Tuesday, but not before brought an expose from Gawker revealing that Dunham had elected to have her opening acts for the tour, perform for free. Dunham, who received a $3.5-to-3.7 million advance for the book, was promptly subjected to vicious Internet backlash, and has subsequently agreed to pay opening acts on her book tour.

But is the money the most important thing?

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If Republicans take over both houses of Congress, there’s almost a guarantee that there will be a standoff over government spending. “We own the budget” if we win, McConnell told conservative donors this summer, and the candidates who would constitute the Republican Senate’s margin of control have a clear record of supporting cuts to the social safety net - seeking to privatize Medicare and Social Security, cut food stamps, block the extension of unemployment insurance, and put a balanced-budget amendment into the Constitution. Just as they did when they took over the House, Republicans aren’t likely to pass up the opportunity to show off their enthusiasm for cuts.

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