TPM Cafe: Opinion

“The Wire” is one of television’s crown jewels and remains a cultural touchtone, but it’s not just a closely detailed vision of how institutions in an American city are failing individuals that gives it such a place. David Simon, writer and director (pictured, left, next to Wendell Pierce who played Detective Bunk), also threaded through his drama clear allusions to our ventures into the Middle East, and strangely, as we reenter the chaos of Iraq and confront the rise of ISIS, these allusive yet potent metaphors are still playing out.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been pro-choice. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve been in pain, thanks to nerve abnormalities in my face and head that I was born with, and severe wrist problems that started in my late teens.

There’s no correlation between being in favor of reproductive rights and having chronic pain. But these issues have a great deal in common, such as the questions of bodily autonomy, patient dignity, and stigma. Chronic pain may not stir up religious passions, but it it is almost as politicized as abortion, falling in the orbits of the war on drugs, women’s health, stigma, and the Republican backlash against Obamacare.

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This past Tuesday, Senior Researcher at New America’s “Early Education Initiative” Conor P. Williams, wrote an essay in this space to express his dismay that Campbell Brown's opponents are using "ugly rhetoric" against Brown, as they had against Michelle Rhee before her. To Williams, this is part of "a troubling pattern for reform opponents ... prone to shooting any reform messenger." In this case, as part of a larger effort to challenge the Vergara v. California-style lawsuit she’s bringing to New York.

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TV these days is pretty bleak: The womanizing, alcoholic ad man; the meth-making chemistry teacher; the self-labeled sociopathic consulting detective. The anti-hero has all but taken over primetime television. More than a decade ago James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano changed the landscape of television protagonists, but it can become a bit draining to commit hours each week to watching jerks, whether you’re hoping to see flashes of compassion or waiting to see how low they can get. Can they be redeemed? Should they be? Is it okay to find such pleasure in how terrible they are?

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In my column last week I mentioned seven distinct advantages Republicans had in pursuing control of the Senate in this cycle, along with the entirely unrelated “mandates” they are likely to claim if they don’t blow a winning hand. I might have added that in addition to the unreal individual factors that will be cited as reasons for a GOP victory heavily dictated by ephemeral circumstances of landscape and turnout, we will hear a lot of thundering about a “center-right nation” and “the death of liberalism” and so on and so forth. While all kinds of partisans tend to see irreversible world-historical trends in every election win, today’s Republicans are especially prone to confusing themselves with the essence of Americanism.

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Updated 10:24 a.m. ET

Few issues these days bring the rhetorical heat like education. So I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to see a new attack site purporting to reveal “The Real Campbell Brown” as a right-wing mouthpiece shilling for Wall Streeters. After all, Brown is a leader in an ongoing legal fight in New York — where several lawsuits are seeking to replicate a recent California court’s decision striking down a number of the state’s teacher tenure rules (Vergara v. California).

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Lack of “maternal instincts.” That is what local Ravalli County deputy attorney Thorin Geist dubbed it when he spoke about Casey Gloria Allen, a 21-year-old Montana woman being charged with criminal endangerment of a child.

The “child,” in this case, was a 12-week fetus, and the “endangerment” was that Allen tested positive for narcotics.

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On the surface, the lyrics of our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” seem very clear —that Georgetown lawyer and part-time poet and songwriter Francis Scott Key saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore harbor during the British Royal Navy’s bombardment of September 13–14, 1814. Because the lyrics say that, it must be the truth. Right?

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