TPM Cafe: Opinion

When Islamic extremists attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Kosher supermarket in east Paris, killing 17 people, the global response was instantaneous. More than 40 heads of state joined in a solidarity march in Paris. Memorials with millions of participants took place across the globe from Sydney to New York. The phrase “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) trended on Twitter and Facebook. President Obama even took the unusual step of visiting the French Embassy to pay his respects.

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The Supreme Court has now established that it isn't sex discrimination to fire a woman because of breastfeeding, in part because men can lactate, too. Critics have met the ruling with disbelief, indignation and dismay.

I disagree. I think it's great news. Finally, we have federal legal recognition that men can take part in this fundamental part of newborn care. At times the present Supreme Court has seemed retrograde and unconcerned with reproductive rights (Hobby Lobby, anyone?), but in this case the Justices have forged ahead, outpacing even biology and culture. I haven't seen too many men in lactation classes (maybe they're such naturals, they don't need the classes) or publicly chestfeeding their kids, and the Daily Mail ran a story about the now sadly defunct "Project Breastfeeding"'s campaign to get more dads involved. Their slogan was "If I could, I would"— and now you can!

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According to a report published last night in the Bergen (NJ) Record, federal investigators working for the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey in January subpoenaed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for records relating to the personal travel of its former chairman, David Samson. Included in the report, written by the indefatigable Shawn Boburg, were details surrounding a now-cancelled nonstop flight route that United Airlines briefly ran between Newark Liberty Airport and Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina, less than an hour from Aiken, South Carolina, where Samson has owned a home since 2006. United ran that flight for nineteen months before canceling the route on April 1, 2014, three days after Samson resigned from his position as the head of the bi-state agency with an annual budget of just under $8 billion. According to an insider, Samson referred to the briefly-lived and lightly-used Newark-Columbia route as “the chairman’s flight.”

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A long time ago, Harry Truman successfully desegregated the Armed Forces. And recently we lifted the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on gays and lesbians in the military to a collective yawn. Now is the time to finally let women do any job in the military. This means giving women the right to compete for any job in the Armed Services, and it’s a benchmark for progress that Defense Secretary nominee Ash Carter clearly endorsed in his confirmation hearing this week.

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In his State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled a number of proposals he grouped under the heading of "middle-class economics." These included things like raising the minimum wage and expanding the child care tax credit. Fair enough: We need new ideas for supporting working American families, since our child poverty rates remain among the highest in the developed world. One in four American kids is growing up poor in the United States. More than half of our children come from low-income families.

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The legend of Gertrude Stein’s final words is that her partner Alice B. Toklas despairingly asked her on her deathbed: “What is the answer?” And Gertrude responded: “What is the question?”

Ironic as it may seem that an expat Jewish lesbian avant-garde writer famous in the 1920s could articulate the operating principle of the Republican Party nearly a century later, it sort of does sum it all up. For today’s ideologically rigid GOP, the “answers” to national challenges are clear; the trick is to adapt them to different “questions.”

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On June 30th, 1974, Alberta Williams King was gunned down while she played the organ for the “Lord’s Prayer” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a Christian civil rights activist, she was assassinated...just like her son, Martin Luther King, Jr. But most people remember only one. Until a month ago, I was one of those people.

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Every year at my school around Halloween, we have a door decorating contest. This year, my class decided to take fake mugshots of our teachers, where they could make any silly face they wanted. After taking the pictures, my friend (a boy) and I were at the printer watching the mugshots print out. The boy in question is a friend to this day, the kind of guy who gets good grades, is totally nice and is okay to just hang out with. We were looking over the pictures, laughing at the funny ones, and he paused on a picture of his former Humanities teacher. She was making a silly “duckface,” pouting her lips and wearing cat ears; it was a funny picture that would look great on our door. Out of nowhere, in a totally casual way, my friend said: “Ugh. What a slut.”

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In his State of the Union speech last month, President Obama said, “Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.” Remember 1999? It was a year worthy of playing the Prince anthem named after the year on repeat. A gallon of gas was less than a dollar, health care costs were high-but-not-too-high, and we were not yet a banana republic. Prince’s prophetic lyrics warned us that in “two thousand zero zero” the party would be over. And he was right.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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