TPM Cafe: Opinion

It’s become commonplace to complain about how the true meanings of our American holidays have been forgotten in favor of weekend sales, cookouts and family gatherings. But the problem is particularly clear when it comes to Labor Day. While holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July still feature prominent collective and media reminders of their historical and cultural significance alongside the barbeques and beach trips, Labor Day has become almost entirely divorced from its origins and associated instead with one last burst of summer fun before the fall and new school year commence in earnest.

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Slowly but steadily, educational reformers are succeeding in destroying higher education in America much in the same way they did K-12. Its undoing is the product of well-intentioned but misguided liberals, conservatives, and accreditation bodies who are pushing agendas that collectively are undoing the intellectual conditions that made American universities the best in the world.

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It was a surprise to no one that Mitt Romney received just 27 percent of the Latino vote in the 2012 election. The hallmark of Romney’s immigration solution was “self-deportation,” and Latinos were not too keen on that strategy.

Today Romney’s idea sounds downright quaint in comparison to Donald Trump’s proposed immigration reform. Under a Trump administration all undocumented persons would be deported, no exceptions. And Trump has not been shy about adding insult to policy injury. Most recently, a 2015 Latino version of the Willie Horton ad was released, portraying Latino immigrants as criminal dregs.

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Donald Trump has spent the summer slandering Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, calling for mass expulsion of undocumented immigrants (including U.S. citizen children), and proposing to disembowel the 14th Amendment. Over the weekend he leveled an attack on DREAMers—undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children—and on Monday he released a venomous Willie Horton-style race-baiting video attacking Jeb Bush for saying that undocumented immigration can be “an act of love” by using mugshots of undocumented immigrants linked to high-profile murders.

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If passed, the Iran Deal will be the biggest diplomatic achievement of the Obama presidency. Painstakingly negotiated over the course of two years between the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Germany, the U.S., and Iran, the deal prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from financial sanctions that have crippled its economy.

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This week, an elected county clerk in Kentucky named Kim Davis is owning the news cycle with a ridiculous George Wallace act, where she refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Even though the Supreme Court has ordered Davis to grow up and do her job, she’s continuing to refuse, putting herself in real danger of being held in contempt and possibly jailed.

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As the Invisible Primary for 2016 reaches its zenith in the months before formal voting begins, there is one Republican candidate doing very well despite a lack of media attention, a record in public office, an elaborate campaign apparatus or even a clearly articulated platform. In the latest survey of Iowa for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics by highly-regarded pollster Ann Selzer, Ben Carson is running second behind Donald Trump at 18 percent, triple the vote share of supposed Establishment favorite Jeb Bush, and more than twice the vote share of early Iowa frontrunner Scott Walker.

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While Lower 48 politicians might have partisan heartburn over President Barack Obama’s decision to change the name of Mount McKinley to its Koyukon Athabascan name, Denali, you’d be hard pressed to find many Alaskans, conservative or otherwise, with objections.

“We’ve been calling it Denali since I moved up here,” Dave Stieren, a conservative talk radio host for KFQD-AM in Anchorage told me. “To me it’s like happy holidays/merry Christmas. Anybody who cares about it too much is not someone I’d like to hang out with.”

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President Obama’s decision to approve the formal renaming of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley to Denali has been met with outrage. Some of it has been par for the course: House Speaker John Boehner expressed his “deep disappointment in this decision” and conservatives have critiqued Obama for bypassing Congress yet again. But the volume of outraged responses from present and former lawmakers in President William McKinley’s native state of Ohio is surprisingly high for a distant mountain and 120-year-old presidency.

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When I was a child my family had a consistent reaction to news of horrific crimes on TV: They would look at the screen, wait for the face to pop up, and pray that it wasn’t a black one. If I was over at a friend’s house, I would notice a similar viewing habit in older African Americans. It was as if a communal prayer was being sent up in thousands of households at once, from their eyes and up through the TV screens: Lord, don’t give them another reason. Don’t give them another reason to hate us, to discriminate against us, to racially profile us while we drive, walk and live. And even though most rational people know that racism has more to do with bigoted mindsets than individuals’ actions among a disadvantaged group, the “don’t give another reason” prayer still went up.

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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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