TPM Cafe: Opinion

Last week, the United States Senate convened hearings on amending the Constitution to “better regulate” political spending. With a two-thirds vote needed in both Houses of Congress, no one expects any amendment to pass. Yet, fundamental reform is absolutely needed — and possible.

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Until today, the sectarian conflict in Iraq has put the mess into messaging. For an administration already in love with nuance, explaining how the United States should engage in Iraq presents the worst on-the-one-hand-on-the-other challenge in the world. But sometimes it’s better to be lucky in communications than good, and for that Obama has Dick Cheney to thank. The more the former vice president talks, the better Obama seems.

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George Will continues with his assertion that it is mathematically impossible for 1 in 5 women to have been sexually assaulted while in college. He calls the statistics “insupportable” and when he replied to Senators Blumenthal, Feinstein, Baldwin, and Casey he chided them to temper their “rhetoric” about the “scourge of sexual assault.” But it’s not just the statistics that appear to bother Mr. Will as he also expresses concern about definitions:

“I think I take sexual assault more serious that you do. Which is why I worry about definitions of that category of crime that might, by their breadth, tend to trivialize it.”

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It seems as if every week we read another “The worst anti-abortion bill to be signed into law” story, yet each law truly does top the last in scope and impact on limiting abortion access to near non-existence. That is once again the case for Louisiana’s HB 388, the “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act,” which essentially argues that the only way to be completely certain you have protected someone from an “unsafe” abortion is to cut off her access to the procedure all together.

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The economist Tyler Cowen wrote a piece in the New York Times's Week In Review section entitled "The Lack of Major Wars May be Hurting Economic Growth." He raises a serious point that requires two questions to be answered. First, does modern capitalism rely on military and other "wasteful" expenditures to grow? Second, is growth of 4 percent per year necessary for the American economy to succeed?

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Dear Mr. Will,

I read your recent column on the “supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. sexual assault” and am somewhat taken aback by your claim that forcing colleges to take a tougher stand on sexual assault somehow translates into a modern version of The Crucible that replaces witchcraft with rape hysteria.

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A terrorist organization once expelled from al Qaeda for excessive brutality is now a rapidly advancing army, whose forward lines carve out a territory roughly the size of Maryland. In less than a week, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has routed elements of the American-trained and -equipped Iraqi Army, seized control of Iraq’s second largest city, and advanced to within a hundred miles of the capital. The hallmarks of Mosul’s new masters, established during their bloody rise in Syria’s civil war, include summary executions, public crucifixions, and the imposition of a medieval religious code upon every facet of human life.

Like many who served there, I have long suspected that Iraq’s fate would turn out to be darker than the one we fought and hoped for. We watched Maliki’s tragic failure to make use of the political and military space we bought him, at such cost, to reach across sectarian boundaries and unify his nation. We watched as violence returned to the streets, and as Anbar returned to insurgency. We watched as extremist groups across the border in Syria latched onto the rebellion against Assad, twisting it for their own purposes and gathering strength. My fears for the Iraqi people have been dark indeed, but none were dark enough to anticipate what has befallen many of them this week.

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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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