TPM Cafe: Opinion

As the NFL draft began, all eyes were on Florida State University’s controversial but talented quarterback Jameis Winston, the highly anticipated number 1 pick. The intensity of that gaze was, and is, focused as much on his stellar playing ability as it is on the many transgressions that have increased his time in the public eye–theft, public embarrassment on campus, and a persistent rape charge. This time last year, critical eyes fell on a young man who struggled to behave off the field as much as he excelled on it: former Texas A&M quarterback and current Browns player Johnny Manziel. While his mistakes were less severe in many ways, the worries that accompanied them pushed the talented prospect to the near end of the draft’s first round. What caused minor off-field antics to weigh so heavily on one of these young men, while major ones seem so dismissible in another? That question invites another question: Who do we expect to be able to behave?

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In the aftermath of the 1898 Wilmington coup and massacre, the national media coverage of the event was shaped and carried forward in very specific, overtly discriminatory ways. That process began with a piece in the popular national magazine Collier’s by Alfred Waddell, one of the North Carolina white supremacists behind the Wilmington events. Waddell deemed those events a “race riot,” and his article, accompanied by H. Ditzler’s cover illustration of a rampaging mob of armed African Americans, became a definitive text in shaping national narratives and images of Wilmington. But even prior to the publication of Waddell’s article, the national media were more than willing to participate in creating those narratives, as exemplified by a November 5th New York Times article headlined “North Carolina Politics: The Combination of the White Voters to Resist the Possibility of Negro Domination.”

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Four hundred seventy-seven days after receiving a referral from the Inspector General of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the office of U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman today laid out a first glimpse of the criminal prosecutions arising from Bridgegate.

For four days in September 2013, approach lanes that guide traffic from Fort Lee, N.J. to the eastbound upper deck of the George Washington Bridge, the busiest bridge in the world, were condensed into one lane.

From afar, that may seem like a trivial traffic pattern alteration. But on the ground, it was a nightmare for the residents of Fort Lee, the 36,000 person town perched atop cliffs along the Hudson River. The traffic jam began on the first day of school. Buses full of children were late to school – not by minutes but by hours. Already edgy commuters called city hall. Ambulance crews and EMTs had to abandon their vehicles to reach sick residents on foot. The local police chief tried, with no success, to reach counterparts at the Port Authority Police Department to get an explanation and seek relief. Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich phoned New Jersey’s top executive at the agency, which owns and operates the bridge, seeking an explanation. After getting no response, he phoned the governor’s office. Again, no response. On the fourth day of the closings he sent a letter seeking to quietly persuade the Port Authority to reverse its changes, detailing the hardships being imposed on his borough’s residents.

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Dear Mr. Maher,

On April 25th you asked, “If ISIS is so anathema to moderate Muslims, how come zero have gone to fight them?” My question to you is this, sir: How do you define “moderate Muslims”? And how exactly do you propose that they go fight ISIS?

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When President Obama used the word “thugs” in a press conference, his overt and implied meaning escaped me at first. I watched the Rose Garden briefing—like many of my friends did—as an excerpted blip on my newsfeed. The condemnation of violence being attributed to “criminals and thugs” seemed like the usual verbal overcompensation black politicians engage in during times of civil unrest to avoid the un-American claims. If Obama doesn’t deeply mourn the death of an officer in public, have a large enough flag pin on his lapel, or hold his hand over his heart while the national anthem is being sung (even though it’s incorrect procedure) then he is “doing it wrong.” It’s just another sign to an increasingly unhinged and racist rightwing population that black leaders don’t and can’t love their America.

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According to reporting from Bloomberg – apparently single-source reporting that no other outlets feel comfortable confirming yet – David Wildstein, a political fixture in New Jersey and formerly one of Gov. Chris Christie’s top appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is set to plead guilty to a still-unknown charge or charges “as early as” Friday at the federal courthouse in downtown Newark.

Originally, Bloomberg’s story pegged the date for that plea as Thursday. Then Friday. Now “as early as” Friday, which could mean that we’ll see flying cars sooner.

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Editor's note: Today we're debuting a new feature at TPM, the Exchange. These are email exchanges, usually three rounds of back and forth via email. These are not meant to be debates, though sometimes, as in this first case they will feature two people contending over very different perspectives. Often they will simply be trading of ideas. The goal is to air an issue, hopefully with two people who have given the matter some real thought or in other cases bring specific technical expertise. Though the participants know the emails with be published (edited only to prune out missing words or particularly strained grammar) we hope that these will have an unstructured, more casual air, which preserves pointed thinking while allowing writers the space to think out aloud and explore ideas more than they might in more formal settings. We hope you enjoy it and we welcome your feedback.



JOSH MARSHALL: We’ve been on same sides, then opposite sides and then more recently again on the same side of various issues. I suspect we’re going to be on opposite sides of the Iranian nuclear diplomacy issue. But I’m eager to dig into the details and see if maybe there are some areas in which we agree. So let me start by saying where I stand and then as well as I’m able explain why I stand where I do.

I support the President’s nuclear deal. And as a general matter I support reaching a diplomatic settlement if possible. Let me list my basic reasons in no particular order.

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

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