TPM Cafe: Opinion

As I argued in a December 2013 column here at TPM Cafe, a lot of the intra-Republican battles described as representing a “civil war” between “constitutional conservatives” or Tea Party members or “the base” on the one hand, and “Republican Establishment” chieftains or “pragmatists” or “moderates” on the other, are really arguments over strategy, tactics and rhetoric rather than ideology or principle.

And indeed, the less ideological Republicans, having lost the high moral ground to their more ferocious colleagues, rarely challenge conservative orthodoxy as normative for their party, generally offering prudential reasons for downplaying The True Faith as a matter of legislative gamesmanship or superior electability.

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DC Councilor Muriel Bowser, who won the Democratic primary last week and is likely to become the next mayor, is not yet sure whether she’ll keep DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson through 2017, as the Chancellor has requested. I hope she’ll base her decision on a serious assessment of how DCPS has fared under Henderson (and her predecessor Michelle Rhee, who set in place the reforms that Henderson has largely continued, albeit with a lighter touch). While the Washington Post continues to uncritically praise those reforms, a closer look at their outcomes suggests that all may not be so rosy, especially for those on the front lines of the changes — principals, teachers, and, of course, students and their families.

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Via its Twitter account, magazine Marie Claire posted an image of Kendall Jenner in braids and declared them “new” and “epic.” The brand immediately received backlash, mostly comedic and largely from Black women who have been wearing cornrows and braids long before Jenner was born. The protests against Marie Claire’s casual erasure of black cultural influence were registered as “outrage,” which is hyperbolic and incendiary, and speaks to the larger issues of hashtag and outrage fatigue on social media.

Twitter’s hashtags have become a significant part of social and news media. They have moved beyond the social network and help shape conversations around everything from world events to late night talk show fodder. News sites aggregate tweets for responses to current events. In the last four years, more people have begun to use Twitter and its hashtags as tools of social justice, leading to the term “hashtag activism” and its gradual backlash. A disproportionate number of Twitter users are non-white, which is reflected in the number of popular topics that reflect concerns dealing with race, sex, the intersection of the two, and culture appropriation.

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The White House was quick to tout the 7.1 million Americans who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health care benefits last week, and this week’s cover of The New Yorker depicts President Barack Obama’s revenge on Republicans now that healthcare appears to be working. Despite this messaging, Washington, the media, nor the law itself can guarantee that health care will be accessed in the intended way.

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Nothing, but nothing, enrages conservatives more than being accused of racism.

Yes, a whole wing of modern conservatism is rooted in the southern white struggle against civil rights. Yes, Republican politicians perpetually appeal to resentment of the beneficiaries of the “welfare state,” commonly (if mistakenly) understood as people of color. Yes, nearly all conservative political actors and writers treat minority grievances as an illegitimate projection of past injustices far past their point of relevance. Yes, in nearly every state where the GOP has the power and incentive to do so, their legislators are systematically seeking to make it harder for minorities to vote. Yes, the tea party movement has a foundational myth that the housing and financial crises which touched off the Great Recession were the product of loans made to uncreditworthy minority folk via the Community Reinvestment Act at the behest of the “black radical” group ACORN. And yes, the centrist technocrat Barack Obama has often been subjected to classic racist stereotypes in day-to-day conservative agitprop, as an alleged beneficiary of affirmative action, as a shiftless vacation-taker, as a boon companion to (and even a husband of) black radicals, and yes, as a Kenyan with a “neocolonial” outlook.

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If you miss one too many days of work or stay out for the night when you said you’d be home, you might find yourself in hot water, but chances are you won’t wind up in trouble with the law, or worse, in jail.

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Big data is revolutionizing commerce and government for the better, but it is also supercharging the potential for discrimination. Protecting civil rights in this new environment requires a thoughtful update to our nation’s policies on privacy and data.

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I recently received a text message from my friend proclaiming, with several exclamation points, that her son had achieved a 2110 on his practice SAT!!!!! That score will put him in the 98th percentile — equivalent to over 1400 on the old 1600 scale. My friend and her husband, both college-educated, revolved their lives around nurturing and enriching their kids’ lives – living in a good public school district, supporting their schoolwork, supervising their homework, volunteering in their school and extra-curricular activities, from orchestra to Boy Scouts, and …choosing to spend $3,000 on Kaplan SAT prep. They want the best for their son. They’ve saved for college, they’ve spent strategically on school-related expenses, and it’s paying off, especially in his SAT scores. So what’s the problem?

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Recently New York Mets baseball player Daniel Murphy decided to take two days of paternity leave to be with his wife as she underwent a cesarean section, missing the first two games of the season. (He is allowed three days of leave under Major League Baseball rules.) Sports commentator Boomer Esiason criticized Murphy for making this decision, stating, “C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money.” Esiason later apologized days after public outcry about his statement, but he was not alone in his sentiment. Another radio host, Mike Francesa, said of Murphy’s decision, “You are a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse.”

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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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