TPM Cafe: Opinion

The tendency of many Texas districts to elect anyone, no matter how obviously embarrassing, to Congress so long as he has an “R” by his name, strikes again. This time, it’s Rep. Blake Farenthold, out of Corpus Christi, who is being sued by former communications staffer Lauren Greene for sexual harassment. The details of the lawsuit are just what you’d hope they’d be when considering a conservative Texas congressman who had a prior career as a Rush Limbaugh wannabe at a local talk radio station: Heavy drinking leading to harassing women at parties, hitting women up for pity sex by trotting out the “my wife won’t sleep with me” line, bragging that a lobbyist tapped him for a threesome. Greene-specific leering accusations include suggesting she had semen on her skirt, telling her he had “wet dreams” about her and talking about her nipples.

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This week, local and national media have been stunned by the revelation that Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) filed H.B. 131, a bill that would change the state’s informed consent requirements for an abortion to mandate that the pregnant person obtain written consent from the “father of the unborn child.” The only thing surprising about Missouri’s proposed “father’s consent” abortion bill? That it took so long for it to get filed.

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Yesterday morning, American U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, in prison for five years on charges of covert action against the Cuban government, was released after months of negotiations. In addition, the U.S. traded three jailed Cuban spies for another of our jailed intelligence assets. And the news grew bigger: At noon, Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro gave concurrent speeches. President Obama told the nation that his administration was taking the first steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba—establishing embassies and ambassadors; re-assessing Cuba’s position on the list of state sponsors of terrorism; increasing travel, commerce, and the flow of information between the two countries. President Castro told his country that the economic embargo should stop, and that President Obama deserves respect for taking the first step towards healthier relations between the two nations.

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This morning, I was in Havana in a room filled with Cubans watching their president, Raul Castro, announce the news that diplomatic relations with the United States would be resumed. When his speech ended, the room filled with cheers. The Cubans sang their national anthem and stood at their seats clapping with tears wetting their faces.

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Jeb Bush’s much-discussed presidential candidacy came closer to a reality yesterday as the former Florida governor and dynastic scion announced he was considering it and setting up a leadership PAC. But a funny thing has happened since the last presidential cycle, when National Review editor Rich Lowry tried to loft a Draft Jeb balloon: the conventional wisdom that Jeb was right in the sweet spot of a party that loved his family and must therefore love its most conservative member has been turned upside down.

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Last week, 32 Democratic senators joined Republicans in supporting the CRomnibus budget bill. The bill contained terrible provisions such as rolling back Wall Street reforms, cutting education funds, and stopping D.C. from legalizing marijuana. The fact that a majority of Senate Democrats supported this bill means that it’s high time progressives swept out bad Democrats by way of primaries. In other words, we need to clean house.

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It’s a strange feeling to have to walk past protestors to go to a party, but that was the case at a holiday party I went to last week for the DC Abortion Fund. Approximately a dozen protestors stood outside the venue, several holding full-color posters of what purported to be aborted fetal remains. (I say “purported” because the origin of some of these images has come under scrutiny in recent years.)

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I don’t care that the torture report makes George W. Bush and Dick Cheney bad. I care that it makes us all look bad. Now that the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee has been released, more or less, to the public—and that’s a very good thing—we should seize this opportunity to agree that there is no place for torture in our national security toolbox.

It’s time for us to be the good guys again.

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