TPM Cafe: Opinion

Numerous stories over the past months have reported that the Israeli government is indirectly negotiating a long-term ceasefire agreement with Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip. First reported in May by leading Israeli security journalist Amos Harel, last week it was revealed that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who recently stepped down as Middle East “Quartet” envoy, had served as a point of contact for the talks. In exchange for a long-term truce, Israel would significantly ease the siege that has strangled Gaza for nearly a decade, which has been a key demand of Hamas and a condition of past cease-fire agreements ending previous rounds of fighting, though one that has never been implemented.

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Grandma is not your grandma’s abortion movie. Not that there are so many to choose from—and not that this new film from Paul Weitz and starring Lily Tomlin as Elle, the grandma in question, is just about abortion. But the treatment the subject receives is so real and so nuanced and so normalizing, it feels like a totally new take on the subject.

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Donald Trump has reignited his sexist harassment campaign against Megyn Kelly, and the folks at Fox News are, in seemingly coordinated fashion, striking back. Fellow Fox News hosts and pundits are asking Trump to cool it, and even Roger Ailes has released a statement calling Trump’s abuse “unacceptable” and “disturbing." It’s almost touching, watching all these conservative media people who usually profit at peddling sexism choose, this time at least, to join together in an effort to stop this one particular instance of it.

It’s also going to backfire.

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If it were not for the air of unreality being cast over the 2016 presidential election by the candidacy of Donald Trump, it’s probable we would not be hearing so much about a non-candidacy: that of the Vice President of the United States. But at a time when anything seems possible, Joe Biden is the subject of a draft campaign that appears to be vast and pervasive.

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Nowadays, the power of the Christian Right is a given. But that wasn’t always the case. In the last 35 years, it’s gone from burgeoning movement to the GOP’s bread and butter. And although its power has waned in the past few years, the last three and a half decades have been remarkably successful.

On August 22, 1980, a massive National Affairs Briefing organized by preacher James Robison brought 15,000 evangelicals to Dallas to demonstrate their newfound political clout. Robison, who had been forced off the airwaves after he claimed that gays recruit children for sex, announced that day, “I’m sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals and the perverts and the liberals and the leftists and the Communists coming out of the closet. It’s time for God’s people to come out of the closet.”

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On Sunday, GOP presidential candidate and real estate tycoon Donald Trump did what many do in August on the east coast: he spent a day at the shore with his family. In this case, he was visiting with the in-laws of his daughter Ivanka, Charles and Seryl Kushner, parents to Trump’s son-in-law Jared, the owner and publisher of the New York Observer.

This visit was no ordinary social call. The Kushners were hosting an intimate meet-and-greet on Trump’s behalf at their seaside estate on the New Jersey shore weeks after injecting $100,000 into Trump’s Make America Great Again super PAC.

Starting with his June announcement that he was seeking the 2016 Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump has been fond of reminding supporters, voters, the press – anyone who will listen, really – that he is rich. And although his campaign seemed at first to be a parade of events intended to drive that point home over and over again, Trump has used his personal wealth to stake a compelling claim in the age of dark money: that his means make him independent from the interests and donors who ordinarily set the policy priorities and agendas in Washington, D.C. “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich,” Trump said in June. It’s a position Trump has been sharpening into an attack on his rivals. Last week at the Iowa State Fair he mocked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for being a “puppet” to his donors. “He raises $100 million, so what does $100 million mean? $100 million means he's doing favors for so many people, it means lobbyists, it means special interests, it means donors,” Trump said.

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Defraud a student borrower and you’ll be paying up. That’s the message the U.S. Department of Education sent earlier this week when it announced a plan to establish regulations that would “claw back” taxpayer dollars from colleges whose borrowers have their loans forgiven due to fraud. As Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell told Inside Higher Ed, "We want institutions to know, in no uncertain terms, that they are responsible for the malfeasance that they create."

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