TPM Cafe: Opinion

There is no doubt about what happened in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963; President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. When it comes to the who or the how, though, the majority of Americans remain skeptical about the official narrative. The broad belief in some conspiracy theory regarding his death tells us that it’s quite mainstream to have at least some “fringe” convictions.

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I guarantee you’ll hear the phrase “My ancestors came here legally” in the aftermath of President Obama’s immigration address. It’s almost impossible to find any conversation about immigration—between elected officials, pundits, online commenters—in which at least one participant doesn’t use the phrase. It’s an understandable position, through which the speaker can both defend his or her family history and critique current illegal immigrants who choose to do things differently. It helps deflect charges of hypocrisy (since most Americans are descended from immigrants). It’s hard to argue with. And it’s also, in nearly every case, entirely inaccurate.

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On television these days, there are no shortage of complex, interesting, and imperfect female characters. Take Liz Lemon on “30 Rock,” Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” Jessica Day on “New Girl,” and Mindy Lahiri on “The Mindy Project.” We no longer have to cry for women to be portrayed as human — the golden age of television has flawed women in droves. But these women are so flawed as to lose another kind of character: the role model. How can we possibly look up to women who are mentally unstable, victims of emotional or even physical abuse, or people who inflict harm on others? Today, in an era that is making the discussion of feminism new again,it is surprising how many women we idolize on television still allow themselves to be subservient to men, at times dangerously so. As viewers, how are we to reconcile the two extremes?

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Like it or not, the 2016 presidential cycle has begun. It’s theoretically an open process for both parties. But what characterizes it so far is a remarkable contrast between a Democratic Party that seems almost settled (though not universally happy about it) on a single candidate, Hillary Clinton, and a Republican Party with a potentially gigantic field and no true front-runner.

There are perils and advantages associated with both conditions. But the Republicans elites that have successfully sought to make their party’s nominating calendar more compact are clearly worried that a protracted competition among a large field could be destructive. And after the experience of 2008 and 2012, Republicans have good reason to fear that even their most “electable” candidates could be pulled to the right in a nomination struggle dominated by conservative activists and rank-and-file Tea Parties in early states.

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The Supreme Court may soon be pushed, however reluctantly, to address the question of whether there’s a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. So far, it has punted on the issue. But last week, gay and lesbian couples filed petitions asking the court to rule on the matter now that federal appeals courts have issued contradictory decisions. They hope the court will hear the case before their current session ends in June.

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Imagine that you were pregnant, but couldn’t continue the pregnancy. Now imagine that to safely terminate, you had to travel … to another country.

That’s the reality for female members of the U.S. military stationed overseas. Since 1988, United States military clinics and hospitals around the world, even those located in countries where abortion is legal, have been prohibited by the Department of Defense (DOD) from providing abortion care. There are two exceptions to this ban: the facility could perform an abortion if the pregnancy endangered the woman’s life, or if she was pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

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The news from Beijing this week that the U.S. and China are committing to ambitious goals on climate change is, we think, monumental. No two countries are more important to tackling the problem than the largest carbon emitter over the past two centuries, the U.S., and the largest current emitter, China. While many observers are focusing on the ramifications of the announcement for upcoming international negotiations, we believe that the announcement also has potentially profound domestic effects for both countries.

For the U.S., the announcement could have significant implications, both legal and political, for the centerpiece of President Obama’s climate policy, proposed rules for electric power plants. For China, the announcement is a signal that economic transformation remains the long-term goal. Both countries will need to overcome significant domestic resistance to achieve their stated goals but in our view the joint announcement strengthens the hands of both the U.S. and Chinese Presidents.

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JUGGLING THE EUROPEAN CRISIS, battling with Congress to arm the Allies, and conducting his “softly, softly” campaign for a third term took a tremendous toll on the fifty-eight-year-old Franklin D. Roosevelt’s health. In February 1940, his devoted assistant Missy LeHand and William Bullitt believed he suffered a minor heart attack over dinner in the White House, which he shrugged off as indigestion. Instead of slowing down, he quickened his pace.

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When patients are harmed by medical care, the traditional response of health systems is to “deny and defend.”

Hospitals deny they are responsible for the harm, and when pressed, they defend their providers’ conduct throughout a protracted and arduous legal process. According to a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, hospital administrators say that this approach minimizes their liability.

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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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