TPM Cafe: Opinion

While there’s still much more investigating to do and much more that will undoubtedly be discovered, with every detail we learn it seems clearer that last week's shootings at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, did indeed comprise another horrific act of domestic terrorism.

The 24-year-old shooter, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, like his South Carolina counterpart Dylann Roof, apparently left behind a trail of statements that indicated his intentions to commit an act of war, one that would play into a larger societal conflict. And while debates over connections between the shootings and ISIS reflect the global side to that conflict, the truth is that Abdulazeez, who was born in Kuwait but had been in the United States since 1996 (that is, since he was 5 years old), was like Roof a thoroughly homegrown killer.

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While most of the major players are making their lawyers happy by being purposefully vague in public, Ellen Pao’s resignation as CEO of Reddit has reignited the debate over how to handle the squirming underbelly of the internet. This underbelly consists mainly, but not exclusively, of angry white dudes who want to spew as much hate as possible at women, people of color, and LGBT people. While most of them hide behind the auspices of “free speech,” it’s increasingly clear that these trolls are motivated mainly by a deep desire to silence: to use harassment as a tool to run off anyone who values meaningful discourse or wants an environment that is inclusive to all sorts of people. This silencing campaign has harmed Pao and, as she fears, the “trolls are winning."

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Yesterday, Scott Walker caught a break when the Wisconsin Supreme Court, on a party line vote, shut down a criminal investigation of his 2012 recall election campaign. The inquiry, called “John Doe” investigation, was led by a Republican special prosecutor on behalf of five Wisconsin county district attorneys who were probing whether Walker had broken state campaign finance laws when he and his aides steered donors to give to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a state-level chapter of the national organization that was then led by one of Walker’s top campaign staffers.

Prosecutors alleged and documents confirmed that Walker and his staff used the Wisconsin Club for Growth to gather recall campaign funds from a variety of in-state and out-of-state corporate and institutional sources, including the Republican Governors Association and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. “We own C.F.G.,” said R.J. Johnson, a Walker campaign official and paid staffer at the Club for Growth who was at the center of the case. In emails obtained as evidence, a Walker fundraiser wrote that “As the Governor discussed … he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging,” adding that “Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.” In all, Wisconsin Club for Growth spent $9.1 million during the 2012 recall election after having dropped more than $800,000 to air misleading ads backing Walker’s 2011 attack on public sector workers and organizing public events, co-sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, on Walker’s behalf. The group also funneled money, some $3 million, to another conservative political organization called Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce that went on to spend $4 million supporting Walker’s 2012 campaign.

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Rick Perlstein is the national correspondent for the The Washington Spectator, where this article first appeared. His most recent book is The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.

Suddenly, with a single flap of the Angel of History’s wings, America has experienced a shuddering change: the American swastika has finally become toxic—a liberation that last month seemed so impossible that we’d forgotten to bother to think about it.

One doesn’t waste energy worrying over the fact that America controls over 700 military bases in 63 countries and maintains a military presence in 156; or that Israel has staged a civilian-slaughtering war approximately every other year since 2006; or that in America there is no constitutionally guaranteed right to vote or that unregulated pyramid schemes fleece Middle Americans out of $10 to $20 billion a year or that a private organization runs our presidential debates, sponsored by the same corporations that underwrite Democratic conventions … on and on and on: permanent annoyances.

Like the Confederate flag.

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As the Invisible Primary of 2016 intensifies and candidates refine their appeals, a key issue will be their ability to convince caucus and primary voters that they’ve got the stuff to defeat the hated partisan foe. That’s all the more urgent as events—from the U.S. Supreme Court to Vienna—conspire to make this a truly high-stakes election.

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The Washington Examiner’s Byron York recently asked Donald Trump if he believes the candidacy of third-party billionaire Ross Perot threw the 1992 presidential election to Bill Clinton. Trump, not missing a beat, responded affirmatively: "Totally. I think every single vote that went to Ross Perot came from Bush. Virtually every one of his 19 percentage points came from the Republicans. If Ross Perot didn't run, you have never heard of Bill Clinton.”

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Tough, principled diplomacy from the United States has produced historic results. On Tuesday, the P5+1, a coalition of world powers led by the U.S., reached an agreement with Iran that would prevent that country from acquiring nuclear weapons. Although successfully rolling back Iran’s nuclear program without risking a single American life should be hailed as a resounding success across the country, the success of our diplomats abroad has put longtime opponents of the talks in an awkward space.

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Scott Walker is on a mission to bring his midwest Protestant values to Washington—he even called his candidacy “God's plan.” The Wisconsin governor is jumping on the campaign trail just as he leaves a path of fiscal destruction in his wake at home. Walker has transformed his state into a petri dish for model conservative policies that have systematically assailed unions, women's rights and public benefits.

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In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry and that states are required to issue them marriage licenses. Yet many public officials have publicly encouraged people to break the law. Among them are attorneys, such as Texas governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. They may frame their opposition as standing up for what’s right. But according to the ethical rules of lawyers, public officials who are attorneys defying the Supreme Court by refusing to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies or encouraging others to do the same should be disbarred.

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Hillary Clinton signaled yet again that she’s really going to run a savvy, future-oriented campaign this time around by giving a speech at New York City’s New School on Monday, where she called out the “gig economy” for spreading job insecurity. “Many Americans are making extra money renting out a small room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car,” she explained. She praised this new economic model for “creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation,” but worried that it raised questions about “workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

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