TPM Cafe: Opinion

If the Supreme Court doesn’t step in by the end of June, almost every abortion clinic in Texas will stop providing terminations, leaving only eight clinics in six cities to offer services to the 27 million people in its borders. That scenario is devastating. It also might not be the worst thing we see happening as July unfolds. July 1 is also the implementation date of a number of laws that were passed this legislative session, and depending on certain judicial decisions the state of abortion access may be dramatically changing starting in just a few more days.

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As you absorb the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of Obamacare in one of the biggest cases of the year, King v. Burwell, you might want to take a look up to America’s Northeastern corner. Mainers like to say “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” In this case, the saying was true: After facing the political nightmare that would have ensued without a simple wording fix, both Maine and SCOTUS ruled in favor of common sense.

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Like Shonda Rhimes’ titular Grey’s Anatomy doctor to Seattle Grace Hospital, Orange Is The New Black’s Piper is our first entry into Litchfield Penitentiary. Both women are the brainchildren of strong and experienced female showrunners. And both are starting to wear out a welcome originally extended to them by viewers on their programs. Just as viewers started to tire of Meredith’s indecisiveness and often underwhelming storylines, I felt myself wondering why we need Piper Chapman and her less-than-engaging story arcs during this latest season of Orange Is The New Black.

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Nineties nostalgia is cute when it’s all about overalls and Nicki Minaj sampling “Baby Got Back,” but Ralph Nader is taking it too far, by trying to revive his all-too-successful late ‘90s campaign to convince huge numbers of American liberals that there is no meaningful difference between Republicans and Democrats.

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I have a box in my office filled with hate. It contains bumper stickers, literature and t-shirts I collected while researching Confederates in the Attic, a book about Civil War memory in the South.

“Coon-ard Lines: Boat Ticket to AFRICA,” reads one '90s-era item I picked up at a store selling rebel-themed souvenirs. “This ONE-WAY ticket entitles ONE nigger” to passage to Africa, as well as “axel-grease for hair,” “chicken coop and watermelon patch on deck” and “crack and other refreshments.” (A similar version is pictured below.)

The flyer of a white supremacist group features Nathan Bedford Forrest—slave trader, fierce Confederate general, and founder of the KKK—emblazoned against a rebel battle flag. Forrest fought against “race-mixing” and the federal government’s attack on “freedom for the white people,” the flyer notes. “Today we are being recalled to defend our race and nation.”

The journal of the South Carolina Council of Conservative Citizens shows photographs in 1992 of demonstrators waving the rebel banner at pro-flag rallies. Adjoining stories carry headlines like “Malcolm X Followers Rape, Murder White Woman,” and “Charleston Rape Downplayed by Liberal Media.”

In the mid-1990s such materials were widely available and I kept them as a sort of reliquary of an unapologetic racism I believed would soon go extinct. Last week’s massacre in Charleston proved me wrong. Dylann Roof often photographed himself with rebel battle flags and cited the Council of Conservative Citizens as one of the sources for his race hatred and obsession with black-on-white crime. Before opening fire he spoke about the black rape of white women.

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When South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, quickly supported by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, called for removal of the Confederate Battle Flag that flies on the Statehouse grounds in the wake of national protests following the terrorist attack on Emanuel AME Church, it represented an inflection point in the complicated relationship of the Republican Party with the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. It’s been especially complicated in the state that initiated the Civil War, and where for decades the dominant figure in the GOP was the party-switching former Dixiecrat candidate for president, Strom Thurmond.

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Yet again, House Republicans are taking aim at family planning. Last week, the House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee released a budget proposal for fiscal year 2016 that would remove all family planning funding under the Title X program. The Title X program provides access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including cancer screenings, contraceptive care, STI testing and much more, for 4.6 million people.

The House GOP just declared war on it.

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I think I speak for many black people when I say that I’m wonderfully bored with white people’s obsession with policing whether or not it’s ever appropriate for a black person to use “nigger” and all its variances. The majority never really has a right to question the marginalized—but particularly when context is key. And yet, they do it anyway, again and again. This time President Obama is the target, but the intent is the same: to be caught up in a word rather than the crux of an argument about systemic racism.

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We live in an age where mass shootings are so common that there is now a template for politicians to plug in the victim’s names, the date and location of the massacre, and synonyms for words like “tragedy” and “horror.” In the last 36 hours, we've heard ersatz condolences filled with hollow words, anodyne phrases about "unimaginable" horrors.

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Kudos to whatever trickster thought it wise to poll Romney voters, asking them to rate how they feel about the Duggar family from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting and how they feel about President Obama. The result—67 percent of Romney voters like the Duggars better than they like Obama—perfectly encapsulates one of the most troubling aspects of modern conservatism: the way that it’s ultimately about irrational tribal politics over everything else.

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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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