TPM Cafe: Opinion

In the latest episode of the immigration reform saga, President Obama has decided … not to decide. From political point of view, it is easy to understand Obama’s inaction: when important policy decisions are subject to cycles of electoral politics, there are few incentives and strong disincentives to take action. As a panel of experts from the nonpartisan Scholars Strategy Network recently commented, inaction affects real people — Americans and immigrants — and creates opportunity for additional problems.

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When I asked my colleague in Gaza about her biggest dream, her answer made an impression on me: “I dream of what life would be like with 24-hour electricity.” This was the answer of a single, mid-career, western educated, professional woman who lives in the more affluent part of Gaza City. Her response suggests the depth of despair among Palestinians throughout Gaza.

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Director David Fincher’s film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling book Gone Girl arrives on the big screen on Friday. Which means it’s a grand time revisit the titular character Amy’s epic Cool Girl rant — and not just because it’s one of the few aspects of the story one can discuss without risking spoilage; the screed is truly a thing of beauty. If you’ve somehow forgotten the choice passage (or are one of the five people on earth who didn’t devour the book like … well, like Cool Girl downs chicken wings—extra sauce, please), allow me to refresh your memory:

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A perennial question in every election cycle is what this or that political contest — or for that matter, the whole national event — is “about.” Is it determined by historical patterns or “fundamentals,” as political scientists often insist? Is it a “referendum” on this or that, or a “mandate” for this or that, as ax-grinders invariably argue (with greater or lesser validity)? Is it a contest of brute force between donors and activists on the two major “teams” who are mainly seeking to “rally the troops?” Or is it a struggle for persuasion focused on a relative handful of “swing voters?”

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What an ironic twist. In the same month the NFL is trying to restore its image off-the-field, its latest guffaw happened on the field, in just a moment’s time. The NFL has admitted it was wrong to penalize Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah, a devout Muslim, for going to his knees in a gesture known as sujood, as we saw famously during Algeria’s H World Cup match this summer, after he scored a touchdown in Monday's win over the New England Patriots. As NFL spokesman Michael Signora stated, “Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) states 'players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.' However, the officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play."

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Twelve years ago, when I was first dating my husband, I woke up in the middle of the night in agony. The pain in my lower abdomen felt like a million razors and I wanted help urgently. I felt terribly embarrassed because I knew it was a urinary tract infection (UTI), evidence that I was in a sexual relationship. I didn’t want to ask my new boyfriend to take me to get medication. I was also ashamed to admit that even though I had two part-time jobs I was uninsured and really could not afford to go to the Emergency Room. On top of the pain and the embarrassment of having an illness that was surely related to sex, I knew I would have to ask my new boyfriend to help pay the $300 out-of-pocket cost.

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In my last TPM column, I suggested that ad hominem attacks on Campbell Brown were inappropriate and part of a rhetorical pattern for the opponents of education reform. The response was, frankly, scathing. The vast majority of responses were via anonymous emails and tweets accusing me of a variety of things: being a crypto-corporatist, a “basterd” [sic] whose column was a “tongue bath” for Brown and Michelle Rhee, and so on. One guy longed for Brown to be violently beaten for her views. I’m from the Midwest. I have neither the inclination nor the rhetorical juice to go blow for blow with those folks.

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The brave Colorado high school students who are protesting their school board's attempt to rewrite their American history curriculum are doing all Americans a favor. They are reminding us of the importance of dissent and protest in our nation's history.

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I never for one moment thought I would feel envy at a 40 Days for Life rally.

I’ve been to a number of clinics, marches and other events in my time covering anti-abortion groups and clinic access. I’ve seen Good Friday protests with close to 500 people all marching silently and somberly in an endless loop in front of a clinic, and I’ve watched countless self-proclaimed sidewalk counselors chase patients through doors, yelling at them not to kill their babies.

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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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