TPM Cafe: Opinion

There’s been quite the buzz in the chattering classes this week over Robert Draper’s suggestion in the New York Times Magazine that the Republican Party, and perhaps even the nation, may finally prepared for a “libertarian moment,” likely through the agency of the shrewd and flexible politician Rand Paul. It’s obvious, in fact, that some of the aging hipsters Draper talks to who have been laboring in the libertarian fields for decades glimpse over the horizon a reconstructed GOP that can reverse the instinctive loathing of millennials for the Old Folks’ Party.

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The F word never fails to agitate. Women bend over backwards to duck the Feminist brand, whether it’s the celeb du jour who’s disqualified herself on the grounds that she loves men or doesn’t believe in labels, or the everyday women populating the “Women Against Feminism” Tumblr, holding signs bearing rationale like: I don’t need feminism because I enjoy being a homemaker and stay-at-home mom; A child with disabilities is my joy of life not a problem; My husband is my best friend and he treats me like a queen; I am not a victim.

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The battle for reproductive rights in Texas entered a new phase last week, with a second challenge to House Bill 2, the state’s high-profile abortion restriction bill. At issue are two specific sections of the bill: that abortion providers must have admitting privileges (in particular, as that requirement applies to Reproductive Services in El Paso and Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen), and that all reproductive health clinics that provide abortions must meet the same building requirements as ambulatory surgical centers. It is estimated that if that requirement goes into effect as scheduled next month, fewer than 10 clinics in Texas — a state with more than 26 million residents, that covers an area of 270,00 square miles — would be able to remain open.

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When 2015 rolls around, will an all-Republican-controlled 114th Congress come with it? It pains me to say it, but I wouldn’t want to bet much against it. A Republican takeover of the Senate is quite likely, and the outcome would be pretty dreadful.

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Last night’s Kansas primary was generally regarded by the punditocracy as the last, best chance for a tea party upset of a Republican establishment Senate candidate (yes, Lamar Alexander faces a challenge in Tennessee tomorrow, but few give Joe Carr more of a chance than Dave Bratt in his hopeless effort to topple Eric Cantor in June). As virtually everyone expected, Sen. Pat Roberts defeated Milton Wolf, though Wolf’s own exposed vulnerabilities made it less than a fair fight, and the final tally was a lot closer than most polls suggested.

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A press conference on Monday by the McDaniel campaign suggests that the campaign found far fewer illegal votes than the approximately 7,600 votes separating him from Sen. Thad Cochran in the MS Republican Senate primary. Instead, it sounds like the campaign has alleged only 3,500 votes cast by voters who also (presumably illegally) voted in the earlier Democratic primary. There are 9,500 other votes said to be “irregular,” and 2,500 allegedly improper absentee ballots.

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Folks on both sides of the Common Core fight are getting increasingly serious. Common Core supporters are warning each other about the dangers of dismissing their opponents as “crazies.” And on the other side, at a recent Glenn-Beck-sponsored event, militant Common Core opponents suggested that Common Core skeptics should quit trying to link the standards to a “communist takeover” or “brainwashing” (to be fair, this came on a night where Common Core were attacked for trying to “cash in your children”).

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