The Orange Menace and the Angry Snowman: A Cautionary Tale

I'm with menopausal

“Borderline/Feels like I'm going to lose my mind/You just keep on pushing my love/Over the borderline,” sang Madonna in the Gen X 1980s classic. In so many ways, last night’s GOP debate epitomized the Material Girl’s 1983 dilemma. Whether it was Mike Huckabee’s work as a bassist in a J. Geils cover band (“My Angel is a centerfold”… named Kim Davis), Teddy Cruz’s bizarre pronunciation of Ayatollah Khamenei—it sounded like Common Knee, who I am pretty sure was a Native American leader in colonial times—or Jeb! Bush’s uncanny Will Ferrell impersonation, the Republican candidates seemed to cross borders real and imagined all night. The orgiastic love fest for the late Ronald Reagan edged ever … [Read more...]

Why Kim Davis Matters


It is not hard to see why Kim Davis’s story is being received with a collective national eye roll. It may be getting a lot of press, but that’s only because Deflategate finally seems to be over. One suspects that a slow news cycle is to blame when CNN dispatches reporters with cameras to film a leering Mike Huckabee leading a pie-eyed Kim Davis to a podium before a cheering crowd to a bootleg recording of “Eye of the Tiger.” But Kim Davis matters. Granted, not in the way she thinks, and certainly not in the way that Mike Huckabee thinks (if one can call his brain poop “thought”). Kim Davis matters because American constitutionalism is as much about managing dissent as it is proclaiming … [Read more...]

Alinsky, ACORNs, Sex, and Death at the Quicken Arena

Separated at hatching?

It's fitting that one of this summer's breakout hits was George Miller's new Mad Max epic. Though Fury Road featured a nearly mute Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa stole the show, a one-armed terror rescuing her fellow women from concubine status and ultimately prying it away from the desiccated hands of Immortan Joe and his lackeys. Indeed, though the Mad Max series has had its share of female protagonists—I mean, Tina Turner in Beyond Thunderdome was epic—Furiosa's vision, grit and bravery routed more than a few men along the way. What does this have to do with the first GOP debate last night? Well, besides a cast of characters as bizarre as Fury Road, including Chris … [Read more...]

A Guide to Recognizing Your GOP Candidates


We at ToM know how hard it has been to keep up with the GOP nomination race, especially since the remaining members of INXS, Eddie Haskell, and Mr. Mxyzptlk jumped into the race.  So we've put together this handy guide that should help our readers make sense of the crowded Republican field. Scott Walker: The Killa from Vanilla. Not sure about evolution, compares unions to ISIS, and has a definite case of helmet hair -- in other words, the trifecta! (Seriously, watch out for this guy. He’s like Alex P. Keaton without the charm or, you know, human feeling. A Terminator for people who thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was too “ethnic.”) Lindsey Graham: Gomer Pyle goes to … [Read more...]

Cry into Your Craft Beer, Democrats. All Is Not Lost

Businessman Matt Bevin Challenges Senate Minority Leader McConnell In Primary Election

As John Green often does in his Crash Course US history lectures, I’d like to consult Me from the Past. My own Me from the Past is from yesterday at 4PM, when it still seemed possible that Mark Begich’s GOTV strategy could lead to a surprise win and Bruce Braley’s ground operation would bring out Democrats in Iowa and North Carolina might actually reelect a Democratic Senator for the first time since Sam Ervin in 1968. What a wonderful world that would be! But we know it’s not necessarily a wonderful world we live in. Republicans basically swept the table last night, and Democrats can only console themselves by not losing Senate seats in New Hampshire and Virginia that should have easily … [Read more...]

Beyond the Bakesale: PTAs, Education Reform, & the Best of UHA 2014, Part 1


Several times a year, the intrepid reporters of Tropics of Meta follow the academic conference beat, checking out panels on everything from the Illuminati to Asian American basketball leagues and sissy rap. At their best, conferences offer a window into the freshest and most innovative historical scholarship, and our reports on panels aim to give readers an early look at the groundbreaking articles and books of tomorrow.  This year's Urban History Association conference was the organization's eighth biennial meeting, and the world's hardest working urbanists braved the persistent drizzle of "always sunny" Philadelphia to attend panels and plenaries on the campus of the University of … [Read more...]

Beware of the Blond Woman: Gender, Sexuality and the State in Modern Germany


Lola Lola, played by Marlene Dietrich in the 1930 film The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel), regales the cabaret audience with this advice: “Beware of blond women.” (Nimm dich in acht vor blonden Frauen.). As the first German “talkie” and with the definition of masculinity in question during the interwar years, it’s no surprise how The Blue Angel incorporates sound as a cinematic device to represent the “victim” of Lola’s gaze, Professor Rath. After meeting this strong-willed sex symbol, Rath’s voice devolves from a respectable, crowing rooster to the castrated whimper of a cuckold. Lola Lola typifies the modern woman, the “new woman,” who experienced greater opportunity and freedom as a wage … [Read more...]

“A singularly intricate situation has developed in Washington”: Some Historical Background on Hobby Lobby


If Progressive Era birth control reformer Mary Ware Dennett hadn’t been cremated in 1947 immediately following her death, she’d be rolling over in her grave today. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (or Burwell as the decision was handed down) has abruptly called forward again the long legal story of the fight for reproductive rights. Other landmark cases along this path have included Griswold v. Connecticut (1965); Roe v. Wade (1973); Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989); Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and somewhat more recently, Gonzales v. Carhart (2007). What’s Dennett got to do with all of this and why does it matter? We have to go … [Read more...]

Reasons for the Left to Be Optimistic

Optimistic Left

Being a liberal/lefty/whatever in America has never been easy, and it has seldom involved optimism.  Ever since Werner Sombart wondered “Why is there no socialism in the United States?” the Left has often seen itself as a chronic loser in US history, and especially since the historic routing of the New Left in the 1960s and the right-wing counterrevolution of Reaganomics in the 1980s, progressives could be regularly counted on to outmatch Eeyore in a dolefulness contest. In recent years the triumphs of corporate power and the Christian Right have meant that most on the Left have focused on defending what they’d already achieved rather than imagining anything better—hence the slogan “Another … [Read more...]

Newsmax vs. Truthout: The Mind of the Right and Left in Your Inbox

obamacare microchips

“Democrats,” the Cato Institute recently observed, “are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents…”  But it then described Republicans as “hateful, assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe… that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn’t administered quickly enough to secular-humanist professors of Chicano studies.”  What gives? The libertarian organization was simply filing a very funny amicus curiae brief (words not often seen together) in a Supreme Court case that deals with Americans’ right to say terrible things about each other.  The … [Read more...]


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