The Orange Menace and the Angry Snowman: A Cautionary Tale

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“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...]

Was the Constitution Racist? Sanders and Wilentz May Both Be Wrong

Sean Wilentz Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders thinks America was founded on racist principles. Sean Wilentz, the Pulitzer Prize nominated historian, disagrees. “The myth,” wrote Wilentz in an op-ed published in the New York Times, “that the United States was founded on racial slavery persists, notably among scholars and activists on the left who are rightly angry at America’s racist past.” So who’s right? Neither. Bernie Sanders’s statement about America’s racist Founding was not a proper argument, nor was it really meant to be. Sanders’s concern is justice today, and whether it is income equality or racial injustice he is targeting, the past is more of a convenient backdrop than a site of serious inquiry. Sean … [Read more...]

Donald Trump’s (and America’s?) Latino Problem: Oranges, Immigration, and Labor in Southern California

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trump spoke about illegal immigration and other topics in front of an estimated crowd of 4,200. (Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images)

When Donald Trump bellowed his now-famous screed against immigration, accusing Mexican migrants of crime, disease, and more or less undermining America, howls could be heard across the nation in response to what many saw as racist, cynical demagoguery. For California and Los Angeles, his comments hit home particularly hard. After all, this past June it was announced that in July 2014, at nearly 15 million, Latinos surpassed whites as the state's largest ethnic group. Of the 55 million plus Latinos nationally, California's share of Hispanics ranked first among all other states, with Los Angeles County tops within the Golden state.1 From piñatas to the unmentionable, Mexicans and Mexican … [Read more...]

Will and Grace and Cam and Laverne: The Power of LGBT Characters in Pop Culture

Will and Grace and Cam and Laverne

Joe Biden once famously said that Will and Grace “did more to educate the American public [about gay rights] than almost anything anybody's ever done so far.” While some may have dismissed the statement as a typical, off-the-cuff Bidenism, others understood the implicit premise: that the (relatively) positive portrayal of gay characters on programs such as Will and Grace (1998-2006) and Modern Family (2009-present) helped get Americans used to the idea of LGBT people as good, ordinary friends, parents, and neighbors. But can popular culture have such a direct effect on popular opinion? Given the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decisions in Lawrence (2003) and Obergefell (2015), it’s a … [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...]

Musical Fugazi: Politics, Post Punk, and Reevaluating D.C.’s Most Famous Rock Band 25 Years Later


Last December, amidst one of D.C.’s colder and more snow-filled winters, a symbol of the city’s musical past appeared above one of its most travelled corridors. Over the I-495 Beltway on the CSX railroad bridge between Georgia and Connecticut Avenues, someone had spray painted six glorious uneven letters: “Fugazi.” The band had not played a note in over a decade yet here it stood a rough-hewn testament to their one-time presence. “I find it odd that someone painted ‘Fugazi’ on a railroad bridge in 2014,” wrote John Kelly in the Washington Post, “It’s like painting ‘Clapton is God’ on a London brick wall today. The moment has passed.”[1] To Kelly’s credit, he quickly pointed out that a … [Read more...]

Politics of Surfing: Environmentalism and Feminism Among California’s Waves


  "California's oceans, waves and beaches are about to become a little cleaner thanks to the efforts of the California State Legislature this week!" the environmental surfing advocacy group, Surfrider Foundation, recently declared. On August 29, 2014, the California legislature overwhelmingly approved a statewide ban on single use plastic shopping bags and imposed a $.10 fee for their paper counterparts. Over the past six years several iterations of similar bills had come and gone, each unsuccessful in its attempt to gain passage. However this year's version, SB 270, authored by three Los Angeles area state senators -- Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) and … [Read more...]

Indiana GOP Rep. Decries Creeping “Ving Rhames-ification” of America


Mark Lawson, a Republican lawmaker from Evansville, spoke out on Tuesday against a trend that he sees as threatening the future of the United States.  President Obama's executive order allowing some 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country was a gross violation of the separation of powers under the Constitution, Lawson said on the floor of the State House.  He also referred to the recent announcement of Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential bid, saying that it did not matter whether a Democrat or Republican won in 2016. "If America keeps allowing thieves and criminals to run rampant over our laws and Constitution," Lawson said, "there won't be much of a Constitution left when the … [Read more...]

Roy Moore Is Right. Sort of.

This was fun. Let's do it again in 50 years

On Monday, February 9, 2015, Alabama became the 37th state to permit gay marriage. Well, sort of. Federal judge Callie Virginia S. Granade had already told Alabama on January 23rd in Searcy v. Strange that its “sanctity of Marriage” constitutional amendment was in direct violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.[1] The state’s attorney general had asked for a stay to this ruling, hoping that some clarity might come from the Supreme Court’s upcoming Gay Marriage Cases, to be decided in this term.[2] But on Monday, February 9, the Supreme Court declined to issue the stay. Gay couples immediately applied for marriage licenses, and by this writing, several had been granted. But Alabama is not … [Read more...]

¡La Lucha Continua! Gloria Arellanes and the Making of a Chicano Movement in El Monte and Beyond

Brown Beret Pics 007

“So we moved here to El Monte, and I remember all the neighbors were white,” recalled Gloria Arellanes in a 2011 interview conducted by the UCLA Library Center for Oral History Research.[1] “Eventually white flight came about and they started moving out to the Covina area, San Bernardino area.” This was extremely different from East Los Angeles, where she was born in 1941. Growing up in El Monte was not easy, she explained. Unlike East Los Angeles, where ethnic solidarity and family had sheltered her, in El Monte, discrimination and racism were omnipresent. It was not uncommon for her to hear disparaging comments about Mexicans: “that we were lazy…We’re dirty. In those days…[Y]ou couldn’t … [Read more...]


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