• Eva Longoria addresses delegates during the final session of Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 6, 2012. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

    Actress-Activist

    Eva: The Democrats’ Secret Power Player

    From working behind the scenes in the midterms to making a new farm labor documentary, actress Eva Longoria has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in liberal politics.

    These days, if you’re a rising star in Democratic politics, it is downright weird if you don’t have Eva Longoria in your corner.

    The 39-year-old actress starred on the long-running ABC satire Desperate Housewives and in more lackluster theatrical fare such as Harsh Times and Over Her Dead Body. She’s done commercials for L’Oréal, and hosted Saturday Night Live. But her work as an entertainer isn’t what’s earning her the biggest headlines these days—it’s her role as a serious political activist and powerhouse in Democratic politics.

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  • Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

    It’s Complicated

    The Christian Case for Abortion

    Wendy Davis’ abortion revelations raise the question: Can abortion be the most compassionate choice? Some religious leaders say yes.

    When news broke that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis had previously terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons, she received words of compassion from a surprising source. A spokesperson for Texas Right to Life called “the value of life precious” but nevertheless also stated, “Our heart goes out for the decision she had to make.” Part of what has struck a chord about Davis’ story is that it serves as a potent reminder that the factors that go into the decision of whether to have an abortion are rarely as black and white as public political debates pretend they are.

    Her story highlights the moral, ethical, and spiritual uncertainty that many Americans feel on the issue of abortion, particularly when confronted with the harrowing details of real women’s stories. In Davis’ case, one pregnancy was a danger to her own health, thus necessitating termination. But in another her fetus, if she survived birth, would have emerged deaf, blind, with a deformed brain, and in a permanent vegetative state.

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  • Mike Segar / Reuters

    Female Troubles

    What Do Women Want? Not the GOP

    It may be a good November for Republicans, but it could have been a lot better if the party had any idea how to talk to women voters.

    Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor, and David Perdue, the GOP nominee for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat, are locked in tight races. If they lose, women will have played decisive and outsized roles in their defeats. Walker is facing a challenge from Democrat Mary Burke, and trails by 4 points according to the latest polls. In the Peach State, Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, appears to have scratched out a tentative lead.  

    It’s not that Burke and Nunn are across-the-board favorites; far from it. Rather, both candidates have built up double-digit margins among distaff voters, and in the case of Walker, he has also managed to engender more than just a modicum of disdain. According to a WeAskAmerica poll released last week, Walker is suffering from a 15-point deficit among women, while holding only a 6-point edge among men. An earlier Marquette Law School poll showed a tighter race, but with Burke again easily beating Walker by 18 points among women. To put things into perspective, Barack Obama won the women’s vote in 2012 by 11 percent.

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  • Married American actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall attend a cocktail party at the Calvados cabaret club on the Champs Elysees, Paris, 1951. (FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    She Knew the Score

    Lauren Bacall Was a Great Liberal

    Of course we know Bacall, who died Tuesday at 89, for her wonderful acting. But we should remember her also as a smart and sharp liberal and anti-communist.

    Lauren Bacall was an amazing actress. The great black-and-white films are fading now from our collective memory now that the video stores are gone, and with Netflix keeping just a fraction of them available to us. But Robert Osborne, the godhead of TCM, will certainly ensure that Bacall’s great films take up most of the channel’s next two days, and rightly so.

    You should know all that. But here’s something else you should know about Bacall. She was a great liberal. And Bogey, too, in fact. They were, in those days when things like this really mattered, deeply liberal and deeply anti-communist. Which was the right thing to be, after all, because communism is as illiberal as fascism. Bogart reportedly once said: “We’re about as in favor of communism as J. Edgar Hoover.”

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  • Frank Polich/Getty Images

    SOFT BIGOTRY

    Democrats Pay Black Staffers 30% Less

    Campaign staffers who are people of color routinely get paid less than their white counterparts, and are often given less glamorous jobs. How an antiquated understanding of race relations results in minority staffers getting the short shrift.

    If you’re a person of color hoping to get hired by a political campaign, here’s the ugly truth: You’ll probably get paid less than your white counterparts, if you’re even hired at all. 

    On both sides of the aisle, there is a racial pay gap in campaign politics. Asian, Black and Latino staffers are paid less than their white counterparts, according to an analysis by the New Organizing Institute. 

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  • Reuters, AP

    INDEFENSIBLE

    The Death Penalty Is a Disaster

    The recent botched executions are just the tip of the iceberg. The death penalty is and always has been a financial and moral disaster.

    Another week, another botched killing under the legal euphemism of capital punishment. After macabre screw-ups in Oklahoma and Ohio, it was Arizona's turn last week, when double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood III took about two hours to die. The specific problem this time around was an apparently unreliable “cocktail” of the drugs used in the lethal injection process.

    But let’s face it: There’s no good way to kill a person, even one as completely unsympathetic as Wood (he killed his ex-girlfriend and her father, shooting them at point-blank range). As a libertarian, I’m not surprised that the state is so incompetent that it can’t even kill people efficiently. But I’m far more outraged by the idea that anyone anywhere seriously thinks the death penalty passes for good politics or sane policy. It’s expensive, ineffective, and most of all, deeply offensive to ideals of truly limited government.

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  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty

    Bipartisan

    Congress Finally Moves on Sex Assault

    One in five women who attend college are sexually assaulted—and a bipartisan group of senators is launching a new bill to change that.

    Senators are rushing to pass campus sexual assault reforms, introducing a landmark bill designed to provide resources to victims and enforce accountability at institutions of higher learning.

    But the machinery of government will be slow to move. Even if the law were passed and signed into law today, it would take some time for colleges and universities to implement its required changes.

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  • Elizabeth Warren waves to the crowd after her acceptance speech after beating incumbent U.S. Senator Scott Bown at the Copley Fairmont November 6, 2012 Boston, Massachusetts. (Darren McCollester/Getty)

    Donors Warn Warren: Do Not Run in ‘16

    As speculation about the Massachusetts senator’s presidential ambitions swells, her biggest donors have one thing to say: There’s no way on earth they’re backing her over Hillary.

    She “lit up” a gathering of liberal activists earlier this month with a barn-burner of a speech calling on Democrats to push back hard as thousands of attendees waved signs and chanted “Run, Liz, Run!” Her every denial that she will not run for president is parsed down to the verb tense for evidence that the door is open even a crack. She embarked on the kind of nationwide book tour that candidates-in-waiting always do as they drum up interest for a potential bid, and a “Ready for Elizabeth” draft movement is preparing to launch satellite chapters in states and cities around the country.

    But if Elizabeth Warren does in fact reverse her repeated denials of interest and decides to run for president, she will have to do so virtually alone. That’s because almost to a person, her earliest and most devoted backers do not want her to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

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  • Getty

    MIRACLE PILL

    The Pill Is More Than Birth Control

    We need to a better job of explaining that women use birth control for much more than delaying or avoiding motherhood.

    Lena Dunham recently sparked an online frenzy by tweeting about something that doesn’t seem particularly controversial: birth control. Her tweet “I need birth control because I have endometriosis and it helps manage pain. Why do you?” went viral. And at first I couldn’t figure out why. 

    Haven’t we all known since the contraception mandate debate began that there are a “few” women who “occasionally” use contraception for reasons other than delaying, or avoiding, motherhood? Sandra Fluke, for instance, name-checked some of these women during the congressional testimony that turned her into a conservative target and then a feminist rock star.

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  • Mark Makela/Reuters

    Voting Bloc

    How to Really Empower Black Voters

    Fifty years after the Freedom Summer, black voters are more powerful than ever. It’s time for both parties to realize this, and start competing for their support in earnest.

    For the first time in our history, according to the Census Bureau, blacks are now voting at a higher rate than whites. Roughly two out of three eligible blacks voted in the 2012 election, which is a greater percentage than the number of non-Hispanic whites who turned out to the polls. And while the presence of President Barack Obama on the ballot for re-election almost certainly drove up turnout, blacks are still the only ethnic group to show a significant increase in voting from 2008 to 2012.

    Nowhere is this trend more noteworthy than in the South where, as Nate Cohn recently argued in The New York Times, black voters may decide who controls the Senate next year. “If Democrats win the South and hold the Senate,” he wrote, “they will do so because of Southern black voters.”

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  • The Daily Beast

    Evolving

    Hillary’s Gay-Marriage Limbo

    She’d leave the decision to states, though many activists—and a growing number of Americans—view it as a constitutional right. Can she keep everyone on board for 2016?

    In the midst of a relatively rocky return to the public stage, it may have been the roughest moment. Hillary Clinton, on NPR, struggling to explain to Terry Gross on Fresh Air how she went from a “No” to a “Yes” on the question of same-sex marriage.

    “No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify,” Clinton snapped at one point. “I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons.”

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  • Getty

    Trouble Ahead

    The New Battle Over Reproductive Rights

    Why the pro-choice movement can’t get bogged down in a fight over laws to protect newborns.

    The reproductive rights debate has taken a startling turn over the past few years. Somehow abortion stopped being the preeminent issue, and was instead replaced by heated debates over birth control, insurance and a craft store called Hobby Lobby. But now the debate is preparing to enter a new phase, spurred by controversial new laws regulating what women can do while pregnant, and the impending legal battles could end up determining whether the pro-choice movement maintains any momentum or credibility in upcoming election cycles.

    Days ago, a woman named Mallory Loyola was arrested and charged under a new Tennessee law that criminalizes drug use by pregnant women that’s harmed their newborns. According to text of the bill, the law allows “a woman may be prosecuted for assault for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.”

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  • Diego Bervejillo/Getty

    The Front Lines

    We Always Need a Civil Rights Movement

    The civil rights movement is not some dusty antique—it’s alive and well today, and we need it as much as ever.

    When we hear the phrase “civil rights movement,” our minds automatically click into history mode and visualize those grainy and often searing black-and-white images from Birmingham and Selma. But that same energy and spirit—and urgency—are alive and well today, and as necessary as ever. 

    On Friday, July 11, 2014, a group of a hundred or so young and racially diverse leaders from across the United States sat in the Civil Rights Room of the Nashville Public Library and watched scenes from the legendary documentary film Eyes on the Prize. They focused on the portions that had local interest: Student leaders in Nashville in 1960 had been staging sit-ins to protest segregated lunch counters while tensions in the city steadily rose. On the morning of April 19, 1960, the home of a prominent black lawyer was bombed. 

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