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Archive for November 1st, 2014

Mexican Judge Releases U.S. Marine Reservist

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Mexican Judge Releases U.S. Marine Reservist
Marine reservist Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, jailed in Mexico on gun charges since March, was ordered released by a judge in Mexico and the charges were dismissed Friday. The 26-year-old reservist was arrested March 31 and claimed he got lost and accidentally crossed the Mexican border with three firearms in his pickup truck. Many U.S. officials including the State Department lobbied for his release. Unlike American law, in Mexico one is guilty until proven innocent and the decision rests solely in the judge’s hands.

5 Football Players Beat Man, Yell ‘Football Strong’
Five football players from California University of Pennsylvania were arrested and suspended from the school after police say they beat and stomped a man outside an off-campus restaurant, then fled yelling “Football strong!”The victim was in intensive care Friday with severe brain trauma. Police said the players attacked Lewis Campbell, 30, of West Chester, as he was trying to stop an argument between his girlfriend and a player at about 2 a.m. Thursday. Corey Ford, Jonathan Barlow, D’Andre Dunkley, Rodney Gillin Jr. and James Williamson are charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, harassment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. The school forfeited the teams’s game Saturday.


Liberia Opens Large Ebola Treatment Center

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Liberia Opens Large Ebola Treatment Center
President recalls those who died without getting help.

Virgin Galactic’s allure: space and celebrities
The explosion of a Virgin Galactic rocket ship during a test flight over California has almost certainly dashed founder Richard Branson’s goal of starting passenger flights next spring. Information about Virgin Galactic, its backers, and its goals:

Before Midterms, Obama Plugs Policies for Women
Democrats need strong turnout by women on Tuesday.


Why Washington’s marijuana businesses want Oregon to legalize pot next

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Why Washington’s marijuana businesses want Oregon to legalize pot next
Marijuana retailers in Washington are eager to see whether neighboring Oregon’s retail pot measure passes

Mitch McConnell: Obama should “move to the middle” to work with the GOP
Senate Republican leader says GOP is ready to work with Obama for the next two years, if he’s ready to work with them


Mike Huckabee Calls On GOP To Investigate Disreputable Claim That Obama Administration Hacked Attkisson’s Computer

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Mike Huckabee Calls On GOP To Investigate Disreputable Claim That Obama Administration Hacked Attkisson’s Computer

From the November 1 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Saturday:

Previously: 

Computer Security Experts: Attkisson Video Of Purported “Hacking” Likely Just A Stuck Backspace Key

Sharyl Attkisson’s Stonewalled Tells Conservatives What They Want To Hear


An Iranian Who Could Balance Tehran’s Factions?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

An Iranian Who Could Balance Tehran’s Factions?
David Ignatius, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — An intriguing new figure is gaining prominence in the Iranian government just as regional conflicts in Iraq and Syria intensify and nuclear talks with the West move toward a Nov. 24 deadline. The newly prominent official is Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s national security council. He played a key role last summer in the ouster of Nouri al-Maliki as Iraq’s prime minister. In interviews over the last few weeks, Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese, European and U.S. officials have all described Shamkhani as a rising political player. “He is a person in the middle,” with close links to both…

Ebola Response: Coordinated But Not Cohesive
Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics
Ron Klain was among the last to enter the East Room on Wednesday, the first to stand to applaud President Obama, and something of a smiling usher as more than 200 invited health and science guests filed out more than 20 minutes later. As the president’s Ebola response coordinator for exactly a week, Klain has been busy. Events suggest as much, and the president’s spokesman offers general accounts of Klain contributions when reporters keep asking, day after day. But when a journalist waved at Klain, beckoning him to join the photographers and reporters roped off along the side of…

Trende’s Tuesday Scenarios; Hagan-Tillis Close-Up; Early Voting Tallies; Rumble in the Jungle
Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics
Good morning, it’s Thursday, October 30, 2014. It’s only five days until Election Day 2014. It’s also John Adams’ birthday. The brainy Founder from Braintree, Mass., came into this world — a world he did so much to shape — 279 years ago today. And on this date 40 years ago, the heavyweight championship of the world was decided in the central African nation of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo. The boxing match, held at 4:30 a.m. so it could be shown in prime time in the United States, featured two American fighters: former heavyweight champ Muhammad…


Abuse inquiry ‘must start soon’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Abuse inquiry ‘must start soon’
The government is urged to get an inquiry into historical child sex abuse moving quickly after Fiona Woolf stood down as its chairwoman.

‘Sweatshop’ claims over T-shirt
The Fawcett Society vows to investigate claims its pro-feminism T-shirt – worn by leading politicians – has been made in sweatshop conditions.


Dems turn to Clintons, not Obama

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Dems turn to Clintons, not Obama
The Clintons have crisscrossed the country in recent weeks for Democratic candidates.


Labour Party Leader Backs Replacing House of Lords

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Labour Party Leader Backs Replacing House of Lords
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, proposed replacing the House of Lords, which traces its roots to the 14th century, with an American-style elected Senate.



Burkina Faso’s President Resigns, and General Takes Reins
President Blaise Compaoré quit as violent protests against his 27-year reign in the West African nation showed no signs of winding down.



Quick History: American Partisanship, From Sports to Disease
This week was a good one for baseball spectators; some politicians burnished their images by embracing the spreading fear of Ebola.



In Torrent of Rapes in Britain, an Uncomfortable Focus on Race and Ethnicity
Widespread abuses involving so-called grooming gangs put an uncomfortable spotlight on issues of race, religion and ethnicity — and the slow response of law-enforcement authorities.



Putin’s Way: Putin’s Friend Profits in Purge of Schoolbooks
When the number of approved textbooks for Russia’s 14 million schoolchildren was slashed by more than half, one publisher with close ties to President Vladimir V. Putin profited handsomely.




Deadly Halloween Across the Nation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Deadly Halloween Across the Nation
At least 15 people were killed and nine others injured in accidents and a fire connected to the festivities from California to New York.




The Unexpected Dark Side Of Amy Poehler’s New Book

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 1st, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Unexpected Dark Side Of Amy Poehler’s New Book

I liked it and I loved it. But not for the reasons I expected.

The post The Unexpected Dark Side Of Amy Poehler’s New Book appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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CREDIT: Graphic by Adam Peck

Amy Poehler makes a promise in the very first sentence of her book, Yes Please: “I like hard work and I don’t like pretending things are perfect.” And then she keeps it.

We usually think of Poehler as upbeat, beaming, bright. At least, I do. I am a diehard fan of all things Poehler: of Parks and Recreation, of “Smarts Girls at the Party,” of Regina George’s cool mom, of her hosting abilities, of Kaitlin at the Mall. It would make sense to go into Yes Please expecting to love all the obviously lovable things about her, and to admire all the obviously admirable things about her, and to just bask in the glow of her talent and brilliance, to laugh out loud while reading in public places.

Most of the book is all of those things. It is incredibly funny and gleeful. You will, in fact, laugh out loud, and feel the warmth emanating out of it, like the book is giving you a hug. Poehler is sunny and inviting, as you would imagine her to be, even leaving blank spaces in the book so you can contribute your own stories alongside hers.

But Yes Please is not just bright. It gets dark. And Yes Please really shines in these darkest places.

Poehler lets us see when she has been petty or shallow or shortsighted or cruel, when she has failed to apologize or be grateful, when she cares about the things that everyone knows you’re not supposed to fess up to caring about, like appearances and winning awards. Even when she’s being nostalgic about her hometown, with all that Bostonian pride, she is quick to chase descriptions of good times had while drinking in the woods with her horror at how many teenagers’ funerals she attended. “I think about the few times I drove drunk and I picture all of the beautiful families I passed in my car whose lives I could have taken.”

She writes, early on, that she “cannot, in good faith, pretend I have fallen in love with how I look… I wish I were taller or had leaner hands and a less crazy smile. I don’t like my legs, especially.” Just as she starts to romanticize her early, broke-ass years in New York, she admits that she only got by because her mom and dad helped her out: “Money? Who needed money when I was already so rich? (I was very poor. I needed money badly. I borrowed a lot from my parents.)” She confesses to reveling in twisted, gruesome true-crime stories and names the act of doing so “the ultimate narcissistic white-girl game.” Divorce, post-partum depression, a chronic inability to sleep through the night, a fear of crowds, being “trapped in an awful cycle of insecure narcissism”: she doesn’t dodge one.

There’s a chapter, “sorry, sorry, sorry,” in which Poehler, in great play-by-play detail, describes an incident in which she waited years and years to apologize for hurting someone. She was playing Dakota Fanning in a Saturday Night live sketch—the bit hinged on Fanning’s over-the-top precocity and, by extension, her inability to relate to or understand children and childlike interests—and, in this episode, Poehler-as-Fanning announced that she was the lead in a movie called Hurricane Mary, “where my sister and I play severely disabled twins.” Poehler writes that, at the time, she was busy and assumed the movie was something the writers made up; in the sketch, she takes out a mangled-looking doll and says that it can’t play with the Miley Cyrus doll: “I wish I could but I am severely disabled.”

Poehler got a letter months after the episode aired from Marianne Leone and Chris Cooper who, respectively, wrote and directed Hurricane Mary, a real movie based on a real girl who really had cerebral palsy.

The letter, Poehler writes, “was simple and painful.” But she did not reply or apologize; instead, she got angry and embarrassed. She threw the note in the trash. Five years later, through a conversation with Spike Jonze (as Poehler points out, “I bet you didn’t expect so many A-list names in my apology story!”), she was able to reach out to Leone, Cooper and Anastasia, the girl upon whom Hurricane Mary was based.

The entire email exchange is in the book. It is not all forgiveness and loveliness and the-past-is-in-the-past. Poehler writes about having done a “shitty thing” and she does not just let herself off the hook for that thing. Poehler even edits her own apology, looking back on the original email she sent, highlighting the weak spots, the moments when she was flailing around, insisting on facts and excuses, when she should have drilled down to what really mattered, the way that she hurt someone else.

Celebrities insist that they are “real,” and they get rewarded for grand displays of realness, in this carefully constructed manner that could not be less real. Most of that practiced realness is so obviously unreal it makes you feel nauseous, all the no-makeup selfies of people who still have had their hair blown out by a professional, all the “oh, I’m so embarrassing” stories spilled on Letterman’s couch that are about as embarrassing as the fake-truths you reveal on a first date. The fact that this supposed realness only puts the person in question in a more flattering light tells you everything you need to know about how actually fake it is.

How many famous people -– how many people like Poehler, the crux of whose appeal lies in how much people adore her –- would publish an email exchange like this, in which every other person in the story looks better than she does? I detag pictures on Facebook where my hair looks weird; I know I am not alone here.

The books to which Yes Please is often compared are its predecessors in the female comedian memoirland: Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns. Both of these comparisons are apt, in that, if you liked those books, you will definitely like this book. There’s the behind-the-scenes dirt on their shows, the chapters devoted to celebrity friendships, the “how I made it” stories.

But the book that Yes Please actually reminded me of was a different kind of memoir: Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Both of these women look the hardest truths of their lives square in the face without flinching. You are not supposed to look such glaring things directly. It’s like viewing an eclipse; you shield your eyes, you poke a hole in a paper plate. But they stare straight at the sun, and are all the brighter for it.

The post The Unexpected Dark Side Of Amy Poehler’s New Book appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Three Things Conservatives Wrote This Week That Everyone Should Read

Helping liberals understand where their ideological foes are coming from.

The post Three Things Conservatives Wrote This Week That Everyone Should Read appeared first on ThinkProgress.

elephant-6

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Welcome to TP Ideas‘ weekly roundup of the best conservative writing! Every Friday, we take a look at three pieces by right-leaning writers that constructively articulate core elements of their worldview. The goal isn’t to find conservatives telling us how right liberals are, but rather to pick out writing that helps liberals understand where their ideological foes are coming from.

So let’s get started.

1. “Why The Politics Of Fear Will Never Go Away” — Robert Golan-Vilella, The National Interest

When he originally ran for office in 2008, President Obama promised to eradicate the “politics of fear” from American foreign policy. But as Robert Golan-Vilella observed in the National Interest this week, fear still reigns. Guantánamo Bay remains open, the National Security Agency’s mass-surveillance programs are still in place, and ISIS is being hyped as an existential threat by politicians on both sides.

After laying out the history of Obama’s failure to alter the discourse around foreign policy, Golan-Vilella turns to Michael J. Glennon’s new book, National Security and Double Government, and its thesis that the United States actually has not one government, but two:

The first consists of the formal institutions that we know and recognize — the presidency, Congress, and the courts. The second is made up of the network of officials that run the country’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic agencies. While the public believes that power rests in the former, Glennon writes, it is the latter that effectively determines the course of U.S. national-security policy.

The individuals who make up this network, according to Glennon, share a broadly similar disposition toward the outside world. They are likely to “define security in military and intelligence terms rather than political and diplomatic ones.” They will always be blamed if they are seen as doing too little to protect Americans, but never if the threats they predict fail to materialize or if spending on security crowds out spending on other important national priorities. Therefore, as Glennon quotes Jeffrey Rosen as saying, they have “an incentive to pass along vague and unconfirmed threats of future violence, in order to protect themselves from criticism.” And, like the managers of any organization, they have every incentive to ask for ever-larger budgets for U.S. military and intelligence agencies.

Finally, and paradoxically, it’s in part because America’s overall power position is so favorable that it is easy to hype the dangers that remain. The United States today is deeply fortunate that it does not have a true peer competitor or share a border with a hostile nation. Most great powers throughout history have faced these kinds of challenges. However, in the absence of a threat of this type, Americans seem to have responded by displaying higher levels of fear regarding the threats that do still exist. Thus, for example, polling data showed that in 2012, the U.S. public considered the threat presented by Iran to be roughly on par with that of the Soviet Union during the 1980s. It’s safe to say that if the Soviet Union still actually existed — with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at the United States and engaged around the globe in a series of proxy wars against it — those numbers probably would have looked pretty different.

What makes the essay particularly helpful is Golan-Vilella does not lay blame on the Administration or Obama specifically, but rather on deeper structural factors with which liberals and conservatives alike have failed to grapple. Along with the two-government phenomenon, Golan-Vilella observes that neither party has an incentive to downplay the politics of fear; the Republicans gain from ginning up foreign threats, while the Democrats can only lose and appear weak if they try to downplay those threats. Presumably a large enough foreign policy catastrophe could leave a bad enough taste in the public’s mouth that the Democrats could begin scoring political points by puncturing Republican hawkishness. For a time, that even seemed to happen with the Iraq War. But the current panic around ISIS suggests even a debacle on the scale of Iraq will stick with the public only a few brief years. It’s a sobering read.

2. “On Brunch And Business” — Marina Olson, Ethika Politika

Brunch, of all things, has been a subject of debate recently. The kerfuffle was kicked off by David Shaftel, whose pointedly-titled New York Times piece, “Brunch Is For Jerks,” connected the rise of brunch to an influx of young, unmarried, childless professionals into urban areas who carry out what he sees as a kind of farce of adulthood. Over at Ethika Politika this week, Marina Olson joined the discussion by arguing brunch constitutes a genuine, if inadequate, attempt to replicate family and community connections in an urban environment that’s increasingly economically hostile to those aspects of human existence.

In particular, Olson calls out the notion that the sole moral obligation of any business is profit, and argues that logic leads to environments where everyone works ever-longer hours, and must atomize and subsume ever-greater portions of their lives to the demands of their workplace:

Our lives aren’t compartmentalized into boxes labeled “work,” “life,” and “work/life balance.” Being human isn’t segmented, it’s continuous. How we work — more time in the office, longer hours, more flexibility to move or travel at a moment’s notice — affects how we engage our communities, and how we build interpersonal relationships. The fact that employment can draw professionals so far from family and the traditions of the ordinary life does not eradicate our desires for those goods. And though Shaftel has managed to settle himself into the routine of family life, with only 26 percent of millennials married, many young professionals experience keenly the yearning for communal engagement and traditions; brunch is a way of creating community based traditions for the 74 percent of us who are living somewhat non-traditional lives.

So people go to brunch: for the socialization, for the routine, for the idea that something matters in this world beyond a corporate existence. And yet, brunch itself as a young urbanite institution is a band-aid solution to a society that is increasingly inimical to communal institutions as well as to communal ties. We are confronted with a question of what society prioritizes: if profit, then the personal will be contingent on the demands of the corporate. Society will praise those who can cut ties, while all of us will not quite shake the nostalgic reminiscing of times past when family was closer than a $500 plane flight. Solving a problem like corporate capitalism requires more than brunches, but the modern brunch does indicate that no matter how crazy our jobs are, we all still crave community. Even when our environment encourages autonomy, we will create a space for breaking bread together.

What’s interesting here is the way Olson takes a traditionally liberal critique of the rapaciousness of market logic, and uses it to defend the traditionally conservative concerns around thick family and communal ties.

There’s also a deeper opportunity for liberal self-reflection here. The same creative professionals who have turned brunch into a phenomenon are one of the key voting groups in the Democratic coalition. Meanwhile, the cities to which they’re flocking — and in which they’re finding the human social fabric so difficult to maintain — are the places where the inequality that liberals decry is most severe. That in turn implicates liberals in many of the very urban forces and policies that have rendered the normal family and middle-class life Shaftel defends impossible. All of which suggests liberals are not prosecuting the fight against inequality nearly hard enough, and have underestimated the degree to which their own communities and priorities have already been warped by it.

3. “Better Than Regulation” — Eli Lehrer, The Weekly Standard

Getting decent climate policy out of the U.S. government has been like pulling teeth. The 2009 cap-and-trade bill went down to ignominious defeat, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants remains embattled and deeply hated by Republicans.

Eli Lehrer argued in The Weekly Standard this week that a carbon tax could ostensibly break this gridlock. Because it reduces carbon emissions in a particularly efficient and market-friendly manner, the policy could ostensibly enjoy support from experts and thinkers across the political spectrum. But as Lehrer points out, the idea remains anathema to GOP politicians. He thinks liberals could change this, but they would have to give up “new revenue, new regulations, and new resource development restrictions” to make it happen:

A carbon tax, properly constructed, could encourage energy producers to find the lowest-cost ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while leveling the playing field for energy sources like nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro. A first step might be for the EPA to allow states flexibility to pursue their own carbon taxes in lieu of subjecting themselves to new greenhouse gas regulation. Such an approach could prove a hugely attractive political option for Republican office-seekers, who would be able to promise cuts to state income, property, or sales taxes, while giving the boot to EPA busybodies. In private discussions, OMB officials have made positive noises about the possibility of allowing this to happen under the current law, and states including Virginia and Washington have discussed the possibility. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) has introduced a bill that would make state-level carbon taxes an option.

But all of these possibilities would require those on the left to come to the table by giving up their own dreams of recycling carbon tax proceeds into “green jobs” schemes and other boondoggles beloved of progressives. Some environmentalists are on board with the notion of a revenue-neutral carbon tax (although many insist on difficult-to-administer schemes that would provide a “dividend” to taxpayers), but that cohort shrinks significantly when it’s proposed that the tax replace EPA regulations, much less preempt energy-related regulations like fleet fuel-economy standards for automobiles. To have any chance of political success, a carbon tax would have to do exactly these things.

Finally, to bring conservatives around to the idea, a carbon tax should also be coupled with a general easing of restrictions on energy development, particularly natural gas.

Because it builds the price of climate change into fossil fuels from the beginning, a (sufficiently punitive) carbon tax really would make fuel-economy standards, EPA’s power plant rule, and restrictions on fossil fuel drilling technically redundant. Liberals won’t give up on the goal of massive public investment in renewables, but that’s something the U.S. should be doing regardless — there’s no reason to politically tie that goal to the revenue from a carbon tax. But while state-by-state carbon taxes would be better than nothing, one federal carbon tax would make life simpler for businesses. It would also allow Lehrer’s revenue-neutrality goal to be hit by reducing payroll taxes — the form of federal taxation that falls hardest on the poor and working class — an equivalent amount.

The post Three Things Conservatives Wrote This Week That Everyone Should Read appeared first on ThinkProgress.