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8 Juicy Bits From the Clinton Documents Release

8 Juicy Bits From the Clinton Documents Release

By Katie Zavadski

Hillary Clinton may be gearing up for a 2016 run, but Friday was dedicated to reliving the 1990s with Bill. The Clinton Presidential Library and the National Archives released more than 10,000 pages of presidential documents today, including lots of juicy morsels from the Monica Lewinsky scandal and meetings around Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

 
The Capitalist Cure for Terrorism

The Capitalist Cure for Terrorism

Military might alone won’t defeat Islamic State and its ilk. The U.S. needs to promote economic empowerment

As the U.S. moves into a new theater of the war on terror, it will miss its best chance to beat back Islamic State and other radical groups in the Middle East if it doesn’t deploy a crucial but little-used weapon: an aggressive agenda for economic empowerment. Right now, all we hear about are airstrikes and military maneuvers—which is to be expected when facing down thugs bent on mayhem and destruction.

But if the goal is not only to degrade what President Barack Obama rightly calls Islamic State’s “network of death” but to make it impossible for radical leaders to recruit terrorists in the first place, the West must learn a simple lesson: Economic hope is the only way to win the battle for the constituencies on which terrorist groups feed.

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Here’s the Peru story in brief: Shining Path, led by a former professor named Abimael Guzmán, attempted to overthrow the Peruvian government in the 1980s. The group initially appealed to some desperately poor farmers in the countryside, who shared their profound distrust of Peru’s elites. Mr. Guzmán cast himself as the savior of proletarians who had languished for too long under Peru’s abusive capitalists.

What changed the debate, and ultimately the government’s response, was proof that the poor in Peru weren’t unemployed or underemployed laborers or farmers, as the conventional wisdom held at the time. Instead, most of them were small entrepreneurs, operating off the books in Peru’s “informal” economy. They accounted for 62% of Peru’s population and generated 34% of its gross domestic product—and they had accumulated some $70 billion worth of real-estate assets.

This new way of seeing economic reality led to major constitutional and legal reforms. Peru reduced by 75% the red tape blocking access to economic activity, provided ombudsmen and mechanisms for filing complaints against government agencies and recognized the property rights of the majority. One legislative package alone gave official recognition to 380,000 informal businesses, thus bringing above board, from 1990 to 1994, some 500,000 jobs and $8 billion in tax revenue.

These steps left Peru’s terrorists without a solid constituency in the cities. In the countryside, however, they were relentless: By 1990, they had killed 30,000 farmers who had resisted being herded into mass communes. According to a Rand Corp. report, Shining Path controlled 60% of Peru and was poised to take over the country within two years.

Peru’s army knew that the farmers could help them to identify and defeat the enemy. But the government resisted making an alliance with the informal defense organizations that the farmers set up to fight back. We got a lucky break in 1991 when then-U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle, who had been following our efforts, arranged a meeting with President George H.W. Bush at the White House. “What you’re telling me,” the president said, “is that these little guys are really on our side.” He got it.

 
How the White House tried to handle Monica Lewinsky

Former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky is pictured. in 1998. | AP Photo

The Clinton White House tried just about everything to pull itself through the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

A trove of documents released Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library sheds light on the White House’s internal machinations as it coped with the scandal — from efforts to discredit rivals and attack the media to attempts to boost West Wing spirits by sharing supportive op-eds or the unfavorable poll numbers for special prosecutor Kenneth Starr.

The emails follow the arc of the scandal as it grew from a media frenzy to a constitutional crisis and then began to subside as President Bill Clinton regained political support after the release of Starr’s explicit report

The earliest documents illustrate some of the mundane aspects of Lewinsky’s job.

She was copied on an email in February 1996 about how White House staff should have received a subpoena from the counsel’s office for files related to the travel office. A month later, Lewinsky put in an official request to hang a picture in the legislative affairs office of Clinton signing a telecom bill.

By April 1996, as the West Wing grew concerned about Lewinsky’s relationship with Clinton, aides exchanged emails about placing her at the Pentagon.

“We are working closely with DOD to make this happen for Monica,” Patsy Thomasson, the White House deputy director of personnel, wrote on April 9, 1996, several days after Lewinsky had been removed from her West Wing job. “We have not finalized the deal but are working toward that end. … Our direction is to make sure she has a job in an Agency.”

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As the scandal unfolded, senior adviser Sidney Blumenthal shopped around negative stories about Clinton’s critics, including book publisher Lucianne Goldberg and conservative pundit Bill Kristol. Blumenthal also spent quite a bit energy trying to push back at Christopher Hitchens, the late Vanity Fair writer, who had claimed that Blumenthal had spread defamatory stories about Lewinsky.

 
American beauty: F60 America, Ferrari's new launch

American beauty: F60 America, Ferrari's new launch

By Michael Harvey

This extraordinarily beautiful Ferrari F60 America was launched in Beverly Hills today (Friday). The new roadster — which celebrates 60 years since Enzo Ferrari delivered his first cars to the USA — is yet another indication that the market for ultra-luxury new cars is morphing into a high-octane analog for the art market; the last four Ferrari launches now (if you include the factory-approved Pininfarina Sergio) have been limited editions; just ten F60s will be made and — like the 499 LaFerraris, the six Sergios and the 499 Speciale As — they are all spoken for. Ferrari has a purple rope behind which only its most loyal customers are welcome.

These cars are incredibly collectable and worth more than the purchase price on the day of delivery; demand for the Speciale A is running at ten times supply, according to one UK dealer. Ferrari won’t say how you get access to the VIP club, only that “it’s a complicated algorithm that has to equate a customer who has recently bought a new Ferrari for every member of the family, and a collector who might have spent tens of millions of dollars on classics, but spent that money with an auction house or dealer and not with the factory…”, in the words of an insider.

So what are the ten American Ferrari “black card” owners getting for their rumoured $2.5million? Well the F60 America is based on the front-engined F12 super GT and shares that car’s 6.3-litre, 730bhp V12 only the F60 has changed gearbox ratios which make it more accelerative at the expense of top speed (well, if 210mph is a tad excessive in Europe, its verging on the deranged in the US). But if the mechanicals are familiar, the design is anything but.

Charged with creating a car in the same spirit as the 275 GT4S NART Spider (commissioned by Enzo’s original US importer Luigi Chinetti in the late 60s), Ferrari’s designers have done more than merely chop the roof from the F12. All the car’s surfaces have been re-sculpted (there really is no other word for it), the nose and tail extensively remodeled. It’s a proper roadster (not a targa top like previous open version of Ferrari’s big GTs), with a flat rear deck under two fairings behind the driver’s and passenger’s heads. A white strip along the length of the car is an appropriate tribute to Chinetti’s North American Racing Team’s colours.

 
Olbermann apologized to Clinton for Lewinsky coverage

Keith Olberman (left) is pictured in a composite image at left, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton are pictured at right in 1995. | AP Photo

Olbermann apologized to Clinton for Lewinsky coverage

Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann sent a letter to President Bill Clinton in 1998 personally apologizing for his network's coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, newly released files from the Clinton Library show.

In October of that year, Olbermann wrote a letter to the president apologizing for "whatever part I may have played in perpetuating this ceaseless coverage (of the Lewinsky story)," according to an email from Clinton aide R. Scott Michaud.

Olbermann also told the president that intended to return to his previous career in sportscasting: "I'll be heading back to my previous career in sports as quickly as possible," Olbermann wrote.

In Michaud's email to other White House aides, he attached an E! Online article revealing that Olbermann had confronted then-MSNBC president Andrew Lack about his frustrations with the network's Lewinsky coverage. The host wanted out of his three-year contract, the article stated.

 
Clinton Library to Release Lewinsky, Whitewater Documents Today

Clinton Library to Release Lewinsky, Whitewater Documents Today

By Peter Nicholas

For Clinton conspiracy buffs who don’t suffer from eye strain, Friday could turn out to be a memorable one.

At 1 p.m. ET, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library will release nearly 10,000 pages of records devoted to some of the most high-profile controversies that dogged Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1990s.

The topics, as described by the library, include: “Monica Lewinsky,” “Whitewater,” “Vince Foster,” the “pardon of Marc Rich,” and “staffing of the White House Travel Office.”

The documents are the seventh batch of records released by the library on a rolling basis since February. All had been previously withheld from public record requests because they were exempt from disclosure for one of two reasons: They involved appointments to federal office or they dealt with confidential advice between the president and his advisers.

Those exemptions have since expired, setting in motion the papers’ release.

An axiom of political communications is that it’s best to dispense unwelcome news on a Friday, on the theory that people are focused on the weekend and paying less attention to the newspapers and TV news shows. All seven document releases from the Clinton Library came on a Friday.

 
Single, Childless and 45: So What's Wrong with You?

Single, Childless and 45: So What's Wrong with You?

By Melanie Notkin

I hadn't planned it this way. I have always been open to love and relationships...

October comes in innocently enough, stretching the edges of summer into fall. But then, one night, seemingly out of nowhere, a cold chill touches my shoulders like a former lover I've tried to shake from memory. I shiver. My heart falls; I know that another long winter is approaching and I'm still alone.

I hadn't planned it this way. I have always been open to love and relationships. I have held on to hope and to expectations and to dreams and to grief and to men I should have let go of much sooner. I have been high on love and tip-toed on top of clouds. And I've lost my breath under a dark cloud, wondering why it's so hard for me to have the long, meaningful relationship I deserve.

I'm at a bar, on my first date with Brian, a man I met online. I'm happy to be inside, sitting next to this man, warm and calm. At age 45, I'm no longer focused on the future; I'm no longer envisioning my life as one half of a young couple, thinking about our future children. I'm focused on the moment I'm in right now. This is life. This is my life. And notwithstanding it not turning out the way I had expected, my life is beyond my expectations. I have chosen to live my life to its potential, and I've never felt better about myself or more comfortable in my own skin.

 
36 Hours in Berkeley, Calif.

36 Hours in Berkeley, Calif.

More than four decades ago, Alice Waters, a pioneer of farm-fresh California cuisine, opened Chez Panisse in a jewel-box Craftsman-style building just north of downtown Berkeley. Other outstanding food purveyors followed, but this being a university town, Berkeley’s culinary landscape remained heavily colonized by frozen yogurt vendors and cheap burrito and ramen joints. But a recent spate of openings, from a shochu-focused Japanese tavern to a modern Mexican restaurant serving tlayuda and house-made sangrita al fresco, have filled in the gaps, expanding and elevating the dining options available in newly stylish pockets of downtown. They’re all worthy, grown-up stops to pepper a weekend spent exploring this vibrant college community, rich as ever with music, independent bookstores and cafe culture. Rest assured that the hippie spirit is alive and well in the barefoot buskers and longhaired denizens biking through town.

 
The Art of Slowing Down in a Museum

The Art of Slowing Down in a Museum

Ah, the Louvre. It’s sublime, it’s historic, it’s … overwhelming.

Upon entering any vast art museum — the Hermitage, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art — the typical traveler grabs a map and spends the next two hours darting from one masterpiece to the next, battling crowds, exhaustion and hunger (yet never failing to take selfies with boldface names like Mona Lisa).

What if we slowed down? What if we spent time with the painting that draws us in instead of the painting we think we’re supposed to see?

Most people want to enjoy a museum, not conquer it. Yet the average visitor spends 15 to 30 seconds in front of a work of art, according to museum researchers. And the breathless pace of life in our Instagram age conspires to make that feel normal. But what’s a traveler with a long bucket list to do? Blow off the Venus de Milo to linger over a less popular lady like Diana of Versailles?

“When you go to the library,” said James O. Pawelski, the director of education for the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “you don’t walk along the shelves looking at the spines of the books and on your way out tweet to your friends, ‘I read 100 books today!'” Yet that’s essentially how many people experience a museum. “They see as much of art as you see spines on books,” said Professor Pawelski, who studies connections between positive psychology and the humanities. “You can’t really see a painting as you’re walking by it.”

 
Fareed Zakaria: Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now

Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now

When television host Bill Maher declares on his weekly show that “the Muslim world . . . has too much in common with ISIS ” and guest Sam Harris says that Islam is “the mother lode of bad ideas,” I understand why people are upset. Maher and Harris, an author, made crude simplifications and exaggerations. And yet, they were also talking about something real.

I know the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It has a following of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t fit these caricatures. That’s why Maher and Harris are guilty of gross generalizations. But let’s be honest. Islam has a problem today. The places that have trouble accommodating themselves to the modern world are disproportionately Muslim.

In 2013, of the top 10 groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks, seven were Muslim. Of the top 10 countries where terrorist attacks took place, seven were Muslim-majority. The Pew Research Center rates countries on the level of restrictions that governments impose on the free exercise of religion. Of the 24 most restrictive countries, 19 are Muslim-majority. Of the 21 countries that have laws against apostasy, all have Muslim majorities.

There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrates violence and intolerance and harbors deeply reactionary attitudes toward women and minorities. While some confront these extremists, not enough do so, and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the Arab world today?

The caveat, “Islam today,” is important. The central problem with Maher’s and Harris’s analyses are that they take a reality — extremism in Islam — and describe it in ways that suggest it is inherent in Islam. Maher says Islam is “the only religion that acts like the Mafia, that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.” He’s right about the viciousness but wrong to link it to “Islam” — instead of “some Muslims.”

 
The resurrection of Robert Downey Jr.

Forbes named Downey "Highest Paid Actor" for a second straight year. (Getty)

The resurrection of Robert Downey Jr.

Jeff Weiss

A decade after his career was fitted for a casket, the actor has gone from down and out to the top of his game.

“The continual need for confidence approval eventually ran dry. It might be fun in your 20s, but now I’m confident what I’m capable of,” Downey says, crossing his legs and vainly attempting to trace the provenance of a preternatural gift. “What I’m capable of isn’t that special, but I know how to work it.”

 
Why are the media playing lapdog and not watchdog – again – on war in Iraq?

obama kerry power

Why are the media playing lapdog and not watchdog – again – on war in Iraq?

Medea Benjamin

Fear sells, violence sells, war sells. The mainstream press just sold another American war

A war-weary American public that a year ago resoundingly rejected US military intervention in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime now is rallying behind the use of force to destroy the so-called Islamic State (Isis). In just three months, from June to September, support for US airstrikes in Iraq soared from 45% percent to 71%, and to 65% for airstrikes in Syria.

How did such an astounding turnabout occur? Certainly it wasn’t due to the persuasive powers of President Obama, who seems to have been reluctantly dragged into a conflict that he once acknowledged has no military solution.

The credit for selling Obama’s war on Isis must go to the mainstream American media.

Day after day, night after night, the press relied on propaganda from both Isis and the US government to whip up fear and a thirst for revenge in the American public. Gruesome beheading videos distributed by Isis were played over and over. The media not only regurgitated official US messages but packaged them better than the government itself ever could.

And then, as if Isis wasn’t enough to whip up public fear itself, the Khorasan Group suddenly appeared as the US media compliantly latched onto the new script leaked by anonymous officials, just a few days before Syrian air strikes were set to begin. Khorasan, they told the public on the administration’s behalf, is a group of hardened terrorists more dangerous than Isis because it plans to attack commercial planes using flammable clothing or exploding toothpaste.

The imminent Khorasan attack justified the ensuing U.S. bombing. However, it was later reported that Khorasan – if it even exists – is just a handful of militants whose plans were not so imminent. Few media bothered to follow up on that aspect of the story.

 They sensationalized the supposed threat from Isis even as intelligence agencies insisted that the group poses no immediate threat to the United States. A chorus of fearmongers, Republicans and Democrats alike, appeared on TV to insist that the American way of life is at stake. The hysterical Senator Lindsey Graham claimed that Isis is out to murder each and every one of us. Senator Bill Nelson advocated cutting off the “head of the snake” before Isis could fly its black flag over the White House. Former CIA and Pentagon chief Leon Panetta warned Americans to brace for a 30-year crusade. The media even trotted out “experts” on war – or at least war-mongering – like John McCain, Dick Cheney and even former presidential envoy to Iraq, Paul Bremer.

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Sadly, the public is not getting what it deserves: a well-rounded debate about the pros and cons of military action. Why has a decade of support for the Iraqi army and years of covert CIA support for the Syrian opposition been so fruitless? How much might this intervention cost? (So far, the bill has been more than $1bn.) How will Middle East monarchies that funded extremists suddenly become exemplars of democratic values? What is the endgame in Syria? Will Bashar Assad still be in power? What are the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East? (The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the US bombings already have attracted 6,000 more recruits to Isis.) And most important of all: what are the alternatives to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians? The voices of people proposing political solutions other than slaughter are the voices the public deserves to hear.

Wars usually start with overwhelming public approval once the White House and the national security apparatus get the media to beat the war drums. It’s only after people tire of war that the media really begin to seek answers to questions that should have been asked before the bombs were launched.

 
Journalists Should Stop Exalting Loyalty Among Elites

Journalists Should Stop Exalting Loyalty Among Elites

Conor Friedersdorf

Former cabinet secretaries owe allegiance to the American public and the truth, not the presidents who appointed them.

At the White House, the cabinet is perennially stocked with all the ingredients for memoirs that criticize the president. Take thousands of pounds of choice secretaries; stir in liberal dollops of internal disagreement; let simmer over the heat of life-and-death decisions; add three teaspoons of ego, a dash of hindsight, and six-figure book advances, and it's no wonder that Leon Panetta, former head of the CIA and the Pentagon, has become the latest in a long line of high-level aides to fillet a former boss as he spends his waning term as a lame duck at Pennsylvania Avenue.

The substance of Panetta's foreign-policy critique is arguably half-baked, for reasons outlined by Peter Beinart, Kevin Drum, and Daniel Larison. Panetta's reflexively hawkish assumptions strike me as unsupported and reckless. But if the man believes that President Obama is making poor decisions on matters as grave as war—and that his experience and expertise could inform a superior policy—he has a civic responsibility, in a representative democracy with co-equal branches, to speak up with what he regards to be the truth while his words still matter. One needn't presume that Washington memoirs are written with motives so lofty to see them as salutary so long as they are earnest, cogent, and timely.

 
George Clooney, Amal Alamuddin's new home 'Downton Abbey' country

RESTRICTIONS APPLY: USA/CANADA ONLY

George Clooney, Amal Alamuddin's new dream home is a stunning estate in 'Downton Abbey' country

BY Bill Hutchinson

The newlyweds are now the proud lord and lady of The Mill House, a sprawling 17th-century manor on the River Thames in the British countryside. The nine-bedroom, eight-bathroom limestone domicile has amenities fit for a king and queen — and the Daily News has obtained exclusive photos of the spectacular home and grounds.

George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin leave on Sept. 29 after a civil ceremony in Venice to officialize their wedding.

The Oscar winner and his lawyer bride are the proud lord and lady of The Mill House, a sprawling 17th-century manor on the River Thames in the British countryside. They closed on the love nest Monday, nine days after their Venetian wedding, according to the title filed with the Land Registry office in Gloucester, England.

While the actual price Clooney and Alamuddin, a London-based human rights lawyer, paid for the property was undisclosed, the estate was listed last year for $16 million on the RightMove website.

RESTRICTIONS APPLY: USA/CANADA ONLY

The grounds are especially Downton-esque, with lawns stretching all the way down to the Thames. In addition to the charming footbridge, there’s a greenhouse and a garden pavilion dotted with mature specimen trees and flower beds.

 
The Secret Service enabled the Reagan shooting

Secret Service agents restrain John W. Hinkley in the aftermath of his shooting President Reagan outside the Washington Hilton.    Associated Press photo

The Secret Service enabled the Reagan shooting

By Ronald Kessler

So far, Secret Service corner-cutting and laxness have not led to an attack on President Obama. But on March 30, 1981, the Secret Service’s actions led directly to the assassination attempt on President Reagan.

Ironically, Reagan’s own White House staff was most at fault. The Secret Service wanted Reagan to emerge from a speech at the Washington Hilton without any spectators present. The Reagan White House staff overruled the Secret Service, though, insisting for public-relations purposes that crowds have access to the president. The Secret Service improperly backed down and let unscreened bystanders within 15 feet of Reagan. As a result, John W. Hinckley Jr. had a clear shot and almost killed the president.

 After the shooting, the Secret Service covered up what had happened. However, as reported in my book “The First Family Detail,” six years after Hinckley shot Reagan the Secret Service’s Office of Training assigned agent William Albracht to teach new agents about what was called the “Reagan Attempt.”

On the one hand, Mr. Albracht taught that agents on his detail performed magnificently to save Reagan’s life. But Mr. Albracht’s class synopsis sets forth the damning facts. It says the Reagan White House staff overruled the Secret Service and demanded that the public be allowed without any magnetometer screening almost within touching distance of the president as he left the hotel.

 
Obama: ‘Suicide’ for Republicans not to pursue immigration reform

Obama: ‘Suicide’ for Republicans not to pursue immigration reform

Brian Hughes

President Obama on Thursday said Republicans were committing political “suicide” by not passing comprehensive immigration reform, saying that GOP resistance to legislation would alienate Hispanic voters and an entire generation of immigrants.

“It’s anyone’s guess how Republicans are thinking about this,” Obama mused at a town hall event in Santa Clara, Calif., aimed at millennials.

“If they’re thinking long-term politically, it is suicide for them not to do this,” Obama said of the GOP.

 
Jane Fonda drops bombshell, citing mother’s 9 abortions

Actress and event host Jane Fonda poses at the Rape Foundation's Annual Brunch at Greenacres on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

Jane Fonda drops bombshell, citing mother’s 9 abortions

By Cheryl K. Chumley - The Washington Times

Pro-choice Hollywood icon Jane Honda — and the liberal activist whose name still draws a hiss from Vietnam veterans and military supporters — dropped a bombshell during a speech before a Beverly Hills rape victims’ charity crowd, referring to a recent report she read about her mother and her mother’s many abortions.

The actress said that after she read the full report, “everything fell into place” about her mother’s promiscuous past and manic-depressive behaviors, she said, the media outlet reported.

“I knew [the reason for] the promiscuity, the endless plastic surgery, the guilt, the inability to love or be intimate, and I was able to forgive her and forgive myself,” she said, LifeNews reported.

 
Why Broadcast Journalism Is Flirting With Jon Stewart

Why Broadcast Journalism Is Flirting With Jon Stewart

Conor Friedersdorf

The norms of comedy permit its practitioners to treat politicians with irreverence and skepticism that very serious news anchors seldom equal.

Would network news be better if politicians were interviewed by comedians rather than broadcast journalists? That's one question raised by Gabriel Sherman's report that NBC executives wanted Jon Stewart to host Meet the Press, the prestigious Sunday morning interview program. Had higher-ups at NBC pursued Jimmy Kimmel or Sacha Baron Cohen for the gig, they'd stand accused of undermining the quality of their news programming to chase ratings. But few doubt that The Daily Show grapples with politics and policy, often with more sophistication than the broadcast journalists it incisively mocks. For that reason, news that Stewart was considered for the gig has prompted earnest debate about the merits of the idea. Some say he's "a devastatingly effective interrogator," others that he's "congenitally unprepared for any serious policy discussion."

That fight is beside the point. Interviews on The Daily Show are uneven, but they're also a rushed afterthought on a daily program the purpose of which is to get laughs. How would Stewart perform given a week for interview prep and a charge to inform? I'd wager he'd do better than any Meet the Press host. But that is a low bar. It's too early to fairly judge Chuck Todd, who has recently taken over the program, but his predecessor, David Gregory, was true to the form of the typical Sunday morning show: he was complicit in political theater, a deferential broadcaster asking easy or faux-tough questions on matters of fleeting importance. Politicians responded by regurgitating banal talking points. Meet the Press is the sort of show John McCain bragged about having been on more than anyone.

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The subtext of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Last Week Tonight (the best of the three) is that elected and appointed officials belong to a suspect class of people who've earned intense skepticism and are better mocked than venerated. Even if the shows go easier on Democrats than Republicans, all three are straightforward proponents of the notion that all politicians are somewhat absurd, base characters; often in over their heads; and willing to shamelessly lie and spin.

This is more often than not the truth.

 
After Maher-Affleck, We Need an Honest—and Calm—Dialogue on Islam

Yes, You Can Criticize Muslims

By Dean Obeidallah

After Maher-Affleck, We Need an Honest—and Calm—Dialogue on Islam

Team Affleck needs to acknowledge that some criticisms are valid. Team Maher needs to stop stereotyping. And both teams: cool it down.

It’s been one week since the epic brawl between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on HBO’s “Real Time.” This fight was like something we typically see in reality shows, complete with name calling and screaming. But as opposed to the donnybrooks we’ve seen on “The Kardishians” over issues like “why are you looking at my man?!”, this battle was about a faith of approximately 1.5 billion people.

So now that tempers have calmed somewhat on both sides of this skirmish, the question that must be asked is: Can we have an honest and reasonable discussion about Islam? 

As a Muslim, I not only say yes, but I say we need to. There’s simply too much misinformation – some intentionally distributed (I’m looking at you Fox News and certain GOP officials), and some by people simply repeating half-truths or lies they have picked up along the way. 

Regardless of the reason, it’s time to discuss Islam, the good and the bad, in a responsible and respectful way. This applies to both those on Team Maher and Team Affleck as well as those in between. (Full disclosure: I’m definitely on Team Affleck.)

First, to my fellow Team Affleck peeps, we can’t react in a knee-jerk fashion to every criticism of Islam by calling people bigots or racists.  Believe me, I understand the impulse. In fact, I’ve done just that many times, but only after I thought long and hard and decided the person really deserved the term. But it’s clearly not helping in the bigger picture of fostering understanding and countering misconceptions.

Rather, we must acknowledge that some criticisms are totally valid, such as questions about laws in certain (not all) Muslim-majority countries that codify discrimination against women or call for the death penalty for gays. And we must distinguish between those wanting to have an honest discussion that includes real criticism of Islam/Muslims with those who are truly anti-Muslim bigots, like the Pam Gellers and Frank Gaffneys of this country who profit off peddling Muslim hate through book sales and lectures. There’s nothing we can say to change the views of those people. Instead we can only marginalize them to the fringes of society like we have collectively done with racists, anti-Semites and homophobes.

To the Team Maher people, I respectfully ask that you please be specific in your criticism.  What I mean is if you want to have a productive conversation, avoid phrases like, “The Muslim world all thinks…" or “They hate us for our freedoms.”  And please leave out the truly bigoted comments like the one Maher made in 2011 on CNN when criticizing Muslims: “They bring that desert stuff to our world.”

And by the way, “the Muslim world,” as the media loves to call it, doesn’t exist. At least not in the sense that there's universal agreement on Islam or how it should be followed.  A Pew study in 2013 made that very point revealing that Muslims around the world disagree in big numbers on almost everything connected to Islam.

 
Oregon's first lady's secret past: A green card marriage to teen

Oregon's first lady's secret past: A green card marriage to teen

She was briefly married to an Ethiopian, but even the governor didn’t know.

A few years ago, Oregon’s first lady, Cylvia Hayes, shared her rags-to-riches journey — from her dilapidated childhood home in Washington state, to a tent on government land in Oregon, to the governor’s mansion, where she now lives with Gov. John Kitzhaber (D).

But she never mentioned the Ethiopian immigrant she married 17 years ago and divorced in 2002. When stories seeped out this week that she helped him obtain U.S. residency in exchange for $5,000, she said she needed the cash.

“It was a marriage of convenience,” she said in a statement. “He needed help, and I needed financial support.”

Hayes, 47, wiped away tears during a news conference Thursday, explaining that when she married the 18-year-old immigrant in 1997, she was “associating with the wrong people” and attempting to pay for classes at Evergreen State College near Seattle. She said she used the money to buy a laptop and cover school expenses. She was so “ashamed and embarrassed” of the illegal union she never even told Kitzhaber, her fiance — until the Willamette Week peeked into her past earlier this week.

Hayes was twice divorced and not yet 30 when she married an Ethiopian teenager identified as Abraham B. Abraham, who she met through a mutual acquaintance in Washington state. He was allegedly trying to stay in America to earn a college education.

Hayes said the two saw each other only a handful of times and never lived together.

“It was wrong then and it is wrong now and I am here today to accept the consequences, some of which will be life-changing,” she said.

Abraham eventually earned a mathematics degree from Greensboro College in North Carolina. He now lives in the Washington, D.C., area, according to public records. He declined to respond to calls and texts from the Willamette Week, and he refused to speak to a reporter who went to his home.

 
Gwyneth Paltrow to President Obama: ‘You’re so handsome’

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is pictured. | AP Photo

Gwyneth Paltrow to President Obama: ‘You’re so handsome’

By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE

Gwyneth Paltrow wants President Barack Obama to know: she’s just like everyone else.

She makes $16 million per movie, sure, but that doesn’t mean that she’s not worried about Obama getting equal pay legislation through Congress.

At a fundraiser for the DNC held at her house in Brentwood Thursday evening, she called the issue “very important to me as a working mother.”

In front of a crowd that included fellow actors Julia Roberts (who took her picture in front of the presidential limo on her way out) and Bradley Whitford (that’s Josh Lyman from “The West Wing”), Paltrow told Obama she was “one of your biggest fans, if not the biggest.”

Reminding Obama that she hosted an expat fundraiser for him in London when she was living there, Paltrow described Obama as a president who would be studied for generations, and a role model for everyone of this generation.

“It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass,” she told the crowd.

Then turning over the microphone, she said, “you’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly.”

 
Could terrorists turn themselves into Ebola suicide 'bombs'?

Terrorist group Isis may be considering using Ebola as a suicide bio-weapon against the West, according to a military expert

Could terrorists turn themselves into Ebola suicide 'bombs'?

Experts fear ISIS jihadists may infect themselves to spread virus in West

By Ted Thornhill for MailOnline

Terrorist group Isis may be considering using Ebola as a suicide bio-weapon against the West, according to a military expert.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person who is showing the symptoms – and it wouldn't be difficult for fanatics to contract it then travel to countries they want to wreak havoc in, according to a military expert. Capt. Al Shimkus, Ret., a Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, said that the strategy is entirely plausible.

 
The Micromanager in Chief

The Micromanager in Chief

David Rohde and Warren Strobel

How Syria overwhelmed an overcentralized White House

Throughout 2012, as signs mounted that militants in Syria were growing stronger, the debate in the White House followed a pattern. In meeting after meeting, as officials from agencies outside the executive residence advocated arming pro-Western rebels or other forms of action, President Barack Obama’s closest White House aides bluntly delivered the president’s verdict: no.

“It became clear from the people very close to the president that he had deep, deep reservations about intervening in Syria,” said Julianne Smith, who served as deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. “And the likelihood of altering those views was low, very low.”

This summer, events overwhelmed the status quo. In June, the radical group Islamic State, after seizing wide swaths of Syria, conquered Iraq's second-largest city and threatened Baghdad as the Iraqi army collapsed. The insurgents beheaded two American journalists, increasing U.S. public support for military action. Finally, U.S. intelligence agencies detected foreign jihadists who they believed had moved to Syria to plot attacks against the United States and Europe.

The radicals had undermined the administration’s argument that it had successfully ended the war in Iraq and were threatening Obama’s record of defending the homeland. The jihadists, said Smith, “turned the debate on its head.”

 
Prosecutor seeks arrest of Adrian Peterson for drug use

2014-10-09-adrian-peterson

Prosecutor seeks arrest of Adrian Peterson for drug use

Brent Schrotenboer

A prosecutor in Texas is seeking the arrest of Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson after he admitted to smoking a "little weed" Wednesday when submitting to a drug test, according to court records obtained by USA TODAY Sports. The issue relates to the conditions of his $15,000 bond while free on a felony child abuse charge. Peterson submitted to a urinalysis Wednesday and admitted to an employee of the drug-testing agency that he "smoked a little weed."

"In light of this statement, and the fact that it was made during the urinalysis testing process, and the term 'weed' is a common slang term for marijuana, the state argues that the defendant has smoked marijuana while free on bond for the current offense," the Montgomery County District Attorney's office wrote.

 
The GOP’s Inane Attack on ‘President Ebola’

The GOP’s Inane Attack on ‘President Ebola’

By Frank Rich

The death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, in a Dallas hospital is furthering fears of a larger outbreak. Republicans — particularly 2016 presidential hopefuls Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee — have criticized President Obama for his handling of the crisis and called on the White House to consider travel bans. Has Obama's response to Ebola been sufficient? And does it make any sense for the Republicans to attack him for a domestic outbreak that has so far claimed a single victim?

I am waiting for Donald Trump to weigh in so we can have the definitive explanation of how President Obama has masterminded the spread of Ebola. True, his birthplace of Kenya is in East, not West, Africa, but I imagine Trump’s investigators will discover some heretofore unknown Obamas in Liberia, including those who infected Duncan prior to dispatching him to the red state of Texas to target Ted Cruz.

While we wait for Trump’s Tweets on all this, let’s step back one moment and marvel at the way anything and everything can be politicized in America. A new Pew survey finds that only 48 percent of Republicans (as opposed to 69 percent of Democrats) have confidence in the ability of government to deal with Ebola. You’d think this might be because Republicans intrinsically are suspicious of big government, but Pew helpfully points out that when it asked the same question in 2005 during an outbreak of bird flu, 74 percent of Republicans had confidence in the government (as opposed to 35 percent of Democrats).

 
The New Fast: Enter the Forced Induction Engine

The New Fast: Enter the Forced Induction Engine

Weren’t muscle cars of the future supposed to be slow and joyless? Not so much, WSJ's Dan Neil says on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero.

 
Joseph Goebbels' wife’s descendants are Germany’s richest family

Family photo: Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels with his wife Magda and their children, as well as Magda's son from a previous marriage, Harald Quandt (in uniform), whose family has become the richest in Germany

Joseph Goebbels' wife’s descendants are Germany’s richest family

Magda Goebbels' descendants own a 46.7 per cent stake in BMW

By Ollie Gillman for MailOnline

Descendants of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels' wife have become the richest family in Germany. Magda Goebbels, who was one of the most influential women in the Nazi regime, married Hitler's close ally in 1931. The children of Harald Quandt, her son from a previous marriage, have just seen their family reach a combined net worth of about £24.5billion.

 
RFK Jr will be deposed in bitter divorce battle by the husband of his 'mistress'

kirwan preview

RFK Jr will be deposed in bitter divorce battle by the husband of his 'mistress'

By Sara Nathan for MailOnline

Robert F Kennedy Jr. is set to be quizzed over the exact nature of his relationship with his alleged mistress Chelsea Kirwan, MailOnline can reveal.

The Kennedy scion, who only married actress Cheryl Hines just weeks ago, will be dragged into the bitter divorce battle between Mrs Kirwan and her estranged husband, plastic surgeon to the stars Laurence Kirwan.

Dr Kirwan’s lawyers have informed Chelsea's legal team that they plan to depose both her and Mr Kennedy in a letter sent out this week.

All smiles: Robert Kennedy Jr and Cheryl Hines tied the knot on August 2 - despite allegations of his infidelity

The 62-year-old surgeon is currently trying to negotiate more time to see his three children with Chelsea and, as MailOnline has reported, was aware that she had enjoyed a close friendship with Bobby, as a source said: ‘Laurence was well aware that his wife and Bobby had a friendship before their split and that they have had ongoing telephone calls.’

Bobby, 60, allegedly had a two-year 'affair' with Chelsea, 42, which was reported earlier this year.

Soon after the news became public, a source said Bobby was set to be questioned under oath as part of the Kirwans' divorce case, saying: 'Chelsea fears Laurence’s lawyers want to discredit her as a wife and a mom.

 
We have a problem with sports in America – and it's not what you think

Phelps

We have a problem with sports in America – and it's not what you think

Caty Enders

Woe betide the athlete who wins Olympic gold, for he shall have gifs of himself, half-naked and screaming, played to eternity whenever he steps out of line, for the rest of his life – when did sports become moral arbiters?

The word came down this week that Michael Phelps would receive a six-month suspension from USA Swimming and will not compete in the world championships next summer – a significant penalty, considering that he’ll miss the biggest competition before the 2016 Olympic trials.

Greg Doyel of CBSsports.com took to his pulpit to say that he wished his own employer would follow that lead and mete out the severest of penalties should he be caught drunk driving: “Some judge somewhere should throw the book at me and then when the book settles to the floor my bosses here at CBSSports.com should pick it up and wallop me over the head with it. Suspension, at the least. Because CBSSports.com should stand for something more noble than a vehicular game of Russian Roulette.”

He went on to suggest – with relish – that USA Swimming’s judgment might just have ended Phelps’ career.

It seems these days that every time an athlete screws up off the field, the commentati are ready to hurl insults and exclamation points at our privileged punching bags, along with the leagues, who could always be doing more.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Mickey Mantle

Sports sociologist and author David Ripath of Ohio University remembers a time when there was a certain dubious omerta between sports writers and the teams they covered. “You had sports writers who knew that athletes were taking drugs and cheating on their wives. Mickey Mantle was a hard drinker and got behind the wheel and none of those things were found out.”

Something changed when we started to talk about athletes as role models. Ripath marks a transition in the 90s, when media became more competitive, desperate to drum up stories for the 24-hour news cycle. “There were other factors, but the OJ Simpson trial - that was huge. Not only did we hear about OJ Simpson allegedly murdering people, but we lived it for two years.”

..............................

Ripath argues that we compensate professional athletes well enough that they should be reasonably expected to meet a higher standard: “With great blessings come great responsibilities. You’re representing more than yourself.”

And what about Olympic athletes, who aren’t particularly well paid and have to shill for sponsorship, carefully tending that Bob Costas-narrated, soft-focus image? “When you’re an Olympic athlete, you’re representing the flag,” says Ripath. “Is it fair? Well, life’s not fair. Don’t be an Olympic athlete if you can’t step up to it.“

And by and large, they seem to meet that higher standard. It’s hard to calculate athletes’ offender rates, but by various estimates they seem to be comparable to the rest of affluent society’s. With one important exception: the NFL players’ standout criminal activity, according to Fivethirtyeight, is for domestic violence, which they categorize as “downright extraordinary”.

The shocking details of spousal and child abuse have created a groundswell of commentary demanding that the NFL “get tough” on players. This, despite the fact that the NFL has done a pretty cockeyed job of judging the relative seriousness of domestic violence versus weed use versus HGH.

We demand this of sports leagues because they’ve maintained that they can self-regulate and offer us a more perfect justice than we will find in the US legal system. Christian Dennie, an attorney and sports arbiter with Barlow Garsek & Simon, explains that closed-door arbitration provides a speedier judgment than a trial. He also points out that it’s a way to prevent the rich and famous from finding themselves above the law. In effect, sports arbitration is a way to restore legal balance, which is a sad acknowledgment of the state of our court system.

And there’s the rub. It seems that all of this increasingly cinematic handwringing over the state of our athletes’ moral fiber might be no more than an exercise in frustration over bigger problems in our society.

John H. Richardson said it best over at Esquire, in an excellent feature on Lance Armstrong’s banishment (which you really must read if you haven’t). He makes the case that disgraced athletes at this moment in time are our whipping boys for more significant violations of social code – violations that have gone unheeded by a broken justice system. Disgraced athletes are “the essence of this whole mean-spirited era when so many real villains have gone unpunished”.

Will athletes be scared straight by our collective gall? Will they live up to our great American mythos that the good guy always wins?

 
Why Don't Boom-Times Make People Happier?

Why Don't Boom-Times Make People Happier?

Bourree Lam

Recessions are no fun, but, annoyingly, periods of growth aren't as fun as they should be.

We know what effect recessions and booms tend to have on our bank accounts. But what about our feelings and wellbeing? The equation should be simple, right? Recession = sad. Economic boom = happy! But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Recent research says that those who graduate during recessions are happier in the long run—satisfied with being employed unlike boom-time graduates who wonder if they should be doing better. Emily Bianchi, associate professor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, likens this to research showing that bronze medalists at the Olympics are happier than silver medalists (who wonder why they didn’t win gold).

But what about the rest of us? New research from Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Michael Norton, professors at the London School of Economics and Harvard respectively, looks at four decades of data (collected from more than 150 countries, including one dataset from the Centers for Disease Control and covers 2.5 million U.S. respondents) to investigate the relationship between life satisfaction and the business cycle. What they found was that well-being is two to eight times more sensitive to negative economic times: Psychologically, a recession hurts a lot more than a boom helps.

De Neve says that this “untold story” is one of the unaccounted costs of a recession.  But why do we feel worse during recessions? This asymmetry can be explained by what economists call "loss aversion"—the human tendency to feel losses more strongly than gains, as demonstrated by the research of economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

The most extreme example of De Neve and Norton's finding is Greece: When GDP grew 50 percent from 1981 to 2008, happiness went up 5 to 10 percent. When the recession hit, well-being in Greece not only reversed all previous gains, but dropped to the lowest on historical record.

 
The Triumph of the Democratic Party

<p>One for the history books.</p>  Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Triumph of the Democratic Party

 
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