LIKE STEINBRENNER v. MARTIN: Robert Gibbs's Kinsley gaffe about the potential for Republicans to take over the House was an inadvertent and significant political error.
But the resulting conflagration was not primarily about what Gibbs said.
Indeed, the White House and Speaker Pelosi's office are putting out word tonight that there was NO mention of Robert Gibbs during the Speaker's meeting with President Obama today. And Gibbs made sure to pivot right back to the Republican record.
Tensions between the White House and the House have ebbed and flowed, but they've existed ever since the stimulus package ... ever since the House took a tough vote on energy legislation that the Senate didn't reciprocate ... ever since the House put the public option on the line, only to see it taken off the line. The perception that the White House protects the Senate and takes the House for granted is real.
Gibbs has apologized for his mistake; the White House has tried to tamp
down the angry words, knowing that public discussion of the kerfluffle
makes it harmful where it had just been hurtful. A memo describing the
scope of the White House fundraising activities seems to have done
little but open the anger vent even wider.
The main reason for Nancy Pelosi's behind-the-scenes thundering at a White House leg affairs staffer is legit: the DCCC and her candidates need big donors and small donors to pony up money to defend their seats. Conceding the possibility of a takeover could cost the committees and candidates millions of dollars. And it will no doubt help Republicans raise a significant amount of money. When Karl Rove stuck to the nostrum that Republicans would definitely
keep the House in 2006, it wasn't because he was stupid: it was because
he knew that the White House has a formidable signaling capacity to
donors and activist facilitators.
feel they've had the momentum the last four weeks ... with consequent malaprops from Rep. Joe Barton and Rep. John
Boehner. They were away for a week and worked their butts off back home, and
then Gibbs said what he did and that's what greeted them in Washington.
In the end, this is a Washington problem and compared to most Congress-President relationships, this one is quite strong. But feelings are raw, members' hides are raw, and those raw hides are on the line.
BTW: everyone in the House loves Vice President Biden. He's been their champion, money wise.
PENN PAL: Brian Goldsmith notes that the White House's message for the midterms, "forward not back" -- repeated ad nauseum since the Sunday shows -- seems to come from an unlikely source. Mark Penn suggested it in Politico and originally wrote it in 2005 on behalf of another embattled progressive party, British Labour, which then cruised to a win.
.CONDOM: Little noticed but quite important today: the Domain Name Service, the roots of the Internet, is now fully sheathed by a protective layer of digital authentication. What this means: it is now harder to damage the guts of the Net. For a year, the Department of Commerce has been working with the IT industry to get this done, and it's done.
NEXT WEEK'S TIME: Michael Crowley wrote the cover story on the
stalled economy. With the stimulus package soon to run out
and poor jobs numbers continuing and elections approaching, the
Obama administration is facing a difficult balancing act -- to spend or not spend?
REID TOO MUCH?: It was quite interesting to note what Sen. Harry Reid did not mention in his preview of the
Senate calendar for the remainder of the summer -- START ratification. The administration is still holding to the public line that it would like to see a
final Senate vote by the end of the summer, but with the treaty not yet out of committee and Senate floor time at a bare minimum, that is looking less and less
likely. This may have to be held over to September. There are whispers of a potential deal between Democrats and Republicans, but I'm only picking up whispers.
GOP & GAYS: Joshua Green's column tomorrow notices the spate of Republican judges who are advancing the cause of gay marriage:
[T]he Republican pedigrees of the judges moving gay marriage toward legality [is] all the more striking, particularly in how it contrasts with conservative outcries about judicial activism. But more than that, it's a gauge of how far from the mainstream modern conservative jurists have drifted.
Read more tomorrow.
BUSINESS BEAT: Daniel Indiviglio tells us that RealtyTrac will tomorrow release its
foreclosure data for June. Levels have remained high this year, but appear to be
improving a little over the past few months. The next few days will provide a
double-dose of inflation data. The government provides producer price level
tomorrow and the consumer price index on Friday. The Senate Banking Committee will
hold hearings on Thursday to begin to consider President Obama's three nominees
for new Federal Reserve governors. They include Janet Yellen, Peter Diamond, and
Sarah Bloom Raskin.
Jobs are the top message priority for Republicans, too, but they've been dog-whistling to their base on the "broken promise" on abortion in health care.
-- Cloture on Wall Street reform in the Senate is at 11:00 am EST tomorrow.
-- Attention teachers' unions: Arne Duncan will speak tomorrow to the board of the folks who give you the AP tests in Washington on raising high school performance standards and levels. He'll be at the Marriott Wardman Park at 4:50 pm.
-- Why do the Young Republicans like the Liaison hotel so much? That's where they always hold their conferences. Anyway, sorry. Distracted. They'll hear tomorrow from Minority Leader (or, if you're Bill Galston, the next Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell, who will speak "about the Democrat agenda and Republican efforts to counter it with the
kind of straightforward, common-sense approach Americans are looking for from Washington."
-- Shane Harris on the one Russian spy who might actually have learned valuable stuff about valuable stuff.
Thicker ink, fewer smudges, and more strained hands: an Object Lesson
Recently, Bic launched acampaign to “save handwriting.” Named “Fight for Your Write,” it includes a pledge to “encourage the act of handwriting” in the pledge-taker’s home and community, and emphasizes putting more of the company’s ballpoints into classrooms.
As a teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could think there’s a shortage. I find ballpoint pens all over the place: on classroom floors, behind desks. Dozens of castaways collect in cups on every teacher’s desk. They’re so ubiquitous that the word “ballpoint” is rarely used; they’re just “pens.” But despite its popularity, the ballpoint pen is relatively new in the history of handwriting, and its influence on popular handwriting is more complicated than the Bic campaign would imply.
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
The new drama series, which follows the Colombian kingpin’s rise to power, feels more like a well-researched documentary than the gripping saga it wants to be.
Netflix’s new series Narcos is possibly arriving at the wrong time: The doldrums of summer aren’t really the ideal moment for a narratively dense, documentary-like look at the rise and fall of the Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Narrated in voiceover by DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), the early hours of Narcos feel like a history lesson, though an visually sumptuous one.
As Netflix continues to expand its streaming empire, it’s making a concerted effort to appeal to worldwide audiences, and Narcos fits neatly into that plan, alongside last year’s expensive critical flop Marco Polo. Narcos was shot on location in Colombia and stars the acclaimed Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as Escobar. It takes full advantage of its setting, loaded with sweeping helicopter shots of the Colombian jungle where Escobar founded his cocaine empire, filling a power vacuum left by various political upheavals in late-’70s South America.
The billionaire’s campaign is alienating the fastest-growing demographic in American politics—and the talk-radio right treats damage control as heresy.
With Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush running for president, many Republicans hoped 2016 would be the year when the GOP won its biggest ever share of the Hispanic vote. Now Donald Trump is the frontrunner. And if he hangs on to win the nomination, the GOP will almost certainly do worse among Hispanic voters than ever before. Earlier this week, Gallup released an extraordinary poll about how Hispanics view the Republican candidates. Jeb Bush is easily the most popular. Ted Cruz is least popular among the traditional choices. Nearly everyone else fits in between them in a range so narrow that the 5 percent margin of error could scramble their order.
But not Trump, who is wildly, staggeringly unpopular among Hispanics:
The Republican frontrunner has offered Bush the perfect chance to display some passion—but he’s declined to take it.
Donald Trump has gotten a boost in his efforts to maul Jeb Bush in recent days from an unexpected source: Jeb Bush himself.
Trump’s attack on Jeb isn’t mostly about issues. As with most things Trump, it’s mostly about persona. The Donald thinks Jeb is a dud. “He’s a man that doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing,” Trump said in June. “I call him the reluctant warrior, and warrior’s probably not a good word. I think Bush is an unhappy person. I don’t think he has any energy.”
Over the last week, Jeb has proven Trump right. Trump, and his supporters, continue to demonize Mexican American illegal immigrants. On Tuesday, Trump threw the most popular Spanish-language broadcaster in America out of a press conference. That same day, Ann Coulter warmed up for Trump in Iowa by offering gruesome details of murders by Mexican “illegals,” and suggesting that once Trump builds his wall along America’s southern border, tourists can come watch the “live drone shows.”
On the desperation behind the migrant tragedy in Austria
On Thursday, as Krishnadev Calamur has been tracking in The Atlantic’s new Notes section, Austrian authorities made a ghastly discovery: a truck abandoned in the emergency lane of a highway near the Hungarian border, packed with the decomposing bodies of 59 men, eight women, and four children. They are thoughtto be the corpses of migrants who suffocated to death, perhaps two days earlier, in the bowels of a vehicle whose back door was locked shut and refrigeration and ventilation systems weren’t functional. Stray identity documents suggest that at least some of the victims were Syrian—refugees from that country’s brutal civil war. The truck featured an image of a chicken and a slogan from the Slovakian poultry company that the lorry once belonged to: “I taste so good because they feed me so well.”
Every time you shrug, you don’t need to Google, then copy, then paste.
Updated, 2:20 p.m.
All hail ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
In its 11 strokes, the symbol encapsulates what it’s like to be an individual on the Internet. With raised arms and a half-turned smile, it exudes the melancholia, the malaise, the acceptance, and (finally) the embrace of knowing that something’s wrong on the Internet and you can’t do anything about it.
As Kyle Chayka writes in a new history of the symbol at The Awl, the meaning of the “the shruggie” is always two, if not three- or four-, fold. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ represents nihilism, “bemused resignation,” and “a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe.” It is Sisyphus in unicode. I use it at least 10 times a day.
For a long time, however, I used it with some difficulty. Unlike better-known emoticons like :) or ;), ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ borrows characters from the Japanese syllabary called katakana. That makes it a kaomoji, a Japanese emoticon; it also makes it, on Western alphabetical keyboards at least, very hard to type. But then I found a solution, and it saves me having to google “smiley sideways shrug” every time I want to quickly rail at the world’s inherent lack of meaning.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
A new study shows that the field suffers from a reproducibility problem, but the extent of the issue is still hard to nail down.
No one is entirely clear on how Brian Nosek pulled it off, including Nosek himself. Over the last three years, the psychologist from the University of Virginia persuaded some 270 of his peers to channel their free time into repeating 100 published psychological experiments to see if they could get the same results a second time around. There would be no glory, no empirical eurekas, no breaking of fresh ground. Instead, this initiative—the Reproducibility Project—would be the first big systematic attempt to answer questions that have been vexing psychologists for years, if not decades. What proportion of results in their field are reliable?
Grasses—green, neatly trimmed, symbols of civic virtue—shaped the national landscape. They have now outlived their purpose.
The hashtag #droughtshaming—which primarily exists, as its name suggests, to publicly decry people who have failed to do their part to conserve water during California’s latest drought—has claimed many victims. Anonymous lawn-waterers. Anonymous sidewalk-washers. The city of Beverly Hills. The tag’s most high-profile shamee thus far, however, has been the actor Tom Selleck. Who was sued earlier this summer by Ventura County’s Calleguas Municipal Water District for the alleged theft of hydrant water, supposedly used to nourish his 60-acre ranch. Which includes, this being California, an avocado farm, and also an expansive lawn.
The case was settled out of court on terms that remain undisclosed, and everyone has since moved on with their lives. What’s remarkable about the whole thing, though—well, besides the fact that Magnum P.I. has apparently become, in his semi-retirement, a gentleman farmer—is how much of a shift all the Selleck-shaming represents, as a civic impulse. For much of American history, the healthy lawn—green, lush, neatly shorn—has been a symbol not just of prosperity, individual and communal, but of something deeper: shared ideals, collective responsibility, the assorted conveniences of conformity. Lawns, originally designed to connect homes even as they enforced the distance between them, are shared domestic spaces. They are also socially regulated spaces. “When smiling lawns and tasteful cottages begin to embellish a country,” Andrew Jackson Downing, one of the fathers of American landscaping, put it, “we know that order and culture are established.”