Suddenly, it's becoming less of a stigma for bigwigs to associate with gays in the Republican Party. Not only has former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman's 9/22 fundraiser for gay marriage rights attracted numerous high-octane Republican donors and activists, but Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee will help the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, raise money for its political action committee. (Part of this story was first reported last month.)
A glossy pamphlet advertising the Log Cabin Republicans' national dinner at the Capitol Hill Club highlights an hour-long cocktail gathering with the two party committee chairs, both strong opponents of gay rights. But their attendance will add to the coffers of the LCR's political action committee, which endorses Republicans who support gay rights.
The LCR national dinner, which follows the private fundraiser, will include Sessions, Rep. Judy Biggert, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. The Daily Caller's Tucker Carlson will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
The Log Cabin Republicans' Mission Statement proclaims fidelity to conservative principles like a "strong national defense" and "limited government" before it discusses marriage rights and an "inclusive definition of the family." But in practice, the group does not endorse candidates who oppose gay rights.
Cornyn and Sessions are not on record as having ever supported any gay rights measure. Cornyn has been derisive about gay marriage in the past, likening homosexuality to "man on box turtle," but recently said his opposition to gay marriage should not be construed as any effort to degrade the dignity of people whose sexual orientation is different than his. (CORRECTION APPENDED)
Like Cornyn, Sessions has received a "zero" rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which scores lawmakers based on their support for gay rights initiatives.
The presence of the top two party political strategists at a gay Republican event means that both men do not believe the criticism they'll get from consorting with gay rights advocates will in any way complicate either their immediate goals as party committee chiefs or the future of their political careers. What message their presence does send, aside from each side's willingness to be used as a financial vehicle, is unclear. An NRCC spokesperson said that Sessions was attending in his capacity as NRCC chair.
The Log Cabin Republicans have re-invented themselves several times over the past several political cycles, endorsing George W. Bush in 2000 but refusing to endorse him in 2004 because of his support for a constitutional amendment banning gay rights. This led to a schism among gay Republicans, with the LCR's board insisting that "certain moments
in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be
sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those
In 2008, the LCR endorsed the McCain-Palin ticket despite its solid opposition to gay rights, although McCain was lauded for his opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment.
The tension here is that while there is not even a remote chance that a Republican Congress will advance the cause of gay rights, the Log Cabins have to start somewhere. Either they build bridges with the GOP leadership, or they sit on the sidelines. And there's perhaps no better time to begin relationships than when voters are not preoccupied with social issues.
Executive Director of LCR, it would be irresponsible of me to not seek common
denominators or common points of interest to build relationships with our
conservative colleagues," R. Clarke Cooper, LCR's executive director, wrote in an e-mail message.
For example, if I can start a dialogue with my Republican colleagues by agreeing
on economic growth and tax equity for all Americans, that is much better than
refusing to dialog because some Republican members may not support other
equality measures. Yes, there are differences among Republicans when it comes
to the application of civil rights for gays. Some Republican members of
Congress are willing to co-sponsor Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), but
remain uncomfortable supporting full marriage equality. So, do I deny the
support of some pro-ENDA Republicans because they have yet to fully appreciate
why equity in civil marriage is necessary? No, I will embrace their existing
support and then work to secure further understanding and support.
Mehlman, in an interview, said that the event he is co-hosting with Manhattan Institute board chairman Paul W. Singer has $1,000,000 worth of commitments. He said he was happy to see that GOP leaders were attending Log Cabin events -- "that's great news."
Still, at least three potential GOP presidential candidates said they support the campaign of activists who want to oust Iowa justices who legalized same-sex marriage, and none of the potential GOP candidates has expressed support for ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban on gays in the military.
Some fans are complaining that Zack Snyder’s envisioning of the Man of Steel is too grim—but it’s less a departure than a return to the superhero’s roots.
Since the official teaser trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice debuted online in April, fans and critics alike have been discussing the kind of Superman Zack Snyder is going to depict in his Man of Steel sequel. The controversy stems from Snyder’s decision to cast Superman as a brooding, Dark Knight-like character, who cares more about beating up bad guys than saving people. The casting split has proved divisive among Superman fans: Some love the new incarnation, citing him as an edgier, more realistic version of the character.
But Snyder’s is a different Superman than the one fans grew up with, and many have no problem expressing their outrage over it. Even Mark Waid, the author of Superman: Birthright (one of the comics the original film is based on), voiced his concern about Man of Steel’s turn toward bleakness when it came out in 2013:
New research confirms what they say about nice guys.
Smile at the customer. Bake cookies for your colleagues. Sing your subordinates’ praises. Share credit. Listen. Empathize. Don’t drive the last dollar out of a deal. Leave the last doughnut for someone else.
Sneer at the customer. Keep your colleagues on edge. Claim credit. Speak first. Put your feet on the table. Withhold approval. Instill fear. Interrupt. Ask for more. And by all means, take that last doughnut. You deserve it.
Follow one of those paths, the success literature tells us, and you’ll go far. Follow the other, and you’ll die powerless and broke. The only question is, which is which?
Of all the issues that preoccupy the modern mind—Nature or nurture? Is there life in outer space? Why can’t America field a decent soccer team?—it’s hard to think of one that has attracted so much water-cooler philosophizing yet so little scientific inquiry. Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk?
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.
19 Kids and Counting built its reputation on preaching family values, but the mass-media platforms that made the family famous might also be their undoing.
On Thursday, news broke that Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the Duggar family's 19 children, had, as a teenager, allegedly molested five underage girls. Four of them, allegedly, were his sisters.
The information came to light because, in 2006—two years before 17 Kids and Counting first aired on TLC, and thus two years before the Duggars became reality-TV celebrities—the family recorded an appearance on TheOprah Winfrey Show. Before the taping, an anonymous source sent an email to Harpo warning the production company Josh’s alleged molestation. Harpo forwarded the email to authorities, triggering a police investigation (the Oprah appearance never aired). The news was reported this week by In Touch Weekly—after the magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see the police report on the case—and then confirmed by the Duggars in a statement posted on Facebook.
The brilliant mathematician, who died in a car accident on Sunday, was best known for his struggle with mental illness.
John Nash, a Nobel laureate and mathematical genius whose struggle with mental illness was documented in the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, was killed in a car accident on Saturday. He was 86. The accident, which occurred when the taxi Nash was traveling in collided with another car on the New Jersey Turnpike, also claimed the life of his 82-year-old wife, Alicia. Neither of the two drivers involved in the accident sustained life-threatening injuries.
Born in West Virginia in 1928, Nash displayed an acuity for mathematics early in life, independently proving Fermat’s little theorem before graduating from high school. By the time he turned 30 in 1958, he was a bona fide academic celebrity. At Princeton, Nash published a 27-page thesis that upended the field of game theory and led to applications in economics, international politics, and evolutionary biology. His signature solution—known as a “Nash Equilibrium”—found that competition among two opponents is not necessarily governed by zero-sum logic. Two opponents can, for instance, each achieve their maximum objectives through cooperating with the other, or gain nothing at all by refusing to cooperate. This intuitive, deceptively simple understanding is now regarded as one of the most important social science ideas in the 20th century, and a testament to his almost singular intellectual gifts.
In an interview, the U.S. president ties his legacy to a pact with Tehran, argues ISIS is not winning, warns Saudi Arabia not to pursue a nuclear-weapons program, and anguishes about Israel.
On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.
“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”
Advocates say that a guaranteed basic income can lead to more creative, fulfilling work. The question is how to fund it.
Scott Santens has been thinking a lot about fish lately. Specifically, he’s been reflecting on the aphorism, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life.” What Santens wants to know is this: “If you build a robot to fish, do all men starve, or do all men eat?”
Santens is 37 years old, and he’s a leader in the basic income movement—a worldwide network of thousands of advocates (26,000 on Reddit alone) who believe that governments should provide every citizen with a monthly stipend big enough to cover life’s basic necessities. The idea of a basic income has been around for decades, and it once drew support from leaders as different as Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon. But rather than waiting for governments to act, Santens has started crowdfunding his own basic income of $1,000 per month. He’s nearly halfway to his his goal.
Why agriculture may someday take place in towers, not fields
A couple of Octobers ago, I found myself standing on a 5,000-acre cotton crop in the outskirts of Lubbock, Texas, shoulder-to-shoulder with a third-generation cotton farmer. He swept his arm across the flat, brown horizon of his field, which was at that moment being plowed by an industrial-sized picker—a toothy machine as tall as a house and operated by one man. The picker’s yields were being dropped into a giant pod to be delivered late that night to the local gin. And far beneath our feet, the Ogallala aquifer dwindled away at its frighteningly swift pace. When asked about this, the farmer spoke of reverse osmosis—the process of desalinating water—which he seemed to put his faith in, and which kept him unafraid of famine and permanent drought.
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.