The Republican presidential primary debates have shaped the race a lot this year, but mostly in one way: making candidates not named Mitt Romney look bad. Herman Cain and the other two ex-frontrunners -- Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry -- will try to get voters to love them again, while the three remaining not-Romneys -- Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul -- will ask to have their turn. But the topic of tonight's debate -- foreign policy -- might make that tricky. The subject has made Cain look badseveral times already, but he's only the guy who's had the hardest time with it. We'll be liveblogging the debate, which starts at 8p.m. on CNN, right here.
10:30p.m.: Debate highlights: Romney forgets his name. Cain forgets Wolf Blitzer's. Paul makes amazing faces. Gingrich braves his base by saying illegal immigrants who've lived here for decades shouldn't be sent back to the countries they came from, because breaking up families is inhumane.
10:13p.m.:Severalreporters and consultants are pointing to the key moment in the debate being when Gingrich said he was prepared to face the criticism from within his party when he called for immigration laws to be implemented humanely. The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan says Gingrich won the debate. Drudge saw it differently:
9:58p.m.: George W. Bush was never asked about al Qaeda in 2000. Who do the candidates think is the threat they should be talking about but aren't?
Santorum says creeping socialism around the world.
Paul says it's our own foreign occupations.
Perry says China -- "communist China." Noting how Ronald Reagan predicted the end of the Soviet Union, Perry says, "I happen to thnk that communist China is destined for the ash heap of history."
Romney says the issue not getting enough attention is Latin America, where Hezbollah is working.
Cain notes his computer engineering past (a reminder he is smart!) and says the danger is cyberattacks.
Gingrich says an electromagnetic pulse attack, which is the coolest sci-fi prediction so far.
Bachmann says we "won the peace in Iraq" and now Obama is giving that peace away. Plus the Islamist Somali group al Shabaab is recruiting in Minnesota.
Huntsman closes: "Our biggest problem is right here at home... it's called joblessness." Look who's on message! Right? Wait, but isn't Huntsman supposed to advertise his foreign policy experience because he lived in China?
9:52p.m.: Because the debate is co-hosted by two conservative think tanks, a lot of Bush-era people are popping up as questioners. Lots of people are enjoying this reunion of folks like David Addingon (former chief of staff to Dick Cheney), and Paul WOlfowitz (former deputy defense secretary). The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza jokingly predicts Scooter Libby will get a question, while National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru jokingly says the last question will come from Ahmed Chalabi.
9:45p.m.: What is Gingrich doing on immigration? By saying he wouldn't send every illegal immigrant back where he or she came from -- which would break up families -- he's going to make a lot of Republican voters really mad, just as Perry did. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates says he's playing for the general election. National Journal's Marc Ambinder says it gives Romney an opening. National Review's Rich Lowry says "gingrich defending the perry position 100 times better than perry ever did."
9:38p.m.: So Romney and Bachmann support making it easier for educated immigrants to come to America, while Gingrich and Perry want to make it easier for all immigrants.
9:35p.m.: Gingrich says we should make it easier for illegal immigrants to stay if they have roots here -- like a church. He mentions the church thing twice.
9:34p.m.: Bachmann supports making it easier for specialized foreign workers -- like chenists, engineers -- to get visas so they can work here. But she doesn't support allowing 11 million illegal immigrants to get "amnesty." Middle-class immigrants are okay, poor immigrants are not.
9:30p.m.: As he said he'd do earlier, Santorum is trying to sound kinder and gentler and not so angry.
9:28p.m.: Ron Paul gets cheers when he calls for an end to the Drug War. "You can at least let sick people have marijuana," then notes that alcohol is a much more dangerous drug. This is the closest a Republican debate has ever come to sounding like a dorm room debate.
9:26p.m.: Perry sounds like he's trying so hard not to mess up. He gets a chance to address one of his biggest weaknesses: immigration. Saying Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are working in Mexico, he says within 12 months, the border with Mexico will be secure. He doesn't say whether he's changed his mind that it'd be impossible a fence along the enormous border.
9:17p.m.: Earlier in the debate, Daniel Drezner, who writes for Foreign Policy, tweeted, "God help me, but at this point in the debate, Bachmann has done the best job." National Review's Robert Costa notes that she's improved on the issue, and says House SpeakerJohn Boehner's decision to help her get a seat on the House intelligence committee has "changed the reace."
9:07p.m.: Huntsman says it was hard sitting in Beijing as the Chinese got mining rights in Afghanistan. He says his "foreign policy will be determined by economics," without getting into specifics of how he'd deal with Pentagon budget cuts. Perry responds saying Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta should "resign in protest" over the cuts.
9:00p.m.: One of Cain's favorite phrases is "it depends." Would he support an Israeli strike on Iran? "It depends..." Republican consultant Mike Murphy tweets, "About every Cain answer is about process of decision making. A dodge..."
8:58p.m.: Republican strategist Alex Castellanos says all the candidates sound serious, except Perry and Cain.
8:53p.m.: In another life, Ron Paul would have made a great character actor. He's so expressive, he could easily be in Vanity Fair's "In Character" feature.
8:47p.m.: With Romney saying he'd listen to the generals on the ground about Afghanistan, Huntsman pulls the Vietnam card! Reason's Mike Riggs jokes, "Jon Huntsman hates the military. Why else would he say that we should not let generals on the ground run our civilian government?"
8:41p.m.: Gingrich finally gets to speak. But first he has to criticize the questions and the debate rules. He seems just a tiny bit condescending. Maybe this is why the demographics of his supporters "skews way old."
8:39p.m.: Gingrich looks very frustrated he's being ignored!
8:34p.m.: Bachmann and Perry have a real debate on Pakistan. He says he wouldn't write blank checks to the country -- and that he wouldn't disengage from the area, just engage economically -- and she says the aid isn't a blank check. It buys intel.
8:31p.m.: Romney's name gaffe is already on YouTube:
8:27p.m.: Does Cain support religious profling of Muslims? "I support targeted profiling." Doesn't really explain the difference, but says calling it "profiling" is "oversimplification. Paul audibly scoffs. Cain then calls Blitzer "Blitz."
8:24p.m.: Santorum says he supports religious profiling of Muslims on airplane. And young men, he adds.
8:23p.m.: Herman Cain is again wearing his signature gold tie. And Bachmann is wearing her signature white:
8:19p.m.: Ron Paul, as expected, disagrees with Gingrich, saying he opposes the Patriot Act. ("This is like saying we need a policeman in every house ... because we want to prevent child and wife beating .. Yes you might prevent a crime, but the crime is against the American people. ") Bachmann says, as she has before, that we've handed over terrorist interrogation responsibility to the ACLU. (National Journal's Marc Ambinder: "I'm sure the ACLU would love to have the power w/in the admin that Michelle Bachmann thinks it has.") Huntsman splits the difference: "We forget sometimes that we have a namebrand in this world."
8:14p.m.: CNN's Wolf Blitzer opened the debate by introducing himself and saying that yes, that is his real first name. In Mitt Romney's introductory remarks, he joked, "My name's Mitt Romney, and that's my real name too." But it isn't! As the Wall Street Journal's Julian Barnes notes, his first name is Willard.
8:12p.m.: More than 10 minutes in and no questions yet. The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny tweets, "How does CNN stretch a 90-minute debate into a two-hour television show? Like this."
8:05p.m.: CNN promises foreign policy is cool. It's like a video game!
7:58p.m.: Hilarious: Politico's Mike Allen tweets: "Floor director at #CNNDebate has audience practice applause in and out of 3 commercial breaks: 'You will be seen around the world in HD.'" Is that a subtle warning against inappropriate booing?
7:41p.m.: Just before the debate, Jimmy Fallon apologizes for the intro to Michele Bachamnn's appearance on his show Monday night, which was the song "Lyin' Ass Bitch." He tweets "I'm honored that @michelebachmann was on our show yesterday and I'm so sorry about the intro mess. I really hope she comes back."
7:29p.m.: Newt Gingrich was riding so high on his new frontrunner status that he forgot to file to be on the ballot in Missouri's February 7 primary, The Washington Post's Paul West reports. The deadline was 5p.m. today. The price was just $1,000. All the other candidates debating tonight will be on the ballot.
7:23p.m.: Opening ceremonies feature a group singing "I'll Be There," Politico's Mike Allen notes. Jon Huntsman's daughters and wife are ready:
Dad got ready earlier today:
5:02p.m.:Bachmann said this month the U.S. economy could grow faster if it became less socialist like China, which is a communist country. Paul was booed at an earlier debate for suggesting American foreign policy encouraged terrorists to attack us. Huntsman says he was merely doing his duty to serve the country when he took a job as ambassador to China under President Obama, even though he quit that job to run for Obama's. Santorum has been the most open about begging for love. When Hot Air's Ed Morrissey asked him if he deserved a "second look" from Republicans, Santorum shot back, "They haven’t really taken a first look." All that time in the wilderness has made the former frat guy introspective. Noting that Saturday Night Live portrays him as "Angry Santorum," he told ABC News' Shushannah Walshe, "I’m not angry. Do you think I’m angry? I’m not an angry guy. I get wound up and passionate about things, but I’m not angry." Still, he's taken apologizing for sounding angry at campaign events, explaining that he's just "passionate." It will be interesting to see how he balances that tonight when talking about Israel, an issue he's shown quite a bit of passion about in previous debates.
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
About 40,000 counter-protesters overwhelmed the smattering of people who came in support of a “free speech” rally a week after tragedy in Charlottesville.
WOBURN, Mass. — Kyle Chapman was sitting in a dimly lit Irish pub about 20 minutes outside of Boston, where Saturday afternoon’s so-called “Free Speech Rally” had just been shut down by tens of thousands of counter-protesters.
“The white man is one of the most discriminated against people in this entire country right now,” he explained.
Chapman—a muscly right-wing organizer who went viral earlier this year after video footage showed him swinging a heavy wooden stick at liberal Berkley demonstrators—had been scheduled to speak at the rally on Boston Common. But organizers ended up pulling the plug early, he said, when the crowd of counter-protesters grew too large. After being escorted to safety by police, he and other attendees retired here to lick their (metaphorical) wounds.
How men and women digest differently, diet changes our skin, and gluten remains mysterious: A forward-thinking gastroenterologist on eating one's way to "gutbliss"
Robynne Chutkan, MD, is an integrative gastroenterologist and founder of the Digestive Center for Women, just outside of Washington, D.C. She trained at Columbia University and is on faculty at Georgetown, but her approach to practicing medicine and understanding disease is more holistic than many specialists with academic backgrounds. She has also appeared on The Dr. Oz Show (of which I’ve been openly skeptical in the past, because of Oz’s tendency to divorce his recommendations from evidence).
The scientists are all talking like it’s a sure thing.
On August 21, the “moon” will pass between the Earth and the sun, obscuring the light of the latter. The government agency NASA says this will result in “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights.” The astronomers there claim to have calculated down to the minute exactly when and where this will happen, and for how long. They have reportedly known about this eclipse for years, just by virtue of some sort of complex math.
This seems extremely unlikely. I can’t even find these eclipse calculations on their website to check them for myself.
Meanwhile the scientists tell us we can’t look at it without special glasses because “looking directly at the sun is unsafe.”
Trump has again recirculated a debunked history about terrorism. But what the general was really doing in the Philippines can tell us something more important about America.
Another day, another sputtering orgy of confusion following a cryptic Donald Trump tweet. This one came Thursday, a few hours after a van plowed into a crowd on the Barcelona pedestrian mall of Las Ramblas, an attack claimed by the reeling Islamic State. The president replied, via iPhone:
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!
It seemed to be a reference to a story Trump told at campaign rallies during the 2016 primaries, which in turn was a garbled version of an Islamophobic meme that has made its way around the internet for years. In the fable, the legendary U.S. General John J. Pershing once ended a wave of Muslim terrorism in the Philippines by executing prisoners with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. Other superstitious fighters were so terrified by the prospect of being killed while touching part of a forbidden animal, the story goes, that fighting immediately stopped, for some period of time. (For 25 years, Trump said at a North Charleston, South Carolina, rally in February 2016; a few weeks later, in Costa Mesa, California, it had jumped up to 42.)
Empty pedestals can offer the same lessons about racism and war that the statues do.
Six years before it would become the inspiration for bloody protests, the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Virginia, was vandalized. The 2011 incident capped off my 11-year residency in the small city—where I’d taught high-school history and where my understanding of the legacy of the Civil War was nurtured. There was no better place to teach the Civil War than Charlottesville. Some of the most important battlefields in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and the Shenandoah Valley are within an hour’s drive. But it was the region’s monuments that played a central role in my teaching, and I believed they should be left alone.
I argued my position in an essay for The Atlantic: “For better or for worse, monuments to Confederate heroes are part of our story, but each of us can choose how to engage with these places. We can express outrage over their existence. We can alter them with statements of our own. Or we can let them be, appreciate their aesthetic qualities, and reflect carefully on their history.” I fell short on understanding what they still meant to some in the community. I didn’t realize that so many of my neighbors didn’t need further reflection at all.
“Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him.”
Ever since it was first published in 1982, readers—including this one—have thrilled to “Total Eclipse,” Annie Dillard’s masterpiece of literary nonfiction, which describes her personal experience of a solar eclipse in Washington State. It first appeared in Dillard’s landmark collection, Teaching a Stone to Talk, and was recently republished in The Abundance, a new anthology of her work. The Atlantic is pleased to offer the essay in full, here, until the day after the ‘Great American Eclipse’ on August 21.
It had been like dying, that sliding down the mountain pass. It had been like the death of someone, irrational, that sliding down the mountain pass and into the region of dread. It was like slipping into fever, or falling down that hole in sleep from which you wake yourself whimpering. We had crossed the mountains that day, and now we were in a strange place—a hotel in central Washington, in a town near Yakima. The eclipse we had traveled here to see would occur early in the next morning.
The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.
When did America become untethered from reality?
I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books.
The Boston Police Department said that 33 people have been arrested in connection with the rally and counter-demonstrations on Saturday.
A crowd of counter-demonstrators estimated in the thousands showed up in Boston on Saturday to protest a controversial “free speech” event, scheduled a week after a white-nationalist rally in support of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to fatal violence, including the death of one woman.
The Boston rally concluded earlier than anticipated and was declared officially over by the Boston Police Department by 1:30 p.m. ET. President Trump tweeted at 3:22 p.m. that there appeared to be “many anti-police agitators” in the city, though later he said that he wanted “to applaud the many protesters in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate.”
The city’s Democratic mayor, Marty Walsh, responded to another tweet from the president commending him and local law-enforcement officers by saying: “Today, Boston stood for peace and love, not bigotry and hate. We should work to bring people together, not apart.” Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, also a Democrat, said on Twitter that he “couldn’t be more proud of” the city. “Peaceful, moral, resistant,” he tweeted. “That is our city and commonwealth.”
The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.
The strangest part about the continued personality cult of Robert E. Lee is how few of the qualities his admirers profess to see in him he actually possessed.
Memorial Day has the tendency to conjure up old arguments about the Civil War. That’s understandable; it was created to mourn the dead of a war in which the Union was nearly destroyed, when half the country rose up in rebellion in defense of slavery. This year, the removal of Lee’s statue in New Orleans has inspired a new round of commentary about Lee, not to mention protests on his behalf by white supremacists.
The myth of Lee goes something like this: He was a brilliant strategist and devoted Christian man who abhorred slavery and labored tirelessly after the war to bring the country back together.