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.
A CFPB investigation concluded that Transunion and Equifax deceived Americans about the reports they provided and the fees they charged.
In personal finance, practically everything can turn on one’s credit score. It’s both an indicator of one’s financial past, and the key to accessing necessities—without insane costs—in the future. But on Tuesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that two of the three major credit-reporting agencies responsible for doling out those scores—Equifax and Transunion—have been deceiving and taking advantage of Americans. The Bureau ordered the agencies to pay more than $23 million in fines and restitution.
In their investigation, the Bureau found that the two agencies had been misrepresenting the scores provided to consumers, telling them that the score reports they received were the same reports that lenders and businesses received, when, in fact, they were not. The investigation also found problems with the way the agencies advertised their products, using promotions that suggested that their credit reports were either free or cost only $1. According to the CFPB the agencies did not properly disclose that after a trial of seven to 30 days, individuals would be enrolled in a full-price subscription, which could total $16 or more per month. The Bureau also found Equifax to be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which states that the agencies must provide one free report every 12 months made available at a central site. Before viewing their free report, consumers were forced to view advertisements for Equifax, which is prohibited by law.
The MIT economist Peter Temin argues that economic inequality results in two distinct classes. And only one of them has any power.
A lot of factors have contributed to American inequality: slavery, economic policy, technological change, the power of lobbying, globalization, and so on. In their wake, what’s left?
That’s the question at the heart of a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, by Peter Temin, an economist from MIT. Temin argues that, following decades of growing inequality, America is now left with what is more or less a two-class system: One small, predominantly white upper class that wields a disproportionate share of money, power, and political influence and a much larger, minority-heavy (but still mostly white) lower class that is all too frequently subject to the first group’s whims.
A child psychologist argues punishment is a waste of time when trying to eliminate problem behavior. Try this instead.
Say you have a problem child. If it’s a toddler, maybe he smacks his siblings. Or she refuses to put on her shoes as the clock ticks down to your morning meeting at work. If it’s a teenager, maybe he peppers you with obscenities during your all-too-frequent arguments. The answer is to punish them, right?
Not so, says Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center. Punishment might make you feel better, but it won’t change the kid’s behavior. Instead, he advocates for a radical technique in which parents positively reinforce the behavior they do want to see until the negative behavior eventually goes away.
As I was reporting my recent series about child abuse, I came to realize that parents fall roughly into three categories. There’s a small number who seem intuitively to do everything perfectly: Moms and dads with chore charts that actually work and snack-sized bags of organic baby carrots at the ready. There’s an even smaller number who are horrifically abusive to their kids. But the biggest chunk by far are parents in the middle. They’re far from abusive, but they aren’t super-parents, either. They’re busy and stressed, so they’re too lenient one day and too harsh the next. They have outdated or no knowledge of child psychology, and they’re scrambling to figure it all out.
American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth.
As recently as the 1950s, possessing only middling intelligence was not likely to severely limit your life’s trajectory. IQ wasn’t a big factor in whom you married, where you lived, or what others thought of you. The qualifications for a good job, whether on an assembly line or behind a desk, mostly revolved around integrity, work ethic, and a knack for getting along—bosses didn’t routinely expect college degrees, much less ask to see SAT scores. As one account of the era put it, hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”
The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.
“Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.”
You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europe—would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.
At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. You’d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; for the first time, you’d be able to pinpoint an idea somewhere inside the vastness of the printed record, and send somebody straight to it with a link. Books would become as instantly available, searchable, copy-pasteable—as alive in the digital world—as web pages.
In 1985, Neil Postman observed an America imprisoned by its own need for amusement. He was, it turns out, extremely prescient.
Earlier this month, thousands of protesters gathered at Washington’s National Mall to advocate for an assortment of causes: action against global climate change, federal funding for scientific research, a generally empirical approach to the world and its mysteries. The protesters at the March for Science, as scientists are wont to do, followed what has become one of the established formulas for such an event, holding clever signs, wearing cheeky outfits, and attempting, overall, to carnivalize their anger. “Make the Barrier Reef Great Again,” read one sign at the March. “This is my sine,” read another. “I KNEW TO WEAR THIS,” one woman had written on the poncho she wore that soggy Saturday, “BECAUSE SCIENCE PREDICTED THE RAIN.” Three protesters, sporting sensible footwear and matching Tyrannosaurus rex costumes, waved poster boards bearing messages like “Jurassick of this shit.”
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.
Trump hasn’t accomplished much in policy terms in his first 100 days. But he’s had a huge impact on politics and culture.
The conventional wisdom is that Donald Trump didn’t get much done in his first 100 days in office. His signature campaign promises—the Muslim travel ban, the border wall—are no closer to fruition than they were when he took office. He has not figured out a way to work with Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare. Despite an appearance of perpetual activity—a flurry of executive orders, leaks to the media about the inner workings of the West Wing—and a real win in nominating and confirming new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, this White House hasn’t made much of an impact policy-wise.
All of this adds up to an impression akin to the sound of a balloon deflating. “I've got an entirely conventional view of this: He's done basically nothing,” said one Washington conservative who speaks to Trump.
The party appears to be struggling to convince the public it represents a better alternative to President Trump and the GOP.
If Democrats want to regain the power they’ve lost at the state and federal level in recent years, they will have to convince more voters they can offer solutions to their problems.
That may be especially difficult, however, if voters think the party and its representatives in government don’t understand or care about them. And according to a recently released poll, many voters may, in fact, feel that way. The Washington Post-ABC News survey, released this week, found that a majority of the public thinks the Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of average Americans in the United States. More Americans think Democrats are out of touch than believe the same of the Republican Party or President Trump.
China has profited immensely from the open global trading system. But whether it remains open depends on the actions of the West’s increasingly reactive democracies.
In January 2017 the global economy changed guard. The venue was Davos, the annual gathering of the world’s wealthiest recyclers of conventional wisdom—and consistently one of the last places to anticipate what is going to happen next. This time was different. The assembled hedge-fund tycoons, Silicon Valley data executives, management gurus, and government officials were treated to a preview of how rapidly the world is about to change. Xi Jinping, the president of China, had come to the Swiss Alpine resort to defend the global trade system against the attacks of the U.S. president-elect, Donald Trump. With minimal fanfare, the leader of the world’s largest developing economy took over the role of defending the global trading system in the teeth of protectionist war cries from the world’s most developed nation. It portended a new era in which China would apparently play the role of the responsible global citizen. The bad guys were swapping places with the good. “Some people blame economic globalization for the chaos in our world,” Xi told Davos. “We should not retreat into the harbor whenever we encounter a storm or we will never reach the other shore. … No one will emerge as a winner from a trade war.”