Posts by Brendan James
Brendan James at The Lookout 2 yrs ago
Now that election season is (finally) over, political junkies need another way to entertain themselves during the holiday season. We asked some top players in Washington to recommend the best gifts for the politically obsessed.
NAME: Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform GIFT: Election memorabilia
Washington's infamous purveyor of the anti-tax "pledge" suggests saving campaign souvenirs, particularly those that you can customize: "Herman Cain's 9-9-9 bumper is great, for either your tax reform friends or, if you turn it upside down, your pagan friends." Norquist has his own fair share of memorabilia. "Yeah, I collect buttons," he says. "Old Nixon or Goldwater ones are really cool."
NAME: Jake Tapper, White House Correspondent, ABC News GIFT: "The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume 3: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965" by William Manchester
NAME: Newt Gingrich, author and presidential candidate GIFT: A Lincoln kit
On Friday, another shot was fired by conservative supporters of fast-food companies claiming to chafe under the requirements of Obamacare.
Rebooting America, a small but vocal group formed after the Nov. 6 election, has designated Friday as National Papa John's Appreciation Day. The announcement was made in support of Papa John's CEO John Schnatter's recent statement that the Affordable Care Act may prompt the pizza chain to raise prices and cut employees' hours in order to keep them from qualifying for health care.
Through the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithPapaJohns, the group is urging people to rush out and buy Papa John's pizza to show support, and to oppose the onslaught of social media attacks and informal boycotts of the chain as a result of its position.
The pizza outlet is only one of several fast-food chains balking at the health care law.
One of the more jarring twists in the unfolding scandal surrounding retired Gen. David Petraeus' affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell—that the FBI agent who kicked off the investigation sent shirtless photos to another player in the controversy, Tampa, Fla., socialite Jill Kelley—has turned out to be a less salacious event than originally reported.
The agent, Frederick Humphries, is a veteran of the FBI who has handled several high-profile terrorist cases and trained with SWAT and Special Forces soldiers. Years before Kelley contacted him about the anonymous emails she was receiving, which led to the discovery of the Petreaus-Broadwell affair, Humphries sent family and friends—including Kelley—a photo of himself between two bare-chested dummies at MacDill Air Force Base.
Noting his likeness to the bald and shirtless dummies, Humphries captioned the photo, "Which one's Fred?" according to the Seattle Times. Friends have confirmed the email was a joke and noted his general tendency toward this sort of humor; his wife even had the image framed.
At a Thursday press conference in Bangkok, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he's unaware of any more top military brass involved in the web of scandal uncovered by the investigation into retired Gen. David Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, the Associated Press reports.
The clarification comes now that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, has been sucked into the controversy after the discovery of potentially flirtatious emails with Tampa, Fla., socialite Jill Kelley.
Kelley had set off the entire scandal by reaching out to an FBI agent after receiving threatening emails eventually believed to be from Broadwell. Those emails led the FBI to uncover the affair between Broadwell and the CIA director. Broadwell had also reached out to Allen, albeit anonymously, in May, allegedly attempting to undermine Kelley's reputation.
Mansoor also said the general described his own conduct as "morally reprehensible," but not illegal.
Alongside this year's race for the presidency and myriad battles for Congress, another contest for power quietly unfolded, within the news media. Could the winner of the White House be accurately predicted by analyzing public opinion polls using mathematical formulas, or could some experts divine the future using more ephemeral measurements, like momentum and enthusiasm and what they felt in their guts?
The statisticians won.
Nate Silver of the New York Times has gotten much of the attention for predicting that President Barack Obama would defeat Mitt Romney by winning 313 electoral votes (Obama will likely end up with 332). But many others made accurate forecasts as well, including Yahoo's The Signal, Talking Point Memo's PollTrackerand Votamatic.
Evidence of their triumph has cropped up in the form of a new hashtag on Twitter: #DrunkNateSilver. According to the meme, Silver is partying (and further prophesying).
Congress may get consistently low marks for popularity, but after Tuesday night, the next House and Senate President Barack Obama will have to work with looks much like the last one: Democrats hold a majority of the Senate, and Republicans will control the House.
A few fresh faces will appear next session: In Massachusetts, Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren defeated incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, confirming Warren's status as a rising star in the Democratic Party.
Tim Kaine, who ran against former Sen. George Allen, won the Democrats a Senate seat in Virginia. A toss-up race in Indiana went to Democrat Joe Donnelly, who defeated Republican Richard Mourdock, his bid having fallen behind potentially due to recent controversial remarks he made about rape.
One Democratic victory cost a Republican challenger dearly: Chris Murphy won Connecticut's Senate race, defeating Republican Linda McMahon, former president of wrestling juggernaut WWE. Over two unsuccessful campaigns, McMahon spent $100 million of her own personal fortune to pursue a Senate seat.
In Utah's 4th District, one of the last Blue Dog Democrats, Jim Matheson, came out ahead of Mia Love.
Ever since punch-card voting machines produced the "hanging chads" that led to the Florida recount in the 2000 election, Americans have been looking for new and more reliable technology to use on Election Day.
One result: The Help America Vote Act of 2002, which authorized $3.9 billion in federal funds for trading in punch-card and lever systems with either e-voting or optical scan systems. The act also stipulates that all polling places should make available a handicap-accessible voting device.
But while the country, for the most part, has moved on from the older, more unreliable machines, the new models present their own set of challenges. From shadowy conspiracy theories to genuine concerns about glitches, here's what you need to know about the machines that are supposed to make democracy work.
What kind of machines are used, and where?
Does anyone still use punch-card or lever systems?
Four counties in Idaho still use punch-card ballots, while none in the country has used lever machines since 2010.
What are some of the examples of problems with e-voting machines?
Monday's deadly storm was the most destructive event to strike the northern East Coast in decades, but the resolve and heroism of both those under threat and the many emergency workers have been just as remarkable.
From firefighters in Manasquan, N.J., to the Federal Emergency Management Agency crew that saved NYU's Tisch Hospital in Manhattan, here are some of the best examples of grace under pressure:
The nurses and FEMA crew assigned to NYU's Tisch Hospital
Imagine speeding down a pitch-black flight of stairs, carrying a small child struggling to breathe—and in the middle of a raging storm. Without fail, a FEMA team deployed in New York City, greatly aided by local facilities' workers, faced such challenges efficiently and courageously as they evacuated many of the patients from NYU's Tisch Hospital in the midst of the storm.
More than 200 people, from infants to the elderly, were emptied from the hospital's buildings after the power failed. (Not only had the basement flooded, but the backup generators also fizzled.) The paramedics and rescue workers, some New Yorkers and others from as far away as Kentucky, carried out the job without a single casualty.
Monday's giant storm inflicted the greatest damage on the lower half of New York City, but uptown, on West 57th Street, a massive, dangling crane is drawing crowds.
At a thousand feet above the ground, the 80-ton swing arm dangles next to the tallest condominium under construction in the city, located between 6th and 7th avenues. Bovis Lend Lease, the company managing the building's construction, is waiting for the last winds to die down before it scoops up the hanging hulk of metal.
"All I'm doing today is watching that crane," said a company employee, who asked not to be named. Wearing a muddied yellow raincoat, he leaned against a nearby shop on the corner of 56th Street, on standby.
"The only reason they haven't taken it down is because of the winds," he said. "Once they die down, they'll rig it up from the air. Right now it's no danger."
Others living uptown have also concentrated chiefly on coming to the aid of their friends, and checking on their work spaces downtown.
Monday's debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.—the last of the presidential race—will focus on foreign policy. What can we expect from President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who are neck-at-neck in recent polls? Some bluster on China, hedging on Libya, and possibly, silence on Syria. Naturally, expect some campaign spin as well.
To clear the candidates' smoke around foreign affairs, we've collected and fact-checked the key foreign policy points to keep in mind during the debate, from trade to terror.
Romney : The president's greatest vulnerability on foreign policy is possibly the controversy surrounding the terrorist attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 of this year. The attack remains subject of an ongoing investigation, so any discussion suffers for a lack of the complete, official account of what happened that day.
There are many other aspects of the president's handling of the attack that Romney may criticize—but if he returns to the "terror" talk, Obama is likely to have the transcript ready.