Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Marco Rubio: Esquire’s hair loss claim is true

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaking in Altoona, Iowa, in November. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)The advice? Odds are he'll mullet. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio—one of his party's rising stars and a potential presidential candidate in 2016—took to Twitter on Wednesday to tackle head-on (all in jest) an Esquire Magazine style item that pressed him to do more to conceal his hair loss.

    "‪#Esquire report on having less hair than I once did is sadly true. But good news is I am still in upper 2% in Senate," Rubio said. (The Tweet is probably in the running for most-retweeted comment of the day by a politician. Democratic Sen. John Kerry—no slouch in the coiffure department—was among those apparently tickled enough to share it.

    Rubio was responding to this post in the men's magazine: "Hey, Marco Rubio: It's Time for a New Haircut."

    "Marco Rubio's doing an alright job positioning himself as the man the GOP needs to halt their receding support, but before he gets too far along there, we suggest he take some time to better manage his own thinning hair," the piece said.

    The Tampa Bay Times mocked the item, but underlined one potentially overlooked political dimension.

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  • Scott Brown seems to hint at return to Senate

    Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill on Nov. 13, 2012, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)To Democrats worried that a possible secretary of state nomination for John Kerry would clear a path for Republican Scott Brown to run for his Senate seat: Keep worrying.

    Brown, beaten by liberal darling Elizabeth Warren on Nov. 6, certainly seemed to hint on Wednesday that he won't be gone long—even as he gave what officially was his farewell speech.

    "I rise today to give my closing floor speech for this session in the United States Senate," Brown said. This session? "Victory, and defeat, is temporary." Hmmm. "Depending on what happens, and where we go, all of us, we may obviously meet again. But I'm looking forward to continuing on with those friendships, with continuing on working with my staff." Well, then.

    (h/t Bloomberg's Kate Hunter, who first drew attention to Brown's rhetoric, and later shared this blog post from that news organization.)

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  • Boehner: Republicans, Obama ‘far apart’ on ‘fiscal cliff’

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who spoke with President Barack Obama yesterday, arrives for a closed-door meeting with the GOP caucus on Dec. 12, 2012, on Capitol Hill. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)With no evidence of concrete progress in talks to avoid the "fiscal cliff," President Barack Obama's Republican foes in Congress worked on Wednesday to turn up the heat on the White House. The GOP push came after the release of a new poll showing Americans side with the president with time running short to defuse the economic time bomb.

    "The longer the White House slow-walks this discussion, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff and the more American jobs are placed in jeopardy," Republican House Speaker John Boehner said, one day after discussing the standoff with Obama by telephone.

    "There were some offers exchanged back and forth yesterday and, you know, the president and I had a pretty frank conversation about just how far apart we are," Boehner told reporters. "I remain the most optimistic person in this town, but we've got some serious differences."

    The speaker, who has been negotiating with the president behind closed doors, said Obama had dropped his call for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue to $1.4 trillion. But "that cannot pass the House or the Senate."

    "We've been reasonable and responsible in our approach to this, and we're going to continue to do that. It's time for the president to do his part," he said.

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  • ‘Obamacare struck down’ tops year’s best, worst media mistakes

    A fictional crucifix-shaped sex toy? The Titanic sank in 2012? An incorrectly identified My Little Pony? "Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare"? A typo that relocated a spinal injury to a basketball player's groin?

    Your going to want to read Craig Silverman's annual humbling, cringe-inducing list of media errors and corrections. Here are his picks for 2012. There fantastic. Read the hole thing. There but for the grace of Dog...

    Silverman's pick for 2012's most notable error? CNN and Fox News reports that the Supreme Court had struck down President Barack Obama's landmark health care law as unconstitutional.

    Silverman's pick for 2012's "Correction of the Year"? The Economist runs away with that one for this: "Correction: An earlier version of this article claimed that journalists at Bloomberg Businessweek could be disciplined for sipping a spritzer at work. This is not true. Sorry. We must have been drunk on the job."

    And yes, the errors in the second paragraph of this story were

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  • White House, Boehner quietly swap ‘fiscal cliff’ offers

    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner spoke Tuesday after privately exchanging a new round of rival proposals for keeping the economy from tumbling off the "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1, aides to both men told Yahoo News. The fresh discussion signaled a welcome bit of movement in negotiations that had appeared stalled for several days.

    "The speaker and POTUS (the president of the United States) spoke by telephone this evening," a White House official said on condition of anonymity. A Boehner aide said the White House had presented a new offer on tax cuts and revenue increases on Monday and that Republicans had returned with a counter-offer on Tuesday.

    The White House refused to offer details about its proposal. But the Boehner aide said the new offer brought Obama's initial demand for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenues down to $1.4 trillion.

    The step would still require raising tax rates on wealthier Americans, something Boehner has previously rejected. Obama has

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  • McCain: I would teach Stephen Colbert ‘how to shut up’

    Sen. John McCain reacts to a remark during the University of Southern California's Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy inaugural symposium in Los Angeles on Sept. 24, 2012. (Gus Ruelas/Reuters)What would Sen. John McCain want to teach Stephen Colbert if the comedian becomes the next senator from South Carolina? "How to shut up," the Arizona Republican told reporters with a chuckle on Tuesday.

    A new poll from Public Policy Polling suggests that Colbert leads the field of potential candidates to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint. DeMint shocked Washington last week by announcing he was resigning to head the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

    Asked what sort of senator Colbert would be, McCain deadpanned, "He would be a very valued member, in many respects, in that he seems to know everything about us, so he wouldn't have any trouble fitting in."

    What's the very first thing you would teach him?

    "How to shut up," the senator said, punctuating the joke with a little laugh.

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  • Harvard hosts ‘How to be a Lawmaker’ session for incoming House freshmen

    The shiny toe of the John Harvard statue is seen at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on Nov. 16, 2012. The statue's toe is touched for good luck. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)Roughly 50 incoming members of Congress, out of the 84 elected in November, were set to converge Tuesday on Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government's congressional issues conference—which might as well be described as "how to be a representative."

    The group includes 37 Democrats and 10 Republicans, some of whom are coming back to the U.S. Capitol after a stint in the political wilderness.

    (Given the state of politics in Washington, calling the group bipartisan might be overly optimistic. Perhaps "bipartisan-curious"?)

    "This conference provides an opportunity to gain important guidance from current and former representatives, policy experts and key U.S. policymakers and political practitioners," Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson said.

    According to the institute's press release, the conference, which runs Tuesday through Friday, will focus "on exercising leadership in Congress and the issues they will face."

    It also noted that "the new members of Congress will

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  • McCain eyes move to committee that might question Rice

    Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, left, and Sen. John McCain at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) conference in Manama, Bahrain, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. (Hasan Jamali/AP)Republican Sen. John McCain has led the charge against potential secretary of state nominee Susan Rice—and now he wants a spot on the Senate committee that would question her if President Barack Obama picks her to succeed Hillary Clinton.

    McCain, whose term as the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee is ending, wants to join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rice, currently ambassador to the United Nations, leads the field of contenders to become the top American diplomat once Clinton leaves.

    "Sen. McCain has expressed interest in joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but no final decisions on committee assignments have been made," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers confirmed to Yahoo News. Whether he gets the spot is up to Senate leadership. (The Roll Call newspaper first reported in early December that the Arizona lawmaker sought to join Foreign Relations, while Foreign Policy magazine's The Cable blog cited McCain on Monday as saying it was a done deal.)

    McCain has repeatedly blasted Rice over her public comments about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya. (Clinton herself is expected to testify soon before Congress about the assault.)

    Obama has made it clear that he won't back down—if, that is, he decides Rice would be the best candidate. Another leading contender is Democratic Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, who is widely known to want the job. (If Rice gets the nod, however, Kerry would be in the position of shepherding her to confirmation.)

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  • Santa more likely to have gifts for Romney than for Obama: Poll

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the 90th lighting of the National Christmas tree, Dec 6, 2012. (Jason Reed/Reuters)Santa Claus exists—he's bringing President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney presents this year—but he might be cutting back on gifts thanks to the "fiscal cliff," according to a lighthearted new survey released Monday by Public Policy Polling (PPP).

    More Americans put Romney than Obama on Kris Kringle's "nice" list: 63 percent said the former Massachusetts governor would get presents, versus just 51 percent for the president, PPP found.

    Respondents gave Mommy quite a bit of latitude should she be caught smooching Saint Nick: 43 percent would tell Daddy, 40 percent would not, and 17 percent weren't sure.

    If Grandma were to be run over by a reindeer, the poll suggested the jolly fat man might get away with it: 61 percent said they would not press charges; just 24 percent said they would. There was a slight partisan split on that question, with 33 percent of Democrats saying they'd take Father Christmas to court, compared with 19 percent of Republicans.

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  • The world of 2030: U.S. declines; food, water may be scarce

    Stephen Swintek/Getty Images

    Sorry, everyone, but flying cars don't appear in the "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds" report that the director of national intelligence's office made public on Monday.

    Instead, the National Intelligence Council paints the picture of a world in which the U.S. is no longer the unquestionably dominant global player; individuals and small groups may carry out devastating cyber or bioterror attacks; oh, and food and water may be running short in some places.

    The 160-page report is a great read for anyone in the business of crafting the script for the next James Bond movie, a treasure trove of potential scenarios for international intrigue, not to mention super-villainy. But the council took pains to say that what it foresees is not set in stone. The goal is to provide policymakers with some idea of what the future holds in order to help them steer the right economic and military courses.

    "We do not seek to predict the future—which would be an impossible feat—but instead provide a framework for thinking about possible futures and their implications," the report cautioned.

    Other ideas the futurists reported: Global population will reach "somewhere close to 8.3 billion people," and food and water may be running scarce in some areas, especially regions like Africa and the Middle East.

    "Climate change will worsen the outlook for the availability of these critical resources," the report said. "Climate change analysis suggests that the severity of existing weather patterns will intensify, with wet areas getting wetter, and dry and arid areas becoming more so.

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