Posts by Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps

  • ‘Plight of the soldier’: Bradley Cooper hopes to ‘inspire’ with portrayal of Chris Kyle

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 8 mths ago

    Top Line

    Even before his untimely death two years ago, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle had already achieved legendary status as the most precise, and lethal, sniper in U.S. history.

    And for actor Bradley Cooper, whose portrayal of Kyle in the film “American Sniper” has won him an Oscar nomination, the task of venerating Kyle’s legacy on the big screen was a tall order.

    “I'm sure I got a lot wrong, but I hope that he would think at least I got enough right that it serves his purpose, which was to be of service to vets,” Cooper told “Top Line” on the red carpet of a Washington, D.C., screening of the new movie.

    “His sort of mission statement in life, after being honorably discharged, was to help a vet besides just saying ‘Thank you for your service,’ which is a wonderful thing to say, but maybe actually … babysit their kids or help them with their groceries, or do anything,” Cooper said of Kyle. “A little gesture can go a long way. And if this movie can help do that, make people aware of the plight of the soldier, then I think he'd be happy.”

    The film further succeeded, Gallucci said, by making the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs “approachable.”

  • Why a congressman is writing about ‘fleshy breasts’ and ‘walking beef jerkies’

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 9 mths ago

    Top Line

    While there may be little to laugh about when it comes to the gridlock and dysfunction of Capitol Hill, Rep. Steve Israel used the world in which he works as a source of comic inspiration for his new satirical novel "The Global War on Morris."

    But the book’s humor doesn’t just leave its readers laughing at the lunacy of Washington. It also leaves them blushing from the awkward sexual encounters – described at times in vivid detail by Israel – of the main character, Morris Feldstein.

    “There is flesh in the book, but at times I compare some of that flesh to walking beef jerkies,” the New York Democrat told “Top Line” in an interview. “So, anybody who's ever been to a swimming pool at a hotel resort in Florida has seen all forms and all kinds of flesh.”

    While Israel didn’t let his standing as a member of Congress preclude him from broaching the topic of sex in his novel, he points out that it’s not the main thrust of his book.

    “There is a scene that deals with a dalliance. … It's kind of like a quarter of a dalliance,” Israel said. “So, if you're reading this book because you're really intrigued with romance, read another book.”

  • ISIS is the JV team and other risky analogies by politicians

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 11 mths ago

    Top Line

    President Obama made a famous fumble earlier this year when he compared ISIS to a JV team. But he is hardly the first politician to learn the power and perils that come with using analogies.

    Analogies have been used to both sell and plunder ideas through the ages, as former presidential speechwriter John Pollack details in his new book, “Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas.”

    “It's easy to throw off a quick analogy and not think it through and people are so busy that one comes to mind, you say it, and then the horse has left the barn, so to speak,” Pollack told “Top Line” during a recent interview.

    In his book, Pollack preaches about how to properly use analogies and advises analogy users to beware.

    An analogy that fails to set the proper tone can do more harm than good, as was the case with President Obama’s “JV Team ISIS” analogy.

    “Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, whether you agree with her or you disagree, it's a funny, appealing analogy,” Pollack said.

  • Gail Sheehy: Hillary Clinton didn’t feel independent until age 53

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Pioneering journalist and author Gail Sheehy made a career out of telling the stories of other people’s lives.

    Best known for her 1976 book “Passages,” which the Library of Congress named one of the 10 most influential books of our time, Sheehy is now telling the story of her own life’s journey in a memoir, “Daring: My Passages.”

    “It's so much easier to write about other people's lives,” Sheehy told “Top Line” in a recent interview. “I had to actually figure out, what did my life add up to? … But I feel much better on the other end of it. I let go of a lot of guilt. I came to really appreciate people who had been helpful to me along the way.”

    Looking back at the arc of her own career, coming up as a woman practicing journalism at a time when the field was largely dominated by men, Sheehy said she would tell her younger self not to be intimidated.

    One woman in particular whose strides have caught Sheehy’s attention: Hillary Clinton.

    Sheehy said that Clinton’s evolution over time is part of what has made her such a fascinating person to watch.

    And since then, the former first lady has gone on to be a U.S. Senator, a presidential candidate and secretary of state.


  • Behind the Math: Why FiveThirtyEight predicts a GOP takeover in the Senate

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Republicans are likely to win control of the Senate in November’s midterm elections, according to projections by the statistical prognosticators at FiveThirtyEight.

    “We’re currently projecting that Republicans have a better chance than Democrats to control the Senate, but it's still up for grabs,” FiveThirtyEight political analyst Harry Enten said. “The current number that we're going for is a 62.2 percent chance that Republicans will take control of the United States Senate in November.”

    Enten sat down with “Top Line” to discuss FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast, which has been updated since this interview’s taping Wednesday, and explained why it tells a story of GOP victory.

    “We’re calculating the percentage chance that Republicans will win each seat, and then we're adding up those probabilities, and then we come up with an overall top line,” he said. “We believe that Republicans do have a better chance of controlling the Senate than Democrats.”

    And he pointed to another 2012 reality that continues to ring true in FiveThirtyEight’s 2014 projections.

  • What’s the oldest 'creature of Washington'?

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    If you look to the halls of Congress, you might say that Washington, D.C. doesn’t need another dinosaur.

    But the nation’s capital recently welcomed another power-wielding dinosaur to its ranks in the form of a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. “Top Line” had the opportunity to go face to face with the dinosaur, dubbed “The Nation’s T. rex,” during a recent visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

    “What we're working on is the Smithsonian's first nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton,” Matthew Carrano, curator of Dinosauria at the museum, said during a tour of the Smithsonian’s “Rex Room,” where museum staff are hard at work inspecting the inventory of bones.

    Though there are other T. rex specimens already on display elsewhere in the country, this is the first ever nearly complete specimen obtained by the Smithsonian Institution.

    “It’s taken us a little while, and we have less-complete specimens of T. rex in the collection, but nothing really worth showing off,” Carrano said. “There are really only a handful of specimens. Today, we know of maybe 20-25 specimens, but it's taken us about a hundred years to get that many.”

  • Giant killer? Meet the Democrat who could crush Scott Walker’s 2016 dreams

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Scott Walker is widely considered one of the GOP’s presidential hopefuls. But before the Wisconsin governor can run for president in 2016, he needs to win his bid for reelection in 2014 -- and that means getting past his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke.

    Burke, the first woman nominated for governor in Wisconsin by a major political party and a former executive of her family’s successful business, Trek Bicycles, is proving to be a formidable obstacle. The most recent polling shows the partisan rivals locked in a dead heat.

    In the contentious campaign between Walker and Burke, job creation in the Dairy Land is ground zero.

    One of Walker’s main lines of attack against Burke has been to criticize her family’s bike business for outsourcing 99 percent of its production overseas, primarily to China -- a strategy that harkens back to the Obama campaign’s 2012 tactic to counter Mitt Romney’s business success.

    When it comes to job creation, Burke has her own line of attack against Walker.

    Burke says that by declining federal money for Medicaid expansion, Walker has put politics ahead of common sense.

  • Worse than Watergate: New revelations from Nixon tapes 40 years after resignation

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

  • “Firing Back”: Todd Akin clarifies “legitimate rape” comment in new book

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Todd Akin may regret how he said it, but he doesn’t regret what he meant.

    The former Missouri Republican’s Senate campaign crumbled in 2012 after he said that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” and prevent an unwanted pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

    Now, just months before the 2014 mid-term election, Akin has returned with 'Firing Back' -- a book about his life, his politics and, yes, an attempt to clarify what may have been the most notorious comment of the previous cycle.

    “Obviously no rape is legitimate,” Akin told “Top Line” in an interview. “It's a serious, serious crime. But legitimate rape is a law enforcement term for legitimate case of rape. Rape is not legitimate, it’s the particular circumstances.”

    Akin went on to say that his remark related to the female body’s ability to shut down reproductive abilities if raped was “not very well stated.”

    “What I was simply saying is: stress plays a role in whether somebody's eggs fertilize or somebody gets pregnant,” Akin said. “The probability of pregnancy as a result of rape is less than it might be otherwise.”

  • CEOs vs. warlords: Inside the competition for Africa's oil

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Oil is complicated business.

    A new documentary juxtaposes the story of a U.S. oil company in its venture to reap profit from an oil field it discovered off the coast of Ghana with the tale of Nigeria’s deeply corrupt oil industry. In telling the story, “Big Men” director Rachel Boynton takes her audience from the boardroom negotiations of U.S.-based Kosmos Energy to the boats of militant groups in Nigeria, as they try to claim a piece of the Niger Delta’s vast petroleum riches.

    “It isn't just outright condemning the oil companies and I'm not saying they're saints either but it is portraying a complicated situation,” Boynton told “Top Line.”

    Obtaining access to Kosmos Energy, Boynton said, was the most challenging hurdle in creating the film.

    “Oil companies are not known for opening up their doors and inviting in independent filmmakers,” she said, explaining that she ultimately gained the confidence of the company’s executive Brian Maxted.

    “The State Department did not allow its employees to go to the Delta,” she said. “And at the time it struck me, how in the world are they supposed to know what's going on if they're not allowed to visit?”