Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 2008
The next two weeks will be fascinating ones for political junkies. The Republican Convention begins on Monday, July 18 in Cleveland, and just a week later on July 25 the Democratic Convention will be held in Philadelphia. The list of speakers for the GOP Convention was released this morning.
Donald Trump’s convention will feature an eclectic mix of cultural figures, from the first woman to command a space shuttle mission to the survivors of the 2012 Benghazi attacks to an underwear model.
But while several Republican Party establishment figures will take the stage next week in Cleveland, the national convention to officially nominate Trump will be devoid of some of the GOP’s most seasoned leaders and brightest new stars.
Republican officials released a long-awaited list of convention speakers on Thursday that are billed as “non-conventional speakers” who emphasize “real world experience.”
Barry Goldwater and William Miller at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco
A small number of elected officials and former office-holders have agreed to speak at Trump’s convention, including Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Marsha Blackburn, Mike Huckabee, Rick Scott, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Sessions, Joni Ernst, and Asa Hutchison. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is not included in the list of speakers. It’s not clear whether that means he will be the VP nominee or if there is some reason he won’t be speaking. Another notable omission from the speakers list is Sarah Palin.
The unusual collection of non-political speakers seems designed to broaden Trump’s appeal. They include retired astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman pilot and first woman commander of a space shuttle mission; Mark Geist and John Tiegen, two survivors of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya; and Antonio Sabato Jr., a former Calvin Klein underwear model, soap-opera actor and reality-television star.
Some sports figures will take the stage here, including pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White. But some sporting heroes of decades past that Trump has said he would like to see at the convention — former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight and boxing legend Don King — are not listed as featured speakers.
Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 Republican Convention
Trump family members and close friends will also speak at the convention.
The Cleveland convention will be orchestrated to help expand Trump’s appeal to the general electorate. To that end, several member of Trump’s family are expected to give speeches, including his wife, Melania, and his four oldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany.
In addition, other speakers who have known Trump and his family through the years plan to take the stage. They include Haskel Lookstein, a rabbi in New York who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism; Tom Barrack, a wealthy California-based investor who has worked with Donald Trump on real estate deals; and Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery in Virginia.
In contrast to the weak list of GOP convention speakers, the Democratic Convention speakers list is star-studded. The Washington Post:
The Democratic National Convention is likely to open with a showcase of some of the party’s biggest stars, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and first lady Michelle Obama, according to a source with knowledge of the convention planning.
Although the speaking schedule isn’t yet set in stone, the jam-packed Monday night is also expected to include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) will introduce Warren in Philadelphia.
Sanders’s name will be entered into the nomination, prompting a roll call vote of delegates for both candidates.
Percy Sutton nominates Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic Convention
As we all expected Sanders will continue trying to get as much attention as he can for as long as he can.
According to another source familiar with the convention planning, the night’s theme will be an economic agenda focused on families. The list of speakers is intended to highlight the unity of the Democratic Party in contrast to the Republican convention that will have come the week before.
The night’s programming, including the speakers and videos, will drive home the theme of Clinton’s campaign, “Stronger together,” by highlighting a populist economic agenda.
The convention speaking list is coming together this week, and more speakers are likely to be formally announced as early as this week.
Presumably, speakers also will include President Obama and former President Clinton as well as rising stars in the party.
The deadline for a decision comes after the presumptive GOP presidential nominee wrapped up both public tryouts and private meetings with the three men believed to be among the finalists — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
After he campaigned with Pence in Indiana Tuesday evening, Trump his family met with Pence at his Indiana home on Wednesday morning, according toNBC News, while Gingrich and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions also flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump. Christie met with Trump and his family on Tuesday.
Pence, who gave a tepid endorsement to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before his state’s primary, was more gleefully on board with Trump’s campaign on Tuesday night as he introduced him at a rally in Westfield.
“Donald Trump gets it,” Pence told the crowd. “Donald Trump hears the voice of the American people.” ….
Of the three presumed vice presidential finalists, Pence was the only one who gave a direct introduction for Trump before he came to the stage. Trump also campaigned with Christie on Monday in Virginia and with Gingrich last week in Ohio.
Trump praised Pence at the end of what was a meandering speech — attacking rival Hillary Clinton often but also wandering off into other topics such as immigration and trade and back again.
“I don’t know if he’s going to be your governor or your vice president, who the hell knows!” Trump told the crowd, referring to Pence.
At this point, Trump needs a running mate who amplifies his strengths and, possibly, goes some way toward remedying some of the candidate’s most serious weaknesses: erratic behavior, lack of experience, inadequate grasp of history, and almost zero policy chops. He or she needs to believe what Trump believes—but in a way that suggests there will be an adult in the room. Trump’s vice president is likely to be powerful in the White House, so the pick is about a lot more than campaigning. The question remains, however, whether any of the final four offer a glimmer of hope.
Some excerpts from Frank’s assessments of the top four candidates.
Even in the wake of reports that Fox News and Gingrich have parted ways, perhaps to allow him to be vetted for the post, I still do not think this V.P. possibility is for real. Even Trump has said about Gingrich that “Newt is Newt.” That’s what you say about someone whom you accept despite major flaws. As in: Kanye is Kanye. That sort of stuff. And remember that “erratic” thing that we were trying to remedy? Gingrich is not your man for that.
John Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention
Yes, Pence campaigned with Trump this week in Indianapolis and sang his praises. But he seemed about as believable in his Trump-love as Paul Ryan. O.K., he did a little better than that. At least he wants Trump to win, maybe.
But Mike Pence has a fan club of roughly four, and all four have the last name Pence. This is someone who has the capability to be bungling and divisive on dumb social issues—by all accounts pleasing no one in his management of a religious-liberty law in Indiana, which means he angers social liberals, social moderates, and social conservatives. To be fair, that does leave the apathetic or uninformed.
We’ve been through this. Christie is, I will admit, an excellent retail politician. He’s a superb attack dog. He’s a social moderate. You like him, and he likes you, or thinks he does. But he’s got that bridge scandal to deal with and no one respects him after he turned into a courtier. Trump’s ticket would become the stuff of comedy. Picture it. Now picture it as a silhouette.
Protesters forming a human pyramid in Chicago’s Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention
Here, I must bring up one more crucial vulnerability of Trump: the suspicion that he doesn’t really mean a lot of the things that he says. It’s all pandering: on immigration, on trade, on budgets, on health care, etc. That’s one more reason why Jeff Sessions would pack a punch: Sessions represents Trumpism without Trump. Selecting him as a running mate would signal that Trump actually means what he’s saying.
It’s been a long few days for me culminating with spending the morning at the LASPCA trying to spring my friend’s runaway dog. Did I mention it took three hours while I had to look at about 10 cute kittens that definitely need a home ASAP giving me those big eyes ? So, I’m late with everything, tired, and the last thing I need is to crack a virtual newspaper and read about crazy. However, we still have two crazies in the race, so it’s crazzyyy Monday!!!
We knew the Trump ads against Clinton would be bad but we’re beginning to see exactly how bad they will be. I think most newspaper Tabloids have less sensation and more facts to be perfectly honest. Is this a clickbait headline or what? Alex Jones has taken over candidate Trump’s policies and their oppo research. From TPM: “New Trump Video Mixes Bill Clinton Rape Allegation, Hillary Clinton Laughing.”
Donald Trump released a new Instagram video on Monday featuring audio from interviews with women who’ve accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault. The accompanying text asks if Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is “really protecting women.”
As a photo of Bill Clinton comes into focus against a black-and-white photo of the White House, a voice can be heard saying “I was very nervous.”
That voice belongs to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, explaining her concern about divulging her affair with the President to a grand jury.
The next voice says “No woman should be subjected to it. It was an assault.” That’s Kathleen Wiley, a former White House volunteer who alleged that Clinton groped her in the hallway of the White House in 1993, speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in 2007.
The last bit of audio is taken from an infamous 1999 NBC Dateline interview with Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978. A tearful Broaddrick can be heard saying that he “started to bite my top lip and I tried to pull away from him.”
Clinton denied the assault on Willey in a 1998 deposition and has also denied Broaddrick’s rape allegation, which surfaced at the time of congressional impeachment proceedings over his affair with Lewinsky.
Trump’s video clip ends with a shot of Hillary and Bill Clinton together. While audio of Hillary Clinton laughing plays, the words “Here we go again” appear on the screen.
It’s the second time in two weeks that Trump has brought up past sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton. He has called Hillary Clinton a “nasty, mean enabler” of her husband’s alleged affairs.
We’re about to hit through the boundaries of horrific misogyny straight into new, uncharted territory. This is simply on the internet now, but I can only imagine what he’ll eventually try on other forms of media. This is really appalling.
And this on top of crazy Bernie Sanders and his delusional dead-enders!
There are also the usual proxies for the two campaigns. I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to read this but you might want to look at the NYT’s profiles of Roger Stone (Trump) and David Brock (Clinton). It’s about some of their behind the scene work for the campaigns.
One takes a pint-size dog named Toby almost everywhere, smokes electronic cigarettes and wears his silver hair in a flowing pompadour.
The other has a portrait of Richard M. Nixon tattooed on his back, boasts that he owns more shoes than Imelda Marcos and traffics in conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination.
The 2016 election, filled with ugly insults, whispered innuendo and sordid character attacks, features two central antagonists known for their colorful traits and devotion to the dark arts of politics: David Brock and Roger J. Stone Jr.
Each has a passion for his side — Mr. Brock for Hillary Clinton and Mr. Stone for Donald J. Trump — and a zeal for attacking critics of his candidate. Their intensity and pugnacity make them either perfect villains or misunderstood masterminds, depending on your point of view.
On the wall of Mr. Stone’s office in South Florida, which has an undisclosed address because of the death threats he said he had received, hangs a “Spy vs. Spy” cartoon, which young staff members titled “Brock-Stone” after the two battling operatives.
“The dynamic between the two of them is very interesting,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist who knows both men. “This will be a battle about who’s tougher.”
Politics has always attracted flamboyant characters with a sometimes-reckless devotion to a cause, and both these men seem to enjoy their outsize images.
Mr. Brock, 53, divides his time between Washington and the West Village in Manhattan, throwing lively salons and wooing liberal donors on both coasts, often accompanied by Toby, his schnoodle — a schnauzer-poodle mix.
We frequently read our friend’s at Brock financed pro-Hillary blog Blue Nation Review. The NYT article has some interesting stories on him and the purpose of his pro-Hillary PAC.
His mission now will largely be to get inside Mr. Stone’s complicated head to anticipate, and stay ahead of, Mr. Trump’s attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s allies have vehemently denied that she was involved in silencing Mr. Clinton’s accusers, but Mr. Trump will continue to push that assertion as the two candidates battle for the support of women voters.
Mr. Stone acknowledged that Mr. Brock’s operation has significantly more resources, but he said the traditional tactic of dismissing these accusations as sordid rumors could backfire. “Brock is calling us conspiracy theorists and trying to make us all sound kooky,” he said. “The only people that scares away are the elites.”
Mr. Brock’s group Media Matters for America has taken direct aim at Mr. Stone, labeling him “the underbelly of the Trump machine” and assembling an encyclopedia on his tactics, including his involvement in a National Enquirer article that accused Senator Ted Cruz’s father of associating with Lee Harvey Oswald before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Mr. Stone calls Media Matters part of “the Clinton slime machine.”
Both men operate outside the official campaigns, though Mr. Brock directly coordinates with the Clinton campaign through Correct the Record. Mr. Stone said he had “no formal or informal role” within the Trump campaign, but he is close to Mr. Trump and has had a major influence on strategy.
And both have taken risky moves that have created drama and tensions within the campaigns they are ostensibly helping.
Fox News figures are praising network contributor Newt Gingrich as a “great choice” for Donald Trump’s running mate. They have touted Gingrich — the first speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to be punished by the House for ethics violations — as “a genius,” “a conservative with bona fides,” and someone who would “bring tremendous stability, tremendous gravitas, incredible intellect,” and “judgment experience.”
Trump Is Considering Gingrich As His Running Mate
Bloomberg: Trump Has Discussed Gingrich As His VP. Bloomberg reported that “Trump has discussed in recent days the possibility of selecting former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as his running mate, according to people familiar with the talks.” [Bloomberg, 5/11/16]
Trump: Gingrich Is “Absolutely” On His Short List For VP. The Fox News morning show Fox & Friendsasked Trump if Gingrich was on his short list for vice president. Trump responded: “Absolutely. I’ll say yes, because he’s been such a supporter. I mean, anybody that supports me is on the shortlist as far as I’m concerned.” [The Hill, 5/20/16]
Gingrich Has Suggested He Would Accept The VP Slot. Gingrich stated during a Fox News interview that he would be “very hard-pressed not to say ‘yes’” if offered the spot. [The Huffington Post, 5/16/16]
Trump Aide: Staffers Were Informed Gingrich “Will Have His Hand In Every Major Policy Effort.”National Review reported of “Gingrich’s ascent to Trump’s inner circle”:
Gingrich’s influence within Trump World is widespread. Inside Trump’s newly established campaign offices in Washington, D.C., his fingerprints are everywhere. “Right from the minute I joined we were told that Newt will have his hand in every major policy effort,” says one Trump aide. “So one of the things I do when I’m researching or writing anything, in addition to looking at what Trump has said about anything, I look at what Newt has said.”
Gingrich’s ascent to Trump’s inner circle — and potentially to the vice presidency — marks a reversal of fortune for the speaker, who in recent years has fallen out of favor with party elites over his vocal criticisms of the Iraq War and Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare. On both issues, the views that irked GOP insiders were squarely in line with the unorthodox positions Trump has espoused on the campaign trail. [National Review, 5/23/16]
A top strategist for the Republican National Committee said Sunday on conservative talk radio that presumptive nominee Donald Trump has made clear he wants to launch “aggressive” attacks on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Republicans have been accused in the past, and some degree rightfully so, of not tearing the bark off of our opponents, and this year Donald Trump has made it very clear we are going to be aggressive” to get a Republican in the White House, Sean Spicer RNC chief strategist and spokesman, said.
“We’ve been at it for four years going through her record,” Spicer also said, as quoted by Breitbart. “This idea that people know who she is and that they’ve seen everything is just ridiculous.”
Spicer, speaking with Breitbart News Sunday on SiriusXM radio, added the party has only “scratched the surface” with Clinton.
I never understand the appeal of these kinds of attacks. They really turn me off. It’s one of the reasons I’m ready to do just about anything within the legal boundaries of the law to see that Bernie Sanders goes back to the Vermont outback, never to be heard from again. Why do all the remaining dudes in this race all represent the angry white male, women-hating prototype? Are there really that many of them left out there?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.
Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
John O. Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, is a leading contender for the CIA job if he wants it, officials said. If Brennan goes ahead with his plan to leave government, Michael J. Morell, the agency’s acting director, is the prohibitive favorite to take over permanently. Officials cautioned that the White House discussions are still in the early stages and that no decisions have been made.
That’s a surprise about Kerry. The bad news would be losing a Democratic Senate seat and giving Scott Brown another chance to run as a replacement. Let’s hope Massachusetts Democrats have someone who can beat him.
You also probably heard that there was a huge explosion in Indianapolis over the weekend. It leveled four houses completely and seriously damaged eighty more. The explosion was so powerful that homes 2-3 blocks away in all directions were affected–garage doors were blown open, windows broken and so on. So far there no cause for the explosion has been announced. The latest speculation has been that a gas furnace or some other appliance blew up. From NBC News:
With no hint of a problem in advance, in particular no tell-tale smell of a gas leak, authorities and residents in a southern Indianapolis neighborhood are trying to make sense of an enormous blast that obliterated two homes and made dozens more uninhabitable.
Fire officials expressed amazement that only two people died in the late Saturday explosion so powerful that the devastation spread for blocks from its epicenter. Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their Richmond Hill homes, some never to return. Windows and doors were blown in. The blast rocked several houses entirely from their foundations and was so loud it awoke people three miles away. A fire burned for hours, engulfing dozens of homes.
“We have done initial testing throughout the neighborhood and have not found any gas leaks,” Dan Considine, Citizens Energy spokesman, told IndyStar.com Monday.
“We are still doing additional testing of the gas main and the lines to the homes on Fieldfare Way,” he said. “We have not at this point found any problems with any external gas lines.”
This is so strange. I did hear that authorities have determined that the explosion wasn’t caused by a meth lab or by explosives.
The FBI withheld its findings about Gen. David Petreaus’ affair from the White House and congressional leaders because the agency considered them the result of a criminal investigation that never reached the threshold of an intelligence probe, law enforcement sources said today.
The sources said agents followed department guidelines that generally bar sharing information about developing criminal investigations. The FBI is also aware of its history under former director J. Edgar Hoover of playing politics and digging into the lives of public figures. As one official said, the rules are designed to protect people (both private and elected officials) when negative information about them arises in the course of a criminal investigation that is not a crime.
The FBI’s focus was on whether laws were broken, in this case whether federal cyber-harassment statutes were violated. The sources emphasized that Petraeus himself was never the focus of the investigation, nor did it turn up evidence he broke any law.
The focus was on his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he had the affair that ended with his resignation as CIA director last week.
A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he had become personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe.
New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus’s personal life, the agency had to address questionable conduct by one of its own…
As Dakinikat said the other day, this is sounding more and more like a Lifetime movie as time goes on.
The FBI agent who started the case was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails that led to the probe, according to officials. Ms. Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation.
However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.
The FBI officials found that he had sent shirtless pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley, according to the people familiar with the probe.
These are the same people who are setting up stings to entrap young men into planning “terrorist acts.” Do you feel safer now?
Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell reported that this FBI agent may have had political motivations and wanted the information made public before the election. According to the WSJ story, this was the FBI source who contacted Rep. Dave Reichert, who in turn passed the information to Eric Cantor.
The story also gives more detail on the so-called harassing e-mails that Broadwell sent to Kelley:
The accusatory emails, according to officials, were sent anonymously to an account shared by Ms. Kelley and her husband. Ms. Broadwell allegedly used a variety of email addresses to send the harassing messages to Ms. Kelley, officials said.
One asked if Ms. Kelley’s husband was aware of her actions, according to officials. In another, the anonymous writer claimed to have watched Ms. Kelley touching “him” provocatively underneath a table, the officials said.
The message was referring to Mr. Petraeus, but that wasn’t clear at the time, officials said.
I’m getting the feeling that Broadwell is not going to get her Ph.D. from the Harvard School of Government, especially not after this from the Charlotte Observer: FBI team searches Broadwell home.
Three days after Paula Broadwell entered the center of national controversy, FBI agents Monday evening entered her family’s Dilworth home and appeared to be searching both floors.
The four or five agents brought cardboard boxes used for carrying papers and were on both floors of the home for the search, which began shortly before 9 p.m. About two dozen members of the local and national media gathered. It wasn’t immediately clear what the agents were focused on.
The agents appeared to start their search in the rear of the house in the kitchen and began turning on lights as they moved into different rooms. As the agents reached the two-hour mark, lights in most rooms appeared to be turned on.
Broadwell’s apparent affair with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who is married, led him to resign Friday as CIA director. Broadwell’s Charlotte neighbor Sarah Curme said Monday that Broadwell, her husband and two young sons were doing pretty well considering the circumstances. Broadwell marked her 40th birthday over the weekend with family in Washington, D.C.
Still, Amy Bishop managed to get her Ph.D. from Harvard.
UPDATE: Overnight it came out that another four-star general, John Allen, is under investigation for exchanging massive numbers of inappropriate e-mails with Jill Kelley.From CNN:
The spiraling scandal that took down former CIA Director David Petraeus has apparently ensnared another powerful general, as authorities announced that Gen. John Allen is under investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to Jill Kelley, a woman who has been linked to the Petraeus scandal.
Allen, who is the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, has denied any wrongdoing, a senior defense official said.
What the hell is going on with these generals?
Some details about Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, came from an overnight statement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, while he was on his way to Australia.
“On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to the Department of Defense a matter involving General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (or ISAF) in Afghanistan,” part of the statement said. “Today, the secretary directed that the matter be referred to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense for investigation.”
A defense official told CNN there is a “distinct possibility” that the investigation into Allen is connected to the investigation that led to the resignation of Petraeus.
Allen had been nominated to be the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, but that appointment is now on hold.
I’ll put any further updates in the comments to this post.
The woman who married former House Speaker Newt Gingrich after cheating with him while he was married to his second wife says that former CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair is “sad” and “painful” for his family.
“I think it’s personally very sad for he and his family,” Callista Gingrich told ABC’s Barbara Walters on Monday. “I think he did the right thing by resigning. But this is painful and they’ll have to work together through this as a family. And that will take some time.”
Maybe Barbara should have talked to Newt’s previous wives to find out what being cheated on really feels like. But I suppose Callista will find out eventually. Maybe she’s preparing herself for the inevitable.
A Stanford University professor presented evidence Monday that mutations in the human brain — brought on by advances in society that have made survival less stressful — are eroding our intellectual and emotional capabilities.
Gerald Crabtree, lead author of the study published in the journal Trends in Genetics, claims the brain drain has been going on for centuries.
Crabtree, a professor of pathology and developmental biology, suggested our intellectual peak came when humans were mostly nonverbal and were stressed out trying to think of ways to not get eaten by wild animals.
He said survival was once a driving force for intelligence. But the development of agriculture and the rise in urban living has probably weakened the natural selection towards intelligence and made us less smart.
Humans are slowly losing their cognitive capabilities as adverse genetic mutations fail to be weeded out by evolutionary pressures, according to a bold hypothesis put forward by Dr. Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University.
“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues,” the leading geneticist began his article in the scientific journal Trends in Genetics, adding the same could be said of the “inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India, or the Americas.”
Crabtree explained that human intelligence and emotions relied on thousands of genes, which acted together as links in a chain rather than individual components. A mutation to any of one of these genes can produce intellectual or emotional disability — and research has found that most of these genes are particularly susceptible to mutations.
Under the harsh circumstances that ancient humans endured, even a slight reduction in cognitive abilities could doom an individual. Those with lower cognitive abilities were more likely to die before reproducing, leaving only those with more refined cognitive abilities to pass on their genes.
Could this explain the development of the Tea Party?
Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?
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Some times I just have to wonder how a news anchor can keep a straight face when covering specific news stories. It seems Shep Smith went rogue while covering Newt Gingrich’s campaign suspension. C&L’s Karoli captures the absurdity of the moment well. Minx covered this in her late night news thread but I really thought I’d give the Karoli bit a shout out because of the You Tube below. It comes from the Obama-Biden campaign. You have to know more of these are coming. You also need to go see Minx’s post because the Luckovich cartoon take off of Porky’s ending to Loony Tunes will give you a big ol’ smile.
“Newt Gingrich has brought creativity and intellectual vitality to American political life. During the course of this campaign, Newt demonstrated both eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas. Although he long ago created an enduring place for himself in American history, I am confident that he will continue to make important contributions to our party and to the life of the nation. Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends and we look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead as we fight to restore America’s promise.”
This would not be news except that Shepard Smith’s reaction to that statement was just classic and delicious. I think he should not be working for a channel who is almost always “weird and creepy,” but since he is, I’ve got to say that this should go down in the annals of classic news anchor reactions:
Politics is weird. And creepy. And now, I know, lacks even the loosest attachment to anything like reality.
The facial expressions are as wonderful as the words. While Newt didn’t really sing a full-throated praise of Mittens, he did manage to choke out words to the effect that Mitt was still better than President Obama. Of course, the reason Shep was so taken aback was because of statements during the campaign like these:
If you have a bitterly fought primary–which is an honest appraisal of the 2012 Republican primaries–then you’re going to have lots of Kafkaesque Kumbya moments when all the bitter rivals have to make nice with the winner. That can never been an easy thing to do. However, we have these SuperPacs that are bringing negative campaigning to new lows. We’ve also seen a series of debates with endless harangues. How on earth is the kiss and make up moment supposed to go under that circumstance?
Michele Bachmann has finally decided to endorse Mitt Romney – 119 days after she dropped out of the race.
The endorsement will come at a joint Romney-Bachmann appearance on Thursday. No doubt Bachmann will talk about the importance of beating Barack Obama and how Mitt Romney is the one to do it. She’ll almost certainly say that conservatives must unite behind Romney because of the importance of beating Obama.
But here’s the thing: Shortly before she dropped out, Bachmann told me – point blank – that there was no way Romney could beat Obama.
“He cannot beat Obama,” Bachmann said. “It’s not going to happen.”
Wow, with endorsements like these, who needs opposition research? Anyway, Karoli has the video of Smith’s moment of Zen. It’s worth tripping over to C&L just to see the look on his face. Meanwhile, so long Newt, we knew you FAR TOO WELL.
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Good Evening!! It’s a long weekend here in Massachusetts. Today is Patriots Day, which commemorates the beginning of the American Revolution on April 19, 1776. It’s also the day of the Boston Marathon, which I guess didn’t go so well since it was almost 90 degrees here. Anyway, in honor of the holiday, I thought I’d post some feel good news for a change.
I read a wonderfully touching story at BBC News yesterday that I just had to share. It’s about a little boy who got lost 26 years ago and how as an adult he was able to locate his mom using Google Earth.
Saroo was only five years old when he got lost. He was travelling with his older brother, working as a sweeper on India’s trains. “It was late at night. We got off the train, and I was so tired that I just took a seat at a train station, and I ended up falling asleep.”
That fateful nap would determine the rest of his life. “I thought my brother would come back and wake me up but when I awoke he was nowhere to be seen. I saw a train in front of me and thought he must be on that train. So I decided to get on it and hoped that I would meet my brother.”
Saroo did not meet his brother on the train. Instead, he fell asleep and had a shock when he woke up 14 hours later. Though he did not realise it at first, he had arrived in Calcutta, India’s third biggest city and notorious for its slums.
I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for a little five-year-old boy! But somehow Saroo found the courage and strength to survive on the street. He learned how to beg in order to survive–and how to keep himself safe. Eventually Saroo ended up in an orphanage and then was adopted by a couple from Australia.
It sounds like he was happy with his adoptive parents, but as he grew older Saroo had a strong urge to find his original family. He didn’t even know the name of the town where he was born so using his early childhood memories he searched Google Earth for familiar landmarks.
“I multiplied the time I was on the train, about 14 hours, with the speed of Indian trains and I came up with a rough distance, about 1,200km.”
He drew a circle on a map with its centre in Calcutta, with its radius about the distance he thought he had travelled. Incredibly, he soon discovered what he was looking for: Khandwa. “When I found it, I zoomed down and bang, it just came up. I navigated it all the way from the waterfall where I used to play.”
When he got to Khandwa, Saroo was able to use his memories to find his way to his childhood home; but when he got there he found the house abandoned. Fortunately neighbors remembered his family and were able to tell him where his mother lived and they were reunited.
The heartbreaking part of the story is that Saroo’s brother had been killed on that night in 1986, which explains why the five-year-old Saroo was left in the train station alone.
“A month after I had disappeared my brother was found in two pieces on a railway track.” His mother had never known whether foul play was involved or whether the boy had simply slipped and fallen under a train.
“We were extremely close and when I walked out of India the tearing thing for me was knowing that my older brother had passed away.”
The wild scene began shortly after 8 p.m. after the black-and-white cow apparently slipped away unnoticed from a slaughterhouse on River Street, [animal control officer John] De Cando said….
The cow ran up and down Presidential Boulevard, spent some time at a basketball court, then continued on River Street, crossing the Arch Street Bridge and wading into the Passaic River.
“It was like Dodge City,” De Cando said. “You had five police cars on one side of the street, five on the other and the 750-pound cow looking both ways. When the opportunity came, it booked between the police cars.”
De Cando finally got close enough to tranquilize the cow twice. The cow, which was trapped between a fire hydrant and a truck, began snoring as a crowd gathered.
I’m cheering for that cow. De Cando said the Slaughterhouse owner said he would take the cow to a farm instead of killing her; but an animal rights activist named Mike Stura decided to take matters into his own hands.
The brave cow who managed to escape from the perils of a Paterson, New Jersey slaughterhouse has found sanctuary and received a heartwarming bovine fairytale thanks to an upstate New York man.
Animal rights advocate Mike Stura rescued the 750-pound cow and guided it to a Woodstock, New York animal sanctuary where as Stura put, “He’ll never end up on someone’s plate, that’s for sure.”
That’s great, Mike, but I’m pretty sure the courageous cow is a “she,” not a “he.”
I’ve got one more heartwarming animal story. At least I found it heartwarming. On Friday, a Magellanic penguin at the St. Louis Zoo demonstrated its good taste by biting Newt Gingrich.
At least one penguin at the St. Louis Zoo appears to be a feisty opponent of Newt Gingrich.
The Republican presidential candidate is sporting a small bandage on his finger after getting nipped by a small penguin during his tour of the zoo on Friday. Gingrich was in St. Louis to speak during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting.
Last week, the ACS sent out a press release that headlined: “Could ‘advanced’ dinosaurs rule other planets?” Whoever wrote the press release had pulled the headline from a humorous note from the end of Breslaw’s very serious scientific paper:
After suggesting that early meteorites may have seeded a pre-life earth with chiral amino acids, Dr. Robert Breslow ends this paper with this flight of fancy:
An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on D amino acids and L sugars, depending on the chirality of circular polarized light in that sector of the universe or whatever other process operated to favor the L α‐methyl amino acids in the meteorites that have landed on Earth. Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth. We would be better off not meeting them.
All the science blogs are in an uproar about this, but I thought it was funny–and a great idea for a horror movie. Hey all you chemists out there–get a sense of humor, will you?
Have you heard any feel good news lately?
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.