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Did Obama Just Lose Florida?

Did Obama Just Lose Florida?

By

A mere half-century after the embargo of Cuba came into effect, the United States is moving to normalize relations with Havana — angering a lot of Cuban-Americans in the process.

“The liberalization policies aimed at easing trade and remittances to Cuba is another propaganda coup for the Castro brothers, who will now fill their coffers with more money at the expense of the Cuban people,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “Even more than just putting U.S. national security at risk, President Obama is letting down the Cuban people, who still yearn to be free,” said Senator Marco Rubio. 

Given the power of the Cuban-American voting bloc in Florida, did President Obama just torch Democrats’ hopes for winning the crucial swing state come 2016?

There are a number of questions embedded in that big one. Would Cuban-Americans credit or blame another Democrat for Obama’s actions? Will Democrats lose votes that they otherwise might have won owing to the shift in policy, or just harden votes that they would have lost? Is the Cuban-American voting bloc big enough to tip an election in the state?

The last question might be the easiest to answer: Perhaps, but for the fact that Cuban-Americans are becoming much less of a predictable “bloc” to begin with. According to a recent study by Pew, the proportion of Cuban registered voters who lean Republican has fallen from 64 percent to 47 in the past decade. The proportion who lean Democratic has jumped from 22 percent to 44 percent. What was once a bloc is now a divided constituency.

That shift is partly demographic, Pew found: Younger, American-born Cubans tend to be more Democratic, and there are increasingly more of them.

Is there a chance that President Obama’s policy might swing some Cuban-Americans back towards the Republican Party? Certainly, and we won’t know for sure until we get new polling data, likely in a number of weeks.

But it is worth noting that those younger Cuban-Americans tend to be much more supportive of diplomatic normalization than their older counterparts. A recent Florida International University poll found that 90 percent of young Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County — 90 percent! — favor having diplomatic relations with Havana. A similar proportion support lifting the travel ban, and just more than 60 percent of young Cuban-Americans support ending the embargo.

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WashPost Editorial Board: Obama gives the Castro regime an undeserved bailout

Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba an undeserved bailout

IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the accelerating economic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly.

On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.

As part of the bargain, Havana released Alan Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development contractor who was unjustly imprisoned five years ago for trying to help Cuban Jews. Also freed was an unidentified U.S. intelligence agent in Cuba — as were three Cuban spies who had been convicted of operations in Florida that led to Cuba’s 1996 shootdown of a plane carrying anti-Castro activists. While Mr. Obama sought to portray Mr. Gross’s release as unrelated to the spy swap, there can be no question that Cuba’s hard-line intelligence apparatus obtained exactly what it sought when it made Mr. Gross a de facto hostage.

No wonder Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s leading dissident blogger, concluded Wednesday that “Castroism has won” and predicted that for weeks Cubans will have to endure proclamations by the government that it is the “winner of its ultimate battle.”

Mr. Obama argued that his sweeping change of policy was overdue because the strategy of isolating the Communist regime “has had little effect.” In fact, Cuba has been marginalized in the Americas for decades, and the regime has been deprived of financial resources it could have used to spread its malignant influence in the region, as Venezuela has done. That the embargo has not succeeded in destroying communism does not explain why all sanctions should be lifted without any meaningful political concessions by Cuba.

U.S. officials said the regime agreed to release 53 political prisoners and allow more access to the Internet. But Raúl Castro promised four years ago to release all political prisoners, so the White House has purchased the same horse already sold to the Vatican and Spain.

The administration says its move will transform relations with Latin America, but that is naive. Countries that previously demanded an end to U.S. sanctions on Cuba will not now look to Havana for reforms; instead, they will press the Obama administration not to sanction Venezuela. Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.

 
Will Hyman Roth Return to Havana With Normalized Relations?

Will Hyman Roth Return to Havana With Normalized Relations?

John L. Smith

Don’t bet on it. The casino culture that drove Cuba’s popularity is now accepted across America, and as for prostitution, it’s hard to get kinkier than cable TV.

Prior to the Jan. 1, 1959 Socialist revolution of Fidel Castro, the post-World War II mob led in part by the inspiration for Roth, organized-crime financial maven Meyer Lansky, Americans largely used Havana as an island paradise of hedonism: Sex, drugs, and wide-open gambling courtesy of the friends of Murder, Inc., some savvy and daring U.S. corporations, and the consummately corrupt regime of President Fulgencio Batista.

“Neither the American nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” President Barack Obama said during Wednesday’s announcement.

Before Cuba was shunned and sanctioned, it was a handy place for the randy. In an America starved for gambling and sexual intrigue, at a time when only the parched and pariah Nevada offered legalized casinos and the politically sanctioned scent of vice, Havana was shakin’ its booty to a Salsa beat.

Lansky was one of many sharp racket bosses who saw the potential of Havana as “the Offshore Las Vegas,” just 90 miles from the coast of uptight Florida and on an increasing number of commercial airline routes. (Pan American Airways thought enough of the destination to finance one of the hotel-casinos just off the Malecon.)

Havana wasn’t just a center of gambling and vice, it also was the headquarters of a growing drug trade protected in part by corrupt officials and Batista’s fixers.

Sex, drugs, vice? Las Vegas could have taken lessons from Havana.

Read Article

 
The Democrats' risky Cuba bet

Blind U.S. athlete Peter Crowley poses for a portrait with the Cuban and U.S. flags at the Marina Hemingway in Havana, Cuba, Friday, April 25, 2014. Crowley began his attempt to cross the Straight of Florida, between the Cuba and US, by kayak on Friday. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The Democrats' risky Cuba bet

Will Florida’s changing demographics offset a backlash among older Cuban-Americans?

Barack Obama, who won the swing state of Florida in the 2012 election by 50.01 percent to 49.13 percent, knows just how many presidential candidacies have gotten bogged down in the sands and marshes of the Sunshine State.

He also knows that one of the many quirks in Florida’s diverse electorate is the fiercely anti-Castro sentiments of many Cuban emigres.

Obama forged ahead Wednesday to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba because it was, in his estimation, “the right thing to do.” But whatever the president’s motivation, the surprise move represents a bold political gamble on behalf of his party that demographic and generational change in the ultimate swing state will offset the inevitable backlash from Florida’s aging exile community.

In a place where elections often come down to a few thousand votes out of millions cast, and that can decide who occupies the White House in a close race, Democrats had better hope he’s right.

Democratic strategists and several academic pollsters predicted Wednesday that anger within Florida’s Cuban-American community will be real, but concentrated and short-lived. They noted a generational divide, with younger Cuban-Americans much more supportive of ending the trade embargo. What’s more, Cuban-Americans in the state do not represent a must-win bloc of votes: though they helped fuel GOP victories in the state for decades, the influence of Cuban-American voters has dwindled somewhat with the rise of other Hispanic constituencies, particularly Puerto Rican Americans around Orlando.

 
What's Next for the Cop-Killers Hiding in Havana

What's Next for the Cop-Killers Hiding in Havana

Relations are thawing with Cuba—so what happens to the dozens of American fugitives living there: a rogue’s gallery of hijackers, bomb makers, and Most Wanted murderers?

With the prisoner exchange and the normalizing of relations with Cuba arises the question of the dozens of American fugitives enjoying asylum there—including a cop killer on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list with a $1 million reward offered for her capture.

Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 after being convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Foerster. She had been in a car with two fellow members of the Black Liberation Army when Foerster and another trooper pulled it over on the New Jersey turnpike.

Shakur was on the run for five years after her prison break before managing to reach Cuba, where she was granted asylum in 1984.

In 1997, the New Jersey State police wrote to Pope John Paul II asking him to raise the question of Shakur with Fidel Castro on an upcoming visit to Cuba.

Whether the Pope did or not, Shakur continued to live undisturbed in Cuba despite a 1998 resolution by the U.S. Congress asking that she be returned. She was joined by her daughter, who was conceived while Shakur was in a New Jersey prison and initially raised by Shakur’s own mother in New York.

Cuba also granted asylum to three black militants who hijacked an airplane from Albuquerque while being sought for the 1972 murder of New Mexico State Trooper Robert Rosenbloom during a traffic stop.

One of the three, Ralph Goodwin, is said to have drowned while swimming at a beach outside Havana. The other two, Charlie Hill and Michael Finney, continue to live in Cuba. Hill told a Washington Post reporter in 1999 that he had no regrets about killing Rosenbloom, who had a wife and two young daughters.

“I have never felt guilty about that cop,” Hill was quoted saying. “I never think about that dude.”

For her part, Shakur denied actually firing the bullets that killed trooper Foerster, who was murdered with his own gun. The FBI continued to consider her so dangerous that it offered the $1 million reward in 2005 and put her on the Most Wanted Terrorists list last year.

Among the roughly 80 other American fugitives in Cuba is Ishmael Ali LaBeef, who hijacked an airplane after he and four buddies murdered eight innocents during a robbery at a Virgin Islands golf course in 1972.

There is also Victor Gerena, who is wanted in connection with a $7 million armored car robbery in Connecticut in 1983.

And then there is William Morales of the Puerto Rican independence group the FALN. He lost most of both hands while assembling a device in an FALN bomb factory in 1979, but managed to escape from a hospital ward where he was being fitted for prosthetic hands after being convicted of weapons charges and sentenced to 99 years. 

Morales made his way to Mexico, where an effort to capture him led to a shootout, which ended with a local cop being killed. He served five years in a Mexican prison but then was allowed to board a plane for Havana despite American efforts to extradite him.

The most wanted of the fugitives is still Shakur, who remains in Cuba 17 years after the New Jersey state police’s entreaty to Pope John Paul II.  

The present pontiff, Pope Francis, was reportedly a major force in the surprise change in relations between the United States and Cuba, urging the Castro regime to release the imprisoned American contractor Alan Gross. 

Gross and an unnamed American intelligence agent were freed on Wednesday in exchange for three Cuban spies. One of the spies, Gerardo Hernández, was doing time for a murder conspiracy that led to the downing of an anti-Cuban activist pilot whose private plane was lured toward Cuban airspace. 

In announcing the end of the embargo, President Obama was clearly happy to announce that Americans visiting there will even be able to use their credit and debit cards.

The question is whether we will be doing so in a country that continues to shelter cop killers and a terror bomber and a mass murderer.

 
How will Cuba now justify its strict economic controls?

Castro brothers resistance to change could test renewed U.S.-Cuba diplomacy

 

President Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba will test a theory that has been popular for years in Democratic circles, and a few Republican ones too.

The Castro government doesn't fear the embargo and interminable hostilities with the United States; it has thrived on them, so the thinking goes. What worries the island's control-minded leaders far more is change.

The response of Cuban officials to this argument has always been: try us. But a new relationship with the country Fidel Castro used to call "the colossus of the North," and its wealth, influence and power, could put significant pressure on the communist government whose post-Castro future remains murky.

Raul Castro, 83, has said he will step down in 2018. His ailing older brother is 88 and virtually absent from public life. Miguel Diaz-Canal, the 54-year-old vice president who would be in line to replace him, remains very much in the shadow of the Castros and their circle of aging army generals.

"In the medium and long term, this is a challenge for the Cuban system, because it undermines the climate of hostility that has long been used to justify one-party state," said Arturo Lopez Levy, a former Cuban government analyst who now teaches at NYU.

The Cuban government has long defended its strict political and economic controls with the argument that the U.S. would use any opening as an opportunity to stir unrest. But if tensions with the United States ease, Cubans will increasingly look inward at the shortcomings of their anachronistic system and Soviet-style planned economy.

"I want to see who they blame now for the economic collapse and lack of freedoms that we have in Cuba," dissident activist Yoani Sanchez wrote on Twitter following the White House announcement.

The narrow market opening permitted by Raul Castro over the past few years has already shattered many of the ideological underpinning of his older brother's brand of socialism. Where private enterprise is allowed — food service, repairs shops, hair salons — Cubans flourish. In dingy state-run factories, they see stagnation and ruin.

They want more — especially the young Cubans who bristle at the paternalistic state and yearn to flee. With U.S. ties improving, they will expect more.

As part of the rapprochement, U.S. officials say Cuba has agreed to expand Web access on the island, which has one of the lowest internet use rates in the world. That will bring additional challenges, as Cuban officials have long feared the type of Web-enabled activism of the Arab Spring, and its potent cocktail of social media, smart phones and frustrated young people.

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Putin Blames Outside Forces for Russia’s Economic Woes

Putin Blames Outside Forces for Russia’s Economic Woes

During his annual news conference, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia discussed the recent crisis in his nation’s currency.

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday delivered an acidic message of defiance and anger at the West at an annual news conference in Moscow, showing no sign of softening his position on Ukraine despite the financial turmoil that has gripped the country.

Mr. Putin blamed “external factors,” including Western sanctions and falling oil prices, for the collapse of the Russian currency, the ruble. But he played down the severity of the economic crisis, saying that it would last a maximum of two years before a return of growth.

“I believe that we are right,” Mr. Putin said of the conflict in Ukraine, likening the West’s expansion of NATO toward Russia as a new Berlin Wall. “And I believe that our Western partners are not right.”

At the conference, which was attended by about 1,200 journalists, Mr. Putin said that initial moves to stabilize the ruble may have been too slow, but he promised quick action to avoid further economic damage. He also promised to maintain social welfare programs at their current level.

“I believe that the central bank and the government are taking adequate measures,” Mr. Putin said.

Mr. Putin recognized the efforts of President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine in ending the conflict in the southeast of that country, but he suggested that others in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, may be trying to prolong the conflict.

“Undoubtedly, the president of Ukraine certainly wants a settlement, and I have no doubt that he is striving for this,” Mr. Putin said. “But he’s not alone there,” he added, referring to more hawkish officials.

“We hear a lot of militant statements; I believe President Poroshenko is seeking a settlement, but there is a need for practical action,” Mr. Putin added. “There is a need to observe the Minsk agreements” calling for a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces.

Russia has toned down its rhetoric on the Ukraine crisis in the past month, and some of its most incendiary language, like “junta” and “Novorossia,” a blanket term used for the separatist territories, are no longe used on state-run television news. Mr. Putin also notably omitted those terms, which he had used in other public appearances, on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said in an interview on the France 24 news channel on Tuesday that Russia was “not suggesting federalization, “for the separatist territories and “not suggesting autonomy.”

Mr. Putin has managed to maintain high popularity ratings during 15 years of leading Russia, in large part by assuring security and prosperity, but the recent nose dive of the national currency is threatening that achievement. The ruble, which has lost more than 46 percent of its value against the dollar this year, was broadly stable on Thursday, trading at 61.14 to the dollar in the European afternoon.

 
Michigan offers 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh a 6-year, $48 million deal: report

Jim Harbaugh could leave the NFL to become the highest paid college coach at his alma mater Michigan.

Michigan offers 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh a 6-year, $48 million deal: report

BY Kevin Armstrong

If Harbaugh goes to Michigan, the $8 million annual salary would make him the highest paid coach in college football. Alabama’s Nick Saban earns a bit over $7 million a year.

Harbaugh starred at Michigan under coach Bo Schembechler. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and led the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl.

Michigan went 5-7 this season and head coach Brady Hoke was fired. Hoke left the program with a 31-20 record overall and 18-14 Big Ten.

Before landing in San Francisco, Harbaugh had success in the college ranks as a coach. He coached Stanford from 2007-2011, recruiting the likes of quarterback Andrew Luck and winning the Orange Bowl in 2011.

Still, there are conflicting reports as to whether Harbaugh wants to leave the West Coast, especially with the Raiders interested. Some reports have also stated the Jets may make a run at the cranky, quirky coach when the season ends on Dec. 28.

Michigan, once a proud football program, has fallen on hard times lately and is looking for its third coach in seven seasons, going a combined 36-42 under Rich Rodriguez (2008-10) and Brady Hoke (2011-14), and losing 10 of the last 11 meetings to rival Ohio State.

 
Cuban exiles see a different truth behind Obama’s policy change

Lazaro Lozano, center, protests against President Obama's decision to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States while at Versailles Restaurant on Calle Ocho in Miami on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.

Cuban exiles see a different truth behind Obama’s policy change

 
Universities Push Harder Into Realm of Startups

Alan Mickelson, a professor at the University of Colorado, brought on an entrepreneur to be the CEO of a spinout based on his optical communications technology research.

Universities Push Harder Into Realm of Startups

Aim Is to Show Value of Academic Research, But Success Can Be Elusive

By Ruth Simon

Universities are stepping up efforts to create “spinouts,” or business startups born from some of the cutting-edge research of their students or faculty.

Some schools are creating funds that help cover startup costs. Others are pairing scientists with entrepreneurs, launching incubators, or programs to foster business development, and even including entrepreneurial activity in their reviews of faculty.

The moves come as universities face heightened pressure from trustees, government officials and others to demonstrate the value of academic research. Universities and other research institutions created 818 startups in fiscal 2013, up from 705 in 2012 and 670 in 2011, according to the Association of University Technology Managers, a trade group. Universities often receive a royalty or licensing fee from such ventures and in many cases an equity stake, typically 5% to 10% of the new company.

But turning research into viable companies is a challenge, particularly for institutions whose main job is education and research. Genentech Inc., Google Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Yahoo Inc. are frequently cited as examples of prominent spinouts, though in some cases, the companies don’t see themselves that way.

“There aren’t that many success stories” of businesses born of university research, says Darrell West, founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution.

University spinouts face a host of obstacles. Technologies emerging from research labs are often embryonic. Academic researchers are typically rewarded for research and publishing, not venture creation, and often have little business experience. Many universities are located far from the funding and people needed to expand companies. Finding ready markets and entrepreneurs to build these businesses are additional challenges.

 
Top Chef’ host Padma Lakshmi tells Rob Gronkowski she needs a big sausage

Padma Lakshmi drops an hilarious innuendo around Rob Gronkowski in the next 'Top Chef Boston' episode.

'Top Chef’ host Padma Lakshmi tells Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski she needs a big sausage

BY John Healy

In the preview, Gronkowksi says he eats a lot and because of his Polish roots and he wants them to cook a sausage.

"I need a big sausage," Gronkowski says.

"Me too," Lakshmi said after a short pause.

Everyone broke out into some laughter with Gronkowski playing it cool. "Honey, don't embarrass me," Gronk tells the brunette stunner.

 
5 Reasons Athletes Don’t Do Mental Training

5 Reasons Athletes Don’t Do Mental Training

By Jim Taylor, Ph.D.

When I ask athletes how important the mind is compared to the physical and technical sides of sports, the vast majority say that it is as or more important. Yet, if I had to guess how many athletes actually make mental training an integral part of their preparations, even after learning all about it from me, I would put the number at less than 10%. Why is that?

 
Former Colorado coach Bill McCartney: Promise Keeper

Promise Keeper

Twenty years ago, at the pinnacle of his career, Colorado coach Bill McCartney walked away from the game. His reasons remain more complex than many realize.

by Michael Weinre

The old coach is watching football on television. Sometimes he goes to games in person, like the evening before, when he went to cheer on the nearby high school team that his son coaches. Sometimes he catches the games from his living room recliner, like on this brilliant fall morning, when he’s picking through a chef’s salad and marveling as the Kansas State Wildcats roll up the score on the Texas Longhorns.

The old coach still carries on a running monologue when he watches football. He can’t help himself; he has to be careful at his son’s games to avoid yelling out loud, leading people to point up at him and say, Isn’t that … ? But now he points at another old coach on his screen, a snowy-haired wizard named Bill Snyder, who happens to be virtually the same age, and who happens to still be coaching college football.

“That’s amazing,” the old coach says, and I agree that, yes, it is, and then I ask him a question I’d already asked him the day before, but couldn’t help revisiting: I ask him whether he ever thinks of doing what Snyder did at Kansas State, whether, after retiring so suddenly and so prematurely, he ever feels a tug to return to the only profession he’d aspired to since the age of 7 (and reportedly aspired to again a few years back). I ask him, in so many words, if he ever wonders what his life might have been, or if he ever feels anything resembling regret for walking away from football coaching 20 years ago, in the prime of his career. And the coach replies exactly the same way he had the first time.

The old coach’s name is Bill McCartney, and he led the football team at the University of Colorado for 13 seasons, so I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that he seems to have sharpened his aphorisms to near perfection. “I can do an interview,” he says. “After a game, when the media fills the room, that’s my strength. Going and talking to the Buff Club, I could do that. The Bible says we all have unique spiritual gifts, and my spiritual gift is Romans 12:8. My gift is exhortation.”

The pithy little mottoes, the metaphoric anecdotes, the inspirational speeches: They come naturally to him, the way they flow off the tongues of preachers and pitchmen. They’ve become an organic part of his conversation, and they’ve carried him through the difficult and occasionally awkward discussions that attend the life of any man in his mid-seventies, particularly one whose professional and personal life were subject to such public scrutiny. “Over-the-Hill Bill” is McCartney’s way of saying, Any regrets I have are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. “Over-the-Hill Bill” is one way of acknowledging that his life has ultimately always been in the hands of a higher power.

He’s 74 years old now, and he lives on a quiet cul-de-sac in a Denver suburb called Westminster. He’s a widower who seems to enjoy playing as much golf as he can, and so perhaps “Over-the-Hill Bill” is not an inaccurate characterization. But all those autumns ago, when McCartney first began heeding the pangs that would draw him away from football, he was 54, the same age Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is now. His Buffaloes had won at least eight games in each of the previous six seasons, and had claimed a share of the national championship in 1990. His 1994 team was in the midst of putting up an 11-win season (including the Miracle at Michigan and a Fiesta Bowl victory), and his running back, Rashaan Salaam, was on his way to rushing for more than 2,000 yards and winning the Heisman Trophy. McCartney had already turned down one high-profile job, at Southern Methodist, and he surely would have been a candidate for other weighty jobs if he’d stuck around.

bill-mccartney-promise-keepers-fe

His life has been shaped by a series of revelations. The son of an autoworker, he grew up near Detroit, a devout Catholic who attended church nearly every day, and yet he still felt as though something were missing from his religious life. He was the defensive coordinator at Michigan in 1974 when one of his players, Chuck Heater, enticed him into attending a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting. From there on, McCartney says, he chose to devote his life to Jesus Christ; from there on, he could not stop himself from both compulsively heeding and spreading the message. He began fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, and he prayed over his children, and he preached the gospel to anyone who would listen. He says he beat his drinking problem without attending a single Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and that after he beseeched the Lord to help him quit smoking — he was up to two packs a day — he did so cold turkey.

“I’ve never been close to smoking or drinking again,” he says. “Why? The Lord took it away.”

And so in the fall of 1994, McCartney had another revelation while sitting in church with his wife, listening to a visiting speaker named Jack Taylor. The way McCartney tells it, Taylor was in the midst of sharing the three most important things he’d learned over four decades of preaching. “If you really want to know about a man,” McCartney recalls Taylor saying, “and if you want to know what kind of character he has, you need only look at the countenance of his wife.”

In that moment, McCartney says, he glanced over at his wife, Lyndi, and he saw something he could not reconcile. He saw the countenance of a woman who was not happy, and who had never been entirely happy. He saw the shortcomings of his marriage. He saw the way his football life had subsumed his personal life, and he reconsidered everything.

McCartney told this story in the first of two autobiographies he wrote, and has held on to it ever since. I have no reason to believe it’s anything but true, yet as with most of the story of the old coach’s life, there are complicating factors. McCartney may have been one of the first coaches who really did retire prematurely to spend time with his family, but the reasons behind that decision are far more complex than any lone sermon could ever hope to encompass.

bill-mccartney-colorado-praying-fe

McCartney was profiled by the Boulder Daily Camera’s Sunday magazine. He told the newspaper that religion “affected every area of my life”; his players talked about saying grace before team meals. One of them, Alan Chrite, told the newspaper they could earn preferential treatment by adhering to McCartney’s ideals, and another, Loy Alexander, said certain players felt pressure to abide by McCartney’s precepts. In a college town with a reputation for progressivism, these complaints drew the attention of the Boulder chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. So McCartney, a university attorney, and Marolt met with the ACLU’s lawyers and drew up a policy mandating that employees disassociate themselves from the school when expressing religious sentiments.

“I remember it well,” says Judd Golden, longtime president of the Boulder ACLU. “It was very surreal in some ways. Coach McCartney was saying, ‘I don’t see what the problem was.’ He just was somewhat oblivious about all this.”

McCartney tells me he never actively recruited an athlete based on his religion. He says he never mandated a team prayer, and that the chapel services he held were voluntary. He says he tried to walk a fine line, especially after the ACLU helped Colorado impose its policy. But, he asks, what was he supposed to do? Back in 1974, at Michigan, he’d heard a call; he’d had a revelation, and for him not to share the truths he’d been convinced of felt like a dereliction of duty.

“What is the role of a man who has strong spiritual convictions?” he says. “What rights does he have when he’s in secular company? Does he impose his faith? Those are tough questions. To have the balance to walk that straight and narrow path and not offend, it’s an imperfect science. You don’t want to impose your faith, but you don’t want to be ashamed of your faith, either. Jesus said, ‘If you’re ashamed of me, I’ll be ashamed of you.’ Just because you work for a state university, that doesn’t give you a free pass.”

McCartney’s daughter, Kristy, raised two children as a single mother. The way time has circled back around to place a McCartney at Colorado 20 years after the first one left is a hell of a tale, but in this story, one can also find the complexity of McCartney’s legacy laid bare; in the link between Bill and his grandsons, Derek and T.C. — and in the public struggles of their mother — one can see why some people in Boulder still view McCartney as a self-righteous hypocrite.

tc-kristy-bill-mccartney-fe

In the offseason between 1988 and 1989, Kristy, then 19, told her parents she was pregnant. The father was Aunese, the Buffaloes’ quarterback. Two months before the baby, T.C., was born, Aunese was diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer. He died in September, with the Buffaloes on a bye week in the midst of an 11-0 regular season that would end in an Orange Bowl loss to Notre Dame. The Aunese tale became a rallying point, an inspirational headline as the Buffs kept winning; the fact that Aunese and Kristy had fathered a child together1 was an open secret, and McCartney wrote in his first autobiography of the anguish it caused him and his wife when Aunese distanced himself from their daughter in his final days. If the whole thing weren’t real, it would have felt like a daytime soap opera, and it opened up McCartney to the charge that he was more in control of his football program than he was his own family, and that all of his moral posturing presented a false front behind which his own house was crumbling. Which wasn’t entirely untrue.

“The whole thing was a national story, it wasn’t just a local story,” McCartney says. “We’re all sinners. We all fall short. What was it like for her to be in a home where her dad’s the head coach at a major university and her brothers are all athletes? If you’re a young girl growing up in that environment, that can’t be easy. Because she was attracted to one of my players, that shouldn’t be surprising. What if I had done a better job of being a father to a daughter? Then she might not have given herself out of wedlock.”

After Sports Illustrated reported on a series of player arrests at Colorado, and after McCartney won a share of the 1990 national championship, Kristy got pregnant again, with Derek, who was born in 1993. The father was another Colorado player, Shannon Clavelle, and the gossip about Kristy was vicious and cutting; a Denver alternative newspaper, Westword, wrote such a scathing piece that McCartney admitted in his first autobiography to briefly wanting to kill the story’s author.

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Find Work That Won’t Crush Your Soul

Find Work That Won’t Crush Your Soul

By Rachel Feintzeig

James Dyson, 67 years old, is the founder and chief engineer of British technology company Dyson Ltd., best known for its pricey, bag-less vacuum cleaners. Dyson, who studied art in London, went through 5,127 prototypes in his quest to develop a vacuum that picked up more dust than the competition. Today, his company, headquartered in Malmesbury, England, has 2,000 engineers.

Q: How do I find a corporate job that won’t crush my soul?

Don’t join a company that isn’t interested in your creativity. Don’t think you can change it. That’s a mistake a lot of graduates make. They’re seduced into big blue-chip companies, partly because they would like a big blue chip company on their CV. That might be a good decision, but it might be a very bad decision if you’re an independent creative type. You might be much better off going to work for a startup or a business that really recognizes creativity and gives responsibility to young people at a very early age.

[You often see] these reports on companies that are good to work for and they look at whether or not they give free croissants or things like that. But really they should be looking at the sort of company that listens to young people.

You want to look and see how the company behaves. Are they interested in new ideas? Are they constantly reinventing themselves? Are they bringing out lots of new products? Are they run by a financier? Are they run by someone who’s fascinated with technology? These are all important things. And then judge for yourself at the interview whether or not this company wants to change. Are they employing you because they want your ideas or are they just employing you because you’ve got a good degree?

 
When Helping Rape Victims Hurts a College’s Reputation

When Helping Rape Victims Hurts a College’s Reputation

As more students seek help, the number of reported assaults increases.

By Caroline Kitchene

The recent government and media censure of college sexual assault—beginning with the high-profile Title IX complaints at Yale in 2011—has led to sweeping institutional changes across the country. Unlike the temporary fraternity ban, many of these are significant. Colleges are offering victims more administrative support and implementing standards that require a student to say “yes” to sex instead of not saying “no.” But the motive behind these changes isn’t clear. Are these colleges interested in protecting the rights and wellbeing of their students, or are they concerned with their own reputations? Does it even matter, as long as victims get the resources they need?

It might. From the perspective of a university administrator who is concerned primarily with his school’s reputation, a sexual assault that goes unreported is a sexual assault that never actually happened. That’s why there’s a difference between symbolic gestures like UVA’s fraternity suspension and policies that actually encourage victims to speak up about their experiences. More transparency means more recorded victims.

In April 1987, Take Back the Night held its first Princeton vigil. Over 300 students, faculty, and staff gathered for the nighttime march, walking around campus and telling stories of sexual assaults that had happened there. They ended the event by marching past the 12 Eating Clubs on Prospect Avenue, Princeton’s version of a fraternity row. Far more women had been assaulted inside those mansions than in any other place on campus.

When the marchers turned onto Prospect Avenue, they found a group of 30 male students waiting for them. One held a sign that said “We can rape whoever we want.” Another pulled down his pants, yelling, “You can suck my dick!” The rest shouted other threats and insults, including “Get raped!” “Fucking beat them up!” and “Take back the dykes!” Two of the men then drove a car towards the marchers, crashing into two protesters at the front of the group.

 
Harvard’s Conservative Cabal Takes Congress

Harvard’s Conservative Cabal Takes Congress

From Tom Cotton to Ted Cruz, many of the biggest new names in the GOP are graduates of Harvard -- the school the right loves to hate.

Mocking the arrogance of “liberals from Harvard” is a foolproof applause line for any Republican looking to rev up a conservative audience.  But when the 114th Congress gavels into session in January, GOP speechwriters are going to need some new material. 

That’s because many of fastest rising stars in the Republican Party, including Senators-elect Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Dan Sullivan (Ak.) and Rep.-elect Elise Stefanik, all graduated from Harvard. Along with Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Pat Toomey (Penn.), David Vitter (La.) and Mike Crapo (Wyo.), the Republican Harvard contingent will outnumber Harvard Democrats in the U.S. Senate for the first time in recent memory.

Tom Cotton credits Harvard as the place where he “discovered political philosophy as a way of life.” Elise Stefanik, who will be the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress, was an editor and writer at the Harvard Crimson and served as the vice chair of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Like Cotton and Stefanik, Sasse was a government major before going on to Oxford and Yale and becoming a college president himself. 

Despite its reputation as “Kremlin on the Charles,” and the “People’s Republic of Cambridge,” current and former students at Harvard describe the campus as both overtly liberal in its politics and an ideal place for conservative thought to develop and thrive.  

“I thought it was great place to be Republican,” said Mark Isaacson, a former president of the Harvard Republican Club who is now a speechwriter for the RNC.  “A ‘Harvard Democrat’ is kind of redundant, but a Harvard Republican is always being challenged, so you’ve got to self-evaluate a lot. You’ve got to think about your views and why you hold them.”

Aaron Hendricks, the current president of the Harvard Republicans, said he has seen the left-of-center political scene at Harvard make some students even more conservative than when they arrived.

 
Cuba Action Is Obama’s Latest Step Away From 6 Years of Caution

Cuba Action Is Obama’s Latest Step Away From 6 Years of Caution

President Obama is putting his most ardent Republican critics on notice: Remember what I vowed to do as a candidate in 2008? I have two years left in office, and I intend to do it all.

Mr. Obama’s decision on Wednesday to radically shift United States policy toward Cuba is the latest and most striking example of a president unleashed from the hesitancy that characterized much of his first six years in office. It follows decisions by Mr. Obama to defy Republicans on immigration, climate change policy, the regulation of the Internet and negotiations with Iran.

Gone are the cautious political calculations that consigned contentious issues to secondary status. Mr. Obama is instead pushing aggressively on his promises and ignoring his opponents in the process.

“He’s going down a checklist of thorny, longstanding problems, and he’s doing whatever he can to tackle them,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser. “These are things that have been tearing at us for decades and generations. My sense is his feeling is, I’m not going to leave office without doing everything I can to stop them.”

As a candidate in 2008, Mr. Obama was scorned by his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, for his pledge to meet with Raúl Castro, the president of Cuba, “at a time and place of my choosing.” Mr. Obama said at the time that if Cuba took steps toward democracy and released all political prisoners “we will take steps to begin normalizing relations.”

For six years, Mr. Obama made little progress on an issue fraught with political passions and uncertainty, especially in Florida, an important swing state. The only evidence of any change included a brief handshake with Mr. Castro at Nelson Mandela’s funeral last year and some minor changes to the Cuba embargo, allowing Cuban-Americans to send more money home.

Now, with no election on the horizon and his legacy in mind, Mr. Obama has decided to go big on one of America’s most vexing foreign policy issues, establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and doing what he can without congressional action to all but end the 1960 embargo on the island nation.

“When I came into office, I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy,” Mr. Obama said in remarks to the nation on Wednesday from the Cabinet Room in the White House. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”

The president’s unilateral action on Cuba fits a pattern that Mr. Obama has established in the twilight of his presidency. Frustrated by congressional inaction and Republican efforts to block legislation, the president has increasingly pushed the limits of his executive authority in domestic and international policy making.

It is a go-it-alone approach that anticipates — and largely ignores — angry responses from his critics.

 
Consumer prices fall by largest amount in six years.

What inflation? Consumer prices fall by largest amount in six years.

By Mark Trumbull

Millions of consumers are getting an end-of-year boost: the main gauge of consumer prices fell in November by the largest amount in six years, driven down by plunging fuel costs and price declines for items such as clothing and used cars.

America’s main gauge of consumer prices fell in November by the largest amount in six years, driven down not just by plunging fuel costs but by price declines for clothing, used cars, and some other items.

In all, the consumer price index is still up this year, but the pace of inflation is minimal and has been decelerating during the years of economic recovery since 2011. The CPI is up just 1.3 percent over the past 12 months.

That doesn’t mean prices are now poised to fall at grocery stores or hospitals, but it does give millions of consumers a welcome boost: Wages have been rising modestly while prices are generally quiescent. This year looks set to end with the best real pay increases since 2009 – a year when prices were falling and 6 million more Americans were unemployed.

 
Lessons From an Outbreak: How Ebola Shaped 2014

Lessons From an Outbreak: How Ebola Shaped 2014

Experts weigh in on what to take away from the devastation of the disease.

Julie Beck

This was the year of the biggest Ebola outbreak of all time. It started in Guinea at the tail end of 2013, and the World Health Organization was made aware of it in March 2014, by which time Guinea had 86 cases, and there were suspected cases in neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virus spread steadily, claiming more and more lives until the WHO declared the outbreak a “public-health emergency of international concern" on August 8.

People in affected communities were understandably fearful; some were distrustful of health workers and resisted going to treatment centers, where it may have seemed they were only going to die. There is, after all, no cure for Ebola. Experimental treatments helped some, but not enough. Health workers, harried and overworked trying to keep people alive, may not have had the time to assuage patients' fears. And those who tried to care for their loved ones themselves often got infected, too. The virus forces people into isolation, spread as it is through contact with bodily fluids, and to hug a sick family member is to put oneself at risk.

While some in the Western media criticized West Africans' fear of health workers and resistance to public-health measures, the United States got a small taste of Ebola panic when Thomas Eric Duncan became the first case diagnosed in the country in September, followed by three other cases this fall. Duncan was the only patient to die in the U.S., and the panic died down quietly.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health

The Ebola crisis serves as a stark personal reminder of something I have witnessed multiple times in my decades working in the field of infectious diseases. When a new infectious disease risk arises, a segment of the general public frequently perceives the risk to be much larger than it actually is, certainly out of proportion to what the scientific information would indicate. Because it is human nature to fear the unknown, this response is understandable. Time and time again, we have seen that the best solution to this misperception is crisp, clear communication about what is known and unknown about how the disease is transmitted and spread, who is most at risk, and how individuals who may be at risk can best protect themselves from infection.

The Ebola outbreak has cast a bright light on how disparities in healthcare infrastructure can profoundly affect the vulnerability of certain populations to the spread of certain infectious diseases. A sound healthcare infrastructure that can readily identify people with Ebola infection, isolate them, protect healthcare workers from becoming infected, and do tracing of contacts of infected people who might then spread the virus is critical to prevent widespread outbreaks. If the West African countries stricken by the current Ebola outbreak had a reasonable healthcare infrastructure, the outbreak would not have gotten out of control. The developed world should act in partnership with poorer countries to eliminate this disparity.

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What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs

What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs

By

Eric Jackson was sitting in his hotel room on Sea Island, Ga., watching his kids splash around in the pool, when he clicked “publish” on his latest blog post for Forbes.com. Jackson, an influential hedge-fund manager, had become fixated on Yahoo and the efforts of its chief executive, Marissa Mayer, to turn around the enormous yet floundering Internet company. It was July 21, 2014, almost exactly two years to the day since Mayer took over, arriving at Yahoo’s headquarters to an unfurled purple carpet and Sherpard Fairley-style “HOPE” posters bearing her face. During those 24 months, Mayer eliminated dozens of products and rebooted others. She acquired 41 start-ups and even hired Katie Couric. But just one week earlier, Mayer announced the company’s lowest quarterly earnings in a decade. Jackson argued in his post that Yahoo no longer made sense as an independent entity. Instead, it might be a nice takeover target for one of the tech industry’s Big Four: Apple, Facebook, Amazon or Google.

Jackson’s conclusion wasn’t based simply on a discouraging quarter. It was a result of an eye-opening calculation he had performed — what’s known on Wall Street as a sum-of-the-parts valuation. Yahoo had a market value of $33 billion at the time, but that figure owed largely to its stake in Alibaba, the Chinese Internet conglomerate. According to Jackson’s valuation, Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba was worth roughly $37 billion. But if you subtracted that position, the entirety of Yahoo’s core business, all its web products and content sites, actually had a market valuation of negative $4 billion. A conquering company could theoretically buy Yahoo, sell off its Asian assets and absorb its business units free. This sort of sale would make a lot of money for Yahoo’s shareholders, Jackson wrote, even if it meant gutting the company and losing Mayer as C.E.O. after only two years.

A day after his post, Jackson received an unusual email. A major Yahoo shareholder had written to explain that he and many other investors, along with numerous employees and advertisers, had themselves become extremely frustrated with Mayer. Her turnaround plan, he said, had failed. The start-ups she acquired (most notably the social blogging platform Tumblr, which Yahoo bought for $1.1 billion in 2013) had failed to revive the company’s flat revenues of roughly $5 billion per year. Nor had Mayer succeeded, despite her track record overseeing Google’s search engine, in turning any of Yahoo’s many products into an industry leader. There were also a number of embarrassing management setbacks. The best outcome for Yahoo, the shareholder said, might be to sell the company.

One day later, on July 23, Jackson published a subsequent Forbes column that outlined parts of the shareholder’s argument. It went viral within the investment community, and in the following days, Jackson fielded several calls from other significant Yahoo investors, including managers of large mutual funds and hedge funds, who encouraged him to continue his campaign. Jackson’s own fund didn’t have the capital to mount an offensive, which would require buying a large stake in Yahoo and using it as leverage to effect changes within management. But he knew someone who might. Jeffrey Smith, who ran an activist fund called Starboard Value, had recently led such a campaign against AOL, leading the company to eliminate its money-losing local news network, Patch. While still on vacation, Jackson looked up Smith’s email on his Bloomberg terminal. Within hours, the two men were on the phone with a handful of associates from Starboard.

Jackson’s dire calculation of Yahoo’s value would soon be reinforced in the markets. On Sept. 19, Alibaba went public on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $93.89 per share. But as Alibaba’s stock soared, Yahoo’s dropped, an indication that the market seemed to concur with Jackson’s analysis: Yahoo’s core business was worth less than zero dollars. A week later, Smith published an open letter calling for Yahoo to divest itself of its Alibaba assets, return the money to its shareholders and then merge with AOL. Redundancies could be eliminated, thousands of people could be fired and two former Internet superpowers would be downsized into a single and steady (if uninspiring) entity that sold ads against its collective online properties — news, blogs and Web products like email, maps and weather. “We trust the board and management will do the right thing for shareholders, even if this may mean accepting AOL as the surviving entity,” Smith wrote.

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Dynamic and wildly profitable Internet companies like Facebook and Google may get most of the attention, but Silicon Valley is littered with firms that just get by doing roughly the same thing year after year — has-beens like Ask.com, a search engine that no longer innovates but happily takes in $400 million in annual revenue, turning a profit in the process. Mayer, who is 39, was hired to keep Yahoo from suffering this sort of fate. She believed it could again become a top-tier tech firm that enjoyed enormous growth and competed for top talent. And two years in, Mayer, who has a tendency to compare herself with Steve Jobs, wasn’t about to abandon her turnaround plan. On the afternoon of Oct. 21, she entered a web TV studio on Yahoo’s garrisonlike campus to present the company’s latest quarterly results. But the presentation effectively became a response to Starboard’s campaign. Even though Yahoo’s revenue had decreased in five of the past six quarters, Mayer attested that she had “great confidence in the strength of our business.”

Mayer’s resolve was consistent with other remarks she had made at the time, in both public and private. She highlighted various signs of promise. Yahoo’s mobile revenues, while still small, had doubled from the previous year. Display advertising revenue was down 6 percent, but the number of ads sold had actually increased by 24 percent. Yahoo was engaging more mobile users than ever before. Mayer didn’t bother talking about a potential AOL takeover. Her goal was nothing less than to return her company to the level of the Big Four. “We believe deeply in the future potential of Yahoo,” she said into the camera, “and the transformation we are pursuing to bring an iconic company back to greatness.”

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Generally speaking, there are only a few ways to make money on the Internet. There are e-commerce companies and marketplaces — think Amazon, eBay and Uber — that profit from transactions occurring on their platforms. Hardware companies, like Apple or Fitbit, profit from gadgets. For everyone else, though, it more or less comes down to advertising. Social-media companies, like Facebook or Twitter, may make cool products that connect their users, but they earn revenue by selling ads against the content those users create. Innovative media companies, like Vox or Hulu, make money in much the same way, except that they’re selling ads against content created by professionals. Google, which has basically devoured the search business, still makes a vast majority of its fortune by selling ads against our queries.

Yahoo essentially invented the online-advertising business. In 1994, two graduate students at Stanford, Jerry Yang and David Filo, dreamed up a way to help early users navigate the web. They picked URLs that they each liked — beginning with around 100 links, including one for Nerf toys and one dedicated to armadillos — and listed them on a page called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Within a year, their guide had to be divided into 19 categories (art, business, etc.) and was generating one million clicks a day. In 1995, the year Yahoo started selling ads, a former company executive estimated that the entire market was about $20 million. By 1997, Yahoo’s ad revenues alone were $70.4 million. The next year, they were $203 million.

To keep up with the growth, Yahoo quickly expanded beyond its directory to create a multitude of ad-supported products. The company aimed to be all things to all web users, and for most of a decade, it was a wildly successful strategy. In 1997, Yahoo added chat rooms, classified ads and an email service. In 1998, it introduced sports, games, movies, real estate, a calendar, file sharing, auctions, shopping and an address book. Even during the crash of the Internet bubble, a profusion of more traditional advertisers began to migrate from print to digital. The search business, in particular, was growing enormously. In 2002, Yahoo’s first full year monetizing search results with attendant ads, its revenues reached $953 million. In 2003, they eclipsed $1.6 billion. In 2004, they grew again to $3.5 billion. At its peak, Yahoo’s market capitalization reached $128 billion. It was $20 billion larger than Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s holding company.

But this growth obscured a looming problem. While Yahoo was busy enlarging its portfolio, a new generation of start-ups was focusing on perfecting one single product. Soon enough, Yahoo was losing out to eBay in auctions, Google in search and Craigslist in classifieds. Then Facebook came along, replacing Yahoo as the home page for millions of people. The advertising dollars soon followed, and Yahoo’s revenue flattened. Between 2007 and 2012, the company churned through four C.E.O.s. The last of them, Scott Thompson, resigned in disgrace after five months when a large activist shareholder, Dan Loeb, published an open letter accusing him of fabricating a computer-science degree. After Thompson’s resignation, in May 2012, Yahoo was worth less than $20 billion on the public markets.

As an ad-supported business, Yahoo had only two ways to increase its revenue. It could display more ads by attracting more people to its products — a plan that would require inventing (or acquiring) new products, improving old products or some combination. Alternately, it could elevate ad prices by upgrading its content. In the opinion of Thompson’s interim successor, Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo would be best positioned as such a “premium” content company. In Levinsohn’s vision, Yahoo had fallen so far behind its competitors in building successful back-end technology, like real-time advertising auctions and search, that it should cede most of those businesses altogether. In the process, the company could also shed more than half of its 15,000 employees, and home in on its best asset: reach. Some 700 million people still visited Yahoo’s home page every month, making it almost seven times as large than the combined online audiences of The New York Times, The Daily Mail and The Washington Post. Levinsohn believed that offering this audience better content could raise Yahoo’s earnings by up to $2 billion in two years.

But in Silicon Valley, the big money, and most of the prestige, is in making cool products. This is partly because product businesses, based on technology, are easier to scale than content ones, which require more human labor. It also reflects a cultural bias. The Valley’s greatest companies, from Hewlett-Packard onward, have been built around technological ingenuity. Tech executives know how to hire engineers and designers; they’re less adroit at recruiting editors or producers. When Loeb joined the Yahoo board, he recruited Michael J. Wolf, the former president of MTV, and the two consulted the noted venture capitalist Marc Andreessen about who should become the next C.E.O. of Yahoo. Andreessen made the case for a product executive.

Loeb’s decision was facilitated by another factor too. At the time, Google was valued at $250 billion; Facebook was worth $100 billion. Loeb opted to refashion Yahoo in their image. And so, in the spring of 2012, Loeb and Wolf began coveting a product C.E.O. The two board members asked the executive recruiter Jim Citrin of Spencer Stuart to approach Marissa Mayer, the wunderkind engineer who oversaw the user interface of Google’s search engine. Citrin cautioned that Mayer, who was among the first 25 people to join Google back in 1999, appeared to be a lifer. She had already earned hundreds of millions of dollars following Google’s 2004 I.P.O. and presumably had her pick of job opportunities. Still, he said he’d reach out to her.

Unknown to Citrin, however, Mayer was interested in pursuing her own turnaround of sorts. A couple of years earlier, she lost a turf battle to a powerful engineer within Google and was quietly reassigned to oversee Google Maps and other so-called local products. Mayer tried to spin the move positively, but that became harder after Larry Page, one of the company’s founders, regained the role of C.E.O. and removed Mayer from the group of executives reporting to him. According to one friend, Mayer had been observing the Yahoo vacancy for months. After Citrin called her cellphone, she told him she was interested.

The challenge of redirecting Yahoo was immense, but the next C.E.O. would have one tremendous advantage. In 2005, Yahoo invested $1 billion for a 40 percent stake in a little-known company called Alibaba. It turned out to be a remarkably prescient bet. Alibaba is commonly referred to as the Google of China, but it’s something more akin to the country’s version of Google, eBay and Amazon all in one — a web portal that provides e-commerce and business to business services. Weeks before Mayer was hired in July 2012, Yahoo sold half its 40 percent stake back to Alibaba for $7.1 billion. As a part of that deal, Alibaba agreed to hold an initial public offering sometime before the end of 2014. Suddenly the easiest way for Wall Street to make a bet on Alibaba — a hot start-up in a hot market, guaranteed an I.P.O. — was through an investment in Yahoo.

The arrangement ensured that Yahoo’s stock, for the next two years, would be tied to the performance of Alibaba rather than that of its own core business. This was a tremendous benefit to an incoming C.E.O., essentially offering a two-year air cover. Without having to manage the company’s stock price, inevitably one of a chief executive’s most distracting tasks, Mayer could focus on acquiring start-ups, jump-starting products and making strategic changes. Moreover, in two years she would be able to use the Alibaba cash to reinvest in her putative growth. When Citrin offered the job, she accepted.

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While some at the company favored upgrading Yahoo’s content, there was a fear that Mayer, who preferred to read Town and Country and wear Oscar de la Renta couture, might undermine the company’s middle-American brand. To some, she also seemed to lack the instincts of a media executive. During a breakfast with Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue, Mayer asked if there might be any partnership opportunities between the magazine and Shine, Yahoo’s site for women. According to Mayer’s own telling of the story to top Yahoo executives, Wintour looked appalled. Shine, with its 500 million monthly page views, appealed to a mass audience, not a narrow and affluent one. Nevertheless, Mayer quickly became infatuated with the idea that Yahoo could attract more sophisticated consumers. She began pushing for deputies to commission high-quality shows, the way Netflix was doing with “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” One Yahoo executive was forced to explain that only a company that sold subscriptions to consumers could expect to make money off such expensive productions.

Reared in Google’s data-obsessed culture, Mayer tended to require countless tests about user preferences before making an important product decision. But when it came to media strategy, she seemed perfectly comfortable going with her gut. As a teenager in Wisconsin, she grew up sneaking into the living room to watch “Saturday Night Live” and occasionally recited sketches during meetings; in April 2013, Yahoo paid an estimated $10 million per year for the “S.N.L.” archives. Even though the actress Gwyneth Paltrow had created a best-selling cookbook and popular lifestyle blog, Mayer, who habitually asked deputies where they attended college, balked at hiring her as a contributing editor for Yahoo Food. According to one executive, Mayer disapproved of the fact that Paltrow did not graduate college.

Over the summer, Mayer greenlighted a plan to hire Katie Couric, the former anchor of “CBS Evening News” and former co-host of the “Today” show. As was the case with de Castro, Couric put the idea in Mayer’s head herself after the two shared a stage at an advertising event in the Turks and Caicos. Couric, who was then hosting a failing daytime talk show on ABC, told Mayer she wanted to do something big for Yahoo. Couric had previously worked with the company to produce a video series, “Katie’s Take,” in which she interviewed experts on topics like health and parenting. Despite Couric’s star power, users didn’t click on her videos, no matter how prominently editors positioned them on the page. Mayer ignored those metrics, and in mid-2013, she named Couric Yahoo’s “global anchor” in a deal worth more than $5 million a year.

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One of the Yahoo board’s hesitations upon hiring Mayer was her relative lack of experience as a manager. While running search at Google, she oversaw 250 people. Mayer liked to spin her demotion by saying that it left her in charge of more than 1,000 staff members, but a majority of them were contractors. Either way, in her haste to turn around Yahoo, this relative inexperience began to surface. Some on the board had hoped that Ross Levinsohn would stay on as C.O.O., but any hope was jettisoned when Mayer asked him to fly from L.A. for a meeting and then stood him up. Mayer’s refusal to delegate became a sticking point, too. She insisted on personally approving every hire. One executive complained to a friend that Mayer spent as much time deliberating Yahoo’s parking policies as she did strategizing over the sale of its Alibaba stock.

Mayer also had a habit of operating on her own time. Every Monday at 3 p.m. Pacific, she asked her direct reports to gather for a three-hour meeting. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Invariably, Mayer herself would be at least 45 minutes late; some calls were so delayed that Yahoo executives in Europe couldn’t hang up till after 3 a.m. In theory, Mayer kept up with her direct reports through weekly individual meetings. In practice, she often went weeks without seeing them.

This delinquency eventually became a problem outside Yahoo. At a major advertising event in the South of France, Mayer sat for an interview with Martin Sorrell, the C.E.O. of WPP, one of the world’s largest agencies. In front of a filled auditorium, Sorrell asked Mayer why she did not return his emails. Sheryl Sandberg, he said, always got back to him. Later, Mayer was scheduled for dinner with executives from the ad agency IPG. The 8:30 p.m. meal was inconvenient for the firm’s C.E.O., Michael Roth, but he shuffled his calendar so he could accommodate it. Mayer didn’t show up until 10.

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Taliban release photographs showing six men who carried out massacre

Depraved: The Taliban gunmen who slaughtered 148 innocent people, including 132 children, are pictured just hours before the massacre. The white banner they pose in front of is the flag of the Pakistani Taliban and reads: 'There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger’

Taliban suicide squad who slaughtered 132 Pakistani children - in the belief it would get them into paradise

By John Hall for MailOnline

Horrifying pictures have emerged showing the Taliban gun squad who slaughtered 132 innocent children as it was revealed the terror group is planning more attacks at schools in Pakistan.

Released by the terror group's spokesman Mohammad Khurasani, the photographs show six heavily armed men posing in front of a white Islamic banner shortly before the attack in Peshawar.

In an email released this morning, Khurasani attempted to justify the attack by claiming that said the Pakistani army has long killed the innocent children and families of Taliban fighters.

He vowed more such militant attacks and told Pakistani civilians to detach themselves from all military institution, adding: 'We are still able to carry out major attacks. This was just the trailer.' 

In the email, the terror group warned Muslims to avoid places with military ties, saying it attacked the school to avenge the deaths of children allegedly killed by soldiers in tribal areas. 

It accused the students at the army school of 'following the path of their fathers and brothers to take part in the fight against the tribesmen' nationwide. 

This morning, a Peshawar began the harrowing process of conducting mass funerals, the family of a teacher torched alive in front of her class by the men gathered to say funeral prayers. 

Victims: Rafiq Bangash (left) and Mubeen Shah Afreedi (right) were among the children slaughtered by jihadis

Tahira Kazi (left), the principal of the Army Public School and College in Peshawar, was set on fire by jihadists who slaughtered 148 people, most of them children

Tahira Kazi, the principal of the Army Public School and College in Peshawar, was set on fire by jihadists who slaughtered so many.

It is believed she was targeted because she is married to a retired army colonel, Kazi Zafrullah. The picture obtained by MailOnline shows her standing proudly next to a student believed to be her son.

 
Wrecking Russia’s economy could be a disaster for the West

George W Bush looks into Putin's eyes

Wrecking Russia’s economy could be a disaster for the west

It’s sheer folly to hope that the country is destabilised and Vladimir Putin overthrown. We’ve no idea what the outcome would be

Like a rudderless ship running out of fuel and buffeted in an icy storm, the Russian economy looks as if it is heading for a crash. All the graphs – the rouble-dollar rate, the slump in GDP, bank interest rates, oil prices – look like menacing icebergs. The only question seems to be how long the ship can stay afloat.

There are two immediate causes of the crisis: the price of oil, and western sanctions. Oil is trading at below $60 a barrel while Russia, still overwhelmingly dependent on exports of its most precious resource, needs a price of $105 to balance its books. That’s the consequence of having failed to reform and diversify the economy over the past 20 years.

As for the west’s sanctions, they were introduced with one explicit aim – to force Putin to change tack in Ukraine. At least, that was the stated aim. But since the measures show no sign of having any effect on his thinking, and yet the west is considering even more sanctions, there is obviously another goal – to punish Putin for his actions, regardless of whether he changes his mind. Sadly, it is not Putin who feels this punishment. It is the Russian people.

The west needs to accept a simple fact: that Putin’s response to sanctions is always bizarre. He tends to favour reactions that hit his own people rather than the west. America passed the Magnitsky Act to “punish” those alleged to be responsible for the killing of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, and Putin responded by banning adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans. There is no sign that the killers of Magnitsky suffered in any way; indeed the only official being investigated for the crime was released. The west imposed sanctions on Putin’s “cronies” and Russian banks because of the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea; and Putin responded by banning the import of western foodstuffs.

.................................

It has long been my contention that we should deal with the causes of Putin’s aggressive behaviour, not the symptoms. There is a way to bring him back into the fold (always assuming that anyone actually wishes to do so any more), but it will require fresh ideas that are utterly unappealing to most of the west’s leaders. It will take bold and imaginative thinking, not kneejerk reactions and the false logic of piling on ever tougher sanctions.

Perhaps it is time to recognise that George W Bush’s disastrous foreign policy legacy encompasses far more than just Iraq, torture and the fanning of terrorism. Bush also understood nothing about Russia – right from the moment that he looked into Putin’s eyes and told us how he “got a sense of his soul” – and now we are living with the consequences.

It was the Bush administration that created the sense of insecurity that has caused Russia to react, and overreact, to every perceived threat – including, most recently, the perception that Ukraine was being forcibly dragged out of Russia’s orbit and into the west’s. Bush unilaterally abandoned the anti-ballistic missile treaty, seen by Russia as the cornerstone of strategic balance; he began building a missile shield on Russia’s doorstep; he expanded Nato to Russia’s frontiers, blithely granting the east Europeans “security” while causing Russia to feel threatened.

The solution is clear. Abandon the missile shield. End the expansion of Nato. And think boldly about a new security arrangement for the whole of Europe – one that will bring Russia in rather than leaving it outside feeling vulnerable. If this were done, everything I know about Putin and Russia tells me the crisis over Ukraine would be solved - and the Russian economy would not end up being needlessly destroyed, causing woe and bitterness among its people. If it is not done, we will have to deal with a resentful Russia for decades – for Putin’s successors will also demand security.

 
Members of 'black media' say it's not their job to protect Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby

Members of 'black media' say it's not their job to protect Bill Cosby

Members of the black media have described Bill Cosby’s call to remain ‘neutral’ in scrutinizing the alleged sexual abuse claims against him ‘insulting’.

Bill Cosby has implored the “black media” to remain “neutral” as he faces mounting allegations of sexual misconduct that have threatened his career. But some members of the “black media”, if such a monolithic entity can even be said to exist, say it’s not their job to protect the fallen star, despite what he has meant to the African American community.

Nearly two dozen women have accused the embattled 77-year-old star of drugging and then raping or sexually assaulting them. The alleged incidents stretch back more than four decades. Cosby has consistently denied all allegations against him.

After weeks of silence, Cosby gave a brief interview to the New York Post in which he criticized the media’s coverage of the stories about him and appealed to black media “to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind”. (Cosby has since, through his lawyer, claimed the Post reporter with whom he spoke misrepresented himself as a freelance reporter for black news outlets.)

“There’s something deeply painful about it all,” said David Wilson, co-founder and executive editor of the Grio.

“What people don’t understand, and particularly white Americans don’t understand, is that Bill Cosby changed the way black people saw themselves,” Wilson continued. “And if this guy is somehow a phony, if this guy is somehow a crooked person, then what does that say? How do we go back and be proud of what this guy’s done – the thing that he’s done that made us feel so great about ourselves? That’s why it’s such a big story for black America.”

 
Prosecutors Have No Idea When 9/11 Mastermind’s Trial Will Start

Prosecutors Have No Idea When 9/11 Mastermind’s Trial Will Start

Fourteen long years after the bombing of the Twin Towers, the legal proceedings for the men who allegedly plotted the attack drag on. And on. And on.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE—Justice for the five men accused of conspiring to bring about the 9/11 attacks have been delayed another week by the cancelation of court proceedings—the latest road bump on a years-long process to bring the process to a conclusion.

This week’s setback is symbolic of a larger problem for families of 9/11 victims: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has acknowledged being the mastermind behind the 2001 attacks, still hasn’t been brought to trial. Instead, the military commission proceedings are bogged down in a pre-trial phase, as it has been for the past three years. 

The military commission this week was to focus on the alleged FBI infiltration of one of the defense teams. But just before the proceedings were to start, a Department of Justice official asked for more time because he was apparently not prepared to argue the motion.

The proceedings were further set back by protests from some of the defendants, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that they were being touched by female guards during cell extraction. The defendants argue that this is against their religion.

 
Is Obama destroying the Russian economy?

Signs advertising currencies light next to the exchange office in Moscow, Russia. | Getty

Is Obama destroying the Russian economy?

Sanctions helped sink the ruble, officials say privately.

By Michael Crowley

Speaking at a Moscow event in early October, Russian President Vladimir Putin sounded cocky about the sanctions imposed on his country by Washington and its European allies. The penalties, Putin said, were “utter silliness” that would only hurt Western businesses.

But now that Russia’s economy is rapidly imploding, with oil prices plunging and the ruble collapsing, Putin is the one feeling the pain. And the question already being debated in Washington is whether President Barack Obama’s strategy of economically sanctioning and isolating Russia deserves any credit.

“It’s hard to disaggregate out the independent effects of the sanctions from the bigger story. Obviously the driver is oil prices,” said Obama’s former ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul.

“That said, there is no doubt that sanctions raise uncertainty about the Russian economy. Their own minister of economic development said today that the ruble is falling faster than the macroeconomic indicators would suggest it should be,” McFaul added.

Republicans, who have long maligned Obama’s policy as too timid, were more skeptical. “I think it’s a pretty hard sell to say that the sanctions strategy on Russia is what is tanking the ruble right now,” said a senior congressional GOP aide.

“The impact of sanctions is absolutely marginal in this story,” added the aide.

 
U.S. to start talks with Cuba to normalize ties, open embassy

Cuba frees American Alan Gross after 5 years detention on spy charges

Cuba has freed American contractor Alan Gross after five years in custody as part of a prisoner swap that could herald sweeping changes in U.S. policies toward the island after decades of sanctions, a senior Obama administration official and news reports said.

President Obama was expected to make a statement on Cuba at noon. At the same time, Cuban President Raul Castro was scheduled to address his nation about relations with the United States, Cuban state television reported.

Any moves to close the rifts would mark a significant moment in Western Hemisphere politics.

The United State has maintain various sanctions against Cuba for more than five decades as one of the most enduring holdovers from Cold War-era standoffs. The two countries do not have full diplomatic relations, but allow interest sections to handle outreach.

The Obama administration official said Gross has departed Cuba on a U.S. government plane. He was released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Gross, 65, was detained in December 2009 while setting up illegal Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship.

He was later sentenced to 15 years in prison for espionage. Cuba considers USAID’s programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government.

 
Stephen Colbert Prepares Final 'Colbert Report'

Goodbye, Nation. Goodbye, Blowhard Self.

Stephen Colbert Prepares Final 'Colbert Report'

For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, “The Colbert Report” — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest.

Devoted fans of “The Colbert Report” (the final T is silent) have dreaded this day since April 10, when their favorite late-night star announced that he was leaving to become the successor to David Letterman on CBS.

Mr. Colbert has steered clear of commenting on his plans for the last show, other than on-air comments that the end is near. But whatever comic exercise Mr. Colbert devises to end his multi-award-winning run on Comedy Central, including perhaps some symbolic hara-kiri for the character he brought into American homes four nights a week, he has left an indelible mark on late-night television comedy.

And he did it in a way almost no one thought was possible, or sustainable: as a fake host, a fictional character using Mr. Colbert’s own name who was an elaborate parody of a bloviating political talk show host.

Jimmy Kimmel, the host of ABC’s late-night show, with whom Mr. Colbert shares a manager (James Dixon), said he had been concerned when Mr. Colbert announced his intention to create the parody show in 2005.

“I remember pleading with Dixon to tell Stephen it was a terrible mistake to do a character the whole time,” Mr. Kimmel said. “That it wasn’t going to last, and also not to name the show ‘The Report’ as a joke. It was just going to confuse everybody. And he did, anyway, and of course, it was a smashing success in every way.”

Mr. Colbert appeared in character not simply on his show, but in appearances elsewhere, including a memorable knockout performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2006. (He stirred Bush administration outrage with comments like: “I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least, and by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”) He even remained at his blowhard best when he testified before Congress in 2010. (Before a Congressional subcommittee on immigration issues and farm labor, Mr. Colbert’s character said things like, “Maybe the easier answer is just to have scientists develop vegetables that pick themselves.”)

.........................

“What’s interesting about what Colbert is doing,” Mr. Gervais said in an interview, “what’s brave and possibly confusing about it, is that he’s always used his own name.” He added: “It can be a dangerous game to play. He presented himself as the character, and now he’s not going to be it. And people are going to miss the character. It’s a joy to watch someone do a really great parody with a character saying the opposite of what you know is right.”

 
Fitness Trackers Shape Up

Fitness Trackers Shape Up

By Joanna Stern

Personal Technology: Yes, $200 will buy you a fitness band on steroids, Joanna Stern writes, but you don’t need to spend more than $50 for a device that does the basics well—monitoring steps and calories burned.

I need more Wednesdays and fewer Sundays.

On Wednesdays, I walk an average of 9,000 steps, burn more than 2,000 calories, and eat and sleep really well. On Sundays, I barely hit the 3,000-step mark…and I eat a bagel with bacon, egg and cheese.

Welcome to life with a fitness tracker. These wristbands strive to make us better people—or at least healthier, more active ones—by keeping track of our steps, our calories burned and increasingly much more.

But what’s even harder than getting up off the couch and putting down the breakfast sandwich is figuring out which device to put on your body—if one at all.

Fitness trackers are going through an existential crisis. There are now smartwatches which combine far more capabilities with basic health features. Then there’s the 40 percent of fitness-tracker buyers who have ditched them, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm. I even have anecdotal evidence to back that up. The only thing my mom’s FitBit tracks now is dust in her desk drawer.

So why read any further? Because, if you let them, fitness bands can improve your life. They’ve gotten me to take the stairs and subway more, and made me aware that it takes longer to burn off my morning latte than I thought. And when I made it my mission to lose weight earlier this year, they gave me a means to monitor my progress.

 
Are we prolonging life or prolonging death?

Mark Davis died in hospice, but no extreme treatments were given. (Post)

‘Warehouses for the dying’: Are we prolonging life or prolonging death?

Peter Whoriskey

Some doctors feel patients too often suffer in attempts to prolong life because of the mandate to “do everything.”

.............................

The doctor floated through the intensive care unit, white lab coat flapping, moving from room to room, scanning one chart and then another, often frowning.

Unlike TV dramas, where the victims of car crashes and gun shots populate the ICU, this one at Sentara Norfolk General, as in others in the United States, is more often filled with the wreckage of chronic disease and old age.

Of 10 patients Paul Marik saw that morning, five had end-stage kidney disease, three had chronic respiratory ailments, some had advanced dementia. Some were breathing by virtue of machines; others had feeding tubes; a couple were in wrist restraints to prevent them from pulling off the equipment.

For a man at a highly rated hospital surrounded by the technology of medical miracles, Marik sounded a note of striking skepticism: Patients too often suffer in vain attempts to prolong life, he said, because of the mandate to “do everything.” The urge to deploy every last aggressive medical technique, in other words, was hurting people.

“I think if someone from Mars came and saw some of these people, they would say, what have they done to deserve this punishment?” said Marik, gesturing to the surrounding rooms. “People might say we are prolonging life, but we end up prolonging death.”

 
How Mexican consulates are helping Obama's immigration plan

How Mexican consulates are helping Obama's immigration plan

By Lourdes Medrano

The 50 Mexican consulates in the US are holding events to help Mexican nationals navigate President Obama's plan to defer deportation for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants.

On this day, Patricia Mejia and Doralinda Skidmore have come to the Sacred Heart Church here with one goal: to make President Obama’s executive action on immigration as successful as possible.

The two lawyers stand in front of about 200 people who hope to figure out how to take advantage of Mr. Obama’s plan to shield nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. They want to apply for a deferral, they want to be approved, and Ms. Mejia and Ms. Skidmore are here to help them – thanks to the Mexican Consulate.

Across the United States, all 50 Mexican consulates have set up special hotlines and public forums to guide people through an application process that has yet to begin. Data suggest that the president’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) could help the Mexican-American community, in particular. About 44 percent of Mexico-born people who lack legal US status could be eligible for the program, compared with 24 percent from other countries, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

 
The Troubling Return of the Nostalgia Ballot

The Troubling Return of the Nostalgia Ballot

David A. Graham

Bush. Clinton. Romney. Why are so many names from the past floating to the top of presidential lists?

Perhaps George Santayana was wrong: Today’s Americans know their history well enough—and if they aren’t exactly eager to repeat it, they seem to at least be resigned to repetition. How else to explain a situation that looks ever more possible by the day: A Bush vs. Clinton presidential election in 2016? (Again.)

Jeb Bush, son and brother of former presidents, made that scenario a bit more likely when he announced Tuesday on Facebook that he was “actively exploring” a bid for the White House (whatever that means). That won’t quiet the will-he-won’t-he game already afoot. Many candidates have dipped their toes in the water at this stage, decided it was a bit too cool for a swim, and retreated back onto the sand. There are also reasons to believe—both political and not—that Bush might back out, but his gesture can't be ignored. Meanwhile, despite a flurry of excitement about a Massachusetts senator who insists she isn’t running, Hillary Clinton’s path to the Democratic nomination still looks clear.

This might feel like a rerun of recent history, but it actually has much longer roots. As Matt O’Brien points out, the Republican Party has not won a presidential election without either a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket since 1928. Clintons have been running for president on and off since 1992, and Bill Clinton reportedly nearly ran in 1988. The prospect of a sequence of presidents that runs Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Clinton/Bush has already created oodles of angst over the prospect of a hereditary duopoly in American politics—interrupted only briefly by Barack Obama, who might easily appear in retrospect as something of a novelty candidate. It's not quite royalty, one might conclude, but it's close enough: Isn’t this why colonists fought a revolution to escape the British monarch? It’s no surprise that the prospect would be upsetting, particularly in an age of yawning inequality and calcified social mobility.

 ...........................

Dynasties are nothing new in American politics—just ask the Roosevelts, the Adamses, the Harrisons, the Kennedys, the Tafts, the Udalls, the ... you get the idea. But this sort of presidential pattern would be a new degree. Setting aside the worrying effects such a duopoly might have on the republic, what does the nascent duopoly say about where the United States stands as a nation?

More than anything else, it seems to reflect a deep unease about where the United States is, and an even greater fear about where it might be going. Americans see the economy improving, but only slowly and after a lengthy interval. They see that the impact of that recovery is not evenly distributed but in fact accrues disproportionately to the top, dulling its pleasant effects. They see race relations getting steadily worse. On the international stage, they expect China to eclipse the United States as a power, and Russia to draw close. Democrats and Republicans remain hopelessly, infuriatingly divided on a range of issues, but one thing they can agree on is that they’d like to go back in time—if only they could agree on what decade is better: the 1950s or 1990s.

 
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