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Economic anxiety dominates 2014

Economic anxiety dominates 2014

By BEN WHITE

Alhambra residents vote on Election Day at the Alhambra Fire Station #71 in Alhambra, Los Angeles County. | Getty

If Democrat Michelle Nunn is going to defy the odds and win a Senate race in the deep South it’s going to be because of people like Elizabeth Grubbs, a 30-year-old Waffle House waitress and student who feels stuck and anxious in the troubled American economy.

Grubbs says she is inclined to vote for Republican nominee David Perdue. But Nunn’s relentless attacks on Perdue’s record of outsourcing as a corporate executive clearly hit home. “Republicans are supposed to be the party of American business and the economy and all that, but he’s moving jobs overseas. It isn’t right,” Grubbs said this week while nursing a coffee at a sidewalk cafe in this faded Southern city.

So will she vote for Nunn? “I don’t know. Won’t she just be an Obama clone?” Grubbs said, mimicking the barrage of Perdue ads making just that claim. “And I don’t want to hear anything about how the economy is getting oh so much better under this president because it isn’t. It’s still crap.”

That sentiment — a raw anxiety about the state of the economy and President Barack Obama’s leadership — courses beneath the entirety of the 2014 midterm elections in ways that clearly tilt the landscape in favor of the GOP picking up the six seats they need to retake the Senate while adding a handful of House seats. But the fault lines run much deeper than one relatively desultory midterm election campaign and present risks and opportunities to both parties that will shape politics in 2016 and beyond.

In over a dozen interviews in Georgia and neighboring North Carolina, where incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is struggling to hang onto her seat, undecided voters spoke of their disgust with Washington gridlock and their frustration over stagnant wages, limited job prospects and general dismay over the direction of the country.

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The Bizarre Tale of Ben Bradlee, JFK, and the Master Spy

The Bizarre Tale of Ben Bradlee, JFK, and the Master Spy

When the editor’s gorgeous sister-in-law was killed, Bradlee rushed to find her diary. But why was James Jesus Angleton looking for it too?

On October 12, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer, the glamorous sister-in-law of Ben Bradlee and sometime lover of Jack Kennedy, was shot to death while walking along the C & O Canal in Georgetown. And in the hours that followed, the search for Meyer’s scandalous diary would find the future Washington Post editor in a race with one of the Cold War’s most legendary spies.

Bradlee, who died Tuesday at age 93, is rightly lionized as a master journalist. But he was also a key figure in a Washington establishment that arguably no longer exists—the kind of guy who advised presidents even as he reported on them, and counted some of the CIA’s top officers as personal friends.

The day Meyer died, these roles converged. After Bradlee had returned home from identifying Meyer’s body at the city morgue, he and his wife Tony received a call from the Tokyo-based artist and sculptor Anne Truitt. “She had been perhaps Mary’s closest friend,” Bradlee recounts in his memoir, A Good Life, “and after she and Tony had grieved together, she told us that Mary had asked her to take possession of a private diary ‘if anything ever happened to me.’ Anne asked if we had found any such diary, and we told her we hadn’t looked for anything, much less a diary.”

Bradlee and his wife began their search the next morning, only to find that someone else had been tipped off about the diary’s existence. Meyer’s door had been locked, but when Bradlee made his way in, he found James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s counterintelligence chief, standing there in the living room. He, too, was looking for Meyer’s diary.

Asked how he had gotten into the house, Angleton, who was among other things an expert at picking locks, “shuffled his feet.” Angleton was a Washington social figure in his own right, and his wife Cecily had been close with Mary, who had been married to another high-ranking CIA officer. “We felt his presence was odd, to say the least, but took him at his word, and with him we searched Mary’s house thoroughly,” Bradlee wrote. After an exhaustive search, however, no diary was found.

Angleton is one of those people who will always be shrouded in mystery. To his detractors, he was a half-mad paranoiac who nearly destroyed the CIA in his obsessive search for a Soviet mole. He was also an unquestionably brilliant “master of the game” with highbrow literary interests—borrowing a line from T.S. Elliot, he memorably referred to the world of espionage as a “wilderness of mirrors.” He essentially invented the CIA’s counterintelligence operation and, until his fall from grace nearly a decade after Meyer was killed, was perhaps the most powerful man at the Agency.

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Thirty-Three-Hit Wonder

Thirty-Three-Hit Wonder

Billy Joel still lives on Long Island, still rules the Garden.

By Nick Paumgarten

Billy Joel sat smoking a cigarillo on a patio overlooking Oyster Bay. He had chosen the seating area under a trellis in front of the house, his house, a brick Tudor colossus set on a rise on the southeastern tip of a peninsula called Centre Island, on Long Island’s North Shore. It was a brilliant cloudless September afternoon. Beethoven on Sonos, cicadas in the trees, pugs at his feet. Out on the water, an oyster dredge circled the seeding beds while baymen raked clams in the flats. Joel surveyed the rising tide. Sixty-five. Semi-retirement. Weeks of idleness, of puttering around his motorcycle shop and futzing with lobster boats, of books and dogs and meals, were about to give way to a microburst of work. His next concert, his first in more than a month, was scheduled to begin in five hours, at Madison Square Garden, and he appeared to be composing himself.

“Actually, I composed myself a long time ago,” he said. He told a joke that involved Mozart erasing something in a mausoleum; the punch line was “I’m decomposing.” He knocked off an ash. Whenever anyone asks him about his pre-show routine, he says, “I walk from the dressing room to the stage. That’s my routine.” Joel has a knack for delivering his own recycled quips and explanations as though they were fresh, a talent related, one would think, to that of singing well-worn hits with sincere-seeming gusto. He often says that the hardest part isn’t turning it on but turning it off: “One minute, I’m Mussolini, up onstage in front of twenty thousand screaming people. And then, a few minutes later, I’m just another schmuck stuck in traffic on the highway.” It’s true: the transition is abrupt, and it has bedevilled rock stars since the advent of the backbeat. But this schmuck is usually looking down on the highway from an altitude of a thousand feet. He commutes to and from his shows by helicopter.

Joel was wearing a black T-shirt tucked into black jeans, black Vans, and an Indian Motorcycle ball cap. The back of his head, where hair might be, was freshly shorn, and his features, which in dark or obscure moods can appear mottled and knotted, were at rest, projecting benevolent bemusement. To prepare for the flight, he’d put on a necklace of good-luck medallions—pendants of various saints. The atavism of Long Island is peculiar. Though Jewish, and an atheist, he had, as a boy in a predominantly Catholic part of Hicksville, attended Mass, and even tried confession. His mother took him and his sister to Protestant services at a local church; he was baptized there. Still, a girl across the street said he’d grow horns, and a neighborhood kid named Vinny told him, “Yo, Joel, you killed Jesus. I’m gonna beat your ass.” Vinny did, repeatedly. Joel took up boxing to defend himself. The nose still shows it.

There was a rumble in the distance. “That’s my guy,” Joel said. “He’s early.” A helicopter zipped in over the oystermen and landed down by the water, at the hem of a great sloping lawn, where Joel had converted the property’s tennis court to a helipad. He’d recently had to resurface it, after Hurricane Sandy. Joel often attempts to inoculate himself with self-mockery. “Oh, my helipad got flooded,” he says, with the lockjaw of Thurston Howell III.

He got up to go. He has the short, wide, halting gait of an old lineman—two fake hips. He called through the screen door leading to the kitchen: “A-Rod!” A-Rod was his girlfriend, Alexis Roderick, from Northport, a thirty-three-year-old former risk manager at Morgan Stanley. They met five years ago at a restaurant in Huntington, where they’d both gone with friends. He introduced himself, got her number, and, when he was done eating, called her on the phone from across the restaurant and asked if she would give him a ride home. “I always try to go out with North Shore girls,” he likes to say. “They usually have a car.” She drove him back to Centre Island. He asked her if she wanted to hear him play. She said no. He played anyway—Rachmaninoff, on the living-room grand, a move he got from “The Seven Year Itch.” She says, “It was like he couldn’t not be ‘Billy Joel’ at that moment.”

“I may have got a little fresh,” he recalls. She drove off that night, but months later they began seeing each other. She moved in with him, and he persuaded her to quit her job on Wall Street. Joel, who refers to his former wives as Ex 1, Ex 2, and Ex 3, says that he is in no hurry to be married again.

 
Renée Zellweger's new look due to 'happy, healthy lifestyle', not surgery.

Renee Zellweger on 20 October, 2014.

Renée Zellweger's new look due to 'happy, healthy lifestyle', not surgery.

Xan Brooks

The Oscar-winning actor has responded to online speculation that she’s had cosmetic surgery by ascribing her changed looks to an increased feeling of peace.

The Oscar-winning actor Renee Zellweger has brushed aside media reports that she has undergone plastic surgery, suggesting that the claims are “silly” and a “nefarious truth which doesn’t exist.” Instead, the Bridget Jones star attributes her new look to a “happy, healthy” lifestyle.

“I’m glad folks think I look different,” Zellweger told People magazine. “I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.” She added: “My friends say I look peaceful. I am healthy.”

Zellweger in Bridget Jones 2: The Edge of Reason (2004).

Zellweger sparked a flurry of media speculation with her appearance at Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood awards earlier this week. “This is not Botox or even surgery,” joked the writer Viv Groskop on Twitter. “It’s a MISSING PERSON ENQUIRY.”

 
Immigration official is mother of Canadian gunman

Gunman: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (allegedly pictured above) has been named as the Muslim convert who shot dead Corporal Nathan Cirillo and opened fire on the Canadian Parliament

Immigration official is mother of Canadian gunman

By Lydia Warren and James Nye for MailOnline and Chris Spargo

  • Quebec-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, recently converted to Islam and had dreams of heading to the Middle East
  • He had his passport seized after being designated a 'high-risk traveler' - despite his mother, Susan Bibeau, being on Canada's immigration board
  • The mother of the Muslim convert who shot dead a Canadian solider outside Parliament on Wednesday has said she is crying for the victims, rather than for her son. In a brief and tear-filled telephone call on Thursday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's mother Susan Bibeau told the Associated Press she did not know what to say to those hurt in the attack.

    'Can you ever explain something like this?' she said. 'We are sorry.' 

    Mother: Zehaf-Bibeau's mother Susan, who works for the Immigration and Refuge Board of Canada

    Susan Bibeau, whose son had his passport seized after he was designated a 'high-risk traveler', works as a federal public servant for the Immigrant & Refugee board and lives in Montreal. On Wednesday, her son gunned down 24-year-old single dad Nathan Cirillo as he stood guard by the National War Memorial in Ottawa, before running inside the Parliament and opening fire. 

    Born in Quebec as Michael Joseph Hall to his federal employee mother and a Libyan businessman father and raised just north of Montreal, the young man lived a quiet childhood of private schools and suburban homes.

    Then, after years of run-ins with the law, he converted to Islam. 

    A criminal court database shows 13 identified Quebec court records dating back to June 2001 in Montreal involving Zehaf-Bibeau.

    He was charged in February 2004 for possession of marijuana and possession of PCP. He pleaded guilty to both charges in December 2004, serving one day in prison for marijuana possession and 60 days for PCP possession.

    He also spent a day in jail in March of 2004 for a parole violation and was again convicted of marijuana possession in 2009.

     
    Did Picasso Try to Steal the Mona Lisa?

    The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in August 1911. How did one of the best-known painters of all time become a prime suspect?

    Did Picasso Try to Steal the Mona Lisa?

    By Nick Mafi

    On August 21, 1911—a humid Monday morning—in Paris, France, a man walked out of the Louvre with a large, 18-pound object consisting of a mischievous smile painted on three slabs of wood, protruding from his jacket. The thief had just made off with the Mona Lisa. Earlier that weekend, the man patiently waited, even sleeping in an art-supply closet of the museum before entering the Salon Carré wing where the painting was on display.

    Knowing the museum was closed to the public on Mondays, the would-be thief waited until no staffers were within the vicinity, allowing the opportunity to finally take the famous painting off the four hooks on which it rested. Within days, from London to São Paulo to New York City, newspapers began running headlines about da Vinci’s missing masterpiece.

    Almost immediately, the Paris-Journal began advertising 50,000 francs for the Mona Lisa’s return, no questions asked, according to John Richardson’s A Life of Picasso. Among the lead suspects, it would emerge, was Pablo Picasso, one of the world’s most famous painters.

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

    After Picasso moved to Paris in 1900, he surrounded himself with fellow bohemian artists and poets such as Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacobs. They called themselves La Banda Picasso, and together the group would push the boundaries not only of traditional art or stylistic experimentation, but of contemporary culture as well.

    In 1907, Picasso was courting his first great love, Fernande Olivier. In a journal entry, quoted in Norman Mailer’s Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man, Fernande explains both the hardships facing the beatnik artists of Montmartre as well as the strong bond of friendship within La Banda Picasso, friendships that would eventually be severed within the next five years. “It’s now six months that I’ve been living here with Pablo. When I arrived, it was very hot in the studio. At present, it’s fearfully cold. I stay in bed, covered up, to avoid being frozen by the cold. There’s no coal, no fire, no money…Max Jacob and Apollinaire come each day. Picasso and Guillaume can laugh through an entire night of suggestions, inventions, songs, games that Max plays with his face. The studio rings with our laughter. Foolishness takes us over and, like children, we encourage each other, mutually, to see who can become the most absurd.”

    Around the time La Banda Picasso was roaming the streets of Montmartre in search of creative inspiration, the Louvre put on display their primitive Iberian sculptures from the 4th or 3rd century BC. Picasso was drawn to these figures for many reasons, not least of all that they originated and were molded from the sacred fires of prehistoric Spain.

    To his close friends, Picasso did not hide his admiration for the Iberian sculptures. One of those who knew of Picasso’s fondness for the art was Géry Pieret. Pieret, a corrupt man from Belgium, was an ancillary member of La Banda Picasso, serving as Apollinaire’s secretary.

     After hearing of Picasso’s affinity for the most recent additions to the museum, Pieret visited the Louvre in March of 1907. Within two days, he had stolen as many Iberian sculptures, eventually presenting them to Picasso as a gift. In turn, the grateful Spanish artist paid the Belgian thief a sum of 50 francs apiece, according to Richardson’s A Life of Picasso.

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    From a Rwandan Dump to Harvard’s Halls

    Justus Uwayesu, rescued at 9 from the streets of Rwanda, is enrolled as a freshman at Harvard.

    Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

    From a Rwandan Dump to Harvard’s Halls

    By MICHAEL WINES

    Nine years old and orphaned by genocide, Justus Uwayesu was living in a burned-out car in Rwanda when an encounter with a charity worker led him to Harvard University.

    Nine years old and orphaned by ethnic genocide, he was living in a burned-out car in a Rwandan garbage dump where he scavenged for food and clothes. Daytimes, he was a street beggar. He had not bathed in more than a year.

    When an American charity worker, Clare Effiong, visited the dump one Sunday, other children scattered. Filthy and hungry, Justus Uwayesu stayed put, and she asked him why.

    “I want to go to school,” he replied.

    Well, he got his wish.

    This autumn, Mr. Uwayesu enrolled as a freshman at Harvard University on a full-scholarship, studying math, economics and human rights, and aiming for an advanced science degree. Now about 22 — his birthday is unknown — he could be, in jeans, a sweater and sneakers, just another of the 1,667 first-year students here.

    But of course, he is not. He is an example of the potential buried even in humanity’s most hopeless haunts, and a sobering reminder of how seldom it is mined.

     
    Axe: Obama 'negligent' on symbolism

    Axe: Obama 'negligent' on symbolism

    By JONATHAN TOPAZ

    David Axelrod is pictured. | AP Photo

    Former senior White House adviser David Axelrod in a Thursday report said President Barack Obama is sometimes “negligent” in the more symbolic elements of the presidency.

    The longtime Obama ally, in a Bloomberg Businessweek story about the president’s crisis management leadership style, said Obama doesn’t always embrace the more theatrical parts of being president.

    “There’s no doubt that there’s a theatrical nature to the presidency that he resists,” Axelrod said. “Sometimes he can be negligent in the symbolism.”

    His comments echo a familiar Beltway criticism of the president, who has received both praise and flak for his calm demeanor and deliberate response in the face of crisis.

    Axelrod still largely defended Obama against criticism of his leadership style, arguing that the White House had an effective response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and praising his authorization of the 2011 mission to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

    Earlier this month, Axelrod also questioned the president for throwing himself into the midterm elections, saying it was a “mistake” for Obama to say that the policies he supports will be on the ballot in November. Republicans have seized on that line during the midterm election campaign to tie congressional Democratic candidates to an unpopular president.

    “I wouldn’t put that line there,” Axelrod said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

     
    Canadian Leader Says Capital Shootings Terror-Related

    Canadian Leader Says Capital Shootings Terror-Related.

    A gunman fatally shot a Canadian soldier before being killed in a shootout in the Canadian Parliament building.

     
    Newspaper Ad Revenue Fell $40 Billion in a Decade

    Newspaper Ad Revenue Fell $40 Billion in a Decade

    Bourree Lam

    A new report fills in the details on a now familiar story: Printed news just isn't the business it used to be.

    The fact of the decline of the newspaper business is not news. But a recent essay from the Brookings Institution contains some specific numbers that make clear just how bad things have gotten: In just more than a decade, from 2000 to 2013, advertising revenue for America's newspaper fell from $63.5 billion to $23 billion.

    The report's author, Washington Post veteran Robert Kaiser, says that the advertising money pie is being chipped away by Google and Facebook, who are able to sort and target audiences in a way newspapers can't. He also predicts that ad revenue will plummet further, as advertisers are partly contributing to print out of habit. Add Craigslist, which has largely replaced once-lucrative classified ads, to that equation for even less revenue for the papers.

    2013 was the second year that Google crossed the $50 billion line in annual revenue, with advertising driving most of those earnings. Dollars spent on mobile advertising is forecasted to swell to nearly $18 billion this year, driven by Facebook and Google.

    In the face of dwindling profits, the industry is shrinking. There's the recent news of plans to cut 100 jobs at The New York Times newsroom. The number of newspaper employees in America has gone from 59,000 in 1989 to 36,000 in 2012. And according to the Newspaper Association of America, the number of daily newspapers has gone from more than 1,800 in 1940 to 1,382 in 2011.

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    How Big Is the Canadian Terrorists’ Network?

    top-box

    How Big Is the Canadian Terrorists’ Network?

     

    Canadian officials were quick to finger ISIS in this week’s attacks on government targets. But it’s still not clear whether or not the killers were part of a larger jihadist web.

    Terrorists have twice attacked Canadian government targets this week, with a shooting Wednesday at the country’s parliament in Ottawa. Now Canadian and American authorities are trying to learn whether the killers acted alone or were part of a larger extremist network.

    The mayhem caused by alleged Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau occurred just two days after another man, Martin Rouleau-Couture, struck two Canadian soldiers with a car in Quebec—killing one and wounding another.

    Full details on Zehaf-Bibeau are still emerging. But he appears to have been a 32-year-old native of Quebec with a history of legal troubles that predate his radicalization. Canadian journalist Domenic Fazioli reported that Zehaf-Bibeau had been arrested a total of five times for drug possession and parole violations.

    Former Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day, who once oversaw Canadian security agencies in cabinet as a member of the ruling Conservative government, said he had independent information that suggested the two suspects visited the same jihadist web forums.

    “It is likely there is a digital trail that suggests they accessed some of the same Internet chat rooms and websites,” he told The Daily Beast. “It appears the [Parliament Hill shooter] was using some of the same networks as the killer [from earlier this week], who killed an army officer… And it was interesting that ISIS apparently, or a source identifying themselves as ISIS, had a photo out of this guy in pretty short order.”

     
    The GOP's 2016 tech deficit

    Reporters use laptop computers, iPads and ink and paper. | Getty

    The GOP's 2016 tech deficit

    By DARREN SAMUELSOHN

    Here’s an early reality check for Republican White House hopefuls: The party doesn’t have enough tech experts to staff up a wide-open primary campaign.

    What the aspiring GOP candidates will need to mount a modern-day tech race are campaign veterans with a wide range of seasoned digital skill sets — for fighting TV admen over budgets, writing fundraising email copy that doesn’t go straight to the trash bin and in using data the right way to find potential donors and voters.

    But that kind of tech savvy doesn’t just get made in a Harvard dorm room. It comes from live-fire experience in the latest election cycles.

    So while Democrats contemplate a small field where much of President Barack Obama’s vaunted campaign tech capacity transfers to Hillary Clinton, the GOP is facing a different dilemma. The tech experts it does have are likely to be scattered into a dozen or more campaigns.

     
    The Best Time to Buy an Airline Ticket

    The Best Time to Buy an Airline Ticket

    New data shows exactly what the best day to buy an airline ticket is. WSJ's Scott McCartney reveals the details on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero.

     
    Little girls drop F-bombs in profane feminist ad

    A T-shirt company has issued a controversial feminist ad featuring several little girls as young as 6 dressed up in princess costumes and delivering an expletive-filled rant on the woes of the modern woman. (YouTube/FCKH8)

    Little girls drop F-bombs in profane feminist ad

    By Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times

    A T-shirt company has issued a controversial feminist ad featuring several little girls as young as 6 dressed up in princess costumes and delivering an expletive-filled rant on the woes of the modern woman.

    In the “F-Bombs for Feminism” video, little girls drop the F-word over and over again while “educating adults on sexism,” the company FCKH8 says in the description.

     
    UC leaders consider limiting out-of-state enrollment

    Janet Napolitano

    UC leaders consider limiting out-of-state enrollment

    The University of California is beginning to have second thoughts about its highly successful effort to bring more out-of-state students onto its campuses.

    In a bid to boost revenue, the system five years ago began to aggressively recruit students from other parts of the country and from around the world. The significantly higher fees those students paid brought in about $400 million extra last year. But the effort stirred a backlash from California parents, who suspected that their children's admissions chances were being hurt.

    UC officials have taken great pains to argue that qualified California students were not losing slots to those from New York or China. But the complaints from parents and state legislators recently prompted UC President Janet Napolitano and other system leaders to consider putting limits on out-of-state enrollment.

    Any such retrenchment faces its own set of complications.

    In 2009, a year into the recession that badly hurt higher education funding, a commission on the future of the University of California recommended recruiting outside students whose tuition — triple what state residents pay — would help offset cuts in tax revenue.

    UC administrators not only heeded that advice, but they far exceeded expectations.

    An unprecedented 20% of this year's freshman class across the system's nine undergraduate campuses are from outside California. That’s up from 6% in 2009 and 5.3% in 2004. At UCLA and UC Berkeley, that enrollment figure is about 30% of freshmen.

    University officials insist that the growth in nonresidents has been accomplished mainly by increasing sizes of the incoming freshman classes. And they note that top public universities in other states enroll much higher percentages of nonresidents than UC does. But families of top-tier California high schoolers turned away from their first-choice campuses have their doubts. As do state lawmakers.

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    Obama and the End of Greatness

    Obama and the End of Greatness

    By Jeff Shesol

    In March of 1977, several weeks into the Carter Administration, “Saturday Night Live” featured a skit called “Ask President Carter.” The premise was a radio program, hosted by Walter Cronkite (Bill Murray), on which callers brought their problems to President Carter (Dan Aykroyd). After walking a postal worker through a highly technical repair to her letter-sorting machine (“There’s a three-digit setting there, where the post and the armature meet”), the President expertly talks a man down from an acid trip. “You did some orange sunshine, Peter,” Carter tells him. “Just remember you’re a living organism on this planet, and you’re very safe.… Relax, stay inside, and listen to some music, O.K.? Do you have any Allman Brothers?”

    The real Carter, it turned out, wasn’t much like this—letter-sorting machines, maybe, but never the Allman Brothers. What the skit captures is the suspension of disbelief at the start of most Presidencies—that moment when a good number of Americans are able to convince themselves that we might be in the presence of a great man, and that his greatness will be manifest. That this is the man who has the answers. When it becomes clear that he doesn’t, we never quite forgive him for it.

    This is where we stand right now with President Obama.

    There are two years left in his tenure, but we are already in the process of writing him off. The Atlantic is calling him “our passé President”; at a rally in Maryland on Sunday, while Obama delivered a campaign speech, dozens of people drifted out of the auditorium. Yet he is still, of course, our President, and we still, on some level, expect heroics. Deep down, we don’t want Obama to appoint an “Ebola czar.” We want him to march into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, set some new protocols, and put this unpleasant business behind us. Instead, to quell our Ebola freak-out, Obama “hugged and kissed … a couple of the nurses” at a hospital in Atlanta, which, really, is an assignment Joe Biden could have taken.

    We are a long way from the ideal Presidency—the kind on display for fourteen hours in “The Roosevelts,” Ken Burns’s new documentary, which aired last month on PBS. Granted, any President—Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore—given the Burns treatment would emerge a monument, but the greatness of Franklin Roosevelt (and, to a lesser extent, his cousin Theodore) is beyond serious question. “Who else among his twelve successors can compete?” asks Aaron David Miller in “The End of Greatness,” a thoughtful new book on Presidential performance. “In almost every category—including longevity, impact, wartime leadership, media mastery, durability of coalition, ensuring party control—F.D.R. seems to have cornered the market.”

    By Miller’s reckoning—and he is hardly alone here—F.D.R. is the last “undeniably great president” this country has seen. “Our challenges today,” he argues, “are varied and diffused, our politics too broken and dysfunctional and unforgiving to be resolved by a single or a series of heroic presidential actions.” Though Miller thinks “acts of greatness in the presidency are still possible,” he insists that “we cannot have another giant”—and “seldom need one” at this stage in our national development. It is time, he concludes, for America to “get over the greatness thing” and “come to terms with the limits of a president’s capacity to fix things.”

    The current President would most likely agree. Despite the grand hopes and hype of the 2008 campaign, this tempering of ambitions, this recognition—and acceptance—of the constraints on Presidential power has been a leitmotif of the Obama Presidency.

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    Texas to pay athletes $10,000 apiece under new rules, AD says

    Texas to pay athletes $10,000 apiece under new rules, AD says

    MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER

    The money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by a traditional full scholarship and give each player $5,000 in return for the right to use players' images.

    The University of Texas will spend nearly $6 million a year to comply with a string of recent legal rulings requiring colleges to be more generous to their scholarship athletes.

    That won’t break the bank, Athletic Director Steve Patterson said Tuesday at a forum on the fast-changing business of college sports. But even rich programs like UT’s will be forced to make tough choices in the future if momentum in the courts continues to push colleges to treat their players like employees or semi-pros, he said.

    Chris Plonsky, director for women’s sports at Texas, said the school already employs 350 workers to coach and care for the students who play in Austin. The money for all of those jobs, she said, comes from just two sports, football and men’s basketball.

    “If we begin to [further] remunerate the participants, that’s going to break that model,” Plonsky said.

    Patterson said UT won’t have problems paying the extra $6 million to its players. That money will break down to about $10,000 for each player. The money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by a traditional full scholarship and give each player $5,000 in compensation for the university’s use of his image.

    Colleges will soon be asked to do even more, and they ought to prepare for that, some on the panels argued. Former U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen of Maryland said colleges should brace for profound challenges to their business models in the near future.

    “We’re in for a period of dynamic change,” said McMillen, an All-America basketball player for the University of Maryland who also played for the United States in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. “The system has to change. The money needs to be handled differently.”

     
    Evidence of a Struggle With Michael Brown

    Evidence of a Struggle With Michael Brown

     Dashiell Bennett

    A leaked autopsy report supports claims of a fight inside officer Darren Wilson's car.

    A new report on Michael Brown's official autopsy results appears to support Officer Darren Wilson's version of the events on August 9, according to two medical experts.

    The new analysis of the autopsy results was released on Wednesday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which asked two independent experts who were not involved in the investigation—one of them, the St. Louis County Medical examiner—to review the available evidence.

    Their report says that Brown was shot in the hand at very close range and his blood and other tissue were found both inside and outside the car. Wilson has reportedly told investigators that he fought with Brown inside his police SUV and that Brown attempted to take his gun.

    St. Louis medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham told the paper that the autopsy "does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.” The other expert, forensic pathologist Judy Melinek, went even further, saying that the wound on Brown's hand "supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun" and adding that another shot, which went through Brown's forearm, means Brown could not have facing Wilson with his hands up when he was shot, an apparent contradiction of the now iconic "hands up, don't shoot" posture adopted by protesters in Ferguson.

    The official county autopsy and the private autopsies conducted on behalf of the families do not disagree on the number or wounds or their location. For example, both reports say that a shot to the top of Brown's head was likely fatal, but witnesses do not agree on whether he charging toward Wilson or was already on his way to the ground when he was hit. (A second story published in the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday says Wilson claims Brown kept charging him.)

    This interpretation of the report seems to coincide with other reports about Wilson's statements to investigators and his testimony before the grand jury, which was recounted in The New York Times last Friday. The feeling among many observers of the case, including The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery, and The Root's Eric Guster, is that these recent leaks are meant to prime the public for an inevitable result: a grand jury investigation that ends with no charges being filed against Wilson.

    Police officers are generally given the right to respond with lethal force once they feel their life is in danger, and the Times added the federal officials think a civil rights charge against Wilson is also unlikely, given the high standards needed to file one. No matter the reason, the leaks are bound to raise tension in Ferguson once again, which continues to see protests more than 70 days since Brown's shooting.

     
    Massive UNC academic scandal for student-athletes

    Massive UNC academic scandal for student-athletes

    Wainstein probe implicates over 3,000 students in University of North Carolina academic scandal

    As a University of North Carolina “shadow curriculum” lasting almost 20 years neared its end in November 2009, two counselors who advise student-athletes on academics gave a presentation to the football coaching staff.

    In that presentation, detailed in a report released today after an eight-month investigation led by attorney and former Department of Justice official Kenneth Wainstein, a slide appeared on a screen, indicating what might change because of the retirement in 2009 of a sole secretary in a sole department.

    That secretary, the slide indicated, had used her wide leeway in the African and Afro-American Studies Curriculum to forge a scheme for students in general but for student-athletes in high percentages, which had enabled the students to shore up grade-point averages and, in some cases, maintain athletic eligibility.

    The slide noted that counselors from the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) had put athletes in “classes that met degree requirements in which:

    - They didn’t go to class

    - They didn’t take notes or have to stay awake

    - They didn’t have to meet with professors

    - They didn’t have to pay attention or necessarily engage with the material.”

    In closing, the slide warned in capital letters that because of the secretary’s retirement, “THESE NO LONGER EXIST,” indicating that an effective mechanism for keeping players academically eligible would subside. The North Carolina head football coach at the time, Butch Davis, denied in Wainstein’s report that he could remember the slide.

    The new report, the third backed by the University of North Carolina ever since a cloud of possible academic fraud started forming in 2011 and has continued largely through the reporting of the Raleigh News & Observer, addresses a scandal during which Davis was fired in summer 2011, former basketball star Rashad McCants told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” about a trail of “paper courses” that had not educated him and alleged that head coach Roy Williams had offered to help him “swap” one course for another, and 11 former basketball players and Williams publicly had rebutted McCants’ claims. North Carolina’s revered men’s basketball program won NCAA titles in 2005 (with McCants) and 2009.

    Read Article

     
    David Carr: Ben Bradlee’s Charmed, Charming Life

    Ben Bradlee’s Charmed, Charming Life

    Civilians, normal people who don’t think the toppling of a sitting American president with newspaper articles is one of humankind’s lasting achievements, will read encomiums to Ben Bradlee like this one and wonder: What’s the big deal?

    After all, he didn’t report the Watergate story for his Washington Post, he picked the reporters. He didn’t write the articles, he edited them. But journalists are people who will go where they are pointed, and Mr. Bradlee generally pointed to important, consequential things. People who worked for him would go through walls to bring back those stories, some of which revealed the true course of American history and some of which actually altered it.

    The newspaper business can be a grand endeavor, but most of the people who commit journalism would never be mistaken for larger than life. Journalists are bystanders who chronicle the exploits of people who actually do things.

    But Ben Bradlee did things. He went to war, loved early and often, befriended and took on presidents, swore like a sailor, and partied like a movie star. Now that he is gone — he died Tuesday at the age of 93 at his home in Georgetown — it is tough to imagine a newspaperman ever playing the kind of outsize role that he once did in Washington. Newspapers, and people’s regard for them, have shrunk since he ran The Post.

    He took over an also-ran newspaper and turned it into a battleship like the one on which he served in World War II. Once the newspaper he ran gained steam, there was only the relentless effort to beat the competition, to find and woo talent, to afflict those that The Post deemed worthy.

    In the more than quarter-century he helped lead the newsroom, from 1965 to 1991, he doubled its staff and circulation, and multiplied its ambitions. He would have been a terrible newspaperman in the current context — buyouts, reduced print schedules, timidity about offending advertisers — but he was a perfect one for his time.

    “I had a good seat,” he said to Alicia C. Shepard in a 1995 interview with The American Journalism Review. “I came along at the right time with the right job and I didn’t screw it up.”

    Mr. Bradlee had the attention span of a gnat — stories of him walking away from a conversation he ceased to find interesting were common — but he was completely hypnotized by the chase of a good story.

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

    By some estimations, including his own, his most enduring accomplishment had nothing to do with the Pentagon Papers or Watergate. After he became editor of the Post, he watched with envy as The New York Herald Tribune and magazines like Esquire and Playboy were using a different vocabulary, a so-called New Journalism, to expand the ways in which stories were told.

    In 1969, he conjured Style, a hip, cheeky section of the newspaper that reflected the tumult of the times in a city where fashion and discourse were rived with a maddening sameness. The effect on the business was profound, as if Chuck Berry had walked into a Glenn Miller show and started playing guitar. He expanded the vernacular of newspapering, enabling real, actual writers to shake off the shackles of the hack and generate daily discourse that made people laugh, spill their coffee or throw The Post down in disgust.

    He had nothing of the commoner about him, hosting and grilling much of the world’s elite at the Georgetown home he shared with Sally Quinn, a Post party reporter who became his third wife. But although he grew up in Boston, not even knowing anyone who was black, he managed to make a credible newspaper in a majority-black city. His efforts to cover the black community in deeper ways led to the returned Pulitzer Prize in the Janet Cooke affair, a big dent in a very shiny run.

    Mr. Bradlee could be almost cartoonishly ambitious. Asked by Katharine Graham, the Post’s publisher, about his interest in the top job at the paper, he immediately replied that he would “give his left one” for the opportunity. He probably would have gotten along fine on the remaining testosterone.

    A player of favorites and an admirer of bravado, he famously vetoed the hiring of a reporter who had already been vetted and all but hired, because “nothing clanks when he walks.”

    Ben Bradlee clanked when he walked.

     
    CDC enacts 21-day Ebola monitoring for all travelers from West Africa

    U.S. Coast Guard Health Technician Nathan Wallenmeyer (left) and Customs and Border Protection supervisor Sam Ko conduct prescreening measures on a passenger arriving from Sierra Leone at O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 5 in Chicago. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention said Wednesday that 21-day Ebola monitoring will now be required for all travelers from West Africa, including visitors and returning Americans.

    CDC enacts 21-day Ebola monitoring for all travelers from West Africa

     The Associated Press

    CDC Director Tom Frieden said the program will begin Monday in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia and cover visitors as well as aid workers, journalists and other Americans.

    U.S. health officials are significantly expanding the breath of vigilance for Ebola, saying that all travellers who come into America from Ebola-stricken West African nations will now be monitored for symptoms of illness for 21 days.

    The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the program will begin Monday and cover visitors as well as aid workers, journalists and other Americans returning from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.

    The program will start in six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia.

    CDC Director Tom Frieden says state and local health officials will check daily for fever or other Ebola symptoms.

    Passengers will get kits to help them track their temperature and will be told to inform health officials daily of their status.

     
    NYTIMES EDITORIAL BOARD: The Democratic Panic

    The Democratic Panic

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kay Hagan and Other Candidates Avoid Obama

    After a few days of trying to ignore the question, Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Georgia, acknowledged on Friday that she had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. By this year’s standards, that’s pretty forthright, especially compared with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat running for the Senate in Kentucky, who refuses to discuss her presidential vote.

    Only one Democratic Senate candidate this cycle has been willing to appear with the president on the stump: Gary Peters in Michigan. The others have spent months keeping their distance from Mr. Obama and some of his best policies. Even Ms. Nunn just started running a television ad complaining that an attack ad by her Republican opponent, David Perdue, featured a misleading photo of her and Mr. Obama. The photo was actually taken at an event honoring President George H.W. Bush, she said.

    The panicky Democratic flight away from President Obama — and from some of the party’s most important positions — is not a surprise. Mr. Obama remains highly unpopular among white voters, particularly in Southern states where candidates like Ms. Nunn, Ms. Grimes and several others are struggling to establish leads. But one of the reasons for his unpopularity is that nervous members of his own party have done a poor job of defending his policies over the nearly six years of his presidency, allowing a Republican narrative of failure to take hold.

    Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. Not a word of it is spoken on the campaign trail, where little credit is also given to the White House for months of promising economic news.

    Similarly, the Affordable Care Act, one of the most far-reaching and beneficial laws to have been passed by Congress in years, gets little respect even among the Democratic candidates who voted for it. Though none support the Republican position of repeal, most talk about the need to “fix” the health law, as if it were a wreck alongside the road rather than a vehicle providing millions of people with health coverage.

    “When I think about the health care law, frustrated, disappointed, you can put a lot of words toward it, but every day I work to try to fix it,” said Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, in a radio ad. (Mr. Begich voted for the law.) In a recent debate, Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat of North Carolina, talked mostly about the “common-sense fixes” she wants to make to the law.

    Several Democratic candidates, including Ms. Hagan, Ms. Nunn, and Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, quickly adopted the right-wing talking point that President Obama needs to impose a travel ban on all residents of African countries with Ebola cases, even though most public-health experts say such a ban would be ineffective and could make the situation worse.

    Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who has fought loudly against the president’s energy policies, has scurried so far to the right that she even opposes legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, though her leading Republican opponent supports it.

    Many of these candidates are running in difficult political environments and are being careful about what they say or don’t say in hopes of preserving Democratic control of the Senate. They run the risk, though, of alienating important constituencies who prefer a party with a spine, especially black voters, who remain very supportive of Mr. Obama. By not standing firmly for their own policies, Democrats send a message to voters that the unending Republican criticism of the president is legitimate. There is much that is going right in this country, and there is still time for Democrats to say so.

     
    How Monica Lewinsky Could Complicate Hillary Clinton’s Likely 2016 Bid

    How Monica Lewinsky Could Complicate Hillary Clinton’s Likely 2016 Bid

    By Peter Nicholas

    The ex-White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton nearly sank his presidency has emerged from seclusion and is tweeting, writing and delivering speeches. On Monday, she joined Twitter (@MonicaLewinsky) and put out her first 140-character message: “#HereWeGo.” A day later she had nearly 64,000 followers.

    So, there’s an audience for what Ms. Lewinsky has to say.

    Is this trouble for the Clintons? Could it complicate Hillary Clinton‘s likely presidential bid?

    Yes — though not for reasons you might think.

    It’s doubtful Ms. Lewinsky has salacious new stories to share about her dalliance with the ex-president in the mid-1990s. The Starr report covered that ground in unsparing detail.

    But there’s another consideration. Ms. Lewinsky’s reappearance is a reminder of a deeply polarizing period in American politics. And that does Mrs. Clinton no favors as she girds for a possible campaign.

    Polls already suggest Mrs. Clinton isn’t a unifying figure who can bridge the partisan divide that has bedeviled President Barack Obama.

    Since stepping down as secretary of state last year, her approval ratings have fallen steadily. The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that only 43% had a positive view of Mrs. Clinton, down 15 points from the end of her tenure at State. As of last month, only 14% of Republicans viewed her favorably compared with 72% of Democrats.

    Read Article

     
    Will Millennials Ever Become Homeowners?

    Will Millennials Ever Become Homeowners?

     By Gillian B. White

    Many cities and states are trying to entice first-time buyers—with mixed results.

    The rap on Millennials is familiar: They’re broke, underemployed, and living in their parents' basements. They’re stalling when it comes to marriage and kids, and they have a general disdain for tradition. With that narrative it’s hard to imagine that many of them have the desire, let alone the means, to leave the nest and purchase homes of their own.

    And it's partially true: Those in their late 20s and early 30s are definitely a bit behind earlier generations when it comes to shelling out for their first homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, among the under-35 crowd, who largely make up the first-time homebuyer market, homeownership is down to 36 percent from a high of 43 percent in 2005.  

    But that’s not exactly the whole story. “Younger buyers have expressed a desire to enter the market, and as they get married, get better jobs and begin to settle down and have children, they will,” says Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. More than ever, young Americans are taking their time and trying to gain their financial footing before putting down roots. And according to Humphries, that could create a new normal when it comes to home buying, pushing the average age of the first-time homebuyer from 31 to between 32 and 34 within the next few years.

    So what's causing the delay? It seems that a mix of generational preferences and economic circumstances is responsible. Across the nation renting is actually about 38 percent more expensive than purchasing a home, according to Trulia, a real-estate search-and-analysis site. Right now rates on mortgages are low. Very low. And though home values are rising, properties in many places across the country have yet to return to their pre-recession prices. That means that the cost of buying in many areas is relatively affordable, which is especially important for first time buyers who won’t have the proceeds from property sales to finance their purchase.

     
    Dark Money and Our Looming Oligarchy

    Dark Money and Our Looming Oligarchy

    By Michael Tomasky

    Hundreds of millions of untraceable donations are flowing to candidates, and at some point soon untraceable ‘dark money’ will likely overtake the system.

    There is something obscene in looking at the raw numbers, is there not? More than $500 million being spent on House races, and north of $300 million on Senate contests. A half-billion dollars! In the House! Where, as of yesterday, the Cook Political Report was counting a mere 17 contests as toss-ups, with 19 others as vaguely competitive. [This paragraph originally said $300 billion, which was incorrect.]

    But the gross (double entendre intended) amounts aren’t the money story of this campaign. The money story of this campaign is that undisclosed money is starting to overtake the system and overtake our politics, and that at the heart of this corruption sits a lie peddled to us by the Supreme Court when it handed down the Citizens United decision. Whether it did so naively or cynically, I honestly do not know. But let’s just say that if it was naïve, it was almost too naïve to believe, Steve.

    Here’s the situation. Outside spending—that is, the spending not by candidates’ own committees—may possibly surpass total candidate spending, at least in the competitive races, for the first time. And of that outside spending, an increasing amount is the category they call “dark” money, which is money whose sources and donors don’t have to be disclosed. I mean, don’t have to be disclosed. At all. That’s because these aren’t SuperPACs, which at least do have to disclose their donor lists, but are 501c4 “social welfare” (!) groups that don’t have to file anything with the Federal Elections Commission.

    You’ve heard a lot about how bad SuperPACs are, and they are, but they’re not even the main problem these days. Most SuperPAC money has to be disclosed. But social welfare money does not. This recent study by the Brennan Center tells the tale. It totaled up the outside money being spent in the nine most competitive Senate races and found that 33 percent of these outside dollars weren’t subject to disclosure requirements. This includes the aforementioned social welfare organizations along with trade associations, the 501c6’s, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is one of 2014’s biggest spenders, possibly spending more this cycle than it did even in the presidential year of 2012.

    A further 23 percent is subject only to partial disclosure. So more than half of this outside money is now spread around behind either partial or total secrecy. That percentage is assuredly going to grow. Almost all of the Koch Brothers’ money—they earlier announced a goal of spending $300 million on these elections, just $100 million less than they spent in the presidential year of 2012—is dark, and if they succeed, others will surely follow their example.

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    Why Voters Are So Totally Checked Out

    Why Voters Are So Totally Checked Out

    So much for polls: “Walmart moms” in two states with hard-fought Senate elections say they’ll make up their minds the night before Election Day.

    Senate races remain stubbornly tight in key states with a number of voters unable to make up their minds at least in ways that pollsters can measure. But two all-female focus groups in North Carolina and Louisiana offered clues about what voters are thinking far away from the D.C. bubble.

    The women gathered around a table Monday night in Charlotte and in New Orleans are registered voters, but this election they’ve pretty much tuned out politics. It’s just too depressing when all the candidates do is bash each other. And world affairs are no comfort either, with Ebola surfacing as the latest scary thing.  

    Better to put on blinders, they say, and focus on home and family.

    The fact that Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana are women doesn’t much impress these voters, dubbed Walmart Moms for their shopping habits and having at least one child under 18 at home. When asked whether they would vote for Hagan or her challenger, Republican Thom Tillis, they resisted siding with either candidate. Asked if Hagan deserves reelection, not a single hand went up -- which is the same thing that happened when asked if she didn’t deserve reelection.

    “All those ads and you don’t know one way or another?” the moderator pressed. Many millions have been spent on television ads in North Carolina, as groups on the right and left try to sway the electorate. 

    When would they decide? “When it gets closer to the time,” one woman said. How would they decide? “Google it,” said another. When? “Probably the night before.”

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    Operation Moonlight: “no legal or procedural justification”

    Watchdog: 'No justification' for Operation Moonlight

    By Susan Crabtree

    An internal watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that the Secret Service erred in diverting members of a special White House unit to protect the assistant of the agency’s director at her home in La Plata, Md.

    DHS Inspector General John Roth led an investigation into the agents' diversion, an assignment known within the Secret Service as Operation Moonlight, and found “no legal or procedural justification” for it and said the diversion amounted to a “serious lapse in judgment” on the part of top agency officials who ordered it.

    An unnamed top official at the Secret Service ordered the members of the Secret Service’s Prowler unit, which is responsible for patrolling the White House perimeter, to leave their posts and travel to the southern Maryland town, a 50-minute drive from Washington.

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    Nation’s Confidence Ebbs at a Steady Drip

    Nation’s Confidence Ebbs at a Steady Drip

    In taking office during two overseas wars and the Great Recession, President Obama set out to restore society’s frayed faith in its public institutions, saying that the question was not whether government was too big or small, “but whether it works.” Six years later, Americans seem more dubious than ever that it really does.

    With every passing week or month, it seems, some government agency or another has had a misstep or has been caught up in scandals that have deeply eroded public confidence. The Internal Revenue Service targets political groups, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by children illegally crossing the Rio Grande, the Department of Veterans Affairs covers up poor service, and the Secret Service fails to guard the president and his White House.

    Now public esteem for the long-respected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has plummeted with the arrival of Ebola on American shores. A new CBS News poll found that only 37 percent of Americans thought the centers were doing a good job, down from 60 percent last year. In fact, of nine agencies tested, seven that were judged highly by a majority of Americans last year have now fallen below 50 percent. Only one, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was rated well by a majority, and that by just 51 percent.

    The disenchantment stretches beyond individual agencies to the nation’s leadership. Heading into the last election that will directly influence his presidency, Mr. Obama remains at or near his lowest approval ratings, with his handling of various matters called into question by many voters. The only solace for him is that Congress, gripped by gridlock, is held in even lower regard, with its approval rating in single digits.

    “As Bill Clinton used to say, most Americans start out thinking the federal government couldn’t run a two-car funeral,” said Bruce Reed, who was a top White House official under Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama. “Now they worry that one of the two cars should have been recalled and the other can’t go anywhere because Congress is still fighting over whether to fix the road.”

    To be sure, it remains debatable whether government really is more dysfunctional than in the past. During war and depression, during the civil rights movement or the Watergate scandal or Hurricane Katrina, institutions struggled to meet public needs. But today’s disillusionment has been turbocharged by the relentless pace of the modern news media, the unforgiving glare of social media and the calculating efforts of partisans.

    And it has come to shape the national debate leading to the midterm congressional elections to be held in less than two weeks. Republicans are trying to capitalize on the sour mood to argue that Mr. Obama and his party have proved that they cannot be trusted to govern, a case bolstered by continuing foreign policy crises in places like Syria and Ukraine. Democrats accuse the opposition of mindless obstructionism, deliberately sabotaging government, or at least tearing down belief in it, out of ideological fervor and political ambition.

    “There’s a sense that things simply don’t work in Washington, and Congress, in particular, seems to be completely gridlocked,” Mr. Obama told donors in Chicago on Monday night. “And so all of this adds together to a sense on the part of folks that the institutions they rely on to apply common-sense decisions and to look out for working families across the country, that those institutions aren’t working the way they’re supposed to.”

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    Ebola Fears Could Make People More Likely to Vote Conservative

    Ebola Fears Could Make People More Likely to Vote Conservative

    By Alice Robb

    Nearly half of Americans admitted to pollsters that they believe they are “at risk” of contracting Ebola. The effects of the virus go beyond our collective psyche. According to The New Republic’s Brian Beutler, Republicans are gearing up to capitalize on voters’ fear of a massive Ebola outbreak in upcoming elections. And Republicans might benefit from the Ebola panic for another, more existential reason: A growing body of literature in psychology suggests that feelings of fear make people’s political outlook more conservative. 

    Over the past few years, a number of experiments have begun to shed light on the relationship between emotion and political inclinations. “There’s empirical research that suggests that when people are primed with images of mortality — graveyards, hospitals, the elderly — this can move them to the right,” said John Hibbing, who directs the political physiology lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Some studies suggest that people who are already conservative may be extra-sensitive to these images.

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    Does Fear Keep Us Safe?

    Does Fear Keep Us Safe?

    By Captain Tom Bunn, L.C.S.W.

    Xenophobia is not just a phobia. It has grown to become a religion subscribed to by about half of us. To determine what makes us safe, we need to separate what makes sense from what is sheer phobia.

    In the U.S. xenophobia is not just a phobia. It has grown to become a religion subscribed to by about half of us. Its anxiety-ridden adherents believe more - not less - fear is needed to ensure our safety. The more afraid people become, the more likely we are to make ourselves safe by closing our borders, arming ourselves, restricting voting, shrinking the government, and sending someone else's kid abroad to kill those we are afraid of.

     
    Renee Zellweger Has A New Face

    Renee Zellweger Has A New Face

    In defense of Renee Zellweger: 22 thoughts about a startling new face

    4. The shock that greeted a 45-year-old Oscar winner’s makeover indicated that our society has grave concerns about chasing a youthful look — likely through cosmetic surgery. The data suggests otherwise. Americans had more than 11 million cosmetic procedures in 2013, according to stats from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery — 12 percent more than in 2012, and six times more than in 1997. Let’s just hazard a guess that the number of per capita “procedures” is somewhat higher in Los Angeles than in the U.S. as a whole

    Renee Zellweger in 2003 (Kim D. Johnson/AP)

    8. But Frances McDormand is talking about it.  “Something happened culturally,” the proudly wrinkled actress, 57, recently raged to the New York Times. “No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face. . . [My husband] literally has to stop me physically from saying something to people — to friends who’ve had work. I’m so full of fear and rage about what they’ve done.”

    Read Article

     
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