The meme is what Matthew Yglesias, writing in 2006, referred to as “the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics,” and has been refined by Greg Sargent and Brendan Nyhan into the Green Lantern Theory of the presidency. In a nutshell, it attributes heroic powers to a president—if only he would use them. And the holders of this theory have turned it into the meme that if only Obama used his power of persuasion, he could have the kind of success that LBJ enjoyed with the Great Society, that Bill Clinton enjoyed in his alliance with Newt Gingrich that gave us welfare reform and fiscal success, that Ronald Reagan had with Dan Rostenkowski and Bill Bradley to get tax reform, and so on.
If only Obama had dealt with Congress the way LBJ did—persuading, cajoling, threatening, and sweet-talking members to attain his goals—his presidency would not be on the ropes and he would be a hero. If only Obama would schmooze with lawmakers the way Bill Clinton did, he would have much greater success. If only Obama would work with Republicans and not try to steamroll them, he could be a hero and have a fiscal deal that would solve the long-term debt problem.
If only the proponents of this theory would step back and look at the realities of all these presidencies (or would read or reread the Richard Neustadt classic, Presidential Power.)
I do understand the sentiment here and the frustration over the deep dysfunction that has taken over our politics. It is tempting to believe that a president could overcome the tribalism, polarization, and challenges of the permanent campaign, by doing what other presidents did to overcome their challenges. It is not as if passing legislation and making policy was easy in the old days.
Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action affects more than college admissions, and more than just Michigan. Seven other states have similarly broad bans in their constitutions or statute books, and opponents of affirmative action have called on other states, and the federal government, to follow suit.
In a 6-2 decision marked by divisions among the justices (three concurrences in addition to Justice Kennedy’s plurality opinion, which only two other justices joined), the Court was careful to stress that it wasn’t ruling on “the constitutionality, or the merits, of race-conscious admissions policies in higher education.” Rather, the key question was “whether, and in what manner, voters in the States may choose to prohibit the consideration of racial preferences in governmental decisions…”
Affirmative action, in the sense of active measures to improve work or educational opportunities for members of historically disadvantaged groups, is an outgrowth of the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. In 1965, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which (as amended) requires federal contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment.” Over the following years, affirmative-action programs became common at the state and local levels as well, including at colleges and universities.
Another big thank you to MBARI
for their amazing deep sea footage
Feeding Red Octopus :: mbari.org
White Octopus In Jar :: Getty Images
Octopus rubescens and spot prawns :: mbari.org
Why We’re Suckers for the Giant Pacific Octopus :: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Curt Clawson, a businessman who was little known months ago in Southwest Florida, won a contentious GOP primary Tuesday to fill the U.S. House seat left open by the scandalous downfall of Trey Radel.
Clawson pitched himself as an outsider against more established candidates and was embraced by the tea party. He poured more than $2 million into television ads. In one, the former Purdue basketball player challenged President Barack Obama to a three-point contest.
Researchers have identified a new genus of bat after discovering a rare specimen in South Sudan. With wildlife personnel under the South Sudanese Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, Bucknell Associate Professor of Biology DeeAnn Reeder and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) Programme Officer Adrian Garside were leading a team conducting field research and pursuing conservation efforts when Reeder spotted the animal in Bangangai Game Reserve.
“My attention was immediately drawn to the bat’s strikingly beautiful and distinct pattern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extraordinary animal, one that I had never seen before,” recalled Reeder. “I knew the second I saw it that it was the find of a lifetime.”
FFI is using its extensive experience of working in conflict and post-conflict countries to assist the South Sudanese government as it re-establishes the country’s wildlife conservation sector and is also helping to rehabilitate selected protected areas through training and development of park staff and wildlife service personnel, road and infrastructure development, equipment provision, and supporting research work such as this.
Read the rest here: Striped Like a Badger - New Genus of Bat Identified in South Sudan
The women’s final is in the water now and the men’s quarterfinals begin after a champion is crowned. Bells beach is delivering the goods today with clean conditions for the world’s best to show off their skill.
A Kansas man charged with first-degree murder is afraid the tattooed mirror-image letters spelling out the word “murder” across his neck might prejudice a jury, so he is asking for a professional tattoo artist to remove or cover it up.
Prosecutors say they aren’t opposed to Jeffrey Chapman covering his tattoo, but Barton County’s sheriff says he’s against transporting Chapman to a licensed tattoo facility — the only places tattoo artists are allowed to practice under Kansas law.
I know there are many others out there who, like myself, often find the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too foreign, too complicated, too politically & emotionally charged to grasp in any meaningful way, and have therefore given up trying. This is for them.
I have no doubt that there are those who vehemently disagree with Mr. Oz’s point of view, however he’s not someone who can be dismissed as a self-hating Jew or some sort of far-left barking moonbat—he is very obviously neither. Here’s his Wiki page if you want to know more about him. You can also simply Google his name and find a ton of stuff (bio, interviews, essays, etc.)
Anyway, in this talk in Melbourne in 2011 he covers much (though not all) of the ground that’s in his book, How to Cure a Fanatic, which I read over this past weekend. He also covers some topics that weren’t in it. He said so many things that touched me, that made me laugh or cry, that I can’t even begin to cover them all (I especially enjoyed his description of who/how Israelis are).
The most important thing though, at least to me, is that he never fails to see people, never tries to deny them their dignity, their basic humanity. He doesn’t attempt to divide things in a ridiculously simplistic manner—e.g. these people are the good guys and those people are the bad guys, or this is a struggle between right and wrong. No, he says, this is a struggle between right and right.
He is honest, he’s fair, he’s rational, and he’s practical. Every one of his words that I’ve read or listened to so far have rung true.
From now on, if anyone asks about my stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’ll answer by borrowing from his words at the end of the essay “Between Right and Right” regarding a two-state compromise being the only viable solution to what is, in essence, a property dispute (emphasis mine):
This is going to hurt like hell. So, if you have an ounce of sympathy to offer, now is the time to extend it to the two patients. You no longer have to choose between being pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. You have to be pro-peace.
I will be pro-peace. Thank you for the clarity, Mr. Oz.
Though dinosaur-killing impacts are rare, large asteroids routinely hit the Earth. In the visualization above, you can see the location of 26 space rocks that slammed into our planet between 2000 and 2013, each releasing energy equivalent to that of our most powerful nuclear weapons.
The video comes from the B612 Foundation, an organization that wants to build and launch a telescope that would spot civilization-ending asteroids to give humans a heads up in trying to deflect them. To figure out where asteroids were hitting our planet, B612 used data from a worldwide network of instruments that detect infrasound, low-frequency sound waves traveling through the atmosphere. Such measurements have been used since the 1950s to detect nuclear bomb explosions and can also pick up the tremendous burst of a bolide tearing through our atmosphere.
The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which operates the network, recently released the location of these asteroid strikes, which gives scientists another datapoint in understanding the frequency with which these events happen. In recent years, there has been a growing consensus that the Earth gets hit by enormous space rocks more often than we previously thought. The 26 strikes in the video above were each between 1 kiloton and 1.6 megatons. For comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima exploded with an energy of 16 kilotons, and the U.S.’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the B83 bomb, has a yield of up to 1.2 megatons. Of course, comparing asteroids to nuclear bombs is a bit misleading; asteroids generate a moving shockwave that can cause far more destruction than the rock itself.
Just to dial back your ever-increasing sense of anxiety here-asteroid impacts are almost always harmless. A Hiroshima-scale asteroid explosion happens in our atmosphere on average once a year and yet we’re all still here. Moreover, asteroids can’t aim themselves at populated centers. Most of the Earth’s surface is water and even a large percentage of land is fairly uninhabited by humans. Though B612′s Ed Lu mentions in the video that only “blind luck” is preventing a catastrophic city-size space rock from killing us, keep in mind that blind luck has actually been serving us fairly well so far.
Funny or die. As Fenton told grist.org, the environmental movement doesn’t use popular culture effectively. An experiment designed to prove him wrong is the new Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously,” whose creators decided it was high time that professionally trained environmental journalists stopped taking “correspondent” jobs away from hard-working celebrities like Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The series is winning praise from environmentalists but may be preaching to the choir; a 2012 study suggests that both Showtime and HBO have audiences already polarized toward polar bears. And if you think the characters on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” sound serious when they warn that “winter is coming,” just flip the channel and listen to Han Solo and the Terminator discussing climate change.
So how can celebrities, journalists, researchers, and others talk about climate change without being so blanking earnest? Here is what we have come to: kittens. Seriously.