Democrats Are Sending Out Deranged Fundraising Emails Again

Paul Begala

Democratic fundraising emails during the midterms elections exhibited disturbingly high levels of derangement. Apparently, old habits die hard. Democratic strategist Paul Begala latest fundraising email for the Democratic House Majority PAC proudly continues this tradition, but with a twist.

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In Praise of the Elite Cinematic Experience

What I look like when I watch a movie

Going to the movies is, generally, terrible.

This is a sad but undeniable fact. Audiences are awful: They talk, they use their cell phones, they kick chairs and step on feet and yell at the screen. They stink. I mean, they literally smell bad. I don’t know if hygiene standards are diminishing in this country or what, but they occasionally give off a rather rank odor.

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Important Data Journalism: Action Franchises, Ranked

Something has gone horribly wrong in this post

Jonathan V. Last—one of my favorite people and the editor of the truly fantastic essay collection, The Seven Deadly Virtuessuggested the other day that the Mission: Impossible franchise is, pound for pound, the best franchise ever. EVER. He doubled down on that assertion the next day, suggesting that the breadth of styles within the MI film series, combined with the fact that it had no Crystal Skull-style embarrassments, should lead us to rank it highly.

This did not seem accurate to me. So I decided to engage in some data journalism! What does The Science tell us about which franchise is best?

A few thoughts, first:

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Putin’s Way of War

Vladimir Putin

For some time now, it has been acceptable to argue in polite company that a conflict between major powers is unlikely. Terrorism, state collapse, and ungoverned regions—all combined with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—constitute, in this consensus, the clearest and most present dangers to the security of America and the liberal world order.

How would a major power, theoretically led by rational actors, actually hope to achieve anything by military aggression against a peer, given that a major war is very likely to wreck the global economy, not to mention the devastating possibility than such a conflict could quickly escalate to involve WMDs? As noted military theorist Lt. Commander Ron Hunter once put the matter, “In the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.”

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What Really Upsets This Administration: Sharing Intel with Congress


I’m fascinated by this Wall Street Journal story, headlined “Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.” Seems that the administration wasn’t too terribly upset about the fact that Israel was spying on the talks. And, frankly, there’s not too much reason to be. Allies spy on each other all the time. Remember when we spied on Germany? We’re probably still spying on Germany right now. It’s not like we’re, say, kidnapping German officials and shoving their broken bodies into suitcases for disposal, The Americans-style. SigInt and pilfering info from third parties is not only routine, it’s more or less expected. It’s all in the game.* And, frankly, Israel has more at stake if Iran develops a nuclear weapon than we do. It’s not terribly shocking to me that they’d want actual intel as opposed to whatever lies Kerry and Co. deign to pass along.

Anyhoo, no one is very angry that Israel is listening in on the talks. No. What angers the administration is that one of our allies spied on the talks and then passed that intel along to United States congressmen. From the Journal:

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I Am Not A Fan of This Ted Cruz for President Thing

Locking up the liberal base. (AP)

I don’t always read the news, but when I do, I prefer to read about things that are, you know, actually new. That’s why I was frustrated to read this morning about a 40-something Harvard grad, barely a third of the way through his first term as U.S. Senator, announcing a White House bid in front of a crowd of screaming millennials. Stop me if this sounds familiar. I had to double-check the year on my calendar to make sure I wasn’t having another flashback or malaria-induced fever dream.

I’ve never been a fan of Ted Cruz. His so-called “conservatism” has always struck me as phonier than Barack Obama’s so-called “birth certificate.” I thought his coloring book was a heaping pile of left-wing propaganda aimed at our nation’s youth, and don’t get me started on his perverse obsession with Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan.

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This ThinkProgress Hit Piece on Ted Cruz Is Incredibly Lame

Ted Cruz-Known women hater.

It didn’t take long after Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign announcement in Virginia for the first truly laughable attempt at a hit piece on him to be published.*

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Donors Explain the Most Direct Ways to ‘Cultivate Favor’ with the Clintons


Last month, we looked at nine fun ways to buy access to the Clintons. Now, thanks to some chatty Clinton supporters, we are beginning to learn more about which of these ways is most effective.

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Ivo Shandor Was Right

Ivo Shandor


So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. … Student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.

In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas,” March 21, 2015. The New York Times.

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Welcome to Haiti (aka Clintopia)


The Washington Post has some good reporting on the Clinton Foundation’s extensive activity in the impoverished country of Haiti. These efforts, it turns out, have been met with considerable skepticism by locals:

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Everything’s A Problem

Horatio Sanz, speaking truth to power (AP)

Another week of extremely problematic events is in the books. Highlights include Salon’s takedown of noted terrible person John Podhoretz and XO Jane’s critique of the remarkably sexist new video from Meghan Trainor. As always, dial up to see what the latest outrages are.

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Minimum Wage Hikes Are Not Particularly Good at Alleviating Poverty

Wait, if Jabari Bird got paid minimum wage by McDonald's, would that violate NCAA rules? (AP)

I’ve probably written about this before, but bear with me for a moment while I repeat myself: Despite claims to the contrary by President Obama and others, increases to the minimum wage are not particularly good at alleviating poverty. Here’s Obama:

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On the Outrage-o-Sphere

mob pitchforks

It is worth noting, briefly, that the outrage brigades do not exist solely on the left. Yes, they’re more vocal. Yes, they’re more easily riled. Yes, they seem to have an unending stream of things to be aggrieved about. But they’re not alone.

Consider the treatment of Liz Mair, who was recently hired by the Scott Walker campaign to provide some online outreach. (Full disclosure: I’ve met Liz a couple of times and I believe we are Facebook friends, though we do not follow each other on Twitter and I have yet to have her out to my villa in the Italian countryside.*) Turns out that Liz is a bit of a squish on immigration and the dread social issues. But, more damningly, she thinks it’s foolish to have the Iowa caucuses serve as the first event on the presidential primary calendar. And people in Iowa aren’t happy about this because people in Iowa love it that politicians have to suck up to them and their asinine policy preferences.

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Terrorist Commander of ISIS Looks Like a Shawarma Kebab

Abu Mohammed Twitter

Abu Wahib, the unibrow-sporting commander of ISIS, is being ridiculed by his opponents for his keen resemblance to a shawarma kebab being cooked on a rotating spit.

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Task Force Violent

Afghan officials inspect the wreckage of suicide bomber's car that targeted Marines in Bati Kot, March 4, 2007 / AP

There is no journalist covering the military I’d rather be reading right now than Andrew deGrandpre. In a five-part series being published this month at Military Times, deGrandpre is re-reporting the story of the infamous “Task Force Violent.” That was the nickname the members of the Marine Corps’ first special operations company to deploy overseas (to Afghanistan, in 2007) gave themselves. The deployment ended with the unit being accused of war crimes, brought home early from Afghanistan, and subjected to an official Court of Inquiry.

Anyone who was reading the Military Times in 2008 remembers this unit, because story after lurid story (“MELTDOWN AT ‘TASK FORCE VIOLENCE’: Uncovered—the hidden story of the MarSOC Marines who shamed the Corps” was characteristic) painted them as a trigger-happy band of cowboys who overreacted to an ambush and negligently killed Afghan civilian bystanders. The sources for these stories were often members of the unit’s own special operations chain of command in Afghanistan, speaking on background to Military Times reporters. At a time of peak counterinsurgency theory enthusiasm in the military, these disgraced Marines were held up as Exhibit A in a demonstration of How Not to Fight a War.

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