Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

Five Fiscal Cliff Scenarios
Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman, Politico | Five Fiscal Cliff Scenarios | November 12, 2012

President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders are finally prepared to open negotiations this week on the fiscal cliff — an all-important legislative riddle with no easy answers.

Democrats want to increase tax rates; Republicans say no way. Republicans seek major changes to entitlement programs; Democrats are divided. Republicans want to nullify a package of automatic spending cuts; Democrats won’t go for it without major concessions.

The policy differences are endless, but the scenarios for how it could play out are fairly limited. Here are five ways Congress may navigate the labyrinth...

How Big Pork Screws Small Towns
Tom Philpott, Mother Jones | How Big Pork Screws Small Towns | November 12, 2012

I've argued often that the food system functions like an economic sieve, draining away wealth. Imagine, say, a suburb served by a handful of fast-food chains plus a supermarket or Walmart or two. Profits from residents' food dollars go to distant shareholders; what's left behind are essentially low-skill, low-wage clerical jobs and mountains of generally low-quality, health-ruining food.

But the food system's secret scandal is that it's economically extractive in farming communities areas, too—and especially in the places where industrial agriculture is most established and intensive...

Dronestagram -- The Website Exposing The U.S.'s Secret Drone War
Nick Hopkins, The Guardian | Dronestagram -- The Website Exposing The U.S.'s Secret Drone War | November 12, 2012

A new website shows the sites hit in US drone attacks -- adding to the pressure for greater transparency from Washington.

The military is normally only too pleased to herald its successes, and to praise the courage of the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country. Perhaps it is the link (or lack of it) between these two that encourages them to talk-up certain missions, and come over all sheepish when it comes to drones...

Inside Orca: How The Romney Campaign Suppressed Its Own Vote
Joel B. Pollak, Breitbart | Inside Orca: How The Romney Campaign Suppressed Its Own Vote | November 9, 2012

As Republicans try to explain their Election Day losses in terms of policy, tactics, and strategy, one factor is emerging as the essential difference between the Obama and Romney campaigns on November 6: the absolute failure of Romney's get-out-the-vote effort, which underperformed even John McCain's lackluster 2008 turnout. One culprit appears to be "Orca," the Romney campaign's massive technology effort, which failed completely.

A source within the Romney campaign agreed to share his reflections on Project Orca with Breitbart News...

Charles Darwin Gets 4,000 Write-In Votes In Georgia House Election

Remember Rep. Paul Broun, the Georgia Republican whose speech decrying evolution and the Big Bang Theory (the science, not the hit TV show) as lies "from the pit of hell"?

At least a few Georgia voters did: at least 4,000 of them wrote in "Charles Darwin" rather than Broun on their ballots Tuesday...

The Man We Never Saw
William Saletan, Slate | The Man We Never Saw | November 8, 2012

A five-minute video of Mitt Romney losing his temper has lit up the Internet. The clip, excerpted from an off-air conversation with an Iowa radio host in 2007, has been viewed nearly 2 million times since it was posted a few days ago. Democrats think it exposes Romney as an anti-choice Mormon fanatic. They’re completely wrong. It’s the best five minutes of Romney I’ve ever seen. It’s Romney without the pandering and the phony smile. It’s a man defending his church and his integrity with conviction, nuance, and even an ironic edge. If this is the real Romney, the tragedy of this election is that he didn’t run as himself...

Rove's On-Air Rebuttal of Fox's Ohio Vote Call Raises Questions About His Role
Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times | Rove's On-Air Rebuttal Of Fox's Ohio Vote Call Raises Questions About His Role | November 8, 2012

It was 11:13 p.m. on Tuesday, the moment that Fox News had called Ohio for President Obama. Karl Rove stood just off camera, his phone glued to his ear. On the other end was a senior Romney campaign official who insisted that the network had blown the call.

What followed — an extraordinary on-air confrontation between Mr. Rove, a Fox commentator, and the network’s team of voting analysts — drew renewed focus on the Republican operative’s complicated and conflicting roles in this presidential campaign.

What role was Karl Rove playing when he heatedly contradicted Fox News?...

Critic's Notebook: Obama Photo Is A Snapshot Of A Modern, Equal Marriage
Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post | Snapshot Of A Modern, Equal Marriage | November 8, 2012

Who is embracing whom in that photograph of the Obamas that went viral on election night? The photograph, shot from below and isolating the first couple against a cloudy sky, shows the president embracing his wife at a campaign rally in August. The first lady is seen from behind, enclosed in the arms of the president, whose eyes are closed. Sent from the president’s Twitter account Tuesday night shortly after news networks declared him the winner, the photograph was immediately retweeted hundreds of thousands of times, making it the most popular image in Twitter history and propelling it to instant love across a host of social-networking programs...

Romney Lost Because Of My Dad
Grizzard, Daily Kos | Romney Lost Because Of My Dad | November 8, 2012

No, my dad is not Barack Obama, David Plouffe, or even the guy who filmed the 47% video.

But Romney lost because of my dad and voters like him. Today, I have read the predictable Republican tripe about Obama winning because his voting coalition wanted "free stuff." Predictably, these racially driven rants overestimate the number of minority voters in the country and assign prejudicial, nefarious motives to those mythical voters.

What Republicans don't understand is that they lost this election not because black people, or women, or Latinos, or young people or intellectuals decided to vote for Obama. They lost this election because their policies have now gotten too extreme for people like my dad...

Southfield Twp. Voter Appears To Die, Then Asks 'Did I Vote?'
Tom Greenwood and Rod Beard, The Detroit News | Southfield Twp. Voter Appears To Die, Then Asks 'Did I Vote?' | November 7, 2012

Ty Houston, 48, a home care registered nurse, was toiling on his absentee ballot Monday afternoon when things got strange at township offices on 13 Mile.

"I was filling out the form as were an elderly couple sitting at a nearby table," said Houston on Tuesday. "His wife, who was helping him fill out the ballot, asked him a couple of questions but he didn't respond. She screamed for help and I went over to see what I could do."

Houston laid the victim on the floor and went to work.

"He was dead," Houston said...