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.

Once Again, Barack Obama vs. John McCain
Reid J. Epstein, Politico | Once Again, Barack Obama vs. John McCain | November 15, 2012

President Barack Obama just finished his second presidential campaign — but he’s not finished lashing out at his opponent from his first.

Obama’s irritation at his 2008 rival, Arizona Sen. John McCain, flared Wednesday during the president’s first news conference since winning reelection. It was a startling moment in an otherwise unremarkable appearance — and hinted at lingering tensions with McCain.

At the heart of Obama’s outburst are Republican claims that United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice covered up the genesis of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans. Rice has become the symbol of Republican anger over the administration’s handling of the incident — at a particularly uncomfortable moment for both Obama and Rice, who is in contention to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state...

The Millions Of Reasons Nancy Pelosi Decided To Stay
Melinda Henneberger, The Washington Post | The Millions Of Reasons Nancy Pelosi Decided To Stay | November 15, 2012

One of the first questions Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi took from reporters after announcing her intention to stay on in that job was whether, at age 72, it wasn’t time for her to step aside and make room for younger leaders.

She smiled at the questioner, Luke Russert, as the female lawmakers on stage with her grumbled and booed. “You’ve always asked that question,” she said, “except of Mitch McConnell,” the Republican Senate Minority Leader, who is 70. “Discrimination!” called New York’s Carolyn Maloney. “Discrimination! Age discrimination!”

“Let’s for a moment,” Pelosi told Russert, treat the question as worthy of consideration. “Although it’s quite offensive,” she added, extra sweetly. “But you don’t realize it, I guess. Everything that I have done in my almost decade now of leadership is to elect younger and newer people to the Congress…It was very important for me to elect young women” — especially as she herself didn’t even enter the political arena until the youngest of her five children was almost ready for college. And shouldn’t he maybe spot her the 14 years she spent as a stay-at-home mom?...

And, Voila, Something That Will Finally Stop Your Crazy Uncle From Sending You More Cracked Forwards

As you have probably heard by now, word has it that our radical Muslim president is doing all sorts of terrible things to our country! He's gotten rid of our National Christmas Tree, abolished the National Day of Prayer, and put the family's dog, Bo, on his own airplane all to himself.

No? Then you must not have some distant (or close!) relation who loves to forward, forward, forward, all the live-long day. But for the rest of us, whose inboxes' factual sanctity is under constant assault, there's LazyTruth, a new tool from Matt Stempeck and his team at MIT's Media Lab...

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?...