Dog Elected Mayor Of Cormorant, Minnesota — Again

Duke may be the most popular politician in America, winning re-election for a landmark third time in a landslide. 

What’s his secret? Probably the fact that he’s a dog, and everyone loves dogs. 

In a vote held over the weekend, the 9-year-old Great Pyrenees won his third consecutive term as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota. Voters paid $ 1 each to cast ballots in the election, which was held during the annual “Cormorant Daze” festival. 

Everybody voted for Duke, except for one vote for his girlfriend, Lassie,” David Rick, Duke’s owner, told local ABC station WDAY. 

As mayor, Duke appears on three highway billboards promoting the community.

While Duke’s role is somewhat unusual, he’s not the first animal to be elected to office in the U.S. Roadtrippers has a fascinating look at some of the nation’s non-human mayors, including two other dogs, a cat, a cow and a beer-drinking goat named Mayor Clay Henry III.  

 

(h/t Mashable)

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Unhappy at Work in Your 20s, Unhealthy in Your 40s?

How young adults feel about their careers might affect them physically, mentally by middle-age, study finds
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What No One Told Me About Following My Passion

Like much of my generation in America, I don’t have to worry about where my next meal will come from. I don’t have to worry about how I’ll get to work. I don’t have to worry about a safe, dry place to sleep.

So I worry about something else, with which much less of the world has the luxury of preoccupation: purpose. Some spend their days searching for food; I spend my life hunting meaning–full, but unsatisfied.

Most millennials’ basic needs have been met–a prerequisite for fulfilling our greatest potential. If we don’t make our lives meaningful, we will have dishonored and squandered our opportunity. Perhaps this responsibility explains our fixation with purpose.

We know what we want. The question is: how do we find it?

Hoping that international travel and novel experiences would infuse my life with meaning, I moved to Canada when I graduated college. There I learned, as I conclude in my essay The Myth of Wanderlust, “you can’t drive to purpose.”

So I returned home and pursued my lifelong passion of writing. For the last two years, I’ve followed a self-authored, step-by-step plan to successfully discovering, integrating and making money from my passions. A marketing position, an editing role and six months of self-employment later, I realized you can’t write to purpose, either.

Passion, I’ve learned, does not equal purpose.

Why?

Here’s a synopsis of the 8000 words I initially spewed on this question:

Passion, the way many millennials have come to define it, is self-oriented. Passion is “a strong inclination toward a self-defining activity that one loves, values, and in which one invests a substantial amount of time and energy,” explains one study published in Self and Identity.

Purpose, on the other hand, is other-oriented. One Stanford study found that individuals with meaning mindsets “seek connections, give to others, and orient themselves to a larger purpose.”

Modern passion is pleasure-oriented. One influential study on passion defines it as “an autonomous internalization that leads individuals to choose to engage in the activity that they like.” In other words, passion’s answer to “Why are you doing this?” is “Because I like it.”

But meaningfulness, sums the Stanford study, sometimes involves “feeling bad”.

Passion is short-term. Though we tend to assume it’s lifelong, passion changes more than we anticipate because we change more than we anticipate. As Terri Trespicio observes in her TEDx Talk, ”Passion is not a plan. Passion is a feeling, and feelings change.”

Purpose is hardy. Gritty individuals, explains one study, prioritize long-term goals. This long-term perspective, another study notes, helps give “more weight to meaning than pleasure” and solidifies self-control.

I don’t regret following my passion. In fact, I still endorse my strategy. Passions help us understand who we are and what we want. They bring vitality and joy to our days. But following your passion is a deceptively slow, uncertain way to purpose.

If I could tell myself anything three years ago when I graduated college, it would probably be this:

“Follow your passion, sure. But don’t expect it to produce your purpose.”

I help 1000+ ambitious millennials find their professional purpose with a research-packed weekly newsletter. Want in? Subscribe.

A version of this article originally appeared on Forbes.

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A Unique Approach To Discomfort

“Destiny is not for comfort seekers. Destiny is for the daring and determined who are willing to endure some discomfort, delay gratification, and go where destiny leads.” ~ T.D. Jakes

“We ask God for signs, wonders and miracles, but refuse to go into circumstances where we need them.” — Christine Caine

One may believe that a happy life eschews pain and discomfort by all costs. But, in truth, life opens up to us and expands when we’re squeezed and pushed through discomfort. Our emotional constriction, which creates our discomfort, begins to soften and expand when we lean into our discomfort. Moreover, our dreams are actualized through moments of confusion, doubt, fear, and uncertainty. So, when we’re pushed into our discomfort zone, we’re better able to witness and cultivate new skills that will propel us to new heights in our spiritual, emotional, and physical evolution.

How many of us can say that we have grown and transformed the most when we are “seemingly” sailing through life? Not many of us. When things appear superficially “perfect” and aligned in our lives, what could possibly ignite us toward growth and realizing God’s deeper purpose for our lives?

However, what indubitably pushes us toward greater fulfillment and purpose in our lives is when we’re tightly squeezed and pushed through discomfort. The physical manifestation of the contrast between what we deeply desire on a soulful level to what is actually showing up in our lives, creates the emotional and spiritual dissonance for us to push through and create transformation.

Transformation is accelerated in our lives through pain and discomfort. Such that, God will use different people, events, and circumstances to show up in our lives that cause us aggravation and distress, as a catalyst for growth and inspiration. Personally, I created a life that I dreamed of, living on a paradise island as a Life & Spiritual Coach & Teacher, not by coasting through life and feeling on top of the world. No. My life was radically changed when I hit my lowest point. When my pain and suffering had become enough.

Through pain and suffering, my heart opened up to greater transparency for God’s light to shine through and heal, motivate, and push me at deeper levels. Surely, the pressure was strong and tightening, but the more pressure I experienced, the harder I fought. Had I experienced continued success selling real estate in New York City, perhaps with money flowing in easily and effortlessly, and joy living in a city that stole my heart 19 years ago, I would not be living the life of my dreams right now. I’d still be living a life that was content and good, but truthfully, mediocre in the eyes of God. But, God doesn’t want GOOD ENOUGH for our lives, he wants GREAT!

So where is discomfort showing up in your life? Is it in a relationship? A job? Your living circumstances? Your finances? Your health? Or a lack of balance in your life? Consider each difficulty as a message that God has something better and more meaningful for your life. As we release the need to pity ourselves in difficult times and rather use discomfort as the catalyst toward change, we create an opportunity for greater richness and joy in our lives. Discomfort and pressure will always show up. To the extent that, although my life is greater than it’s ever been, there are newer and completely different experiences of discomfort that appear. But, with greater awareness I now recognize that my discomfort shows me that there’s still more for me to see and do in my life. This inspires me to work harder and explore my path with greater curiosity and determination.

Today, find peace with your discomfort. Embrace the stickiness. Ask for its lessons and guidance. Trust that your uneasiness is the vehicle to catapult you to places you’ve never been before. Use discomfort to your advantage in creating a life you dream of.

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John Oliver Has A Foolproof Plan To Turn Donald Trump Into A Legend

There’s still a way for Donald Trump to salvage some of his reputation ― and maybe even save American politics.

According to John Oliver, all the Republican presidential candidate has to do is quit the race and claim the entire campaign was a ruse to expose the flaws in our system. 

“Just think about how triumphant it would feel to say on national television: ‘I openly ran on a platform of impossibly ignorant proposals steeped in racial bigotry and nobody stopped me,’” Oliver said on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” on Sunday night. “In fact, you embraced me for it. What the fuck was that about?”

Oliver predicted it “would be one of the most powerful political speeches of all time.”

Staying in the race, however, could lead to the one thing Trump hates more than anything: losing.

But dropping out?

“If you drop out in order to teach America a lesson, you would not be a loser,” Oliver said. “You would be a legend. There’d be a federal holiday in your honor.”

Oliver even found a guide to help Trump drop out ― right down to the final speech ― and shared it, with a little help from comedian Will Arnett. 

Check it out in the clip above.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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Family Trumps Friends in Extending Seniors’ Lives

People are comfortable expecting more help from relatives, researchers say
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These Underwater Yoga Photos Prove The Practice Is Truly Magical

Looking for a reason to hit the yoga mat today? Take a gander at these stunning photos.

The surreal images, which were snapped by photographer Elena Kalis, feature yoga instructor Britta Jade as she masterfully executes yoga poses under water. They’re a truly majestic display of how yoga can be both athletic and a work of art.

The photos are an inspirational reminder that the practice can be one of the best ways to move your body. Research shows yoga can reduce stress and lower your risk for heart disease. It also can improve your sleep and boost your brain function. Not to mention the fact that yoga can be an excellent form of strength training, which can help maintain a healthy weight.

While not everyone can exactly run off to the crystal shores of a remote island to nail these moves, there are some added perks to taking your yoga practice to the water. Studies suggest being near the ocean can make you calmer and more creative. The sea also puts your brain in a more meditative state.

If you’ve been slacking on a yoga routine (or hesitant to try one at all), take a look at the pictures below. Then check out these healthy reasons to prioritize the practice for additional motivation.

Nirvana: achieved.

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Health Official Warns Zika Could Spread Across U.S. Gulf

Aug 21 (Reuters) – One of the top U.S. public health officials on Sunday warned that the mosquito-borne Zika virus could extend its reach across the U.S. Gulf Coast after officials last week confirmed it as active in the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach.

The possibility of transmission in Gulf States such as Louisiana and Texas will likely fuel concerns that the virus, which has been shown to cause the severe birth defect known as microcephaly, could spread across the continental United States, even though officials have played down such an outcome.

Concern has mounted since confirmation that Zika has expanded into a second region of the tourist hub of Miami-Dade County in Florida. Miami’s Wynwood arts neighborhood last month became the site of the first locally transmitted cases of Zika in the continental United States.

“It would not be surprising we would see additional cases perhaps in other Gulf Coast states,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the allergy and infectious diseases unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in an interview on Sunday morning with ABC News.

Fauci noted that record flooding this month in Louisiana – which has killed at least 13 people and damaged some 60,000 homes damaged – has boosted the likelihood Zika will spread into that state.

“There’s going to be a lot of problems getting rid of standing water” that could stymie the mosquito control efforts that are the best way to control Zika’s spread, he said.

U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed 1,835 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.

On Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott confirmed that state health officials had identified five cases of Zika believed to be contracted in Miami Beach.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told pregnant women they should avoid the trendy area and suggested those especially worried about exposure might consider avoiding all of Miami-Dade County.

NIH’s Fauci on Sunday said the conditions of most of the country make it unlikely there would be a “diffuse, broad outbreak,” even though officials need to prepare for that possibility.

He compared it with diseases such as Dengue, which is endemic in certain tropical and subtropical regions of the world but rarely occurs in the continental United States. In Miami’s Wynwood area, experts have seen “substantial” knockdowns of mosquito populations.

Still, its containment is more complicated because Zika can be sexually transmitted, Fauci said.

“This is something that could hang around for a year or two,” he said.

The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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Donald Trump’s Whiny Tweets Are Actually Perfect As Emo Lyrics

Donald Trump channels his inner emo in this hilarious new mashup video.

Musical artist Nick Lutsko transformed some of the GOP presidential candidate’s most recent ranting tweets into an expressive, early noughties-style song.

“On August 14, 2016, Donald Trump wrote some sad, whiny tweets about Hillary Clinton and the media,” says a message at the start of the music video.

“We turned them into an early 2000s emo song.”

YouTube channel “Super Deluxe“ posted the short clip Friday, and it’s now going viral.

Check it out above.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Twitter Broadening Discussions About Death, Grief: Study

Social media broaching once-taboo topics in very public forums, researchers report
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Angels and Molecules

The other day my wife, Ana, and I went out for a few hours. When we came back, we parked the car, entered through the downstairs garage door, came up to the first floor and into the living room. Where we saw our intrepid dog Ben, standing on the back of the living room couch, gazing out the window. Waiting.

To explain: Ana is the center of Ben’s universe, the sun around which all his planets revolve. She is his oxygen, his A to Z, his why the universe exists. He was waiting for her.

But Ben has gone deaf. He had somehow missed seeing the car’s approach, and hadn’t heard it come down the drive, or the motorized grind of the garage door opening, or our footsteps up the stairs. As far as he knew, we were still gone.

2016-08-19-1471640868-7835203-Ben2.jpg

Moments after I snapped this picture, I clapped, loud enough for him to hear, and he turned his head and saw Ana — and his little dog face broke into an ecstatic OMG, why didn’t someone tell me?! and all was right with the world.

It made me think of Beethoven.

Late in life, Beethoven was attending the premier of his ninth (and final) symphony. “Attending” is perhaps not the right word. Although he was by this time deaf as a board, he strongly felt he should be on hand to guide the musicians along in this huge and enormously challenging composition, so he stood right up there on stage, by the conductor, and gestured like crazy throughout the performance, doing his utmost to shape the right tempi and dynamics and phrasing — even though he could not hear a note.

After the last chord was sounded, the composer stood on the stage, breathing heavily, facing the orchestra. The audience, who had never heard anything like this before (nor, for that matter, had anyone on the planet), erupted into raucous, deafening applause.

The composer was oblivious. He had no idea anyone was even clapping. The mezzo-soprano soloist had to approach him (with tears in her eyes, and can you blame her?) and tug on his arm to get him to turn around and see the thunderous response his music has evoked.

This got me thinking:

What if we’re all like Ben and Beethoven?

What if we are surrounded by all the applause, but just don’t hear it? If the center of our universe, the thing we love most, has already arrived and is standing there watching us, but we just don’t know it yet?

I remember as a teenager, taking a walk one morning in my neighborhood, going blocks and blocks in my quiet suburban town, a Sunday, hardly anyone about. I’d been reading about physics and metaphysics and different thinkers’ understandings of how reality was assembled. I remember stopping, standing, and gazing out along a path down to a field.

It suddenly hit me that I was surrounded by billions, trillions, quadrillions of molecules, atoms, particles, all buzzing and humming and soaring in orbits around each other, vibrating like mad. I was a musician and student of acoustics, and I knew this basic fact of life: vibration makes noise. I was standing in the midst of the most colossal symphony imaginable. I just couldn’t hear it.

Although for those few moments, it felt as if I almost did.

There is an ancient tradition in Bali which holds that a gamelan orchestra, that most mesmerizing of human musical ensembles, doesn’t “make” its music. No, say the Balinese, that rippling stream of rhythm and melody is already happening, already going on, all around us, all the time. The job of the gamelan musicians is not to create the music, but simply to catch it, like a crystal set picking up radio waves and stepping them down to audible form.

What if we are surrounded by symphonies?

What if our ancestors, departed parents, and all those loved ones who have shuffled off before us are in fact standing right beside us, beaming with pleasure at our antics, cheering us on?

What if throngs of angels are stomping and hooting and laughing and shouting, exuberant as a sold-out Bruce Springsteen auditorium just to be there watching us, applauding our every mundane move like a chorus of thunderclaps?

You know, I think they may be.

You can almost hear them, can’t you?

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
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Back to School Means Heavy Backpacks And Back Pain

With school is just around the corner, children will be abandoning the playground and returning to the classroom. With an emphasis on providing a sound education for this young generation, children are given a literal “heavier” workload year after year. This has translated into more books and more accessories, which greatly contributes to the normalcy and reliance on carrying backpacks. However, despite their usefulness, backpacks can cause serious back pain if overloaded or worn improperly.

2016-08-20-1471714844-4735983-Untitled.png

To understand how heavy backpacks contribute to back pain, it’s important to look at the composition of the back. The adolescent spine is composed of 33 bones called vertebrae with discs between them that act as natural shock absorbers. When a heavy backpack is incorrectly placed over a child’s shoulders, the weight of the bag can force the child backwards. Usually, children counteract this force by arching or bending forward at the hips, causing the spine to compress unnaturally and contributing to neck, shoulder and back pain.

2016-08-20-1471714971-3849456-1.png

The best way to prevent lower back pain is to either avoid overstuffing a backpack. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, children should limit their backpack weight to between 10 and 15 percent of their body weight. Backpacks weighing more than this are too heavy to maintain a standing posture. This weight causes children to lean forward, affecting the natural curve in the lumbar and lower back regions resulting in variety of orthopaedic injuries.

Dr. Ebraheim says,
“Kids these days think backpacks are moving libraries, carrying heavier weights back and forth to school and between classes without taking breaks. The weight can cause a variety of back problems including scoliosis. This is a problem not only for the child’s health but also because back pain can interfere with the learning environment. Kids need to feel healthy during the day so they can keep up with their schoolwork injury free.”

Wearing a backing improperly can also cause back injury. Many times children will sling their backpacks over only one shoulder. This uneven distribution of weight causes the child to compensate by leaning to one side. The frequent imbalance causes muscle strain. The problem can be exacerbated if backpacks have tight or narrow straps, as they can interfere with circulation and nerves.

There are, however, some simple ways to prevent your child from developing back pain. First, it’s important to monitor the weight of children’s backpacks to ensure that they are not overloading them. Second, purchase a backpack with wide, padded straps to distribute the load over the shoulders evenly. Backpacks that have waist and additional shoulder straps may also prove beneficial in transferring the load to the hips and preventing slouching. Lastly, it’s important to concentrate the bulk of the weight closest to your child’s body in the middle of the back. This will help your child achieve better posture and balance, while preventing possible falls.

For more videos about back pain, check out my YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/nabilebraheim

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Friday Talking Points — As The Turd Tornado Turns…

Some weeks, it’s tough coming up with a subtitle for these columns. Some weeks, not so much. This is one of the latter, because the juxtaposition of a colorful (to say the least) description of Donald Trump with a soap opera’s title just naturally presented itself.

The quote comes in response to Trump’s campaign shakeup, which we’ll get to in a moment. One of the new people Trump hired comes from Breitbart News, and former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro was being interviewed by CNN’s Brianna Keilar for his response to the shakeup. Here is the transcript, for everyone’s edification:

SHAPIRO: I mean, as you probably know, I think Donald Trump’s a turd tornado, but I also understand that he has no capacity whatsoever to control himself and be this staid politician that everyone wants him to be. Telling him to double down is not necessarily terrible strategy. If he’s gonna go down, he’s gonna go down being Trump.

KEILAR: A what tornado?

SHAPIRO: A turd tornado.

KEILAR: What is that?

SHAPIRO: Well, it’s like a sharknado. Except with poop.

Thanks for clearing that up, Ben! We’ll just add that to the images we never thought we’d have to think about in the world of politics (a list which has grown to epic proportions during this presidential race, it’s worth pointing out). With such an auspicious metaphor to work with, let’s see just how the turd tornado (turdnado?) turned last week.

The week began with a speech Donald Trump read off a TelePrompTer. And in a stunning development — are you sitting down? — he then did not stomp all over his message by saying monumentally stupid things for the rest of the week. No, really! True, his message was stomped all over by the shakeup news from his campaign, but this is actually an improvement for Trump. There wasn’t a single tweet or off-the-cuff statement at a rally that derailed Trump’s message this week — which has got to be a new record for him. How many days can he keep this up? We certainly don’t know, as evidenced by the fact that on Monday we wrote of the inevitability of it already happening by the end of the week — which we have to admit turned out not to be the case at all.

Before we get to the shakeup, a word about Trump’s messaging this week. He actually read three TelePrompTer speeches this week, and he seems to be improving (somewhat) on his delivery with each one. The first was on the subject of defeating terrorism and foreign policy in general. The Morning Joe program helpfully put together a mashup video of just a few of the things he said in Monday’s speech that utterly contradict what he’s said about the subjects in the past, which is pretty amusing to watch. The second was a law-and-order speech in front of a mostly-white audience, warning of the dangers of urban crime (which has been par for the course for Republicans since Richard Nixon’s time, it’s worth noting). By week’s end, Trump had made some astonishing news in the third speech, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The campaign shakeup news was rather ominous for Republicans, since Trump pushed aside the only guy running his campaign who has had actual experience running campaigns before, and replaced him with two additions — a woman who worked for Todd Akin’s campaign (in the “outreach to women” job — you just can’t make this stuff up), and a guy who ran Breitbart News, a website for those who think that Fox News is just another part of the mainstream media’s liberal conspiracy. Yes, there are people out there who think Fox isn’t rightwingy enough, and they all apparently get their news from Breitbart. They also get plenty of conspiracy theories, but that almost goes without saying. The new theme for the campaign, as Shapiro referenced above, is going to be returning to “letting Trump be Trump.” Hoo boy. Buckle up, boys and girls!

Little-noticed in the midst of all this news was the very first poll Breitbart ever commissioned, which was intended to “unskew” all that liberal polling saying Trump wasn’t beating Clinton. The only problem was that even after all this unskewing, Clinton still beat Trump by five points. Guess they’ll have to rework that unskewing formula, eh?

But back to the Trump campaign. With Trump adding a Breitbart executive to his campaign, the rest of the Republican Party spent the entire week waiting for the other shoe to drop. Nobody knew what form it would take, but this morning that shoe hit the ground with a thump, with the announcement that Paul Manafort would be stepping down from the Trump campaign. All week long, the Trump campaign had insisted that they weren’t going through a shakeup at all, they were instead expanding the campaign by hiring more people to run things. This falsehood was exposed with Manafort’s resignation. The Trump campaign is now being run by people who have never run a national campaign for anyone before. And it’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the first such top-level shakeup in Trump’s campaign (and likely won’t be the last).

All of this news has led to noticeable glee over in the Clinton camp (and among Democrats in general). It’s easy to understand such giddiness, since Clinton’s recent polling is so strong, both in battleground states and in previously-deep-red states as well. Tim Kaine is campaigning in places like Wyoming, Idaho, and Missouri (to be fair, the first two aren’t realistic for Clinton to even hope for, as he was just fundraising there from wealthy Democrats). People are beginning to ask whether Trump’s defeat will rival Barry Goldwater’s — and it’s only August. With Trump doubling down on “being Trump,” things look pretty rosy for Hillary Clinton right now.

But there’s a cautionary tale running through the week that few inside-the-Beltway pundits have so far noticed. Could Trump actually be successfully pivoting, in the midst of the shakeup? He gave three TelePrompTer speeches, and had zero blowups this week. He didn’t say (or tweet) anything so radical it dominated the news cycle in a negative way — this during a week when naked Donald Trump statues mockingly appeared in multiple U.S. cities (more on that in the awards). He introduced his first two television ads of the general election. This is all new, for Trump. To end the week, Trump decided to pay a visit to flooding victims in Louisiana — an opportunity for him to show some compassion and “look presidential.” And in the third of those speeches he read this week, he kind-of sort-of apologized for all his previous outrageous statements. Here’s what he read off the screen:

Sometimes in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues. But one thing; I can promise you this: I will always tell you the truth.

Laughable as that might sound (especially that last line), this appears to be the first time Donald Trump has ever even remotely admitted any sort of mistake he’s made during the campaign. So, to review: three speeches read from prepared texts, two new television ads that will run in battleground states, one presidential-looking photo op, zero speeches ad-libbed at rallies, zero new controversial statements, and one semi-apology. That’s a much more focused Trump than we’ve yet seen. So perhaps all the Democratic celebration about his new campaign team might be a wee bit premature. Has Trump truly pivoted? Has he ridden out his own personal poopstorm? Time will tell. Perhaps this is all the final influence of Manafort, on his way out — perhaps next week Trump will return to form. But even with all the campaign shakeup news, Trump had a better week on the campaign trail than usual.

Finally, before we move along to the awards, we have to say a formal goodbye to John McLaughlin, who died earlier this week. The McLaughlin Group was a pioneer in political television, and for many (without cable subscriptions) was the only view into the contentious world that cable political shows have regularly become. With regulars on the right like Pat Buchanan and on the left people like Clarence Page, the show was always pretty freewheeling and interesting to watch. Countless political shows were inspired by their format, and McLaughlin had actually been trained as a Jesuit priest, which includes formal training in forming an argument (pro or con), so he was always able to examine strange angles and odd views that others routinely missed. OK, occasionally this veered into conspiratorial thinking, but McLaughlin usually seemed to be playing devil’s advocate (rather than “true believer”) by bringing such subjects up.

We’ll miss seeing John, and we’ll miss his show. Every year in this space, we run our year-end list of “McLaughlin awards,” since his categories were so complete and well-thought out. So we have a personal connection to the show (even if they never knew about it). So, in homage, there is only one possible way to salute John McLaughlin: with the final phrase he used to close each of his shows, to show how we will miss his presence.

“Bye-bye.”

 

Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

Occasionally, we redefine our awards, and this seems a dandy week to do so. Rather than handing out a Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week, we are handing out a Most Impressive Anarchist Collective Of The Week award instead. We thought that changing it to the MIACOTW award would be more appreciated by an anarchist group, who might be offended by being linked to any official political party (even in an award).

The group INDECLINE had already made a name for itself by creating the largest-ever piece of illegal graffiti, by painting a political statement on a deserted military landing strip in the Mojave Desert. That’s pretty cool, we have to admit, especially when you consider that they spent $ 20,000 creating it.

But this week, INDECLINE outdid themselves, by placing a rather unflattering statue of a naked Donald Trump in five American cities (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Seattle). Being anarchists, they didn’t ask anyone’s permission, just set the statue up (and epoxied it to the ground, to make it harder to remove). This bit of political theater was even given a name: “The Emperor Has No Balls.” Reportedly, the statue didn’t, but it’s hard to tell from the available photos.

The artist, a guy from Las Vegas who goes by “Ginger,” reportedly “has a long history of designing monsters for haunted houses and horror movies.” That certainly seems like experience enough to create such monstrous statues, at least in our humble opinion.

The people behind the political theater knew their installations would be temporary. Reportedly, Cleveland was the fastest to remove it, while some in San Francisco are looking to preserve the statue in a suitable place. No real surprise there, we suppose.

Regular readers of this column will know that we are suckers for political theater (good, bad, and indifferent). As always, such theater must be judged on how amusing it is and how effective it is. On both these scales, “The Emperor Has No Balls” has to rate somewhere near the top end. It’s funny, it made a huge splash online, and now millions of people have laughed at a naked Trump provided by a group that few had ever previously heard of. All around, that’s pretty impressive, and well worth our special Most Impressive Anarchist Collective Of The Week award. Well done!

[Congratulate INDECLINE on their official contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

This one wasn’t hard to select this week. Former Pennsylvania state attorney general Kathleen Kane easily wins the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award for being convicted of nine criminal charges, two of them felonies. It’s pretty disappointing when any Democrat is convicted of crimes, but when it is the person who is in charge of the entire state’s justice and law enforcement divisions, it reaches a whole ‘nother level.

The whole story is convoluted and rather sad. It began with the Jerry Sandusky/Joe Paterno scandal, widened to sexist and racist emails, and wound up in a personal vendetta Kane waged against a political rival. The scandal not only shook up the Penn State’s athletic department but also brought down two justices on the state supreme court, and even Kane’s twin sister (who, it turned out, had sent some of the emails).

At the heart of the charges against Kane was a leak of grand jury evidence that she later tried to pin on a scapegoat rather than admitting to leaking. Not only did Kane commit the crime, she also tried to cover it up, to put it more bluntly.

Kane was once considered a rising star among Pennsylvania Democrats, but not any more (to put it mildly). Among her other woes this week, we simply have to add our own Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. This was a shameful episode in the midst of an investigation of an even-more-shameful crime, and there’s simply nothing good to say about it.

[Since Kathleen Kane has quit her office, she is now a private citizen, and our longstanding policy is not to provide contact info for people not currently serving in office.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 404 (8/19/16)

We should really just be able to write “Volume 404 — Talking Points Not Found” here, but we fear few would get the joke (and it’d be awfully lazy to do so). Kidding aside, we actually do have to admit we have been rather lazy in putting together the talking points for the past month or so. This was due to the fact that all it took was repackaging what Republicans were saying about Donald Trump. No Democratic input was even necessary — just repeating the scathing things Republicans were saying was enough.

This week, we’re going to try to wean ourselves off this habit, by only providing a mere three (less than half!) of our talking points directly from Republicans slamming Trump. And we promise, our last talking point is one of the funniest we’ve come across yet, so there’s that to look forward to.

As always, use these talking points responsibly, and refrain from operating heavy machinery while doing so. Heh.

 

1
   The middle finger

The Washington Post set the tone for what was going on this week, most notably in a headline to an article run immediately after the first news of the Trump campaign shakeup:

Donald Trump’s Hire Of Breitbart News Chief Is A Middle Finger To The GOP Establishment

 

2
   Right back atcha…

Of course, to be fair, the number of Republicans giving Trump the finger has been growing for weeks, now.

“You can’t really blame Trump for turning his back on the GOP establishment, because they’ve been running away from his campaign in droves. The letter begging the R.N.C. to pull all money from Trump in a desperate attempt to salvage Congress, which was released last week, was initially said to have 70 signatures of Republicans on it. Now it’s got more than 100. Maybe by next week it’ll have another 50, who knows? Also last week, a member of George W. Bush’s cabinet came out in support of Hillary Clinton. Will the last Republican to leave Trump’s campaign please turn out the lights?”

 

3
   Divine intervention necessary

George Shultz weighed in on Trump this week, too.

“When George Shultz — one of the most-respected Republican foreign policy voices around — was asked recently about the prospect of a Trump administration, his response was brief and personal: ‘God help us.’ Shultz is right — if Donald Trump is elected president, this country is going to need all the divine intervention it can possibly get.”

 

4
   Sorry, you can’t come in

Even right-wing pundits are getting in on the act.

“What with all the news about Trump’s campaign shakeup, the content of his Monday TelePrompTer speech was all but ignored. But Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin (whose column is even called ‘Right Turn,’ so you know where she’s coming from) hilariously took Trump to task for his concept of ‘extreme vetting.’ Rubin pointed out that Trump might just be a victim of his own program, if his ‘extreme vetting’ idea were ever to become law. Trump would fail on the metrics of ‘shares American values and respect for the American people,’ as well as falling short on being one of ‘those who we expect to flourish in our country and to embrace a tolerant American society.’ Be careful what you wish for, Donald, as you might not pass your own test quite as easily as you might think.”

 

5
   What, precisely, was Trump apologizing for?

The list is a long one.

“Donald Trump issued a blanket ‘apology’ this week. It was actually a non-apology, merely that he ‘regretted’ having said some things which ‘may have caused personal pain,’ but it’s as close to saying ‘I’m sorry’ as we’re ever likely to get. But his remarks were generic, with no specifics. The Washington Post then helpfully compiled a list of two dozen things he might have been referring to. Somebody needs to ask Trump which items on this list his non-apology apology covers, just to clear things up. With so many to choose from, inquiring minds want to know precisely what Trump actually ‘regrets’ having said so far.”

 

6
   A conspiracy theory that makes sense

The facts do seem to fit….

“Since Donald Trump began running, I’ve heard a lot of wild-eyed conspiracy theories from the left over what his plans actually were going to turn out to be. Most of these involved reading Trump’s mind and figuring out what his next move would be. Almost all of them have so far been proven hilariously wrong. My personal favorite was: ‘Trump will drop out of the primaries the minute he loses his first state.’ Or maybe: ‘Bill Clinton talked Donald into destroying the Republican Party’ — that was a fun one, right? But there’s a new conspiracy theory on the scene which actually could make a whole lot of sense. Is Donald Trump merely using a run for the presidency to launch his own branded media empire? Will ‘Trump News’ soon be on the air, competing with Fox News? Trump has reportedly been cozying up to Roger Ailes, and now he’s got the head of Breitbart News running his campaign, so it’s pretty easy to see how the effort could morph into ‘Trump TV,’ right after he loses in a landslide to Hillary Clinton. I mean, it could all make a twisted sort of sense, don’t you think?”

 

7
   Score one for NYC Parks

Issuing dry press releases all day in a mundane local government department must get pretty boring. And then a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity crosses your desk….

“The funniest thing I’ve heard this week was the official New York City parks department response, after they removed a nude statue of Donald Trump which had been illegally mounted in Union Square. Whoever came up with this gem deserves a raise, or a promotion to a P.R. job where they can better utilize their obvious skills. After removing the statue, an official statement was then released: ‘NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.’ NYC Parks certainly rose to that occasion, as it were.”

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:

ChrisWeigant.com

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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Derailment And How To Manage It

2016-08-19-1471635426-4431424-IMG_4095.JPG

In the world of psychology, derailment describes thought processes that veer off track, go awry, stray from the thought. Like a car that has skidded off the road, the ideas fail to arrive at their destination. In the realm of politics, derailment refers to a tactic by those in power that deflects attention away from complaints about abuse or wrongdoing by introducing an alternative topic. This blog explores derailment as a diversion from a life goal, and how it’s possible to get back on course.

In his journal, the writer John Cheever alluded to a loss of continuity at a critical point in his life. “It seems that in my coming of age I missed a year–perhaps a day or an hour….The consecutiveness of growth has been damaged. But how can I go back and find this moment that was lost?” Although the impact of Cheever’s derailment extends beyond the scope of this blog, his expression highlights the common problem.

In the newly released movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, the heroine, Florence, contracted syphilis from her first husband. As a result, she didn’t bear children and was deprived of a fulfilling family life. That derailment led her to devote her life to singing and supporting the musical world with the fortune she inherited from her father.

We assume an extreme diversion is equivalent to a disaster, but the event may actually represent a chance to recover a “lost” direction or passion. The classic story of The Little Prince (recently made into a popular movie) can be viewed as a metaphorical derailment in the realm of literature. As a young boy, the protagonist of the story drew a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. But the adults insisted that the drawing resembled a hat. Unimpressed with the child’s skill, the grown-ups redirected him from artistic to practical studies– geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. “That is why I abandoned, at the age of six, a magnificent career as an artist,” the protagonist says, justifying his profession as a pilot. Years later, his plane crashed in the middle of the desert, and he was visited by a little prince who commanded him to draw. The little prince may well represent the pilot’s imagination or alter ego that harbored his desire to become an artist.

In real life, a patient of mine, Ms. W., experienced a serious depression, a kind of psychological crash. During her hospitalization, she recalled that in her youth, she had aspired to become a singer. In the hospital, she had the opportunity to connect her depression with the long-forgotten ambition. Upon her recovery, she studied voice and became a successful musician.

Conclusion: Although we can’t undo the past, we can recognize a derailment and take action to get back on track.

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To Fight Zika Beyond Florida We Need Better Sex Education

In light of the recent news that Zika virus could stay in semen for more than six months ― twice as long as scientists previously though the virus could be detected ― it’s time for the United States to ramp up its focus on the major mechanism for Zika virus transmission after mosquitos: sex.

“For the public health community, Zika represents an unprecedented emergency,” Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August.

“Never before, to our knowledge, has a mosquito-borne virus been associated with human birth defects or been capable of sexual transmission,” Frieden wrote. “The effects of brain damage due to microcephaly and consequences of other Zika-related birth defects are likely devastating, lifelong, and costly.”

As Zika virus spreads, with at least 55 countries and territories reporting local transmissions, according to the CDC, and the United States reporting two areas of active transmission in Florida, health officials like Frieden have called for increased safe-sex messaging, even for people outside active Zika zones.

New York City is ramping up its public health messaging on sexually transmitted infections to include Zika virus in coming weeks, The New York Times reports. The campaign will feature posters, fliers, radio and television ads, in addition to deploying community health workers to communicate the risks of sexually transmitted Zika in person. 

Florida’s sex ed blunder

But not everyone is making public health a priority. In Florida’s Broward County, which is adjacent to Miami-Dade County, where active Zika transmissions are occurring, abstinence-only rhetoric is trumping public safety ― at least for now.

According to Miami news station WSVN 7News, Broward County removed two AIDS Healthcare Foundation billboards that featured unrolled condoms reminding people that safe sex “prevents Zika transmissions.”

The Fort Lauderdale mayor’s office and tourism board pressured the company to take down the signs, Michael Kahane, a spokesman for the foundation, told the station. “They felt, I guess, that they could impact tourism,” Kahane said. “I find it completely disgusting.”

Still, neither the mayor’s office nor the tourism board is taking credit for the sign’s removal, so it’s unclear who is behind the billboard takedown.

We still don’t know enough to write strong health policies

Using condoms is key to curbing sexually transmitted infection, including Zika virus, but health experts cautioned against overstating Zika’s sexual transmission risk compared to the larger risk of transmission via mosquitos.

Travel-related Zika virus is a major concern. The CDC currently recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas with active Zika transmissions and use condoms or abstain from sex if their partner has traveled to a Zika outbreak area in the last six months. 

Dr. Federico Laham, the medical director of infectious disease at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando stressed that it’s also important for doctors to ask pregnant patients about their travel histories, regardless of whether or not the Aedes aegypti mosquito is present in their areas of practice.

One major challenge for health officials trying to curb sexually transmitted Zika in their respective cities is that it’s difficult to craft definitive public health and safe sex recommendations, because no one knows for sure how long Zika virus can stay active ― or remain capable of transmitting infection ― in men’s semen. 

That information is “very important if you are trying to craft a prevention method to your community,” Laham told The Huffington Post. “Any couple expecting a child will live with a lot of anxiety. It’s important for health officials to deliver a clear message.”

Zika isn’t the only STI that can hurt unborn babies

For Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine in the infectious disease and global health divisions at the University of California Los Angeles, focusing on sexually transmitted Zika and the risk it poses to pregnant women misses the point.

“Zika is important, but we need a much broader holistic approach to address infections in pregnant women,” Klausner said. 

He cited congenital syphilis ― when a pregnant woman infected with the disease passes it to her child ― as a more common STI, with equally grave consequences. Indeed, congenital syphilis can cause severe illness, miscarriage, stillbirth and early infant death, as well as blindness, nervous system damage and deformity if left untreated. 

“When things are common and they occur regularly people forget about them,” Klausner said. “We need to remind people of the day-to-day risks.” 

There were 12 cases of congenital syphilis per 100,000 live births in 2014, an increase from 8 per 100,000 live births in 2012, according to the CDC.

Klausner believes defunded health departments and communicable disease programs in the wake of the 2008 recession is making it even harder to address issues like congenital syphilis and Zika virus.

He’s also frustrated by Congress, which failed to pass a Zika bill before leaving for summer vacation this year.

“You can’t trade the health of one population because of ideological views,” he said. “When Congress does come back, it’s going to be important for local constituents to demand a response.”

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Judge Permanently Blocks Parts Of Florida Law That Cut State Funding To Planned Parenthood

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday permanently blocked parts of a Florida law that aimed to cut off state funding for preventive health services at clinics that also provide abortions.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle had issued a preliminary order in June after state Planned Parenthood affiliates challenged provisions as unconstitutional. The June order had come just before the restrictions were to take effect.

“The preliminary injunction is made permanent with this order,” Hinkle wrote in a three-page decision.

The judge had found the clinics were unacceptably targeted by state efforts to eliminate funding for other healthcare services they also provided, such as birth control and screening for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Planned Parenthood lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, focused on the funding cuts. It said they jeopardized about $ 500,000 annually.

Planned Parenthood also challenged state inspections seeking to review 50 percent of patient medical records at abortion clinics.

Lillian Tamayo, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, said the organization was grateful the court had halted part of the law signed by Republican Governor Rick Scott.

“If this law had gone into effect, it would have made a bad situation even worse,” she said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood did not challenge a related provision requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a type of formal affiliation that can be difficult to obtain.

A spokeswoman for Scott said of the ruling, “We are reviewing it.”

Florida was among many states adopting new abortion laws as conservatives seek to chip away at the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

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Notes from the Festival

It’s Festival season in Edinburgh once again.

And once again we are in this beautiful, Scottish city for a long weekend exploring the major themes of the moment. And over the years we have not lacked for current events. From the debate over Scottish independence, to deep discussion on climate and China’s trajectory, Adam Smith’s home town remains a place where thinkers can congregate, share and work through big ideas. This is even more the case for those of us visiting from other societies. The long walks in the surrounding hills and the time chatting with visitors from EVERYWHERE provide distance from and perspective on our home countries.

The Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics officially opens tonight. The speakers have already arrived. The discussions have already begun. Themes are already emerging. Some, like the discussion around Brexit and NATO, are a function of the moment. Others, like automation, are on the near horizon.

A quick list:

1. Globalism vs Nationalism vs Localism: A funny thing happened on the way to the global village. Many people around the world decided that they want decisions made closer to home. Others have begun demanding a more populist-nationalistic response to today’s problems. Some want a good deal more autonomy and a good deal less integration with transnational systems. We always knew that public life would be a mix of the global, national and local, but hard nationalism has made an abrupt return. How do these balance? Scotland is itself an interesting case. It is part of the UK, has a local Parliament, is fiercely protective of local custom, but is pro-EU and keen for global engagement.

2. Populism – Nationalism – Authoritarianism: Those were supposed to be relics of the 20th century and not part of the big, bright, beautiful tomorrow. But, here we are. How do democracies defend themselves externally and internally from these potential threats?

3. Acceleration and Turbulence: Life, business and the rate of change are speeding up. And, we are experiencing what Peter Ho in Singapore has called “turbulence.” How do we lead and govern through it?

4. Wild Cards: A year ago virtually none of us, neither the speakers nor the audience, thought the UK would vote to leave the EU or that Donald Trump would win the GOP nomination. With all the information we have at our collective disposal, there are still wild card events.

5. Renewable Energy: Just this summer Scotland generated more than 100% of its electrical power needs from renewable wind energy. From wind in Scotland to solar in the US, renewable energy will continue to make gains. The follow on effects of this (like a so-called “utility death spiral” from distributed generation) are still unclear.

6. Automation: What happens when robots and algorithms begin displacing workers at a rapid clip? The automation of factories is an obvious trend, but any job that requires a routine application of linear thinking can be automated away. Some look at the coming rise of automation with alarm at the potential for worker displacement and economic dislocation. Others think these concerns are overblown. And a few argue that it’s more than past time that we eliminated drudgery via automation. But, what kind of a new economy does mass automation give us? And how do we make it work for us?

Everyone needs some space and time to mull over ideas new and old. Edinburgh, with its long history as an intellectual hub is the perfect space and the Festival is the perfect time.

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Meditation For A Blessed Election

I started writing guided meditations more than ten years ago. As a health and wellness coach I write them for myself to prepare for important trips and events. I write them for friends who are having medical procedures. I help clients write them. And a while back, when this toxic election season was really beginning to affect my peace of mind, I decided to write one specifically about the election. I, like many other Americans of both parties, was having “Trump anxiety.”

At the same time it’s not just politics on my mind. I have been moved and saddened by the many police shootings and terrorist attacks during this difficult year, and kept wondering what I could do to make a difference. How could I use my gifts to help?

I was hesitant to share this publicly because anything related to politics brings down a rain of toxicity and hatred upon the writer and I didn’t want to have that directed at me. After sharing it in my writers’ group and seeing its impact on several listeners, I decided I would share it with my intention for the best possible outcome.

Feel free to take it and make it your own, changing the wording as needed to suit your worldview. I hold on to the hope that most Americans want to feel good about our democratic process and our country. I love the idea of people across the country reading versions of this every day, amplifying its effect in the world. I hold on to the belief that it will make a positive impact on our country in the coming months.

Meditation for a Blessed Election
Guide me in conversation today with others who disagree with me.

Let me come to those conversations with an open, loving heart.

Guide me as to what actions I should take today to help move our beautiful country forward, and give me clear direction on how to do so.

Help America live up to her inclusive ideals.

Pour out your healing on the racism that still divides our country.

Let hatred be a thing of the past.

Help retrain our police officers where needed, while keeping them safe on the job.

Help heal those communities torn apart by gun violence with real, tangible progress and real solutions.

Help those of us with any kind of privilege use it for healing and justice and the betterment of all.

Bless the candidates near and far. Bless those running for office who are motivated by service and the higher good.

Bless their intentions. Bless their staff members and volunteers.

Bring out their best selves as they campaign.

Surround them with protection to keep them safe.

I say a special prayer for Hillary today. May she be her best and highest self. May she be able to speak clearly today and communicate her best intentions.

May she uphold and live up to all the hopes and dreams of women everywhere. May she be a shining beacon of light around the world.

Protect her from the hatred that is directed at her, surrounding her with a circle of light and powerful protection that is physically represented by the Secret Service. Keep them safe in their jobs and diligent while on duty.

I lift up all the candidates, surrounding them with love, support, and my highest intention for the good of the United States.

Let those who have the country’s highest good in mind, of either party, be blessed with an abundant flow of money, volunteers, and media support.

Let their supporters come forward in the hundreds of millions now and on November 8th. May we have the highest voter turnout in history.

May love trump hate.

May those people who will work together for the common good of our country and their constituents be elected in landslides.

May those people who have never spoken out before but feel moved, speak out.

May those who have never voted before register and vote on November 8th.

May those who have never done community organizing or volunteering sign up and get started.

May those who haven’t voted recently but want to make the country better and more unified get out to vote.

Remove all obstacles for people to get out and vote.

I look forward to breathing an enormous sigh of relief on November 9th, knowing that the country will be in Hillary’s steady, skilled, experienced hands, and that the legislative branch will be filled with people from both parties dedicated to getting to work together for their constituents, to compromise thoughtfully to move us forward.

Bless us all this day and keep us safe.

Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC is a writer, health coach, and food blogger offering migraine-friendly recipes every week. Her book The Migraine Relief Plan will be published on February 14, 2017 by Agate Surrey. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook to learn more.

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The Surprising Way To Grow Your Productivity

This article first appeared on QuietRev.com

For a long time, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I had big goals as a writer, but I had a hard time actually getting any of them done. I kept looking for a mentor, thinking this would get me where I needed to be—but I didn’t even know where to find that kind of person. I felt lost.

I think that we introverts often want to solve our problems on our own; we keep them “in-house” as psychologist Laurie Helgoe writes. If I had an idea for a story or a great website, I had no trouble gushing about it to a friend. But when the story stalled or I got stuck, I would tell no one. I’d just sort of stop mentioning the project until it was forgotten.

That was before I started a simple habit with a trusted friend. To say this new routine changed the way I work is an understatement. It’s changed the way I live.

How it started

Brandon, better known as B. T. Newberg, was not my closest friend. We hadn’t even lived in the same state for several years. But one day, we decided to catch up with a video call, and I was shocked to hear that Brandon, a fellow introvert and writer, was facing the same frustrations I was. We both had ideas for creative projects we didn’t know how to start. We both struggled to keep up healthy practices in our lives (exercise for me and meditation for him), and neither of us seemed to make good use of our time. Since Brandon dared to confess some of these problems to me, I went ahead and did the same. By the end of the call, I felt about 10 pounds lighter.

Of course, we hadn’t actually fixed any of the problems yet. But I also noticed we were really good at coming up with solutions for each other (not for ourselves!). When I complained about not having enough time for my creative work, Brandon asked what my morning routine was like. I had to admit I didn’t really have one, other than reading over coffee, and that I tended to oversleep. Brandon gently said that he had started getting up earlier to get more writing time. I was already learning.

We were barely off the call before I fired off a short email:

What do you think of doing a weekly email check in? We could talk about our goals and give each other moral support or advice when needed. Essentially team up a little bit?

Little did I know that this one germ of an idea would lead to one of the best years of my life.

How it works

Every Monday, I start my week by emailing Brandon. We check in about everything we’ve done the week before—goals met and missed, major successes and spectacular failures, even tiny things like whether we meditated or not.

Brandon and I break our emails into categories. Anything goes, and the categories have ranged from Productivity to Drinking Less to Self-Acceptance. Often, we’ll set specific goals for ourselves, and we’ll check in on them each week so we can evaluate progress. Sometimes, we give advice if requested, but most frequently, we just listen.

This arrangement is a form of having an accountability partner, but it’s different in some key ways. For one thing, Brandon and I never meet face to face. This is more comfortable for both of us because we’re both introverts. The idea of seeing a gym buddy might spur some people to get out the door and sweat, but it would make me want to stay home.

And Brandon and I don’t limit our emails to one topic like working out or advancing our careers. In many ways, my weekly missive to my friend is almost confessional: I can tell him about the difficulties I faced this week, the things that had me down, the crazy argument I had with my girlfriend, and my bumbling attempts to make it better.

We also share our victories. When Brandon got the score he needed on the GRE test, I cheered for him. When I lost 10 pounds, he did the same for me.

In a loud world, having a pen pal is more valuable to me than having one more guru, coach, or weekly meeting. For introverts, I think, simply writing down our thoughts—and knowing that someone cares—is a powerful practice. And it’s one that got results:

  • Within two months, I had created a new daily work schedule and was able to finish all the short stories I was working on.
  • By the fourth month, I had a system for keeping track of my social drinking and reducing it for health reasons. Over a year, my alcohol consumption dropped by 60%.
  • My daily life transformed from a messy, procrastination-filled rush to something I actually enjoy. I’m more disciplined, which means I have free time for once, and every day, I work to get closer to my personal goals.

How to do it yourself

Brandon and I have a lot in common, but we don’t have any special magic. It was the practice itself, the act of talking about our goals with someone who cares, that created change. And I believe that’s a practice anyone can do, whether you’re an introvert or not.

You’ll get the best results if you’re conscientious about how you set up this relationship. The specifics will be different for everybody, but here are guidelines that have worked for me:

  • Choose a friend who is committed to goals of their own—even if they’re a long way off. If you both have a desire for self-improvement or a vision for your life, you’ll have a reason to be there for each other week after week.
  • It helps to choose someone with similar experiences to yours. Brandon and I are both writers, but neither of us have kids. If I had needed support and encouragement as a parent, I might have chosen someone else.
  • People who stress you out don’t make good weekly pen pals. Consider approaching someone you admire or would like to build a closer relationship with.
  • Be flexible about your weekly email (and your response time). Brandon and I call our exchanges our “Monday Notes,” but sometimes they happen on Tuesday or Wednesday. Don’t turn your check-in into another obligation—treat it as something you look forward to, and do it when you’re able.

This practice may seem small, but it’s profound. All too often, we introverts keep our ideas to ourselves, in our heads. But without external feedback, we start to feel lost. Simply having someone invested in you and attentive to your ideas helps you sort them out and make changes.

Nowadays, I don’t think of my life as a mess, but rather as a life lived with intention. I can’t give all the credit to my pen pal, but the clarity and purpose I’ve found in our emails are my guiding light. If anything, the biggest outcome of this arrangement isn’t any one specific achievement. It’s the fact that I now have a life that’s organized and healthy, and someone is rooting for me to succeed.

Do you have someone like this in your life? How often do you check in with them, and how do you do it? Who helps you keep moving forward toward your goals?

2015-02-04-Joni_Blecher_150x150.jpg
This article originally appeared on QuietRev.com.

You can find more insights from Quiet Revolution on work, life, and parenting as an introvert at QuietRev.com.

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Senior North Korean Diplomat Defects In London, Reports Say

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s deputy ambassador in London has defected with his family, according to media reports, which if confirmed would make it one of the most high-profile defections in recent years from the increasingly isolated country.

South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported on Tuesday that a high-profile diplomat in the UK defected with his wife and son to a “third country”. The BBC named the defector as veteran diplomat Thae Yong Ho, a counselor at the North Korean embassy and deputy to the ambassador.

Quoting an unnamed source, JoongAng Ilbo said the diplomat embarked on a defection journey “following a scrupulous plan” and was in the process of “landing in a third country as an asylum seeker.”

It was not clear from the newspaper report whether the third country was the U.K. The term is usually used in South Korean media to refer to a country which is neither North nor South Korea.

An official at the North Korean embassy in London would not confirm the defection, describing reports of the event as “quite sudden”.

“If it is appropriate to give a response, then you might hear about our response,” the official told Reuters.

Further calls to the embassy went unanswered. Calls to Thae’s mobile phone were redirected to a voicemail inbox.

Thae’s reported defection follows a string of recent such flights by North Koreans, including 12 waitresses at a North Korean restaurant in China who defected to South Korea this year.

Those waitresses have finished a prolonged period of investigation and will soon enter into normal society, an official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Wednesday.

The number of defections by North Koreans to the South has totaled 814 up to and including July this year, an annual increase of 15 percent, a Unification Ministry official told Reuters.

Overall, the number of defectors, mostly from the area near North Korea’s border with China, has declined since leader Kim Jong Un took power following his father’s death in late 2011.

“The bigger picture is that while there have been fewer total defections per year under Kim Jong Un, there have been a higher number of strategically significant and political defections,” said Sokeel Park of LiNK, an NGO which works with North Korean defectors.

LEFT-WING BOOKSHOP

Among his many responsibilities, Thae was well-known to the British press, acting as the embassy’s main point of contact for British correspondents traveling to Pyongyang.

The British Embassy in Seoul said it was aware of the reports of a defection but would not comment. South Korea’s foreign ministry said it could not confirm or discuss specific defection cases.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency said it had no comment on the reports.

Thae lived at or near the North Korean embassy, which is in the leafy west London suburb of Gunnersbury. He spoke regularly at far-left events in London, including meetings of a British communist party where he would make impassioned speeches in defense of North Korea, according to videos of the events.

His measured tone was in contrast to the bombastic rhetoric often used by Pyongyang officials, although at some events he sang revolutionary Red Army Choir songs in Korean.

In regular contact with the media, Thae also spoke publicly about media coverage of the isolated country, including the press appetite for sensationalist stories about North Korea.

“I don’t blame reporters,” Thae said during a speech at a left-wing London bookshop in late 2014. “If they broadcast (North Korea) as it is, the editors of these TV stations and newspapers will (change it)”.

“The more horrifying, the more shocking stories they create, the more they will be viewed by the British public”.

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Letting Go Of Toxic People

Clearing our bodies of toxins isn’t always about what we eat or drink. Sometimes removing the poison means you have to make the difficult decision to cut toxic people out of your life to heal your soul.

It’s not an easy task.

Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the damage being caused from the negative energy of a friend or family member.

We don’t notice when someone is trying to control us. The signs are missed. You don’t understand why you are agitated, annoyed, and anxiety ridden in someone’s presence until you take a step back and get in touch with your inner self.

You don’t recognize that you often keep silent and resist the urge to defend yourself, to speak out when you are hearing lies. You give excuses as to why someone behaves the way they do because they have been there for you often over the years and you afraid to lose that perceived support.

I live by my emotions, and don’t always understand why I feel the way I do around certain people. It isn’t until I have “fact” that I can step away.

Maybe it’s the reporter in me — there is always two sides to a story. I try very hard to see every angle. Even if my instincts are telling me to walk away, I have a hard time cutting the anchor because I don’t want to ever be seen as “mean” or “bad.”

My insecurities often get the better of and have been used against me. But slowly I’m starting to emerge from my shell.

Maybe it’s getting older. You start to realize that not everyone has your best interest at heart. Some people like when you are in crisis because it fulfills their want to be needed. They feed off the drama.

They fill your head with half-truths and half-lies, making you believe things about yourself that you know aren’t true. They put a slant on every story in order in order to make themselves able to fit the role they’ve created.

For their story to work you have to be the antagonist or partner in crime because otherwise they will have to come face to face with themselves in the mirror.

It’s not easy to let go of the friendships, relationships and family loyalties that cause you pain.

But in the words of my friend Deb,

“If you need to cut ties, do it, and find those kind-like souls that can feed your spirit.”

The braver you are and recognize and remove those hurting you, the more room you have to be your true self and let the right people in who lift you up, not weigh you down.

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Puppy Raisers Make World A Better Place

If you have ever spoken with a person who uses an assistance dog, you know that these dogs change lives. Whether it’s a PTSD dog helping a military person return to “regular life,” a hearing dog providing alerts to a person who cannot hear anything from the doorbell to a fire alarm, or a service dog providing aid to a person lacking mobility, these dogs are capable of miracles.

And what if you were offered the opportunity to be a part of one of those miracles? Most of us would certainly give the offer serious thought.

Last week was all about miracle workers, because it was International Assistance Dog Week (August 7-13), a week designated to honor service dogs and those who make those assistance dogs possible.

The teams of people needed to breed dogs, raise puppies, and train dogs satisfactorily to be service dogs are a hardworking lot, spread throughout the country, and they are affiliated with various service dog organizations.

More miracles, of course, are dependent on a bigger pipeline of puppies. As Katie Malatino, public relations coordinator for Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa, California, says: “In order to provide more assistance dogs free of charge for people with disabilities, Canine Companions is gradually increasing the number of puppies in our program. Additional volunteers are a critical part of our mission.”

Getting Involved

So how do you get involved? Organizations that train service dogs use all sorts of volunteers. People are needed to help with running events, taking a shift at a fair or a mall where the organization is distributing literature, and assisting with all kinds of tasks related to running a business.

But perhaps the most selfless volunteers of all are the people who become puppy raisers. They willingly take a dog into their homes for about sixteen months and agree to take the dog out with them on excursions at all times possible, take them regularly for training classes (in which the puppy raiser also participates), and do everything they can to help this dog become a service animal.

Puppy raisers always know that if they do their jobs well—and the dog’s temperament is right—the dog will go on to live with someone else, being their eyes or their ears or an extra pair of hands. And of course, the dogs will always be the person’s first alert in case of an emergency.
Puppy raisers may be losing a puppy they loved, but they will come as close humanly possible to helping bring about a miracle.

Heartbreaking to have to give up a puppy? Yes. Heartwarming to see that dog function at the highest level in making another person’s life better… you bet!

How Puppy Raisers Feel
Sondra Thiederman is now raising her tenth puppy for Canine Companions for Independence, and she loves doing it. “My most memorable moment was when I handed over the leash of a service dog I raised to the woman she is now assisting. I can only describe it as a profound feeling of ‘ rightness’ – as if something 100% positive was happening and that we were a part of something special.”

Another puppy raiser, Mary Milton, says she is having the time of her life as a puppy raiser. “It is such an honor and privilege to see how these assistance dogs really do help people with disabilities become more independent. It is life-changing for them.”

And a couple, Jolie and Gene Marzo, wrote in an email: “If we can help make someone’s life better by raising an assistance dog, then we are lucky and proud to do it. The person’s smile is all we need to keep us going!”

So are you tempted?

Double-Check Your Plan
Like any other type of volunteer work, you want to make sure you feel comfortable with the organization you contact. You also need to be sure that being an on-the-ground puppy raiser is for you.

To do this, check what assistance dog programs are in your area. Assistance Dogs International sets the standards for assistance dog training. By visiting their site, you can click on a map for your region of the country to see what programs might be near you. Visit, offer to do some onsite volunteering with them (that, too, is very much appreciated), and talk to puppy raisers.

Canine Companions, the largest nonprofit providing assistance dogs, has offices in many parts of the country, and some of their puppy raisers live far afield. However, getting to know an organization is certainly much easier if you have an opportunity to meet some of the people.

Once you have some programs to check out, visit their websites. The Canine Companions website has a list of responsibilities to which puppy raisers commit. Socialization—taking the dog out to experience all types of social situations and public environments—as well as attendance at local obedience classes are two elements that are vital to returning with a well-mannered dog who knows basic commands.

Another organization I have had recent contact with is Susquehanna Service Dogs, located in Pennsylvania. They want puppy raisers somewhat nearby as they provide training classes and veterinary care near their headquarters. In addition to puppy raisers, they keep a list of puppy sitters… people who are familiar with the program so that they can fill in for a day or a week or longer if puppy raiser needs to be away and can’t take the dog with them. This seems like a good way to test out whether full-time puppy raising is for you.

If you decide to apply to be a puppy raiser, you will have plenty of opportunity to have any additional questions answered during the application process.

More Dogs, More Miracles?
“If I hadn’t done this, I never would have had the joy of feeling that my efforts had, in fact, contributed to helping another human being live a more independent and productive life,” says puppy raiser Sondra Thiederman.

Susan Tyson of Susquehanna Service Dogs adds: “We’re changing people’s lives one dog at a time!”

To read about some of the lives that have been changed, see the story about Mary Hill, who needed to retire her first service dog so she is now one year into life with her new dog, or Professor John Terhorst, who teaches chemistry at Vanguard University and knows exactly why his students are always smiling in the classroom. There’s also Heather, a hearing dog, who makes Jeanne Glass’s life complete.

Also read about John Wiesniewski and his dog, Slate. Slate has helped two veterans who suffered symptoms of PTSD. There is also a story about a diabetic alert dog, Ija, who worked in the classroom with a teacher.

And many organizations have active facebook presences where you can keep up on the puppies and the progress with the people with whom they are eventually paired.

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Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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HuffPost Rise: What You Need To Know On August 16

Welcome to the HuffPost Rise Morning Newsbrief, a short wrap-up of the news to help you start your day.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Politics – The Huffington Post
SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN!-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News-
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Exercise Not an ‘Antidote’ to Too Much Sitting, Heart Experts Say

American Heart Association statement says it’s not enough to move to boost health, you have to sit less
healthfinder.gov Daily News
SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN!-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News-
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Pre-Start

It is only fear that allows you to keep making excuses for why you might not look, every day, into what is going right and what’s gone wrong in your life. Until you choose to be brave in your decisions and fearless with your self, you will have a hard time facing your need to be truthful and vigilant… which is what a quality life requires of you.

Getting Over Your Self does not come in a formula, so if you are here to avoid doing any work, you’re in the wrong isle… may I suggest romance novels. How dare I talk to you like that? Get Over Your Self and recognize when you are blaming others for what is happening inside of you.

Like everything else, working on yourself is only an opportunity. You can either let it pass you by, or work on clarifying your decision making processes to bring you closer to discovering the best in you… which is living with your truth specifically not following anyone else’s truth because it just doesn’t work to live someone else’s life, no matter how hard you pretend or how comfortable you try to make it. Last Warning: Look at the end result of your decisions before you make them. Embrace the quality of your own life’s decisions. It will work better for you than the alternative.

And that is why it is important that you discover what it means, and why there is value in, Getting Over Your Self. It is your choice to be Honest (truthful), use Foresight (have consideration), and be Brave (show integrity) so you can discover how to create the kind of life you and everyone around you can live with… which is why this blog is in single page chapters… to cut down on the rhetoric, which means a better (faster) experience for you. However, some of the chapters you will like and others you will not. Just so you know, this is not a workbook for you to follow in hopes of finding your “stuff” or fixing your “shit.” It is just a wake up call with tools listed in alphabetical order… the rest is up to you… and it really is up to you to find out what is keeping you from discovering the truth/your truth.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

Colorado To Vote On Physician-Assisted Suicide In November

DENVER, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Colorado voters will decide in November whether to legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients under a ballot question approved on Monday, a proposal opposed by some religious and disability-rights organizations.

Proponents of the so-called medical aid in dying initiative turned in enough valid signatures of registered voters to put the proposal on the November ballot, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a statement.

If approved, Colorado would join California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont as states that allow some form of physician-assisted suicide.

Julie Selsberg, spokeswoman for the Yes on Colorado End-of-Life Options campaign, said the ruling was a step closer for dying people and their families to have control over health care decisions.

“This proposal encourages discussion between patients and doctors about the patient’s end of life wishes and allows doctors who wish to provide this very compassionate care the ability to do so,” Selsberg said.

She said her father had died slowly from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Under the proposal, a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness who has six months or less to live and is deemed by a mental health professional to be of sound mind could get a prescription for life-ending drugs that would be self-administered.

Two licensed physicians would have to confirm the terminal diagnosis, and the patient would have to be informed of other treatment options.

The Colorado Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state’s bishops, called the ballot question “flawed logic” because the government would be in a position to promote suicide for some people, while trying to prevent it in others.

Other provisions would impose criminal penalties for people who misuse the life-ending drugs and grant doctors immunity from civil and criminal liability.

The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition said in a statement most of its members strongly opposed the measure.

“If assisted suicide is made available to anyone, it would be very easy to roll down the slippery slope of convincing people to take this assistance when that might not be the actual wish of the individual,” the group said.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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How Trump Is Costing Other Republican Candidates

Before the RNC, the Fiscal Times declared that Trump was “not as much of a drag on the ticket as some feared.” After a bad month for the GOP nominee, I decided to test that argument, to see if that was still the case. In 15 races for the U.S. Senate and governor, Democrats boosted their numbers in 10 of those cases, and held two others constant, showing “the Trump effect” was bad for the GOP.


2016-08-15-1471237468-8714947-IsTrumpADragOnTheTicket.jpg

In Arizona, 2008 Presidential nominee and GOP Senator John McCain is within the margin of error, after having a more comfortable lead back in May. Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, meanwhile, has opened up a double-digit lead on his opponent in Colorado, after leading by six points a month ago. Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio has seen his lead over Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy cut in half.

Early polls showed Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth with a six point lead over Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican, though his own poll had it a statistical dead-heat. But now her lead is up to seven points over Kirk. Missouri GOP Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican, was supposed to win reelection, but he finds his lead over Jason Kander narrowing somewhat. And in New Hampshire, GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte’s two point lead has been replaced by a ten point advantage to New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat.

The Tar Heel State represents Ground Zero in terms of trouble for Republican candidates. Governor Patrick McCrory sported a seven point lead, while Senator Richard Burr opened up a ten point lead. Both now trail their Democratic candidates, Attorney General Roy Cooper and state legislator Deborah Ross, respectively.

In March, Pennsylvania GOP Senator Pat Toomey was prevailing by 13 percentage points in his race against state environmental official Katie McGinty. Now she’s pulled ahead by three points. Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, who was beating Ron Johnson (the man who ousted him six years ago) by nine points, now boasts a double-digit lead.

Data was unavailable for the Indiana Senate race, but given the late entry of former popular Democratic Governor and Senator Evan Bayh and the shifting of the race from the Republican column, one can hardly conclude that this is a positive sign for the GOP in the Hoosier State.

Three Republicans have been able to increase their lead, despite a bad post-RNC Convention for Donald Trump. Nevada Congressman Joe Heck has regained a 1 point lead over Democratic Rival Cortez Masto in the race for Harry Reid’s Senate seat. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is now up by 10 points, instead of seven, over Democratic challenger Patty Judge. And Ohio Senator Rob Portman increased his lead to five points over former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who was leading by a point earlier this year.

But these boosts in popularity have hardly been the result of Trump’s strong candidacy. Even though the RNC was held in Cleveland, Ohio, Portman largely stayed away. In fact, he’s shied away from Trump in general, and regained his lead based on an independent streak, focusing on education, and capitalizing on Strickland’s mistakes.

Two incumbents in the survey have been able to maintain their current position. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, maintains his 32 point lead while Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson has reestablished his nine point lead over Democratic businessman Jim Barksdale.

Critics may claim that I am counting slight deviations for Democrats as boosts for the party. I am doing the same for Republicans, however, applying the same standards, using data from realclearpolitics except for the Duckworth-Kirk race, where the site did not pull up the polls, and I had to rely on other sources.

It is important to note that these findings represent a trend for cases of Democratic incumbents, Republican incumbents, and open seats. No congressional scandal or unpopular legislation can account for these trends. And those Republicans faring better or holding serve managed to stay away from Donald Trump. The GOP would be wise to spend their money preserving their Congressional majority, rather than send it to a candidate who has been a drag on the ticket.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Politics – The Huffington Post
SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN!-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News-
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Surviving Freshman Year 101

Avoid fast food and excess partying, and make the library your home away from home
healthfinder.gov Daily News
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Traveling Playmates And Benefits Of A Road Trip

A few days ago I posted about partners and how much fun it can be to play with them not only in your home city, but across the globe. There is something about traveling in an intimate space that can really bring you closer in connection with your partner.

That is one of the reasons why traveling on a road trip can be such a fun excursion. You have the opportunity not only to spend time with them in enjoyable places, but also become physically (and emotionally) close to them in order to further the relationship.

The Benefits of the Road Trip

Now that I’ve made it clear how great a road trip can be, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. What makes it so great? How can you improve the quality of your road trip? Here are a few of my answers.

1. Road trips test your boundaries – If you go on a road trip with your partner, it isn’t just fun and games. It is going to be work in some respects. You are going to have to learn what you can accept in the relationship and what you do not accept. There will be times where you feel the need for space, but through it all you will really learn how to connect with your partner and see them for what they are.

Testing your boundaries is the best thing that you can ask for in a relationship. Indeed, it is a great test of your abilities in partnership so that you can determine if you are ready for the next steps.

2. Road trips are about shared experiences – After a breakup, one of the reasons the city you mutually lived in is so hard to remain is because of everything that reminds you of them. These are the shared experiences. Now consider going across the country or globe with this significant other and all of the different experiences that you will share. It makes a big difference. Just make sure you capture those travel experiences so you don’t end up losing the memories or having them become stale.

3. Road trips strain financial and adult topics – some relationships are nothing but good feelings and a lesser version of hedonism (think partying, partying, sex, and partying with sex). While that can be fun, a relationship is going to face practical challenges and it is better to look at them sooner than later.

Go Forth and Travel

You may never consider traveling with your partner in the same way after you do a road trip together. In fact, you may never see them as humans in the same way. This is one of the reasons why it is so imperative to try something like this. Stretching the bounds of your relationship will ultimately leave you knowing more, connecting deeper, and feeling better about yourself and future together.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

I’m An Olympic Paratriathlete, And Sleep Training Is My Winning Secret

Sleep. It’s the five-letter word that can send some of us into frenzy-fueled insomnia. We’ve all been there: counting down the hours until we can get back into bed, only to find ourselves staying up too late staring at undeserving screens, — one in the parade of sleep saboteurs we face each day. When you finally pull the covers up, you promise yourself tomorrow night you will be better, only to repeat the sleepless cycle night after night, leaving your eyes heavy and your mind foggy day after day.

As a new mom and an elite-level athlete I have beyond-busy days so I’m no stranger to exhaustion. But I’m also always looking for ways to take my training to the next level. I have two amazing coaches who push me every day in my swimming, biking and running. My nutritionist has helped me hone my diet so I can fuel my body to get me through even the most exhaustive workout. I work with a sports psychologist who helps me mentally prepare and focus for each race, and a team of others who help me and my muscles recover for the next day of training.

melissa stockwell

In my personal life, I have an amazing support system of babysitters, a nanny and an encouraging husband, who watch our son while I train to be the best athlete I can be. And yet, I’ve still found myself exhausted halfway through the day, struggling to find the energy to get through a second workout. Being a new mom, I knew that exhaustion was part of the parenting package. But when I was often too exhausted to keep up with second workouts that once came so naturally, I knew I needed a change. Cue training for sleep!

Working with a sleep expert from Sleep Number, I’ve learned the ins and outs of full mind-body recovery thanks to a sound night’s sleep. Deep sleep not only restores the spirit, but energizes the brain and body. Too little, and your ability to make split-second decisions is compromised. On ultra-intense training days, my body needs even more sleep than the average person’s does so I can fully recover from the day. My husband and I are lucky that our son is a great sleeper — once he is asleep, he typically doesn’t wake up for 10 to 11 hours, giving us plenty of time for our own restorative sleep. I’ve learned to limit caffeine (no midday latte for me), avoid bright lights before bedtime and ditch the devices at least an hour before I hit the sheets, all while trying to maintain the same sleep schedule every night.

Sometimes these suggestions are easier said than done, but I’ve made a strong effort to incorporate them into my routine, with the goal of getting eight or more hours of solid sleep a night. And it must be working because soon after I began my sleep training, I’ve noticed a drastic change in my days. My mind has been clearer and I can focus longer. Whether it’s in the pool, on the bike or reading a bedtime story to my son, I’m able to savor moments in a new way.

My training has improved, I’m able to push my body further than ever before, and I’ve seen my training times gradually speed up. I’ve experienced firsthand how sleep training can quickly become an athlete’s secret weapon. After all, my bed has become one more tool that helps me take my training to the next level so I can be ready to race with the world’s finest athletes this year in Rio!

Just like diet and exercise, sleep is unique to each person and important for optimal health. Sleep Number® beds adjust on each side to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support — your Sleep Number® setting. And when you add SleepIQ® technology you’ll know what to adjust for your best possible sleep.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Trump Rails Against Press In Response To Reports Of Chaos

U.S. Republican Donald Trump on Saturday repeated his attack on President Barack Obama that he helped “found” Islamic State and railed against media reports that his campaign is failing, at a campaign rally in Connecticut, a state where he has a long-shot of being victorious.

Speaking for more than an hour in a sweltering room, Trump spent a significant portion of his speech complaining about the media.

He again threatened to revoke the press credentials of The New York Times. The credentials allow reporters access to press-only areas of his campaign events. He has already banned other outlets, including The Washington Post.

On Saturday, the New York newspaper published an article detailing failed efforts to make Trump focus his campaign on the general election.

“These are the most dishonest people,” Trump said. “Maybe we’ll start thinking about taking their press credentials away from them.”

Trump visiting Connecticut, a heavily Democratic state, raised eyebrows among many Republicans.

“It’s asinine that he would be in Connecticut holding a public rally less than 90 days before the election,” said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak. “You don’t see Hillary publicly campaigning in Idaho and Mississippi. I have to think this proves the candidate is running the campaign, which explains why it’s such a disaster of biblical proportions.”

At several points the crowd chanted “lock her up,” a frequent campaign rally chant in reference to Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump told the crowd that normally he responds by saying he intends instead to defeat her in the Nov. 8 election, but this time added, “You know what? You have a point!”

Trump also dropped his recent efforts to say he was not being serious when he said Obama was the “founder” of the Islamic State militant group .

“It’s the opinion of myself and a lot of people that he was the founder,” Trump told the crowd.

Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized Trump’s assertion as patently false.

Trump took a detour from attacking Clinton’s economic record to discuss the 1998 scandal involving White House intern Monica Lewinsky and former President Bill Clinton, whom Republicans attempted to impeach.

“Remember when he said, he did not have sex with that woman, and a couple of weeks later, oh you got me,” Trump said, to cheers. He then made reference to a blue dress that became a symbol in the investigation. “I’m so glad they kept that dress, so glad they kept that dress, because it shows what the hell they are.”

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Politics – The Huffington Post
SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN!-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News-
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Zika Not Changing Most Americans’ Florida Travel Plans: Poll

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials declare public health emergency in Puerto Rico
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Lindsey and Will: Miami, August 2016

2016-08-14-1471154681-7355893-TogethernessLindseyandWIllSilhouetteForeheadssndIMG_5619HPA.jpg

Lindsey and Will, image from pre-wedding togetherness photo shoot done at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. I met Will, a passionate, highly talented Christian Poet, a few years ago in the streets of Wynwood and we soon adopted each other as Uncle and Nephew. I have beheld and been inspired by Will’s and Lindsey’s beautiful courtship, in which keeping to their shared Faith, they have abstained from kissing and physical intimacy until they are married. Here, we had finished our session and were beneath a covered walkway waiting for the rain to let up when I “saw” this image and together we made it. Very often great results come when a session is wrapped but another great shot is seen and creativity rules.

Robert@robertzuckerman.com
www.robertzuckerman.com

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

Twitter Is Dragging Demi Lovato Over Tasteless Zika Joke And You’re Invited [UPDATE]

UPDATE: 2:20 p.m. ― Demi Lovato has responded to her social media critics with a Twitter apology, explaining that her laughter wasn’t directed at her mother’s controversial comments. 

“In no way did I mean to offend anyone last night,” she wrote. “I was laughing at how southern my mom sounded, not the issue at hand. Deepest apologies.”

Lovato probably should have stopped there, but minutes later, shared another tweet to politely inform those interested that if we follow her on social media, we’re obviously still fans. 

“I ain’t goin nowhere bitches,” she wrote. 

PREVIOUSLY: Twitter would like to cordially invite you to the #DemiLovatoIsOverParty. Black tie optional, gifts accepted and it goes all night. 

On Friday, Demi Lovato angered fans with a Snapchat video of her mother, Dianna Hart, making light of the Zika virus, which has been linked to as many as 1,700 cases of birth defects in Brazil since the outbreak began in 2015. 

“Everybody down in Rio gonna get the Zika virus,” Hart tells the camera, drink in hand. Lovato can be heard laughing in the background. 

To add insult to injury, the singer included three laughing emojis in the Snapchat. You can watch the video here

The Snapchat was one of two Lovato shared yesterday. The other clip, captioned “Momma  ,” shows Hart dancing next to Lovato, encouraging her daughter to join in on the fun. 

Brazilian social media users were the first to spread word of the video online, sparking a conversation on Twitter about why Lovato would ever share the Snapchat, let alone condone her mother’s insensitive comments. Soon, #DemiLovatoIsOverParty was trending worldwide. (The hashtag plays on #KimExplosedTaylorParty, which took root after video surfaced appearing to show Taylor Swift approving certain lyrics of Kanye West’s controversial song “Famous” after she denied having any knowledge of them.) 

The “Cool For The Summer” singer’s legion of fans ― known as Lovatics ― then came out in full force to defend their queen, shifting the blame to Hart and pointing fingers at rival fandoms for getting the hashtag trending. 

Lovato has yet to address the controversy, and, as the ex-Disney star already made clear, she chooses to Snapchat, instead of tweet, to avoid this kind of response.

Good party? Hope you got a goodie bag!

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Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin-http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Friday Talking Points — GOP Anti-Trump Rants

This column has always loved a good rant. Most of the time, we provide our own rant at the end of the column, on a subject too big to be contained in talking points. This week, we provide a number of rants from Republicans about their very own party’s presidential nominee. Yes, it’s only August and the Republican Party is coming apart at the seams. Which, of course, makes for great summertime reading for all!

Before we get to all the Republican-on-Republican violence, though, we’ve got to cast an eye over the week that was. If there’s one thing that is unmistakably true about Donald Trump it is that he just can’t help himself. You can read that literally — nothing he seems to do ever improves his standing with the general electorate — or as a metaphor for Trump’s inability to stop saying silly and outrageous things in public. Either way, Trump certainly does pack a lot into a single campaign week, and can probably be expected to continue doing so right up to Election Day.

This was (as were many other previous weeks in the campaign calendar) supposed to be the week when Donald Trump successfully “pivoted” and turned everything around. To say that didn’t happen would be an understatement. Hillary Clinton had a mini-scandal break that even involved emails, and yet it was barely a story in the political world (the emails weren’t all that damning, even to anti-Clinton types) — because Trump was, once again, sucking up all the oxygen.

Trump started the week off with a serious, read-from-a-TelePrompTer speech on the economy. This was the big pivot, folks! Everyone look — Trump’s being serious. Right up until he mispronounced the word “cities,” inexplicably replacing the “c” with a “t.” So much for being serious.

Later in the week, Trump claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton got together a few years ago and said to each other: “Hey, we’ve got some free time, why not start a jihadist group in Iran and Syria?” No, really — Trump claimed both Obama and Clinton were not only “founders” of the Islamic State, but apparently also that the Islamic State has somehow become a sports league who hands out “most valuable player” awards — which would, of course, go to Obama and Clinton. Got all that? When gently asked to perhaps rephrase his statement a bit, Trump (of course) declined.

Trump also proposed during the week that U.S. civilians accused of terrorism either be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or be tried in military tribunals. This remark, while shockingly unconstitutional, kind of got lost in the whirlwind, though.

Much more attention was paid to Trump using the “Second Amendment people” dog-whistle to a crowd, suggesting that perhaps guns would be the best answer if President Hillary Clinton ever started trying to appoint federal judges.

Once again, any one of these statements would have been a career-ender for just about any political candidate imaginable, but then Donald Trump is beyond “imaginable” and always has been.

Trump utterly blew his planned pivot to seriousness, pretty much all week long. He even blew a chance to rip into Clinton for having the Orlando shooter’s father behind her at a rally — while congressional-page-enthusiast Mark Foley was sitting right behind Trump. It’s like we’ve all fallen into a bad Hollywood script that would never have been greenlighted for a movie, or something.

While Trump continues to absolutely tank in the polls (including all of the swing states he would need to claim victory), the Republican National Committee is apparently getting a wee bit nervous. They’re holding what is being described as a “come to Jesus” meeting with Trump campaign staffers today, so who knows what will happen next? Some prominent Republicans are already publicly calling for the R.N.C. to direct all its money away from Trump and instead towards desperately trying to hold onto some Senate and House seats, but we’ll get to that in the talking points section.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has pulled all advertising out of Virginia and Colorado, because they consider those two swing states in the bag for Clinton. Instead, they’re expanding operations in (are you sitting down?) Arizona and Georgia. No wonder some Republicans are already darkly muttering about the impending landslide that’s going to bury Trump. Hillary Clinton even wrote an op-ed for a Utah paper, a formerly reddest-of-the-red state that could also flip for her.

Team Clinton is almost gleeful in their triangulation plans, at this point. Hillary is reaching out to Republican voters everywhere, but in doing so she risks generating some backlash among progressives, who already mistrust her. But the confidence being exuded by the Clinton campaign is palpable, and today Hillary released her 2015 tax return while taunting Trump to do the same (with a new “What’s he trying to hide” ad).

All that, in one week. Whew! And it’s only August… things will undoubtedly speed up even further in the coming months. But for now, let’s move right along to the awards.

 

Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

Senator Bernie Sanders gets a Honorable Mention this week, for clearly denouncing the decision made this week by the Drug Enforcement Agency to keep marijuana on Schedule I, a definition that includes the phrase “has no currently accepted medical use” — even though half of the United States have now legalized medicinal use. Sanders is also co-sponsor in the Senate of a bill that would throw the legal issue to the states once and for all. See my column from yesterday for more details about this backward-facing decision, but it’s good to see a politician who isn’t afraid to get on the right side of history in such fashion.

But the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week goes to none other than President Obama. What with everyone intensely watching all the polling surrounding the presidential race, Obama’s job approval numbers haven’t been in the news of late. They should be, however.

This week, on the Real Clear Politics tracking page, Obama sits at 51.9 percent approval from the public, with only 44.2 percent disapproval. Those are better numbers than he’s seen since the second month of his second term, three-and-a-half years ago. Obama not only has been rising all year long, but he also got a convention “bump” in the polls on top of it. This should cheer up Hillary Clinton, because presidential job approval polling is very predictive of who will win in November. If Obama keeps his numbers above 50 until then — as now seems entirely possible — then Clinton might just be a shoo-in.

There’s a simple explanation for this trend. It’s not because of some big legislative victory Obama just won in Congress (Congress has barely done anything this year). It’s not because of some dramatic foreign or domestic policy win, either. Obama is rising in the public’s estimation because people are now being seriously confronted with the two candidates who might be our next president. In other words, the more the public pays attention to the 2016 campaign, the better they think of the job Barack Obama is doing.

One of the most amusing moments at the Democratic National Convention was hearing, during President Obama’s speech, several shouts of “Four more years!” (even though this is constitutionally impossible). It seems a whole lot of other people are going to miss Obama when he’s gone, and his spike upwards in the polls to almost 52 percent approval wins President Obama this week’s Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate President Barack Obama via the White House contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We almost didn’t have anyone to give this week’s Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award, but one really stupid gaffe caught our eye at the last moment.

Congressman Patrick Murphy is running in the Democratic primary in Florida to be the Democrat to take on Marco Rubio. While criticizing Donald Trump (and his “hatred and fear-mongering”), Murphy had the following to say, to Jorge Ramos:

We are stronger as one, as a united country. That’s what makes this country so beautiful and so unique. You know, you think of the Statue of Liberty, right? And all of us. I’m an immigrant. We’re all basically immigrants here. And you think of that beacon of hope, of opportunity, and Trump is tearing that apart. And that is scary to me.

Except that he’s not actually an immigrant. From his own official biography page, he was “born and raised in Florida, spending most of his childhood along the South Florida coast.” He’s also already gotten into trouble about exaggerating his own history during his campaign — which would tend to make you a lot more careful about what you say, you would think.

Reasonable people can interpret this as a weak attempt at a sweeping statement. “I’m an immigrant,” Murphy says, in the same spirit that we were all Charlie Hebdo, in other words. “Most Americans are,” Murphy might have said, “if you go back far enough in their family, immigrants.” Unfortunately he didn’t say that. He said “I’m an immigrant” when he most decidedly is not one. In Florida, where a lot of people care about that particular distinction.

This was a stumble, not an enormous fall. As we said, it almost doesn’t even reach the level of the MDDOTW award, but for his political misstatement he was more disappointing than any other Democrat this week, so we decided to go ahead and give Murphy the award anyway.

[Contact Representative Patrick Murphy on his House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 403 (8/12/16)

It is extraordinarily rare for prominent members of a political party to publicly denounce their chosen presidential nominee. It’s so rare in normal elections that it becomes big news immediately. This election, however, it has become almost commonplace for Republicans to repudiate Donald Trump’s candidacy. As a mark of how commonplace it is, we had not just one scathing indictment of Trump and his campaign this week, but three.

The first is from Republican Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, who penned an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, explaining why she cannot bring herself to vote for or support her party’s nominee. The second was from a group of 50 national security professionals stretching from the Nixon administration to the Cheney administration (whoops, we meant to say the “Bush administration,” obviously). Kidding aside, these are the serious foreign policy types on the right, and they not only stated they weren’t going to vote for Trump, they predicted that if he wins he will be “the most reckless President in American history.” And the third public evisceration of Trump came from 70 Republicans who called on the Republican National Committee to “immediately halt all support for Donald Trump and invest its resources in a real and winnable campaign to save the Republican Senate and House.”

So with that wealth of anti-Trump material coming from his own party, it seems almost redundant to come up with Democratic talking points this week. There is plenty of material available — just in the past week alone — that badmouths Trump worse than we could hope to do. So we’re just going to provide excerpts from these three documents, with a bonus quote at the end, just for the heck of it.

 

Senator Susan Collins

Senator Collins started her opinion piece off with a flat statement: “I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president.” She explains how she struggled with this decision, but Donald Trump just made it harder and harder for her to explain away his own behavior.

With the passage of time, I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize. But it was his attacks directed at people who could not respond on an equal footing — either because they do not share his power or stature or because professional responsibility precluded them from engaging at such a level — that revealed Mr. Trump as unworthy of being our president.

My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities. Three incidents in particular have led me to the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Trump lacks the temperament, self-discipline and judgment required to be president.

Collins then lists her three incidents — Trump mocking a reporter for his disability, Trump stating that a judge born in Indiana couldn’t possibly be fair to him because of his “Mexican heritage,” and Trump’s attacks on the Gold Star parents who appeared at the Democratic National Convention. Each time, says Collins, she “waited in vain for Mr. Trump to retract his words.” Then she begins painting a larger picture.

I am also deeply concerned that Mr. Trump’s lack of self-restraint and his barrage of ill-informed comments would make an already perilous world even more so. It is reckless for a presidential candidate to publicly raise doubts about honoring treaty commitments with our allies. Mr. Trump’s tendency to lash out when challenged further escalates the possibility of disputes spinning dangerously out of control.

I had hoped that we would see a “new” Donald Trump as a general-election candidate — one who would focus on jobs and the economy, tone down his rhetoric, develop more thoughtful policies and, yes, apologize for ill-tempered rants. But the unpleasant reality that I have had to accept is that there will be no “new” Donald Trump, just the same candidate who will slash and burn and trample anything and anyone he perceives as being in his way or an easy scapegoat. Regrettably, his essential character appears to be fixed, and he seems incapable of change or growth.

Pretty harsh, but this was actually the kindest towards Trump of the three documents released this week. Which brings us to the next one, from the foreign policy experts.

 

National security officials’ letter

This extraordinary letter also starts off (after an introductory paragraph explaining who the group is) with a blanket statement: “None of us will vote for Donald Trump.” Once again, these are all Republicans, not some partisan sniping by Democrats. This letter minces no words whatsoever.

From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.

Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.

The letter ends by first explaining all the qualities and temperament necessary for any president (willing to listen to advisors, acknowledge errors, be disciplined, etc.). Then it tears into how far Trump falls short:

In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

We understand that many Americans are profoundly frustrated with the federal government and its inability to solve pressing domestic and international problems. We also know that many have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us. But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election. We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.

C’mon, guys, tell us what you really think! Sorry, but at some point you just have to laugh at the language fellow Republicans are using against their own candidate. This letter lays out one targeted idea — Trump being unfit to handle foreign policy — while the next brings a very different focus.

 

Begging the RNC to bail on Trump

The third letter is entirely political in nature, since it was addressed to Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee. It begs the R.N.C. to ditch Trump in no uncertain terms, from the second paragraph onwards.

Given the catastrophic impact that Donald Trump’s losing presidential campaign will have on down-ballot Senate and House races, we urge you to immediately suspend all discretionary RNC support for Trump and focus the entirety of the RNC’s available resources on preserving the GOP’s congressional majorities.

They have already given up on winning the White House, obviously, and are now terrified that they are facing a disastrous landslide in November.

We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck.

This should not be a difficult decision, as Donald Trump’s chances of being elected president are evaporating by the day.

“Evaporating by the day” — that has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? The letter then lists all the reasons why Trump has already “alienated millions of voters of all parties,” most of which are specific but also including a few catchall items on the list, such as: “Exposing his total ignorance of basic foreign policy matters,” and: “Deliberately and repeatedly lying about scores of issues, large and small.” They even slam Trump for not releasing his tax forms, then continue in the same vein.

Those recent outrages have built on his campaign of anger and exclusion, during which he has mocked and offended millions of voters, including the disabled, women, Muslims, immigrants, and minorities. He also has shown dangerous authoritarian tendencies, including threats to ban an entire religion from entering the country, order the military to break the law by torturing prisoners, kill the families of suspected terrorists, track law-abiding Muslim citizens in databases, and use executive orders to implement other illegal and unconstitutional measures.

Since it’s a letter with a political focus, it then turns to the dismal polling they’ve been seeing:

[C]urrent polling gives Trump barely a 15 percent chance of being elected president in November. That polling projects a potential 350 electoral vote blowout for Hillary Clinton, including a sweep of every battleground state from Florida to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. Trump’s across-the-board collapse has put even Republican bastions like Georgia and Arizona in play.

That’s a pretty apocalyptic statement for the beginning of August! It’s understandable when people get nervous a few weeks out from an election, but the general election has barely begun, and these Republicans are already worried about Hillary Clinton getting 350 electoral votes.

The letter then itemizes Trump’s refusal to support members of the Republican Party, which includes things like calling an “incumbent Republican Senator a ‘loser’ to his Senate peers,” and “Repeating his false and outlandish claims that yet another Senator’s father played some role in the Kennedy assassination.” This leads them to an extraordinary conclusion — again, it is only early August.

In summary, every dollar spent by the RNC on Donald Trump’s campaign is a dollar of donor money wasted on the losing effort of a candidate who has actively undermined the GOP at every turn. Rather than throwing good money after bad, the RNC should shift its strategy and its resources to convince voters not to give Hillary Clinton the “blank check” of a Democrat-controlled Congress to advance her big government agenda.

 

Rick Wilson minces no words

All of that was pretty scathing, we’ve got to admit. Republican-on-Republican violence is never pretty to watch, to put it mildly. But when reading an article in Salon which detailed how many extreme rightwing strategists and media types have denounced Trump, the following really stood out. We close today with the thoughts of Rick Wilson, “GOP strategist.”

I have opposed Trump from the first day of his wretched, crapulous campaign. I have opposed Trump when his clownish minions called my clients seeking to have me fired. I have opposed The Donald when his slavish of Trumpbart stooges ran story after story attacking me, and unleashed their fever-swamp yokels on my email, my phone and my family.

I will continue to oppose Trump, implacably and unceasingly.

I will not bend. I will not cease this fight. I will never embrace this thuggish, venal, gibbering psychotic, and I will not countenance those who do. I don’t care if I’m the last Republican in America standing to resist this man, but with almighty God as my witness, I will not vote for Donald Trump.

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:

ChrisWeigant.com

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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This Dad-Daughter Conversation Will Make You Want To Call Your Parents

At some point in your life, you realize your parents are only human: They make mistakes and are probably more like you than you ever recognized growing up. 

In the latest installment from “The And,” an interactive documentary series about relationships and familial love, a single dad and daughter from the Netherlands sit down for a heartfelt conversation that touches on their similarities and the challenges they’ve faced together.

The father, Jhein, admits that it worries him that Rosa, the daughter he’s raised on his own since the divorce, is so similar to him. 

“You’re so much like me and I haven’t made it easy for myself in my life,” he says. “I see you going that way, too, and I don’t want that for you. When I worry about this, I hope you’ll reassure me that it’s OK that you are the way you are.”

“It’s OK,” Rosa sweetly reminds her dad. 

Watch Jhein and Rosa’s full conversation in the video above.

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