Rachel Maddow

Before Jimmy Carter's grandson found the secret Romney video, he was a drifting, unmotivated policy researcher. Now, he's found his calling.

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 Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! In a culture of blurbs and bytes, Katharine Boo’s pieces keep getting longer. The art of deep reporting is her calling. Columbia Journalism Review | 6 min (1,403 words) Rachel Maddow never aims for partisan anger on her show. The war she fights on the air is with herself.  Rolling Stone | 22 min (5,483 words) The war on drugs helped birth hip-hop music.

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Specks of War

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so the other day I read Rachel Maddow’s new book. It is called Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, and it is an anthropologically useful document of the new American disaffection with American force.

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Here’s one thing the controversy over health insurance and contraception has taught us: Conservative men need to learn a thing or two about reproductive health. Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh made this obvious when, echoing other some other conservatives, he suggested women wouldn’t need coverage for birth control if they didn’t insist upon having so much sex. Referring to Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who has advocated for such coverage, Limbaugh said, “She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.

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Over-Rated Thinkers

Welcome to TNR’s 2011 list issue. Yesterday we named the most powerful, least famous people in Washington. Today’s installment: DC’s most over-rated thinkers. NEWT GINGRICH Maybe it’s the Ph.D., his extensive bibliography, or his constant appearances on Fox News, but Newt Gingrich has held on to his reputation as the “ideas man” of the Republican Party for too long. Last May, when Gingrich was contemplating a run in 2012, Eric Cantor swooned over his intellect and The Washington Post published a story headlined: “Newt Gingrich has Ideas.

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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy [with contributions from Matthew O'Brien and Darius Tahir] In late 2009, the parliament in Uganda began formally debating a law that would have sentenced gays and lesbians to life in prison – or, in some cases, to death. Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, but the lawmakers hoped the new law could improve enforcement. And very few people outside of the human rights advocacy community noticed. But Rachel Maddow did.

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When I read this quote, from a New York Observer story about disillusioned pro-Obama hipsters... Mr. Mahfouda said that the flag is now in his living room and hasn’t been unfurled in over a year. There are no immediate plans to bring it back out again for 2012. “My intuitive response is that [Obama] hasn’t done a ton,” he said.

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In the Margins

In the latest installment of its occasional series on how technology is ruining our lives, The New York Times reports on a conference about to be held by the Caxton Club, a group of Chicago bibliophiles, on how annotating books “enhance[s] the reading experience.” Alongside some entertaining literary tidbits (Nelson Mandela wrote his own name in the margin of Julius Caesar next to the line “Cowards die many times before their deaths”), we find in the article the usual doomsday musings on the fate of marginalia in the digital age. The Caxtonites, needless to say, are not into the Kindle.

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I've been writing for several months about the curious sense of disappointment afflicting liberals —the belief that they've been let down by a president who is, in fact, racking up historical achievements. Part of the reason for liberal dismay in an ahistorical understanding of how progress works. In the liberal memory, political success is bathed in golden-hued triumph. In reality, it is a grubby, stop-and-start process that looks pretty ugly up close.

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Rand Paul’s touching (and temporary) display of honesty on the Rachel Maddow show last week has triggered an enormous amount of criticism. Liberals and progressives have denounced as morally offensive Paul’s constitutional concerns about certain provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Conservatives, meanwhile, have taken to ridiculing Paul as a political novice who doesn’t know when to compromise his principles for the sake of expediency.

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