Time is a flat circle
August 5, 2014
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True Detective's impressive ratings and critical acclaim came, in no small part, from Matthew McConaughey's performance as protagonist Rust Cohle. The character's pessimistic philosophical monologues are one of True Detective's most memorable trademarks, and they'll probably earn McConaughey a Best Actor Emmy later this month.

But as series creator Nic Pizzolatto prepares True Detective's second season, some viewers are accusing him of plagiarizing the very monologues that put his HBO drama on the map. Mike Davis, the editor of The Lovecraft eZine, collaborated with Thomas Ligotti Online founder Jon Padgett to track down similarities between Rust Cohle's dialogue in True Detective and a Thomas Ligotti book called The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. The duo found nearly a dozen instances in which Cohle's dialogue seemed to be cribbed from Ligotti; you can compare them for yourself at The Lovecraft eZine.

"As I reviewed Jon's research, and did more of my own, any doubts I had about plagiarism disappeared," Davis writes. "It became obvious to me that Pizzolatto had plagiarized Thomas Ligotti and others — in some places using exact quotes, and in others changing a word here and there, paraphrasing in much the same way that a high school student will cheat on an essay by copying someone else's work and substituting a few words of their own."

Pizzolatto hasn't responded to the accusations, but he has occasionally acknowledged Ligotti's influence on the show. "I read The Conspiracy Against the Human Race and found it incredibly powerful writing," he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "For me as a reader, it was less impactful as philosophy than as one writer's ultimate confessional: an absolute horror story, where the self is the monster. In episode one [of True Detective] there are two lines in particular (and it would have been nothing to re-word them) that were specifically phrased in such a way as to signal Ligotti admirers." Consider them signaled. Scott Meslow

some personal news
3:49 p.m. ET

Top conservative blogger Erick Erickson is leaving his role as RedState editor-in-chief at the end of December, he announced in a blog post Monday. The departure had been rumored since August, when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution alluded to a possible "re-ordering of Erick Erickson's life."

Leon Wolf, a longtime RedState writer, will become the site's managing editor. Erickson, who has served as editor-in-chief for 10 years, wrote that he'll still contribute to the site and attend 2016's RedState Gathering. He cited his growing radio career as the reason for the shift.

"Right now, RedState is me and I am RedState. It's time for Erick to be Erick and it is time for RedState to have its own identity," Erickson wrote. "I think Leon is the best person to run that transition and make that happen." Julie Kliegman

Presidential polling
3:33 p.m. ET
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If Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina were to face off in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup in Iowa right now, Fiorina would crush Clinton by double digits. A new The Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll has Fiorina beating Clinton 52-38 — a margin of 14 points. And while Fiorina was the Republican who beat Clinton by the widest margin in Iowa, she wasn't the only Republican to lead Clinton in a matchup. Clinton also trailed Jeb Bush by 10 points and Donald Trump by 7 points in Iowa.

While Clinton is still the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, her biggest competition, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), fared better than she did against Fiorina, Bush, and Trump in Iowa. Sanders only lags behind Fiorina by 3 points and behind Bush by 2 points; in a Trump matchup, Sanders leads by 5 points.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points. Becca Stanek

3:11 p.m. ET
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed President Obama's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, calling it "nothing short of crazy," The Associated Press reports.

"There is a reason the director of national intelligence said among those refugees are no doubt a significant number of ISIS terrorists," he told a crowd at a Michigan campaign stop Monday. "It would be the height of foolishness to bring in tens of thousands of people, including jihadists, that are coming here to murder innocent Americans."

But James Clapper, who Cruz refers to, has not said that. Rather, he's mentioned he's aware of the risk.

The Obama administration has also announced its plan to up its total refugee acceptance to 100,000 per fiscal year by 2017, a target designed to accommodate people fleeing Syria. As part of the September announcement, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed background checks would be a part of the process in an effort to keep ISIS fighters from infiltrating refugee pools. Julie Kliegman

This just in
2:54 p.m. ET
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House Speaker John Boehner announced Monday that the floor vote for his replacement will take place on Oct. 29, just one day before he is set to step down as speaker and resign from Congress. However, Boehner announced, the vote for the other two GOP leadership positions — majority leader and majority whip — will be delayed until after a new speaker is selected, changing the original plan for House Republicans to vote for all leadership positions on the same day.

Boehner's announcement comes just a day after two members requested a delay in the voting process, saying that it would "be presumptive to schedule elections without a vacancy for those posts," The Washington Post reports. As Politico explains, this delay "gives more time for conservatives to find a candidate to run against [Louisiana Rep. Steve] Scalise and Georgia Rep. Tom Price."

The new speaker will be left with the decision of when to hold the votes for lower-level leadership posts. Becca Stanek

This just in
2:34 p.m. ET

Russia warned Monday that it could not stop "volunteer" forces from fighting in Syria, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's assurances that the use of ground troops was off the table. However, according to a statement from the former commander of the Black Sea fleet, Vladimir Komoyedov, "A unit of Russian volunteers, conflict veterans, will probably appear in the ranks of the Syrian army." Sending in unmarked ground troops has become a familiar Russian tactic, after unidentified Russian forces seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and were later caught fighting the Ukrainian army in the ongoing conflict there; Admiral Komoyedov suggests that it would be those very veterans who would be appearing to fight in Syria.

Last week, Russia began air strikes that supposedly target the Islamic State and Syrian al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front. Many sources, however, have reported that the strikes instead hit Western-backed rebels. Jeva Lange

drill baby drill
2:20 p.m. ET
Justin E. Stumberg/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

BP will pay $20.8 billion in penalties for the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill, marking the U.S.'s largest ever settlement with a single entity, the Justice Department announced Monday. The number is up from the $18.7 billion figure originally announced in July.

The settlement includes payments for claims from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, along with local governments and the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act, NPR reports.

"BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

On April 10, 2010, a BP drilling rig blew out, leaking 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next three months. After 60 days of public comment on the settlement, the deal will go before a federal judge for final approval. Julie Kliegman

1:37 p.m. ET
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One day before the New York Yankees take on the Houston Astros in the American League's Wild Card matchup, the team announced left-handed pitcher CC Sabathia has checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.

"I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series," he said in the statement Monday. "It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father, and player."

Sabathia, 35, is widely considered one of the best pitchers in baseball, notching a Cy Young Award, World Series title, and six All-Star nods since he got his start with the Cleveland Indians in 2001. The pitcher said he plans to rejoin the Yankees after completing rehab.

"Being a baseball player means that others look up to you," Sabathia said. "I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help."

The Star-Ledger has the full statement here. Julie Kliegman

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