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April 29, 2014
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In a way, writers are like restaurants: We usually only hear from our customers (or readers) when they complain.

Along those lines, New York Times columnist David Brooks gets more than his share of grief, so I thought I'd take a moment and compliment him on his latest column, "Saving the System." He makes several thought-provoking points.

First, Brooks does a pretty good job of answering the question: Why should we care what happens in Syria or Ukraine, etc.?:

The U.S. faces a death by a thousand cuts dilemma. No individual problem is worth devoting giant resources to. It's not worth it to spend huge amounts of treasure to establish stability in Syria or defend a Western-oriented Ukraine. But, collectively, all the little problems can undermine the modern system. No individual ailment is worth the expense of treating it, but, collectively, they can kill you. [New York Times]

Inherent in this analogy is the difficulty in motivating Americans to support intervention. After all, one cut isn't going to kill you, so, on any given occasion, a cost-benefit analysis won't warrant the trouble.

This, Brooks explains, is why it is inherently difficult to preserve liberal pluralistic society in the long run:

The weakness with any democratic foreign policy is the problem of motivation. How do you get the electorate to support the constant burden of defending the liberal system?

It was barely possible when we were facing an obviously menacing foe like the Soviet Union. But it's harder when the system is being gouged by a hundred sub-threshold threats. The Republicans seem to have given up global agreements that form the fabric of that system, while Democrats are slashing the defense budget that undergirds it.

Moreover, people will die for Mother Russia or Allah. But it is harder to get people to die for a set of pluralistic procedures to protect faraway places. It's been pulling teeth to get people to accept commercial pain and impose sanctions. [New York Times]

If you have never really understood the rationale for a hawkish foreign policy — if you think we should focus solely on "nation building at home" — then this is a pretty good explainer as to why many conservatives support policies that, on the surface, may seem absurd. Matt K. Lewis

12:10 a.m. ET
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Former Bachelor contestant Chris Soules has been charged with leaving the scene of a deadly crash, a felony, following an accident Monday night near Aurora, Iowa.

Police say Soules, 35, was driving his 2008 Chevrolet truck down a country road when he rear-ended a farmer driving a tractor; the pick up rolled into a ditch and the tractor went into another ditch. Soules, who was not injured in the crash, walked away from the scene, and was picked up by an unknown person, Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright told The Des Moines Register. Several hours later, he was arrested at his home in Arlington, and on Tuesday was charged with a felony; if convicted, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Authorities say they are investigating if Soules was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, and during his court appearance, Buchanan County Assistant Attorney Jenalee Zaputil said he refused to come out of his home to be arrested until a search warrant was obtained. The driver of the tractor has been identified by police as Kenneth E. Mosher, 66, a farmer living in Aurora. Friends say he was married with two children, a veteran, and a member of the American Legion. Soules first appeared on The Bachelorette in 2014, and was chosen to star in the 19th season of The Bachelor the next year. He later was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and Worst Cooks in America. In 2005, he was convicted of drunken driving. Catherine Garcia

12:00 a.m. ET

Last month, President Trump dismissed speculation that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's job is in jeopardy, telling a small working lunch that he's "not firing Sean Spicer" because "that guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in," The Washington Post reports. Trump reportedly added, proudly, that Spicer's daily briefings draw nearly as many viewers as daytime soap operas. "Clearly, Sean Spicer is a soap opera," Stephen Colbert joked on Monday's Late Show. "That explains why his character is constantly getting amnesia."

On Tuesday, The Late Show picked up the Spicer-soap opera thread again, this time splicing Spicer into his own soap opera, The Bold and the Babbling. (The actual soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, not coincidentally, is on CBS, like The Late Show.) Instead of amnesia, though, the bold, babbling Spicer appears to have a paternity problem. Watch below. Peter Weber

April 25, 2017
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A suspected murderer gave police an alibi so outlandish — it involves a masked assailant with a voice like Vin Diesel's who was ultimately chased off with a blowtorch — that the fact a Fitbit could hold the key to whether he is telling the truth isn't the strangest part of the story.

Richard Dabate told authorities that at around 9 a.m. on Dec. 23, 2015, a mysterious intruder entered his Ellington, Connecticut, home, and subdued him using "pressure points," The Guardian reports. Then, using a gun belonging to Richard, the man shot Dabate's wife, Connie, as she returned home from the gym. Dabate then claimed he used a blowtorch to chase the assailant away. Police say that Connie Dabate's Fitbit tells a different story.

The electronic physical activity tracking device showed that Connie was moving for more than an hour after her husband said the murder took place, police documents say. It also showed that once she came home, she moved more than 1,200 feet; Richard Dabate said she was killed in the garage right when she arrived home. Investigators say they also looked at computer records and found that Richard Dabate lied about sending an email to his work from the road, plus they were unable to find any signs of a forced entry, struggle, or a tall man with a "Vin Diesel voice," which is how Dabate described the alleged murderer.

Police say the couple's marriage was on shaky ground, and that Richard Dabate had a pregnant girlfriend on the side and attempted to claim a $475,000 life insurance policy on Connie Dabate five days after her murder. Now facing trial on charges of murder, tampering with evidence, and making a false statement, Dabate is due back in court Friday. Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2017
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Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her ex-boss Roger Ailes last year, is writing a book on women's empowerment that will come out this fall.

Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back is set to be released on Sept. 26, Hachette's Center Street Books announced Tuesday. The book will teach women how to recognize harassment and how to fight back, as well as share ways to end workplace abuse, the publisher says. After Carlson came forward with her claims against Ailes, which he denied, several other women lodged similar complaints, and he was ultimately ousted from Fox News. Carlson settled with the network in September.

"Make no mistake — sexual harassment is not just about sex," Carlson said in a statement. "It's really about power. Sexual harassers feel they can get away with it because they believe they're the ones holding all the cards. It doesn't occur to them that the women they're harassing have power, too. We need to encourage women to stop being silent, stand up and speak up, and join the movement. Together, we can make change." Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2017
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Several House Freedom Caucus members are close to throwing their support behind a new version of the GOP health-care bill, several White House officials and Republican lawmakers told The Washington Post Tuesday.

The officials said three of the ultra-conservative group's leaders — Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) — hinted on Tuesday that they will back the revised bill. The GOP's earlier plan fizzled in March, when House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pulled the American Health Care Act from the floor when it became clear it didn't have the votes. Most members of the House Freedom Caucus said at the time they would not vote for the bill as it was written.

Officials told The Post that the revised bill would make it so insurers could secure a federal waiver that kept them from having to cover certain essential health benefits established by the federal government, and while it would still require that people with preexisting conditions receive coverage, they could be charged higher premiums. The language was crafted by Meadows and Rep. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the more moderate Tuesday Group. Several Republicans told The Post that they are skeptical this new legislation would receive enough support, either, and GOP leaders in the House are not spearheading the discussions with the Freedom Caucus. Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2017
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A U.S. missile defense system that China views as a threat to its own military capabilities was sent to a deployment site in South Korea early Wednesday.

Area residents watched as six trailers carrying Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) equipment arrived at a golf course, and the Yonhap news agency reports that the delivery caused clashes between the locals and police. The system is designed to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles during their last flight stage, and is being deployed to counter the threat from North Korea.

North Korea is thought to be readying for its sixth nuclear weapons test. During his visit to South Korea earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence and the country's acting president agreed to an early deployment of the missile defense system. China has been vocal about its opposition to THAAD, as have South Koreans who think it escalates the situation with North Korea. Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2017
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An advocacy group is demanding an investigation into a post originally published on the State Department's ShareAmerica website that read like it came straight from the marketing department inside Trump Tower.

On Tuesday, Common Cause filed a complaint with the Office of Government Ethics over the post from early April, which went into rhapsodic detail over Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's Palm Beach, Florida, club that he calls the "Winter White House," even though it is now spring. Since becoming president, Trump has spent half of his weekends at the private club, and after the election, its membership fee doubled to $200,000.

The Mar-a-Lago post also appeared on the websites for the U.S. embassies in the U.K. and Albania, but after the news broke on Monday, it was was removed. Mark Toner, acting spokesman for the State Department, said the post was written by the International Information Program, and no one in the administration asked for it. "It was meant to provide historical information and context relevant to the conduct of U.S. diplomacy, and was not intended to endorse or promote any private enterprise," he told NBC News. Common Cause disagrees, and said the post was an "abuse of taxpayer funds" that proves Trump does not separate his business from the government. Another group, American Oversight, also filed a complaint on Tuesday, calling for an investigation into why the glowing post was written and how it came together. Catherine Garcia

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