Playing politics
April 15, 2014
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Glenn Beck is warning conservatives not to get too caught up in the controversy over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who has been illegally grazing his cattle on federal land for more than 15 years. (Read more about the case here.) Yes, the federal government controls too much land out west — and yes, federal rangers went too far with their heavy-handed tactics — but Beck cautions that extremists are using this incident as an excuse to fan the flames of violence.

"We did some research online with PsyID today," Beck said on his show, "and found that there's about 10 or 15 percent of the people who are talking about this online that are truly frightening."

There are many "decent, small-government proponents from groups like the Tea Party" supporting Bundy, Beck continued, and they should be aware this controversy has drawn "violent, anti-government groups" who constitute "the right's version of Occupy Wall Street."

Tucker Carlson (my boss at the Daily Caller) made a related point on Fox News' Special Report Monday night:

I have a lot of sympathy for the Bundys. I think they were completely mistreated by the federal government. But I still think it's important to point out that this land does not belong to them and that's not a minor distinction, it's the essence of private property.

It's good to see conservatives are finally learning to eschew the knee-jerk impulse that assumes the enemy of my enemy is always my friend. Matt K. Lewis

it's getting hot in here
November 25, 2015

Without waiting for the end of the year, the World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year on record. "I would call it certain. Something game-changing massive would have to happen for it not to be a record," Deke Arndt, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's chief climate officer, told The Associated Press. 2015 saw temperatures soar worldwide as a result of a strong El Nino and man-made global warming, with the planet likely having warmed by 1 degree Celsius, an alarming climate change milestone.

Here's a look back at some of the extreme weather across the globe, from heat waves in Pakistan and India to Hurricane Patricia to droughts, floods, and fires across the United States. Jeva Lange

Kunduz hospital bombing
November 25, 2015

A U.S.-led airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan in October was the result of "human error," according to findings released today. The military had accidently aimed at the hospital instead of at the intended target, a Taliban command center 450 yards away. Technical errors were also at fault.

At least 30 staff members and patients were killed in the attack, which continued even after the humanitarian organization made repeated distress calls to U.S. and Afghan officials during the strike. "U.S. forces would never intentionally [strike] a hospital," Gen. John Campbell, the top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said. Jeva Lange

pies for the people
November 25, 2015

President Obama is a man who likes his pies. He's even joked that his former pastry chef, Bill Yosses, is so good at what he does that it's like the pies have crack in them (Obama and Michelle fondly called Yosses "the Crustmaster").

The Obama Thanksgiving dinners famously have all kinds of pies as a result of the president's tastes; last year there were at least half a dozen varieties including huckleberry, pecan, peach, apple, chocolate cream, sweet potato, pumpkin, cherry, and coconut and banana cream.

But why stop at six? Here's how you can make all of the famous White House pies from over the years. Jeva Lange

Obama's pumpkin pie

Mamie Eisenhower's pumpkin pie

Obama's apple pie

Obama's huckleberry pie

Obama's sweet potato pie

Obama's flaky nectarine pie

Michelle Obama's spinach pie

Laura Bush's Texas buttermilk coconut pie with whipped cream

Lady Bird Johnson's Pecan Pie

White House fruit pocket pies

happy thanksgiving
November 25, 2015

An estimated 1 percent of the U.S. population is catching a flight for Thanksgiving — although if their destinations are any indication, quite a few of those 3.6 million travelers aren't going home for the holiday. According to numbers crunched by The New York Times, places like Nevada and Hawaii have a large influx of incoming travelers this Thanksgiving, indicating that perhaps plenty of people across the U.S. have been pining for a little sun or slots. More than anywhere else, however, flights to Miami and Orlando have seen the biggest swell of travelers, once adjusted for populations.

To be fair, that doesn't necessarily mean everyone is racing to the beach rather than home to their families; "home to family," the Times points out, could mean visiting parents who have moved elsewhere and retired. Although that's not to say you can't kill two birds with one stone — both Orlando and Miami are expecting 80-degree Thanksgivings.

Take a look at where everyone's flying today, below. Jeva Lange

see something, say something
November 25, 2015
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Speaking at a campaign event in South Carolina on Tuesday, Donald Trump suggested that Americans should call the police on new people in their neighborhoods who look suspicious while moving in.

"People move into a house a block down the road, you know who's going in," Trump said. "You can see and you report them to the local police." He noted that "most likely" reports will be wrong, "but that's OK." In this manner, Trump added, everyone can be "their own cop in a way."

The same evening, Trump redoubled his calls for surveillance of "mosques and other places" and asked why President Obama is "so empathetic [sic] on not solving the problem." Bonnie Kristian

November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving with family often features an unwanted serving of political debate, and this year the Democratic National Committee wants to ensure millennial Democrats can give as good as they get. To this end, the DNC has published a 2015 version of, which offers comeback flashcards — with overtones of snark and undertones of rage — pertaining to five hot-button issues and five GOP presidential candidates.

While the issue selection seems pretty straightforward, the logic of which candidates were included isn't so clear: For instance, why does John Kasich, polling below 3 percent nationally, make the cut, while Ben Carson, who nears 20 percent support in recent polls, is nowhere to be found? Also unclear is what users can do if their uncle fails to be persuaded by the handful of responses offered for each category — or, in the site's parlance, if he's "still talking."

The DNC released a similar site in 2013 and 2014, announcing the flashcards in the latter year with a tweet suggesting the offending uncles in question sound like this. Bonnie Kristian

out to get you
November 25, 2015

It's no secret that campaigns want to know who you know. President Obama's campaign, for example, developed "Targeted Sharing" back in 2012, a tactic which encouraged users who opted in to share specific content with particular groups of friends in order to get them to register to vote, donate to the campaign, or watch a persuasive video.

"People don't trust campaigns. They don't even trust media organizations," Teddy Goff, the Obama campaign's digital director, told Time in 2012. "Who do they trust? Their friends."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich gets that — or, at the very least, his super-PAC New Day for America does. They're working with a New York data company, Applecart, to construct "webs" of influencers in order to target potential voters, Bloomberg reports. But instead of limiting themselves to who is active on Facebook, Applecart is taking an old-school approach, combing high school yearbooks, local newspapers, community sports rosters, and published staff lists to discover who might be receptive to who:

When volunteers arrive at New Day phone banks either in New Hampshire or Kasich's political base of Columbus, Ohio, they are given call sheets prioritized by who the voters know. The targets are prospective "anchors," those whom statistical models have identified as open to Kasich (even as a second or third choice) and also whose connection scores showed them as likely to be interacting with others. The idea is to convert these anchors into de facto campaign surrogates. "It doesn't take too many people who are connected to a persuadable target to say nice things to them about John Kasich," to start to close the deal, says Matt Kalmans, a 22-year-old co-founder of Applecart. [Bloomberg]

Applecart uses social graphs, where each voter is webbed to their known contacts — Bloomberg notes that a dozen such voters in New Hampshire were deemed "hermits," with no significant interpersonal links. Although to be fair, anyone being bombarded by old high school friends who have suddenly got nothing to talk about but John Kasich might be wishing they were a hermit, too. Jeva Lange

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