In a New York Times Magazine piece this past week, actor Rob Lowe seemed to reaffirm his libertarianism:
My thing is personal freedoms, freedoms for the individual to love whom they want, do with what they want. In fact, I want the government out of almost everything.
It wasn't always this way. Lowe's evolution from liberal Democrat (it was at the 1988 Democratic convention where a scandal nearly wrecked his career) to libertarian-leaning independent was decades in the making. As Taylor Bigler notes, Lowe discussed his political evolution at greater length a few years ago in the Guardian:
You know, there's that great quote: 'If you're young and you're not a liberal, you have no heart. If you're older and not a conservative, you have no brain.' I started out being a really, really liberal Democrat. [That changes] as you get older and you have children and you get more life experience. [The Guardian]
Friends of liberty should welcome converts, but whether it's Rob Lowe or Dennis Miller — or whomever — the downside of the trope about people becoming more conservative with age is that it is the young, impressionable fans who are most likely to be influenced by a celebrities' politics. (Jonah Goldberg has a point about young people being "frickin' stupid," but everyone concedes that youth sells.)
As much as I love the older, wiser Parks and Recreation Rob Lowe, the classic St. Elmo's Fire heartthrob Rob Lowe was much more culturally relevant. This, of course, is merely one example of a trend. And, as you can imagine, it's a constant headache for libertarians and conservatives who realize that youth sells and that politics is downstream from culture. Matt K. Lewis
President Trump had a very busy weekend, at least on Twitter. "I never thought I'd say this, but he should golf more," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. The topic that seemed to pique Trump's interest the most was a New York Times article pondering if lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen would flip, in part because Trump has treated him horribly for years. "Yes, Trump treats his friends 'like garbage' — as opposed to Trump's wives, who go in the recycling bin," Colbert joked.
"So what Trump is saying here," he recapped, "is: 'Cohen's a good guy, and this is all a witch hunt, unless he flips, in which case he's a liar and I've never met him.'" Trump also tweeted about James Comey's newly leaked memos, one of which caught Colbert's eyes. Trump had never officially met Vladimir Putin when he reportedly said Putin told him that Russia has "some of the most beautiful hookers in the world," but Putin had said that on TV. "Mr. President, just because somebody is talking on your TV, it doesn't mean they're talking to you — unless it's Fox & Friends, or me right now," Colbert said. He ended with "Trump's weirdest tweet of the weekend," about Sylvester Stallone, Jack Johnson, and pardoning a 100-year-old miscarriage of justice.
Colbert turned to happier news, the birth of a new British royal baby. "The palace announced the baby weighs just over 8.5 pounds — which is $12 in American money," he joked. And the birth was announced by a quasi-royal crier. "He's easy to mistake for royalty — he's got a stupid hat and he doesn't have a real job," Colbert said. "He's real to us, and we believe him, because England is just weird. But he's just a guy who wanders London in a costume you can take your photo with — it would be like if we let the Times Square Elmo announce our Supreme Court decisions." Watch below. Peter Weber
On Monday, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore announced that they successfully completed the first full penis and scrotum transplant. The patient, a U.S. service member whose lower legs and genitals were blown off by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, "is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week, and we are optimistic that he will regain near-normal urinary and sexual functions following full recovery," said Dr. Andrew Lee, chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University.
A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons preformed the surgery over 14 hours in March, after five years of preparatory research and practice. The unidentified patient said in a statement that losing your genitals is "a real mind-boggling injury to suffer; it is not an easy one to accept," and "when I first woke up, I felt finally more normal." The doctors said that the patient will likely be able to urinate by the times he leaves the hospital but it will take about six months for the nerves to regrow enough for sexual function and sensation. The medical team did not transplant the donor's testes, due to ethical concerns about the patient being able to father the late donor's children.
Johns Hopkins released a mildly graphic illustrated re-enactment of the surgery, if you are interested:
— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) April 23, 2018
More than 1,300 male veterans sustained genital injuries in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2013, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Urology. Lee said the "hidden" genital injuries have a "devastating impact" on the identity, self-esteem, and relationships of afflicted veterans. This wasn't the first penis transplant — there was an apparently successful one in South Africa in 2015 and an unsuccessful one in China, and a 2016 penis transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital has left the patient, Thomas Manning, doing fine but without full sexual function, USA Today reports. Peter Weber
When Dana Carvey did his famous George H.W. Bush impression on Saturday Night Live, it was a hit with audiences and the man himself, who called the comedian to let him know he was a fan.
On Monday night's Conan, Carvey spoke about his 25-year friendship with Bush and his late wife, Barbara, who died last week at 92. The Bushes invited Carvey and his wife to the White House, and once Bush was out of office, the former president would often go to charity events with Carvey, popping up onstage in the middle of an impression. "Barbara was so funny," Carvey recalled, and the Bushes, with their "effortless" marriage, had "so much fun together."
Bush would send Carvey notes, he said, and he even called to chat with him on Election Day 2004, when his son, George W. Bush, was waiting to find out if he'd been re-elected. They became friends during a "different time," Carvey said. "It wasn't scorched earth, angry politics." Carvey's impression of Bush was equal parts silly and sweet, Conan O'Brien said, adding that the Bushes had a "real grace" when it came to comedians. Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
President Trump is back to using his trusted (and less secure) personal cellphone to chat with outside advisers, and several White House officials told CNN it's either a sign that Chief of Staff John Kelly is losing his grip on Trump, or proof he's finally brought some semblance of organization to the chaotic administration.
One rose-colored-glasses-wearing senior official said Trump and Kelly have "grown into some level of comfort" with each other, and while there "used to be a level of babysitting," Kelly no longer needs to know everyone Trump calls. Others said Trump is "talking to all sorts of people" on his cell, and he doesn't want Kelly to know who is on the other end of the line. Three people told CNN that Trump is directly contacting Republican lawmakers, and Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has reportedly been bragging to his friends that thanks to Trump's phone, he has "unfettered" access to the president.
Kelly was able to keep tabs on the people Trump phoned via the White House switchboard because he received a printed list of the calls. One person told CNN "a lot of meetings, a lot of things have happened lately without Kelly being in the room," and two others said new National Security Adviser John Bolton and Larry Kudlow, Trump's fresh top economic adviser, have been told they directly report to Trump and not Kelly. For more on the current state of the Trump-Kelly relationship, visit CNN. Catherine Garcia
Statistically speaking, Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Night, if you're someone close to President Trump, there's a "good chance" you're going to get raided by the FBI.
"At this point, even the kid who mowed the White House lawn is worried the FBI is going to kick in his door," Meyers said. First it was his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and this month, agents raided the home, office, and hotel room of Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is under investigation for potential bank and wire fraud. Everyone is talking about whether Cohen will flip on Trump, Meyers said, and Cohen "isn't saying Trump is innocent, he's saying, 'I would never rat him out.' It's just taken for granted that Trump did something illegal."
Trump's former attorney, Jay Goldberg, told The Wall Street Journal last week that he warned Trump about Cohen, noting, "The mob was broken by Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano caving in out of the prospect of a jail sentence." "If Sammy 'The Bull' flipped, you know Michael 'The Bulls—t' definitely will," Meyers joked.
As for Trump, he tweeted over the weekend that he's "always liked and respected" Cohen, and "most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories." Meyers wasn't shocked by Trump's statement. "Of course Trump assumes most people would lie to get out of trouble because he's always lying to get out of trouble," he said. "If the feds put pressure on him there's a good chance he'll flip on himself." Watch the video below.Catherine Garcia
Both Democrats and Republicans have voiced their concerns over President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, and the Senate on Monday postponed his confirmation hearing, The Washington Post reports.
White House and other administration officials were quickly notified of the postponement, the Post says. Jackson, a former combat surgeon, was set to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs in two days.
Several lawmakers are concerned that Jackson does not have the necessary experience to lead the massive VA, and they take issue with how he managed the White House medical office, the Post reports. Two people told CBS News that the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs is looking into several allegations about Jackson, including that he drank excessively on the job, improperly dispensed medications, and created a hostile work environment. The last head of the VA, David Shulkin, was fired by President Trump in late March. Catherine Garcia
At least 20 people were killed when an airstrike hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, with the bride among the dead. The Monday airstrike in Hajja province was launched by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels.
Health officials told The Associated Press most of the dead were women and children who were standing under a tent. The groom and 44 others — including 33 kids — were wounded, with many suffering from shrapnel wounds or severed limbs.
This was the third airstrike to hit Yemeni civilians since Saturday, when a coalition airstrike killed 20 people on a bus in the western part of the country. Another airstrike that hit a house in Hajja on Sunday night left a family of five dead. The independent monitor Yemen Data Project estimates that of the 16,847 airstrikes to hit Yemen since the fighting started three years ago, a third of those strikes have hit civilian targets. Thousands of Yemenis have been killed in the war, which shows no sign of ending anytime soon. Catherine Garcia