The Capture of Vice Reporter Simon Ostrovsky in Ukraine Is Serious Business

It’s long been silly to deny the growth of Vice, which started as a drugs-and-sex rag from Canada but has, in recent years, partnered with CNN and HBO on a variety of news documentaries from Iraq to Chernobyl, Liberia to North Korea. And while the brand, which sold a 5 percent stake to Rupert Murdoch last year, has been accused of diluting its journalism with cool-kid poses and stunts — it was Vice’s HBO show that played matchmaker for Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un, for instance — to write off the work as simply disaster tourism for kicks is to downplay the very real risks involved in covering war zones and authoritarian regimes.

The capture of Vice News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, then, is a potential turning point for the network, its legitimacy tougher to deny in the face of actual consequences for committing acts of journalism. The U.S. State Department, for one, is on Vice’s side.


Is the Rising Democratic Majority Doomed?

The slow, increasingly Democratic cast of the American electorate would seem to be a cardinal fact of American politics. The electorate is firmly polarized, with few voters actually liable to change their minds. The proportion of nonwhite voters has risen by about two percentage points every four years, a rate that seems likely to persist indefinitely as the population grows steadily more diverse. The youngest voting cohort has decidedly more liberal views, and more Democratic voting habits, than its elders, and partisan loyalty tends to stick throughout a voter’s lifetime. And yet the phenomenon continues to be met with an unduly wide, deep array of skepticism.


Florida Lawmaker Arrested After Allegedly Drunken Taco Bell Run

The Tallahassee Democrat reports that cops spotted Florida State Representative Dane Eagle running a red light on Monday. It was 2 a.m. and Eagle was coming from a Taco Bell, so it's not so surprising that the officers who pulled him over noted that there was a "strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath and his eyes were bloodshot and watery." After the 30-year-old Republican "stumbled" when he got out of his car, told the police that his vehicle only smelled like liquor because he'd used it to ferry his friends from a bar earlier, and declined a field sobriety test, he was taken to jail. But by Monday afternoon, the lawmaker was in good enough shape to ask Congress for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. Eagle, who has endorsed a bill that would require any elected or appointed official who refused a drug test to be fired, issued a statement acknowledging his arrest but declining to discuss it. All in a day's work for a Florida man.

Former General Stanley McChrystal Can Relate to Unemployed LinkedIn Readers

Back in 2010, General Stanley McChrystal's career was going alright. He was in charge of the war in Afghanistan, which wasn't exactly the United States' most successful war, but it was a pretty decent position for a guy who'd spent his entire professional life in the Army. Then, McChrystal said some not-so-nice things about President Obama, Vice-President Biden, John Kerry, and a bunch of other important people to Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings, and found himself out of a job. These things happen! Sometimes, (with a few key differences) these things even happen to people who aren't commanding tens of thousands of troops halfway around the world, which is why McChrystal decided to write about what he learned from his experience for LinkedIn's "Career Curveballs" series.


Sonia Sotomayor Wrote an Epic Dissent Against the Supreme Court Decision Upholding Michigan’s Affirmative-Action Ban

A 6-2 Supreme Court decision today went in favor of a constitutional amendment approved by Michigan voters in 2006 banning affirmative action based on race, gender, ethnicity, or national origin in hiring or college admissions. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was joined by John Roberts and Samuel Alito, said, "One of those premises is that a democracy has the capacity — and the duty — to learn from its past mistakes; to discover and confront persisting biases; and by respectful, rationale deliberation to rise above those flaws and injustices." In other words, it's not necessarily a race thing. "It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds," he wrote.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor disagreed with a passion.


How Obama Brought White and Black Democrats Together

I tried to assemble as much evidence as I could to bolster my magazine essay about racial politics, but there was one piece I couldn’t measure: my sense that the argument between Bill Maher and Bill Kristol reflected deeper beliefs among Republicans and Democrats across the country, that “every Obama supporter believes deep down, or sometimes right on the surface, that the furious opposition marshaled against the first black president is a reaction to his race.

The polling firm YouGov has actually gone ahead and polled the exact language in my story, asking Americans if they believe “the furious opposition marshalled against the first black president is a reaction to his race.”


Openly Anti-Semitic Marionville Mayor Resigns After Heated Debate About Jews and Whether the Town Has a Black Person

Diversity in the town of Marionville, Missouri (population 2,250), is national news thanks to Mayor Dan Clevenger, who used the murder of three people in Kansas at the hands of Frazier Glenn Miller, a noted KKK leader and old friend, as an opportunity to express that he “kind of agreed with [Miller] on some things.” Clevenger, speaking to a local television station, added, “There [are] some things that are going on in this country that are destroying us. We've got a false economy and it's — some of those corporations are run by Jews because the names are there.” He has since resigned, but not until after a spirited town meeting that put the beliefs of small-town America right out there.


The Keystone Pipeline Sideshow

Indispensable New York Times climate reporter Coral Davenport has a story in today’s edition explaining that the Keystone pipeline, which has dominated the climate-change narrative, is substantively trivial, while existing and prospective regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency are massive. The Keystone pipeline would add 18.7 million metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere annually, while forthcoming regulations on existing power plants would remove 200 to 500 million metric tons per year. (Even already-issued regulations on cars and buildings have reduced carbon emissions by many times Keystone’s total.)


Glenn Beck Is Mad at Mitt Romney for Forgetting to Send a Thank You Note

Solidifying his status as the Republican Party's crazy old aunt, on Monday, Glenn Beck announced on his radio show that he's been holding a grudge against Mitt Romney for the past two years because he never thanked him for a gift. To be fair, it was a first edition copy of George Washington's farewell address, not an ugly scarf and hat set. "I’ve never regretted giving anybody anything more than I regretted my gift to Mitt Romney," Beck said. "I’m still hung up on that."


Video of the day

Glenn Beck Is Mad at Mitt Romney for Forgetting to Send a Thank You Note

Kevin Spacey: House of Cards Story Lines Are ‘Not That Crazy’

Sexual Harassment: ‘Illegal or Just Sleazy?’


In The Mag

Back on the Trail

When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.

By Jason Zengerle

Reading List

Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013

The Case for Deficit Optimism

For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.

By Ezra Klein
Salon Jan. 15, 2012

The NRA's Democratic Helpers

Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.

By Steve Kornacki

From the Archives

New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010

Boehner's Army

After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009

With Friends Like These

Obama drew progressive ire from day one.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.

By Jeff Coplon