Live Coverage of the Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa

| Sat Nov. 14, 2015 5:23 PM EST

I feel like everyone did their best to pretend they disagreed on a few issues here and there, but let's face it: the pickings were slim. Gun control is a red herring; they're all on the same page. They all have the same goals on health care, but disagree about what's politically feasible right now. They all want lots of free college, but some want a little more than others. Etc.

There were two areas of genuine disagreement. The first is foreign policy, but everyone worked hard to stay anodyne, so none of the disagreements really came out. This is likely just because Hillary didn't want to get too hawkish in front of a Democratic primary crowd.

The second is financial regulation. Speaking for myself, I like Bernie's rhetoric, but I have to say that Hillary's actual proposals sound better. She's right to be skeptical about reinstating Glass-Steagall. She's right to talk about shadow banking, which neither of the others did. And she's right to go easy on the idea of breaking up big banks. Higher capital levels for money-center banks will rein in their growth and make the banking system safer at the same time.

As with the last debate, I doubt many minds were changed tonight. Nobody made any big gaffes, nor did anybody say anything that's likely to provoke a lot of new attention. The attacks on Hillary Clinton were few and mild, and she had no problem with any of them. I actually think Bernie did a little better than he did in the first debate, but not enough to make a difference. Basically, Hillary did fine, and that was all she needed to do. I guess I'd give Sanders an A- and Clinton a B+.

The moderators were OK, though they had a way easier task than the poor saps trying to keep control of the Republican slugfests. But I was pretty disappointed in John Dickerson's foreign policy questions, which seemed designed to be clever, rather than to pin down the candidates on what they'd actually do to fight ISIS. The crisis question toward the end was pretty fatuous, and it was also way too tilted in favor of Clinton. More generally, Dickerson hardly ever drilled down and tried to press the candidates on anything they said. I'll acknowledge that this was partly because the candidates didn't spout lots of transparently ridiculous nonsense, but there were still a few occasions when he could have been more forceful.

Transcript here.

It's nearly time to start. I figure this should be a leisurely liveblogging session since I'm planning to tune out whenever Martin O'Malley is talking. Nothing personal, but when you're polling at 3 percent in a 3-person race, you're just not a factor. Sorry.

10:53 - And that's a wrap.

10:52 - Sanders: Lots of stuff about America sucks. We need a political revolution. Also gets big cheers.

10:51 - Clinton will work her heart out. Big cheers, though.

10:50 - O'Malley says we shouldn't return to divisive figures of our past. Gee, I wonder who he could be referring to?

10:49 - Closing statements!

10:47 - O'Malley just flat-out admits that he hasn't really faced any big crises. But he has faced emergencies.

10:45 - What crises have you faced in your life? Sigh.

10:41 - Once again, poor Martin O'Malley gets cut off for a commercial break. Somebody at CBS really has it out for him.

10:40 - Clinton: "If I lived in Iowa I wouldn't want Terry Branstead administering my health care." Big cheers. This is indeed a problem with letting states administer health care.

10:37 - Clinton doesn't think taxpayers should pay to send Donald Trump's kids to college free.

10:35 - Sanders seems to think that states will be eager to chip in money to make college free. They sure haven't shown any such eagerness over the past few decades.

10:32 - Clinton is weaseling on whether she approves of student activism at U of Missouri. She appreciates the passion, but also thinks everyone should maintain respect for others.

10:26 - Hillary is once again sucking up to Obama.

10:23 - How would Sanders actually get anything done in the face of Republican opposition? All the wonks are probably thrilled with this kind of process question, but really, what possible answer can he give?

10:21 - Is Glass-Steagall really a big deal among the voters? How many people even know what it is? In any case, the meltdown of Wall Street came from both big firms and smaller ones. AIG was an insurance company. Washington Mutual was a pure bank. Citigroup was a huge conglomerate. Lehmann was in investment bank. Reserve Primary was a money-market fund. They all failed. Smallish banks failed too. Repealing GS really doesn't seem like it was a major cause of the financial collapse. And it had nothing at all to do with the shadow banking sector, which played a huge role in the meltdown.

10:13 - Sanders makes sure this time to say that he's not referring to Clinton when he talks about people yelling at each other.

10:10 - Now we are going to pretend that Hillary and Bernie have anything more than a sliver of difference on gun control.

10:08 - Glass-Steagall again. Give it a rest, folks. Repeal of GS just isn't at the core of anything.

10:06 - Bernie really wants to break up the big banks. This will never happen, and wouldn't really solve the big problems anyway.

10:05 - Finally, a fight! Bernie says Hillary will sell out to Wall Street. Hillary says Bernie has impugned her integrity. Hillary then says her financial proposal is actually broader and tougher than Bernie's.

10:01 - Clinton brings up the shadow banking industry again. But, as in the first debate, she doesn't really explain it. (Granted, that would be pretty tough in 60 seconds.)

9:55 - Now we're desperately trying to create some conflict over slightly different positions on the minimum wage. Clinton wants $12 with higher local wages. Sanders and O'Malley want 15 bucks everywhere. I hate to be such a sellout, but I'm with Clinton on this.

9:50 - I expect several minutes of violent agreement on comprehensive immigration reform.

9:45 - O'Malley just broke the rules. Apparently the rule in this case is that you have to shut up when it's time for a commercial break.

9:44 - Sanders wants genuine universal health care. He's also spending more time on providers, but it's still a little muddy. They really need to talk about this more. It's much more fundamental than problems with insurers.

9:43 - Clinton: Obamacare is great, and we should make it even greater. But she talks more about insurers than providers. That's a mistake.

9:41 - Sanders: Tax the wealthy until they scream. How high? Less than 90 percent. Ha ha ha. But no answer to the question.

9:37 - Clinton: no tax increase on middle class. Instead, tax the wealthy and close loopholes the rich take advantage of.

9:30 - There's just no disagreement to speak of so far. Partly this is because Dickerson's questions have been terrible. He's desperately trying to provoke a fight instead of demanding real answers about how we should fight ISIS.

9:28 - I think Bernie now has everyone saying Mooslims.

9:27 - How many minutes have we now spent arguing about the term "radical Islam"?

9:21 - Clinton trying to suggest Libya was a great success except for an "arc of instability" that Libya unfortunately just happened to be in the middle of.

9:15 - The candidates refuse to attack each other enough, so now John Dickerson is just flat-out begging them to attack.

9:14 - So far, nothing of real substance from anyone on terrorism or foreign affairs.

9:13 - Oh, I get it. They aren't in boxes. That's just the background. Weird. I might never have figured that out if it weren't for Bernie Sanders waving his arms around.

9:11 - Why is CBS putting the candidates in little square boxes?

9:09 - Clinton says we should support others in fight against ISIS, but not make this into an American war.

9:04 - A few days ago I joked that Republicans were going to demand that their website addresses be stenciled on the front of the podiums. But I had the wrong party. At tonight's Democratic debate, they all have their Twitter handles on their podiums. Boringly, though, I guess this is only because Twitter is cosponsoring the debate.

8:57 - The big pre-debate news is a Yahoo story saying that Bernie Sanders' rep went postal on a conference call this morning with CBS because he was unhappy over plans to begin the debate with foreign policy questions. I don't blame him, but seriously, what did he expect? There's more than a hundred dead in Paris following a series of coordinated terrorist strikes. What the hell else would you open the debate with?

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Twilight of The Velvet Underground

| Sat Nov. 14, 2015 6:00 AM EST

The Velvet Underground
Loaded: Re-Loaded 45th Anniversary Edition

The Complete Matrix Tapes

Loaded was the most conventional of The Velvet Underground's four studio outings. With gifted multi-instrumentalist John Cale long gone and drummer Maureen Tucker largely absent from the studio, Lou Reed steered the band away from the notorious sonic and emotional extremes of its early work, trying out a more mainstream pop approach, albeit with more wit and a darker undertone than your basic Top 40 song. The album features a few clunkers but also two of his most-lovable compositions in the form of "Sweet Jane" and "Rock & Roll." After the confrontational brilliance of early songs like "Heroin" and "Sister Ray," these engaging anthems seem positively carefree.

This six-disc package includes a mono version, a surround-sound mix, a previously released live set from Max's Kansas City, and a very lo-fi, previously unreleased live performance from Philadelphia. The high point is the disc containing demos and early versions, which offers hints of what Reed would have sounded like as a folk singer in an alternate universe, and shows him getting warmed up for his impending solo career. "Satellite of Love" would be one of the standouts of Transformer, his second post-Velvets effort and biggest commercial success, while "Sad Song" resurfaced on his third long-player, the harrowing masterpiece Berlin.

Prior to the sessions that produced Loaded, the Velvets played a series of shows at the San Francisco club the Matrix in November and December 1969. Four of those sets appear on The Complete Matrix Tapes and portray the quartet as a cohesive and efficient rock'n'roll band, not simply a vehicle for Reed's solo aspirations. With Doug Yule taking over on bass and psychedelic keyboards, the group ranges from early gems like "I'm Waiting for the Man," presented in a bluesy 13-minute version, and "Sister Ray," which unfolds over 37 mesmerizing minutes, to the not-yet-recorded "Sweet Jane" and "Rock & Roll," heard here in looser, funkier incarnations. Much of the material on this fine four-disc collection has previously been released piecemeal on other archival packages, but The Complete Matrix Tapes is the best way to get a feel for the later Velvet Underground onstage, no longer revolutionary but still compelling.

Watch Thousands of Parisians Respond to the Terrorist Attacks in the Best Way Possible

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 7:50 PM EST

As Paris' "night of terror" unfolded, thousands of soccer fans were ordered to evacuate the Stade de France, where France was playing Germany—and near where at least one explosion had erupted.

A video posted to Facebook shows these soccer fans joining in unison to sing the French national anthem. Some could be seen waving the French flag, as the exiting crowd cheered in defiance of the tragic attacks still taking place throughout the city.


Dans un tunnel de sortie du Stade de France, sortie dans le calme.... Et la Marseillaise. #fier

Posted by Karl Olive on Friday, November 13, 2015

(h/t Mashable)

This Painting Is Going to Become Iconic

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 6:53 PM EST

The unfolding tragedy in Paris is almost unspeakably horrific and awful. I'm sort of at a loss for words. This viral painting from Twitter is deeply moving.


Correction: Friday, November 13, 2015: 7:16 pm ET: Originally I said this was a Banksy painting but that's just because I'm an idiot.

"An Attack on of all of Humanity": President Obama Delivers Statement After Paris Erupts in Violence

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 5:58 PM EST

President Barack Obama delivered remarks on the deadly series of shootings and bombings that erupted in Paris on Friday evening.

"This is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share," Obama said.

He indicated he has not yet reached out to French President Francois Hollande, as the French capital remains under attack.

For continuing coverage of the deadly shootings, head to our live blog here.

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Friday Cat Blogging - 13 November 2015

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 2:55 PM EST

According to Marian, the second Friday the 13th of the year isn't unlucky. Is this really a thing? Or is she just yanking my chain?

Beats me. But why take chances? This week our (mostly) black cat gets a rest, and our lovely gray-and-white cat takes center stage. She does not look like she expects any kind of bad luck at all. And she was right! By rolling over and looking adorable she got an immediate tummy rub. Life is good.

Ted Cruz Really Hates Climate Change

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 2:36 PM EST

Yesterday I dinged Ted Cruz for blathering about how he'd eliminate five cabinet departments. Big deal. The programs would just go elsewhere. Instead, tell me what programs you'd eliminate.

As it turns out, Cruz does have a list of programs he wants to get rid of. It's really hard to find because his website is a horrific mess, but here it is:

  1. Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative
  2. Climate Research Funding for the Office of Research and Development
  3. Climate Resilience Evaluation Awareness Tool
  4. Global Methane Initiative
  5. Green Infrastructure Program
  6. Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program
  7. New Starts Transit Program
  8. Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund
  9. Regulation of CO2 Emissions from Power Plants and all Sources
  10. Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Vehicles
  11. Renewable Fuel Standard Federal Mandates
  12. UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  13. UN Population Fund (abortion)
  14. USDA Catfish Inspection Program (genuinely wasteful)
  15. Appalachian Regional Commission (helps poor people)
  16. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Obama program)
  17. Corporation for Public Broadcasting (culture war)
  18. Corporation for Travel Promotion (???)
  19. Legal Services Corporation (helps poor people)
  20. National Endowment for the Arts (culture war)
  21. National Endowment for the Humanities (culture war)
  22. Presidential Election Campaign Fund (no one uses it anymore)
  23. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (???)
  24. Sugar Subsidies (anti-Rubio)
  25. Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (part of hated Obama stimulus program)

I've re-ordered this list to make clear just how much Cruz hates climate change. Nearly half of his cuts are to programs related to the environment or climate change. Cruz also wants to ditch some culture warrior stuff (arts, humanities, public broadcasting), some anti-liberal stuff (legal services, CFPB, TIGER), some anti-Rubio stuff (sugar subsidies), and some genuinely stupid stuff (USDA catfish inspection, a clever protectionist measure beloved of catfish-producing states).

So how much would this save? Cruz says $50 billion per year, but that seems pretty optimistic. The catfish thing, for example, costs $14 million, and lots of items on the list don't cost the government anything. I suppose I could google all 25 of them and see what they add up to, but not today. My horseback guess, though, is maybe $10-20 billion.

I've tried to identify the reasons Cruz hates each of these programs, but I came up blank on two of them: travel promotion and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Maybe they're genuinely wasteful. I'm not sure.

In any case, this is it. Cruz deserves credit for at least making a list, which is more than most candidates are willing to do. But will this actually save more than a tiny fraction of his stupendous tax cuts? Not a chance.

This Chart Shows Which Countries Are the Most Screwed by Climate Change

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 2:33 PM EST
Verisk Maplecroft

One of the cruel ironies of climate change is that its impacts tend to fall hardest on the countries least equipped to manage them.

When drought or sea level rise strike the United States, communities at least have access to federal aid, top scientific expertise, public investment in expensive climate-ready infrastructure, and the like. But some of the most extreme effects of global warming are headed for developing countries—drought wiping out crops in East Africa, or catastrophic hurricanes pounding Southeast Asia—that don't have access to those resources.

New research from Maplecroft, a UK-based risk consultancy, paints a pictures of where vulnerability to climate change is most pressing. Their analysis drew on three criteria: exposure to extreme events, based on the latest meteorological science; sensitivity to impacts (i.e., does a country have other sources of income and food supply if agriculture takes a hit?); and adaptive capacity—are the country's government and social institutions prepared to work under adverse climate conditions and help citizens adapt to them?

Unsurprisingly, Africa and Southeast Asia ranked the lowest, while Scandinavian countries ranked the highest. (While definitely at risk from sea level rise, countries such as Norway and Sweden have rich, highly functional governments to manage adaptation.) The major global climate talks in Paris are coming up in just a couple weeks; the chart above makes it clear why it's so important for big players like the US and China to work closely with delegations from developing countries on solutions that will provide immediate support and relief.

James Foley's Parents Aren't Impressed by the Probable Killing of His ISIS Executioner

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 1:55 PM EST

The Department of Defense announced on Friday that it was "reasonably certain" it had killed "Jihadi John," the English-speaking ISIS fighter who took part in the filmed executions of Western journalists. But the executioner's probable death meant little to the parents of James Foley, the American journalist who was perhaps Jihadi John's most high-profile victim.

"It is a very small solace to learn that Jihadi John may have been killed by the U.S. government," said John and Diane Foley in a statement on Friday. "If only so much effort had been given to finding and rescuing Jim and the other hostages who were subsequently murdered by ISIS, they might be alive today."

Jihadi John was the nickname given to Mohammed Emwazi, who was born in Kuwait but moved to the United Kingdom as a young child. After leaving the UK for Syria in 2013, he became internationally famous as the face (albeit, masked) of ISIS's execution campaign against Western hostages. He appeared in a series of videos that showed the brutal killings of Foley, fellow journalist Steven Sotloff, aid worker Peter (or Abdul-Rahman) Kassig, and several other ISIS captives. That notoriety apparently vaulted him onto the Pentagon's list of priority targets: When Department of Defense spokesman Peter Cook briefed the press on Friday, he referred to Emwazi as a "high-value individual" and the sole intended target of the strike.

"He was a recruitment tool for that organization," US Army Col. Steve Warren said in a press briefing from Baghdad on Friday. "I mean, this guy was a human animal…Killing him is probably making the world a better place."

Warren said the strike was carried out using a Hellfire missile fired from a drone over Raqqa, the Syrian city that serves as the self-proclaimed capital of the ISIS caliphate. Cook said there was no reason to believe there had been civilian casualties.