September 5, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 4:50 PM


A new America, where opinion seems to matter more than race or identity (HAVIV RETTIG GUR, September 4, 2012, Times of Israel)

In choosing their own unconventional ticket, the Republicans were in lock-step with the overwhelming trend in American politics. In a country with a long, dark past of racism and identity politics, diversity is now so ordinary, so expected, that it goes almost unnoticed even in the most conservative circles.

Thus, we are witnessing an American presidential election in which an African American incumbent is facing a Mormon challenger. Both have Catholic vice-presidential picks. And the only Protestant on either presidential ticket is the African American.

Even among the Republican base, opinion seems to matter more than race or identity, evidenced by the fact that Herman Cain, the African American former head of a large chain of pizza restaurants, led in the polls for several weeks. At the convention, Condoleezza Rice's speech, which touched on Jim Crow segregation laws and other parts of America's dark past of racism, was one of the best received by the crowd of thousands of state party delegates, perhaps second only to VP pick Paul Ryan.

The invocation was even delivered by an Orthodox rabbi, Yeshiva University's Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.

This diversity extends beyond presidential politics, to the House and Senate and state politics throughout the country. With the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens in 2010, even the US Supreme Court, the country's most staid and stable institution, is without a Protestant for the first time in history. Instead, it has three Jews and six Catholics from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

In this contentious election year, you may not hear this from Americans. But for outside observers one thing is clear. Irrespective of who wins in November, the conservative Mormon or the liberal African American, it's a new America, one so comfortable with its diversity that it is barely conscious of it.

Posted by orrinj at 5:10 AM


Why Democrats Flubbed 'Better Off' Question : 'Angry-bird voters', missing talking points and a mixed economic picture contributed to the fumble shadowing the start of the convention. (Jill Lawrence, September 4, 2012, National Journal)

Democrats start their convention on Tuesday in Charlotte dogged by the unforced errors of not one but three top Obama advisers and allies who muffed a fundamental question that's been utterly predictable ever since Ronald Reagan asked it during his campaign against President Carter more than 30 years ago. [...]

[T]he display on TV had to be less than reassuring for Democrats, particularly since two of those who struggled with the question--senior White House adviser David Plouffe and chief campaign strategist David Axelrod--would theoretically be the coaches preparing top-tier surrogates such Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who answered "No" on Sunday when asked if the country is doing better than it was four years ago.

Posted by orrinj at 5:02 AM


Can There Be Too Much Breast-Cancer Treatment? (Melinda Beck, 9/04/12, WSJ)

Clinicians say leaving breast cancer untreated is a gamble they can't take. "I don't know anyone who offers women the option of doing nothing," says Eric Winer, director of the breast cancer program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "On the one hand, we are aware of the overtreatment, all of us. On the other hand, there are still 40,000 women every year who die of breast cancer."

Posted by orrinj at 4:59 AM


The Hill Poll: Voters say second term for Obama undeserved, country is worse off (Sheldon Alberts, 09/04/12, The Hill)

Fifty-two percent of likely voters say the nation is in "worse condition" now than in September 2008, while 54 percent say Obama does not deserve reelection based solely on his job performance.

Only 31 percent of voters believe the nation is in "better condition," while 15 percent say it is "about the same," the poll found. Just 40 percent of voters said Obama deserves reelection. [...]

Fifty percent of voters said they were "very unsatisfied" with Obama's stewardship of the economy. Another 8 percent said they were somewhat unsatisfied.

More voters in The Hill's poll think Romney will win the fall election than think Obama will win -- despite state-by-state polls that suggest the president would have an edge in a number of swing states if the election were held today.

The poll found 46 percent of voters believe Romney will win the Nov. 6 election, compared to 43 percent who said they expect Obama to win.

The Hill's poll was conducted Sept. 2 among 1,000 likely voters by Pulse Opinion Research. It has a 3 percentage point margin of error.

Posted by orrinj at 4:57 AM


Where to See the Best Fall Foliage (Marisa Lascala, 9/04/12, Conde Nast Traveler)

The longest season: New Hampshire's Lakes Region

When to go: Late September through late October

Why go: The secret to finding a lingering foliage season is steering clear of the weather that knocks leaves from their branches. "I would choose those locations away from the wind of the coast and at higher elevations," says Jerry Monkman, co-author of The Colors of Fall Road Trip Guide. This New Hampshire region--which encompasses Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, Lake Ossipee, Mirror Lake, Newfound Lake and Lake Winnisquam--is protected from the harsh winds of the coast and doesn't rise more than 600 feet above sea level, giving you the best chance for a long leaf season.

Where to get the best view: Obviously, from the middle of a lake (pick one). Bring a kayak and tone your paddling arms. "You can see red maples along the waterways showing their bright colors on the trees, and then reflected down into the water as well," says Tai Freligh, communications manager for New Hampshire's Division of Travel and Tourism Development.

Insider tip: If boating and hiking feels like too much exertion for a good view, tour the lakes region from a fall foliage train. The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad (603-279-5253,, $11 to $15) runs through October 21, and a two-hour round-trip ticket entitles you to a lakeside tour along tracks that were once a part of the Boston & Maine Railroad. Daytime rides come with the option of adding on a "hobo picnic lunch" ($10).