Issuu on Google+

ULTRASOUND PARTIES | VIRTUAL CEMETERY | THE OBAMA YEARS (PT. I)

THE HUFFINGTON POST MAGAZINE

JANUARY 20, 2013

BREATHING FIRE

PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

CAN THE GOP MOVE BEYOND THE POLITICS OF ANGER?


ADVERTISEMENT

Get the HuffPost Live App for iPad速 & iPad mini速

Download Now

iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


01.20.13 #32 CONTENTS

Enter POINTERS: Deadbeat Nation? ... NRA’s Shooting Game for Ages 4+ MOVING IMAGE DATA: A Magic School Bus for Adults Q&A: Edward Norton HEADLINES

Voices

BREATHING FIRE “Our party is dead unless there’s a shakeup.”

FROM TOP: AP PHOTO/J PAT CARTER; DAN KITWOOD/GETTY IMAGES; JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

BY JON WARD

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY “Facebook became our memorial.”

BY JAWEED KALEEM

PAUL RAUSHENBUSH: Thank You, Westboro Baptist Church! LAURIE DAVID: Why Beyonce Shouldn’t Be Singing for Obama VICKI LARSON: Are Middle-Aged Women Done With Men? QUOTED

Exit MUSIC: Hello, My Name Is Ruined LIFESTYLE: Calling It a Party Does Not Make It One 25 QUESTIONS: Gangster Squad TFU FROM THE EDITOR: Death and the GOP

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY The Obama Years, Pt. I PHOTO ESSAY

ON THE COVER: Illustration for

Huffington by Brian Stauffer

In issue 31 of Huffington, the photo of Trakdot in the “Go Go Gadgets” feature should have been credited to Terrence O’Brien, courtesy of Engadget.


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

Death and the GOP N THIS WEEK’S ISSUE, Jaweed Kaleem examines a phenomenon that unites two of my obsessions: the role of social media in our lives, and the ways our society talks — or more often, declines to talk — about death. Social networking sites like Facebook are opening up the conversation about death in new ways, including allowing people’s profiles to remain even after their death — a practice that can be therapeutic for friends and family who want to share photos and messages about a departed loved one. But it also raises questions, from basic issues of privacy (who should be able to view that profile?) and inheritance (who should maintain it?) to farther-out concerns like: Should a person be “tagged” at her own wake? As Kaleem writes, “Facebook,

ART STREIBER

I

with 1 billion detailed, self-submitted user profiles, was created to connect the living. But it has become the world›s largest site of memorials for the dead.” Facebook contains the profiles of about 30 million people who have died. It’s not quite ancient Rome — where “Memento Mori” (“Remember Death”) was carved on trees and statues — but the existence of a social media afterlife is one way we are using the latest technology to deal with a timeless fact of life. And it’s not just Facebook. MyDeathSpace.com has a message board where visitors can view and comment on social media profiles of the dead. My Wonderful Life allows the living to plan ahead, offering digital estate planning

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

and even scheduling posthumous emails. As Jed Brubaker, a digital identity scholar at the University of California-Irvine, puts it: “There aren’t really any norms around death and social media yet. People are kind of making it up as they go along. But what’s known is that this Facebook generation will have more experiences with death than any generation before it.” Elsewhere in the issue, Jon Ward takes us inside the Republican Party in the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama. “Every time a party loses a presidential election, there is a funeral procession that goes on for too long and that brings out all the Chicken Littles,” he writes. Ward’s conversations with senior GOP aides, think tank leaders, and party activists reveal a party grappling with existential questions: “How will the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement it’s meant to embody fix their problems with the poor, the disadvantaged, women and minorities? How will the Republican Party evolve?” For all the GOP’s problems, Ward zeroes in on a larger truth — one with consequences that go far be-

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

yond left and right. Obama’s victory over Romney has not exactly put the plight of struggling Americans on the front burner.  Bob Woodson, an African-American community leader who has worked with con-

It’s not quite ancient Rome, but the existence of a social media afterlife is one way we are using the latest technology to deal with a timeless fact of life.” servatives to fight poverty, points out: “neither party is talking about poor people,” and polices for the poor — or even an acknowledgment of the poor — were conspicuously absent from Obama’s campaign.  For now, Republicans face an uphill battle to even be taken seriously as a party interested in solutions. As The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall puts it, “We’ve lacked the narrative that captures the moral imagination of the American public.”

ARIANNA


POINTERS

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Enter

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

OBAMA: 1 ‘WE ARE NOT A DEADBEAT NATION’

President Obama sent a stern message to Republicans this week on the debt ceiling, reiterating that he will not negotiate over raising it. “We are not a deadbeat nation,” Obama said at the final press conference of his first term. “So there’s a very simple solution to this: Congress authorizes us to pay our bills.” Obama added that he will not give in to Republicans’ demands that he agree to spending cuts before a vote on the debt ceiling. “They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the economy,” he said. “The full faith and credit of the United States economy is not a bargaining chip. And they better choose quickly because time is running short.”


Enter

POINTERS

LANCE ARMSTRONG ADMITS TO DOPING

FROM TOP: GEORGE BURNS/OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK VIA GETTY IMAGES; GOOD MORNING AMERICA/ABC; NRA

2

3

4

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

In a two-and-a-half hour interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong confessed to taking performance-enhancing drugs to help his cycling career. “We were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers,” Winfrey told CBS This Morning. The cyclist, who has denied doping for more than a decade, has been stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles.

ROBIN ROBERTS: ‘I’M COMING HOME’

Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts, who took medical leave in September after being diagnosed with a rare blood and bone marrow disorder, announced she plans to return to the show soon, 138 days after her bone marrow transplant. “I’m coming home,” she said. “We’re talking now a matter of weeks, not months.” ABC news president Ben Sherwood sent a heartfelt tweet about her return: “Gratitude. Just one word that comes to mind today when I think about the last 138 days … the next 138 … and every day.”

SHOOTING GAME RELEASED 1 MONTH AFTER NEWTOWN MASSACRE

“NRA: Practice Range” gives NRA safety tips between rounds and is billed as “delivering one-touch access to the NRA network of news, laws, facts, knowledge, safety tips, educational materials and online resources.” The release comes after the NRA placed some of the blame for shootings, like the one in Newtown, on violent video games. The game can be played on the iPhone and iPad and is rated appropriate for ages 4 and up.


Enter

5

POINTERS

MILITARY SUICIDES REACH RECORD HIGH

The number of suicides among active-duty troops in the military reached 349 last year, up from 301 in 2011, the AP reports. The staggering figure is larger than the number of people who died in Afghanistan last year — 295. “As our newest generation of servicemembers and veterans face unprecedented challenges, today’s news shows we must be doing more to ensure they are not slipping through the cracks,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said, urging the Pentagon to act.

TINA FEY, AMY POEHLER RAKE IN THE VIEWERS Congratulations to hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on

6 FROM TOP: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES; AUL DRINKWATER/NBCUNIVERSAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

a job well done. The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards was the most-watched ceremony since 2007, with 19.7 million viewers tuning in, according to TV Guide. They had the audience reeling with laughter right off the bat: “The Hunger Games was one of the biggest films of the year, and also what I call the six weeks it took me to get into this dress,” Fey said. “Ang Lee has been nominated for the Life of Pi, which is what I’m gonna call the six weeks after I take this dress off,” Poehler responded. The three-hour ceremony received a 6.4 rating among 18-49-year-olds, 28 percent higher than last year.

THAT’S VIRAL GAME OF THRONES ACTOR DIAGNOSED WITH TERMINAL CANCER

A selection of the week’s most talked-about stories. HEADLINES TO VIEW FULL STORIES

THE LANDLORD FROM HELL

D.C. MAYOR THINKS IT’S TIME FOR THE REDSKINS TO CHANGE THEIR NAME

GROSS. HUGE PARASITE UNSPOOLS FROM DEAD SPIDER.

A STORM SO INSANE, WE THOUGHT IT WAS PHOTOSHOPPED


Q&A

FROM TOP: DAMON DAHLEN; JESSE GRANT/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES

Enter

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

Edward Norton on Treating the Jobs Crisis Like a Human Problem “Unemployment is ironic because we know it’s … people struggling ... but it tends to be presented as a statistical problem.”

Above: Edward Norton visits HuffPost to talk about CrowdRise, his crowd-sourced fundraising platform. Below: Norton attends The Baja International Film Festival in 2012.

FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW, VISIT HUFFPOST LIVE


Enter

HEADLINES

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

The Best HuffPost Splashes of the Week CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ALAMY; KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES; ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES; NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

TAP IMAGE TO ENLARGE, TAP EACH DATE FOR FULL ARTICLE ON THE HUFFINGTON POST

01.12.13

01.14.13

01.12.13

01.13.13


DATA

Enter

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

SOURCES: NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ALCOHOLISM, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, JOHNS HOPKINS BAYVIEW MEDICAL CENTER. ILLUSTRATION BY TROY DUNHAM

Tap Icons for Text

Alcohol’s Path Through the Body Most of us know that drinking too much can lead to car accidents, addictions or worse. We know drinking a little can make us giggly or weepy, lose our balance or our lurch, feel ravenously hungry the morning after or want nothing more than to be still in a dark room until that terrible pounding subsides. But few of us know much more than the above, especially when it comes to what’s actually going on

inside the body to create these reactions. Even in the smallest doses, alcohol affects nearly every system in the body, from the brain to circulation to immunity. We spoke to Murray, White and Dr. Michael Fingerhood, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Comprehensive Care Practice, to find out just what’s going on in the body when we drink alcohol. — Sarah Klein


Enter

MOVING IMAGE

The Week in Photos From Berlin to Isola del Giglio, ahead find our selections for this week’s most compelling images. Melbourne, Australia 01.15.2013

AP PHOTO/ROB GRIFFITH

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina serves during his first round match against Adrian Mannarino of France at the Australian Open tennis championship.

PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


CHINAFOTOPRESS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Enter

Chendu, China 01.09.2013 People hang red lanterns as the Chinese Lunar New Year approaches, falling on Feb. 10 this year, the first day of the lunar year.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES

Enter

Jerusalem, Israel 01.09.2013 An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man prays as snow falls at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s old city.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


AP PHOTO/MARKUS SCHREIBER

Enter

Berlin, Germany 01.15.2013 A model displays a work by Austrian designer Lena Hoschek as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin for Autumn Winter 2013.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


Enter

AP PHOTO/PAULO DUARTE

Vigo, Spain 01.12.2013 Girls from the Pontevedra Bagpipe Band wait for their appearance at the unveiling of the 2013 cycling classic La Vuelta route, which starts Aug. 24 in Vilanova de Arousa, Pontevedra, and will finish Sept. 15 in Madrid.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


Enter

DANIEL BEREHULAK/GETTY IMAGES

Allahabad, India 01.14.2013 Hindu devotees bathe in the water of the Ganges River to wash away their sins during the royal bathing day of Makar Sankranti, the start of the Maha Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world. It is held every 12 years and attracts more than 100 million people.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


AP PHOTO/DPA/MARC EICH

Enter

Elzach, Germany 01.13.2013 A child sleeps on his father’s shoulder during the fools parade, in which the region’s “fools” parade in traditional costumes.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


Enter

AP PHOTO/ANGELO CARCONI

Vatican City 01.13.2013 Italian police officers stop members of a group of four women who went topless to protest the Vatican’s opposition to gay marriage in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope appeared undisturbed, as he continued to give his traditional prayer. The women, who had painted “In Gay We Trust” and “Shut Up” on their bodies, were taken away by police.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


Enter

AP PHOTO/GREGORIO BORGIA

Isola del Giglio, Italy 01.13.2013 A relative of the Costa Concordia’s shipwreck victims touches a commemorative plaque bearing the names of the 32 people who lost their lives, as survivors and relatives of the victims marked the first anniversary of the grounding in a daylong commemoration.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


AP PHOTO/ANDONI LUBAKI

Enter

Aleppo, Syria 01.15.2013 A Free Syrian Army fighter displays a damaged ordinance in Aleppo, after two explosions struck the main university in the northern city.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


Enter

AP PHOTO/PAVEL RAHMAN

Dhaka, Bangladesh 01.13.2013 A Bangladeshi Muslim prays during the last day of the three-day Islamic Congregation on the banks of the River Turag. The gathering has been held each year since 1966 and aims to revive the tenets of Islam and promote peace through prayer.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


AP PHOTO/TSERING TOPGYAL

Enter

New Delhi, India 01.13.2013 Indian Army soldiers march during the Army Day parade.

MOVING IMAGE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


Voices

PAUL BRANDEIS RAUSHENBUSH

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

Northwestern High students and supporters stage a counter-protest to Westboro’s.

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Thank You, Westboro Baptist Church! NOTHING GETS PEOPLE more riled up, on and offline, than a small church comprised largely of one family that calls itself the Westboro Baptist Church. I first heard of the church when I saw The Laramie Project on stage about 12 years ago. The theater performace is a moving portrayal of Laramie’s reaction to the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who was beaten, tied to a post and left to die in a field near Laramie, Wyoming. The Westboro church made an

appearance at the end of the show, and in real life, to protest Shepard’s funeral with signs declaring he was going to be condemned to hell for his sexuality. In what may have been the first “counter-protest,” a group, led by a young lesbian, dressed as angels and opened their wings to protect the sanctity of the funeral from the church’s hateful spew. I was horrified by this church’s message, which was not new, and impressed by its methods, which were. They were so aggressive in their condemnation of gays, a theme that had largely been preached behind walls, away from the media’s eyes and ears. As time went on I heard more

Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is the senior religion Editor for The Huffington Post


Voices about this group that also is known as the “God Hates Fags church.” I listened to snippets from its founder, Fred Phelps, who spoke into cameras seemingly possessed by a demon of hate. I thought them kind of silly. Mean, vicious, and devoid of Christian charity, but also silly, and kind of camp. I’ve been waiting for Westboro Baptist Church: The Musical for a while now. But as time has gone on I have to admit that I also appreciate what they are doing for the gay rights movement and how their very existence offers the most convincing testimony for progressive, non-literal, rational, pluralistic and compassionate religious expressions. You see, whether the anti-gay movement and the biblical literalists of our country like it or not, Westboro Baptist Church has become their most visible and vocal mouthpiece. With their “God Hates Fags” signs and slogans they are saying what other, more “respectable” Christians are implying in more subtle language. This small church of no more than 40 people has created a vivid example of the logical conclusion of self-described “Bible-believing Christians” — they just haven’t started stoning adulterers or sea-

PAUL BRANDEIS RAUSHENBUSH

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

food lovers. When Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer blame the Newton shooting on banning school prayer, they place themselves along the continuum with Westboro. The problem for literalists and homophobes everywhere is that everyone really, really hates the Westboro Baptist Church. I guess the change came when Fred Phelps’ gang branched out from only protesting gay I was things to things like horrified by military funerals and this church’s the Newtown killings message, that are not identiwhich was fied with anything not new, and gay but are happenimpressed by ing in a country that its methods, is beginning to supwhich were.” port gay rights. Now motorcycle groups, burly college jocks, and really everyone else is eager to show up and facedown the hateful church, just like the first young angels in The Laramie Project. The country has taken a stand, and it is against this kind of religious hate. It has taken a band of anti-gay zealots to bring us together, and in this age of deep political, religious and social division, we can all thank them for that.


KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE

Voices

A

LAURIE DAVID

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

Why Beyoncé Shouldn’t Be Singing for Obama RE WE REALLY going to help the children of our nation lead healthy lives, or not? If we are, we’ll have to stop pretending it’s a good idea to give the new face of Pepsi, aka Beyoncé, the honor of singing our national anthem at President Obama’s second inauguration. It’s not. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. ¶ Let’s take a step back and give this gorgeous, talented megastar the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she doesn’t realize the extent of the obesity epidemic: that one in three kids in America are overweight or obese. But surely she has an inner circle of managers, agents, attorneys, PR people, stylists, make-up artists, and others who might have clued her in to the irony of pimping soda at a time of worldwide concern? ¶ The White House knows. Michelle Obama has been one of the leading voices on this crisis. In fact, she enlisted her friend Beyoncé to

Laurie David is an environmentalist, and author of The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time


Voices film the “Move Your Body” dance number for the same reason Pepsi recruited her — she’s a huge influence on her young fans, including millions in the African American and Hispanic communities where children suffer disproportionately from diabetes and obesity. Too bad there wasn’t a conversation between the First Lady and Beyoncé during negotiations between Pepsi and Beyoncé’s “team.” Then came the $50 million sponsorship announcement, the widely released photo of Beyoncé in short shorts (really short) pushing a shopping cart filled with sugary soda. One can of soda consumed per day increases the likelihood of a child becoming obese by 60 percent. Apparently, Beyoncé wants us to buy them by the cartful. Maybe she’s second guessing this decision right about now. Perhaps while lulling her new baby to sleep she watched her friend Oprah’s Master Class special this past week. In it, Maya Angelou entreated us all, “sista, you know what’s right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, it’s not always easy, but it will satisfy your soul. Live your life in a way you will not regret.”

LAURIE DAVID

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

Angelou urged us to “pick up the battle and make it a better world.” Oprah herself concluded we all must “just do right. That might mean being honest even when it’s hard.” Shilling soda to an already sick nation surely doesn’t fit that prescription. We’ve got to stop acting as if it’s OK to advertise junk to children who can’t distinguish between commercials and content.

We’ve got to stop acting as if it’s okay to advertise junk to children who can’t distinguish between commercials and content.” We have to, at the least, give all of our kids a chance at a healthy life. So, enough is enough. Beyoncé’s Pepsi deal was a serious lapse of judgment. And the White House tarnishes its own “brand” by unwittingly boosting the beverage industry. It’s time to end the hypocrisy, admit the mistake, move Beyoncé from the line-up to the guest list, and replace her with someone who’s not affiliated with any product that’s sickening millions of America’s kids.


Voices

VICKI LARSON

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

STEVEN MIRIC/GETTY IMAGES

Are Middle-Aged Women Done With Men? NOT TOO LONG AGO, I asked a friend how she’s doing. After a long pause, she said, “I keep wondering if this is all there is.” A lot of us have that feeling. She and I are both 50-some-

thing and like many 50-somethings, we are empty-nesters or about to be empty-nesters; we’re either 20-something years into a marriage or any number of years divorced. We’re in midlife, crisis or not; a time when we question what we’ve done — and, more likely, haven’t done — and where

Vicki Larson is a journalist, freelance writer and columnist for Mommy Tracked


Voices we want to be. Our conversation was oddly timed, coming just days after Monique Honaman’s provocative post, “I Just Wish He Would Have an Affair,” in which she detailed how many wives have confided in her that they just don’t want to be married anymore: “These women are done. They say they aren’t happy. They say they aren’t in love with their husbands (or any other man — they aren’t having affairs). They say they simply wish they were no longer married to him. They aren’t fulfilled. They wonder if this is how they are doomed to live the rest of their lives (and God-willing, most of them have another 40+ years ahead of them). ... The common factor amongst all of these women is that they say that their husbands are really solid, good, nice men ... they just don’t want to be married to them anymore because they have fallen out of love.” Honaman doesn’t say how old these women are or how

VICKI LARSON

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

long they’ve been married, but since she indicates they have another 40-plus years ahead of them, it seems that they are middle-aged, too. Why is midlife so wrought with angst for women? One study found that age 48 is the pivotal year for women’s unhappiness, and women tend to be more prone to We’re depression anyway. in midlife, But at midlife, we’re crisis or not; a dealing with menotime when we pause, the loss of our question what role as nurturer, the we’ve done loss of our youth and beauty, etc. — and, more And, sure — some likely, haven’t women have been done — and inspired by the Eat, where we Pray, Love syndrome: want to be.” After raising a family and tending to the home and baking Lord-knowshow-many brownies for Boy Scout fundraisers and volunteering to drive on countless field trips while doing paid or non-paid work (and, yes, being a stay-athome parent is work), many feel it’s finally “me” time. We want to stop nurturing others and start nurturing ourselves. We want to feel a little bit selfish instead of


Voices selfless, even if we don’t find ourselves in Italy or India. Older women are “the most dangerous on the planet,” Jane Fonda says. “We have nothing to lose!” That doesn’t mean we’re all filing for divorce. There are many women who live in loveless and sexless marriages for a variety of reasons (as do men, although at least some 50-something men left their marriage because they “fell out of love” or realized they had “different values or lifestyles,” according to an AARP study). As Pamela Haag discovered while researching for her book Marriage Confidential, “33 percent of respondents agreed that ‘even if you’re unhappy, you should stick it out for the children.’ That’s up from 20 percent in a 1970 survey.” And as Pamela Paul detailed in a New York Times piece called “The Un-divorced,” many couples live together but have separate lives. So much for being married happily ever after. But since two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women and many women tend to do well after divorce, I have to wonder — are middle-aged women done with men? For some, yes. There are many who put aside their needs, includ-

VICKI LARSON

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

ing sexual, to focus on their kids. There are also many women who prefer the company of girlfriends to men, throw themselves into their career and travel, and relish their freedom. There are also many women who want to find love again but give up — frustrated, unhappy or uncomfortable with the 50-plus dating scene. At And then there are midlife, we’re older women who dealing with are happily dating or menopause, in relationships. Acthe loss cording to that same of our role AARP study, most divorced women in as nurturer, midlife do find somethe loss of one new — 75 perour youth cent of women in and beauty.” their 50s reported enjoying serious, exclusive relationships after their divorces, often within two years, compared with 81 percent of men in their 50s (although more older men tend to marry again than older women). All of which would indicate that, no, women in their 50s and beyond are most certainly not done with men. We just may be done with marriage.


QUOTED

Voices

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

“I let down a lot of people that worked for me.”

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES; AP PHOTO/MARK LENNIHAN; BENNETT RAGLIN/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES; BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

— Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal

“When it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.” — Golden Globe host Amy Poehler

addresses his regrets on CBS’ Face the Nation days after Pres. Obama announced a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan

joked about Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow during the awards show

“They are still so scared.”

— Stephanie Carson,

a Sandy Hook parent, at a town hall meeting discussing whether kids should ever return to the site of the tragedy

“Live your life in such a way that Westboro pickets your funeral!”

— HuffPost commenter SionShankel, on members of the Baptist church protesting outside gay weddings at a Maryland courthouse


Voices

QUOTED

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

“Less a celebration of beauty than an exploitation of gluttony.”

—HuffPost commenter thecad,

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: DAVID LIVINGSTON/GETTY IMAGES; LAURA LEZZA/GETTY IMAGES; AP PHOTO/CLIFF OWEN

on a photographic series of obese women in the nude

She’s such a sucker for those ‘I remember when bread was still a penny’ stories Hugh loves to tell.

— HuffPost commenter Aimee_NOT_Amy, on Crystal Harris’ relationship with Hugh Hefner

“Ann Coulter never lets a good tragedy go to waste.” — HuffPost commenter edayres, on the conservative pundit demanding a list of women who had abortions

“Mr. President, my husband is not a criminal and shouldn’t be treated like one.”

— Matthew Davies’ wife

in a letter to Pres. Obama, on the prospect of her husband facing 10 years in prison for running a medical marijuana dispensary


CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

01.20.13 #32 FEATURES

BREATHING FIRE THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY


BREATHING

FIRE CAN THE


PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK

MOVE BEYOND PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK


POLITICS OF

ANGER ONE WEEK AFTER BARACK OBAMA

BY JON WARD

thumped Mitt Romney to secure the presidency, I pedaled over to the headquarters of the Reserve Officers Association, a six-story building in a prime spot across the street from the Capitol and next door to the Supreme Court. Inside, round tables were set up for a lunch hosted by The Heritage Foundation, the longstanding conservative think tank that, within a month, would replace its outgoing, aging president, Ed Fuelner, with Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican and a conservative firebrand. It was a bold stroke that energized the Heritage flock and repositioned the group to play a more pivotal role in Washington and beyond. But as I sat among the Heritage’s luncheon crowd — part of a daylong anti-poverty forum


CHRIS MADDALONI/CQ ROLL CALL/GETTY IMAGES

— a series of more immediate and pressing questions came to mind: How will the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement it’s meant to embody fix their problems with the poor, the disadvantaged, women and minorities? How will the Republican Party evolve? Romney’s loss forced the GOP to recognize that its support is built on a shrinking base of aging, ethnically monolithic and geographically isolated voters — while the Democrats have amassed a coalition of growing and engaged constituencies. As one very senior Senate Republican aide put it to

me, the party can’t win national and statewide elections just with “older white people” anymore. The path back for Republicans, and for conservatives more broadly, is as much cultural as it is tactical. Tactically, they need better candidates, and younger, more diverse people at all levels: political consultants, field operatives, grassroots volunteers. But to attract organic support from young people, women and minorities and continue harvesting new faces, conservatism needs an attitude adjustment: get hungry, get humble, and get to know more people who aren’t like you.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, the new president of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.


DAVID HILLS/COURTESY OF THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION

BREATHING FIRE

A cultural shift in the GOP — more youth and more real relationships with people outside the traditional conservative demographic — will go a long way toward fixing the party’s other big problem: the idea that you can persuade people by talking at them, and not with them. All of this is set against the backdrop of a party at odds with itself. Many in the GOP have recommended a more moderate tone, yet one of the first marquee elections that will get national attention is the Virginia governor’s race, in which the party’s presumptive nominee is firebrand Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli has dismissed calls for “change, re-evaluation, remake, retreat.” On Capitol Hill, a big driver of the fiscal cliff fiasco, for example, and of potential further lurches rightward on immigration, is the GOP’s geographic divide. The House Republican majority is built in large part on domination of southern states. But the pull to the right that region exerts on the party works against the GOP on the national level, where it must appeal to a broader cross section of voters if it wants to seriously entertain the idea of winning back the presidency.

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

At the Heritage forum, Jennifer Marshall, an earnest, youthful and intense woman who oversees Heritage’s domestic policy shop, gave brief remarks to the luncheon crowd. She lamented that “when it comes to fighting poverty, too few Americans look to conservatives for answers.” “We’ve been missing a melody that catches on,” she said. “We’ve lacked the narrative that cap-

Jennifer Marshall of The Heritage Foundation.


NDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

“IT’S POSSIBLE THAT MARCO RUBIO IS THE CLOSEST THING TO A SILVER BULLET FOR THE GOP.”


COURTESY OF AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE

BREATHING FIRE

tures the moral imagination of the American public.” Being the poverty-fighting party isn’t just about winning over lower-income voters — it’s a way for the GOP to do better with people who, regardless of their income, care about poverty: minorities and suburban women are two of the most obvious groups. After the lunch, I was introduced to a Heritage researcher who talked on and on for several minutes about how calls for the GOP to reach out to minorities were misguided, because, he said, most minorities are not going to vote for Republicans anyway. The researcher prattled on, even after a friend tried to interrupt to introduce me to a young man named Ja’Ron Smith. Smith is a 30-year-old Howard University graduate whom the ultra-conservative Republican Study Conference tasked with overseeing an anti-poverty study. Smith’s presence offered an unusual and intriguing juxtaposition: a young black man doing work to help lower-income people among the most hardcore right-wingers in the House, a hothouse of Tea Party sentiment. Smith is the kind of person who should be a star at a gathering of

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

conservative think-tankers and policy experts. Yet the Heritage researcher droned on, oblivious to Smith’s presence. I thought of the Heritage researcher a few days later as I sat in another conference room in another conservative think tank across town from Capitol Hill. It was a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute exploring the GOP’s miserable showing in 2012. AEI scholar Henry Olsen showed an odd cartoon short, in which

Henry Olsen, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute.


WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

BREATHING FIRE

a few conservatives try to figure out how to appeal to women. The point, Olsen explained to the largely white audience of about 50 or 60 people, was that the men in the cartoon kept talking over the one woman in their group. “What we saw in the video is the inability to listen. The video started off with six guys and one women trying to design a product for women, and none of them would let her talk,” Olsen said.

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

“The Republican Party has for too long talked at people rather than spoken with people. And I think that is one of the main sources of the disconnect.” That insight stood out as I spoke to key members of the Obama campaign’s senior staff in the following days. “Listening” to prospective voters had been a core value of the Obama campaign’s ethic — managers listened to field staff and volunteers, and trained

Jeremy Bird is the deputy director of Organizing for America. He raised support for Obama’s health care initiative through his community organizing efforts.


BREATHING FIRE

them, in turn, to listen to the folks in their neighborhoods who were possible supporters. “The biggest thing is listening and not just barking at [voters]. People don’t want to know our 10 point plan,” Jeremy Bird, the 34-year-old organizer who oversaw the Obama campaign’s field operation, told me. “They want to know that we’re listening to them, and that last time we talked to them, and they told us their son was an Iraq war vet, we listened to that and therefore we’re going to talk to them about that and not come at them like political marketers. “That was just huge for us. People stopped thinking of us as political marketers once they knew we were listening to them.” In the end, the Obama crew wedded astute listening to a magnificent ground game built on technology and data, completely outclassing the Romney campaign by increasing turnout, particularly among minorities and youth, in key swing states. Black turnout in Ohio, for example, went from 11 percent of the electorate in 2008 to 15 percent in 2012. Nationally, the country’s biggest and fastest-growing minority, Latinos, went for Obama 71 percent to

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

“REPUBLICANS HAVE DONE A PATHETIC JOB OF REACHING OUT TO PEOPLE OF COLOR.” 27 percent, marking an enormous shift in just eight years. In 2004, President George W. Bush got between 40 and 44 percent of the Latino vote. But then, after the bitter immigration reform fight of 2007, in which anti-immigrant voices gained ground on the right, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stumbled badly among Hispanics in the 2008 election, getting only 31 percent. Obama’s advantage among Asians was even bigger. He got 73 percent to Romney’s 26 percent, up from a 62 to 35 edge on McCain in 2008. In 2004, Asians backed Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by 56 to 43 percent over Bush.

NOWHERE NEAR CRITICAL MASS

EVERY TIME a party loses a presidential election, there is a funeral procession that goes on for too long and that brings out all the


BREATHING FIRE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

FROM TOP : AP PHOTO/STEVE HELBER; AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS

Above: Volunteers for the Obama campaign in Richmond, Va., in June of 2012. Below: Obama calls supporters from a campaign field office.


BREATHING FIRE

Chicken Littles. The GOP’s 2012 version has been a particularly intense session. “Our party is dead unless there’s a shakeup,” said Carlos Sierra, a Texas operative who ran insurgent Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer’s campaign, at a November conference hosted by Harvard University to assess the election. In the immediate days after the election, there was talk on the right of soul searching. Yet the conservative soul has gone relatively unexamined. Most of the conversation within the party has fit into a series of machine-minded buckets: tactics, message and policy. The GOP needs to overhaul its ground game and its use of data to vastly improve the way it communicates its principles and policies, and will have to shift its stance on a few issues, namely immigration and gay marriage. In addition, it will need a far more dynamic candidate at the top of the ticket in 2016. But constituencies build like a snowball, and they need critical mass to keep on growing. For any significant number of black voters (or Latino voters, or struggling middle class voters) to start considering the Republican Party, they

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

will need to see others they know, or others they can relate to, moving that way as well. It’s possible that Marco Rubio is the closest thing to a silver bullet for the GOP: a charismatic and hip young Latino with great communication and political skills. If he were to win the GOP nomination

“WE’VE LACKED THE NARRATIVE THAT CAPTURES THE MORAL IMAGINATION OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.” four years from now, and then the presidency, the GOP’s image would almost certainly be dramatically transformed. Maybe it’s just all about candidates. But an inspiring, non-white candidate, on top of an improved message, better ground game and revamped positions only goes so far. At the grassroots level, ordinary people are influenced most by those they know best. The Obama


COURTESY OF BOB WOODSON

BREATHING FIRE

campaign made this a cornerstone of its ground game, building tech tools as a means of enabling supporters to reach out and influence their friends by phone or through social media. While much of the talk on the right has centered on tactics and techniques, there are a few voices pointing out the importance of building actual human relationships. One of them is Bob Woodson, a unique figure among African Americans involved in grassroots anti-poverty work. Woodson worked in the civil rights movement in West Chester, Pa., in the 1960s, and then went to work for the Urban League, the venerable civil rights organization. But he quickly grew tired of the poverty “industry,” as he referred to it, and decided that he wanted to advocate a more conservative form of anti-poverty work, with a focus on building up people’s capacity and self-reliance. Woodson worked closely with Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), during the presidential campaign, and was key to putting together the audience for Ryan’s speech in Cleveland on poverty just two weeks before the election. Woodson is now getting

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

fresh attention and respect from some conservatives for the first time since he worked closely with President Ronald Reagan in the ‘80s, and with Rep. Jack Kemp when he was in Congress and then served as the head of the Department of Housing and Development. At a dinner in December honoring Kemp, Ryan mentioned Woodson in his speech twice. “When you ask people in neighborhoods, ‘Who are their heroes?,’ they don’t identify with Michael Jordan or ... Colin Powell. They don’t identify with people who are so removed from their reality,”

Bob Woodson works with conservatives to help them further address the issue of poverty and reach out to low-income constituents.


CHRISTOPHER DILTS FOR OBAMA FOR AMERICA

BREATHING FIRE

Woodson told me. “They’re more inspired by people who are closest to them. They are the ones who are the real leaders.” “We think that the way you attract and appeal to people is through identity politics. That’s not helpful at all. People are smarter than that.” Woodson believes that if minorities and youth continue to see only Democrats speaking to them — in their neighborhoods, on their social media networks and elsewhere — and continue to see older whites as the only representatives of the Republican Party, that will significantly limit any potential growth for the GOP with these groups. It will take relationships to bridge the gap. But Woodson was blunt when I asked him how he felt in the days before the election about the idea of Romney winning the White House. “It was my worst nightmare for Romney to be successful without having to address the issue of poverty,” Woodson told me. “Neither party is talking about poor people ... It wasn’t on Obama’s agenda. Conservatives and Republicans didn’t talk about that either. It was as if low-income people did not exist. And I thought

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

“A TV AD IS INTRINSICALLY NON CREDIBLE, EVEN IF IT’S TRUE.” that was unfortunate.” In the end, it’s not that Republicans don’t care about poverty, or that they don’t know people of different races, creeds and income levels, or that white liberals are really less insulated or isolated from

Teddy Goff, digital director of the Obama campaign.


BREATHING FIRE

such realities. It’s simply that conservatives must do better. “Republicans have done a pathetic job of reaching out to people of color,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said on Fox News on election night. Woodson warned that “outreach” has to begin from the ground up, and that conservatives can’t approach it paternalistically (an approach that has bedeviled liberals, too). “You need to come with an open heart, to really believe that you have got as much to gain from this relationship,” Woodson said. “If you don’t come with an attitude of, ‘I am going to learn something from this,’ it’s patronizing. I would rather you stay home.”

MAGIC ROBOTS

THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN’S ground game was built around the idea of relationships. Campaign staffers could not get to know every targeted voter, but they leveraged data and technology tools to reach out to undecided voters through preexisting relationships, seeing that as a far more effective tool for recruiting many voters than mere communiques from their own campaign.

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

“A TV ad is intrinsically non credible, even if it’s true,” said Obama digital director Teddy Goff. Goff said that many voters in focus groups, when shown ads from both campaigns with competing

“THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS FOR TOO LONG TALKED AT PEOPLE RATHER THAN SPOKEN WITH PEOPLE.” claims, threw up their hands and said, essentially, “It’s all bullshit.” “The best thing we can do at least now with the technology we’ve got is try to get people talking to their friends,” Goff said. “That’s when you have to get into the sort of nitty gritty of how these different [online and social] networks operate and the sort of language and vernacular of each of them and how you can actually be a part of it.” Using tools built by its in-house data and tech teams, the Obama


BREATHING FIRE

campaign relied on the efforts of its supporters at the grassroots level, empowering them and deploying them to win over new voters. It was the same community organizer ethos that drove the 2008 campaign. But it took getting whupped twice by this model for Republicans to finally wake up and realize that Sarah Palin’s mockery of Obama’s community organizing days was, in fact, tone deaf — and had led the party to dismiss exactly the kind of outreach it should have been pursuing. The Obama campaign did a masterful job of organizing and analyzing data to facilitate this process. Journalists Sasha Issenberg, Alexis Madrigal and others have written at length about the tactical and technological wizardry of the Obama campaign. There also has been much talk on the Republican side of the need to copy this approach. But a remark by Obama campaign’s chief technology officer, the tattooed, pierced former Threadless CTO Harper Reed, caught my attention. Reed told Mother Jones that he seized on the idea of “micro-listening” as a foundational value behind the way the campaign built all of its technology. In June 2011, about one month

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

after taking the job on the Obama campaign — his first job on any political campaign ever — Reed went to Foo Camp, an annual get-together of the technorati organized by Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media and an influential advocate

“GET HUNGRY, GET HUMBLE, AND GET TO KNOW MORE PEOPLE WHO AREN’T LIKE YOU.” for open source technology. I called Reed to find out more about what he learned. He told me that at one session, he asked for input from others. “I sat there and I basically said, ‘I’m the CTO for Obama’s reelection campaign, and I want to know what you guys think we should be focusing on,’” Reed said. O’Reilly sat across from him and said, Reed recalled, “You hear a lot about micro-targeting in campaigns. I want to suggest that there should be more micro-listening.” “That really resonated with


JOEL KOWSKY/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

BREATHING FIRE

me,” Reed said. “How do I activate those people to tell me more?’” Reed said there was a web-centric ethic that drove not only the campaign’s digital and social media strategy, but also its ground game, communications and fundraising. “If there’s anything that the Internet is, it’s about democratizing resources, right? It’s giving everyone access to all the information,” Reed said. “Like look at Wikipedia. My first job out of college was World Book. World

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

Book you paid for access. Britannica, you paid for access. They opened it up. And not only that, they controlled what you had access to and what the truth was. Wikipedia was just like, ‘Let’s just let everyone do it. Everyone has access, everyone can edit it, everyone can help us define what the truth is, and we can exist as this community to address this.’” “Threadless was very much the same way,” he continued. Threadless was the place where I really cut my teeth in regards to social software, which was, ‘We are going to give the tools that a

Harper Reed, chief technology officer for Obama’s re-election campaign (center), speaks to engineer Clint Ecker (right) at campaign headquarters in Chicago.


BREATHING FIRE

normal company would use to define what is a good product, and we’re going to give them to the users and we’re going to let them tell us.’ And so you kind of flipped the direction of the information. Rather than, if you’re working at the Gap: ‘We are the tastemakers at the top. We tell our consumers what they’re going to buy.’ Whereas Threadless, we said, ‘You guys are the tastemakers. You tell us what we should make for you.’” Reed’s tech team took this approach as it went through iterations of Dashboard, a software platform that served as the online hub for volunteers. “We listened aggressively. I mean aggressively. To the point where people had Google alerts for errors that they expected. [Staffers] had searches on Twitter that were built specifically to ensure that things were going well. If someone said, ‘I just tried to give $5 to the Obama campaign and it didn’t work,’ we would be alerted very quickly to that.” There are limits to the bottomup doctrine. Obama supporters could tell the campaign how to better help it spread the word about Obama, but they could not dictate by popular vote what the

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

president’s positions on issue after issue would be. A few days earlier, I had asked Goff whether there was any time during the campaign when their vast tech operation and their “aggressive” listening revealed something that they didn’t know, and allowed them to make a course correction, for example, around crafting messages for particular groups of voters. “It’s less like there was a eureka moment of, ‘Oh my God, everybody wants this,’ and more of a just constant reading and interpreting data, every day for 20 months,” Goff said. Goff said regular engagement gave the campaign a good sense of how to motivate supporters, of what worked and what didn’t. Reed added that the process of soliciting feedback from volunteers and from voters was “incredibly manual.” The tech team had someone produce a daily digest of all the comments sent to the campaign from volunteers on the ground, and merged that with what it was hearing from the other parts of the campaign staff in Chicago. Obama campaign staff also looked for supporters who were the most outspoken and effective on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, and reached out to them to offer support and give them more


BREATHING FIRE

information to disseminate. Reed pooh-poohed digital for digital’s sake and argued that the values and ethos that guided the Obama campaign’s tech strategy was the key differentiator from the Romney campaign (Reed and Goff also acknowledged that their extra year or so of lead time that the Romney campaign didn’t have was a huge factor). “Obviously this is way less sophisticated than I think people would like it to be,” Reed said. “I think people think of some like magic robots in the sky that we just pointed at people who were into Obamacare and then like anointed them and we gave them, like, secrets. But that’s 2016. 2016 that’s what we’ll do.”

A PERMANENT GROUND GAME

THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN’S online efforts supplemented a ground game — Bird’s domain — “A TV ad is intrinsically non credible, even if it’s true,” that saturated the key areas of swing states with volunteers and paid staff. The goal of the Obama campaign’s staff (they didn’t always achieve it, according to Bird) was to have one campaign volunteer for every 50 targeted voters, while the Rom-

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

“ONE OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RIGHT IS THAT IT’S MUCH HARDER TO HAVE SOCIAL NETWORKING, BECAUSE PEOPLE ON THE RIGHT LIKE BEING ICONOCLASTIC.” ney campaign had a ratio of about 1 to 1,000. The effect of this was that the most targeted voters were hearing — electronically or in person — from Obama supporters with whom they already had a relationship, or who were from the area and with whom they could establish a connection quickly. “Some of them that didn’t know [the undecided voters] at the be-


BREATHING FIRE

ginning knew them by the end, because they had just worked the area,” Bird said. “But even if they didn’t know them, they knew the church that they went to, the school they went to, their kids had played football together.” The Obama campaign began placing organizers in key states in April 2011, a full year before Mitt Romney would even win the GOP nomination. Those organizers plugged themselves into the volunteer networks, known as neighborhood teams, that were in some cases still operating after the 2008 election. It was quite a contrast to the Republican model. Romney’s campaign parachuted operatives into swing states in the late spring and summer of 2012, and it commenced throwing phone calls and door knocks at its lists. “You come in, make phone calls, you don’t really know who you’re talking to on the other end of the line,” Bird said, characterizing the way he thought of the Republican ground game. “Whereas when you look at overall neighborhood team approach, that neighborhood team leader is responsible for their neighborhoods in six or eight or

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

10 precincts, and they have to own them, and they have to figure out who lives there,” he added. “And it’s not always going to be, especially given where our voters are, it’s not a homogenous area. So they have to find volunteers that look like that neighborhood.” One Republican operative, who could not talk on the record about the party’s failings because he was looking for a new job, said that “the [Obama] ground game was the message.” The campaign did persuasion by proxy, through personal relationships, and organized its ground troops by putting an emphasis on finding ways to hear their concerns and to hand over creative control to the volunteers. The message sent to voters and to volunteers was, “You matter.” Goff said he thinks that even if Republicans catch up on the targeting side, Democrats will continue to have an advantage in using technology to motivate and persuade. “I think the Internet is largely driven by values like openness and transparency and participation,” Goff said. “And as long as that remains the case, all of the smart tactics in the world isn’t going to get them caught up.” “If they don’t really believe in citizen involvement and grassroots activism and all that, it’s just not


ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

BREATHING FIRE

going to take them all that far.” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), in a December interview with The Huffington Post, said there are cultural differences between the two parties that have held the GOP back in terms of organizing and coalition building. “One of the characteristics of the right is that it’s much harder to have social networking, because people on the right like being iconoclastic,” Gingrich said. “On the left you have a natural grouping. You have the sense of, ‘What’s this week’s cause? And

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

we did turtles this week. What can we do next week?’” Reed, however, dismissed the idea that what motivated Democrats was all that different from what might motivate Republicans. “If there was one thing we did different than anybody else it was just resources. Jim Messina and those guys said early on I’m going to bet a lot on technology, and that was it. I don’t think this is a uniquely Democrat thing either,” Reed said. “If you’ve grown up on the Internet, or if you’ve been on the Internet for a long time and built software there, you want to give tools to the users because they will do your job for you.”

A cutout of Mitt Romney is loaded into a truck by workers after a U.S. embassy election party at a local hotel in Delhi on Nov. 7, 2012.


BREATHING FIRE

All of this assumes that the GOP doesn’t exacerbate its problem with key voter groups in the years ahead. For example, the immigration fight to come has some Republicans openly worrying that the strident anti-everything voices in the House will do even further damage to the party’s relationship with Hispanics. “I’m concerned,” the Republican operative told me. “It’s not like the House Republicans are just going to pass immigration and nobody’s going to say anything stupid.” For much of the fiscal cliff fight, House Republicans were casting themselves as the champions of the rich who refused to allow taxes to go up on people making $1 million a year or more. “We are going to be seen, more and more, as a bunch of extremists,” Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio fumed to the National Journal on the night that House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Plan B” bill — which would have extended the Bush tax cuts for everyone making less than $1 million a year — failed to pass. The leading 2016 prospects on the Republican side have made clear that they intend to start steering the party away from the

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

rocks. Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan both gave speeches at the annual Jack Kemp dinner in December that were directed at the middle class and the poor. Rubio, in particular, used his biography to connect with the powerless and those struggling to make it. It was an eloquent speech, but Rubio and the others are fighting against a dynamic years in the making. Even after its recent shellacking, it’s not clear what the Republican Party wants its ideas to accomplish beyond the creation of profits. As for the president, there are fresh signs that he intends to try to use the grassroots network his campaign built as a tool during his second term, something he largely failed to do in his first. Four days before Christmas, Obama responded in a video to an online petition — made possible in September 2011 when the White House created such a system — requesting that he act on gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings. “Hey everybody,” Obama began. “Hundreds of thousands of you, from all 50 states, have signed petitions asking us to take serious steps to address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.” “So I just wanted to take a moment today to respond and to let you know,” Obama said. “We hear you.”


THE

virtual CEMETERY Death Online: It’s Complicated BY JAWEED KALEEM


DAN KITWOOD/GETTY IMAGES

S

OMETIME IN MID-JULY, Anthony Dowdell put on his favorite plaid shirt, drove his Dodge pickup to the parking lot of a Sam’s Club in Linden, N.J., leaned back in the driver’s seat, and shot himself. Nobody knows exactly when the 39 year old, who went by the online moniker “Dare Dellcan,” took his life. Nobody knows why the normally cheery creative director and design company owner did it. And for the first couple of days, few people besides the police officers who found his body on July 16 knew he was dead.

The day after the discovery, a message appeared on Dowdell’s Facebook wall. “I am a friend of Anthony’s. I wish I could call you all to inform you personally and this is probably a crappy way to find this out but our dear friend Anthony aka Ant aka Dare Dellcan has passed away. It is confirmed. I live around the corner and I have spoken with authorities this evening… I am only sharing this because if I was Anthony’s friend, I would want to know too. And I know that Anthony had friends all over the place.” Dowdell had 692 friends on the social network. They were in New Jersey, where he lived, New York City, where he was raised, and

Facebook has become the world’s largest site of memorials for the dead. An estimated 30 million people’s Facebook profiles outlive them.


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

DARE DELLICAN’S INSTAGRAM

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

spread from Los Angeles to Miami. A few were in Brazil and Italy. As with most people on Facebook, they were former girlfriends and dates-turned-friends, high school and college classmates, co-workers. Many hadn’t seen him in years. Most didn’t know each other. The message on Facebook, linked to a newspaper article about an unnamed man found dead in a truck in the store’s parking lot, is how nearly all learned of Dowdell’s death. Dowdell wasn’t close to his mother and stepfather, and “we knew from his family situation that there would not be any sort of memorial,” says Jessa Moore, a 35-year-old friend who lives in Jersey City, N.J. “Facebook became our memorial. We could leave messages for him and each other.” Moore has been posting memories of Dowdell on his page for four months. Friends upload photos of him and his dog, Bacon, and if they are at a restaurant or bar he would like, they “tag” his name so his Facebook profile shows that he, too, was there. For some, it’s been a painful experience to see constant reminders of Dowdell online, as if he were still living. Others have wondered

if they’re being respectful of his privacy. But for Moore, it’s been cathartic. “For a month, I was there on his page every day. It just sort of kept us all connected,” she says. It used be that news of death spread through phone calls, and before that, letters and house calls. The departed were publicly remembered via memorials on street corners, newspaper obituaries and flowers at grave sites. To some degree, this is still the case. But increasingly, the announcements and subsequent mourning occur on social media. Facebook, with 1 billion detailed, self-submitted user profiles, was created to connect the living. But it has become the world’s largest site of memorials for the dead.

Dowdell is seen in an image he took on Instagram, while waiting for a train.


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

Since the beginning of the Web, it’s been plausible that pieces of information about people with Web sites and email accounts would be left accessible after they died. But the virtual cemetery is fairly new. One of the oldest online memorials is the U.K.-based Virtual Memorial Garden, which began in 1995. A simple, alphabetized collection of tens of thousands of paragraph-long, usersubmitted memories of the dead, it’s still growing. Since social media first gained mass appeal a decade ago with Friendster (2002) and MySpace (2003), online profiles have outlived their creators. But the skyrocketing growth of Facebook has created a new terrain for death on the Internet.

VIRTUAL MEMORIALS

Dowdell is just one of an estimated 30 million people whose virtual profiles on Facebook have outlived them. By the end of this year, 3 million Facebook users’ pages will have become memorial sites for their owners, according to calculations by Nate Lustig, the founder of Entrustet, an online company that helps people access and delete online accounts after someone dies. Lustig arrived at the number

“THERE AREN’T REALLY ANY NORMS AROUND DEATH AND SOCIAL MEDIA YET. PEOPLE ARE KIND OF MAKING IT UP AS THEY GO ALONG.” by culling data on the total number of Facebook users, their ages and geographic distribution, and international death rates. There are clear rules for how next of kin can inherit or delete accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the countless other online manifestations of ourselves that have proliferated. Usually, family members have to submit an obituary, news article or death certificate to verify the user is dead. But unless there’s a request, the rules on death are rarely enforced on social networks. Facebook allows only the living user of a registered account to have access to it — families can’t get full access to profiles unless there’s documented instruction from the deceased. In a rare case in June, a Wisconsin couple obtained a court order for Facebook to give them access to the personal messages in their 23-year-old son’s account


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

DARE DELLICAN’S INSTAGRAM

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

after he committed suicide. It’s easy to track who joins a social network, but it’s hard to keep up with who dies. Some accounts exist in perpetuity. Others are shut down by friends and family who have access to passwords or prove their relationship to the dead, or by social media companies because of inactivity. Facebook is largely hands-off with dead users unless there are specific requests from families. One unique site, MyDeathSpace. com, tracks social media profiles of the dead and maintains an extensive message board and Facebook page, where the morbidly curious can discuss the passings. The site, which has archives of 17,825 profiles of the dead, gets up to 11,000 views per day. “Looking at the MySpace and Facebook profiles of the deceased that haven’t been altered by family members is like looking at a snapshot of a person’s life the moment before they passed away,” says Michael Patterson, the 31-year-old San Francisco resident who founded the site seven years ago. “You can see what the person was into, what music they enjoyed and so many interesting things that were im-

portant before their passing.” Other services, such as Lustig’s Entrustet, have formed to assist the living in planning for their digital legacies. One called My Wonderful Life not only offers digital estate planning, but schedules posthumous emails to be delivered to friends, coworkers and loved ones. The web is profoundly changing the life of someone’s memory after their death. “There aren’t really any norms around death and social media yet. People are kind of making it up as they go along,” says Jed Brubaker, a leading scholar in the relatively new field of digital identity and a doctoral candidate in informatics at the University of

A few of the many shots Dowdell, who went by the online moniker Dare Dellcan, took on Instagram.


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

California-Irvine. “But what’s known is that this Facebook generation will have more experiences with death than any generation before it. Because anyone you ever knew, people who have naturally faded from your life, will remain there and you will stumble into them and realize they are dead.” That’s what happened with Dowdell. Moore, a communications student and actress, had met him six months before July 16.

ed a message on his Facebook wall after speaking to Dowdell’s mother, with whom Dowdell had a strained relationship. He would be cremated with no ceremony. So Moore and a handful of Dowdell’s friends began exchanging messages, planning for a celebration to keep his memory alive. They posted photos of him ahead of the gathering: a dapper Dowdell at a friend’s wedding, him with a good friend’s dog, him wearing a blue baseball cap and

“FACEBOOK BECAME OUR MEMORIAL.” They first contacted each other on OkCupid, a dating website. There were no romantic sparks, but they became friends. “We texted or talked or Facebooked every day… He was supposed to come over for dinner that week,” Moore says. But Dowdell’s Facebook page, peppered with photos of him with dogs, pictures of his design projects and videos of him dancing, had been quieter than usual. Moore didn’t come across the post about what happened until a few days later. A friend post-

posing with a friend, one that captured his fun-loving spirit: sticking his tongue out in a grainy iPhone photo. On July 26, Dowdell was posthumously tagged at his own wake at Stout, a bar in Manhattan. “A gathering of the FAB ladies in honor of our dear friend Anthony (Dare). RIP, we love and miss you ♥ ,” the friends wrote. The page has been filled with similar updates since. Most times, the friends speak directly to Dowdell, as if writing on a Facebook wall will transmit a message to him. “It’s more for us than for him,” says Moore, whose name is scattered throughout the page with her


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

own postings and “likes” of others’ words. She says she doesn’t think Dowdell would mind. He loved being online. It’s how he met new friends and kept in touch with old ones. “I remember saying to him once, ‘You know, everything on Facebook stays on Facebook. It’s not going to go away or disappear.’ That’s how he felt,” says Moore. Some would rather that not be the case.

COURTESY OF ROHAN AURORA

NO CHECKBOX FOR DEATH

In early August, Rohan Aurora, a 24-year-old biomedical engineering student and technology blogger who attends the University of Southern California, was on Facebook, reading news about friends back home in New Delhi, India.

The routine is common and deeply important for Aurora. He posts photos and updates of his life — announcements of internships and photos of mountain-climbing adventures — and friends comment on them, while he does the same for them. One friend from high school, Lalit Mendhe, had a photo posted on his Facebook page of himself in a hospital bed. He didn’t look so bad, Aurora thought. “It didn’t seem like he was very uncomfortable.” So he made a quip on his wall, hoping to cheer up a friend stuck in the hospital, whatever the cause may have been. “He had a habit of keeping long hair, so I wrote under the photo, ‘Did you get a haircut?’” said Aurora. Not long after, he got a message in his inbox from another one of Mendhe’s friends. Mendhe, 23,

24-yearold Rohan Aurora (left) corresponds with his friend, Lalit Mendhe, on Facebook (right), prior to Mendhe’s death.


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

had been in a car crash. He died of cardiac arrest and liver failure in that hospital bed. Aurora immediately deleted his comment. They hadn’t been very close, but would meet whenever Aurora was back in India. Facebook had allowed their bond to survive. It’s been four months, and while Aurora misses his friend, he doesn’t want to think about his death all the time. He says Facebook is forcing him to.

“…THIS FACEBOOK GENERATION WILL HAVE MORE EXPERIENCES WITH DEATH THAN ANY GENERATION.” “My roommates and I, we have a lot of mutual friends on Facebook. And it would keep on notifying them that they may ‘know’ Lalit and should add him on Facebook,” says Aurora. “My friends would pull me over and say, ‘Do you know him?’ He’s expired. It

just doesn’t look nice.” One of Facebook’s most loved and loathed elements is the “people you may know” feature. Based upon your location, university or workplace and the people one has friended, Facebook employs a formula to suggest users befriend people they “may know,” usually friends of friends. Above a link to “add friend,” Facebook shows the name and thumbnail photo of the suggested friend. “One of my good pictures with Lalit, it came up on Facebook and it asked me to tag and identify this person. It’s not good. You are tagging him at the wrong time. When I go through my pictures, I see his comment. I am forced to click on his name and look back,” says Aurora. “A Facebook profile is an indication that someone is alive. We need to respect one’s privacy.” What to do with dead profiles is an increasing problem for Facebook. Three years ago, the company introduced a feature to convert profiles of dead friends into official memorial pages to avoid the kinds of issues Aurora has seen. “We believe we have put in effective policies that address the accounts that are left behind by the deceased,” said Fred Wolens, a Facebook spokesman. “When we receive a report that a person on Facebook is deceased, we put the


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

account in a special memorialized state. Certain more sensitive information is removed, and privacy is restricted to friends only. The profile and Wall are left up so that friends and loved ones can make posts in remembrance. If we’re contacted by a close family member with a request to remove the profile entirely, we will honor that request.” Memorials can only be found by people who were already friends with the dead person (by default, Facebook accounts show up in Google) and the “tag a friend” and “people you may know” features are disabled. But the memorialization option is unknown to even the most social media-savvy and hard to find on the site. It’s unclear how much the feature is being used. Wolens said there are no figures on how many formally memorialized pages exist. “Facebook doesn’t do a good job of thinking about death,” says Brubaker, the scholar who studies death on social media. “It doesn’t have that concept. There’s no checkbox that says ‘I am dead,’ and when would you click it anyway? What does it mean for all these profiles to be lingering on of people who are dead?”

Evan Caroll, who co-founded a website called The Digital Beyond, is trying to fill that gap. Along with co-founder John Romano, a coworker in the marketing business in Raleigh, N.C., the site has dozens of articles on how to plan for digital assets after death, from email to bank accounts and, of course, Facebook. The site lists more than 30 for-profit online services for digital legacy management. “People really want to control

“WE BELIEVE WE HAVE PUT IN EFFECTIVE POLICIES THAT ADDRESS THE ACCOUNTS THAT ARE LEFT BEHIND BY THE DECEASED.” what they leave behind — and what’s left behind of their loved ones,” says Carroll. “But I think we are starting to see this shift in our feelings about death, where it will be less tangible but will be about situations where we can remember people whenever, wherever we want to and make them part of our everyday lives.” Aurora, who says he “wouldn’t write on Lalit’s wall” to say any-


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL GRAVEYARD

COURTESY OF MAKI PODELL

thing to his friend because he thinks he would violate Mendhe’s privacy after his death, tried to submit his page to become an official memorial, but Facebook asked him for a news article to confirm the death. “I said if you come to his wall, you will see the RIP message.” He forwarded the memorialization link to Mendhe’s brother in case he had better luck.

‘CONTINUING BONDS’

For decades, the “five stages of grief,” a model introduced by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969, dominated popular thought about

experiencing death. The stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — essentially supposed that people would eventually get over the death of a loved one. Some of that thinking continues today with the shift of grieving to social media. In part, it explains why people such as Aurora — who undoubtedly felt pain at his friend’s death but was not in his closest circles — would be ready for the profile of a dead person to stop showing up so often on Facebook. Aurora says his grieving process is done. But it wouldn’t explain why someone like Moore would be grateful to see her friend’s Facebook account live in perpetuity. She would never ask for it to be

Maki Podell was surprised to see others discuss her husband’s death on Facebook. Above, she remembers him while in New Orleans.


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

removed, delete her words on his page or ask for a slimmed-down version of it to become a memorial. The stages of grief wouldn’t explain why one would hold on to the account of a dead person, writing messages on it and checking for updates as if that person had never gone away. Or is Facebook the new phase of denial? “Historically, clinicians may have looked at a Facebook wall and seen these people who are writing to the deceased as having not gotten over their attachment to the dead. They would say that by not letting go of that person they are not accepting the loss,” says Brubaker. “But more recently, there’s been this idea of ‘continuing bonds’ that takes strong issue with the notion that one has to ‘get over’ your relationship with the deceased. We always have relationships with the dead that continue. It’s just that the nature of those relationships change.” Maki Podell is caught somewhere in the middle of these two ways of looking at death and grieving. Two years ago, her husband Buff Herr went to his physician for a routine checkup. He ended up abruptly dying on the exam table. Culturally observant of Jewish

traditions, the family didn’t do an autopsy. Podell and their daughter don’t know how Herr, who was 63, died. Podell, who lives in New York, buried him in Connecticut near her parents’ graves. She rarely visits. But as a Facebook novice — she had only recently joined it — she was was “both shocked and interested” to see her husband’s much more active Facebook page

“FACEBOOK DOESN’T DO A GOOD JOB OF THINKING ABOUT DEATH … THERE’S NO CHECKBOX THAT SAYS ‘I AM DEAD.’ ” evolve into a tribute to his life. She was also taken aback by how people used the site to speak to her about his death. “I had a friend send me condolences over Facebook. I thought, ‘Wow, buy a card,’” says Podell, a 61-year-old corporate sales agent for Balthazar, a New York-based restaurant and bakery. “I don’t think she meant any harm by it. It’s just very impersonal. “Some people didn’t realize he died, so every May 4, they would


HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

THE VIRTUAL CEMETERY

leave ‘happy birthday’ messages. I would send them his obit notice,” says Podell, who was with Herr for 34 years. “I don’t know how real [Facebook] is. How much do you know about a person? Ultimately, it can be silly because you don’t.” She looks at his Facebook wall about once a month. She reads through the messages friends leave for him — and still notifies the occasional visitor who thinks he’s alive. But she keeps her deepest thoughts about him private. “I see people whose husbands are ill and the wives are playing out the whole scenario online. I just think you can overshare things sometimes. People’s lives, maybe their deaths, shouldn’t play out like that,” Podell says. “But on the other hand, I think, who will be remembered? A couple of presidents. Some poets. And who will remember you? Kids if you are just a normal schmoe. And if you’re lucky enough to see them, grandchildren. But that’s it.” Podell says she has “a million memories” of her husband around her apartment. She can see his photos and his old letters anytime. Their daughter is 24, and they reminisce over the good times: Herr’s obsession with red wine

(he ran a wine blog), his 80-person Thanksgiving parties and his painstakingly cultivated backyard garden. But Podell finds herself going back to Facebook. She looks over Herr’s old Facebook photos, like the black-andwhite one of him dipping his daughter on the dancefloor, and the one of him smiling, running his fingers through his hair while driving on a racetrack, one of his favorite hobbies. Known for his spontaneity, he once took her hand and serenaded her as they danced along a street during a visit to Los Angeles. A friend had snapped a photo and Podell recently made that her Facebook profile picture. When she dies, she’s not sure if she wants the same kind of activity on her own Facebook. But as much as it irks her to see some people pretend to know her husband when they didn’t, remembrances posted by others have touched her heart. “Maybe it’s a way of pretending he is there on some level. It’s weird, I don’t even know what my own motives are,” she said. “My father died when I was 17. The way we kept him alive was talking about him all the time. But there comes a point when that stops, and I think that it doesn’t stop on Facebook. It just keeps going.”


CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY The Obama Years, Pt. I


O

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

On Jan. 20, President Barack Obama will be sworn into office, marking another four years of high hopes and measured expectations. In the pages that follow, we trace a visual path of the milestones that shaped his first term in office, each one raising the temperature of the nation to varying degrees. Beginning with Nov. 4 2008, we view these moments through our culture’s wildly fluctuating barometer of public opinion: Twitter. It happens that the year Obama made history was also the year Twitter took off. It grew in visitors by 752 percent in 2008, while Obama harnessed the platform to expand and mobilize his base of supporters. Ahead, see how the president has watched over the country in the years that followed Election Day ’08, and how the most spirited tweeters have in turn kept watch on him.

PREVIOUS PAGE: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES; THIS PAGE: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Nov. 4, 2008: Election Day “We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you. Thanks.” — @BarackObama

Date 00, 2008 Ximint, nulloreria quid ut omnis inum volupienihit aut ma nimusamus qui audam volenditatet reptatur? Sandam exceptio mintoribusa volupti


Nov. 7, 2008: Obama Apologizes to Nancy Reagan for Seance Remark

PETE SOUZA/THE WHITE HOUSE VIA GETTY IMAGES

“Obama is now apologizing to Nancy Reagan. Good grief.” — @rgutel


MANNIE GARCIA/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGE

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

Jan 21, 2009: Obama Signs Order for Pay Freeze for Staffers, Lobbying Rules, on First Day In Office “I like watching Obama undo stupid crap that Bush did. POW, just like that. Sometimes [it] IS that simple.” — @ jessamyn

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

April 14, 2009: Bo Obama Moves In

MARTIN H. SIMON-POOL/GETTY IMAGES

“I am not an ideologue. I’m an ideal dog.” — @BoObama (unofficial account)


June 4, 2009: Obama Visits Cairo, Makes Key Middle East Speech

FROM TOP: PETE SOUZA/THE WHITE HOUSE VIA GETTY IMAGES; PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

“I guess Obama’s Cairo Speech really worked out. The Muslim Brotherhood stormed our embassy on 9.11. Imagine if Obama speaks in Beijing?” — @realdonaldtrump, 09.12.12


SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

March 23, 2010: Obama Signs Health Care Reform Bill “You know what you should do today? Hug a rich person. They are paying for your way of life. #tcot #hcr.” — @ingrahamangle (Laura Ingraham)

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

December 22, 2010: Obama Signs the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ “Today we stand taller declaring: ‘I am somebody.’” — @ltdanchoi

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


April 27, 2011: Obama Releases Long-Form Version of His Birth Certificate

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/GETTY IMAGES

“high gas prices, unemployment, OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE, the educational system in America... which one is not that important..?!” — @kirkfranklin

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

April 30, 2011: The White House Correspondents Dinner “Obama going to town on Trump. And it is awkward with a capital ‘A’ around his table. I mean, big time.” — @thefix

MARTIN H. SIMON-POOL/GETTY IMAGES

“Somebody tell that idiot Obama he’s not funny #nerdprom #whcd #tcot.” —@trumpforprez

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


AP PHOTO/THE WHITE HOUSE, PETE SOUZA

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

May 2, 2011: Osama Bin Laden Is Killed “Helicopter hovering about Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” Eight hours later... “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.” — @ReallyVirtual

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


MARC PISCOTTY/GETTY IMAGES

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

June 22, 2011: Obama Announces Troop Drawdown in Afghanistan “Mr. President, our ‘troops in Afghanistan are coming home’? Why am I set to go there this summer, sir? I’m confused. Your wording is tricky.” — @artilleryanon

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


Jan 25, 2012: Obama’s Tense Exchange With a Finger-Pointing Jan Brewer

AP PHOTO/HARAZ N. GHANBARI

“I suppose Obama wanted Jan Brewer to kiss his ring. He’s showing her that you don’t point a finger at the king and get away with it.” — @scuzzydirtbag


PETE SOUZA/WHITE HOUSE PHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

May 9, 2012: Speaking to Robin Roberts, Obama Officially Endorses Gay Marriage “Same sex couples should be able to get married.” — @BarackObama

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

June 28, 2012: Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Mandate “Mitt Romney says #obamacare is a ‘job killer.’ You know what’s a ‘people killer’? NOT HAVING HEALTHCARE.” — @harikondabolu

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTYIMAGES

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

Sept. 9, 2012: Obama Picked Up by Restaurant Owner Scott Van Duzer During Campaign “Thank you, Scott Van Duzar [sp], for lifting the entire country when you gave Pres. Obama a hug.” — @kkalmes2

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

Sept. 12, 2012: Obama Makes a Statement on Benghazi Attack “America: ‘We want the truth about #Benghazi!’ Obama: ‘Maybe later. Maybe. Vote for me!’ — @galtsgirl

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Oct. 3, 2012: First Obama-Romney Debate “Obama is waiting for the right moment to pull out Bin Laden’s skull from behind the podium. Wait for it. Wait for it…” — @chrisrock


BARACK OBAMA’S TWITTER

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

Nov. 6, 2012: Obama Is Reelected “Four more years.” — @BarackObama, in a tweet with this image, which became the single most-retweeted message in Twitter history

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA

CAPTURING A PRESIDENCY

Dec. 14, 2012: Obama Briefed on Sandy Hook Shooting “Today President Obama rightly sent his condolences to families. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress.” — @mikebloomberg

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13


MUSIC

MARTIN GEE

Exit

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

When a Man Sings a Woman’s Name BY KIA MAKARECHI

Tap to listen to our playlist on Spotify of the songs ahead. Then, tap the arrow in the upper left to launch the Spotify app.


Exit HERE EXISTS a large body of songs named after women who ruined, inspired or ignored musicians. An even larger cast of influential women resides in the lyrics of songs with names like “Freeka-Leek.” And sometimes, these women go from being anecdotes in the lives of rappers and rockstars to generation-spanning symbols of seduction, sweetness, evil and/or any combination therein. When that happens, it’s probably best to avoid naming a child after a character in such a song. Consider this: Studies have shown that poorly chosen baby names can send your adorable bundle of joy down a path riddled with selfconfidence issues and addiction. The wrong name can even cause your child to be ignored by teachers or stay single ... forever. So should you name your daughter Roxanne? It’s important to remember that a good number of the songs in the gallery that follow are written by men, so their perspective is neither authoritative nor objective. Just because some rock star had a weird thing for some woman who was or wasn’t actually named Sharona doesn’t necessarily mean much. What it does mean: They’ll be on the receiving end of an untold number of lame jokes.

T

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

MUSIC

DON’T SAY MY NAME From Roxanne to Caroline, ahead find 24 women who, for better or worse, have been immortalized in music.

SHAMEKA, KESHA, TARA, SHONDA, SABRINA, CRYSTAL, DERONDA, FELICIA, TANESHA, SHA’VON, YOLANDA, MONIQUE, CHRISTINA, TERESA Petey Pablo - “Freek-a-Leek”

Petey Pablo describes these women as enjoying oral sex that’s performed on them by another female, because he’s “not drunk enough to do that.” Then again, these women also “make a name for [themselves]” and “do [their] sh-t well.”

KONSTANTINE Something Corporate - “Konstantine”

Konstantine is not that common of a name, and Something Corporate really only matters to folks currently in the 20s. But for that demographic, the mention of Konstantine brings back a sea of teenage emotions unfit for the real world.


Exit

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

MUSIC

KIM Eminem - “Kim”

Yikes.

STACY

ELEANOR (RIGBY)

SHARONA

The Beatles - “Eleanor Rigby”

The Knack - “My Sharona”

It was kind of the Beatles to give Eleanor a last name, because if we’re being honest, she lived a pretty dreary life. She sat by the window, no one came. She died, no one came to her funeral.

It doesn’t really get much creepier than this song, which includes the line, “running down the length of my thigh, Sharona.” Good luck naming your daughter Sharona now!

Fountains of Wayne “Stacy’s Mom”

No one wants to be famous for having a hot mom.

MANDY Barry Manilow “Mandy”

No one wants to share a name with a Barry Manilow song.

JOLENE

STEPHANIE, CAROLINE, CANDY The Velvet Underground - “Stephanie Says” Lou Reed - “Caroline Says Parts I & II” The Velvet Underground - “Candy Says”

Steph (really Steven, the band’s manager) “gave half her (his) life to people she hates now.” Is that the fate you’d wish upon a child? Caroline’s suffering a similar fate, though she’s more explicitly described as a speedfreak who gets abused. And Candy? She hates herself.

Dolly Parton “Jolene”

Jolene’s a crazy homewrecker! Avoid her at all costs!

MACARENA Los del Rio “Macarena”

Little-known fact: Macarena is a woman’s name. Carry on.

LOLA

ROXANNE

The Kinks - “Lola”

The Police - “Roxanne”

She’s either Barry Manilow’s showgirl (shudder) or a fast young transgender woman from the club, as in the Kinks’ song by the same name.

The thing about Roxanne is that even if she doesn’t have to put on the red light tonight, she definitely has to some other night.


Exit

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

MUSIC

CECILIA

DELILAH

Simon & Garfunkel “Cecilia”

Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah”

“Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia, up in my bedroom (making love). I got up to wash my face. When I come back to bed, someone’s taken my place.” That’s really fast and mean.

This song was so overplayed that the very mention of “Delilah” is sure to conjure annoyance in anyone who listens to the radio.

MOLLY Cedric Gervais - “Have You Seen Molly?”

Molly is now just a party drug. There are no people named Molly anymore.

AMY Britney Spears “If U Seek Amy”

Britney took a name and made it part of a weird acronym-thingy for sex. Game over, Amys of the world!

DIANA Michael Jackson - “Dirty Diana”

Michael Jackson had a knack for indicting groupies, both here and on “Billie Jean.” Show us a Diana born after this song came out that hasn’t been called “Dirty Diana” at least once.

AMANDA The Rolling Stones “Miss Amanda Jones”

“Down and down she goes,” “she looks quite delightfully stoned” and “she’s losing her nobility”? No thanks!

JAMIE Weezer - “Jamie”

Jamie seems like a really nice girl (she likes The Beach Boys!), but she really hurt the protagonist in this song. She hurt him “so much,” and he still loves her “so much.”

DEBRA Beck - “Debra”

Debra’s the kind of girl who only comes into the picture because her sister who works at JC Penny is sleeping with a sleazebag named Beck.

VIRGINIA Train “Meet Virginia”

Homegirl doesn’t own a dress, her hair’s always a mess and she doesn’t care about a thing.


LIFESTYLE

Exit

Calling It a U Party Does Not Make It One

GETTY IMAGES/FLICKR RF

BY KATY HALL

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

LTRASOUND PARTIES are just the latest type of soiree that requires friends to celebrate — often with gifts — an event that used to be considered private, intimate or not worth popping champagne over. These parties are not the only way expectant parents have, in recent years, chosen to share details about their pregnancies through unconventional celebrations. Ahead, find a few similar types of invitations you may wish you’d never opened.


Exit

LIFESTYLE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

GENDER REVEAL PARTY For fetuses that don’t get enough parties, there is the gender reveal. Expectant parents cut into a cake to reveal blue or pink icing to their friends and family — and often post video of the event to YouTube for the general public.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GETTY IMAGES/RUBBERBALL; MARTIN GEE; GETTY IMAGES (SPRINKLE; WAX)

DIVORCE PARTY For some couples, even the demise of an unhappy marriage deserves an audience. Heather Mills spent a reported 250,000 pounds throwing herself a Caribbean divorce party after she split from Paul McCartney, and Shanna Moakler celebrated her 2006 separation from Travis Barker with a soiree that included a cake featuring a bloody groom.

SPRINKLE

WAXING PARTY Some people like to get their intimate waxing done in a private room as quickly as possible, and others prefer to make it a social event, pubic dye and bling optional.

A sprinkle is supposed to be a less elaborate shower for a second- or thirdtime mom who has already received baby gifts from her friends. Gifts are still more or less the point.


Exit

LIFESTYLE

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

SINGLE WOMAN WEDDING Atlantic blogger Millie Kerr raised eyebrows in November when she argued that single people should get to have weddings “or some other kind of party that involves gifts, toasts, and lots of friends” — a notion that Carrie Bradshaw may have started a decade ago when she bemoaned the lack of adult milestones for singles. Fine if you want to throw yourself a lavish birthday party, but creating a registry may remind friends why you’re still single.

FROM TOP: GETTY IMAGES/FOTOSEARCH RF; GETTY IMAGES/FLICKR OPEN; GETTY IMAGES

DADCHELOR PARTY Sometimes called diaper kegs, daddymoons or man-showers, these parties give dads-tobe a chance to go wild before fatherhood takes over. Unlike expectant moms, dads can continue to drink throughout the pregnancy.

ULTRASOUND PARTY Ultrasound techs are now making extra cash by charging $100 or $350 to perform a sonogram at an expectant mother’s home, in front of her family and friends. “What if the ultrasonographer started the ultrasound and there was no heartbeat?” asked Dr. Amber Sills on Today.


©2013 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

Exit

25 QUESTIONS

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

Where Does Sean Penn Rank on the Overacting Scale in Gangster Squad? (AND 24 OTHER URGENT QUESTIONS)


Exit

25 QUESTIONS

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

ANGSTER SQUAD, a movie that is not about a squad of gangsters, opened — finally — last Friday. Gangster Squad stars Josh Brolin (Milk) as a Los Angeles cop placed in charge of taking down the operations of very animated gangster played by Sean Penn (Milk). Gangster Squad also stars Ryan Gosling (Crazy, Stupid, Love) and Emma Stone (Crazy, Stupid, Love). As a service, we answer every question that you could have about Gangster Squad. —Mike Ryan

01

How many gangsters are in the Gangster Squad? Zero.

02

What is the Gangster Squad? The Gangster Squad is a team put together by Sgt. John O’Mara (Brolin) to fight organized crime. The team consists of Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), Det. Rocky Washington (Anthony Mackie), Det. Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), Det. Navidad Ramirez (Michael Pena) and Det. Max Kennard (Robert Patrick).

03

Going forward, how many movies should Anthony Mackie be in? Going forward, Anthony Mackie

should be in all of the movies.

04

What does the Gangster Squad do? A headstrong new police chief (Nick Nolte) taps Det. O’Mara to form the Gangster Squad — in an effort to disrupt the actions of a Los Angeles mob boss named Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn).

05

So it’s a task force assigned to arrest Cohen and his gang? No. Cohen pretty much owns the city, so arrests will do no good. This task force is put in place to operate above the law and kill the members of Cohen’s gang. Is the goal to kill Cohen? It’s explained that if Cohen is killed, there will just be someone there


Exit

to take his place. The goal of the Gangster Squad is to disrupt Cohen’s operations.

07

WILSON WEBB/ ©2013 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

08

Is the term “Gangster Squad” used at any point during Gangster Squad? Yes. At first as an almost sarcastic aside. At any point during Gangster Squad do we see a man chained to two cars then ripped apart? Yes.

09

From one to 10 on the “overacting scale,” where would Sean Penn rank with his performance of Mickey Cohen? Unfortunately, the “overacting scale” has been broken since

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

25 QUESTIONS

10

it saw Sean Penn’s performance in Gangster Squad.

What is Ryan Gosling’s character’s role in Gangster Squad? Gosling’s Jerry Wooters is basically the ladies’ man, Templeton “Face” Peck of the Gangster Squad — which means that he eventually starts sleeping with a woman named Grace Faraday (Emma Stone) who also happens to be Mickey Cohen’s girlfriend. Because, of course.

11

Oh, are these the same characters that Gosling and Stone play in Crazy, Stupid, Love? The events of Gangster Squad take place over 60 years before the events of Crazy, Stupid, Love, so that seems unlikely. Also, their characters have

Left to right: Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Michael Peña, Robert Patrick and Anthony Mackie.


Exit

WILSON WEBB/ ©2013 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

different names. Though, it’s not specifically explained one way or another if the events of Gangster Squad take place in the same universe as Crazy, Stupid, Love.

12

Do all of the members of the Gangster Squad have a special talent? Yes. Gosling, as we know, has luck with the ladies; Anthony Mackie throws knives; Giovanni Ribisi’s character is a tech wizard; and Robert Patrick has the ability to turn himself into liquid metal, assuming the shape of any item that he touches. Are you confusing the events of Gangster Squad with those of Terminator 2: Judgment Day? Yes.

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

25 QUESTIONS

14

Gangster Squad was originally supposed to come out in September, why was it delayed? Unfortunately, a climatic scene in Gangster Squad depicted a shooting inside a movie theater — which, considering the events of the Aurora, Colo., shootings, meant a scene had to be reshot.

15

When watching Gangster Squad, are there any remnants of the movie theater scene that remain? No.

16

Is Gangster Squad entertaining? “Entertaining” certainly isn’t on the list of things that Gangster Squad isn’t.

17

Ryan Gosling as Sgt. Jerry Wooters and Emma Stone as Grace Faraday.

In honor of your last sentence, in your next sentence will you try to go for a triple negative? I don’t not think that I can’t do that.


Exit

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

25 QUESTIONS

18

So, then, will I like Gangster Squad? Well, that depends entirely on your subjective taste in movies. But it’s almost as if director Ruben Fleischer — who directed the wonderful Zombieland — is going for a L.A. Confidential meets Oceans Eleven vibe here. Unfortunately, if you go into this movie expecting the quality of either one of those movies, you will leave disappointed.

19

If I must combine two movie that I’ve seen before I’ll see a new movie, what two titles am I better off combining instead of L.A. Confidential and Oceans 11? Maybe Escape From L.A. and Oceans 12?.

WILSON WEBB/ ©2013 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

20

So should I expect something like Zombieland? Gangster Squad certainly has the stylized visuals of Zombieland — at least in comparison to Fleischer’s sophomore effort, 30 Minutes or Less — which take a little time to get used to this go around as compared to Zombieland. What does that mean? A: The first 20 minutes of Gangster Squad are pretty bad. The visuals and the quick edits tend to present the film in something that feels more like parody — which really isn’t what’s being attempted here.

22

But, once Brolin starts putting his team together, things, mercifully, settle down into something that is at least interesting. During a fistfight between Josh Brolin and Sean Penn’s characters, will I find myself rooting for Sean Penn for what Brolin did to him in Milk? It’s possible.

23

How many times did you accidentally type Gangster “Squid” while writing this fake Q&A? Twice.

24

So far, is Gangster Squad the best wide release movie of 2013? Of the grand total of three wide release movies so far this year, yes, so far, Gangster Squad is the best movie of 2013 that I have seen. If you’re going to be blurbed in this weekend’s commercials for Gangster Squad, what quote do you assume will be used? “The best movie!” Mike Ryan, The Huffington Post

Josh Brolin as Sgt. John O’Mara.


TFU

Exit

01

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES (GINGREY); GETTY IMAGES (PACKAGE; ASBESTOS)

Phil Gingrey Defends Todd Akin’s Rape Comment: ‘He’s Partly Right’

2

CEO Threatens to ‘Start Killing People’ Over Possible Obama Gun Measure

3

JOURNAL NEWS EDITOR RECEIVES PACKAGE CONTAINING FECAL MATTER

4

Ohio School Allegedly Uses Students to Gut AsbestosContaminated Building

05

Men Take ‘Second Amendment Stroll’ With Assault Rifles, Freak Out Neighborhood


06 Exit

TFU

HUFFINGTON 01.20.13

GETTY IMAGES (DOG, ALLIGATOR); GETTY IMAGES/BLEND IMAGES (CUDDLE CLUB)

Woman Has Sex With Dog While Her Boyfriend Photographs

7

Japan’s Cuddle Clubs Offer Female Butts As Pillows

8

CHINESE ARTIST KANG YI RECEIVES HICKEYS AS PERFORMANCE ART

9

10 Man Crashes His Car Into Pizza Restaurant. Then Orders Pizza.

Alligator Guards Marijuana at East Bay Home


ADVERTISEMENT

Live.HuffingtonPost.com

|

Facebook.com/HuffPostLive

|

@HuffPostLive


Editor-in-Chief:

Arianna Huffington Executive Editor: Timothy L. O’Brien Executive Features Editor: John Montorio Managing Editor: Gazelle Emami Senior Politics Editor: Sasha Belenky Senior Voices Editor: Stuart Whatley Quoted Editor: Annemarie Dooling Viral Editor: Dean Praetorius Social Editor: Mia Aquino Editorial Assistant: Jenny Macksamie Editorial Intern: Emma Diab Creative Director: Josh Klenert Art Director: Andrea Nasca Photography Director: Anna Dickson Associate Photo Editor: Wendy George Designers: Martin Gee, Troy Dunham Production Director: Peter Niceberg AOL MagCore Head of UX and Design: Jeremy LaCroix Product Managers: Jim Albrecht, Gabriel Giordani, Julie Vaughn Architect: Scott Tury Developers: Mike Levine, Carl Haines, Terence Worley, Ron Anderson, Sudheer Agrawal, Jacob Knobel Tech Leadership: Umesh Rao QA: Joyce Wang, Amy Golliver Sales: Mandar Shinde, Jami Lawrence AOL, Inc. Chairman & CEO:

Tim Armstrong

PHOTO OR ILLUSTRATION CREDIT TK


Huffington (Issue #32)