Clinton administration officials considered awarding famed astronomer Carl Sagan the Presidential Medal of Freedom after his death in 1996, new documents reveal.
Sagan, who is famous for attempting to popularize science through movies, books, and television, had just been honored by NASA when the agency dubbed the Mars Rover landing spot as the Carl Sagan Memorial Station. White House staffers then talked about taking it a step further.
“I wonder if that boosts Carl Sagan postumously [sic] for a Medal of Freedom,” Shelly Fidler, the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, wrote in a 1997 email released Friday. “You know he was one of the very first to sound the warning on climate as well.”
She then tossed around a few other names for possible medal winners: Frank Sherwood Rowland, who discovered the hole in the ozone layer, and environmentalist Ansel Adams. But the White House was coming across a common problem.
“We’re having trouble thinking up great living people,” Fidler wrote to Todd Stern, an assistant to the president and staff secretary for the Clinton administration. “I guess that’s everyone’s affliction these days.”
Earlier in the email, Fidler called Adams “another good dead person” for the award.
Sagan didn’t end up winning the medal, but the idea does show that the Clinton administration was attempting to boost the profile of climate change and the environmental movement.
One of Sagan’s better-known contributions to space exploration happened in 1990, when he asked NASA to take what is now one of the most famous photos of Earth. The Voyager 1 spacecraft was leaving the solar system when NASA commanded it to turn around and take a photo. From 3.7 billion miles away, you can see a “pale blue dot,” Earth.
“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world,” Sagan wrote in his book Pale Blue Dot. “To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”