Who is an early frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination? Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, according to Christians and social conservatives attending the Values Voters Summit in Washington. The Family Research Council--sponsored event, which drew nearly 2,000 people, featured the straw poll during a weekend where most GOP headliners made appearances, including Huckabee, who lost the straw poll in a controversial vote during the 2008 campaign.
"Amy [Poehler] and I are honored to be presenting on the last official year of network broadcast television," joked Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the Sept. 20 Primetime Emmy Awards. As the ceremony progressed, her quip grew ever more apropos. More than half of the awards went to shows that you won't see on ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX, but on an expanding array of cable channels. AMC's Mad Men, along with the F/X drama Damages and Showtime's United States of Tara, took top prizes. The good news for Emmy producers is an increasingly fractured viewing audience appears to be a good ratings strategy: 1 million more viewers tuned in this year than in 2008.
The tea partiers have left Washington, but debate about how many protestors actually showed up for Sept. 12 protests against government takeovers and spending is still brewing. Estimates of the crowd's size range from 60,000 to 1 million, which would make it one of the largest demonstrations ever in the capital. The range of estimates has pitted sides-and news sources-against one other. The Washington Post said the crowd was in the "tens of thousands." ABC News estimated between 60,000 and 70,000. Pajamas Media made a low-end estimate of 500,000. The Daily Mail wrote that there were "as many as one million people." The D.C. subway system's records showed 136,000 more riders on Sept. 12 than the Saturday before. Accurately estimating the number of protestors would require an aerial photograph, which no one took apparently, though Pajamas Media did analyze a panoramic photograph of the gathering.
As leaders of Brazil and other Latin states arrived in New York to debate the crisis in Honduras ahead of the UN General Assembly, the ousted Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, sneaked back into Tegucigalpa, the capital, and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy.
Acting Honduran President Roberto Micheletti demanded Brazil turn Zelaya over for arrest. The Honduran government, which forcibly removed the president in June after he violated the constitution, has scheduled elections for Nov. 29. A Univision poll last week showed 61 percent of Hondurans favored jailing Zelaya, 24 percent favored open dialogue with him, 12 percent favored kicking him out of the country, and only 3 percent favored restoring him to power.
Those are tough numbers for the Obama administration, which insists on his return to office: "Now that President Zelaya is back it would be opportune to restore him to his position under appropriate circumstances, get on with the election that is currently scheduled for November, have a peaceful transition of presidential authority, and get Honduras back to constitutional and democratic order," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who blocked U.S. foreign aid to the country.
In season and out
Almost two years after Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue stood outside the state Capitol to pray publicly for rain to ease his state's historic two years' drought, he asked President Obama on Sept. 22 to declare a state of emergency to deal with record floods. Three days of torrential rain caused heavy flooding in the Atlanta area, killed at least eight, left several missing and hundreds in shelters in the Southeast. In Atlanta, even the Six Flags theme park was under water after steady rain dropped up to 20 inches of precipitation in the area.
America's second-oldest rescue mission celebrates its 100th anniversary next month. During its century, the Bowery Mission Chapel has preached over 1 million sermons to New York City's homeless and has become a model for rescue missions worldwide. Presidents William Howard Taft and Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke from its pulpit, along with evangelists Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the mission for serving New York's neediest: "Your organization stands as a terrific example of that compassion."
Seven former CIA directors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents asked President Obama in a September letter to end the Justice Department's criminal probe into the interrogations of terror suspects during the Bush administration.
Attorney General Eric Holder named in August an independent counsel to investigate possible incidents of abuse by CIA personnel during interrogations. "If criminal investigations closed by career prosecutors during one administration can so easily be reopened at the direction of political appointees in the next, declinations of prosecution will be rendered meaningless," wrote the former directors.
The seven former CIA directors included Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, and George Tenet, who served under President George W. Bush; John Deutch and James Woolsey, who worked for President Bill Clinton (Tenet first was appointed by Clinton); William Webster, who served under President George H.W. Bush; and James Schlesinger, who ran the agency under President Richard Nixon. CIA Director Leon Panetta also opposed Holder's investigation.
Man knows not his time
Norman Borlaug lived long enough to be hailed as the father of the Green Revolution-and to be chastised for it. The plant pathologist, who died Sept. 19 at 95, began with an assignment to eradicate wheat rust and went on to become singularly obsessed with increasing field productivity to relieve famine. He developed a high-yield, disease-resistant wheat that helped to double world food production between 1960 and 1990. Agronomists say his work may have saved 1 billion lives by quadrupling crop yields in places like India and Pakistan, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1970. More recently environmentalists blame his achievements for reducing biodiversity and dietary quality.
Capitol Hill road kill
Thank Congress if you're seeing fewer dead animals on the highways. It passed a federal mandate requiring states to spend 10 percent of federal transportation dollars on enhancement projects like road kill reduction. But Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is trying to reset those spending requirements to put safety first. Coburn argued that 13,000 Americans lost their lives last year because of unsafe roads or bridges while Congress earmarked $3.7 billion for "transportation enhancement" projects in 2004-2008: That's code for bike paths, historic preservation, and scenic beautification that win lawmakers local favor. Alas, the only road kill on the Senate floor in debate over a transportation bill was Coburn's amendment to shift priorities, which lost by 20 votes. "Congress continues to be tone deaf to the millions of Americans who want us to make common-sense decisions about how we prioritize funds," Coburn lamented.
Evangelical Mark DeMoss wants more civility in public discourse. He and Lanny Davis, a liberal Jewish spokesman and former Clinton White House counsel, are pushing a Civility Project to promote "respectful behavior and speech." DeMoss is not calling for political unity: "By civility I do not mean a softening or a watering down of my beliefs or my convictions."