Alex Pareene, Salon: According to a working paper from two political scientists who interviewed 2,000 state legislative candidates last year, politicians all think Americans are more conservative than they actually are. Unsurprisingly, Republicans think voters are way more right-wing than they actually are. The researchers asked the candidates what they thought their constituents thought of same-sex marriage, universal healthcare and the abolition of social welfare programs. Republicans were pretty sure their constituents were basically all to the right of Louie Gohmert. Elected Republicans are more conservative than their constituents, but they think their constituents are basically all psycho Freepers. read more
Garance Franke-Ruta: Uncle Sam had a much older and classier sister named Columbia, the feminine historic personification of the United States of America, who has since the 1920s largely fallen out of view. ... Enough time has passed, it seems, that we might consider reviving her spirit, and returning her to the pantheon of America characters for the years to come. read more
Popular in Mexico, and sometimes linked to the illicit drug trade, the skeleton saint known as La Santa Muerte in recent years has found a robust and diverse following north of the border: immigrant small-business owners, artists, gay activists and the poor, among others -- many of them non-Latinos and not all involved with organized religion.
Clad in a black nun's robe and holding a scythe in one hand, Santa Muerte appeals to people seeking all manner of otherworldly help: from fending off wrongdoing and carrying out vengeance to landing better jobs and stopping lovers from cheating. And others seek her protection for their drug shipments and to ward off law enforcement.
The Las Vegas Sands Corporation, an international gambling empire controlled by the billionaire Sheldon G. Adelson, has informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that it likely violated a federal law against bribing foreign officials. The disclosure comes amid an investigation by the SEC, FBI and Department of Justice into the company's business activities in China. Adelson became the biggest single donor in political history during the 2012 presidential election, giving more than $60 million to eight Republican candidates, including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, through super PACs.
Hawaii has ranked highest on a well-being survey of the United States for the fourth year in a row, according to a new Gallup poll. Weather wasn't even a variable. In 2011, the index defined the happiest person in America as a tall, Asian-American male 65 or older, a resident of Hawaii who's married with children, religious, owns a business and earns more than $120,000 a year. "I love not having seasonal affective disorder because we have the sun," said June Ching, a Honolulu-based clinical psychologist. "The sky has a different kind of blue that soothes you."