The head of Poland’s National Library says the letters that a Polish Cardinal and later Pope John Paul II wrote to a woman philosopher document a “difficult and courageous” friendship

the heat

Head of Poland’s National Library, Tomasz Makowski, shows one of the many letters from Pope John Paul II to a Polish-America philosopher, Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, that are kept at the library in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. The library bought hundreds of letters for a “seven-digit” amount in 2008 from the woman, the Polish-born American thinker Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, and is planning to have them published in the coming years. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The head of Poland’s National Library says the letters that a Polish Cardinal and later Pope John Paul II wrote to a woman philosopher document a “difficult and courageous” friendship of 32 years and suggest she could have been in love with the Catholic Church leader.

The library bought hundreds of letters for a “seven-digit” amount in 2008 from the woman, Polish-born American thinker Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, and is planning to publish them.

The head of the library, Tomasz Makowski, said Tuesday the letters were written by the cardinal, and later pope, from 1973 until shortly before his 2005 death. He said they hint that

Academia’s ‘Baby Penalty’

last month

Last month, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter introduced a suite of new Pentagon policies aimed at retaining female troops, especially those with young families. This follows on the heels of a bold new report issued at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting where 10 major Fortune-500 companies, including Twitter, Barclays and PricewaterhouseCoopers, committed to achieving full gender parity by 2020.

Our nation’s universities should join in. Women comprise only 37.5 percent of tenured faculty and 22 percent of university presidents.

Like the Fortune 500 companies and the Pentagon, American universities have adopted policies aimed at supporting the advancement of women, including those pertaining to childbearing and childrearing. There is broad agreement within academia that losing well-trained, committed and talented women to the “leaky pipeline” has devastating ripple effects. It means losing out on women’s discoveries in science and their insights in the humanities, losing the diversity that spurs creativity and losing role models for today’s students, whose diversity far outstrips that of the university faculty who advise and teach them.

Nevertheless, the gender imbalances persist: Academic

Not Up for Debate: Obama’s Economy


The ninth (yes, ninth) Republican presidential debate, which took place in South Carolina Saturday night, was notable for the candidates finally stepping up and throwing some rhetorical punches at their front-runner – billionaire blowhard Donald Trump – calling him out for being an insulting, obnoxious, bankrupt, former liberal who has the gall to think the Iraq war was a mistake.

But the debate was also notable for what didn’t really come up: the economy.

Yes, a few potshots were taken at the “Obama economy” and the lack of wage growth, a legitimate criticism. But for the most part, the only time economics was mentioned was when the candidates talked about their super-ginormous tax cut plans.

And there’s a reason for that: It’s awfully tough to rip an administration on economics when the unemployment rate is below 5 percent and consecutive months of job growth is up above 70 (which is a record, for the record). Oh, and the deficit is down by a whole lot too. Quietly, at least on the GOP side, foreign affairs has taken center stage in the presidential

What Were All the Trips to New Hampshire Worth?

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both took first place in New Hampshire.

The small state of New Hampshire is known for its emphasis on “retail politics”: Candidates have been told that to do well in the state, they need to travel from end to end, kissing babies, shaking hands and talking policy.

And they delivered, according to the campaign trips counted in The Chase, where we at U.S. News rank the hopefuls running for the nomination and have tracked their trips to the early primary states.

In fact, candidates have visited the Granite State more than 100 times. And for many, those visits paid off in terms of delegates won.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won second place in the state’s Republican primary, concentrated his operations there, holding over 100 town hall events with residents. He’ll leave the Granite State with at least three delegates.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the state the most, though. With not all precincts yet reporting, he had received 7.4 percent of the vote but no delegates. As of Tuesday night, there were still six delegates left to be awarded on the GOP side.On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders won at least 13 delegates compared with

Vermin Supreme, a Joke Presidential Candidate, Gets 240 Votes in New Hampshire

There’s a new grassroots candidate making strides in the presidential election – and he wants to give everyone in America a free pony.

Vermin Supreme garnered over 240 votes in the Democratic contest in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary with 89 percent of precincts reporting,

Supreme’s campaign is built on “four basic platform planks”: mandatory tooth-brushing laws, time-travel research, zombie preparedness, and free ponies for all Americans. (You must have your pony with you at all times.)

According to Supreme, he’s been able to rise to the top of the “over 1,500 people that are running for president” because of “several simple, yet elegant and very effective measures … for example, wearing a rubber boot upside-down on one’s head.”

Can the Establishments Strike Back?

Like all too many commuters, Political America awoke Wednesday to a traffic jam.

It could use a PolitiChopper, or some counterpart to those TV and radio helicopters that diligently track fender benders, jack-knifed tractor-trailers, construction, power outages and other havoc-inducing rush hour impediments on our roads and rails.

Hillary Clinton’s seemingly irresistible march to the Democratic nomination was diverted, at least for now, in New Hampshire. And the Republican elite was flummoxed by its muddle in finding an obvious alternative to either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Clinton’s conundrum was probably more predictable and prompted a very Clinton-esque reaction: sucking it up and vowing to battle onward and upward. The Washington Post’s David Maraniss, Bill Clinton’s most informative biographer, tweeted Tuesday about Bill’s cycles of loss and recovery.

Those traits do run in the family.

But while Democratic victor Bernie Sanders is correct in deriding the puny media attention given him for many months, his prospects remain unlikely. New Hampshire might be a last hurrah as the tussle moves to regions that seem to demographically, ideologically and logistically favor her.

“The New Hampshire exit polls show that in this campaign

Rise of the Populist Frankensteins

I knew Hillary Clinton was in trouble when I got to my polling place. The same-day registration line was long and full of students from Dartmouth. Students do not register in New Hampshire and then line up to vote for Hillary. They were there to “feel the Bern.” The numbers later validated my anecdotal snapshot.

People are anxious and fed up. What we saw last night was just two variations on that political disgust. Young people would like to see a fairer society, a less-corrupt political system and meaningful efforts to deal with climate change. They would like to leave college without crushing debt.

As a professor of public policy, I can say that most of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ policy ideas make little sense at all, either because they would not have their intended effect or because there is absolutely no chance of getting them implemented in the current political environment. But that’s a 50-year-old writing. I admire Bernie’s idealism and the sentiment it inspires among my students, even as I despair as to how it might ultimately turn out. If I were 18, I would have voted for Bernie, just to send a message to

Iraqi officials say three Americans who were abducted in Baghdad last month have been freed

raqi officials say three Americans who were abducted in Baghdad last month have been freed.

The three officials, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief the press, said Tuesday that the Americans were freed by the Iraqi intelligence service.

They say the three are in good health and have been handed over to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.

The embassy confirmed in January that several Americans had gone missing. Iraqi authorities said the three were kidnapped from a “suspicious apartment” without elaborating.

Iraqi and Western officials said they suspected one of two powerful Shiite militias was behind the kidnapping.

The Unprecedented ‘Precedent’

How can you tell the seemingly unanimous position of the Republican Party that President Barack Obama should not be permitted to select the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor is motivated by something other apolitical concern for the republic? You can start by looking at the ways that their main talking point – that such an election-year nomination hasn’t been confirmed in 80 years – is both factually incorrect and more broadly intellectually dishonest and a novel reinterpretation of “precedent.”

Eighty years has become a truly magical number in the day since Scalia shuffled off this mortal coil. “The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year,” Republican Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley said. Standard practice! What kind of dictator must Obama be to oppose 80 years of standard practice? “It has been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in the Republican presidential debate Saturday night; “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year,” Texas Sen. Ted

Clinton Gets It on Health Care

Hillary Clinton is right about health care.

In Thursday night’s Democratic debate, Clinton and her fellow Democratic candidate for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, debated several issues, including health care reform. While Sanders has been advocating for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care plan, Clinton has been pushing to build upon President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, to close the remaining gaps in coverage. During the debate, Clinton criticized Sanders’ plan, noting “if you’re having Medicare for all, single-payer, you need to level with people about what they will have at the end of the process you are proposing. And based on every analysis that I can find by people who are sympathetic to the goal, the numbers don’t add up, and many people will actually be worse off than they are right now.” She also said, “The last thing we need is to throw our country into a contentious debate about health care again.”

Democrats should listen to Clinton on this one. Universal coverage should absolutely be the goal of any health care reform plan that is proposed. But health care proposals should also be realistic and politically pragmatic. Sanders’ plan is

Gone Gilmore: Former VA Governor Suspends Campaign

im Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia whom almost no one realized was running for president. has suspended his Republican campaign for president.

“My campaign was intended to offer the gubernatorial experience, with the track record of a true conservative, experienced in national security, to unite the party.” Gilmore said in a statement. “My goal was to focus on the importance of this election as a real turning point, and to emphasize the dangers of continuing on a road that will further undermine America’s economy and weaken our national security.”

A former Army intelligence officer, Gilmore, a Republican who joined the race as a longshot in July, failed to gain any traction in polls and generated zero interest among political analysts. He appeared in the undercard portion of the first Republican debate in August, then failed to qualify for the next five event

Neither that surge, however, nor the more than 100 campaign appearances he held in New Hampshire, translated into actual support. He regularly polled at zero percent – if he was included in polls at all – and got just 12 votes in Iowa and 133 votes in New Hampshire.

“I will

Hillary, Gloria and One-Size-Fits-All Feminism

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the American people that “Would you want to have a beer with this candidate?” is a question crucial to the electoral process. If we were smart, we’d want a president who’s far too busy getting things done to have a hypothetical beer with anyone. But it’s too late: Now, we not only have to assess whether we’d want to have a beer with them, we also have to ask whether we want to see them lampoon themselves on “Saturday Night Live,” try to dance alongside Ellen DeGeneres or retweet goofy memes with appropriate self-awareness. So it wasn’t a surprise that last week talk-show host Bill Maher asked guest Gloria Steinem: “[Young women] really don’t like Hillary. What do you think that’s about?”

Steinem’s answer, of course – that “the boys are with Bernie” – caused the Internet to explode into a thousand furious responses. The prompt censure was a flashback to the 2008 primary season, when Steinem provoked similar ire with a New York Times op-ed suggesting that Hillary Clinton was the better vote for women because “gender is probably the most restricting force in American life.” The

Bernie’s Prison Promise Is Too Good to Be True

Democrats’ embarrassment of riches was on display last night in Milwaukee. Watching the two candidates, the choice between Hillary Clinton’s pragmatism and Bernie Sander’s idealism feels less like a primary battle and more like a glimpse of the internal dialogue swirling in the average progressive brain.

Practicality doesn’t always mean granting concessions, says Clinton, and big dreams don’t signal naivety, says Sanders. Their campaigns are running on flip-sides of the same coin: Elect me, and I’ll make progressive policies actually happen.

That undercurrent of possibility is why something seemed off to me about a promise Sanders made early in the debate. Talking about criminal justice reform, Sanders committed to a specific pledge: “Here’s my promise, at the end of my first term as president we will not have more people in jail than any other country.”

It sounds too good to be true, but that could just be cynicism talking. Sanders is certainly right that the U.S. imprisons more people than any other country on earth, a point both he and Clinton have made repeatedly during recent months.

The horrifying statistic shifts only slightly depending on how it’s calculated: In raw numbers, there are approximately

Switching From ‘Survivor’ to ‘The Hunger Games’

There’s something to be said for the combination of an inexorably winnowing Republican presidential field and an accelerating schedule of presidential primaries. The debaters on the stage Saturday displayed the sense of urgency of men who have realized that their game show is suddenly no longer “Survivor” but has become “The Hunger Games.”

It’s not literally true that the long knives were out tonight in South Carolina, but only barely, with the candidates turning on each other with a sense of vicious desperation usually seen in trapped and anxious animals. Not, in case there was any question, in an appealing way.

There was realtor Donald Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (possessed of a new, perhaps Red Bull-fueled determination to actually assert himself) clashing over Russia and Syria, over George W. Bush and 9/11; there was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz not only competing over who is tougher on immigration but also who is Hispanic-er than thou, with Rubio goading Cruz about not actually speaking Spanish and Cruz answering back in it; there were Cruz and Trump clashing over Supreme Court nominations, with the senator treating the former reality TV star

Hat-Trick Gridlock

For once Cruz is not a senatorial Republican outlier – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that that body will not confirm an Obama-nominated replacement. Cyborg Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida GOPer also running for president, quickly added a me-too.

The assertion that a sitting president with nearly a full year left in his term should be essentially denied his constitutional right – excuse me, responsibility – to fill a vacancy on the high court is outrageous; that this call for hat-trick gridlock (involving all three branches of the government) presumes to invoke the good of the nation and comes from a self-described “constitutional conservative” demonstrates what a blatantly and scurrilously political power grab this is.

Scalia’s death in Texas not only brings into stark and startling contrast the stakes in this year’s elections – both presidential and senatorial – but it belies the integrity of the cynical self-styled defenders of the Constitution who preen on the right. It is a test of the political system, to what extent we can campaign and govern at the same time. And as the Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen tweeted, it’s “unsettling to see [the] GOP boasting about

A Bloody Fist Fight In South Carolina Republican Debate

It took the death of a Supreme Court Justice to unite the six remaining Republican presidential hopefuls. But that was it – and only for a moment.

After a brief occasion of unity at the top of the ninth GOP debate Saturday night, the scene on stage in Greenville, South Carolina, swiftly disintegrated into a nasty rhetorical fist fight with sharp, personal exchanges and colorful fireworks between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and finally Trump and Cruz.

John Kasich was left calling for peace and Ben Carson was just happy to be there. The other four came for blood.

In the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, each candidate outlined his opposition to President Barack Obama appointing a replacement in this election year.

Trump, who leads polls in South Carolina a week before next Saturday’s primary vote, said he would prefer the opportunity to nominate the new justice, but acknowledged Obama would likely go forward with an appointment, testing the mettle of the Republican-led U.S. Senate.

“It’s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It’s called delay, delay, delay,” the New

The GOP’s Post-Scalia Bind

Donald Trump has not been a Republican for very long, but in Saturday’s debate, he perfectly captured the party’s strategy for dealing with the opening on the Supreme Court following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death: ” Delay, delay, delay.”

It is a tactic universally agreed upon by Republicans. But should they do it? The reasons they’ve offered are rubbish – here’s why and why they will do it anyway.

It’s been over 80 years since a lame-duck president has appointed a Supreme-Court justice,” Marco Rubio asserted at Saturday night’s rowdy debate.

Let’s give Rubio a pass on the fact-checking and get straight to the problem: Obama is not a lame-duck president. He won’t be a lame-duck president until his successor is elected in November.

Even going by the more generous (but in no way binding) “Thurmond Rule,” which holds that presidents should not try to fill an open seat within six months of the end of their term, Obama is still in the clear. The Senate may have given up on governing years ago, but with a year left in his term, Obama has plenty of time to exercise the powers of the presidency.

Ted Cruz: Trump and Rubio Are Liberal

Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz continued to joust for primacy heading into the South Carolina primary next weekend, foregoing policy differences for name-calling and insults.

Trump called Cruz “nuts,” “dishonest” and “an unstable person,” while Cruz questioned both Trump’s conservative credentials and whether he had the temperament to be president. Cruz is trying to weaken Trump’s standing among South Carolina’s social conservatives and evangelical Christians, a key voting bloc in Saturday’s contest.

“The people of South Carolina want a consistent conservative they can trust,” Cruz told reporters before his rally in Aiken. He also released a new television ad attacking Trump, showing footage of his praising Planned Parenthood and Hillary Clinton. It ends with the line, “South Carolina cannot trust Donald Trump.”

Trump threatened to sue Cruz, challenging his eligibility to serve in the White House unless he stops airing what Trump calls “false ads” and retracts what the billionaire real estate mogul called a series of lies.

Trump called Cruz “the most dishonest guy I think I’ve ever met in politics.”

“I think he’s an unstable person,” he said, later declaring: “He’s nuts.”

Speaking to hundreds of supporters, Cruz

Trump Has Cruz and RNC in His Sights

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday offered rival Ted Cruz an ultimatum, threatening to sue Cruz over his eligibility to serve in the White House unless the Texas senator stops airing what Trump calls “false ads” and apologizes for what the billionaire real estate mogul called a series of lies about his positions.

With less than a week to go before South Carolina’s Republican primary, the GOP front-runner also reiterated that the 9/11 attacks happened during President George W. Bush’s time in office — an apparent attempt to overshadow the former president’s Monday campaign appearances on behalf of his brother, Jeb Bush.

The new attacks came as the race entered an increasingly nasty phase, with numerous negative ads airing on local television following an unusually caustic debate this past weekend.

Some of the harshest ads have been aimed at Trump, often using the political newcomer’s past words to illustrate his evolving position on issues including abortion and gun rights.

Trump also took aim Monday at the Republican establishment, accusing the Republican National Committee of packing its debate audiences with donors — a move he claimed violated the loyalty pledge he signed in September

GOP Campaign Turns Even Nastier

Suddenly, the Republican presidential campaign has become a free-for-all based on charges and countercharges of which candidate is the biggest liar.

Based on the red-hot rhetoric of the past 72 hours, the GOP contest is now a runaway train of invective, throwing the race into even more turmoil with the South Carolina presidential primary looming on Saturday and the Nevada nominating caucuses scheduled for Feb. 23.

The GOP candidates are not only casting doubt on their opponents’ trustworthiness, but also raising questions about what today’s Republican Party stands for. This dynamic is likely to help the Democrats in the fall because the party nominee and other leaders can use the same charges levied during the Republican campaign to tarnish the eventual GOP standard-bearer. This is what happened in 2012, when Mitt Romney was battered by fellow Republican presidential candidates and was greatly weakened by the time he was nominated by the Republican Party.

Among their disagreements, the Republicans – with six major candidates remaining in the race – differ over how hawkish and interventionist the United States should be abroad; the value of free trade agreements; whether to impose tariffs on imported goods to promote U.S. jobs;