Michael Sam, the First Openly Gay NFL Draftee, Has Earned the Right to Play Ball

I wholeheartedly agree with the author of this article…

The Daily Beast – Robert Silverman

Despite being cut by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday, and ESPN’s homophobic story, the hybrid defensive lineman impressed in the preseason and deserves to make an NFL roster.

Here’s the sad part of this story. Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, was one of the final cuts Saturday by the St. Louis Rams.

As a 7th round pick, the odds that he’d survive training camp weren’t great to begin with—especially considering the Rams are absolutely stacked on the defensive line. They’ve got two Pro Bowl-caliber defensive ends in Robert Quinn and Chris Long, and veterans Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers, William Hayes, Alex Carrington, Eugene Sims, and rookie first round draft pick Aaron Donald were absolute locks to make the team.

Sam got the axe because, even though they’re running a 4-3 defense, with the emergence of undrafted rookie free agent defensive end Ethan Westbrooks, there was little chance they’d carry ten defensive linemen out of 53 total roster spots. Additionally, Westbrooks proved to be a more versatile player—one capable of contributing on special teams and showing more speed and athleticism than Sam did.

Here’s where the story gets better.

Michael Sam proved that he could contribute to an NFL team. He had an impressive preseason, racking up 11 tackles and three sacks in total, including a team-leading six takedowns in the final game versus the Dolphins on Thursday. For those that might have been worried that Sam’s sexuality would be a factor in St. Louis’s decision, that wasn’t the case. Sam was judged on his performance on the field and in practice alone.

That’s not a particularly pleasant thought for Michael Sam, but it’s infinitely preferable to the idea that the Rams ditched him because he’s gay or because he was destroying “team chemistry,” was a “distraction,” or any sports-corporate non-speak that the risk-averse NFL trots out for anything and everything that might interfere with their profit-generating colossus.

Despite Herm Edwards’s hand-wringing, the Rams did not become the focus of a media feeding frenzy. There was one unfortunate ESPN piece that revived the old homophobic bugaboo about showering with gay men, but as head coach Jeff Fisher said at a press conference after the news broke, “There’s no challenge with respect to Mike Sam. He’s not about drawing attention to himself. He kept his head down and worked and you can’t ask anything more out of any player for that matter.”

The team also added through their official twitter account:

As to where he might sign, he’ll go through the 24-hour waiver period, and if he goes unclaimed, would then be free to sign with any other team, or possibly end up back on the Rams’s practice squad. According to this ESPN report, they’re seriously considering doing just that.

If he does leave St. Louis, a pass rush-needy team like the Dallas Cowboys might be tempted to add him. The Washington Post spoke to an unnamed NFL front office executive about his chances: “I do think there’s a chance of that. He played well enough [during the preseason] for a team with a need on the defensive line to consider that. He would have to be clearly better than the guy you already have as your last defensive lineman on your roster, and he’d have more to learn about your system than that guy. So that’s tough. But you never know.”

The Post also listed Jacksonville, Minnesota, Tampa, New England, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Oakland, Carolina and the New York Giants as potential landing spots

All in all, the best-case scenario was realized. Sam was treated (and will continue to be treated) like every other NFL hopeful, and that’s what happened here.

This is where the story gets ugly.

If anyone that’s reading this is tempted to start bellowing, “If he’s like everyone else, then why is this even a story? This just shows that Dungy was right!”

Yes, you are partially right. There are hundreds of highly-skilled dudes that got the exact same grim, dreaded tap on the shoulder this weekend that Sam did from “The Turk”—the low-level employee that has to locate a player somewhere within the team’s complex and tell him that the coach needs to see him in his office and he should probably bring his playbook with him. If you’ve ever watched HBO’s Hard Knocks, you know those scenes are serious tearjerkers, but they aren’t particularly newsworthy.

Here’s the difference. Search Twitter or Facebook for Michael Sam + [your favorite anti-gay slur] and see what kind of vile, toxic sludge you’re able to dredge up. Actually, don’t. It’s not worth giving these bigots any more oxygen than they deserve. Just take my word for it that it was, and probably still is, awful. Unlike, say, a random cornerback from Boise State, moments after the Rams announced they were cutting Sam, there was a near-celebratory outpouring of weirdly giddy hate, using the relative anonymity of social media as a modern-day Klansman’s e-frock.

This is a story because, sad to say, there are still, if you’re an optimist, a surprising number of people that thought this was the perfect opportunity to vent their bile-clogged spleens. More than a few knuckle-draggers even thought it was a swell idea to tweet Sam directly to mock him and fling insults because… I have no idea, really. But I do know that it’s deeply depressing.

So if you’re wondering why some might have been rooting for St. Louis to keep Sam—more so than any other hard-working, good kid fighting to realize a lifelong dream—this is why: because it would expose all of these morons for the homophobic, wrongheaded trash bags that they are.

And just so we don’t end on that bleak note, here’s Sam’s official statement. This, if nothing else, will make you feel a tad better:

“I want to thank the entire Rams organization and the city of St. Louis for giving me this tremendous opportunity and allowing me to show I can play at this level. I look forward to continuing to build on the progress I made here toward a long and successful career. The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I’ve always known. The journey continues.”

African-American Group Open-Carries To Protest Police Violence – VIDEO

Black-Panthers

No attribution

Liberals Unite

Mediaite reports “a group of African-Americans in Dallas have responded in the most Texas way possible: By forming the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, an open-carry group that goes around in public, bearing the same semiautomatic weaponry as their fellow open-carry advocates, protesting police brutality.”

The group is named after the co-founder of the Black Panthers, and notes on their website that Dallas is a hotbed of violence by cops against minorities:

“the police have murdered over 70 unarmed individuals, most of the black and brown men, over the last ten years. Excluding a recent incident where police testimony was contradicted by surveillance footage, there have been no indictments since 1973.”

 

As Mediaite reports, “Here is the gun club going to a restaurant, where Reason reports they ate with their guns out, next to a group of cops:

 

The group has issued a press release along with a list of demands, that you can read below, along with a video.

Rams cut Michael Sam

Getty Images

NBC Sports

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft, did not make the Rams’ 53-man roster.

The Rams cut Sam in one of their final moves today, the team has announced.

Sam arrived in St. Louis with great fanfare — but with long odds to make the regular-season roster because the Rams were already deep at Sam’s position, defensive end. But Sam played well enough in the preseason that there was increasingly talk in NFL circles that he had a good chance of making it.

Unfortunately for Sam, he was simply caught up in a numbers game, and the Rams decided that he wasn’t one of the top 53 players on their roster. He could still return to St. Louis on the practice squad, a decision that would come in the next couple of days.

But first Sam will go through waivers, which means every NFL team will have a chance to put in a claim for him. Considering how well Sam played in the preseason, there’s a good chance that some other team will take him, and that he’ll be on a 53-man roster when the season begins. But that 53-man roster will not be in St. Louis.

FL mayor badgers atheist at public meeting for not standing for prayer or Pledge of Allegiance

Florida mayor badgers atheist out of meeting [youtube]

Outrageous civil rights violation…by a mayor.

The Raw Story

Atheist and civil liberties groups criticized the mayor of Winter Garden, Florida for delaying the start of the city commission’s meeting on Thursday to confront a local atheist for not standing during an invocation or the Pledge of Allegiance, the Friendly Atheist reported on Friday.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) contacted Mayor John Rees after a local man posted footage online of Rees asking him to stand on two separate occasions. After the man refused to stand for the pledge, Rees said he should do so or be “escorted” out of the meeting, saying, “It’s just not fair to our troops and people overseas.” Seconds later, a man identified as Police Chief John Brennan steps in front of the man’s camera.

“What do you want to do?” Brennan says. “Do you want to stand or leave?”

The man then leaves the meeting shortly before the video ends.

The foundation said in a letter (PDF) that Rees’ actions violated two Supreme Court decisions saying government officials did not have the right to force attendees to stand whenever the pledge is recited at meetings.

“Mayor Rees ought to explain that citizens are within their rights to remain sitting for the Pledge and that it does not reflect a lack of patriotism. (In fact, refusing to rise and repeat the Pledge is more patriotic and respectful of the godless, secular constitution that created this nation, than rising and declaring our nation to be ‘one nation under god.’)” the FFRF’s letter stated.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, City Manager Mike Bollhoefer identified the man who filmed the encounter as 51-year-old Joseph Richardson, a member of the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC). Bollhoefer said Richardson has “repeatedly” asked the city via email to allow him to give an invocation.

“As a resident of Winter Garden, I would like our city to be known for its inclusiveness for all points of view and its respect for all individuals,” Richardson reportedly wrote this past May. “Opening up the commission meeting invocations to everyone would be a wonderful step in that direction.”

Bollhoefer also said Richardson would attend meetings, only to leave after the invocation and pledge.

“He doesn’t come to the meetings because he cares about the city,” Bollhoefer was quoted as saying.

Rees, who was elected to serve a third term this past March, told the Sentinel that his actions during the encounter were not premeditated.

“I just reacted. It hit me. I said it. I gave him an option,” Rees said. “Life will go on.”

Members of the CFFC have reportedly pledged to attend the next commission meeting in two weeks in support of Richardson, while the city was also criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU) for Rees’ treatment of him.

“The problem with telling people they have to participate in any mandatory expression is that it tells people who might have a religious objection or other deeply held belief that, if they don’t go along with what the government tells them to do, they aren’t welcome in this community,” ACLU spokesperson Baylor Johnson told the Sentinel.

Watch the disagreement between Rees and Richardson, as posted online on Friday, below

10 things you need to know today: August 30, 2014

The U.K. raised its terror threat level to the second-highest.

The U.K. raised its terror threat level to the second-highest. (AP photo/Alastair Grant)

The Week

The United Kingdom raises its terror threat level, Senegal reports its first Ebola case, and more

1. United Kingdom raises terror threat level to ‘highly likely’
Citing the influx of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria, the United Kingdom raised its terror threat level to “highly likely,” the country’s second-highest level, on Friday. Officials have voiced concerns over the hundreds of British jihadists who have traveled to Syria and Iraq — more than half of whom are suspected to have now returned to the U.K. and could be planning attacks on the West. “We face a real and serious threat from international terrorism,” Home Secretary Theresa May said. “I urge the public to remain vigilant.” [The Telegraph]

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2. Senegal reports first Ebola case in West African outbreak
Senegal’s Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday that a man infected with Ebola is currently receiving isolation treatment in the country’s capital of Dakar. The case is Senegal’s first, although the disease is ravaging four other West African nations. The infected man is a university student who came into contact with sick people in Guinea, then traveled to Senegal three weeks later and sought treatment at a hospital. The Ebola outbreak has killed at least 1,552 people and infected more than 3,000. [The Associated Press]

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3. McConnell’s campaign manager quits in wake of Ron Paul scandal
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) campaign manager Jesse Benton has resigned as a result of the ongoing scandal involving the 2012 presidential campaign of former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. This past week, a former Iowa state senator pled guilty to accepting laundered payments from the Paul campaign — of which Benton was a member — to switch his endorsement away from Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. No individuals have been charged with making the payments, but Benton said he “would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way” of McConnell’s reelection — “that includes myself.” [Lexington Herald-Leader]

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4. United Nations agency: Syrian refugees pass 3 million mark
More than three million Syrians have been forced out of their country due to the ongoing civil war, according to a new report from the United Nation’s refugee agency. Officials said refugees are arriving in countries such as Jordan with little savings after months on the run. And as extremist group ISIS expands across the Syria-Iraq border, more refugees are fleeing those areas. “With so many crises erupting simultaneously around us, with so much suffering, there is a risk that the victims of the Syria crisis…will slip from the public eye,” Kristalina Georgieva, aid chief for the European Union, said. [The Associated Press]

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5. Pentagon says ISIS airstrikes costing U.S. $7.5 million per day
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby announced on Friday that the airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are costing U.S. taxpayers more than $7.5 million per day. “As you might imagine, it didn’t start out at $7.5 million per day,” Kirby said. “It’s been — as our activities have intensified, so too has the cost.” While Kirby said the Pentagon should have enough resources to fund the campaign through the fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30), that may change if President Barack Obama decides to order similar airstrikes on ISIS holdings in Syria. [Time]

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6. Federal judge rules Texas abortion restrictions unconstitutional
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled certain measures in Texas’ broad anti-abortion bill unconstitutional on Friday. Abortion clinics sued over the bill’s requirement that they be held to hospital-level operating standards, which Yeakel said in his ruling amounted to “substantial obstacles (that) have reached a tipping point.” Women are already required to undergo sonograms and a 24-hour waiting period after first requesting an abortion from a Texas clinic. The state said it would appeal Yeakel’s ruling on measures in the bill, known as HB2 and signed into law by Governor Rick Perry (R) in 2013. [The Associated Press]

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7. Ebola drug ZMapp cures infected monkeys after five days
Researchers published new findings in the science journal Nature showing the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp was able to cure a group of monkeys five days after they were infected with the virus. “With the new cocktail, we haven’t seen any side effects,” Gary Kobinger, an author on the paper based at Canada’s Public Health Agency, said. Positive findings aside, the current drug supply has been exhausted, and Kobinger estimated new doses would not be ready for at least nine more months. The WHO predicts the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa could eventually infect 20,000 people. [The Washington Post]

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8. California Senate passes college campus ‘affirmative consent’ bill
A bill that would require California universities to include “affirmative consent” guidelines in sexual consent policies passed the state senate on Thursday. The measure, known as the “yes-means-yes” bill, still must be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. None of California’s colleges or universities contested the bill, according to Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for Sen. Kevin De Leon (D). The measure would define sexual consent as “an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement.” The White House says one in five college students is a victim of sexual assault during his or her university years, describing the figure as an “epidemic.” [Reuters]

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9. Gallup: Average full-time workweek in U.S. is 47 hours
Full-time American workers put in an average of 47 hours per week on the job, according to a Gallup poll released on Friday. While 47 hours has been the norm for more than a decade, Gallup noted that the percentage of full-time workers has dropped from 50 percent before the Great Recession to 43 percent today. “The 40-hour workweek is widely regarded as the standard for full-time employment, and many federal employment laws — including the Affordable Care Act — use this threshold to define what a full-time employee is,” Gallup said. “However, barely four in 10 full-time workers in the U.S. indicate they work precisely this much.” [Los Angeles Times]

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10. Chelsea Clinton announces end of NBC News gig
Citing the upcoming birth of her first child, Chelsea Clinton announced on Friday that she is stepping down from her post as special correspondent at NBC News. The former first daughter spent nearly three years reporting stories of “remarkable people and organizations making a profound difference,” although her salary of $600,000 per year reportedly irked some in the journalism industry. Clinton said she will focus on her work with the Clinton Foundation, specifically on projects aimed toward bettering healthcare around the world and empowering women. [People, Politico]

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes challenges senators who harassed Kirsten Gillibrand to come forward

Chris Hayes screenshot

Chris Hayes |MSNBC screenshot

In the three plus years that  I’ve watched Chris Hayes’ news programs on MSNBC, I have concluded that he is an exceptional journalist with an impressive personality.

The Raw Story

MSNBC Chris Hayes called out the lawmakers who allegedly harassed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to reveal themselves during a panel discussion on Friday regarding the culture of sexual harassment permeating the Capitol, which he called the “worst-kept secret in Washington.”

“I challenge the male senators — if they’re still alive, we don’t know if they are,” Hayes said. “But if you are, then you should come out and say that you did that, and you should apologize.”

Gillibrand has been criticized in some press circles for writing in her upcoming autobiography that unidentified male colleagues who told her to not get “porky” or that they preferred her to look “chubby,” though some female journalists have come forward to back up her account.

However, National Journal reporter Lucia Graves said, Gillibrand had no desirable options in the situation.

“She can, on the one hand, name names and make a huge public spectacle and perhaps have her career defined by this moment,” Graves said. “She can do what she’s done and talk in generalizations and then have people call her a liar or say that she needs to name names or tell her story on their terms. Or, the third option is silence, and I think that’s the most dangerous option of all, and all of the people who are attacking her for telling her story are encouraging that culture of silence which allows this kind of behavior to repeat.”

Hayes’ colleague Irin Carmon criticized the demands against Gillibrand to name the people involved, saying it was a subtle way for naysayers to accuse her of lying.

“I happen to think that if she did name names, there would still be people who sould say, ‘Not that guy, that guy’s a great guy. How could you impugn the reputation of that guy?’” Carmon explained. “None of these options are gonna clear her name.”

Columnist Ana Marie Cox, though, suggestion that the question of whether Gillibrand identifies her harassers goes beyond the political arena.

“I do, in this instance, think about what kind of lesson I would want to teach my daughter or my little sister, or some other woman that was close to me,” Cox told the panel. “Would I want her to say who it was? Would I want her to accept this kind of behavior with a laugh, or tell me that ‘He really didn’t mean it’? She can do what she wants, but I think we all should think about that particular question.”

During the discussion, Hayes showed footage of correspondents like Andrea Mitchell and Dana Bash sharing their own stories of being harassed, including Mitchell’s statement that she and her colleagues would exchange information on “whom you’d protect your young female interns from.”

He also shared the story of Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) being groped by Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) on an elevator, as described in a 1997 book by journalist Clara Bingham. Bingham wrote that Thurmond did not recognize Murray as a fellow senator and asked if the “little lady” was married before harassing her.

“She said he did not recognize her as a colleague,” Carmon said of the encounter between Murray and Thurmond. “He didn’t recognize her as a fellow human deserving of respect and of boundaries. That would be true whether she was a senator or not.”

Watch part 1 of the discussion, as aired on MSNBC on Friday HERE

 

Part 2 can be seen HERE

 

 

“I’m not your brother!”: Video reveals police’s stunning double-standard for black Americans

Screenshot of officer approaching Chris Lollie and mugshot of Chris Lollie

attribution: screenshot from video/Chris Lollie mughshot

Updated to include victim’s “mugshot”.

Salon

In a shocking video posted to YouTube, police tase and arrest a black man picking his kids up from preschool

The latest in police misconduct was captured in a cellphone video that surfaced earlier this week. The video depicts a black man, identified as 28-year-old Christopher Lollie, sitting in a public space waiting to pick up his young children from New Horizon Academy in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I want to know who you are and what the problem was back there,” a female cop says to Lollie at the start of the video.

“There is no problem, that’s the thing,” he replies.

“So talk to me and let me know who you are and you can be on your way.”

Lollie explains to the officer that he has been sitting in a public area for 10 minutes and protests that he doesn’t have to tell her his name because he had not broken any laws.

“The problem was –” the officer says.

“The problem is I’m black,” Lollie interrupts. “It really is, because I’m not sitting there with a group of people. I’m sitting there by myself, not causing a problem.”

A second officer then approaches the two and attempts to touch Lollie. “I’ve got to go get my kids,” Lollie says, growing upset. “Please don’t touch me.”

“You’re going to go to jail then,” the second officer replies.

“Come on, brother,” he says. “This is assault.”

“I’m not your brother. Put your hands behind your back, otherwise it’s going to get ugly.”

Shortly thereafter, the phone gets knocked out of Lollie’s hands as the cops cuff him. One can then hear the sound of a taser charging and Lollie’s screams as the cops tase him.

The police report states that two officers, Michael Johnson and Bruce Schmidt, were called to the First National Bank Building “on a report of uncooperative male refusing to leave.” The female officer has not yet been identified.

The Twin Cities Daily Planet reports:

His children had been attending New Horizon for about 9 months at that time, he said, so many people at the school already knew who he was. Luckily, he said, his children weren’t there to witness the incident since the children’s mother still hadn’t arrived. But Lollie’s children’s classmates and teacher all witnessed the event, he said.

“The teacher actually gave me a witness statement, stating that ‘he was calm, he wasn’t doing anything wrong, he was talking to them, and they just started assaulting him,” he said.

Since then, Lollie said he fought the charges and because of the teacher’s statement and the footage from the building’s security cameras, all charges against him were dropped as of July 31.

Lollie said that he didn’t want to post the video until the charges were dropped. “It hurts, it really does,” he said. “Because no matter what — I could be the nicest guy in the world, talk with respect, I can be working, taking care of my kids, doing everything the model citizen is supposed to do — and I still get that type of treatment.”

Warning: The video below could be upsetting to viewers.

Obama vs. Bush: Who Took More Presidential Vacations?

Just an FYI for holiday family gathering discussions…

The Huffington Post via FactCheck.org

Q: Is it true that George W. Bush took more vacation days than Barack Obama?

A: Yes. Before his two-week trip to Martha’s Vineyard in August, Obama’s count was 125 full or partial days and Bush’s total at the same point in his presidency was 407.

FULL ANSWER

Our inbox is chock full of questions about who took more vacation days, Obama or Bush. (The short answer: Bush. The long answer: There’s no such thing as a true non-working vacation for the president.)

The recent barrage from our readers coincides with Obama’s 15-day family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard — he returned to the White House on Aug. 24 – which occurred during major news events including the beheading of a U.S. journalist by Islamic militants and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black man. The vacation also occurred during the funeral of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the only general officer killed in Afghanistan.

Obama faced criticism for being on vacation during these times, but those types of complaints are nothing new — either to Obama or presidents in general.

Readers may recall the criticism directed at Bush for the August weeks spent at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Others may remember Democrats chastising President Dwight Eisenhower for spending time on the golf course.

We last dealt with the who-took-more-vacation question in January 2010, at which point Obama had spent 26 days on “vacation” during his first year in office, fewer than the first year totals for Presidents Bush, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. Our numbers are all courtesy of CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, who has covered every president since Gerald Ford and tracks the commander in chief’s travel.

But, as we noted then, presidents never fully escape from the job. Knoller told us he doesn’t consider these days away from the White House real “vacation” days. He said then in an email: “I have long held the view that a US president is never really on vacation. The job — and its awesome powers and responsibilities — is his wherever he is and whatever he’s doing.”

Bush officials called the Crawford ranch the “Western White House” to emphasize the days there involved plenty of official business, and Obama’s recent Martha’s Vineyard break included several presidential statements and two days spent back at the White House in the middle of the “vacation.” Presidents may clear brush or hit the links, but they are never actually off the clock.

Still, much is made of these presidential vacation days — and how to count them. Knoller doesn’t include visits to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland often used to host foreign leaders. On Aug. 8, the day before Obama left for Martha’s Vineyard, Knoller tweeted that Obama had spent 125 full or partial days on vacation, and at the same point in Bush’s president, he had spent 381 days at his Texas ranch plus 26 days at his parents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine, for a total of 407.

When we emailed Knoller on Aug. 26, Obama was up to 140 days by his count. Bush’s total for his two terms in office is 533 days, which includes 490 at the ranch and the rest at Kennebunkport. For comparison’s sake, President Bill Clinton’s total is 174 days, and Reagan hit 390 (349 at his ranch and 41 in Palm Springs), according to Knoller.

Adding in Camp David visits would bring Obama’s total to date to 223 (that’s 83 days at Camp David) and Bush’s total for his entire time in office to 1,024 (491 days at the presidential retreat). Note that Obama still has more than two years in office to narrow the gap.

Deciding how to count these “vacation” days can create some confusion. CNN recently listed a count of 879 days for Bush and 150 for Obama, numbers that came from a Washington Post “Outlook” piece on “Five myths on presidential vacations.”(Myth No. 1: “Presidents get vacations.”) The 879 figure, it turns out, is from March 3, 2008, at which point Bush had spent that many days at the ranch and Camp David (but it doesn’t include days in Kennebunkport). The numbers are in a 2008Washington Post piece and attributed to Knoller.

If readers want to make an apples-to-apples comparison, the best solution is to use Knoller’s figures as of August 8, cited above: Bush, 407; Obama, 125. But the numbers say more about how many days the presidents spent away from the White House than they do about how much time the presidents spent not working.

Ezra Klein explains the ice bucket challenge

VOX

My friend Nilay Patel tagged me in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so blah blah blah I got a bucket of ice dumped on my head. But, since this is Vox, I did it in the form of an explainer.

Oh, and I challenged Arianna Huffington, Nate Silver, and Sommer Mathis to go next.

The serious point here is that this is about giving to charity. Lou Gehrig’s disease is a horror and I’m excited to support the ALS Association’s efforts. But the Ice Bucket Challenge has been so effective at raising money that the ALS Association is likely bumping against the limits of what they can spend effectively. And, of course, ALS isn’t the only awful disease out there.

So I’m also donating to the Deworm the World Initiative, which is one of GiveWell’s recommended charities (the other two are Give Directly and Schistosomiasis Control Initiative). If you’re looking for a great cause to support where your dollars will go a long way, you should check them out.