The Two Biggest Powers of the American President, and Their Limits by Joseph L. Flatley
The American Presidency is thought to be the most powerful position in the world. Yet a president’s power is limited to two spheres: growing the empire abroad and producing unlimited economic growth at home, according to presidential scholar Joseph Peschek. Read Joseph L. Flatley’s interview with Peschek, the inauguration of WhoWhatWhy’s 2016 presidential coverage.

WhoWhatWhy’s 2016 Presidential Election News Feed by The WhoWhatWhy Team
Following the candidates and the controversies with a WhoWhatWhy view. Want beauty contests and horse races? You won’t find them here. The stories which help you make a real judgment? Here’s where you start.

WhoWhatWhy’s 2016 Presidential Campaign Promise to You by The WhoWhatWhy Team
Here’s our 2016 presidential campaign promise to you: election coverage like you’ve never seen before.


For Presidents Day, a Look at Presidential Job Approval Ratings from Ike to Obama
Pew celebrates the holiday by looking back at the ebbs and flows of presidential approval ratings over the last 75 years. Among the findings: political polarization is growing steadily over time, big scandals don’t necessarily translate into long-term damage to approval ratings, and the two Bushes had the highest highs and lowest lows of any post-WWII president. Both rode wars to higher scores than even Kennedy and Reagan at their peaks. And W dipped lower than Nixon, Carter and his father when he finally hit rock bottom.

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons
The New York Times reports on Operation Avarice—a secretive campaign to purchase 400 Borak rockets carrying a nerve agent made by the Iraqi regime in the 1980s. These are weapons that remained unaccounted for after years of U.N. inspections. From 2005 to 2006, the CIA tracked down the rockets, took them off the open market and, according to the story, out of the eager hands of terrorists. The rub is not that the much-vaunted WMDs claimed by Team Bush have been found, but that U.S. troops were exposed to chemical agents when munitions like these were destroyed throughout the U.S. campaign in Iraq. The resulting ailments were under-reported, mishandled or simply disregarded by the Pentagon.


What ISIS Really Wants
The Atlantic kicks off the week with a feature story on the methodology behind the madness of the Islamic State. Key to everything, including understanding their aspirations, is their particular brand of Islamic fundamentalism, according to author Graeme Wood. The thrust of this “distinctive variety of Islam” is its emphasis on catalyzing an apocalyptic “Day of Judgment,” which distinguishes it from the al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden. That was a “corporatized” terror network seeking specific political concessions. The Islamic State is a cult-like attempt to reinstate an Islamic caliphate, which depends on winning and holding territory. The primary challenge for those trying to concoct a counter-strategy is understanding this distinction between political terrorism and the Islamic State’s doctrine of purification through war.

What the Drone Industry Loves and Hates About the FAA’s Proposed Rules
The FAA has finally released new rules governing the use of drones. So far, the regulations have been embraced by “drone enthusiasts” and hobbyists eager to deploy their quadcopters and microUAVs. The Washington Post has detailed the main points of the rules. They include a new testing requirement to obtain a drone operator’s certificate, restrictions limiting drones to “line of sight” flights and keeping them out of the skies after dark. A Neiman Lab analysis determined that the new rules also green-light the use of drones by journalists.


Bruce Jenner: Libertarian Hero
The American Conservative ponders the exuberance of their Libertarian cousins for the transition of “The World’s Greatest Athlete” into a female. The head cheerleader is Nick Gillespie, who asked if there is “any greater story about the American Dream—so bruised and battered in this godawful 21st century—than Bruce Jenner becoming a woman?” The idea is that America’s greatness is predicated on the ability of individuals to become who they want to be in spite of any limitations imposed at birth. It’s sort of a Horatio Alger story, writ large for the 21st century. Not coincidentally, the U.S. Military recently announced its approval of hormone therapy for whistleblower Bradley Manning, aka Chelsea Manning. And documents obtained by USA TODAY show that officials have recently made it harder to discharge transgender soldiers from the military. Notch another victory for freedom.

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