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“All these old men,” snarled Mac McCaughan of Superchunk at one of the first major concerts of the South by Southwest Music Festival, “won’t die too soon.”
That vicious line hails from the longstanding indie rock band’s new song “I Got Cut,” aimed at politicians who have worked to limit women’s…
At its core, what is the Stormy Daniels story about?
I ask this because the Daniels topic, just entering its seventh week in the news spotlight, has become so choked with details, nuance and avenues of entry that it’s easy to get confused. What we need is one of those mnemonic devices where you imagine a physical location—like a palace—and fill its rooms, closets, vestibules and floors with the scandal’s factual detritus to maintain perspective.
As we enter the memory palace, let’s make the first of our many deposits: Is the Daniels story primarily about the original allegation, sourced to Daniels, of a sexual affair spanning the years 2006 and 2007 with Donald Trump? If so, do we now all agreed that despite Trump’s adamant denial through his attorney, Michael Cohen, that such affair really happened? So the story is about sex, right?
Or is it about money? Everybody concedes that Cohen paid Daniels the sum of $130,000 in October 2016, just before the election, to button her lip. How likely is it that Trump would deny having sex with a woman but would pay her through a cutout to make sure she never claimed that they did have sex? Is the deeper story here one about Daniels being a gold digger who exploited their consensual relationship for financial gain?
Or is the story really about sex? Thanks to the various reports, we now know that around the time Trump allegedly trysted with Daniels, he is believed to have gotten it on with a Playboy model. So the story just isn’t about philandering but serial philandering? The philandering came four months after Melania Trump give birth to Trump’s son Barron, which makes it post-partum sex with a woman not his wife.
Or is the Daniels story primarily a legal one? Lord knows we have a half-dozen bullet items to support this contention. Take your pick: Daniels has filed a lawsuit against Trump, demanding release from a 2016 nondisclosure agreement that she signed but he did not. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says the president “won” the case in arbitration. NBC News now reports that Cohen has obtained a new “secret” restraining order to silence her. The do-gooder group Common Cause has filed a campaign finance complaint saying the $130,000 payoff amounts to an undeclared in-kind donation to Trump’s presidential campaign. Elsewhere, legal beagles are alleging legal misconduct by Cohen that might lead to his disbarment. If Daniels took the $130,000 omerta check, does she deserve our criticism for using a technicality—that Trump didn’t sign the agreement—for going back on her promise to stay silent?
For those who put morality first, the Daniels story is probably about the adulterous, lying ways of politicians—and about the hypocrisy of Trump voters. As Kirsten Powers put it last night on CNN, the people who voted for Donald Trump do care when Democrats tomcat around but don’t care when Republicans do it. And vice versa.
With a nod to Watergate, maybe the real story is about Trump’s alleged cover-up. That is, we shouldn’t care so much about what he did as to the measures he took—including lying—to conceal it.
For those who put morality last, the story isn’t a story at all. They’re quick to point at Bill Clinton and cite the whatabout principle. For them, Trump’s affair with Daniels didn’t happen, but if it did it happened it happened a long, long time ago before Trump was a candidate so it doesn’t matter and the payoff and the coverup and the legal complications don’t matter, either. (If you’re especially pressed for time and don’t want to read about the Daniels affair, I suggest you endorse this interpretation.)
The takeaway that probably fits everybody, from pro-Trumpers to anti-Trumpers, is that the 45th president has successfully demolished a norm so outrageous that nobody ever thought to spell out as a norm: Presidential Candidates Should Never Get Caught Having Sex With Adult Film Actors.
Or is Stormy Daniels a press story? You recall that in October 2016, just before the election, Fox News spiked its story about a Daniels and Trump liaison. Send your Daniels musing to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com. My email alerts supported the president even after he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue shot that guy and didn’t lose any voters. My Twitter feed blushes at the mention of adult films. My RSS feed failed its audition to star in an adult film.
George R.R. Martin, the author of the fantasy books that form the basis for the HBO show “Game of Thrones,” is taking a break from his blog to concentrate on some projects — including, possibly, the long-awaited sixth novel in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series.
Martin made the announcement on…
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Adaptogens are a buzzword in the wellness world, popping up everywhere from juice bars to lifestyle blogs. But what are adaptogenic herbs, exactly? Here’s what you need to know.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that are marketed as helping the body resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical or biological. These herbs and roots have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions, but they’re having a renaissance today. Some, like holy basil, can be eaten as part of a meal, and some are consumed as supplements or brewed into teas.
Each one claims to do something a little different, but on the whole, “adaptogens help your body handle stress,” says Dr. Brenda Powell, co-medical director of the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “They’re meant to bring us back to the middle.”
Do adaptogens actually work?
Proponents believe so, though more research is needed. Adaptogens may do for your adrenal glands what exercise does for your muscles, Powell says. “When we exercise, it’s a stress on our body. But as we continue to train and exercise, our body becomes better at dealing with the stress of it, so we no longer get as tired or as high a heart rate,” she says. When you take adaptogens, meanwhile, “you’re training your body to handle the effects of stress.”
Powell says the plants do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system, both of which are involved in the body’s response to stress. Adaptogens may tweak hormone production and physiological responses to stress to ensure that your body—from your mind to your immune system to your energy levels—functions as it should, Powell says.
That said, there’s not much scientific research on how adaptogens affect human health. Most studies have been conducted either in animals or in human cell samples; even those that have been published tend to appear in small, niche journals. And while there’s plenty of research to suggest that what you eat affects your health, from reducing inflammation to helping you sleep better, it’s too soon to tell whether adaptogens can have such a direct and significant effect on the body.
What are the best adaptogenic herbs?
Each adaptogen has a slightly different function, so the best one for you depends on the specific ailment you’re experiencing, Powell says. Here are some common adaptogens and what they claim to be good for.
- Adaptogens for long-term stress: Powell recommends ashwagandha and Asian ginseng to soothe long-term sources of stress and the hormone imbalances that may result from it. Some research has suggested that holy basil, or tulsi, may help lower stress levels.
- Adaptogens for acute stress and anxiety: Some research suggests that Siberian ginseng (also known as eleutherococcus senticosus), rhodiola and schisandra may help mediate fight-or-flight stress responses. People use Siberian ginseng to boost the immune system, physical stamina and sexual health; rhodiola is believed to improve energy, physical performance and memory; and schisandra is thought to improve liver function and gastrointestinal problems. A big caveat: there’s very little human research to back up those claims. Much more research is needed.
- Adaptogens for immune health: Reishi and ginseng have been found in some small studies to boost immunity.
How do you add adaptogens to your diet?
If you’re looking for a straight dose of herbs, you can sip adaptogen teas or combine tinctures with water. To add adaptogens to the foods you’re already eating, you can buy pre-mixed powder to spice up everything from smoothies to soups to salad dressings.
What about adaptogen supplements?
Some adaptogens can be taken as capsules. Just be sure you know what you’re getting, Powell cautions. “A lot of supplement companies put small amounts of this and that in a pill,” she says. “I think they are just assuming or wishing for a synergistic effect.”
Supplements in general are also notoriously under-regulated and, in many cases, dubiously effective and potentially dangerous.
Do adaptogens have side effects?
You should talk to your doctor before adding adaptogens to your diet or routine. A 2018 study found that common herbal supplements can interact negatively with prescription medications, and many people don’t tell their doctors which over-the-counter drugs and supplements they’re taking.
Powell says there’s little evidence to suggest that adaptogens can cause side effects or health problems—though, like any plant, they can be allergenic or cause gastrointestinal distress for some people. She also says there’s little long-term research about adaptogens’ effects on the body over time.
While it’s probably safe for most people to take adaptogens, Powell says doing so may be more of a bandage than a cure. “People are basically wanting to take these adaptogens all the time for their chronic stress that they’re not managing otherwise,” Powell says. While “it’s easier to take a pill than change your lifestyle,” Powell says getting at the root cause of stress is healthier in the long run.
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As Vladimir Putin runs for another term as president of Russia, there is a generation of voters who have never known another leader. We profile some Russian millennials.