How Elizabeth Warren Learned to Fight

She was Betsy to her mother, who expected her to marry. Liz to fellow high school debaters, whom she regularly beat. Now, the lessons of an Oklahoma childhood are center stage in the presidential race.

OKLAHOMA CITY — It was 1962 in Oklahoma City and Liz Herring, a new student at Northwest Classen High School, was feeling insecure. She was good at school, had skipped a grade, and now, as a skinny freshman with glasses and crooked teeth who had grown up in a town south of the capital, she was hungry to fit in.

She joined the Cygnet Pep Club to show her school spirit and the Courtesy Club to help visitors find their way around the school. She became a member of the Announcers Club, reading messages over the school’s central sound system. But it was the debate club where she really found herself. At a time when Home Ec and preparing for marriage were priorities for young women, debate was a place where they could compete on equal ground.

She loved learning about the big topics of the day — Medicare, unions, nuclear disarmament. She began carrying around a large metal box with hundreds of index cards with quotes and facts written on them.

She was competitive and had extraordinary focus and self-discipline, spending hours after school each day practicing. Joe Pryor, a high school friend and debate teammate, remembers her “ruthlessness in preparation.” By the time they were juniors, he said, “she was just flat out better than me.”

Is Andrew Sullivan a conservative?

We ask Andrew Sullivan:

Do you still consider yourself a conservative?

Andrew Sullivan replies:

Absolutely. I wrote a book on my conservatism, ‘The Conservative Soul.’ But in so far as the word has been hijacked by religious fundamentalists and emotionally arrested Randians, I am not one of them. I’d fit easily into a conservative party in any other western democracy. But the GOP is a rogue in the western world – the most extremist right-wing party in any modern democracy by a mile. Banning all abortion and all gay marriages? Denying climate change science?

They’re not conservatives, they’re the loony right.

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P.S.: [William F.] Buckley favored legal pot. Where are the celebrations of freedom at [the National Review]?

Why do people say that Alberta is the Texas of Canada?

Alberta and Texas are rather similar in many ways. One is that they are very big and nearly the same size. Texas is 269,000 square miles (696,000 km2), while Alberta is 255,000 sq mi (661,000 km2), or 5% smaller than Texas.

The main similarity is that both are the oil producing giants of their respective countries. They both produce a little over 3 million barrels of oil per day. (75% of Alberta’s oil is exported to the US since that is far too much oil for the Canadian market.)

Both have huge agricultural industries, particularly cattle ranching. Alberta has about 5 million head of cattle (40% of the cattle in Canada) while Texas has about 12 million head of cattle (13% of the cattle in the US). As a result people in both places have a tradition of riding horses and wearing cowboy hats.

Both have two main cities which are nearly the same size as each other. Texas has Houston located 240 miles (390 km) south of Dallas, Alberta has Calgary located 180 miles (300 km) south of Edmonton. In both cases the southern of the two cities is the main head office center of the oil industries of their respective countries.

Both are quite conservative by the standards of their respective countries, (although the entire political spectrum of Canada is offset to the left of the US, so Alberta is not as conservative as Texas). This may be a result of their main industries, since workers in both oil and cattle ranching tend to be independent, conservative-thinking people who don’t like government interfering in their lives.

The main difference is that Texas has 7 times the population of Alberta, and its two main cities are about 5 times the size of Alberta’s two main cities. It is the second most populous state in the US, and this gives it a lot more clout in US federal politics than Alberta has in Canada.

As Texans say, “Don’t mess with Texas”, whereas Alberta does get messed with a lot by its federal government, although people in neither place like being interfered with and told what to do.