Saturday, November 29, 2008

News Nuggets 61

Change from the Top (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"Setting aside the obvious -- his use of complete sentences, free of words yet to be discovered -- he is uniquely positioned to change the world on multiple levels."

Obama Steps Up to the Plate on the Economy (Michael Duffy) from Time Magazine
"Taking effective control of U.S. economic policy two months before he will be sworn into office, President-elect Barack Obama promised an "aggressive" economic recovery plan in the first month of 2009 that will include tax cuts and new spending on jobs, energy infrastructure, health care and education."

"German commentators expressed their approval for Obama's choices, agreeing with its implicit sentiment that now is no time for rookies."

Lest We Forget (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"A few months ago I found myself at a meeting of economists and finance officials, discussing — what else? — the crisis. There was a lot of soul-searching going on. One senior policy maker asked, “Why didn’t we see this coming?”  There was, of course, only one thing to say in reply, so I said it: “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”

Obama's Bush Doctrine (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"In electing Barack Obama, the country traded the foreign policy of the second President Bush for the foreign policy of the first President Bush.

A Command of the Law (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"President Bush had one overriding criterion in choosing his inner circle: loyalty. The result was nobody would pull the plug on stupidity. Obama wants the kind of competence and brainpower that challenge him. The God-gut decision-making of The Decider got us in this mess. Getting out of it will require an Oval Office where smart dissent is prized."

"The Obama family made a surprise visit to a Chicago church food bank earlier today to help distribute meals, according to a pool report filed today by Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News. After 40 minutes or so, the soon-to-be first family visited with students at the parochial school attached to the church, where they answered questions and got in a little teasing at the expense of the Secret Service."

Turbulence Ahead (Peggy Noonan) from the Wall Street Journal
"What the Obama transition has become is historically unprecedented. He is filling the vacuum created by a collapsed incumbency and an acute economic crisis. He is moving forward with what looks like a high, if ad hoc, awareness of the delicacy of the situation."

So Far, So Very Good from the Economist
"Obama’s staff choices that provide the best indications as to what sort of president he will turn out to be. And so far the signs are encouraging, both in terms of the process and the results."

Why the Right Needs Realists (Ross Douthat) from the Atlantic
"Which ideological camp might drift back into the Republican Party over time. The easy answer is the realists - that's where they mostly came from in the first place, after all."

Bush's Last Days: The Lamest Duck (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine
"By mid-November, with the financial crisis growing worse by the day, it had become obvious that one President was no longer enough (at least not the President we had). So, in the days before Thanksgiving, Obama began to move — if not to take charge outright, then at least to preview what things will be like when he does take over in January."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

News Nuggets 60

The Truth About the Election (Elizabeth Drew) from the New York Review of Books
"As he demonstrated in his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama thinks long. Hence, the new President-elect is better prepared to take office than any other newly elected chief executive in the history of the modern presidency."

What to Do (Paul Krugman) from the New York Review of Books
"What the world needs right now is a rescue operation. The global credit system is in a state of paralysis, and a global slump is building momentum as I write this. ... First, we need to deal with the clear and present danger. To do this, policymakers around the world need to do two things: get credit flowing again and prop up spending."

Obama's Election has Black Nationalist Revisiting Stance from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
"I have worked and looked forward to autonomy and self-determination in our communities. I never imagined that I would live long enough to see an African-American president. I never even believed that I would live to see a black Miss America. But America fooled me!"

"The speculation over Gates' tenure has been most intense inside the Obama transition team. The team received a request from Gates that, were he to stay, he would want to retain some of his top civilian assistants. The request led to concerns among the Obama transition staff: "Gates is not a neo-con or even a hardcore Republican," a person close to the process noted, "but the people around him sure as hell are.""

"As the Obamas enter the holiday season as first family-in-waiting, Americans are eager for insight into their celebrations. After all, how they spend Turkey Day may give us a sense of the style, rituals and traditions they will bring to the White House."

"America has never seen anything quite like this: The president and president-elect acting like co-presidents, consulting and cooperating on the day's biggest crises."

GOP Slips Into Post-election Slump from the National Journal
"Republicans face a new low in ratings while Democrats garner high approval across the board."

Obama's Brain Trust (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"President-elect Barack Obama has now made three things clear about his plans to bring the economy back: He wants his actions to be big and bold. He sees economic recovery as intimately linked with economic and social reform. And he is bringing in a gifted brain trust to get the job done."

"Obama must scrutinize and disassemble the post-Sept. 11 imperial presidency, even if he reduces his own power in the process."

Capitol Hill Feels Obama's Hand from the Christian Science Monitor
"Even before taking office, President-elect Barack Obama is becoming an essential player in decisionmaking on Capitol Hill."

Monday, November 24, 2008

News Nuggets 59

What Michelle Means to Us from Newsweek
"We've never had a First Lady quite like Michelle Obama. How she'll change the world's image of African-American women— and the way we see ourselves."

"With the economy worsening and the Bush team adrift, queasy markets are looking to Obama to set the course. But is naming a Treasury secretary enough?"

Obama to Take on Torture? (Michael Isikoff) from Newsweek
"One idea that has currency among some top Obama advisers is setting up a 9/11-style commission that would investigate counterterrorism policies and make public as many details as possible."

Just One More Frame! from Newsweek
"How do you raise kids in the White House and 'keep them normal,' too?"

Letter? I Never Got Any Letter, Herbert (Jonathan Alter) from Newsweek
"Before his Inaugural, FDR craftily dodged attempts to saddle him with Hoover's crisis. What Obama can learn."

"Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tic, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth."

"Mr. Paterson’s appointee would have to run in the 2010 election and again in 2012. If he picked someone without an established political network, that person might be seen as an attractive target for Republicans, who have few openings in New York."

Team Obama Rides In (Sebastian Mallaby) from the Washington Post
"Not a moment too soon, Barack Obama's economic team is taking shape.  ...  The financial hurricane has done the impossible and grown worse. Geithner and Summers cannot wait until January to come up with further remedies: Obama is in danger of seeing his presidency wrecked before he even takes office."

"It was a poignant sight—the first black man to make a serious run for the American presidency witnessing the first black man win the presidency. ... Still, some of us wondered whether Jackson was crying for Obama or for himself. Was it a "damn-I'm-proud-of-you" moment or a "damn-it-should-have-been-me" moment?"

Obama Will Thrive Amid Competing Power Centers (Al Hunt) from Bloomberg News Service
"The lesson is not to avoid strong-minded people with different views; it is to appreciate that this works only with a strong-minded, temperamentally secure president who thrives on intellectual combat."

'Plain Old Barack is Gone' from the Washington Post
"This is only the beginning of the transformation that awaits the president-elect and his family. In two months, they will move into a sterile house in a unfamiliar city where they have never felt particularly comfortable. Friends say Obama is savoring these final weeks in Chicago and spending as much time as possible with his family before he takes the oath of office Jan. 20."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

News Nuggets 58

A dust storm about to overtake Khartoum in Sudan

Keeping Obama's Young Army Engaged from the Los Angeles Times
"The election's over, but Democrats want to hold on to under-30 voters as campaigning moves to governing."

"The Ku Klux Klan is emerging from decades of disorganization and obscurity, and the turnaround is acutely evident -- more than 200 hate-related incidents have been reported since the Nov. 4 election."

We Found the WMD (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"If I had my druthers right now we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20 to Thanksgiving Day. Forget the inaugural balls; we can’t afford them. Forget the grandstands; we don’t need them. Just get me a Supreme Court justice and a Bible, and let’s swear in Barack Obama right now."

The Price of Our Good Name from the New York Times Editorial Board
"Even with all those demands, there is one thing Mr. Obama must do quickly to begin to repair this nation’s image and restore its self-respect: announce a plan for closing Mr. Bush’s outlaw prison at Guantánamo Bay."

Eight Years is More Than Enough from the New York Times Editorial Boar
"The score of Bush burrowers who have so far come to light bring with them the worst pro-industry, anti-regulatory biases that have made this administration such a disaster."

"While no official announcements have been made, a controlled series of leaks have given a good sense of who's still in contention, and which big names have been bounced from the bracket."

"Attention, convicts: Time is running out to get applications to the pardon attorney at the Justice Department if you're hoping President Bush will be your decider."

"The 2008 election is history, but the battle over what it meant has just begun."

Rising Hope for Fixing Health Care (David Broder) from the Washington Post
"Developments at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue last week -- and across the country -- pointed up both the urgency of the problem and the prospects for seeing significant action."

"There's always an election more or less around the corner, and in this case, 2009 and 2010 should be exceptionally interesting years in term of the balance of power in the Senate, and the control of governorships prior to the 2010 census and subsequent redistricting."

Greetings from Kenya, the Center of the World from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"The election of Barack Obama was big news in Kenya, his ancestral homeland. Karamagi Rujumba -- who was born in Kenya -- covered the election from there for the Post-Gazette. He has more to tell."

SCIENCE NUGGET! [A take-off on yesterday's similar posting]

Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth? from the New York Times Editorial Board

"The most gung-ho scientists think it could be done in a decade or two for as little as $10 million. The deeper question is, should we try?"


Review of 'American Lightening' by Howard Blum in the New York Times Book Review

"The 1910 bombing [of the Los Angeles Times Building] was a watershed event in our nation’s history, he insists, with dire consequences for the 20th century and a dark warning for the 21st."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

News Nuggets 57


Time for Him to Go (Gail Collins) from the New York Times
"Thanksgiving is next week, and President Bush could make it a really special holiday by resigning."

The Closest of Frenemies (John Heilemann) from New York Magazine
"In all the dizzying personal and political complexities of Hillary at State, one thing is clear: Obama has nerve."

It's My Party, But I Don't Feel Part of It (Sophie Nelson) from the Washington Post
"But as a black Republican, I was chagrined that the political party I've belonged to for 20 years had just suffered a blistering electoral defeat. And that along the way, it had lost 96 percent of the black vote and 67 percent of the Hispanic vote -- the worst showing for the Republican Party among minorities in its 150-year history."

Obama's Win a Nightmare for Al-Qaida (Cynthia Tucker) from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
"While it’s a bit irritating to have an atavistic mass murderer presume to dictate appropriate politics for a black American, Zawahiri’s diatribe is good news."

Clinton Pick a Bold Expression of Obama's Strength from Die Welt [of Germany in English]
"Barack Obama would be taking a wise step if he were to nominate Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State. She has the international experience, which he lacks, and she would be a strong and credible supporter."

'It's OK to be an American Now' (Derrick Jackson) from the Boston Globe
"IN CALLING President-elect Barack Obama a "house Negro," Al Qaeda missed the memo from Grant Park."

"The moving trucks haven't even arrived, and already Michelle Obama's being touted as the next Jackie Kennedy, the woman who'll infuse Washington with a sense of style and vigor not seen since the days of Camelot."

"While offering more routine, his existence is also more surreal, as he moves through Chicago largely sequestered in a security bubble even more robust than at the end of the campaign. Still, Obama seems to be savoring his time between Election Day and the move to the White House, one of the longest stretches he has had at home in five years."

Missing: Seller's Remorse (Charlie Cook) from the National Journal
"Over time, Republicans have repositioned their product and, in the process, badly damaged their brand."

The Lieberman Lesson (Eleanor Clift) from Newsweek
"Keeping the independent aboard shows Obama's pragmatism."


Resurrecting Mammoths Gets One Step Closer from Newsweek

"In their paper, the scientists emphasize the value of the study for understanding the evolution of elephant species (by comparing the mammoth DNA to that of living African pachyderms), but let’s face it: what we want to know is whether the genome sequence can be used to resurrect mammoths."

Put this one (REALLY) in the "OH MY GOD!!" file.

Is Obama the Antochrist? (Lisa Miller) from Newsweek

"In this world view, "the spread of secular progressive ideas is a prelude to the enslavement of mankind," explains Richard Landes, former director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University."

Requiem for a Maverick (Matt Taibbi) from Rolling Stone Magazine

"John McCain ran one of the most incompetent, schizo campaigns in history — and for that we owe him big-time"


Can Love Conquer Caste? from the Washington Post

"My family was completely aghast," Singh recalled, sitting with Pharti in their cozy living room, where they have helped clandestine inter-caste couples elope. "My father said he wouldn't let it happen. But I felt so sure about Anita. We were able to fight back. But we were the lucky ones. Many still get murdered for this."

Lessons From Across the Pond from the Guardian [of London]

"The Labour party should study Barack Obama's election tactics if it wants to regain the upper hand in British politics"

Friday, November 21, 2008

News Nuggets 56

The Lame-Duck Economy (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"The prospects for the economy look much grimmer now than they did as little as a week or two ago."

The Insider's Crusade (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"And yet as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition."

"As he wrapped up his second week as President-elect, it was clear that Obama was taking the long view in both diplomacy and politics. How else to explain the fact that he had all but offered the most prestigious job in his Cabinet to a woman whose foreign policy experience he once dismissed as consisting of having tea with ambassadors?"

What's Next for Obama's Network? (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"Over and over, Obama has spoken of change coming from "the bottom up," and the organization he built down to the precinct and neighborhood level could be an agent of that change. But how?"

Rebooting the Right (Ramesh Ponnuru) from Time Magazine
"Republicans are feuding in the wake of the November election. But they are not descending into civil war. That would be too tidy. What is unfolding instead is an overlapping series of Republican civil wars, each with its own theme."

The Bush GOP's Fatal Contraction from the National Journal
"The Republican Party's greatest problem is that it doesn't appear to be reaching much of anybody who isn't already watching Fox News. Bush leaves behind a party that looks less like a coalition than a clubhouse."

"Barack Obama's own transition team could not have hoped for a better outcome. In fact, there are signs it did more than just hope."

"Looking over the list of top players on President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, one gets the sense that serious people are coming back to power."

The Very Image of Affirmation from the Washington Post
"Michelle Obama emerged, long and lean, from a black limousine that pulled up at the White House the other day. ... As she stood there, many black women on this side of the White House gate saw something else in Michelle Obama that sunny afternoon: bits and pieces of themselves."

Deciphering 'Yes We Can' for the Leaders of France from Liberation [of France in English]
"In preferring 'we' to 'I' - and unity over division - Obama offers us a lesson. … 'Yes we can' - that was the phrase. But in politics, saying the words is already to have commenced action. It's the slogan that ignited America. So can it be exported? Let us decipher it for our politicians."

The New Old South from The Root
"My grandmother moved North in the early 1950s seeking better opportunities as a black woman. I moved back South four years ago in search of cheaper property, warmer weather and less traffic. Having two white women clean my house was an added bonus: Welcome to the New South!!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

News Nuggets 55

Vancouver, B.C.

Giving Up on God (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh."

Dead Wrong and Proud of It from the Oklahoma Gazette
"The world wept for joy; Oklahoma spat defiantly. The glory train of history pulled out of the station; Oklahoma waved goodbye and said “good riddance.” Dr. King’s dream came true; Oklahoma slumbered on, curled up on the hearth of racism and addicted to the mind-numbing power of the word “conservative.”"

The Sad Truth Behind Germany's 'Obama Shortage" from Die Zeit (translated into English)
"Europeans admire him. All the German parties would like to have an Obama. But they won't get one - because they are what they are."

"Down to 42 seats with two still at risk, Senate Republicans are in a deep funk. Some are in denial. Some want a return to conservative principles. Some want to cut deals. Some want more filibusters. Others want to jump out a window — but they’re afraid they’d screw that up, too."

Hillary Rodham Powell? (Michael Hirsh) from Newsweek
"Today it is difficult to remember how much stature and prestige Powell brought with him when George W. Bush named him secretary of state in December of 2000. "

"Prey for Me" (Robert Novak) from the Washingtonian
"Knowing how ill he was, it was with some trepidation that I asked to talk with him, but he readily agreed. I found him sitting in the living room of his comfortable apartment on Pennsylvania Avenue not far from the Capitol, thinner and a little frail after brain surgery and daily doses of radiation and experimental drugs."

"If Lieberman is anything, as he proved with McCain, he's loyal — and now he owes Obama a big one. For the first time in his long political career, his job over the next few years is to keep quiet."

The Arab World Looks to a New America from Der Spiegel (in English)
"The US has long been a model for many parts of the Arab world, but the Bush administration's foreign policy led to rifts. Now, the region has high hopes from America, but they aren't sure what to expect from President-elect Barack Obama."

Great Expectations for Project Obama from Der Spiegel (in English)
"The challenges facing Barack Obama are enormous, and the first African-American president would be well advised to remain focused, modest and realistic. The enormity of the crises he must address are clear to his country and the world."

In the Red Corner... from Larry Sabato's Center for Politics
"Since no sitting president who decided to stay in the battle has lost a nomination fight since the 19th century, it is probably safe to assume that even with a contested nomination, Democrats will stick with Obama in 2012. But to whom might the GOP look for leadership during their wilderness year?"

"JOHN STUART MILL once dismissed the British Conservative Party as the stupid party. Today the Conservative Party is run by Oxford-educated high-fliers who have been busy reinventing conservatism for a new era. As Lexington sees it, the title of the “stupid party” now belongs to the Tories’ transatlantic cousins, the Republicans"

Obama Poised to Rebrand America, Experts Say from CNN

"President-elect Barack Obama is poised to restore the United States' image in the international community, but experts say the president-elect must show the world that his actions will live up to his rhetoric."

Recasting the War on Terrorism from the Washington Independent
"A progressive coalition wants Obama to be more than the Anti-Bush."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

News Nuggets 54

Sasha tries to negotiate with the Secret Service on the campaign trail.

Can Mall be Filled for an Inauguration? 4 Million May Try It from the Washington Post
"District and federal officials are preparing for as many as 4 million people for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, a crowd that would be three or four times larger than previous big events on the Mall."

Malia and Sasha's Big Move from the Los Angeles Times
"As the youngest children to occupy the White House since the Kennedys', the Obama daughters -- or Rosebud and Radiance, as the Secret Service dubs them -- are poised to serve a dual role in America's new first family. They humanize a future president seen by some as aloof, while presenting an image of vitality to a nation mired in economic despair."

A New Blue Dixie from the Nation
"Conventional wisdom advised Democratic presidential candidates to bend over backward to look like "regular" Southern guys--tote a gun, adopt an accent, pretend to be a NASCAR freak, run around with a Holy Bible tucked under each arm and, if all else failed, campaign atop a hay bale (as Michael Dukakis once did in North Carolina). Obama, precisely the kind of Democrat who was supposed to be an impossible sell in the South, eschewed such fakery. He looked South and saw not stereotypes but--wonder of wonders!--Americans."

Obama's Steady Hand (Charlie Cook) from the National Journal
"By recruiting the most experienced staffers, the president-elect is showing the same deliberations he did on the campaign trail."

The Right Kind of Right (E.J. Dionne) from the New Republic
"What will the Republican Party look like after several years of Obama?"

"What really thrills me, what really feels liberating in a very personal way, is the official new prominence of Michelle Obama. Barack's better half not only has stature but is statuesque. She has coruscating intelligence, beauty, style and -- drumroll, please -- a butt. (Yes, you read that right: I'm going to talk about the first lady's butt.)"

"With two -- maybe even three -- Democratic Senate seats opening up, we take a look at the field of potential successors."

"DNC Chair Howard Dean welcomed the decision to keep Senator Joseph Lieberman as head of the Homeland Security Committee and, consequently, in the Democratic Caucus, saying the move was pragmatic, magnanimous and politically shrewd."

"Barack Obama’s rise to power in the United States has exposed cracks in Brazil’s self-image as a racially integrated society, with many seeing the Latin American giant years away from electing a black president."

Can We Compare Leaders to Obama? from the Standard [of Kenya]
"Clearly, they too have admiration for the 47-year-old President-elect. One great advantage he had over John McCain during the campaigns was his youthful vivacity and boundless energy. Americans no doubt expect to benefit from this agility and mental alertness."

Monday, November 17, 2008

News Nuggets 53

Quote of the Day

Question [From Jack Cafferty of CNN]: Why is there so much interest in Sarah Palin?

Answer: [From Andrew] "There are two reasons: 1) She’s attractive. For better or for worse, people listen when pretty girls talk, no matter what nonsense may come out of their mouths. 2) Incompetence, by itself, is not entertaining. However, when the incompetent are supremely self-confident, full of certitude, and absent of insight, it’s absolutely compelling."

Life With the Secret Service from Newsweek

"They were christened with their recently-released official Secret Service code names: Renegade (Barack), Renaissance (Michelle), Radiance (Malia), and Rosebud (Sasha)."

Obamaism from New York Magazine

"It’s a kind of religion. But one rooted in a deep faith in rationality. Last week, New York rejoiced in its promise. And sang the National Anthem in the streets."

Where Obama Can look for Help on the Hill from National Journal

"A look at the members of Congress who could serve as allies to the new president."

Learn or Languish (Charlie Cook) from the National Journal

"The GOP's focus on social, cultural, and religious issues cost its candidates dearly among upscale voters." 

Jihadist Messages to Obama Reflect Their Uncertainty from Congressional Quarterly

"From the Taliban to al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State of Iraq, the messages welcome and wag fingers at the president-elect, carrying conflicting statements that show these groups have now found it difficult to figure out the next play."

Obama's Winning Formula: Education, Responsibility from the Chicago Sun-Times

"I hope two other issues get as big a boost from their association with President-elect Barack Obama as his Hartmarx suits."

In Obama, Brand America has a new salesman, and a very good one at that from the Standard [of Kenya]

"As a brand, America has never faced a qualitative problem. What it faces perennially are a number of average salesmen who occasionally defaced the brand. Even though America is a superpower, it is ideas and ideals more than might that have defined its place on the global stage. When it relies on might, it goes off rail. When it shows fidelity to the ideals that formed the foundation for its independence, America regains its greatness and rightful place in the world."

This Was Not King's Dream from the Guardian [of London]

"Debating whether Britain could elect a black PM distracts from the true purport of Obama's win."

Drama Club: How Obama Handles People from the New Republic

"His years as a law professor have made Socratic dialogue his chief intellectual reflex. "The most awkward moment on a conference call is when he says, 'Okay, anybody disagree?' and there's just silence," says the aide. "He wants to make sure he's fully explored the issue before we move on." "

Bill Ayers Talks Back (Walter Shapiro) from Salon

"After appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" last Friday, Ayers sat down for a 55-minute interview with Salon's Washington bureau chief, Walter Shapiro."

Freedom Agenda in Flames (Jackson Diehl) from the Washington Post

"Ayman Nour, the popular young leader of that party, challenged Hosni Mubarak in Egypt's first contested presidential election in 2005. He did so in large part because of Bush, who called on Egypt to "show the way" in the democratization of the Middle East. Mubarak won the election handily, then used a handpicked judge to sentence Nour to prison on trumped-up charges."

How Obama Won from Rolling Stone Magazine

"Two leading political experts on the historic election – and how it could usher in "a brand-new nation""