Thursday, April 30, 2009

News Nuggets 131

The Gore-acle in his office.  Amazing -- it looks a lot like my office.

Bruised by Stimulus Battle, Obama Changed His Approach to Washington from the Washington Post

"The night before the Senate vote on President Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill, one question echoed through the West Wing:  Where is Arlen Specter?"

Democrats' Message to GOP in Budget Plan: We Don't Need You from the Christian Science Monitor

"Though Democrats are asking for bipartisan support, the resolution passed Wednesday suggests they are prepared to go it alone on healthcare and education reform."

What Obama Has Shown, So Far, About his Governing Style from Congressional Quarterly

"In the case of Barack Obama, who will mark his 100-day milestone on Wednesday, the benchmark is being treated with unusual significance. As the first new president in eight years, the first African-American president ever, and a president called upon from the start to manage both a deep recession and two wars, his every move has been guaranteed an intense level of attention — and comparisons to FDR are more direct than most new presidents face."

The Honeymoon's Not Over (Amy Walter) from National Journal

"The fact that many voters who don't like bigger government, and who supported McCain, still want to see Obama's economic policies succeed suggests that the president's "post-partisan" style is having some success in breaking down the traditional polarized party lines."

Obama's Enchanting Quizfest (Tom Shales) from the Washington Post

"You ask, he'll answer -- earnestly, disarmingly, enchantingly, even -- and most of the time convincingly, which is no small accomplishment for a politician."

The Amtrak Connection (Gail Collins) from the New York Times

"It turns out that besides reinforcing his commitment to mass transit, Biden’s commute also gave him hours and hours of uninterrupted quality time with the senator from Pennsylvania.  Which he used to urge Specter to ditch the Republicans."

From the Start, Putting a Bold Stamp on the White House from the Washington Post

"There has been nothing tentative about President Obama's first 100 days in office. The defining characteristics of his presidency have been his appetite for leadership, the breadth of his ambitions and his determination to pass his programs in the face of united Republican opposition."

The Instant American Revolution from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

"After his first 100 days -- an arbitrary landmark set by Franklin D. Roosevelt -- President Obama has overturned decades of Republican ideology in Washington. One Republican even managed to sweeten the date for Obama by defecting to the Democrats. But the president still has to be wary."

Republicans Feud Over Specter from Politico

"Faced with a high-profile defection and the prospect of political irrelevance in the Senate, Republicans took off the gloves Wednesday for a ferocious game of finger-pointing."

Bush Vets: Can You Spare a Job? from Politico

Brandon and Megan can't get jobs!  Awww.  WHAT a SHAME!  [I know -- I'm a heartless fiend]

"The economic implosion that was largely an intellectual policy challenge inside the White House has abruptly become a harsh reality for Bush administration officials cast out of the bubble and back into the real world. To survive, they’re taking pay cuts, stepping down to state government work and even renting out their own homes to the ascendant Democrats."

I think I have been very good about avoiding mocking commentary about Michelle Bachmann's sideshow-within-a-sideshow antics that have received so much attention from Jon Stewart and others -- but, as a historian, THIS was too good to pass up!!  How could any intelligent person in Minnesota have voted for this woman?!

Your New Sarah Palin from Daily Kos

'Beloved' Michelle Outshines Obama, Speaks to Youth from the Bloomberg News Service

"So complete is her image makeover that her 84 percent approval rating in a New York Times/CBS News poll this week exceeded President Barack Obama’s 68 percent."


Obama reads Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" at Easter


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

News Nuggets 130

An image of the Seychelles from National Geographic.

There is a virtually endless list of "100 Days" reviews of Obama's term.  Most of them are not worth posting here (and probably weren't worth writing in the first place) -- but I've included here a couple of interesting reviews, some of Obama, and some of other people.  Check'em out.

100 Days: Obama the Politician from the Guardian [of London]

"Much of what we've seen during the first 100 days is a continuation of the engaging and transformational leadership that Obama presented during the campaign. The savvy, strategic and analytical nature that allowed him to blindside his opponents during the campaign is still present."

White House Cheat Sheet: 100 Days Winners and Losers (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post

"On President Obama's 100th day in office, it's clear he has won far more than he has lost during his time in the White House."

At 100 Days, Obama Still Stumps GOP from Politico

"President Barack Obama has one indisputable accomplishment as he nears the fabled 100-day mark: Republicans remain baffled about how to combat him."

An Engaged, Yet Elusive, President (Gerald Seib) from the Wall Street Journal

"Just as the times of Barack Obama defy the easy descriptions and old labels, so too does the man himself.  Indeed, if the first 100 days of President Obama's term have proved anything, it is that he is a hard man to classify. He has confounded, at one time or another, people at just about every spot across the political spectrum. He likes big and activist government, but he isn't a classic liberal. He is more of a social engineer than a guardian of the old welfare state."

Early Resolve: Obama Stand in Auto Crisis from the New York Times

Very interesting insight into how Obama is managing the auto bailout.

"By the time he sat down in the Oval Office to brief Michigan’s Congressional delegation, President Obama had made up his mind. Days earlier, he had decided to oust the head of General Motors and give it and Chrysler weeks to fix themselves. If they could not, he was prepared to let them go bankrupt, a prospect fraught with economic and political repercussions."

We Didn't Have to Lose Arlen Specter (Sen. Olympia Snow) from the New York Times

"It was as though beginning with Senator Jeffords’s decision, Republicans turned a blind eye to the iceberg under the surface, failing to undertake the re-evaluation of our inclusiveness as a party that could have forestalled many of the losses we have suffered."

GOP is Specter of its Old Self from Politico

"Arlen Specter’s break from Republicans is the latest in a trip-hammer series of reversals that leaves the GOP more beaten and less popular than either major party has been in decades."

GOP Confronts Its Future Viability from the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal

Note THE SOURCE on this commentary!

"Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to become a Democrat underscores his former party's political downward spiral."

Specter Switch Gives Conservatives Second Thoughts About "RINO Hunting' from the Washington Independent

"The Specter switch ... has given Republicans and conservatives a gut-check moment."

Will GOP Sleep Through Wake-Up Call? (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post

"The question now is whether Specter's departure will produce a period of genuine introspection by a party already in disarray or result in a circling of the wagons by those who think the GOP is better off without those whose views fall outside its conservative ideological boundaries."

Obama's 100 Days: The Media's Obamania from the Guardian [of London]

"Our glamorous new president has created something of a dilemma for journalists. On the one hand, they presumably want to provide fair, tough-minded coverage. On the other hand, Obama is awfully good for business. At a moment when the news industry is imploding, that's no small consideration."

McCain's 100 Days: Bitter in Defeat from the Guardian [of London]

"John McCain. He lost an election to a freshman Illinois senator in an electoral college landslide. McCain seems to have emerged from this defeat a changed man."

Michelle's 100 Days: Michelle Takes the Country by Storm from the McClatchy News Service

"She's wowed Europe, planted a White House organic vegetable garden, is breaking in a new family dog and touring federal agencies to buck up morale on behalf of her husband."

Michelle Obama Commencement Creates Scramble for US University from the Guardian [of London]

"The newest school in the UC system is the envy of its sister campuses, and local city officials are in planning frenzy - bracing for an influx of up to 25,000 people."


I don’t know if you saw this, but a statue of Sojourner Truth was unveiled yesterday at the U.S. Capitol. She’s the first African American woman to be honored with a statue in Statuary Hall.

She was born into slavery and then became a crusader for the abolition of slavery and for women’s rights. At the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851, she listened to most of the speakers and then stood up to speak. People were horrified – a black woman, and former slave daring to speak? I had never heard this, but what she said blows me away:

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?  Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much

as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne five children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or Negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it. The men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

--Sojourner Truth

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

News Nuggets 129

WHAT A HOOT!!  Obama reading Maurice Sendak on Easter.  Question though -- is there some connection between Easter and Sendak or Where the Wild Things Are that I don't know about?

NOTE: I will be out of town between the 23rd and the 27th -- so nuggets will come on a less frequent basis on those days but will resume their regular schedule on Tuesday, the 28th.

National Service Bill to Get Obama's Signature from the Associated Press

"The AmeriCorps program started by President Bill Clinton will triple in size over the next eight years, and tens of thousands of other Americans will soon see new opportunities to give back to their communities."

Diplomacy Isn't What We See (Robert Dallek) from USA Today

"But what Obama, like FDR, seems to understand is that good intentions and soothing rhetoric might not be enough to reduce tensions and acts of violence aimed at the United States and its allies. "

Latin Americans Will Sooner or Later Come 'Crawling' to the US from Gazeta [of Russia in English]

An interesting take on US-Latin American relations from a Russian perspective, a mix of assurance about US decline with a greater amount of contempt for Latin Americans' ability to govern themselves -- but perhaps I'm misreading it.

"The current American elite say to Latin America, 'We love everyone, all is forgiven, and we will no longer impose on anyone.' Translated into simple language, this means the following: 'We are deathly tired of lecturing you and caring about democracy and human rights in your countries. You will come back to us yourselves (or crawl back, if repentance is belated).'"

Raul Castro's 'Singular' Response to the Gesture Offered by Obama from Estadao [of Brazil in English]

"Cuban leaders are certainly not prepared to discuss with the United States things which, in the final analysis, are the essence of their dictatorial regime. But the mere pronouncement of the rights and freedoms that have been suppressed in the country and of the repression of opponents of Castroism, in addition to breaking a taboo, is a political response to Obama, an oblique way of engaging the White House."

White House Cheat Sheet: The Gore-acle's Influence (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post

"Gore's influence is felt in large and small ways -- from providing his thoughts and strategic guidance to President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to aiding his friend Al Franken in the ongoing Minnesota Senate race to fundraising for the party campaign committees."

Senate Race Rankings from National Journal

"Handicapping the most competitive Senate races for next year, the big number for Democrats is one. That's what they need to hit 60 seats and a filibuster-proof majority. But Democrats have three of their own seats in danger, meaning the number they'll ultimately need to find is four. Here's the first crack at the seats most likely to switch."

How Jack Bauer's TV Violence Set Tone for Policymakers from the Times [of London]

WHERE does one even begin with a story like this?  

"It is easy to forget how the atmosphere in Washington after September 11, 2001, allowed policymakers to cite Jack Bauer, the fictional hero of Fox TV's 24, as some sort of moral compass."

Obama Skates While Right Fumes from Politico

"The outrage is definitely there, in certain precincts of Republican politics. What’s notable, however, is that it mostly has stayed there — with little or no effect on Obama."

Young Voters, GOP, and Race from

"So what does this mean for a Republican Party that has been branded (fairly or unfairly) as a party of "old white guys"? Put simply, the party cannot survive with this label attached."

Republicans Pushed to Political Margins from the Financial Times [of London]

"The Republican party, which is increasingly dominated by fiscal and social conservatives, continues to sink ever deeper in the public’s estimation. In contrast, opinion polls show that Mr Obama’s approval ratings remain where they were when he took office, at 60-67 per cent."

It's the End of the World as They Know It (Paul Waldman) from American Prospect

"They cried "socialism!" and no one seemed to care. Now they cry "fascism!" and still their words do not cause the whole nation to rise up. It must be terribly frustrating. But that's the thing about democracy -- it can be pretty frustrating, particularly when you lose. What the right doesn't seem to get is that the more extreme and shrill their rhetoric grows, the less convincing they become to the broader public. And the more ridiculous they seem."

President Looks Forward with Audacious Compromise (Editorial) from the Boston Globe

Audacious -- and loaded with a lot of peril for Obama as David Ignatius points out today.

"If a compromise can truly be audacious, President Obama's split-decision to release memos detailing the past use of allegedly torturous interrogation tactics, but also to promise to vigorously defend those who followed the (possibly illegal) rules was one of his most audacious so far."


Obama Begins Leading America in a New Direction from the Los Angeles Times

"He closes in on 100 days as president, having handled the highs and lows with a sense of urgency and his characteristic calmness."

Gorbachev: The Model for the Obama Doctrine from the Independent [of London]

"In the first of a series of articles marking his first 100 days, Rupert Cornwell assesses his foreign policy.  Some already talk of an 'Obama Doctrine'. Others, sensing that everything may end in tears, compare him to Mikhail Gorbachev, who set out to change the image of Communism and ended up by destroying Communism itself. One thing however is incontestable. Barack Obama has set a new imprint on his country's foreign policy – and far more quickly than the last Soviet leader ever did."

Dispatches from the Bush Posse #19

Harsh Tactics Readied Before Their Approval from the Washington Post

"Intelligence and military officials under the Bush administration began preparing to conduct harsh interrogations long before they were granted legal approval to use such methods -- and weeks before the CIA captured its first high-ranking terrorism suspect, Senate investigators have concluded."

European Nations May Investigate Bush Officials Over Prisoner Treatment from the Washington Post

"European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers."

Notice the words "likely to" in the first sentence.  

Intelligence Chief Says Methods Hurt US from the Washington Post

"The damage to the country's image caused by the use of waterboarding and similar techniques exceeded any potential benefit, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

News Nuggets 128

Another image of southwestern Utah from the New York Times.

Obamaism: Charm and Disarm (Terence Samuel) from The Root

"In one weekend, President Obama completely transformed American relations with Caribbean and Latin America. Strategy: Play nice with others."

Obama: A Man Who Takes His Promises Seriously from El Mundo [of Colombia in English]

"By trying new methods for solving old problems, Obama wishes to fulfill his promises and get the pendulum of history to swing. ... He permits us a glimmer of hope that a new stage of collaboration is dawning with a region that will be his partner in global affairs."

Obama Gets Euphoric CIA Welcome from Agence France-Presse

"The president got an enthusiastic reception as he gave a speech at the agency's headquarters, just days after releasing secret memos on Bush-era questioning of terror suspects derided by critics as torture."

Obama Plans Credit-Card Push from Politico

"Summers told moderator David Gregory that Obama is concerned about “the way people have been deceived into paying extraordinarily high rates that they wouldn't have paid if they knew what they were getting themselves into.”"

Analysis: In Spending Cut Debate, Obama Wins from Congressional Quarterly

"Instead of bashing Obama’s spending, many Republicans spent Monday arguing that he was cutting too little.  That’s a fight — whether he cuts too much, too little or just enough — that the White House can win even if it loses. If the debate is about cutting, not spending, Obama has won."

The Axelrod Inner Circle (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post

"Axelrod hasn't left his political life entirely behind -- convening a biweekly meeting at his apartment in Washington to hear from a core group of former campaign consultants and aides to ensure the Administration is striking the right political tone.  The membership of that Axelrod inner circle has largely been kept quiet -- until now."

Tax Tea Party Time (Bruce Bartlett) from Forbes Magazine

From a well-known conservative economist!

"The irony of these protests is that federal revenues as a share of the gross domestic product will be lower this year than any year since 1950.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will take only 15.5% of GDP in taxes this year, compared to 17.7% last year, 18.8% in 2007 and 20.9% in 2000."

The Class Clowns (Matt Taibbi) from the Rolling Stone

Matt Taibbi strikes!  You get only a taste of the full article here.  Makes me want to go out and get the magazine.

"Once the masters of evil politics, Republicans have been reduced to half-assed buffoonery, providing comic relief for desperate times."

Questions I'd Like 'Teabaggers' to Answer (Matt Taibbi again) from True/Slant

"The real reason nobody takes the teabaggers seriously is that they have no answers to several enormous holes in the parody of a protest argument they tried to make last week. I got nearly two hundred letters this weekend and not one of them had an answer for any of the following:"

The Republicans' Paranoid Style (Robert Shrum) from The Week

"In 1964, historian Richard Hofstadter described "the paranoid style" as a periodic recurrence in American national life, characterized by "the use of paranoid modes of expressions by more or less normal people . . . heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy." Teagate, the overhyped, underattended events of last week, closely tracks this taxonomy. "

The Pulitzer-winning Investigation That Dare Not be Uttered on TV (Glenn Greenwald) from Salon

"The New York Times' David Barstow won a richly deserved Pulitzer Prize yesterday for two articles that, despite being featured as major news stories on the front page of The Paper of Record, were completely suppressed by virtually every network and cable news show, which to this day have never informed their viewers about what Bartow uncovered. "

Kenya Muslims Fume at Move to Convert Obama Grandma from Agence France-Presse

As they should.  INcredible!!

"A Protestant church in Kenya is trying to convert US President Barack Obama's step-grandmother to Christianity against her will, a Muslim group said Monday, condemning the move as provocation."

TWO LEFTOVER NUGGETS [from Obama's trip to Turkey]

To Get Turkey Right, Hear What Obama Said from Hurriyet Daily News [of Turkey]

I missed this article and the one that follows when they originally came out.

"The trip to Turkey by President Barack Ğ Hussein Ğ Obama, as people loved to emphasize here, was a big success. Except for a few hundred "anti-imperialist," lefty protestors who hit the streets chanting, "Yankee go home," most Turks welcomed him calmly and some even fondly."

Obama Aces Test by Local Students from Hurriyet Daily News

"One word: Approachable. US President Barack Obama speaks with Turkish university students and answers their questions in an intimate town hall-style meeting during his second day in Istanbul. ’This attitude is something a Turk is not used to,’ one student says."


Just published: The Year of Obama: How Barack Obama Won the White House by Larry Sabato from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

"The big idea of this book is that 2008 looks to be a realigning election -- a very rare event in American history."


Eugene Robinson (among others) Wins Pulitzer Prize from The Root

"Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and historian Annette Gordon-Reed win Pulitzer prizes for their work. Robinson won for the columns he wrote during the 2008 presidential campaign and Gordon-Reed was awarded for her book The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family."

Dispatches from the Bush Posse #18

Who are the "Bush Six"?

1.  Alberto Gonzales, former US Attorney General

2.  Jay Bybee, federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General

3.  John Yoo, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General 

4.  William J. Haynes II, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer 

5.  David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff 

6.  Douglas J. Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense 

Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations from the New York Times

Could easily see this coming down.  Prediction: appointment of a special prosecutor/investigator by ... a week from Friday.

"While Mr. Obama vowed not to prosecute C.I.A. officers for acting on legal advice, on Monday aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques."

Why Obama Needs to Reveal Even More on Torture (Robert Baer) from Time Magazine

This from a former CIA officer assigned to the Middle East.

"One memo notes that in 2004 the CIA obtained half of its reporting on this organization from detainees, many of whom "confessed" under abusive interrogation. A complete investigation into the quality of that information, I suspect, will prove we are going through this national trauma and international humiliation for absolutely nothing."

Impeach Jay Bybee from Slate

"While John Yoo did most of the staff work for Bybee, Yoo was barely 35 years old—and his memos showed it. They not only took extreme positions; they were legally incompetent, failing to consider many of the most obvious counterarguments. Bybee was 49. He was the grown-up, the seasoned jurist."

Torture from Afar (James Fallows) from the Atlantic

"Full process of American self-examination and accountability will make a tremendous long-term difference in international views of the United States. Even among those who at the moment don't know that there is any controversy going on within the United States."

Monday, April 20, 2009

News Nuggets 127

Southwestern Utah in the spring from the New York Times

Team Obama: Survival of the Smartest from the Times [of London]

"Will Obama turn out to be as successful in pushing his agenda as Reagan, or as unsuccessful as Carter? The core issue is the clarity and self-discipline needed to maintain control of the agenda."

The Doctrine of R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Editorial) from USA Today

"When Barack Obama ran for the presidency promising change, most Americans probably were not thinking that he meant foreign policy, at least other than Iraq. But hardly a week has gone by without a striking example of the president's campaign to remake America's relationship with the world."

Obama Brings Chance to Build a New Future from La Capital [of Argentina in English]

"By welcoming the change that Obama seems to embody, with dialogue as his banner and tolerance as his distinctive characteristic - but without renouncing the strength to oppose fundamentalist terrorism - the world may find a faster way out of the labyrinth that lurks ahead. Let us hope so."

Humble Obama Unites Latin Leaders from the Christian Science Monitor

"A more humble approach to the region by the United States and its president this weekend helped put relations in the Americas on new and less combative footing, many of the leaders from the Summit of the Americas said Sunday."

Hugo Chavez Becomes the Latest Leader to Fall Under Barack Obama's Spell from the Guardian [of London]

"What is striking, though, is the amount of goodwill that Obama has generated wherever he goes, from US troops in Baghdad, crowds in Istanbul and now fellow leaders in Latin America."

GOP Stumbling in Health Care Fight from Politico

"Republicans look across the health reform battlefield and see the Democrats organized, energized and flush with cash — with several groups lined up to promote the president’s plan, and a message honed by years of preparation.  Then they look into their own camp — and get nervous. "

The Wail of the One Percent from New York Magazine

"Everyone on Wall Street is prepared to lose money. Bankers have expressions for disastrous losses: clusterfuck, Chernobyl, blowing up … But no one was prepared to lose money this way. This felt like getting mugged."

"You've Got to Execute" (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post

Ignatius captures the political moment very well here.

"When President Obama finished announcing his Afghanistan-Pakistan policy on March 27, he turned to the advisers gathered behind him and said: "Okay, now you've got to execute." That's a good rubric for the Obama administration as a whole, as it contemplates the whirlwind progress of the First Hundred Days."

Give Obama Credit Over Torture Memos from the Guardian [of London]

"There is one more distasteful activity than a partial whitewash on torture and that is a total whitewash. Obama could have kept the whole re-adjustment of interrogation policy secret – in effect failing to lance the boil publicly. Indeed he appears to have been advised by no fewer than four ex-CIA chiefs to do just this. But he didn't."

The Party That Failed from the Guardian [of London]

"Not a single one of my Republican friends I spoke with found the time to make it. Their reactions were interesting, though, ranging from a wistful "I wish I could have gone but I had to finish my taxes" to a sour "those guys look like idiots and give us conservatives a bad name". What I didn't detect was any hint of victory or determination from them."

Picking Letters, 10 a Day, That Reach Obama from the New York Times

"Tens of thousands of letters, e-mail messages and faxes arrive at the White House every day. ... Designed to offer a sampling of what Americans are thinking, 10 letters are read by the president, and he sometimes answers them by hand, in black ink on azure paper."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

News Nuggets 126

Hillary, on occasion, can compete very nicely on the fashion run-way.  Here she is at some diplomatic shindig in Europe when they all were there several weeks ago.

Capitalism After the Fall from the New York Times

"The president is hinting at an audacious ambition as he waits for that inevitable if distant day: a redefining of American capitalism."

Gerald Seib said basically the same thing yesterday -- see below.

Signs of Spring: US-Latin America Relations Thaw from Time Magazine

Very interesting analysis.  Here again -- this is why I thought Obama would be amazing in foreign affairs.

"The Open Veins is one of the best introductions to the longstanding Latin grievances that keep producing populist leaders like Chávez. It was an appropriate gift for Obama — not because he's clueless about that manera de pensar, but because he proved at the Trinidad summit to be the first U.S. President to get it."

Warming Relations in a Warm Locale from the New York Times

"President Obama, ... , spent Saturday here playing down his celebrity and casting himself as the new kid on the block.  “I have much to learn,” Mr. Obama declared.  ...  With 33 other Western Hemisphere leaders and thousands of delegates and a raucous press corps squeezed into a Hyatt Regency hotel, Mr. Obama found it tough to keep a low profile.  Everybody seemed to want a piece of him."

Race a Dominant Theme at Summit from the Washington Post

"In talking about his race and the backgrounds of his counterparts, Obama is associating himself more closely than his predecessors did with Latin America's indigenous, black and mixed-race underclass, which has long identified the United States with economic policies that benefit the elite of European descent far more than them."

This explains the Colombian poll that was released late last week.  See article below.

Republicans' Pit Bull Attacks Don't Hurt Obama (Al Hunt) from the Bloomberg News Service

"This is a party still reeling from George W. Bush’s perceived failures, a shortage of compelling national figures, and ambiguity over whether the greater need is to energize its intense but shrinking base or woo an increasingly skeptical middle."

Kashmir, Texas from the Times of India

"If Uncle Sam does intercede [in Kashmir], can New Delhi now say that demands for secession are almost routine in democracies? Just look at Texas."

Megan McCain: "Old School" Republicans are "Scared Shitless" from the Huffington Post

This sounds true to me.  And the Republicans should be scared.  McCain's commentary is one of the FEW that I have seen from Republicans that even begins to address their manifest failures of recent decades.

"I think we're seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party. But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past.""

Right Wing Becklash (Benjamin Sarlin) from the Daily Beast

AMAZING -- there actually IS some push-back from more level-headed folks on the right against the Becks and Malkins of this world!  See also HERE.

"Commenting on Beck's manic transitions between light comedy and frothing-at-the-mouth rage, Allahpundit added: "Either he’s acting or his mind is … highly nuanced.""

Why We Should Get Rid of the White House Press Corps (Ana Marie Cox) from the Washington Post

"Here are some stories that reporters working the White House beat have produced in the past few months: Pocket squares are back! The president is popular in Europe. Vegetable garden! Joe Biden occasionally says things he probably regrets. Puppy!"

Cox says something I've been sensing for ages but haven't articulated.  The larger the press corps gets, the less reporting they do that is genuinely news or even newsworthy.  I am not someone who makes it my mission to trash the MSM or the White House Press Corps -- I'm sure they are all doing the best they can.  But Cox's argument here makes sense to me -- although her conclusion I'm not so sure about.


The Best (and Worst) US Cities for Jobs from Forbes Magazine

An interesting overview on a lot of fronts in a set of articles here.  The best: all south, all west -- Texas and Louisiana fair especially well.  The worst: California and especially Florida: OUCH!

"In hard times, metropolitan areas in Texas and college towns hold out the best opportunities for employment."


The Bigot's Last Hurrah (Frank Rich) from the New York Times

In the main, this site does not focus on gay politics -- there are already plenty of good sites out there that cover this.  Indeed, I tend to eschew "culture war" issues;  As a rule I find them exhausting.  BUT -- Frank Rich's column today makes a larger cultural point worth making after this week's events.

"Easy to mock as “Gathering Storm” may be, it nonetheless bookmarks a historic turning point in the demise of America’s anti-gay movement.  What gives the ad its symbolic significance is not just that it’s idiotic but that its release was the only loud protest anywhere in America to the news that same-sex marriage had been legalized in Iowa and Vermont. If it advances any message, it’s mainly that homophobic activism is ever more depopulated and isolated as well as brain-dead."


One Song and She Breaks the Grip of this Sneering World from the Times [of London]

The middle-aged singer from Scotland continues to generate attention (which I don't care about) and interesting analysis (which I do).  The following is a piece of the latter.

"What really interests me about the clip is not so much her talent as her story and people’s passionate reaction to it. Susan Boyle’s experience has all the symbolic power of a fairy story. It’s a story of transformation - always one of the most powerful - both for her and for her studio audience."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

News Nuggets 125

A river in Japan.


Obama's Speech at the Summit of the Americas.  Part 1 is HERE.  Part 2 is HERE.

Obama: US 'Seeks a New Beginning' with Cuba from the Huffington Post

"Trading their warmest words in a half-century, the United States and Cuba built momentum toward renewed ties on Friday, with President Barack Obama declaring he "seeks a new beginning" _ including direct talks _ with the island's communist regime."

Obama's Savvy Cuba Move from the New Yorker

President Obama’s moves on Cuba, which he announced on Monday, have been cleverly thought out. By removing existing restrictions on Cuban-Americans seeking to visit the island or send money to help their relatives, he satisfies several political constituencies. It’s what most Florida Cubans want, and most Cubans in Cuba, too. (An estimated one in ten Cubans on the island have relatives in Florida.) A lot of people wish Obama had gone even further, but by now it’s clear that Obama is a canny, cautious political player, unlike his predecessor.

Cuba in Obama's Sights from El Espectador [of Colombia in English]

"Everyone in this region expects a lot from Obama. After all, if he's willing to deal with Middle East countries like Iran and Syria, then he'll also have to deal with Cuba. But the truth is that one must tread carefully."

Survey: Obama 'Most Popular Leader' in the Americas from El Tiempo [of Colombia in English]

"U.S. President Barack Obama has been ranked the most popular leader by the Ibero-American Poll of Governance, which was conducted in 20 countries of the Americas. Eighty five percent of Latin American residents in his nation support him. … in all of the countries, newly inaugurated President Obama was the winner again, who had on average 70 percent support."

Latin America Tells Chavez Not to Confront Obama from the Telegraph [of London]

"Latin American leaders have told Venezuela's Hugo Chavez not to confront Barack Obama at a major summit marking the US President's first encounter with the region."

EPA Clears Way for Greenhouse Gas Rules from the New York Times

This is  a HUGE DEVELOPMENT!  For any other past administration, this would be an environmental legislation legacy-maker ON ITS OWN.  However, for this administration and given the rate at which huge changes are occurring, I suspect this story will have maybe a 72-hour shelf life for most news organizations.

"The EPA on Friday formally declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that endanger public health and welfare, setting in motion a process that will lead to the regulation of the gases for the first time in the United States."

Obama's 'House Upon a Rock' (Gerald Seib) from the Wall Street Journal

"Occasionally there comes a speech that is revealing, and worth pausing to absorb.  Such a speech came this week when the White House created an audience at Georgetown University so President Barack Obama could deliver a long address (exactly 45 minutes) designed to explain the thinking behind the many economic policies he has poured out over the last 87 days. Talks with White House officials about the speech and its origins suggest it's the best look yet into how the president thinks he's both fixing and reshaping the American economy."

Right Here, Right Now: What's Next for the GOP from the Guardian [of London]

An in-depth look at where conservatives think the GOP is headed.

"After twenty per cent of conservatives voted for Obama, the Republican party was left in tatters. Oliver Burkeman asks key figures - what next?"

Move Over, Miley.  In Washington, the Obama Girls are the Latest Craze from the Washington Post

"The tween girls of the Washington area have transcended differences of race, class and wealth to reach a single, resounding conclusion: They really, really, really, really want to be friends with Malia and Sasha Obama."


I just found THIS.  A young white girl from England describes the impact of Obama's victory a few days after the election.  Startling, raw and moving.