Friday, July 31, 2009

News Nuggets 212

Giant jellyfish in Japan!  See the DANGEROUS ANIMAL NUGGET below.


Lynn Cullen is back -- AGAIN!! from the 2 political junkies blog

"We get near daily hits from folks searching for info on where they can listen to Lynn Cullen.  Well, she's back -- not on the airwaves -- but live streaming audio courtesy of the Pittsburgh City Paper."

Obama's Evenhanded Mideast Policy from the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times

Evenhandedness usually is considered to be a positive attribute in diplomacy, but when it comes to the Middle East, many Israelis and their supporters see it as code for a pro-Arab policy. In that view, President Obama's insistence that Israel freeze Jewish settlement construction is anti-Israeli and a sop to the Arab street. That's wrong.

Mullahs and Generals (Editorial) from the National Interest

"The regime’s claim of religious legitimacy is no longer credible. What are the options for a regime that has been stripped of its constitutional and religious legitimacy? Before turning to the options, let’s look at the realities facing the government:"

Obama's Poll Numbers Don't Add Up to Whole Story (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post

"What if the polls are wrong? Not wrong in the sense that they have incorrectly charted a downward slope for the president after six months in office, but wrong in the sense that they don't entirely capture the dynamic of this moment in the Obama presidency."

House Democrats Play Offense on Health Care (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post

"Hoping to regain momentum in the health care fight, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is planning an August offensive against more than two dozen Republican House members that aims to paint them as roadblocks to reform."

Health Care Realities (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.”  It’s a funny story — but it illustrates the extent to which health reform must climb a wall of misinformation"

Voters Willing to Cut Obama Some Slack (Gloria Borger) from CNN

"The giveaway was when they started calling him "Barack." It was jarring, at first, to hear many in this group of 12 independent voters refer to their new president by his first name. But the more they talked, the more it made sense. After all, they are seeing a lot of him."

Emails Reveal Rove Misleading About Role in Attorney Firings from Raw Story

"According to documents and e-mails reviewed by The Washington Post, Karl Rove played a more integral role than previously known in the firing of U.S. Attorneys that lead up to the U.S. Attorneys scandal."

58 Percent of GOP Not/Sure Obama Born in US from Politico

INCREDIBLE!!  See also THIS POLL from Daily Kos

"That means a majority of Republicans polled either don't know about -- or don't believe the seemingly incontrovertible evidence Obama's camp has presented over and over and over that he was born in Hawaii in '61."

Town Halls Gone Wild from Politico

Here again, scary stuff.

"On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control. :

Queen of the Birthers from the Daily Beast

"Orly Taitz, the mastermind behind the Obama birth-certificate controversy, tells The Daily Beast’s Max Blumenthal why the president should be jailed and why Lou Dobbs is her biggest fan."

Civil Rights Expert: ‘Birthers’ Only ‘Racists or Extreme Right Wingers’ from Agence France Presse

"Despite proof that Obama was born in the US state of Hawaii, including a birth certificate affirming that fact, rumors continue to spread, fueled by a group that critics say includes right-wing militants, racists and Holocaust deniers."

Obama's Sister is Coming to Washington from the New York Times

"President Obama half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is moving her family here from Hawaii and will spend the next several months living in the nation’s capital, White House officials say."


A Confluence of Public Mood and Personal Appeal from the Washington Post

Excerpts from The Battle for America 2008 by Haynes Johnson and Dan Balz.  The book "tells the story of the 2008 campaign from the inside out, with exclusive interviews with the candidates and their top strategists that produce intimate portraits of Obama, Clinton, and McCain."

EXCERPT: "As Obama settled into his sofa, drinking bottled tea and munching almonds, he grew more and more reflective, offering his most expansive rumination on the election to date. He spoke candidly about his competitors, his own failings, his controversial former pastor and how he hoped to govern, providing insight that is useful today as Americans observe a president struggling with the nation's enormous challenges."


Inside the Obama Documentary Premiere from the Daily Beast

"A War Room for the 2008 election season, By the People had its world premiere in Los Angeles this week. Matthew DeBord reports from inside the screening and talks to producer Edward Norton, director Amy Rice, and more."


The Amazing Mila the Beluga Whale from the [London] Daily Telegraph 

"It looks like a moment of terror - a diver finds her leg clamped in the jaws of a beluga whale. In fact, it was a stunning example of an animal coming to the rescue of a human life."


Giant Jellyfish in Japan from National Geographic

"Eat your heart out, Godzilla. A massive menace from the sea seems poised to invade Japan anew this summer, experts predict."

See also THIS STORY on the same topic from True/Slant

Thursday, July 30, 2009

News Nuggets 211

A rare breed of marmoset in India

The Decider: Who Runs U.S. Foreign Policy? (Michael Crowley) from the New Republic

"When Obama came to office six months ago, he seemed likely to be consumed by domestic politics: ... His high-powered foreign policy team, led by Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and a holdover defense secretary in Robert Gates, suggested that Obama was prepared to outsource the management of world affairs to people with something more than his four years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. ... Six months later, however, these assumptions have been shattered."

The Making of an Iran Policy (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine

"Although Obama’s denunciations of the clampdown grew stronger as it worsened, the extended hand, which had proved more unsettling to Iran than all the Bush administration bluster, was not withdrawn."

US-Israeli Talks Focus on Ahmadinejad's Possible Ouster from the DEBKAfile [of Israel in English]

"DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report that Ahmadinejad's cabinet is falling apart; of his original lineup of 21 ministers, only nine remain at their posts. A dozen have either resigned or been sacked and although the president pretends they are all at work, the gaps in his administration are big enough to paralyze key elements of national government."

Clashes and Arrests Reported at Tehran Mourning Ceremony from the New York Times

"Iranian riot police used tear gas and wooden batons to disperse thousands of opposition supporters in central Tehran on Thursday as they massed to commemorate those killed in the unrest after the disputed June 12 presidential election, witnesses said."

Make Them Wait: The Case for a Tactical Pause with Iran from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Although diplomacy must remain the policy, the momentous upheaval in Iran has completely changed the political landscape. Opening talks with Iran's current government at this decisive moment could backfire severely. Indeed, now is the time for a tactical pause with Iran."

Many Unhappy Returns: The Anniversary of Neda Soltan's Death Shows Why Iran's Green Wave Won't Die from Newsweek

"It's tempting to think that protesters may have finally given up on overturning Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election. ... But a funeral Thursday showed not only that the Green Wave lives on, but that we can expect regular revivals well into the future."

U.S. Opens Way to Ease Sanctions Against Syria from the New York Times

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would take new steps to ease American sanctions against Syria on a case-by-case basis, the latest sign of a diplomatic thaw.

Strategic Indonesia-US Partnership Expanding (Editorial) from the Jakarta Post

"The Indonesia-US relationship is on the most positive track ever in its long history. Though we are used to ups and downs in the relationship, we are now into new upside territory."

The Military is Not the Police from the Editorial Board of the New York Times

"It was disturbing to learn the other day just how close the last administration came to violating laws barring the military from engaging in law enforcement when President George W. Bush considered sending troops into a Buffalo suburb in 2002 to arrest terrorism suspects. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily a problem of the past. More needs to be done to ensure that the military is not illegally deployed in this country."

Health Care Reform: Fasten Your Seatbelts -- Congress is at the Wheel (Walter Shapiro) from Politics Daily

"The truest legislative assessment of the prospects for health care reform was uttered by none other than Bette Davis in "All About Eve:" "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night.""

Rove Had Heavier Hand in Prosecutor Firings Than Previously Known from the Washington Post

"Political adviser Karl Rove and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors almost three years ago, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, in a scandal that led to mass Justice Department resignations and an ongoing criminal probe."

How Worried Should Obama Be About His Poll Numbers? (Katie Connolly) from Newsweek

"So just how bad are these polls for the president? They’re certainly worrying, but in my view there are hopeful signs. We in the news media delight in dramatic narratives, and these polls can easily paint a damaging picture. But there is enough conflicting evidence in the numbers that the message I’m taking away is this: Americans are hedging."

The Craziest Senator: James Inhofe from the Daily Beast

"Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma earned national derision when he endorsed nutty birther theories earlier this week. But he is actually a shrewdly calculating politician playing to his state’s far-right base."

And the Bucks Keep Flowing In from the Miami Herald

"Unlike Sarah Palin, Charlie Crist has chosen not to quit his governorship early. Florida's own one-term wonder is using his remaining time to ingratiate himself with as many deep-pocket interest groups as possible.  The governor's unseemly burst of groveling is directly connected to his upcoming run for the U.S. Senate. ... Many of Crist's longtime supporters were surprised, but they shouldn't have been. Charlie has no problem with timely pandering."

Obama to Award Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 from the [Manchester] Guardian

"President Obama will award the presidential medal of freedom to 16 people, including political ally senator Edward M Kennedy, tennis legend Billie Jean King and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.  The White House announced the list of recipients today."


Nine Nicely Insane Ideas for Fringe GOP Extremists When the "Birthers" Thing Dies Off (Mark Morford) from the Huffington Post

"Who knew, in the wake of all those madcap Christian fundamentalists who ruled like drunken virgins over the Dark Days of Bush, who happily burned books and shunned science and hated on gays and woman and trees, after all of that, who know the right still had such a cavalcade of intellectual toddlers waiting in the wings to come out and play in the fields of Infantile Fantasyland, and further guarantee the party's merciful irrelevance for years to come?"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

News Nuggets 210

New and interesting fashion statements at the Ascot Raceway in the UK!

Tehran Braces for Another Day of Street Battles from Time Magazine

"Life in the capital of Iran seems eerily normal on the eve of what will likely be one of the larger demonstrations in recent weeks. Indeed, many fear it may be the bloodiest of all."

Ahmadinejad's Woes: Alienating Allies in Iran from Time Magazine

"Ahmadinejad is now fending off threats of being deposed by the country's hard-liners, his erstwhile allies. ... The group, the Islamic Society of Engineers, alluded to a possible coup by comparing Ahmadinejad to both Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, who was booted in a CIA-orchestrated coup in 1953, and Abol-Hassan Banisadr, the Islamic Republic's first President, who went into exile after he challenged Ayatullah Khomeini's authority."

The Need for Strategic Patience on Iraq (Robert Dreyfuss) from the Nation

"Outrage over the treatment of prisoners spans the Iranian political spectrum, from liberal reformists to hardliners to several outspoken clergy, including grand ayatollahs.  Meanwhile, among the hardliners, there is a growing, increasingly bitter dispute between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Leader, and President Ahmadinejad, that could have explosive consequences."

The Losers Hang On (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"After spending a week traveling the frontline of the “war on terrorism” — from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan in the seas off Iran, to northern Iraq, to Afghanistan and into northwest Pakistan — I can comfortably report the following: The bad guys are losing.  Yes, the dominos you see falling in the Muslim world today are the extremist Islamist groups and governments."

Obama Administration Officials in Israel to Demand End to Settlement Building from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Barack Obama has dispatched a clutch of senior American officials to Jerusalem to press his demand for an end to Jewish settlement construction and move along a diplomatic process aimed at imposing a blueprint for peace if negotiations fail."

Holder Probe Would Be Big Break from Bush Torture Policy from the Washington Independent

"A series of letters between Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and the Bush administration’s Department of Justice shed light on a reportedly impending Justice Department investigation that would mark the Obama administration’s first clear break from its predecessor’s policy of refusing to prosecute the torture and abuse of terror suspects."

House Democrats Clinch Healthcare Deal from Reuters

"emocrats broke a logjam in President Barack Obama's drive to revamp the costly U.S. healthcare system on Wednesday when a group of party conservatives accepted a compromise that allowed an overhaul bill to advance in the House of Representatives."

Dems Warn Baucus with Gavel Threat from The Hill

SOMEBODY has to start knocking some sense into the committee leaders in both the House and the Senate.

"In an apparent warning to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), some liberal Democrats have suggested a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels."

The Ultimate Obama Insider from the New York Times Sunday Magazine

"If Valerie Jarrett told Barack Obama that something was the right thing to do, he would very likely do it."

Steaks, Pragmatism, and the View from the Delta (Jon Meacham) from Newsweek

"It is tempting to paint the scene at Doe's as something you would expect in an unreconstructed red-state redoubt, and then perhaps contrast the gathering in the Delta with the president's prime-time press conference as images of parallel worlds that will never intersect.  But that narrative, however appealing in its familiarity, feels at once glib and antique."

Birthers are Citizens of Idiot America (Editorial) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"The media must stop pandering to the conspiracy theorists who are challenging Barack Obama's US citizenship."

Will the Birthers Help of Hurt Obama? (Howard Fineman) from Newsweek

"White House wise guys seem to think there is political profit to be reaped in encouraging—or at least putting the spotlight on—the anti-everything fundamentalists and public paranoids who are emerging at a time when the legitimate conservative movement and the Republican Party with it are weak."

Will the Birthers Doom the GOP? from the Daily Beast

"The GOP, reduced to hosting loonies who obsess over Obama’s birthplace, is slipping into the ash heap. The Daily Beast’s John Batchelor on why Republican incoherence may doom the party to the fate of the Whigs."

The Right Bails on the Birthers from Salon

"What has the world come to when Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly represent the rational side of the Republican Party?"

Birthers Part Deux: Republicans Divided from FireDogLake

"In this installment, we find the Republicans split into two camps:..."


I don't follow baseball much anymore -- but THIS CATCH shown on Huffington Post is unbelievable!


Mystery of Watergate Tape's Missing 18 Minutes May Finally Be Solved from the Times [of London]

"One of the great political mysteries — what was said by President Nixon during a suspicious 18-minute gap on the Watergate tapes — could soon be solved thanks to a keen-eyed amateur sleuth and modern crime-fighting technology."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

News Nuggets 209

Image from Ibiza Island off the coast of Spain from the London Telegraph

On Iran, Do Nothing. Yet (Fareed Zakaria) from Newsweek

"Tehran needs to work out its turmoil. ... Underneath the calm, there is intense activity and the beginnings of a political opposition."

Middle East: Obama Seeks Results (Editorial) from the Editorial Board from the [Manchester] Guardian

"After one of the worst weeks of his presidency in which Barack Obama battled to save the healthcare reforms, the centrepiece of his domestic legislation, a bevy of government officials are in Israel today. George Mitchell, the Middle East envoy; Robert Gates, the defence secretary; and Jim Jones, the national security adviser, are all pounding around the region in a drive to revive another patient on life support – the Middle East peace process. Mr Obama has lost none of his ambition."

Further Rifts in Iranian Leadership (Nico Pitney) from the Huffington Post

Good time to catch up on the latest shifts in Iranian politics from Nico Pitney's live-blog.

Iran: The Tragedy and the Future (Roger Cohen) from the New York Review of Books

"Iran, thanks in part to the revolution, now has many of the preconditions for democracy, including a large middle class, broad higher education, and a youthful population that is sophisticated and engaged. If Khamenei and the revolutionary establishment deny that, as they did with violence after June 12, they will in the end devour themselves."

Britain and US Prepared to Open Talks with the Taliban from the [Manchester] Guardian

"A concerted effort to start unprecedented talks between Taliban and British and American envoys was outlined yesterday in a significant change in tactics designed to bring about a breakthrough in the attritional, eight-year conflict in Afghanistan."

War, Peace and Operation Khanjar (Editorial) from the Far Eastern Economic Review

"President Obama’s strategy, ... , is more than just about militarily defeating the Taliban.  It also hopes to strike at the root of the Taliban’s support from the Pakistan side of the border by forcing the Pakistani Army to take on its own extremists like Baitullah Mehsud – and slowly, over time, Afghan Taliban leaders based in the Pakistani city of Quetta – and to stop the flow of arms from Pakistan into Afghanistan."

The Dust of Dissent Can Still Choke this Regime from the Times [of London]

"Oppression in Iran seems tougher than ever, but beneath the surface, cracks are appearing and public anger still burns"

Iran's Protesters: Phase 2 of Their Feisty Campaign (Robin Wright) from Time Magazine

"Phase 2 has begun. Six weeks after millions took to the streets to protest Iran's presidential election, their uprising has morphed into a feistier, more imaginative and potentially enduring campaign."

Where We Stand Now on Healthcare Reform from Daily Kos

"First, where we've been, and what a week it was."

What Do Americans Want on Health Care? (Timothy Noah) from Slate

"A new survey says they still want health care reform, with one troubling caveat."

The Five Biggest Hurdles to Health-Care Reform (Jay Newton-Small) from Time Magazine

"Why can't a popular President with poll numbers in the 60s and supermajorities in both chambers of Congress get this done? Here are the five biggest hurdles to health-care reform"

Dems Have Huge Day with Latinos from Politico

"Republicans’ dilemma in connecting with the growing Hispanic electorate will be on vivid display Tuesday: GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote overwhelmingly against confirming Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latino nominee to the Supreme Court. And the Democratic Party chairman will address the nation’s largest Latino political group — partly in Spanish. No national GOP official is speaking."

Cheney's Plan for a Military Coup (Scott Horton) from Harper's Magazine

"On Saturday, Mark Mazetti and David Johnston of the New York Times, quoting sources close to former President Bush, revealed that former Vice President Dick Cheney had advocated deploying the military for domestic policing purposes. Bush apparently declined to take Cheney’s advice. The discussions occurred against the backdrop of the so-called “Lackawanna Six” case, involving a group of six Yemeni-Americans from the Buffalo area who later pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support to Al Qaeda and received prison sentences."  The disclosures shed considerable light on two memoranda prepared in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel by John Yoo."

GOP Headache: The Birther Issue from Politico

"When lawmakers return home for recess in August, they can expect to hear tough questions from constituents on the economy, health care and government spending.  But Republicans are preparing for something else: the birthers."

How Lou Dobbs Scared Rush Limbaugh Off the Birther Story from Media Matters for America

"I can think of three (inadvertent) positives that came out of Lou Dobbs' ill-advised embrace of the birther movement."

Birthers Embarrass the Republicans (Thomas Noyes) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Rightwing extremists who don't believe Barack Obama is a US citizen are making life hard for moderate Republicans"

Voinovich Slams DeMInt and Coburn for GOP Downfall from The Hill

"Too many conservative senators like Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) are to blame for the GOP's downfall, one of their retiring Republican colleagues complained Monday."


The Fury of the 'Birthers' on NPR's On Point


Dunkirk: A Miracle of War from the [London] Telegraph

"To mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, we publish an exclusive extract from a gripping new book by Andrew Roberts"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

News Nuggets 208

Priceless image from June 3, 2008.  This is Michelle and Barack watching Hillary Clinton's "non-concession" speech after the last primaries in South Dakota and Montana.  Obama is about to go out and claim victory in St. Paul, MN.  Both of their expressions speak volumes about their views of Hillary at the time.  Seems like a long time ago now!  From the New York Times.

I was able to get in one more posting before hitting the road!

Looking Beyond the Reset (Editorial) from the Moscow Times

"No sooner had U.S. President Barack Obama left Moscow than numerous experts, swelling with ambition and guided by instinctual aggressiveness, began wailing that the summit did not produce the much-anticipated “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations, and that the new Cold War continues as before. But is that really the case?"

Will Iran's Political Turmoil Shake Hezbollah'? from the Christian Science Monitor

"Hezbollah is the only organization outside Iran that subscribes to that nation's ideology of theocratic leadership. The group was founded with Iranian help, still receives Iranian funding, and has at times turned to Iran's supreme leader for guidance on major political issues. Therefore, the outcome of current debates there over the way theocratic authority is wielded and the secular question of how Iran should manage its external relations is sure to reverberate inside Lebanon."

Iran: What Comes Next? from World Politics Review

"Despite post-election speculation on the prospects for a second Iranian revolution, the current situation more closely resembles a civil rights movement -- one emerging organically from within the framework of the country's constitution."

Iran's Tragic Joke (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times

"Iranians, aware of that history, are a proud people. They do not take kindly to being played around with, nor to seeing their country turned into a laughing stock. They do not like the memory of an election campaign that now seems like pure theater, the expression of the sadistic whim of some puppeteer."

Comment: Frank and Fair (Editorial) from the Times of India [in English]

"Clinton, who began her trip in Mumbai, is addressing a broad range of issues on her maiden visit as secretary of state. This bodes well for bilateral ties between the two countries. "

Obama Takes Healthcare Debate and Runs with it from the Los Angeles Times

"President Obama is becoming more personally invested in rallying the public and Congress behind a healthcare overhaul, even as some Republicans raise the stakes in the debate by claiming that defeating his plan would undermine his presidency."

Turning Point on Health Care (Editorial) from Politico

"If Democrats pull it off, they may look back at this week as a turning point. Barack Obama has gone on offense, firing up the rhetoric and attacking Republicans in stump-like speeches. The president has called wavering House Democrats to the White House for a critical meeting. And House Dem leaders have backed off their most radical ideas – a surtax on the rich – realizing it was a nonstarter with more than just Republicans.   It’s all setting up for some kind of a deal down the road."

Rumors of the Demise of ObamaCare Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Nate Silver) from

"Obama should have done more to frame the debate and put a particular health care bill in front of Congress, rather than letting Congress handle it themselves. Maybe health care would be in a little bit better shape right now if he had done that and maybe it wouldn't; we'll never really be able to test the counterfactual. But because he didn't do that, Obama still has most of his tactical flexibility intact. And there are at least four scenarios under which health care reform could still pass this year:"

Morning Fix: Specter vs. Sestak Heats Up from the Washington Post

"Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has ended his silence in his Democratic primary fight against Rep. Joe Sestak, repeatedly ripping the challenger for his spotty voting record as a private citizen and a series of missed votes in Congress."

The Obama Haters' Next Move from the Daily Beast

"Crackpot anti-Obama conspiracy theorists now include congressmen, a former GOP presidential candidate and an Army major. John Avlon on the "Birthers" attempts to pass federal legislation, and their new claims 170 soldiers will refuse to serve the president."

Rampant insanity!

Monday, July 20, 2009

News Nuggets 207

A petroleum mine - from the Daily Telegraph [of London]

Note to Readers: I will be away on vacation for the next eight days thus my postings will be infrequent at best.  I'll be back regularly on Thursday, July 30.  

Iran Supreme Leader Warns Opposition to Back Down from the Associated Press

"Emboldened by Rafsanjani's support for the opposition in a Friday prayer sermon last week, a leading reformist, former President Mohammad Khatami, called for a referendum to rule whether Ahmadinejad's government is legitimate and for a neutral body to oversee the vote."

Britain Replacing US as Iran's 'Great Satan' from the Washington Post

"For the past three decades, the United States has been Iran's "Great Satan." Schoolchildren learned to chant "Down With U.S.A." Conservative clerics sermonized against America. Anti-American murals depicting images such as a skull-faced Statue of Liberty dotted Tehran. But since Iran's disputed presidential election last month, another Satan has gained ground: Great Britain."

Bush's Key Men Face Grilling on Torture and Death Squads from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Former vice-president Dick Cheney could be forced to testify to Congress over allegations that a secret hit squad was set up on his orders, as Democrats press for inquiries into the conduct of the 'war on terror'. "

So Happy Together from Slate

"Is it true, as many have written, that she's been on the outs with the White House, and did this speech put her back in or carve an enclave for her own influence and ambitions?  This last question, and gossip about internecine power struggles, is hugely overhyped. By all accounts, relations between the White House and Foggy Bottom (you can throw in the Pentagon, too) are more harmonious than at any time anyone can remember."

Why I Don't Envy Hillary Clinton (Reihan Salam) from the Daily Beast

"Terrorism, the recession, rogue states, Taliban threats, dissent on global warming—not to mention a fractured elbow and all the spicy food. Reihan Salam on the real challenges of Clinton's trip to Asia."

President is Set to 'Take the Baton' from the Washington Post

"Six months into his presidency, Barack Obama may have no greater test of his ability to translate personal popularity into a successful legislative agenda than the upcoming two weeks.  With skepticism about the president's health-care reform effort mounting on Capitol Hill -- even within his own party -- the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to dramatically increase public pressure on Congress: all Obama, all the time."

This should be interesting!

Why Obama Likes His Odds (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post

"It was not the soaring rhetoric that is Barack Obama's signature, but he recently offered the sound bite that may define his presidency: "Don't bet against us." There are reasons to believe that his confident words -- they were about health-care reform but have broader application -- were not the bombast of a bluffer exaggerating the strength of his hand. They reflect the high cards that Obama holds and has only now started to play."

AH! Obama, the poker player, emerges!  I love it!

With So Much on the Line (Steve Benen) from Washington Monthly

"In 1993, Bill Kristol privately advised congressional Republicans to do whatever it took to "kill" the Clinton health care reform initiative. It wasn't that the policy proposal was a bad idea; it was that passage would help the Democratic Party for years to come. The GOP, he said, for the sake of its own future, couldn't compromise or negotiate with the majority.  Sixteen years later, a wide variety of Democrats are working hard to convince Republicans to support reform, despite the built-in incentive for seeing reform fail. Mark Kleiman noted that a few too many Democrats seem to have forgotten the recent past, and worse, seem oblivious to the larger electoral dyna"

The Illogic of the Centrists (Michael Tomasky) of the [Manchester] Guardian

"If the Democrats lose on healthcare, it's the moderates who'll suffer most. So why are moderates the most opposed?"

White Men Can't Trump Sotomayor on Life Story (Al Hunt) from Bloomberg News Service

"What endures, however, is the spectacle of middle-aged, white Republicans instructing the first Latin female nominee about the irrelevance of race, gender and life experiences for a judge. Even Graham, one of the more enlightened lawmakers, a strong immigration advocate and a thoroughly modern Republican, didn’t get it."

Sotomayor Hearings: Who's in the Hot Seat Now?  (Eva Rodriguez) from the Washington Post

"During an appearance on C-SPAN earlier today, he had been asked about a Politico article quoting a prominent Texas Republican political consultant, who warned that “Cornyn’s going to have to repair fences with Hispanics; they are going to be scrutinizing him a lot harder after the way he questioned Sotomayor."

My GOP: Too Old, Too White to Win (Bill Greener) from Salon

"We (after all, I most certainly am a Republican) can search for policy positions that better connect us to the concerns of voters. We can do any number of things to try to change our fortunes. Until we come to grips with some fundamental math, however, the numbers simply do not add up to the GOP prevailing in a national election any time soon."


Bernie in Thugs' Sights from the New York Post

No country club confinement for Mr. Madoff!

""Bernie Madoff's s fellow inmates at a North Carolina federal prison -- where the Ponzi schemer arrived just last week -- are discussing beating him up to boost their jailhouse reputations, The Post has learned."


Fifty Years Later: The Legacy of 'Massive Resistance' in Richmond, VA from the Richmond Times-Dispatch via the VA Center for Politics

"Fifty years have now passed since the dark days of Massive Resistance, when public schools in some Virginia localities were shuttered rather than integrated.  Virginia has had an overall proud and constructive history; yet except for the original sin of slavery, Massive Resistance is the most indelible stain on the state's soul."


Film Shows Students Battle Racism for Mixed Prom from Black Politics on the Web

"A new documentary, “Prom Night in Mississippi,” shows the students confronting racist attitudes in Charleston after school administrators let them decide if they wanted to accept Freeman’s offer to pay for an integrated prom — an annual dance for graduating students. Freeman’s first such offer a decade earlier had been ignored."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

News Nuggets 206

Hair creations in Athens

The Ten Commandments for Ambitious Policy Wonks from Foreign Policy Magazine

"What are some “taboo” subjects in contemporary foreign policy discourse?  To say that a particular topic is “taboo” doesn’t mean that nobody ever raises the issue or challenges the reigning orthodoxy; it just means that doing so is understood to be politically risky, especially for anyone who wants an influential place in the foreign affairs establishment."

Sizing Up President Obama's Foreign Policy After 6 Months (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post

"Six months on, how is Barack Obama doing in foreign policy? Some leading experts give the new president high marks for improving America's battered image abroad, but they warn that the hard work is still ahead."

Foreign Policy by Deadline (Jim Hoagland) from the Washington Post

"If conflicts can be halted by setting deadlines and crisply reaching decision points, this president may have a lock on the Nobel Peace Prize for years to come. Critics will say that I am actually describing a process for putting off tough decisions. Here's why I disagree."

Looking Back in Anger from the Economist [of London]

"EVEN for a president as avowedly forward-looking as Barack Obama, the clamour to revisit the darker chapters of George Bush’s war on terror is proving irresistible. Congressional Democrats and civil-liberties campaigners have long craved an inquiry to finger the culprits of torture and other alleged crimes. Mr Obama, keen to avoid the partisan warfare that bogged down his two predecessors, has demurred.

That may be changing"

Were Chinese Agents at Gitmo? from the Congressional Quarterly

"A fight is brewing between Capitol Hill and the Pentagon over allegations that Chinese government agents were allowed to interrogate some detainees at Guantánamo Bay."

Teacher, Can We Leave Now? No. (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"Why are we in Afghanistan? Who cares about the Taliban? Al Qaeda is gone. And if its leaders come back, well, that’s why God created cruise missiles.  But every time I start writing that column, something stills my hand. This week it was something very powerful. I watched Greg Mortenson, the famed author of “Three Cups of Tea,” open one of his schools for girls in this remote Afghan village in the Hindu Kush mountains. I must say, after witnessing the delight in the faces of those little Afghan girls crowded three to a desk waiting to learn, I found it very hard to write, “Let’s just get out of here.”

Obama Feels the Heat, Changes the Play from Politico

"President Barack Obama made his personal icy cool the trademark of his campaign, the tenor of his White House and the hallmark of an early run of successes at home and abroad. But as the glamour wears off and a long, frustrating summer wears on, he is being forced to improvise — stooping to respond to political foes and adjusting his tactics and demeanor for the trench warfare of a legislative agenda. "

President Obama and Black America's New Reality (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post

"This words about the deficits that still plague black America were delivered to a room full of NAACP convention delegates who are, by and large, highly educated and comfortably affluent -- men and women who already have high expectations for their children and know how to hold their elected officials accountable. Missing was the too-large segment of the black community that has been left behind."

First Lady Steps into Policy Spotlight in Debate on Health Care from the New York Times

"After several months of focusing on her family, her garden and inspiring young people, Mrs. Obama is stepping into more wonkish terrain. She is toughening her message and talking more openly about influencing public policy as she works to integrate her efforts more closely with those of policy makers in the West Wing."

Obama Campaign Arm Doubles Down, Targets House Dems On Health Care from Huffington post

"Ignoring criticism - namely from Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid - that intra-party targeting was ineffective, Barack Obama's campaign arm is expanding its health care ad buy into the districts of key conservative House Democrats."

Pharisees on the Potomac (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times

"Like cats that have lost their whiskers, the Republicans seem off balance now that they have lost their talent for hypocrisy.

They are still practicing the ancient political art of Tartuffery, of course, just without their former aplomb. ... No one had more flair than W. and Cheney, crowing about making us safe as they made the world more dangerous, and bragging about fiscal restraint while they spent us into oblivion."

America's White Men are Back and Raging from the Times [of London]

"Americans have long been used to airwaves filled with wild political rants. But with President Barack Obama in the White House and Democrats in control in Washington, the gates have been opened to what some are describing as a new age of conservative rage."

They Got Some Splainin' to do (Frank Rich) from the New York Times

"The Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-régime conservatives were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent."

The GOP's Sotomayor Sinkhole (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post

"Watching Sotomayor take questions about her moods from the nearly all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, one couldn't help wondering how those same fellows would hold up under similar scrutiny while a roomful of women took aim at their . . . fortitude. Obviously, we're talking about Republican chaps. Democrats were practically tossing raiment over puddles as they lobbed loving little queries her way.

It's hard to figure what Republicans could have been thinking."