Friday, September 25, 2009

News Nuggets 238

Michelle Obama and the other G-20 spouses at the Creative and Performing Arts School in Pittsburgh yesterday.

Obama to Usher in New Age of Co-operation with UN from the [Manchester] Guardian

“After eight years of the Bush administration, Obama has already embraced many of the policies that his predecessor rejected, ranging from signing up for the UN millennium goals on poverty to paying millions owed by the US to the world organisation.”

Obama the Un-Bush Woos the UN (Michael Tomasky) from the [Manchester] Guardian

“The four "pillars", as he called them, weren't really his strongest selling points. To a UN crowd, those were two: the fact of his not being George Bush, and the fact of his race.”

Obama Undercuts Iran (Juan Cole) from Salon

“With nuclear fears growing, the president's shrewd moves are winning Russian support for boxing in Iran.”

For Obama, Iran Disclosure is Twofold from the Washington Post

“The disclosure of a second uranium enrichment site in Iran is at once a setback and a way forward for the Obama administration. It effectively spells the end of the engagement effort that President Obama had pledged to pursue upon taking office. But it also presents a clear path toward building an international consensus for sterner action against Tehran.

Cracks in Iran’s Clique (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

“The reason we now have a slight chance — and I really emphasize slight — for a negotiated deal is because Iran’s nuclear program has always been a survival strategy for Tehran’s ruling clique … After stealing June’s elections, this ruling cartel is now more unpopular and illegitimate than ever.”

Once Again, Americans are Smarter than the Media (Joan Walsh) from Salon

“Only a third of those polled said Obama is "overexposed" in the media -- 63 percent said his exposure was either just right or too little. Thirty-seven percent said congressional Republicans would be to blame if Obama's healthcare reform drive fails; only 10 percent would blame Obama. Almost 80 percent of Americans said they like the president personally, and his job approval has held steady over the last rocky month, at 51 percent. Far from hurting the president or his agenda, this week's media blitz seems to have improved his numbers on healthcare, specifically.”

Why Progressives Should Support Obama (Raina Kelley) from Newsweek

“The attacks have already begun against the politician best positioned to be a friend to environmentalists, social activists and gun-control advocates. Proving once and for all that perfect is the enemy of good, progressives all over the blogosphere are currently apopletic at what they call Obama's "betrayal of the very people that elected him." … this is why progressives of this stripe irritate me as much as those flag-waving tea-party activists with guns strapped to every available muscle group. Neither of you believe in compromise. It's your way or the highway.”

On Health Care, the Republicans’ Deaf Ear is a Preexisting Condition (Dana Milbank) of the Washington Post

“what does Baucus have to show for his concessions? One by one Tuesday, Republicans delivered the same thanks-but-no-thanks message. … Baucus is suffering the consequences of being one of the last serious men in town.”

The Clinton’s Enemies’ List (and Other Major Nuisance) from the Huffington Post

“What comes across most clearly from the book, The Clinton Tapes, is Clinton's complete lack of self-censorship, especially when it comes to the two subjects that consumed and enraged him: the media and the scandals that dogged his two administrations.”

Donald Rumsfeld’s Dysfunctional Pentagon (David Corn) from the Politics Daily

“Matt Latimer portrays Rummy's Pentagon as a dysfunctional world run by toadying sycophants and bureaucratic bunglers. In his account, the top echelons of the Defense Department under Rumsfeld were a Catch-22ish circus of the absurd.”


Word for Word – A Tutorial from Lyndon B. Johnson from the New York Times

“President Obama faces perhaps the ultimate presidential test in the weeks ahead: maneuvering a big health care bill through a fractious Congress. For tips on how to manage it, there’s no better adviser then Lyndon B. Johnson, who won Medicare over fierce opposition in 1965.”


Coming Out in Middle School from the New York Times Sunday Magazine

“How 13-year-old kids are dealing with their sexual identity — and how others are dealing with them.”


Michelle Obama visits Pamela's in Millvale from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“First Lady Michelle Obama surprised patrons with a visit to Pamela's restaurant in Millvale this morning.


The Last Word: Inside a Dog’s World from The Week

“Author Alexandra Horowitz explains why dogs pee on hydrants, lick our faces, and are always sniffing.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

News Nuggets 237

A cheetah cub at the Bronx Zoo -- from the Huffington Post

Time to Deal in Afghanistan (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post

Zakaria is RIGHT on-the-money here.

"The focus must shift from nation building to dealmaking. The central problem in Afghanistan is that the Pashtuns, who make up 45 percent of the population and almost 100 percent of the Taliban, do not feel empowered. We need to start talking to them, whether they are nominally Taliban or not."

US-Iran Talks Start October 1 from the Nation

"The hawks, neoconservatives, and Israeli hardliners are squealing, but the US and Iran are set to talk. The talks will begin October 1, among Iran and the P5 + 1, the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany."

The 9/11 Anniversary: An Opportunity to Reconsider Mistaken Policies (editorial) from Dar Al-Hayat [of Saudi Arabia in English]

"What started with the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and is still effective today remains the following: that Arabs first and last – and not Muslims in general – are the ones who have paid, are paying and will pay the highest price for 9/11. Thus it is time for the Arab popular base to carefully think about whether they want future generations to pay the price for this terrorist act, one committed by Arabs and carried forward by violent extremists in the name of revenge from America, or whether they will stand in the face of those who use the Arabs, making their future generations hostage to fabricated slogans when they are in fact the de facto allies of the enemies of the Arabs."

Tearing Yemen Apart (Simon Tisdall) from the [Manchester] Guardian

Another Middle-Eastern country going to hell in a hand-basket.

"Renewed fighting in northern Yemen between government and rebel forces is feeding fears that a Middle Eastern proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is spreading to the ungoverned spaces of the southern Arabian peninsula. But western analysts are staring boggle-eyed at quite a different spectre: the prospect that the biggest beneficiaries of Yemeni weakness will be the fanatical jihadis of al-Qaida."

The Bloody Legacy of Cheney's Failures (Editorial) from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

"After 9/11, Dick Cheney took the reins in America. The 'war on terror' was his idea, and it led to real wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and to the torture he approved and defends. While Cheney is writing a memoir to influence how people see his role, the rest of the world would just prefer to get on with cleaning up his mess -- with him out of the picture."

Politics and the Age Gap from the New York Times

I have been observing this phenomenon for a while now.  Sad.

"As the population ages and the nation faces intense battles over rapidly rising health care and retirement costs, American politics seems increasingly divided along generational lines.  ... As distasteful as the notion of intergenerational conflict may seem, the fight over health care ... suggests that something is going on. Older Americans are more likely to oppose Mr. Obama’s initiative than any other age group."

As Right Jabs Continue, White House Debates a Counterpunching Strategy from the Washington Post

I find this faintly disturbing that it has taken them this long to "debate" a strategy.  They should have had this down pat months ago.  I'm skeptical that the "above the fray" strategy has been effective in the short run -- and the health care legislation is ALL short run now.

"Facing a near-daily barrage of attacks from conservative opponents, White House officials are engaged in an internal debate over how hard to hit back, even as they have grown increasingly aggressive in countering allegations they deem to be absurd."

Lies (Hendrick Hertzberg) from the New Yorker

"This sort of lunatic paranoia—touched with populism, nativism, racism, and anti-intellectualism—has long been a feature of the fringe, especially during times of economic bewilderment. What is different now is the evolution of a new political organism, with paranoia as its animating principle. The town-meeting shouters may be the organism’s hands and feet, but its heart—also, Heaven help us, its brain—is a “conservative” media alliance built around talk radio and cable television, especially Fox News."

Reform Opposition is High But Easing from the Washington Post

"President Obama continues to face significant public resistance to his drive to initiate far-reaching changes to the country's health-care system, with widespread skepticism about central tenets of his plan, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. But ... opposition to the effort has eased somewhat, and there appears to be potential for further softening among critics ... The gap in passion, which had shown greater intensity among opponents of the plan, has also begun to close, with supporters increasingly energized and more now seeing reform as possible without people being forced to give up their current coverage."

Dissent of the Day (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic

"Obama isn't ideal. I'd like a carbon tax rather than cap and trade, drastic 1986-style tax reform, and an end to the government subsidizing employer-based insurance plans. ... But unlike so many of these tea-partiers, I also realize that in real politics, you have to construct a solid coalition for all this and make arguments for it consistently (as Reagan did for decades) and have some credibility. But the GOP has been doing he opposite."

Tea'd Off from the New Republic: Scenes from the Great American Scream from the New Republic

"On Saturday, September 12, America threw a gigantic temper tantrum in Washington D.C. Organizers called it the “largest gathering of fiscal conservatives in history,” and they’re probably right. ...  Their complaint? Hard to say, really. ... But for most, there was both an incredible specificity to their protestations--all those czars, and ACORN, and Obama’s missing birth certificate--and a fuzzy vagueness."

Me Talk Presidential One Day (Matt Latimer) from GQ Magazine

An amazing inside look at the Bush White House from one of Bush's speech writers.  Bush comes off as an astonishing, arrogant dolt.  Check out this long-form expose.

"Matt Latimer worked as one of Dubya’s speechwriters during the president’s final twenty-two months in office. He was there to help sell the surge to a skeptical public. He was there as we pretended that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. And he was there to see a president who failed to grasp his own $700 billion bailout package—even as he was pitching it to the American public on live TV. A disillusioned insider reveals for the first time just how messy things got"

Some from GOP Fear Party Being Carried to the Extreme (David Frum) from the Los Angeles Times

Only "some"?!

"The Republican establishment hopes cooler heads will prevail over strongly anti-Obama parts of the conservative base."


The 'Ghost Fleet' of the Recession from the [London] Daily Mail

"The biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore. Never before photographed, it is bigger than the U.S. and British navies combined but has no crew, no cargo and no destination."


EPA Halts Mountain Top Removal Projects from McClatchy News Service

"The EPA's action was an abrupt shift from the last big batch of surface mining permits that it's considered during the Obama administration. In May, the agency said it had no concerns with 42 of 48 permits, and blocked six."

Monday, September 14, 2009


Stellar demise of a nebula -- one of the latest images from Hubble. Amazing!

Special invitation to readers!

Many of you have already taken on special "Local Lawmaker Office Visits" this week to push your senators and representatives to pass meaningful health care -- now I want to open up the invitation to everyone else.

Obama and Congress need all our support for meaningful health care reform. We're looking at Thursday and Friday of this week to personally do local office visits to our federal lawmakers -- although some of you took on other days which is fine.

The Mission: Go to the local office of your two senators and your representative, share with them your experience [of your family or friends' experiences] with our current health care system and that you want REAL reform this time. It should not take more than twenty minutes. For the PA Senators, I have also included links to a map that will show where their office is -- they are both in the same office building. You can kill two birds with one stone. Outside Pgh, see these two sites to locate your federal lawmakers -- the House Reps are HERE and the Senators are HERE.

While doing these visits, feel free to express other state or national concerns [Iraq, high-speed rail, global warming, etc.] that you may have. But emphasize health care!!

Be clear -- it's FINE that you don't know lots of details about any given issue. Just say what your concerns are, your experience and a general sense of what would make a difference to you. See on my blog below Kathleen Paul's talk she gave in Mercer, PA.

Below are listed the local offices of the PA folks you need to visit. Look to see which are the closest to you or would work best given your schedule. Read carefully. A few of the local offices are staffed only once in a while. In those cases, the office hours are included.

Please send me an e-mail when you're done and share your experience to I will post some of these notes to my blog!

Good luck ... and thank you so much for taking this on!!


U.S. Senator Bob Casey

Regional Enterprise Tower

425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2490

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: (412) 803-7370

Fax: (412) 803-7379

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter

425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1450

Regional Enterprise Tower (old Alcoa Building)

Pittsburgh , PA 15219

Main: 412-644-3400

Fax: 412-644-4871


U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire

Aliquippa Office
2110 McLean Street
Aliquippa, PA 15001
724-378-6171 (fax)

Natrona Heights Office
2124 Freeport Road
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
724-226-1308 (fax)

Satellite Offices

Cranberry Township Office

Cranberry Township Municipal Building
2525 Rochester Road
Cranberry Township, PA 16066-6499
1:30 pm to 5:00 pm - First and Third Thursdays of every month

Ellwood City Office

Ellwood City Municipal Building
Lawrence Avenue
Ellwood City, PA 16117
2:00 pm to 6:00pm - 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month

Farrell Office

Farrell City Building
500 Roemer Blvd
Farrell, PA 16121
9 am to 1:00 pm - 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month

Murrysville Office

Murrysville Municipal Building
4100 Sardis Road
Murrysville, PA 15668
2 pm to 4 pm - Second Tuesday of every month
4 pm to 7 pm - Fourth Tuesday of every month

New Castle Office

Lawrence County Government Center
430 Court Street
1st Floor Caucus Room
New Castle, PA 16101
8:00 am to 4:00 pm - Every Wednesday and Friday

Ross Township Office

Ross Township Municipal Building
Recreation Center
1000 Ross Municipal Drive
Pittsburgh,PA 15237
9:00 am to 12:00 pm - First and Third Thursdays of every month

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle

11 Duff Road
Penn Hills, PA 15235
Phone: 412-241-6055
Fax: 412-241-6820

627 Lysle Boulevard
McKeesport, PA 15132
Phone: 412-664-4049
Fax: 412-664-4053

225 Ross Street, 5th Floor

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: (412) 261-5091

Fax: (412) 261-1983

1350 Fifth Avenue
Coraopolis, PA 15108
Phone: (412) 264-3460

Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Monday through Friday.

Please note that the Coraopolis office is only open on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Scheduling an appointment at that office is strongly recommended. Constituents wishing to schedule an appointment with a member of Congressman Doyle’s staff at the Coraopolis office can do so by calling 412-264-3460

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy

His Home page is HERE.

Main District Office

Phone: (412) 344-5583 Fax: (412) 429-5092 504

Washington Rd. Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Westmoreland District Office

Phone: (724) 850-7312 Fax: (724) 850-7315

2040 Frederickson Place

Greensburg, PA 15601

Washington Office
322 Cannon Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2301
Fax: (202) 225-1844

Greensburg Office
2040 Frederickson Place
Greensburg, PA 15601
Phone: (724) 850-7312
Fax: (724) 850-7315

Monday, September 7, 2009

News Nuggets 235

Mount Mosavi in New Guinea where a a large collection of near extinct or never seen bugs, birds and animals were recently discovered. See the Nature Nugget below. From the Guardian.

Today, we have a special report from one of our readers about her visit last week to a town hall meeting north of Pittsburgh. She was actually one of the official speakers. Her description of the event speaks for itself, and it strengthens my hope that we will get meaningful healthcare reform this year. Thank you, Kathleen.

Today I attended a "Congress in the Community Health Care Forum" hosted by Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (D-3rd District) at Edinboro University. It was the last of 19 forums and community meetings that she has held in this district since Congress went on break in August. Besides Representative Dahlkemper, the 300+ attendees heard from Wendell Potter (a former CIGNA executive who was featured in Bill Moyer's recent "Money Driven Medicine" show on health care) and John Malone (CEO of the Hamot Medical Center in Erie).

Unlike some recent town hall meetings that turned into shouting matches, this forum was downright mannerly. All attendees were given a copy of "George Washington's (and Congresswoman Dahlkemper's) Rules of Civility" upon entering the auditorium. George Washington was quoted as having said: "Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present"--to which Dahlkemper added "It's okay to be passionate about a cause or an ideal, but respect one another...everyone deserves a right to speak." The one attendee who tried to press his point beyond the allotted time was reprimanded by the audience...politely.

Rep. Dahlkemper addressed the health care reform bill that Congress will be considering when it reconvenes next Tuesday. Having studied the bill closely and spoken at length with many of the 600,000 constituents across her district, Kathy is convinced that passage of health care reform with a public option is essential "to provide stability and security in the health care market for all." As a small business owner, Kathy has personally been confronted with skyrocketing premium increases and shrinking services. In fact, she stated that she "doesn't know why every small business owner in the 3rd District isn't CLAMORING for health care reform." A health care survey that she has been distributing (and can be found on her website) has been returning 62% in favor of SOME kind of reform--although she admitted that there was wide variation in HOW people wanted the system reformed.

Mr. Potter spoke passionately about his experiences growing up in rural Tennessee and then climbing the corporate ladder to become a top executive at CIGNA, one of the largest medical insurance companies in the world. For twenty years he represented CIGNA on national health committees and worked to "kill health care reform and the Patients' Bill of Rights." A visit home to Tennessee where he saw his neighbors lined up in the rain for hours to receive free medical care opened his eyes. He became aware that the insurance company's "solution" to rising costs has been to shift costs from the employers to consumers--and that profitability for the company has been won at the cost of people's lives. He left his job and has been speaking out in favor of insurance reform ever since.

Questions from the audience were equally passionate. One Edinboro student told about how her father had lost his insurance after his first heart attack--and his job (and their home) after the second. Now she and her parents are all uninsured and her father struggles to afford medication. Other attendees were concerned about how the reforms would be paid for (Kathy pointed out that the Office of Management & Budget calculates the cost of a bill, but doesn't factor in the savings that reform might engender); one attendee was worried about forcible euthanasia for seniors (it's NOWHERE in the bill, Kathy assured him); another was concerned that the bill required taxpayer dollars to underwrite the cost of abortions (not in the bill, Kathy replied).

Kathy asked me to close the session by telling my story of how even working people who have good health care are just one catastrophic illness away from becoming uninsured--just when medication becomes a matter of life and death. The crowd listened intently (as they had throughout the event) and responded warmly. I had the strong sense that most of the people in attendance were there to learn something this afternoon--and I believe that many of them left the auditorium understanding that health care reform is important and essential. Personally, I couldn't be prouder of my Congresswoman and look forward to helping to reelect her next year.

Kathleen Paul

Kathleen Cowles Paul

Jackson Center, PA

Now, back to our regular nuggets:

Eight Years On: A diplomat's perspective on the post-9/11 world (Ryan Crocker) from Newsweek

"The perceived arrogance and ignorance of overbearing powers can create new narratives of humiliation that will feed calls for vengeance centuries from now. What's needed in dealing with this world is a combination of understanding, persistence, and strategic patience to a degree that Americans, traditionally, have found hard to muster."

To Fight a Necessary War (Editorial) from the Times of India

"A disturbing pressure is building up in the United States against the Afghanistan policy of the Barack Obama administration. It's disconcerting for South Asia, certainly for India, and it should make the world uneasy. But no one can do much about it unless President Obama remains determined to resist that pressure. "

Inside North Korea: Will These People See Change? from the [Toronto] Globe and Mail

"Globe reporter Mark MacKinnon slips behind the closed doors of an isolated regime and discovers that Kim Jong-il's ideological grip on citizens appears to be weakening"

What Torture Never Told Us (Editorial) from New York Times

"PUBLIC bravado aside, the defenders of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques are fast running out of classified documents to hide behind. The three that were released recently by the C.I.A. ... fail to show that the techniques stopped even a single imminent threat of terrorism."

The Other Health Care Story (Ronald Brownstein) from the National Journal

"With much less notice, many key stakeholders in the medical establishment, including several that mobilized against previous efforts to overhaul the nation's health care system, have come together behind reform."


Scientists Discover 3 More Genes with Links to Alzheimer's from the Washington Post

"The new genes appear to have at least as big a role as four others discovered in the last 15 years that are known to play a role in Alzheimer's.

"The message here is that genes are important in Alzheimer's disease . . . and there may be multiple ways of reducing the risk that the genes produce," said Julie Williams, a neuroscientist at Cardiff University."


Lost World of Fanged Frogs and Giant Rats Discovered in Papua, New Guinea from the [Manchester] Guardian

A VERY COOL picture gallery goes with this article.

"A lost world populated by fanged frogs, grunting fish and tiny bear-like creatures has been discovered in a remote volcanic crater on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

News Nuggets 234

A balloonist in southwest England

Is It Time to Negotiate with the Taliban?: A Forum from the New York Times

If not now, the time is coming real soon.

"The latest assessment once again raises the issue of whether the coalition should negotiate with the Taliban. How might talks be carried out? What are the risks involved?"

A Forced Breakthrough in the Middle East (Editorial) from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

"US President Barack Obama is serious about his new Mideast policy. He is urging Israel to halt its settlement activities in the occupied territories and is pushing Europe to impose tougher sanctions on Tehran. Israel, Iran and even Hamas are already reacting to the new policy. Does it present an opportunity for compromise?"

Putting Leadership into Words (Joseph Nye) from the [Toronto] Globe and Mail

Nye is a real foreign policy big shot at Harvard.

"Perhaps the most impressive current example of leadership based on the ability to communicate is Barack Obama, who has given three times as many interviews as George W. Bush and held four times as many prime-time press conferences as Bill Clinton at this stage in their presidencies. ... Good rhetorical skills help to generate soft power."

Russia's Nightmare Century (Editorial) from the Moscow Times

"There are many unresolved problems within the EU, but the project has been a major success. It will probably be a matter of years before remaining laggards join, including Ukraine and Turkey. This will leave Russia entirely on its own. Russia seems to have drawn the wrong conclusions from its own history and Europe’s experience."

House Dems Plot Health Care Comeback from Politico

"The comeback for Democrats — if there is one — will begin in an all-important closed-door caucus meeting next week in the basement of the Capitol, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants will try to undo the damage of the August recess and convince their wobbly members that a vote for health care reform will not cost them their jobs in 2010. "

Obama Takes Realistic Approach on Health Care (Norman Ornstein) from the Washington Post

"Having watched the lawmaking process in all its glory (and messiness) for 40 years, as well as having watched the meltdown of the Clinton health plan up close, I am seeing from the administration signs of savvy, not weakness. ... the issue is actually on a fairly predictable path that fits both the realities of public opinion and politics in an age of sharp partisan and ideological conflict."

Stronger Prospects for the President on a Health Care Bill from the New York Times

"Other factors suggest that President Obama still has stronger prospects for achieving his health policy goals than surface impressions of the Congressional recess indicate. He lags behind his own timetable for action, but remains ahead of presidential predecessors who pursued the same objective."

Conservative Democrats Expect a Health Deal from the New York Times

"Even after the tough town-hall-style meetings, unrelenting Republican assaults and a steady stream of questions from anxious voters, interviews with more than a dozen Blue Dogs and their top aides indicate that many of the lawmakers still believe approval of some form of health care plan is achievable and far preferable to not acting at all."

The Doomsayers are Wrong About Obama, Again (Robert Shrum) from The Week

"The press, Republicans, and frustrated progressives think Obama is struggling and his health plan "on the precipice of defeat." That just proves that those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat their own mistakes."

Failure is Not an Option on Healthcare (Froma Harrop) from RealClearPolitics

I usually don't care much from Froma, but here she is right on-the-money! The Dems have NO CHOICE but to cough up and pass a substantive bill ... or they are SO doomed next year!

"By Nov. 2, 2010, the reform, or lack thereof, will be clear to everyone. And the lies about how certain changes would play out will have been rendered toothless. That's why Democrats should forge ahead and do what they must to make coverage universal, contain costs and ensure a high quality of care. And that's why foes of reform are in a frenzy to stop it now. "

The AARP and Seniors: Clashing on Health Care from Time Magazine

On this issue -- to hell with the members.

"No one can be more surprised, or put in a more uncomfortable position, than the organization that supposedly represents their interests, AARP. The 40 million–member advocacy group, after all, signed on early as a key supporter of President Obama's health-care-reform plan, and now it finds itself on the defensive, scrambling to win back much of its own membership.."

Did Obama Underestimate His Critics? from CNN

A well-known historian's interesting view.

"The first two weeks of September will be absolutely crucial to determining whether the president can win back public opinion"

Justice Department to Recharge Civil Rights Enforcement from the New York Times


"Seven months after taking office, Attorney General Eric Holder is reshaping the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by pushing it back into some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census."

What Richard Cohen Omits [Concerning Torture] (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic

"One more point that Cohen simply ignores. Torture is illegal. It is a war crime. You cannot get to the point of debating its pros and cons until you have changed the law, removed the US from Geneva and the UN Convention on Torture and placed the US legally on the same ground as the enemy."

The "Intolerance" Party? GOP Strategists Worry Ideologues Are Bad for the Party's Future (Thomas Edsall) from the Huffington Post

"A major rift has emerged within the Republican Party. On one side: Ideologues who are inciting the base with wild rhetoric and banking on a "great American awakening" that will sweep conservatives back into power. On the other: Strategists, who see the party's growing intolerance as a prescription for minority status. So far, the ideologues are winning."


Why Wasn't Hitler Stopped? from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

This is part of a three-part overview of the Germany attack on Poland (from the modern German perspective) which happened 70 years ago earlier this week. The other two parts have links here also.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

News Nuggets 233

Autumn is almost upon us -- A moose in Minnesota

Iran is Ready for Nuclear Talks, Official Says from the Huffington Post

“Iran's top nuclear negotiator said his country is ready to hold talks with world powers to ease fears over its nuclear activities and has prepared a revised package of proposals for Western countries, state TV reported Tuesday.”

NSA Advisor Says Obama Having Better Success Against Terrorists from ABC News

“Responding to criticism from former Vice President Cheney that President Obama is making the nation more vulnerable to terrorism, the president’s National Security Adviser, Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.), told ABC News in an exclusive interview that actually the reverse is true: President Obama’s greater success with international relations has meant more terrorists put out of commission.”

Who Gets the Blame for the Deep Deficit? From the New York Times

“While Mr. Obama has proposed nothing to reduce the nation’s red ink, he also has not deepened it — yet.”

The Courtship of David Brooks from the New Republic

“In the spring of 2005, New York Times columnist David Brooks arrived at then-Senator Barack Obama’s office for a chat. Brooks, a conservative writer who joined the Times in 2003 from The Weekly Standard, had never met Obama before. But, as they chewed over the finer points of Edmund Burke, it didn’t take long for the two men to click.”

The New Old Guard (Matt Bai) from the Sunday New York Times Magazine

"We now have a visual sense of the kind of voter who is militantly opposed to Obama’s health care agenda and, more broadly, to the president himself. The typical anti-Obama activist tends to be white, male and — perhaps most significant — advanced in age."

Pride and Power (Richard Pipes) from the Wall Street Journal

Russia is caught between continents and haunted by its past. Richard Pipes on the need to convince a nation to dial back its aggressive tendencies and join the West.

Imbalance of Trust (Charles Blow) from the New York Times

"Liberals are flummoxed by the fact that obviously false and widely discredited claims about health care reform have not only taken root, but appear to be growing in acceptance. .. What gives? Is it partly the utter gullibility of some people? Sure. Is it partly deep-seated resentment of the black man in the White House? No doubt. But it’s also about something more fundamental: fluctuations of basic trust in the federal government."

Heartless Conservatives Unite (Lee Siegel) from the Daily Beast

Normally, I don't go in for "bash one party or the other" kind of books but this book looks REALLY interesting! NPR interviewed the author yesterday. See the 13th story HERE.

“Lee Siegel talks to Sam Tanenhaus, author of the era-defining The Death of Conservatism, about his Buckley fetish, Sarah Palin's culture war, and why the right wing abandoned politics.”

Where's the GOP's Ted Kennedy? (Editorial) from the Washington Post

"The problem is not that there is no Ted Kennedy among the Democrats who understands the art of compromise. The problem is that there is no Republican willing to provide, for health reform, the kind of bold leadership that Kennedy provided to help pass controversial legislation when George W. Bush was president."

One Kennedy, Two Americas (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post

“Reaction to Sen. Ted Kennedy's death suggests that there really are two Americas. One side sees in Kennedy a liberal lion who fought for the greater good; the other sees a sinner lionized by the morally blind.”


Hitchhiking the Hudson from the New York TImes

"To mark this year’s 400th anniversary of Hudson’s historic exploration, the fall calendar is filled with a flotilla of festivals and food fairs, exhibitions and expositions, panel discussions and plays, tours, readings and concerts. I probably won’t make it to any of them. Instead, I decided to retrace his rout."


A site showcasing Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

If you are a fan of Nicholas Kristof, (which I am becoming) check out this book. There was a wonderful preview of the book in last week's NYT Sunday Magazine.


Germany Recalls Myth That Created the Nation from Der Spiegel

In September 9 AD, Germanic tribesmen slaughtered three Roman legions in a battle that marked the "big bang" of the German nation and created its first hero -- Hermann. The country is marking the 2,000th anniversary with restraint because the myth of Hermann remains tainted by the militant nationalism that would later be associated with Hitler.

We must not forget the real causes of the war from the [London] Independent

"One might have thought that 70 years was time enough to work out what really happened in 1939. It isn't the case. Misunderstandings and misinformation abound."