Saturday, October 31, 2009

News Nuggets 248

The photographer was six feet away from a humpback whale calf. Its mother came up behind him and tapped his shoulder, gently extending her 15-foot pectoral fin in order to show Austin that she was watching him. See the "Whales Nugget" below..


US Attorney in Western PA Who Played Role in Firings Scandal to Step Down -- Congressional Bid Next? from Talking Points Memo

"Mary Beth Buchanan, a Republican, is said to be mulling a run for Congress against incumbent Democrat Rep. Jason Altmire."

Iran Splits on Nukes (Robert Dreyfuss) from the Nation

"One thing I heard over and over again during my visit to Tehran in June was that the two sides in Iran's political divide were intent on sabotaging any US-Iran deal concluded by the other side. If President Ahmadinejad moves toward an agreement with the West over Iran's nuclear program, anaylsts told me, the centrist-reformist opposition would denounce it and work to unravel it. On the other hand, if former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi won the election, reformists told me, he would move toward exactly such a deal -- and the right-wing, including Ahmadinejad, would howl and oppose it. Well, Ahmadinejad won, Mousavi lost -- at least, that's how the story goes -- and voila! the prediction has come true."

Liberals Don't Bolt from Pelosi Bill from Politico

You know a certain group in a party has a reputation for, shall we say, wavering when it's a headline when they DON'T.

"The bill she unveiled Thursday includes big pieces of what the most liberal members of her party wanted — most likely setting up a serious battle when negotiators try to merge it with the far more moderate Senate legislation. "

The Defining Moment (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"The seemingly impossible dream of fundamental health reform is just a few steps away from becoming reality, and each player has to decide whether he or she is going to help it across the finish line or stand in its way."

If the Deficit Falls in the Forest ... (Paul Krugman) from his blog at the New York Times

A two-fer for Mr. Krugman!! And -- Boy! -- he makes a powerful point here, one that applies to many other issues.

"There are very good odds that even if Obama exhibited iron fiscal discipline, voters wouldn’t notice."

What's in the House Healthcare Bill? from Daily Kos

A MUST-READ if you are looking ahead to 2010 to see what average Americans might be getting if the House Bill is passed.

"Here's the full list of what will start happening in 2010 under the bill."

The President Passes the Dover Test (Mark Shields) from Creators' Syndicate

"John Glenn spoke in the Senate on Jan. 22, 1997, about what he called "the Dover test" are worth recalling: "It's easy to see the flags flying and the people go off to war, and the bands play and the flags fly. And it's not quite so easy when the flag is draped over a coffin coming back through Dover, Delaware.""

On the Quiet, the US is Legalising Marijuana from the Times [of London]

"You know things are shifting in America when Fortune magazine, the bible for business journalism, runs a cover story titled “Is pot already legal?”. You also know it when Barack Obama’s Department of Justice publishes a long-expected memo signalling that the federal government will no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries if they are legal under state law. That happened formally this month."

Are the Teapartiers Good or Bad for the GOP? A Roundtable from Salon

An interesting conversation -- Byron York, as usual, missing what's really going on. The other two -- right on the money.

"In 2009, the energized right-wing base of the Republican Party transformed American politics. Nationwide protests against Barack Obama and his political agenda have forced establishment conservatives and the Republican Party power structure to make a strategic decision about whether listening to their core voters will help them or hurt them in coming elections."

The Last Days of the GOP (Editorial) from the Daily Beast

"On Saturday, Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava suspended her bid in the special election, citing a lack of funds. John Batchelor on the ugly food fight for a New York House seat and why the cynical celebrity endorsements of Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and the Club for Growth will hurt the GOP."

Base Sends GOP Warning Shot in NY-23 from Politico

"The message from national and New York conservatives is unambiguous, though: This was an angry, energized base telling the national party that an anything-for-a-majority approach by GOP leaders is unacceptable. They are serious and deeply concerned about what's going on in Washington."

NY-23: What Happens, Who Wins, Who Loses? from the Washington Independent

"What does the Scozzafava surprise mean for the Owens-Hoffman horse race?"


American Pastoral from the New York Review of Books

A review of a biography of the great depression-era photographer, Dorthea Lange!


Breaking a Conspiracy of Silence from the New York Review of Books

A GREAT review of columnist Nicholas Kristof's new book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a real inspiring, harrowing, make-a-difference kind of book.


An amazing set of photos from a marine photographer from the Huffington Post

Truly awesome.

"Bryant Austin is a photographer whose life-size photographs of endangered whale species are touring the world and inspiring awareness about these amazing animals.


The Auto Bailout: How We Did It (Steven Rattner) from Fortune Magazine

"Without any experience in automaking or government, Steven Rattner left his Wall Street perch to wade into the largest restructuring in American history. The scale and speed of the rescue raised many questions, inspiring Rattner to write this account of a defining moment in capitalism."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

News Nuggets 247

This hilarious image was from the New Yorker's "Pets in Halloween Costumes" contest from earlier in the week. What a howl (literally)!! Fortunately, the dog seems to be taking it all with good humor.

One Year of The One from the Economist

"The best test of Mr Obama’s presidency is not whether he changes things quickly but whether he changes them for the better."

Britain Out in the Cold as US Exits Recession from the Times [of London]

"Gordon Brown is facing growing embarrassment over Britain’s recovery after it became the world’s only major economy still in recession as America returned to growth in the third quarter."

Inside Obama's Iran Policy Shop from World Politics Review

"To fill the void of knowledge resulting from 30 years of diplomatic estrangement, the Obama administration has turned to scholars and experts for insight into the Persian nation. Indeed, President Barack Obama's policy of outreach toward Tehran has been decisively shaped by the wide array of Iran experts, both within the administration and without, from whom he has taken advice."

Victory for Obama Over Military Lobby from the New York Times

"When the Obama administration proposed canceling a host of expensive weapons systems last spring, some of the military industry’s allies in Congress assumed, as they had in the past, that they would have the final say. But as the president signed a $680 billion military policy bill on Wednesday, it was clear that he had succeeded in paring back nearly all of the programs and setting a tone of greater restraint than the Pentagon had seen in many years."

Obama Still Playing it Cool on Health Care (David Corn) from Politics Daily

"I’ve said to them that Obama will ultimately be judged by the outcome of this political and policy battle. If there’s a decent bill when the dust settles, the individual decisions he made along the way will no longer be second-guessed. Results are what matters."

Obama's Dover Salute Is an Iconic Image of His Presidency from the Huffington Post

"President Obama didn't have to go to Dover. George W. Bush never went we're told. Obama could've stayed back at the White House and kept some distance from the war--almost suggesting it is the responsibility of the former president. But instead he chose to put himself firmly in front as the Commander in Chief."

The Anti-Corporate GOP? from Newsweek

"As political alliances go, few are more cemented in the public consciousness than the bond between the Republican Party and business. But, upon closer inspection, the GOP–big business relationship doesn't seem so cozy."

Palin Lights Match at Republican Bonfire (Margaret Carlson) from the Bloomberg News Service

"Hoffman couldn’t answer the simplest questions on local economic and transportation issues posed by the editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times, whining that they were “parochial” and should have been given to him in advance. In my parochial school that was called cheating."

The Woman Behind Michelle Obama from The Root

"Reggie Love isn’t the only person in the White House who knows a thing or two about the Obamas. Enter Kristen Jarvis."


The Audacity to Win: How They Did It from Time Magazine

Excerpts from David Plouffe's upcoming book. Very Interesting!


The First Marriage (Jodi Kantor) from the upcoming issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine

"The Obamas were talking about the impact of the presidency on their relationship, and doing so in that setting — we were in the room that epitomizes official power, discussing the highly unofficial matter of dates — began to seem like a metaphor for the topic itself."


Survival of the Weakest: Why Neanderthals Went Extinct from Newsweek

"Finlayson writes. "To accept our existence as the product of chance requires a large dose of humility." But in a provocative new book, The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived, he argues that chance is precisely what got us here. "A slight change of fortunes and the descendants of the Neanderthals would today be debating the demise of those other people that lived long ago," he argues."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

News Nuggets 246

A red squirrel in Northumbria in the UK -- from the Chicago Tribune

Obama's Foreign Policy Report Card (Juan Cole) from Salon

"Despite the charge by critics from both the right and the left in the wake of his winning the Nobel Peace Prize that he has accomplished little so far, in fact he has already set in motion significant change on several of these fronts -- despite the enormous domestic tasks that have inevitably preoccupied his administration."

Stiffing the Revolutionaries (Reza Aslan) from the Daily Beast

"Obama may be cutting off money for groups that promote democracy for Iran, but Reza Aslan says he and most other young Iranians struggling for change there are glad the U.S. is keeping its measly $85 million."

Don't Build Up (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"It is crunch time on Afghanistan, so here’s my vote: We need to be thinking about how to reduce our footprint and our goals there in a responsible way, not dig in deeper. We simply do not have the Afghan partners, the NATO allies, the domestic support, the financial resources or the national interests to justify an enlarged and prolonged nation-building effort in Afghanistan."

Take Your Sweet Time, Obama (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast

"The landscape has changed dramatically since Gen. McChrystal called for a major surge in March. Andrew Exum, who helped draft that report, on the strategic upsides of Obama taking his time."

The Lethal Politics of the Opt-Out Public Option (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic

A two-fer day for Mr. Sullivan!

"[With the opt-out provision] there has to be a debate in every state in which Republicans, where they hold a majority or the governorship, will presumably decide to deny their own voters the option to get a cheaper health insurance plan. When others in other states can get such a plan, will there not be pressure on the GOP to help their own base?"

The Road to Health-Care Reform (Eleanor Clift) from Newsweek

"For the millions of newly engaged voters who supported Obama and believed his promises about change, the process is taking too long. Everything takes too long on Capitol Hill, but for once, time is on Obama's side. Congress is poised to pass major reform. And in a stunning turnabout from the summer when conservative critics ruled, it's becoming evident that legislation will not pass Congress without a public option in some form."

A Senator in a Hostile Climate (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post

"It must be very lonely being the last flat-earther. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, committed climate-change denier, found himself in just such a position Tuesday morning as the Senate environment committee, on which he is the ranking Republican, took up legislation on global warming."

Is Missouri GOPer Chuck Purgason the next Marco Rubio? from Americablog

"The pundits look at the anger among the GOP teabagger crowd and think it's aimed mostly at Democrats. But, as we're seeing in New York's 23rd CD, they're fighting among themselves more. It's the D.C. GOPers vs. the teabaggers up there -- and the teabaggers are wreaking havoc."

2010 Congressional Battleground: Stable and Within Normal Limits from DemocracyCorps

"There is no evidence that anything historic or beyond the norm is currently in the works. If the election were tomorrow, Democrats would likely lose about 20 seats in the current 55-seat battleground, offset by some further Republican losses – resulting in a net loss near 15 to 20 seats."

Pelosi has Go-to-Gang on Big Votes from The Hill

"Here are some of the key Democrats Pelosi is likely to turn to as the voting on healthcare reform comes down to the wire, along with two hard-to-get votes."

How Will Michelle Obama Make Her Mark? from Newsweek

"African-American women in particular followed her every move—from her attention-getting wardrobe choices to her brief remarks on domestic policy. The truth is, she's done pretty much what she said she'd do. "


Rethinking Laundry in the 21st Century from the New York Times

"Should Americans have the right to hang their laundry outdoors, even if many of their neighbors oppose it and community rules ban clotheslines as unsightly threats to property values?"

Some more elaboration can be found HERE.


Extreme Pumpkins: Which Would Make You Scream This Halloween? from Huffington Post

The pumpkins shown here are AMAZING!!


Dodd Introduces Bill Meant to Freeze Credit Card Interest Rates Immediately from The Hill

"Dodd will introduce the bill in response to concerns that the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, enacted earlier this year, has done little to block credit cards from raising interest rates before the remaining provisions of the CARD Act go into effect."


Fidel Castro's Sister Spied for CIA Against Cuban Leader's Regime from the Times [of London]

"Within two years of the Cuban revolutionary’s victory over the dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Ms Castro had turned traitor, betraying her brother to his arch enemy, America’s Central Intelligence Agency."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

News Nuggets 245

Michelle Obama at a presentation at the Seed School in Washington DC -- from the Chicago Tribune.


There is a hugely important race for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Nov. 3. The Republican candidate is running an ad showing the President's name with a hammer and sickle through the "O".

If that weren't reason enough to make sure you vote on November 3, try this one. The winner of this race will determine the political balance of the Supreme Court -- which could be crucial to redrawing lines for legislative districts after

the 2010 census.

Pennsylvania has been ranked the second worst gerrymandered state in the country -- right in front of Georgia. Districts were gerrymandered by the Supreme Court in 2000, which led to the loss of 1 Democratic seat. If districts are gerrymandered by a Republican Supreme Court in 2010, we could lose 2 or 3 additional seats.

So please make sure you contact everyone you know and make sure they get out and vote in this race on November 3.

The Great Game, Round Three from the Journal of International Security Affairs

Very interesting long-form essay on the emerging global struggle for power and resources among the former Soviet republics in central asia.

"The new Great Game pits Western powers against Russia in the scramble for energy along the Caspian Basin, an oasis of oil and natural gas. Along the periphery, other actors (among them Iran, China and India) have also staked their claim in the unfolding tug-of-war over Caspian energy."

Think Before Surging (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post

"Dick Cheney has accused Barack Obama of "dithering" over Afghanistan. If the president were to quickly invade a country on the basis of half-baked intelligence, would that demonstrate his courage and decisiveness to Cheney? In fact, it's not a bad idea for Obama to take his time, examine all options and watch how the post-election landscape in Afghanistan evolves."

Russian Elite Must Embrace New Era with America (Editorial) from Gazeta [of Russia in English]

"One cannot build a joint military system with those whom you consider your chief enemy … Here, a substantial segment of the ruling class and ordinary people are sincerely convinced that the United States wants to destroy, dismember and nullify Russia."

After Reform Passes (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"So, how well will health reform work after it passes? There’s a part of me that can’t believe I’m asking that question. After all, serious health reform has long seemed like an impossible dream. And it could yet go all wrong. But the teabaggers have come and gone, as have the cries of “death panels” and the demonstrations by Medicare recipients demanding that the government stay out of health care. And reform is still on track. Right now it looks highly likely that Congress will, indeed, send a health care bill to the president’s desk. Then what?"

Senators Say Health Care Bill Endgame in Sight from Politico

"Democratic leaders are now in intensified talks about what form of a government insurance option will reach the Senate and House floors. Aside from the opt-out track, Democratic leaders are also pondering whether to include a “trigger” mechanism for a public option."

Public Option: Win or Lose, Little Down Side for Senate Democrats (Jill Lawrence) from Politics Daily

"It's now settled that the health reform bill coming to the Senate floor will include a public insurance option, supported by premiums and run by the government, with states permitted to opt out if they don't want to offer it. And for the life of me, I can't find much of a down side for Democrats."

How Reid Found HIs Silver Bullet (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post

"On Monday, it was alive and well after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would include the provision as part of a broader health care bill. The announcement was a dramatic triumph for the progressive community, which had howled and hissed for months as the prospects for a government-run plan dimmed."

Critics Warm to Boxer's Climate Role from Politico

"When the California Democrat finally released a 923-page climate change bill late Friday, some of her harshest critics admitted that she had gotten it right. She did it by negotiating with coal state senators and ceding some of the limelight to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), all while holding the line with liberal special interests. "

Hillary 2016? (David Paul Kuhn) from RealClearPolitics

Usually I dislike Kuhn -- but he presents an interesting "what if" set of scenarios here.

"Clinton's coalition is the sleeping giant of American politics. No other national politician, save Obama, has proven able to raise as much money. Much of her base was, like Obama, also loyal for deeper reasons than politics. This is doubly true for the Democratic women who were, and still are, personally invested in Clinton's almost-historic presidency."

In His Own Image: Obama's DNC from Politico

"The Democratic National Committee, often relatively inactive in the year after a presidential election, is ramping up its hiring and aggressively broadening its mission under the direction of Obama campaign veterans intent on applying the lessons of 2008 to races in 2010 and 2012. "

'Chill Out,' Graham Tells Critics from The State [of South Carolina]

"Lindsey Graham returned the fire with a grin, at times shouting over his most boisterous critics and telling some who questioned his Christianity and party loyalty that their minority conservative views wouldn't succeed without the political coalitions he said, are necessary to serve the majority of Americans and attract enough votes in Congress. "If you don't like it, you can leave," he said. Some did."

In my view, a preview of the future for the Republican Party

The Presidency and the New Partisan Press (Jack Balkin) from Politico

"We have been witnessing the return of a twenty-first century version of the party presses of the late 18th and 19th centuries. These party presses have no obligation to be journalistically objective, and they are not."

HEALTH CARE NUGGET [from 2008]!!

Landmark Victory: Mental Health Parity is Now Law from a press release from the American Psychological Association

How did I miss this!?

"President Bush signed mental health parity into law today, taking a great step forward in the decade-plus fight to end insurance discrimination against those seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. This historic legislation requires that health insurance equally cover both mental and physical health."


The Race Man: A Review of Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington from the New Republic


Baxter: The World's Oldest "End of Life" Therapy Dog Dies from Huffington Post

"Baxter, the beloved therapy dog with his own Facebook page and book, Moments With Baxter, died at age 19 on Friday, October 16 after years of volunteering at San Diego Hospice, where he comforted many patients at the

end of their lives."

A very moving video on the life of this dog and the difference he made.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

News Nuggets 244

A wonderful image of two manatees in Florida

CALL TO ACTION! TODAY! YES, IT IS TODAY THAT THE HOUSE IS DOING ITS FINAL MARKUPS ON THE HEALTH CARE BILL! Call your congressman - NOW - and urge your rep to support a strong public option -- and whatever else you want in the legislation. I had posted the contact information in a previous post which you can access HERE. Remember to call the Washington office. That is where they all are and they'll get the message soonest. Go gettum'!!

Obama May Seem to Dither, but He is Ready to Strike (Andrew Sullivan) from the Times [of London]

"There is a strange quality to Barack Obama’s pragmatism. It can look like dilly-dallying, weakness, indecisiveness. But although he may seem weak at times, one of the words most applicable to him is something else entirely: ruthless. Beneath the crisp suit and easy smile there is a core of strategic steel"

I totally agree with Sullivan's assessment here.

Iran: Nuclear Fission from the Editorial Board of the [Manchester] Guardian

"If Tehran tries to renegotiate the draft nuclear deal agreed in Vienna on Wednesday, it could all fall apart. But before we list the pitfalls that lie ahead, it is worth contrasting where we are today with what was on offer a year ago."

Progress -- But Bush Era Lingers at Iran Nuclear Talks from Novosti [of Russia in English]

"It was then that Iran was made to feel guilty until proven innocent. ... It remains to be seen if there really is anything new to U.S. policy on this subject. But from a technical point of view, it's clear from the talks in Vienna that things could turn out well."

Iran's Biggest Worry: Growing Ethnic Tension from Time Magazine

"The Iranian regime has a problem, and it's not a velvet revolution or Israel's threat to bomb its nuclear facilities. No, what really keeps the mullahs up at night is the specter of ethnic and sectarian conflict"

Poll Fiasco Gives Obama Room for Maneuver from the Times [of London]

"For President Obama, the debacle of the first round of the Afghan elections has had a silver lining: it has bought him more time before he has to say what his plan for the country is. It has not made his options any more attractive, but it is very likely to produce a demand for President Karzai to be much more helpful to the US — and a refusal to commit many (or any) more US troops if he is not."

America, Condoms, and the Taliban (Editorial) from the Asia Times

"One look at CNN on Tuesday afternoon was sufficient to see the misery on the face of Afghan President Hamid Karzai as he lined up for a photo-op announcing that he had been stripped of the votes that would have given him victory in the presidential election, and a runoff against Abdullah Abdullah will be held on November 7. A cultural mishap has taken place. The Americans didn't seem to care it was unprecedented for a Popolzai chief to be made tolg.php.gifadmit defeat in front of his people."

Obama's Sudan Strategy from the Center for Strategic and International Studies [in Washington DC]

"The realities of Sudan itself appear to have forced an end, at least for the moment, to protracted internal bickering and deadlock between hard-liners ... and realists. ... The new policy officially turns away from isolation and condemnation, reduces ambiguity and potential for misinterpretation of U.S. strategy going forward, and raises confidence that the various factions within the administration ... are working from the same single playbook. The review endorses a policy based on realism and pragmatic engagement, .... It is based on an acknowledgement that to avert the unraveling of the CPA and a potentially destabilizing regional crisis, the United States must maintain a sustained, adult dialogue with the Khartoum government and find common ground with a broader set of multilateral partners."

Hope Springs Eternal (Anna Quindlen) from Newsweek

"Assessing a young presidency. Barack Obama campaigned as a populist firebrand but governs like a cerebral consensus builder. The founding fathers wouldn't have it any other way."

Democrats See a Positive in a Bad Economy from the New York Times

"The bad economy is good for President Obama and Democrats as they try to reinvent the health care system with scant Republican support. That is the conclusion of many Congressional Democrats, who say that economic insecurity and high unemployment stoke public support for their proposals to guarantee insurance for millions of Americans."

Prognosis Improves for Public Option from the Washington Post

"Democratic leaders in the Senate and House have concluded that a government-run insurance plan is the cheapest way to expand health coverage, and they sought Friday to rally support for the idea, prospects for which have gone in a few short weeks from bleak to bright."

Good update as to where things are right now!

Here's more from the Washington Post from today.

Conservative Democrats Signal They Won't Block Public Option from Raw Story

"Support for including some version of a public option in the Senate's version of a healthcare overhaul appears to be solider than initially believed."

Liberals Confident in Public Plan from the Hill

"Hopes are running higher than ever for supporters of creating a government-run public option as part of healthcare reform. The question is not settled and the healthcare reform project itself is far from guaranteed to succeed but liberals see mounting evidence that their position is going to prevail."

Gorbachev Says Obama Deserves Nobel Peace Prize from Radio Free Europe

Said Gorbachev: "America means a lot [to the world] and will continue to do so for a long time... That's why [we have to] support a president of such stature, who gave his own country and the world such a strong push forward. And it's already showing real effects. That's honorable."

Interesting comments. By the way, Gorbachev looks awful.

The Magic of Michelle (Charles Blow) from the New York Times

"Forgive me in advance for fawning, but Michelle Obama is the coolest first lady ever. She clinched it for me this week by jumping double Dutch on the South Lawn as part of a “healthy kids fair.”"

Why is Dick Cheney Helping Obama? (David Corn) from Politics Daily

"for a guy who seems to detest the president and everything he stands for concerning national security, Cheney is inexplicably providing political aid and comfort to Obama."

CNN Poll: GOP in Free Fall from CNN

"They have also spent a lot of time in 2009 working against Democratic proposals. That hasn't left them a lot of time so far this year to present a positive, post-Bush message."


Five Things You Should Know About Upgrading From XP to Windows 7 from the Washington Post

"Upgrading or switching operating systems often comes with some trials and tribulations and the Windows 7 upgrade is no exception. Microsoft has tried to provide the tools users need to make the transition as easy as possible, but you may hit some snags. Here are five things you should be aware of as you upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7."


Halloween Costumes for Pets: Literary Edition from the New Yorker

"Is your pet a member of the Critterati? Submit a photo of your dog, cat, or other (nonhuman) animal dressed as a literary character."

The pictures here are hilarious!


The Whale Warriors, an article posted on the CMU Activities Board

Tom Watson spoke at CMU in 2006 -- he's a very interesting radical environmentalist!

Friday, October 23, 2009

News Nuggets 243

Polar bears in Alaska -- an appropriate image given the environment nugget below.

'Live American Shields' are Better than Bush's Missile Defense System from Dziennik [of Poland in English]

"An agreement will be signed on stationing U.S. Army troops in Poland … it pays to have the Americans on our soil. Let the potential aggressor know that an attack on Poland would incur the wrath of the most powerful nation in the world."

The Hard Sell from the New Republic

"President Obama faces an enormous political challenge [1] in figuring out how to respond to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more soldiers in Afghanistan. One the one hand, resisting troop requests from the military during a time of war is difficult for any chief executive--particularly for Democratic presidents. On the other hand, Americans are showing little stomach to once again commit more troops to a distant, war-torn region: No recent survey [2] has found majority support for the idea."

A VERY GOOD Question! I've sure this is at the core of the whole Afghanistan military buildup question.

In Wake of Deal, House Dems Say They Have 218 from the National Journal

"House leaders say they have at least 218 votes for liberals' preferred public option in the wake of an agreement to address regional disparities in Medicare reimbursement rates, Democrats said Wednesday."

Public Option has Enough Votes to Pass in the Senate from ABC News

"I am told that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leaning toward including the creation of a new government-run insurance program – the so-called public option – in the health care reform bill he will bring to the full Senate in the coming weeks."

The Quiet Revolution (David Brooks) from the New York Times

"The news is good. In fact, it’s very good. Over the past few days I’ve spoken to people ranging from Bill Gates to Jeb Bush and various education reformers. They are all impressed by how gritty and effective the Obama administration has been in holding the line and inciting real education reform."

Douthat: Why Gay Marriage is Inevitable from the New York Observer

"He added that the conservative opposition to gay marriage is "a losing argument," and asked rhetorically if committed homosexual relationships ought to be denied the legal recognition accorded without hesitation to the fleeting enthusiasms of Britney Spears and Newt Gingrich."

South Carolina embarrassed by politicians behaving badly from the Los Angeles Times

Gov. Mark Sanford and Rep. Joe Wilson are just the latest examples. Late-night jokes aside, some fear the shenanigans are paralyzing state government and causing visitors and businesses to stay away.

White Whine (Editorial) from the Progressive

"Republicans treat President Obama as if he were a substitute and they are just waiting for the real deal to come back in the room. That would be a white Republican male."


Critical habitat in Alaska is proposed for polar bears from the Los Angeles Times

In what would be the largest habitat zone ever established in the U.S. to protect a species from extinction, the federal government on Thursday proposed designating 200,541 square miles on the coast of Alaska as critical habitat for polar bears.

Score one for the bears!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

News Nuggets 242

Michelle having some fun on the White House lawn. See the special nugget at the bottom.

Diplomats: Iranian Negotiators Back Uranium Deal from the Washington Post

"Iranian negotiators on Wednesday expressed support for a deal that - if accepted by their leaders - would delay Tehran's ability to make nuclear weapons by sending most of its existing enriched uranium to Russia for processing, diplomats said."

See also THIS form the New York Times

Vienna Talks Test Obama Diplomacy from the Washington Independent

"It isn’t clear if the Iranians will take the deal. But if the gambit ultimately succeeds, the Obama administration will have accomplished the one thing that that eluded the Bush administration, according to nuclear experts: it will have lengthened the time Iran would need to build an illicit bomb."

The Administration's Sudan Strategy from RealClearWorld

"The realities of Sudan itself appear to have forced an end, at least for the moment, to protracted internal bickering and deadlock between hard-liners-most notably, U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice-and realists-U.S. special envoy to Sudan General Scott Gration. "

Patience in Afghanistan is a Virtue (Editorial) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Without a dependable and minimally effective governing partner in Afghanistan, it's unclear that any foreign-led strategy to stabilise and rebuild the country can actually work, and thus it is wise for the president to hold off making a decision until we have a clearer view of that partner."

Saudi-Iranian Hostility Hits Boiling Point from the Asia Times

"Saudi Arabia has two great worries over Iran. First, that Obama is pressing ahead with the normalization process with Tehran - a "thaw" was visible at the Geneva talks on October 1- and Tehran has begun responding to US overtures. The worst Saudi nightmare is coming true."

President of Planet Earth (Howard Fineman) from Newsweek

"In office for a mere nine months, Obama is now a full-blown "ism." And Obamaism—the idea that there must be shared global responsibility for virtually every problem we face—makes some obvious sense. Most of America's problems are indeed global."

Reefer Sanity (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post

"This new, relaxed approach doesn't let drug traffickers off the hook. It merely means that 14 states that now provide for some medical marijuana uses no longer need fear federal raids on dispensaries and users operating under state law. It's a good move, long overdue. But is it enough? Not quite. The debate over whether Americans ought to have the right to be stupid -- or to make other people seem more interesting -- continues apace after 40 years of the (failed) "war on drugs.""

Obama Strategy: Marginalize Critics from Politico

"President Obama is working systematically to marginalize the most powerful forces behind the Republican, setting loose top White House officials to undermine conservatives in the media, business and lobbying worlds."

Who's 'Us' to the GOP? (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post

Is there room in the Republican Party for genuine moderates? Truth to tell, the GOP can't decide. More precisely, it's deeply divided over whether it should allow any divisions in the party at all.

The GOP's New York Fiasco from the Wall Street Journal

"Republicans are telling themselves that a political wave is building that could carry them to big election gains next year. Judging by their performance so far in a special election in New York, however, they deserve to wander in the minority for another generation or two."

Conservatives Roar; Republicans Tremble from Politico

"Many top Republicans are growing worried that the party’s chances for reversing its electoral routs of 2006 and 2008 are being wounded by the flamboyant rhetoric and angry tone of conservative activists and media personalities, according to interviews with GOP officials and operatives. "

Prelude to Republican Fratricide (David Frum) from The Week

"GOP candidates in New York and New Jersey should be cruising to victory this November. But angry conservatives would rather hand power to Democrats than help moderate Republicans win."


Check It Out: Michelle Obama, Hula Hoop Champ from The Root

"Today, First Lady Michelle Obama took part in a healthy living intiative for kids which included hula hooping, double dutching and some inexplicable running around that, if nothing else, gets the blood pumping and calories burning."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

News Nuggets 241

An American Fallow Buck in the morning.

A 'Promising Start' to Talks with Iran from The Hindu [of India in English]

"The sharp shift in stance by the U.S. and its allies towards the Iranian nuclear posture can be attributed to the Obama administration’s better appreciation of the “big picture” that obtains in the region."

Steps Towards Crafting a Nuclear Deal with Iran from World Politics Review

"Despite Russia and France's declared willingness to proceed with this plan, it has been hotly debated in the U.S., with some hawkish pundits, such as John Bolton, opposing it on the grounds that, a) it puts a seal of approval on Iran's enrichment program, which is the subject of several U.N. Security Council resolutions; and (b) it actually raises the risk of Iranian proliferation. The problems with Bolton's objections are three-fold. "

Public Option Gains Support from the Washington Post

"A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public."

Polls Show Obama Shine in Character Department from US News and World Report

"Despite setbacks on the political front, President Obama is succeeding where many other politicians have failed—in the character department. He has become a role model for the kind of traditional values that Americans have long celebrated."

Hillary Reborn from New York Magazine

"At State, as in the Senate, she often talks softly—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t carry a big stick."

The Very Separate World of Conservative Republicans from Democracy Corps

"The self-identifying conservative Republicans who make up the base of the Republican Party stand a world apart from the rest of America, according to focus groups conducted by Democracy Corps."

GOP Seethes and Sputters while Obama Moves On (Robert Shrum) from the Week

"The last of Barack Obama's 2008 debates with John McCain previewed the kind of president he has become. It also painted a vividly distinct portrait of the current GOP."

Race and the Right's Paranoid Obama Conspiracies (David Corn) from Politics Daily

"It’s not just Obama’s policies that these conservatives suspect; they believe he’s not real — on two significant levels."

Poll Shows Specter Staring at 'Near Fatal' 31 Percent Re-election Figure from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

"Only 31 percent of Pennsylvania voters believe Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter should be re-elected, and 59 percent believe it's time to give someone else a chance, a state poll released today shows."


Lost Greek city that may have inspired Atlantis myth gives up secrets from the [Manchester] Guardian

"The secrets of a lost city that may have inspired one of the world's most enduring myths – the fable of Atlantis – have been brought to light from beneath the waters off southern Greece."

Crist Twist: Florida Primary Tightens from Politico

"A question that once would have been unthinkable is starting to make the rounds — could Charlie Crist lose in the Republican primary? "

Answer: YES HE CAN!


A Second Look at the Emmett Till Case from CBS News [from 2004]

"This past spring, the U.S. Justice Department opened a new investigation, based on evidence suggesting that more than a dozen people may have been involved in the murder of Till, and that at least five of them are still alive. Those five could face criminal prosecution."


Astronomers Discover 32 New 'Exoplanets' from the Washington Post

"The planets were found around a variety of stars, suggesting that planets are common in our galaxy. Gas giant planets were found orbiting "metal-poor" stars -- those lacking in elements other than hydrogen and helium -- which until now had been considered unlikely places for planets to form."


Amazing Architecture: 11 Incredible Buildings from the Huffington Post

"We've picked out the most incredible architecture from designers around the world -- some plausible, some possible, others currently in construction. Prepare to be amazed by these 11 incredible buildings from the future."