Friday, February 27, 2009

Dispatches from the Bush Posse#6

Senate to Investigate CIA's Actions Under Bush from the Los Angeles Times

"The 'fact-finding' effort will seek details on secret prisons and interrogation methods -- but will not aim to determine if CIA officials broke laws, legislative sources say."

News Nuggets 95

An example from France of high-speed rail -- which was included in the recent stimulus package.

Senate 2010: A Three-Peat for the Democrats? (Larry Sabato) from the VA Center for Politics
"Two weeks ago we discussed the basic framework for 2010's 36 Senate elections. Last week we reviewed the seventeen Democratic Senate seats that are on the ballot in the mid-term year . Now let's see how the nineteen Republican-held seats for 2010 are shaping up in the initial stages"

The Un-Rove (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic
"Obama won the stimulus debate long before the Republicans realized it (they were busy doing tap-dances of victory on talk radio, while he was building a new coalition without them)."

"President Obama's first budget ... underscores the breadth of his aspiration to reverse three decades of conservative governance and use his presidency to rapidly transform the country."

'Fast Break' Obama (Howard Fineman) from Newsweek
"Moving at the speed of light, the new president aims to score early victories, and keep critics on their toes."

The Corruption of the Cocoon (Glenn Greenwald) from Salon
"Many politicians, journalists and pundits simply ignore all criticisms and avoid critics -- because there is no real price to pay from doing so."

"The full details will not be known for weeks, but the 134-page snapshot of Obama's 2010 budget that was released Thursday gives a clear indication of who gets the elevator, and who gets the shaft. So herewith, five big losers and five key winners in Obama's spending blueprint. "

"Some key areas of President Obama's budget released Thursday:"

Obama Dons the Presidential Cloak (Peggy Noonan) from the Wall Street Journal
"A mysterious thing happened in that speech Tuesday night. By the end of it Barack Obama had become president."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

News Nuggets 94

Obama's Speech: A Tonal Masterpiece (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine
"Let it be recorded that Barack Obama came into full possession of the U.S. presidency toward the end of his February 24 budget speech to a joint session of Congress."

The World is Relying on Mr. Obama's Rescue Plan from the Independent [of London]
"These are testing times for Barack Obama and his mission to rescue the world's dominant economy from economic collapse. "

Ahmadinejad Threatened by the 'Obama Effect' from Liberation [of France in English]
"The 'Obama Effect' is powerful in Tehran. It has altered the political landscape not only for the population, but among leaders who see the necessity of grabbing Obama's extended hand."

Clinton's Ears Wide Open from the China Daily
"If the point of Hillary Rodham Clinton's maiden voyage overseas in her new role as United States secretary of state was to assure and reassure, she made it. "

Conservatives Take on Obama (George Packer) from the New Yorker
"David Brooks pits a rigid, abstraction-loving liberalism against a wise, experience-loving conservatism. But recent American history has shown the truth to be closer to the opposite. We are where we are because the ruling conservative ideology of the past few decades refused to face facts, like the effect of private insurance on health-care costs, or the effect of deregulation on investment banking. Facts drove the Republicans out of power. And judging from their response to Obama’s first month in office, facts are very hard things to face in politics."

Africa's Obama School (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"The Obama School is a pathetic building of mud bricks with a tin roof, and the windows are holes in the walls, but it’s caulked with hope that President Obama may help end the long slaughter and instability in Sudan."

"No matter what he talked about the the pose was the same. He was trying to project his idea of a warm and friendly guy. Therefore he came off as patronizing."

"This isn't just another wag-the-tail story: The Obamas are getting a dog in April and are looking for a rescue Portuguese water dog."

"'The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship.'"

Funny computer game for throwing shoes at Bush!

The pictures are fascinating and slightly freakish.  See here and here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dispatches from the Bush Posse#5

Senate Will Advance Torture Commission from Salon
"The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to move forward with a commission to investigate torture during the Bush administration. Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., told Salon Tuesday that his panel would soon announce a hearing to study various commission plans. His staff said the announcement could come as early as Wednesday"

"Salon's Mark Benjamin (who, just by the way, has a history of some truly great reporting over the last few years) reports facts suggesting the commission might actually be more serious than that -- and that's true largely for one reason:  Sheldon Whitehouse."

News Nuggets 93

A rare breed of white, blue-eyed alligator. 

What US Newspapers Said About Obama's Speech from the Guardian [of London]
"Here is a selection of opinions from American newspapers and writers on President Barack Obama's speech to Congress last night."

Obama's Partisan Pragmatism from the Guardian [of London]
"From healthcare to education, from energy independence to financial reform, the president laid out a stunningly ambitious agenda in his address to Congress Tuesday night. He risked parody by promising to cure cancer as well, but you've got to admire Obama's self-confidence."

"For the Republicans in the room, the speech couldn't have been particularly pleasant. Polls out Tuesday morning showed Obama is still enormously popular a month into his term, more so than any president at this point in office since Ronald Reagan. And while the GOP has been congratulating itself for how well they can say no to whatever Democrats try to do, that strategy doesn't seem to be doing much for the party."

Obama: A Leader in the House (David Corn) from Mother Jones
"An organized mind at work is a wonderful thing to watch. During his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama placed the mind of his presidency on display, and it was wonderfully organized. "

We Have Seen the Enemy and It is Us (Roger Simon) from Politico
"It was a night of reckoning. It was a night to face up to the mistakes of the past, the calamity of the present and the hopes of the future. "

"Republicans must have read the same polls we have because, overall, their tone in responding to Obama’s speech last night was much softer than we’ve seen in the past several days. "

"Both Democrats and Republicans alike panned Jindal's rebuttal in terms that were decidedly harsh: "amateurish," "laughable" and, most commonly, "a missed opportunity.""

What Should Government Do? A Jindal Meditation (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead."

Jindal the Therapist from the New Republic
"The mantra "Americans can do anything," repeated at least five times, reminded me of nothing so much as a cassette tape given to me by a child therapist I (briefly) visited when I was eight."

Jindal and the Road to Non-recovery from the Guardian [of London]
"The Louisiana governor's response last night was partisan in the extreme. It's time the Republicans took a fresh look at America."

"Determined to enforce the party line, the GOP has taken new steps to punish those members who have crossed the aisle in recent weeks to vote in support of the federal stimulus package and to send the message to any party moderates - turncoats will not be tolerated."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

News Nuggets 92

Obama to Unveil an Ambitious Budget Plan from the Washington Post
The Republicans are NOT going to be happy with this document!
"President Obama is putting the finishing touches on an ambitious first budget that seeks to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years, primarily by raising taxes on business and the wealthy and by slashing spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, administration officials said."

Partisan Tally Can't Shake Obama's Optimism (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune
"Obama's optimism grows out of certain realities that don't get much attention in the heat-seeking media."

Grading the Listening Tours from the Washington Post
"With President Obama's trip to Canada, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touring Asia, The Post asked foreign policy experts to assess the expectations on the Obama administration."

Obama: One Month in the White House from the Independent [of London]
"He has committed a few rookie errors and had to deal with a global recession that is only getting worse, but Barack Obama is yet to lose the gloss that won him the election."

"One might have thought that voters of that day had pretty much settled the question of whether the New Deal worked by enthusiastically reelecting FDR, and not once but three times. But since right-wing revisionism is really an arrow aimed at the current stimulus plan, the effort to discredit the New Deal is worth examining."

The GOP's 'No' Problem (Eleanor Clift) from Newsweek
"Can Obama play the inside game with all its compromise and crassness and like Ronald Reagan still maintain his bond with the American people."

Obama Changes Tone of Politics Among Blacks from the Los Angeles Daily News
"In the age of Obama, African-American politics is less about angry messages from outsiders and more about upbeat affirmations that change is possible."

"The USA has a new president but an old problem - and nothing typifies it like today’s Ku Klux Klan. The photographer Anthony Karen gained unprecedented access to the ‘Invisible Empire’"

Obama and Harper Forge a Common Front from The Star [of Toronto]
"U.S. president turns on the charm, heralding a new era of friendly ties with Canada"


Lincoln's Washington from The Washingtonian Magazine

"This was a very different place when Lincoln lived here, but those times—and his extraordinary spirit—still can be found in these landmarks."


Hamilton Home Heads to a Greener Address from the New York Times [from June of last year]

I know Manhattan pretty well, and I had no clue that this place still even existed.  A VERY COOL interactive feature goes with the article.

"No matter that Alexander Hamilton's country home, the Grange, is 206 years old. Until now, it had been in a perfectly contemporary Manhattan real estate bind: not enough space."

Dispatches from the Bush Posse #4

Will Obama Back 'Truth Commission' to Probe Bush Practices? from the McClatchy News Service
"President Barack Obama and Congress are locked in a stare-down over how much to expose or punish Bush administration employees for any abuses they committed in waging the war on terrorism."

"Muntadher al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist on trial for throwing his shoes last year at then-President George W. Bush, said the former American leader's "bloodless and soulless smile" and his joking banter provoked him."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dispatches from the Bush Posse#3

Investigating Bush's Crimes from The Nation
"When the Obama transition team opened a questions referendum on its popular website in December, one issue quickly soared to the top. "Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor (ideally Patrick Fitzgerald) to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?""

News Nuggets 91

Interesting experiments with trying to rescue the Whooping Crane.  See the Science Nugget below.

Stimulus Moves Obama Forward on Campaign Promises from National Journal

"With just one signature, President Obama not only sent $787 billion rolling into the U.S. economy, he also moved a few steps closer to fulfilling at least 38 pledges he made on the campaign trail, scratching one completely off the to-do list."

Senate 2010: A Three-Peat for Democrats or Comeback for the GOP? (Larry Sabato) from the VA Center for Politics

"This week we call the Senate roll among sitting Democrats to see who appears safe and who might be in trouble. "

States on the Brink (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"Is Obama up or down today? Did the Republicans gain or lose momentum? Meanwhile, as Washington obsesses over the political box score, the economy has been going down the toilet."

In Praise of Bipartisanship (Michael Tomasky) from the Guardian of London
"I believe that Barack Obama is right to talk about bipartisanship, and I do not think that he should drop it because of the congressional voting pattern on one piece of legislation."

Obama Makes Americans of Us All from The Star [of Toronto]
"Twice in less than a decade we have all been Americans. Once was on 9/11, the other is today."

When the World Knocks at the White House Door (Robert Dallek) from the New York Times
"Obama will learn, as his predecessors did, that foreign crises are an unavoidable part of the job."

"Competence? A+. Leadership style? A+. This is what it must have been like when FDR took over from Herbert Hoover and got people believing and hoping again."


Rescue Flight for the Whooping Crane from the New York Times

"People are taking to the skies to lead the endangered birds on their annual migration. Is the only remaining way of saving the natural world to stage-manage it?"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

News Nuggets 90

A breath-taking image of the Namibia Desert from National Geographic, part of a series 

of outstanding images I got from their website.  We'll be showing them over the next several weeks.

Barack Hussein Obama - The Global Mirror

by Nuwa Wamala NNyanzi

from The Monitor [of Uganda]

In Obama, people see themselves.
In Obama, whites see themselves through his maternal grandparents.
Blacks see themselves through his paternal grandparents.
Americans see themselves through his mother.
Africans see themselves through his father.
Asians see themselves through his stepfather.
Races see themselves through his extended family.
Children see themselves through the Obama girls.
Wives see themselves through the rock of his life.
Responsible parents see themselves through his nucleus family.
Single parents see themselves through his mother.
Absentee parents see themselves through his father.
The worldly see themselves through his smoking.
Christians see themselves through his professed faith.
Muslims see themselves through his middle name.
The poor see themselves through his paternal step-grandmother.
The affluent see themselves through his life style.
The privileged see themselves through his maternal ancestry.
The underprivileged see themselves through his paternal ancestry.
The elite see themselves through his law profession.
Sports people see themselves through his basketball skills.
Volunteers see themselves through his community work.
The hopeless see themselves through his background.
The hopeful see themselves through his achievements.
In Obama, most people see themselves.

How the Crash Will Reshape America (Richard Florida) from the Atlantic
"The crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide—destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners. But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others."

The Eye of the Storm (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"Barack Obama senses that he's in the middle of a hurricane whose gale-force winds could blow history his way."

They Sure Showed That Obama (Frank Rich) from the New York Times

"Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again."

Republican Taliban Declare Jihad on Obama (Andrew Sullivan) from the Times of London

"Every now and again the GOP's chutzpah and narcissism take one’s breath away. But it’s all they seem to know."

Inside Obama's Economic Crusade from Fortune Magazine and CNN
"With a fast and furious start, the President's team is launching trillion-dollar programs to rescue the economy and remake the face of America. But will they get it right? Fortune went behind the scenes where his advisors are waging war on the recession."

"Not since FDR has a new President achieved such far-reaching change as swiftly as Barack Obama. In office less than a month, he signs a $787 billion emergency stimulus bill into law. And remarkably, almost everything he was criticized for during the battle contributed to his victory."

"Railroads made Chicago, and now a Chicago-rich White House wants to return the favor: remaking rail with a huge new federal investment in high-speed passenger trains."

An Eternal Optimist -- But Not a Sap from the National Journal
"After the trials and triumphs of his tumultuous first weeks, President Obama appears increasingly focused on ends, not means."

"For a new president beset with the most daunting combination of economic and national security nightmares in many decades, and with a recent run of bad luck, he's doing his job quite well."

GiTMO Guard Reveals Depth of Abuse of Detainees from the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas
A GRIPPING account from a guard at Guantanamo!
"I  have seen and done many horrible things, either at Guantánamo or in Iraq, and I know what it is like to try and move on with your  life. It's hard."

Valentine's Day Continues to Baffle from the Standard [of Kenya]
A very funny look at how Kenyans TRY to celebrate this western holiday.
"Often our women’s shock and awe, at men’s spontaneous show of love is a total turnoff, "Baba Jimmy what will our children think when they see us kissing!" With such reactions, who can blame Kenyan men for being unromantic?"

The Leadership Kenyans Want from the Standard [of Kenya]
"Sometimes circumstances arise that have rich lessons. President Barack Obama’s example is a treasure trove to leaders the world over. His example is especially useful to us as we share perspectives on the Kenya we want."


Mr. Roosevelt Must Lead from The Nation (in 1933)

An AMAZING 1933 article from the Nation that is eerily resonant with what's happening now.

"Frankln D. Roosevelt's, statesmanship will be tested immediately upon. his taking office. Not since the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln has the need for effective leadership and prompt and vigorous action been more imperative."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

News Nuggets 89

Leading Lady from Vogue Magazine
"With her long, lean, athletic frame, she moves as if she could have danced with Alvin Ailey in another life. Curled up in the corner of a huge taupe velvet sofa, wearing knee-high boots as she nestles into the cushions, she almost seems like any other mom recently relocated to a city because of her husband's new job."

The Open-Door Bailout (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"“Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat..."

Showing Some Discipline (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"Geithner’s plan is huge but also disciplined. It’s designed by someone aware of government’s limitations."

The Chess Master (Bob Herbert) from the New York Times
"There is always a tendency to underestimate Barack Obama. We are inclined in the news media to hyperventilate over every political or policy setback, no matter how silly or insignificant, while Mr. Obama has shown again and again that he takes a longer view."

Obama's Brain Twister: Selecting a Muslim Venue from the Financial Times Deutschland [from Germany in English]
"The Obama team finds itself in a dilemma as it prepares for a speech considered historic even before it has been delivered ... The intended demonstration of respect for the Muslim world is a great vehicle, but there are many small obstacles lurking beneath the road."

Roll Over the Republicans (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"Republicans are using this debate as a branding opportunity, positioning themselves as careful stewards of the public purse. This is absurd, given their record when they were in charge. It's also cynical. They know that some kind of stimulus will get passed anyway. If it works, they'll claim their principled intransigence made the plan better; if it doesn't, they'll say, "I told you so.""

What Rocky Start? (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post
"To everyone out there despairing -- or rejoicing -- about the Obama administration's supposedly rocky start: Settle down. It's actually going rather well."

"Today, we have reached the end of the line for the Chicago view of financial deregulation"

Party On, GOP (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"Even privileged children in America are attending rodent-infested schools, people, and it really has to stop."

Obama's Two Sides in Harmony from the National Journal
"We've seen two sides of our new president this week, both of them focused on one goal. Did the two sides contradict each other? Perhaps. His message: Get used to it."

Obama's Triangulation Squares with the Public (Charlie Cook) from the National Journal
"One might surmise from all of this that while Americans are fairly unenthusiastic about the substance of the actual economic stimulus package, they give Obama and his administration high marks for their effort and intentions."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

News Nuggets 88

Obama Remakes Political Rules from Politico
"Three months after his election, President Barack Obama continues to remake the political landscape—and there’s no clearer example than Friday’s election of Michael Steele as the Republican National Committee's first black chairman. "

"In 10 days, President Barack Obama has transformed the U.S. dialogue with the Muslim world.  His tools have been carefully chosen words of reconciliation, the decision to close Guantanamo Bay prison and the early dispatch of a Middle East peace envoy."

By Sounding So European, Obama Challenges Europe from Liberation [of France in English]
"Unless Europe learns, as quickly as possible, how to accelerate its unification and speak and act together, it risks passing again into the shadow of an America to which intelligence has returned."

Iranian Leaders Should Seize Chance for Better US Ties from the Iran Daily News [from the Islamic Republic of Iran in English]
"Now that the leader of the United States has taken a positive step toward Iran, the Islamic Republic's leaders should seize on the chance and work for a positive outcome."

The Day Obama Moved Kampala from the Monitor [of Uganda]
"The day was last Tuesday, which went down in the history books, as the day when America swore in the first ever African American President, whose names sound more “African” (Barack Hussein Obama), than African American! "

Coming to America, by Sarah Obama from the Daily Nation [of Kenya]
"Mama Sarah Obama, the grandmother of US president Barack Obama still wishes she were in America. In an interview at her Kogelo home on Wednesday, the 87-year-old woman talked of her experience in the US where she had gone to attend her grandson’s inauguration."

"The full expanse of his vision only becomes clear if we understand why he followed that indictment with the potent scriptural admonition "to put childish things aside." When he made a similar charge about the juvenilia of politics in his book "The Audacity of Hope," writing that government recently felt like a case of "arrested development," he made it clear that he didn't just mean George W. Bush."

Playing with Fire (Bob Herbert) from the New York Times
"It was good to see the president, ordinarily so cool, so accommodating, exhibiting some real fire the other night. It seems to have done some good."

Watch the Tone in Washington (Charles Blow) from the New York Times
"Republicans are trying to draw Democrats into a screaming match because they know they’re better at it. They are the masters of shrill — masters of stoking ignorance and rousing rabble."

The GOP Faces the Blue Wall (David Broder) from the Washington Post
"But now the Republican electoral lock has been replaced and surpassed by "the blue wall." That's the term Ronald Brownstein, the political director of Atlantic Media Co., applies to the Democrats' advantage."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dispatches from the Bush Posse #2

Attorney: Rove Will Cooperate with DOJ Probes from TalkingPointsMemo
"Karl Rove will cooperate with a federal criminal inquiry underway into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and has already spoken to investigators in a separate, internal DOJ investigation into the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, his attorney said in an interview."

The Missing Memos from Raw
"The memos track new details about dozens of secret Bush Administration legal positions on torture, detention and warrantless wiretapping."