Sunday, May 31, 2009

News Nuggets 161

The Victoria coastline of western Australia at sunset from National Geographic

Obama Speech to Offer Personal Commitment to Muslims from Agence France-Presse

"President Barack Obama will offer a "personal commitment" to bridge US differences with Muslims in his long-awaited speech to the Islamic world next week in Egypt, aides said."

Airlift of 3,000 Secret Servicemen to Cairo to Secure Obama Speech to Muslims from the DEBKAfile [of the Middle East]

GLAD to hear it!  This article gives some sense of Obama's itinerary in Cairo.

"US president Barack Obama has not yet decided whether his historic speech reaching out to the Muslim world will be delivered on June 4 from a lecture hall at Al Azhar University in Cairo or its main mosque, DEBKAfile's Middle East sources report."

Change in the Air in Iran (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post

"As Iran heads toward its presidential election on June 12, there are signs that Iranian voters are embracing their own version of "Change we can believe in.""

Obama Realism May Not Play Well in Cairo Streets from the New York Times

"The president has chosen to deliver this speech in Cairo, and so he must also address the Egyptian people, who live — like the citizens of virtually all Arab countries — in an authoritarian state, and who have grown increasingly restive as President Hosni Mubarak has snuffed out flickering hopes for change.  What will President Obama say to them?"

Who is to Blame for the Next Attack? (Frank Rich) from the New York Times

"The Beltway antics that greeted the great Cheney-Obama torture debate were an unsettling return to the post-9/11 dynamic that landed America in Iraq. ... Once again Democrats in Congress were cowed. And once again too much of the so-called liberal news media parroted the right’s scare tactics, putting America’s real security interests at risk by failing to challenge any Washington politician carrying a big stick."

Nobody's Running on Deregulation (Mark Shields) from

"That anti-regulation consensus is now officially dead. No 2010 candidate not under indictment or detox will be running on a platform of, "Let's stop government's meddling in the affairs of Wall Street and America's big banks," or, "When it comes to the safety of the food we eat, the free market knows better than any federal inspector or bureaucrat.""

Google’s Global Policy Head Said to Join Obama Administration from the Bloomberg News Service

Interesting to contemplate what this portends.

"McLaughlin’s departure highlights the connections between Google, the most popular Internet search engine, and the Obama administration. Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt is part of the president’s council of advisers on science and technology. Schmidt also campaigned for the government’s economic stimulus package, which was passed earlier this year."

The Waves Judges Always Make from the New York Times

"President’s Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court, where she would be the first Hispanic and the third woman, has raised questions about how her background would affect her decision-making. But there is another question, too: How would she alter the larger dynamic among the justices?"

Obama Wins Round One on Sotomayor, But Shows Caution Going Forward from the Christian Science Monitor

"If the Obama administration was trying to set a trap for the Republican Party in nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, it could not have done a better job."

The Supreme Court Kabuki Dance (Charlie Cook) from National Journal

"Watching conservatives work themselves into a lather on cable TV over Sonia Sotomayor is amusing. Supreme Court nominees are almost always confirmed, particularly if the president's party has a decisive majority in the Senate."

Jeffrey Rosen Vows Never to 'Blog' Again (Glenn Greenwald) from Salon

Over this last week, with typical "flair", Greenwald has been going after Mr. Rosen for his piece on Sotomayor.  Good culmination today.  For a fairly balanced picture of the controversy, see NPR's story on it.

"The one trait that defines establishment pundits more than any other is a pathological inability ever to accept blame or admit error."

'Sister Sonia' Defies the Politics of Darkness (Al Hunt) from the Bloomberg News Service

"The message was that Clinton wouldn’t be held captive by the cultural left that had done such damage to the Democratic Party’s popularity and image over a generation.  Today it’s the Republicans who are subsidiaries of a narrow base. They could start broadening their appeal by rejecting some of the wilder rhetoric over President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic selected for the high court."

Hunt's right -- and I see NO SIGNS of this happening any time soon.

Move Over Oprah? Obama Sells Books from Politico

"Howard Yoon, a literary agent with Gail Ross said, "few people in the world" have the influnce Obama has when it comes to the literary world. "


US Occupation Will End, But Its Cultural Influences Will Live On from the Washington Post

"The far quieter way in which two cultures that often found it difficult to share the same space intersected to reshape Iraq's language, culture and sensibility. From tattoos of Metallica to bellybutton piercings, from posters for a rap concert in Baghdad to stories parents tell their naughty children in Fallujah of the Americans coming to get them, the occupation has already left its mark."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

News Nuggets 160

For Suzy -- Obama ordering up a cheeseburger with jalapeno peppers at Five Guys in Washington DC yesterday.  Check out the full story HERE.

Israel Discovers the 'Real' Obama from Le Figaro [of France in English]

"Obama's message signifies a lack of concern for the political fragility of Netanyahu’s government - and he isn't betting on its longevity. The Israeli Prime Minister will soon have to choose between a domestic political crisis, a crisis with the United States, or more likely, both."

Obama knows that on Mideastern front he must display talents of skilled political juggle (Editorial) from the Yedioth Ahrnot [of Israel in English]

"US President Barack Obama is a rather sophisticated political machine. ...  Politics is the name of the game. Obama knows that in the Mideastern story he needs to display the talents of a skilled political juggle."

Middle East Hangs on Obama's Words (Simon Tisdall) from the Guardian [of London]

"A strong speech in Cairo could help tip the balance in Lebanese and Iranian elections and convince Arabs of American intentions"

High Expectations for Obama's Speech in Egypt (James Zogby) from the Huffington Post

"Already the topic of great speculation, there are several elements that should be considered by both The President and his audience in anticipation of his remarks.  First, expectations for the speech are high, and not without justification."

Obama Most Popular World Leader, Poll Finds from the New York Times

"President Barack Obama remains by far the most popular world leader among people in major Western nations and is the one political figure on whom people consistently pin their hopes in the economic crisis, according to new polls conducted for the International Herald Tribune."

Mr. Obama and Mr. Abbas from the Editorial Board of the New York Times

"President Obama’s meeting this week with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was a reminder of how much the Palestinians and leading Arab states, starting with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, must do to help revive foundering peace negotiations."

How President Obama Made His Energy Platform 'Pop' from the Washington Post

"The Chicago meeting marked a turning point in his thinking. He knew there was a moral case for addressing the nation's dependence on fossil fuels, but this time, he realized he could make a political and economic case for it. "

GOP Hispanic Strategists Stunned, Outraged by Sotomayor Attacks from the Huffingotn Post

"The rhetoric has been enough to make Republican strategists in heavily Latino states cringe -- concerned that such slights could cement Democrats advantages among a growing and increasingly influential political constituency."

Sotomayor as Racist or Sexist? Pundits Should Chill (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post

"In partisan warfare, it's never too soon to open fire.  Let's give our trigger fingers a rest and clear some underbrush."

With continuing rational dialogue like this, Parker will, no doubt, soon get drummed out of the "Pure Enough Conservatives" Club.

Rogues, Robes and Racists (Charles Blow) from the New York Times

"Someone pinch me. I must be dreaming. Some of the same Republicans who have wielded the hot blade of racial divisiveness for years, are now calling Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee, a racist. Oh, the hypocrisy!

No Newt, You're the Racist (Michael Hagan) from Vanity Fair

"I’d like to address the common conservative refrain that proponents of affirmative action are guilty of “reverse racism.”"

Men in Throes of Supreme Panic (Editorial) from the Boston Herald

"It’s been such fun watching the right-wing white boys sputtering over the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic woman nominated by a black man!  “Our world domination’s slip, slip, slipping away,” you can almost hear them whimper. “What to do?”"


The New Movement to Seriously Downsize Our Homes from e-Magazine

Now, THIS is really interesting!

"The experience left Chase Rogers convinced that she was ready to join the growing number of people nationwide who are downsizing for the sake of saving money, minimizing energy use and reducing their carbon footprint."


Gerald Ford's Would-be Assassin Breaks Silence from the Independent [of London]

"The woman who fired a gun at President Gerald Ford in 1975 and spent the next 32 years in prison said in an interview today that she believed the country would change only through a violent revolution."

Ah, the decade of the 1970s -- don't you just miss it!

Friday, May 29, 2009

News Nuggets 159

The Matanuska Glacier in Alaska from National Geographic

Obama Takes Tough and Risky Stance on Israeli Settlements from the McClatchy News Service.  See also the London Guardian's coverage of THIS ISSUE.

"President Barack Obama Thursday ratcheted up what might be America's toughest bargaining position with Israel in a generation, demanding anew that Israel stop expanding its settlements in the disputed West Bank as a key step toward making peace with its Arab neighbors."

What Will Obama Say in Cairo? from True/Slant

"The speech is expected to offer a redefinition of American foreign policy in the region; it’s meant to replace the Bush administration’s “war against terrorism” and to repudiate Samuel F. Huntington’s famous formulation of a war between Islamic civilization and the West, which many in the Middle East believe motivates American policy."

The Inflation Scare (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"Does the big inflation scare make any sense? Basically, no — with one caveat I’ll get to later. And I suspect that the scare is at least partly about politics rather than economics"

The Empathy Issue (David Brooks) from the New York Times

"The American legal system is based on a useful falsehood. It’s based on the falsehood that this is a nation of laws, not men; that in rendering decisions, disembodied, objective judges are able to put aside emotion and unruly passion and issue opinions on the basis of pure reason."

Republicans, Let's Play Grown-Up (Peggy Noonan) from the Wall Street Journal

"Excite the base? How about excite a moderate, or interest an independent? How about gain the attention of people who aren't already on your side?"

A Smile to Set the GOP on Edge (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post

"President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, is a proud and accomplished Latina. This fact apparently drives some prominent Republicans to a state resembling incoherent, sputtering rage."

Sotomayor's Squeeze Play Puts GOP on Defense from National Journal

""The administration wants to put a squeeze on senators and make it politically hard to oppose her," said Wendy Long, general counsel for the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network. "We want to make sure senators evaluate her without regard to demographic consideration, honestly and fairly on the merits."  "Good luck" was the refrain from Senate Democrat."

Conservative vs. Conservative (Chuck Todd et al.) from MSNBC

"After Rush, Newt, and Tancredo called Sonia Sotomayor a racist, a bigot, and an “angry woman,” Charles Krauthammer today fires off this warning to his fellow conservatives: stop the personal attacks. ... Given this conservative divide over Sotomayor, could this week have gone any better for the Obama White House?"


Nudists Prompt Rising Tension on German-Polish Border from True/Slant

"It seems the freik√∂rperkultur enthusiasts were doing more than just sunbathing; their gatherings were turning into orgies. Now, it’s the Polish who are offended by the free-spirited krauts."


Fairfax County's Prom Queen is a Guy! from the Los Angeles Times

Given all the hand-wringing surrounding Prop 8 in California, this story says a lot about how young people see gay issues.

"Sergio Garcia stood in the gymnasium and told the senior class at Fairfax High School not to worry: If he was elected, he wouldn't wear a dress.  "I will be wearing a suit," Garcia said, "but don't be fooled, deep down inside, I am a queen!""

Thursday, May 28, 2009

News Nuggets 158

The Dallol Mineral Springs in Ethiopia from National Geographic


Kim Three (David Kang) from the National Interest

"Pyongyang’s nuclear antics are prompted by domestic turmoil, not schemes for global domination. While the West frets over proliferation, Kim Jong-il is worrying about his heir"

Forgetting Pyongyang (Doug Bandow) from the National Interest

"Kim Jong-il loves attention. Instead of going into crisis mode whenever he throws a temper tantrum, we should ignore him—while quietly reminding the Chinese that a nuclear-armed North isn’t in their interest."

Report: Abuse Photos Include Images of Rape and Sexual Assault from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post.  See FULLER COVERAGE of this at the Telegraph [of London]

"A former U.S. general said graphic images of rape and torture are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Obama's administration does not want released."

Sotomayor 'Fight' Could Fizzle from Politico

"This reality limits Republicans’ options dramatically and virtually guarantees they would be called racists if they said anything that smacks of being out of bounds about such a qualified nominee."

The Judge They Feared from The Root

"Republicans have worried about a Sotomayor nomination for a long time. They knew that her legal talents and personal story would make it difficult for them to stop her from sitting on the court."

Conservatives Out of Touch on Health Care from Politics Daily

"Everyone is pro-choice when it comes to health care, but some conservatives don't understand what that means in the real world.  They argue that Democratic plans for health reform will rob people of choices. Somehow they have missed the fact that choices for most people are limited – sometimes severely -- right now." 

This article is SO on-the-money when it comes to their "choice" argument.  

Which Senators Could Lose in Sotomayor Vote? from Politico

"Which senators will distinguish themselves in the confirmation process, and which will wind up as damaged goods?   There’s plenty of peril to go around."

For Republicans, Court Fight Risks Losing Hispanics from the New York Times

"“This is what the base and social conservatives really care about, and we need to brand her a liberal with some out-of-the-mainstream positions. Forget about cosmetics and ethnic heritage, and focus on her record.”  But some Republicans warned that the image of the party’s throwing a roadblock before a historic nomination could prove politically devastating."

Obama's Pick is a Winner, Already (Joe Conason) from the New York Observer

"Choosing Sonia Sotomayor as his first nominee to the United States Supreme Court will allow Barack Obama to prove three important things. As a politician, he is not afraid of a fight. As a constitutional lawyer, he is willing and able to defend his conception of that living document. And as president, he is prepared to brush aside the phony consensus of Washington’s gossipy elite."

The Sotomayor Pick: Bridging the Black-Latino Divide from Time Magazine

"Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the US Supreme Court is a historic milestone for Latinos, but it resonates well beyond Hispanic pride. It is perhaps the most potent symbol yet of a 21st century rapprochement between the U.S.'s two largest minorities, Latino Americans and African Americans, who in the 20th century could be as violently distrustful of each other as blacks and whites were."

Rigorous Questioning Has Not Fazed Sotomayor from the Washington Post

"Senate Republicans have yet to decide how tough they will be in grilling Judge Sonia Sotomayor in her confirmation hearings, but this is clear: The Supreme Court nominee already has shown an ability to withstand rigorous questioning."

Smearing Sotomayor (Joan Walsh) from Salon

"Elected Republicans are being cautious, but Rush, Newt and Coulter are swinging wildly, and hurting the party" This tension between elected Republicans and unelected screaming conservative heads is going to be BIG problem for the GOP in 2010.

Gossip in the Climate Conference Corridors is Where All the Action is from the

Guardian [of London]

"My guess is the current situation in the US will dominate, since the pace of change there is remarkable, and the implications of their joining the carbon market are many and varied. Their proposed cap and trade scheme is roughly double the size of the existing EU market and if it emerges with sufficient ambition it could make a big contribution to turning global emissions around while generating a massive trade in emissions permits."

Heavy Hitters lining Up Behind Marco Rubio in FL from CNN, The Hill and Swing State


Huckabee and the Bushes begin to line up behind Rubio

For GOP's Sake, Texas Better Not Secede (Rhodes Cook) from the Virginia Center for


"Without a doubt, Texas is the cornerstone of the modern Republican Party."


The Mellowing of William Jefferson Clinton from New York Times Magazine

"By the end of a three-day jaunt through Peru and Colombia to check up on programs sponsored by the William J. Clinton Foundation, I realized how familiar the trip felt — not because it resembled the travels he made as president but because it resembled the ones Hillary Clinton made as first lady."


Emanuel Pushes Obama Plan to Lawmakers from Gyms to Restaurants from the Bloomberg News Service

"White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel starts many mornings with a workout in the U.S. House of Representatives gym. He also lifts weights.  The real exercise is gathering political intelligence from his one-time colleagues about congressional action on health- care and energy legislation"


"'I Was Horrified by Lengths Men Will Go to Mistreat Other Men'" from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

I had assumed this guy had passed away long ago.  I wonder where he was during the campaign last year?

"Barack Obama's great uncle was one of the soldiers who liberated a subcamp of Buchenwald. One week before the US president's planned stopover in Germany, where he is expected to visit the concentration camp memorial, SPIEGEL spoke to Charles Payne, 84, about his experiences in WWII."


Salon Radio: Glenn Greenwald Interviews Eric Boehlert about his new book: Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press.

I've heard great things about this book!

"As the title suggests, the book examines the impact which the blogosphere has had on both journalism and political activism, and it is, in my view, by far the best book yet to examine the rise of political blogs."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

News Nuggets 157

A visual -- and slightly intimidating -- thought for summer

Every Justice Creates a New Court (Linda Greenhouse) from the New York Times

Along with Nina Totenberg on NPR, Greenhouse is one of the most informed and fair-minded analysts of the SCOTUS.

"In a group of nine people bound together by daily ritual and by the need to round up a sufficient number of like-minded colleagues to get anything done, the substitution of one personality for another matters in real life more than it might seem to matter on paper."

Sotomayor Headed for Easy Supreme Court Nomination (Mark Halperin) from Time Magazine

"The media and conservative activists might be spoiling for a Supreme Court nomination battle, but the choice of Circuit Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill a high court vacancy is a classic Obama decision that makes the chances of political smooth sailing a near lock. Obama was clearly inspired by his selection, but he just as obviously kept an eye on the politics of his pick."

What the Sotomayor Pick Says About Obama from Politico

"Like the president who picked her, Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court manages to be both historic and conventional."

How, Why Obama Picked Sotomayor from Politico

"Obama showed he was willing to pick a fight with his choice — Republicans do not consider her a “consensus” choice and had telegraphed that they considered her the most liberal of the four finalists. "

Obama's Pick, From the Start (Marc Ambinder) from the Atlantic

"In November, a few days after he was elected President, Barack Obama convened some of his most trusted advisers in a private meeting for an even more closely-held topic. He wanted to talk about the Supreme Court.  Obama arrived, armed with a list of judges and academic he wanted his team to consider. At the top of the list, according to someone with direct knowledge of the meeting, was Judge Sonia Sotomayor."

Playing the SCOTUS Long Game from True/Slant

"If anything, the President wants Republicans to engage him in a fight over Sotomayor. He wants his opponents to cast aspersions on an Hispanic woman whose life story is classic Americana. "

Obama's Choice of Sotomayor Deserves Praise (Glenn Greenwald) from Salon

ASTONISHING!!  Praise for Obama from Glenn Greenwald!  Like, is this a first?!

"This nomination should be judged principally on two grounds:  (1) her judicial opinions (which Scotusblog's Tom Goldstein comprehensively reviews here here) and (2) her answers at her confirmation hearing.  But based on everything that is known now, this seems to be a superb pick for Obama."

Disparate Group United in Pride: the Latino Reaction from the Washington Post

"For at least a few hours yesterday, America's largest ethnic minority seemed largely united in appreciation of a historic benchmark. At 10:17 a.m., President Obama nominated Sotomayor, ..., to become the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court. Most of the country's 45 million Hispanics knew little or nothing about her, but those who heard of her appointment shared a collective reaction:  Finally. One of us."

What's a Liberal Justice Now? (Jeffrey Rosen) from the New York Times

"Obama has suggested that liberals in the Warren Court mold may have placed too much trust in the courts and not enough in political activism. “I wondered,” he writes in his book “The Audacity of Hope,” alluding to Senate battles over George W. Bush’s court appointments, “if in our reliance on the courts to vindicate not only our rights but also our values, progressives had lost too much faith in democracy.”"

Testy NoKos (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine

"There is all sorts of hand-wringing going on today about North Korea's nuclear explosion, which the Washington Post says is a test of the Obama Administration's engagement policy. It isn't."

Patraeus Endorses Obama's Plans to Close GIMO, End Torture from Huffington Post

"General David Petraeus said this past weekend that President Obama's decision to close down Gitmo and end harsh interrogation techniques would benefit the United States in the broader war on terror."

Former Interrogator Rebukes Cheney for Torture Speech from the Huffinton Post

"Alexander, who uses a pseudonym for security reasons, was a 14-year military interrogator who oversaw more than a thousand interrogations and conducted more than 300 in Iraq himself."

US Unveils $4 Billion Plan to Upgrade Public Housing as Part of Green Jobs Project from the Guardian [of London]

Here again is WHY I voted for this guy -- the urban president who males big investments like this!  Don't hold your breath waiting for the MSM in the US to cover this story.

"Renovation scheme will replace windows, insulation and light bulbs in ageing and neglected low-income housing stock."

Colin Powell's Truths (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post

"It is Powell to whom Republicans should be listening. A party more focused on excommunication than proselytization is in trouble. And Powell is calling attention to some unavoidable truths."

The Incoherence of American Conservatism (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic

"It is becoming even clearer to me since the last election, as some of the clutter has been swept away. Conservatism has to mean resistance to expansive government power if it is to endure as anything vaguely coherent as a governing philosophy."

Commentary: GOP's Politics of Fear Hinder GITMO Closing from the McClatchy News Service

"Some politicians seek office by attempting to inspire voters. Others use another tactic. They know that there is nothing as effective as fear for paralyzing the brains of the public. And they depend on that fact to stay in power or to defend their record once they leave it."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

News Nuggets 156

A so-called "mothership" cloud that usually spawns tornadoes.  This one is in Texas  -- wouldn't want to be driving into one of these on the freeway.  From National Geographic

Our Crumbling Foundation (Bob herbert) from the New York Times

"I’m not sure that the catastrophic job losses of this recession, the worst since the Great Depression, have really sunk into the public’s consciousness. And that would mean that the ground has not been prepared for the kind of high-powered remedies needed to get the economy back into some kind of reasonable shape."

The CIA's Torture Untruths from the Guardian [of London]

"The CIA wants to suggest Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi were complicit in using torture – but its case keeps falling apart."

Selective Lion (Robert Kuttner) from Huffington Post

"This week, we learned that President Obama really is capable of political courage and idealism, as well as calculation. The question is how he will apply these gifts to the financial crisis as well as to issues closer to both his heart and to the strengths of his intellect, such as defense of the Constitution."

Obama Picks Sotomayor for High Court from the Associated Press.  Interesting analysis from Chuck Todd HERE and some background on the pick from the New York Times HERE.

"President Barack Obama tapped federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice."

The Supreme Court Pick of Obama's Dreams (Joe Conason) from Salon 

From a May 1 essay.

"Sotomayor represents everything that a president choosing his first justice in his first term could desire. As a female her elevation would begin to bring gender equity to a forum where historically men have exercised far too much unchallenged power over the lives of the women."

The Urban President (Mike Madden) from Salon

"More than any of his predecessors since Boston native John F. Kennedy, he is an urban president."

Obama's Wreaths: Afro-Amer., Confed. from the Chicago Tribune

A good recount of Obama's Memorial Day activities plus the text of his speech at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Obama Cum Laude: What His Commencement Speeches Reveal About Him from Politics Daily

"There's often no better window on presidents and their times than what they say each year at college commencements."

Obama Ruined My Game (G'Ra Asim) from Salon

"For the lesser known, underappreciated demographic of black male intellectuals, the commander in chief is doing something terribly wrong: This dude is destroying our street cred. ... In the salad days of being the only African-American male in Advanced Placement U.S. History, I could generate a palpable sense of awkwardness by stopping the lesson to quiz my instructor on the specifics of Cointelpro; my scholarly younger brother may never get to experience that perverse thrill."

This is pretty funny and says a lot about black academics and how they're perceived and how they perceive themselves.

Obama and Bush vs. Cheney (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune

"Watching the dueling torture speeches by President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney (A rumble in the video jungle?), I was reminded of last year's campaign flap over Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. In each case, Obama was caught off guard by an eruption that provoked the politics of fear and he responded with a big speech that treated us like grown-ups."

In my view, this is how Obama USUALLY deals with political eruptions like this one.

Where the Right Is from the New Republic

"Roughly four months into Barack Obama's presidency, it's possible to make a few observations about the factions forming on the intellectual right as it adjusts to life in the political wilderness."

Cheney's Charge Up the Molehill (Robert Shrum) from The Week

"Republicans have to say something to fill the time allotted to the opposition. Imagine being trapped in the Republican debris, amid a poverty of ideas, and you can understand why they’ve spent the past week trying to conquer a tactical molehill."


Africa Reverie from the Root

"A back to Africa movement that comes with white sand beaches, great wine and incredible diving. Who knew history looked so good?"

Monday, May 25, 2009

News Nuggets 155

From National Geographic, an honest and for-real Tasmanian Devil!!

Five Presidencies is Too Long for Mubarak (Editorial) from Al Araby [of Egypt in English]

""It might come as a shock to contemplate that Barack Obama is the fifth U.S. president during President Hosni Mubarak's reign, which spans from 1981 to today Four of them are alive, all won at the ballot box, all left at the end of their presidential terms - and none altered the U.S. Constitution to lengthen their terms nor stayed on to accommodate the whims of his sons!"

Obama's 'Childish Notions' (Editorial) from Yedioth Ahronot [of Israel in english]

"George Bush proved that it isn’t enough to be the leader of the world’s most powerful nation; other traits are needed in order to take advantage of this power and make history. Obama is showing indications that he may have what it takes."

India Likely to Move on US Military Pact from Reuters

An important, under-reported development!

"India's new ruling coalition, freed of pressure from its former communist allies, is expected to move forward soon on a military logistics deal with the United States that would help U.S. operations in the region."

State of Paralysis (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"The recession has hit the Golden State hard. The housing bubble was bigger there than almost anywhere else, and the bust has been bigger too. California’s unemployment rate, at 11 percent, is the fifth-highest in the nation. And the state’s revenues have suffered accordingly.  What’s really alarming about California, however, is the political system’s inability to rise to the occasion."

On a slightly happier note ...

Krugman: World Economy Stabilizing from Reuters

""I will not be surprised to see world trade stabilize, world industrial production stabilize and start to grow two months from now," Krugman told a seminar."

Obama's Center-left Two-Step (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post

"Bill Clinton tried to create a Third Way. President Obama is doing it. This is exciting, but also disconcerting."

Threats to Judges, Prosecutors Soaring from the Washington Post

A scary development -- but not surprising given the climate these days.

"Threats against the nation's judges and prosecutors have sharply increased, prompting hundreds to get 24-hour protection from armed U.S. marshals. Many federal judges are altering their routes to work, installing security systems at home, shielding their addresses by paying bills at the courthouse or refraining from registering to vote. Some even pack weapons on the bench."

Split Threatens to Rupture GOP Ranks from MSNBC

"The conservative vs. moderate split threatening to rupture the Republican Party played out across the airwaves Sunday, with Colin Powell and Tom Ridge denouncing shrill and judgmental voices they say are steering the GOP too far right. Karl Rove challenged Powell to lay out his vision and "back it up" by helping elect Republicans."


Peaceful Evolution Angst (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times

A FASCINATING interpretation of problems Viet Nam is facing these days.

"The Vietnamese Communist Party, like its fraternal party in China, has identified the No. 1 threat it faces. The looming danger is called “peaceful evolution.”"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

News Nuggets 154

An amazing image of rampant housing development in Dubai

North Korea Plans Kim Succession, US Believes from the Wall Street Journal

This could be important.

"The Barack Obama administration has concluded that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, still recovering from an August stroke, has initiated a political transition inside his reclusive state in which his brother-in-law and third son are emerging as key players in a newly assertive power structure."

They May Not Want the Bomb (Fareed Zakaria) from Newsweek

I have long viewed with suspicion what passes for informed commentary concerning Iran.

"Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think. Take the bomb. "

How Obama Set the Tone for a Quiet Revolution in Gay Rights from the Guardian [of London]

Too quiet for Frank Rich.  He takes the completely opposite view in today's column.

"With two lesbians shortlisted for America's supreme court and more than 30 gay men and lesbians appointed to senior posts by the president, the US is witnessing an unprecedented cultural change that is reshaping politics, media, and popular culture."

The Real Path to Security from the Editorial Board of the New York Times

"We listened to President Obama’s speech on terrorism and detention policy with relief and optimism.  For seven years, President George W. Bush tried to frighten the American public — and successfully cowed Congress — with bullying and disinformation. On Thursday, President Obama told the truth. It was a moment of political courage that will make this country safer."

Obama's Balance of Security and Liberty from the Editorial Board of the Financial Times [of London]

"Often it is good to be assailed by both left and right, and this is such a case. Mr Obama is correct to say that a balance must be struck between national security and civil liberty. His critics are blind to this trade-off."

On Torture: This Shouldn't Need to be Said from Daily Kos

An examination and summary of NPR's interview with a former Abu Ghraib interrogator.  The audio interview is HERE and the analysis is HERE.

From the interview: "She was sent to Iraq and asked to use these harsh techniques in the interrogation booth in Tal Afar. She refused, twice. She was ultimately taken off of her post. She... she killed herself rather than use these techniques."

When it all comes out, apologists for what happened will have a lot to answer for.

The 'Catastrophe' of the American Republican Party from Die Zeit [of Germany in English]

"This debacle of the American political right is mainly because it acts as though the past eight years of Bush, with its catastrophic mistakes and miscalculations, never occurred. … Of course, someday the Republicans will get back on their feet. Eventually, Cheney & Co. will disappear and newer, better people will emerge. But someday is not today - and it is now that Obama and America are in urgent need of an intelligent, quick-witted opposition."

You know things are bad for your party when the foreign press begins to notice.

Candidate Lockout from the Editorial Board of Florida Today of Brevard County, FL

Possible preview of things to come for Charlie Crist

"The national GOP's decision to back Crist could cause blow-back.  Many Republicans dislike Crist's moderate policies and may flock to Rubio, who is billing himself as the true conservative."

Michelle Paints Herself as the Queen of Arts from the Times [of London]

Very interesting observations here on Michelle's emerging role.

"The US first lady is carving out a role as an unofficial culture secretary just months after her husband took office."


They Died for You (Rick Atkinson, a big-time WWII historian) from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The article's title doesn't relate much to the content -- the following line captures the essence.

"10 things Americans should know about World War II."


An All-American Sauce from the New York Times

"It is only natural that Americans would be so prolific at reinterpreting everybody else’s cuisine."


Break Tradition Next Memorial Day, Mr. President from Daily Kos

As predicted Obama did NOT break this tradition -- described in yesterday's Kirk Savage editorial.