Friday, August 28, 2009

News Nuggets 232

A sea turtle -- I thought it was a beautiful image.

Due to a rising workload, I will be going on, to use Andrew Sullivan, a "bloggatical". I will post now and then, but not regularly at least in the short term.


Progressives and critics on the left of Obama's plan should read this piece.

"Kennedy Saw Health-Care Reform Fail in the '70s" (Steven Perlstein) from the Washington Post

"Asked about his greatest regret as a legislator, Ted Kennedy would usually cite his refusal to cut a deal with Richard Nixon on health care.

It was back in 1971 and President Nixon was concerned that he would once again have to face a Kennedy in the next year's election -- in this case a Kennedy with a proposal to extend health care to all Americans. "

Obama on Brink of Deal for Middle East Peace Talks from the [Manchester] Guardian

"US to adopt much tougher line over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Israel to freeze construction of settlements on West Bank. France and Russia offer to host Middle East peace conference"

US Takes on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Iran's Nuclear Programme in One Massive Gamble from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Washington's plan to link two intractable problems raises international hopes of deal to restart the Middle East peace process"

The Women's Crusade (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine

"The liberation of women could help solve many of the world’s problems, from poverty to child mortality to terrorism."

Leadership 101 for Barack Obama (David Ignatius) from RealClearWorld

"The real foreign policy tests will start as soon as Obama begins to make some hard, and politically controversial, decisions on the Palestinian issue and Afghanistan. These would be tough problems even if the president were still coasting on the high poll ratings of several months ago, but now, with his popularity down and Congress in a partisan frenzy, they will require a different level of leadership."

Holder's Decision to Probe CIA Hints at a New Dynamic from the Washington Post

"The back story to Monday's appointment of a career prosecutor to review CIA interrogation methods illustrates Holder's influence in the new administration and sheds light on the emerging and delicate relationship between the White House and the Justice Department. In this and other big battles, including the decision to release memos this year by Bush administration officials giving the green light to harsh interrogation tactics, Holder and his Justice Department have prevailed over strong objections from the CIA and the intelligence community."

The Evidence Still Mounts (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic

"The question of torture - and the United States' embrace of inhumanity as a core American value under the presidency of George W. Bush - remains, in my view, the pre-eminent moral question in American politics. The descent of the United States - and of Americans in general - to lower standards of morality and justice than those demanded by Iranians of their regime is a sign of the polity's moral degeneracy."

Cheney's Jihad: Why "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" Don't Enhance U.S. Interests from Foreign Policy Magazine

"The Bush administration had only prudently taken every measure necessary to keep Americans safe. Hiding behind a wall of classification has been a quintessential Cheney trope. But that wall just crumbled."

Slums of Suburbia: Sorting Through he Rubble of California's Foreclosure Tsunami from Newsweek

"Home prices tumbled by more than half, the largest declines in the country. Foreclosure rates in Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Visalia soared to rank among the highest nationwide, a trend that continues to persist even after their housing markets have started to see signs of recovery. ... The irony in all these empty houses is the valley's rapidly growing population, which presumably needs a place to live."

Teddy the Radical from The Root

"Ted Kennedy was a white liberal who believed in black power, black political power, and he worked to make it happen. He was not one of those white liberals who looked down on African Americans and see a people ever in need of help, not to be trusted to take charge of anything of consequence."

The Other Kennedy Family: Ted's Staff from the Washington Post

"Suite 317, tucked along a marble-floored and white-columned corridor of the Russell Senate Office Building, was not only the liberal lion's den. It also was the finishing school for generations of Kennedy's cubs, hundreds of zealous proteges who came to work for the Massachusetts Democrat."

The Battle for Kennedy's Seat Begins from Newsweek

"Potential successors have been jockeying for months, even years─albeit quietly, out of respect for the ailing Kennedy. But in the coming weeks, competition for the seat is bound to heat up. "

Obama Working on Final Farewell for Kennedy from USA Today

"The passing of a political era from one generation to another will be complete this weekend when Sen. Edward Kennedy is eulogized by the man he helped elect president."

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know (Editorial) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"In Maryland, one man went even further, holding up a sign saying: "Death to Obama" and "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids". This militant, rightwing craziness comes on the back of the now-infamous ad published in a Pennsylvania newspaper in May, calling for Obama to be assassinated"


D.C. Decoder: Where Were the Birthers in 1881? from the Christian Science Monitor

"We are referring to Chester Alan Arthur. The first (and so far only) Canadian president of the United States. Maybe."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

News Nuggets 231

The Olympic Mountains in Washington state.

I will be away the next several days - an end-of-the-summer break. Be back Monday.

The Most Outrageous Lies About Global Healthcare from Foreign Policy Magazine

“As the U.S. Congress this summer holds its first serious health-care reform debate since the Clinton era, the resulting public furor has featured increasingly overheated claims about everything from so-called "death panels" to the supposed prowess of America's homegrown medicine. Many of the most wildly inaccurate statements have been directed abroad -- sometimes at the United States' closest allies, such as Britain and Canada, and often at the best health-care systems in the world.”

Obama Administration Making Progress on Transferring Guantanamo Detainees from the Washington Post

“The Obama administration has secured commitments from nearly a dozen countries willing to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay and is increasingly confident about its ability to transfer a large majority of the prisoners who have been cleared for release, according to U.S. and foreign officials.”

Obama Calls Health Plan a ‘Moral Obligation’ from the New York Times

“President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.”

Obama’s Fake Bipartisanship (Eric Alterman) from the Daily Beast

“Is the president delusional to hope for bipartisanship in the face of Republican demagoguery over health care? Far from it, says Eric Alterman. Obama’s using a strategy honed in last fall’s election.”

Don't Worry, Be Healthy: Health Reform is Still a Good Bet to Happen from Slate

“Health care has always been the Middle East of domestic policy, and after the lulling calm of six months of relative ceasefire, all this renewed fighting has left some proponents a little shell-shocked.”

New Dem Prescription for Health Care: Split the Bill from the Wall Street Journal

“The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, seeing little chance of bipartisan support for their health-care overhaul, are considering a strategy shift that would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes.”

Don’t Sweat It (Ed Kilgore) from the New Republic

“Yes, dear reader, I am suggesting that this August's sense of progressive despair feels remarkably similar to last August's.”Y

The GOP Has Become a Party of Nihilists (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine

“How can you sustain a democracy if one of the two major political parties has been overrun by nihilists? And another question: How can you maintain the illusion of journalistic impartiality when one of the political parties has jumped the shark?”

When Protest Becomes Intimidation (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post

“How would our friends on the right have reacted to someone at a Reagan or a Bush speech carrying a sign that read: "It is time to water the tree of liberty"? That would be a reference to Thomas Jefferson's declaration that the tree "must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Pardon me, but I don't think conservatives would have spoken out in defense of the right of every American Marxist to bear arms or to shed the blood of tyrants.”

A Shrinking GOP Offers No Partner on Health Care (Harold Meyerson) from the Washington Post

“Today's Palinoidal Republicans have lost most of the professionals, much of Wall Street and an increasing chunk of suburbia. What they can claim is the allegiance of the white South and the almost entirely white, non-urban parts of the Mountain West. .... The rest of the nation -- that is, of course, most of the nation -- has become an ever-smaller share of Republican ranks.”

Kennedy Looks to Set Stage for Successor from the Boston Globe

“Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant.”

Germany Fumbles with Obama-style Election Tactics from the Washington Post

“German politicians are drawing on the lessons of the U.S. presidential campaign by embracing the Internet and experimenting with townhall meetings, but what worked for Barack Obama seems to be backfiring here.”


Ask the Author Live: David Sedaris from the New Yorker

“This week in the magazine, David Sedaris writes about a kookaburra. Today, Sedaris answered readers’ questions in a live chat; a transcript of their discussion follows.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

News Nuggets 230

From earlier this year, Michelle hosting the installation of a statue of Sojouner Truth in Statuary Hall in the Capitol Rotunda, the first such statue of an African American.

Israeli Settlements Quietly Halted: No New Housing Permits Granted from the Huffington Post

This is a VERY INTERESTING development.

"Israel has quietly moved to halt new housing projects in the West Bank, while outwardly rebuffing U.S. pressure to stop construction in its settlements, Israeli government officials, peace activists and settlers said Tuesday."

Iranian Cleric Predicts Opposition Will Topple Ahmadinejad from the Washington Post

"His newspaper was shut down Monday, and generals and hard-line clerics have called for him to be put on trial. Yet defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi says opposition to the government is growing by the day."

"Russian Obama' Emerges in Volgograd from Vremya Novestei [of Russia in English]

"Born in Guinea-Bissau, Krema has lived in Russia for 20 years and currently sells watermelons. … If one compares Russia and America in their attitudes toward candidates with exotic last names, we are equivalent to the United States in the 1960s or perhaps the 1980s."

Democrats Seem Set to Go It Alone on a Health Bill from the New York Times

"Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks."

Obama May Know What He's Doing on Health Care: An Ode to Ambiguity from Politics Daily

"Amid the liberal clamor for Obama to go on offense, to show some spine, draw those lines in the sand, I say, take a breath and think about how Congress works. Think about the endgame, when House and Senate negotiators will reconcile the differences in their bills to come up with a final bill. Now think about what needs to happen to get to that point."

Fevered Imagination (Editorial) from Dawn [of Pakistan in English]

This editorial is a real hoot!  See also this one from the same Pakistani source.

"One could be excused for suspecting that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is the new Al Qaeda, given the virulence with which it is being attacked in the United States — in many cases by people who are unlikely to have been aware of its existence until very recently. ... “One can only wish  Obama success just based on the sheer perversity of his  absurd adversaries.”

Republicans, Religion, and the Triumph of Unreason (Editorial) from the Independent [of the UK]

It's a shame most Americans never bother to find out what the rest of the world thinks about us and our ridiculous politics.

"It simply didn't compute. How could this have happened? How could the cry of "Drill, baby, drill" have been beaten by a supposedly big government black guy? So a streak that has always been there in the American right's world-view – to deny reality, and argue against a demonic phantasm of their own creation – has swollen. Now it is all they can see."

Where is the Liberal Rage? (Robert Kuttner) from the Washington Post

"Where are the liberal protesters?  Wall Street and the abuses of corporate America crashed the economy, leaving regular people anxious and financially insecure. Yet the far right, not the reformist left, is getting the political windfall."

Where are they? They're just way too busy bitching in the blogosphere about Congressional Democrats and Obama.  I am a progressive blogger -- and yet, with each passing day I become more convinced that the liberal blogosphere has become one great bastion of keyboard critics, the ultimate in monday morning quarterbacks -- folks who have never had to get a bill through Congress (much less THIS Congress) and yet seem to know all about how it's done.  Rather than pointing towards an era of triumph for more progressive laws and regulations, they simply become one more indicator of why the progressives and the Democratic Party have so often failed to get it done.

The Ultimate Insider Journalist (Eleanor Clift) from Newsweek

A scruffy, shoe-leather reporter, Bob Novak was a must-read in Washington. And he was my friend.

I hate to say it, but I also really liked Novak, the reporter.  His newsletters were always full of interesting items no one else had.


A Congressman actually tells a constituent how insane she is!  Headline: US Rep tells the truth!  What a NOVELTY!!

Barney Frank Confronts Woman At Town Hall Comparing Obama To Hitler from the Huffington Post

"At a Barney Frank town hall meeting in Dartmouth, MA, a constituent asks, "Why are you supporting this Nazi policy?"  Frank responds: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?""

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News Nuggets 229

Firefighters taking a break in San Bernardino, CA and watching a hillside fire from one of the houses they are trying to protect.

A note from Lynn Cullen on the return of her show TODAY at Ten this morning.  Here's what she says:
I'll be at at ten in the morning, live.  After the show, they'll simply play that day's show over and over until I go live again.  I won't be able to take calls for a few weeks, but eventually I will.  You can email me at and I'll respond to emails during the show.  I also have a twitter account I'll be monitoring.   Once the kinks are worked out, I think this is going to be great.  I'm doing it from a radio studio downtown.  The format will be much like a talk radio show, including ads.  I'm only going to do an hour until I can take calls, but once we get the phones up and running, I'll go longer.


A town hall meeting in VERMONT with Senator Bernie Sanders!!  This clip reminds me that New Englanders invented the town hall meeting -- they're so much better at it than the rest of the country!  It is quite moving!  The Burlington Free Press also has the story.

Obama Shifts Focus to Iraq and Afghanistan from CNN

I suspect this will be an important conversation.

"President Obama will take a brief hiatus from his health care push on Monday and turn his focus to the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. ... Nearly 13,000 VFW and ladies auxiliary delegates are expected to be at the convention, where veterans have high expectations for the president."

Russia's Botched Policy in its Own Backyard from the Financial Times [of London]

"The Kremlin’s misunderstanding of Ukrainian politics is based on the fact that, unlike Russia, Ukraine is a democracy. The Russian leaders think they can “buy” Ukrainian politicians, but in the end they must listen to their voters, not Moscow, to gain office. This is an alien thought to the authoritarian Muscovites, who believe everything is manipulated from above and by Washington."

A complimentary piece The Medvedev Show also appeared in yesterday's Moscow Times.

Why Hillary Clinton Deserves More Respect from Macleans [of Canada]

"Foreign policy analysts don’t buy the assumption that something is wrong. “Is she being overshadowed? I would say she’s just being a team player. She has surprised a lot of people with her ability to be a team player and I don’t think you see any daylight between her position and that of the President,”

Who Needs a Public Option? (Matt Yglesias) from the Daily Beast

"Even without it, health care would be the greatest piece of liberal legislation in years."

Obama Administration Moves Against Anti-Gay Marriage Law -- Sort of  from the Associated Press

"The Obama administration filed court papers Monday claiming a federal marriage law discriminates against gays, even as government lawyers continued to defend it."

How to Get Elected, the GOP Version from Daily Kos

Now this is interesting.  The NEW Republican strategy for their candidates running next year.  Hide as long as possible your real views, don't do interviews or events where you might be seen/heard on film -- and better yet don't answer any questions at all -- just do your talking points!

Echoes of McCarthyism from Sarah Palin (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post

"The most depressing aspects of McCarthy's career were not just the excesses of the man himself but the refusal of others -- mainly his fellow Republicans -- to either rein him in or defend his victims. Now we are seeing something similar with Palin."


A note on The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

Monday, August 17, 2009


A priest in Lalibela, Ethiopia -- from the London Telegraph

NOTE: I have restructured each day's postings such that folks can comment on each item.  Does this work better for you?  Or do you prefer the old look?  Use ... the comments!

American Decline Not Obama's Fault (Editorial) from de Volkskrant [of the Netherlands in English]

“This is the interesting paradox: the fact that America is in visibly worse shape than before forces Obama to have the courage to take strong measures, not least on the domestic front where a number of sacred cows are dying.”

Will Iran's 'Kennedys' Challenge Ahmadinejad? from Time Magazine

"The brothers Larijani — often referred to as the Kennedys of Iran — are emerging as a powerful counterweight to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from within the conservative camp. And unlike other Ahmadinejad rivals, the Larijanis are fully endorsed by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei."

How to Cover a Paranoid Regime from Your Laptop from Foreign Policy Magazine

"I was a student at Columbia Journalism School in 2005 when David Remnick of The New Yorker visited our class one evening. In response to a question about his magazine's Iran coverage, he unwittingly gave me an idea that led to the launch of late last year.  "No one has a bureau in Tehran," he said, explaining why he thought there was a dearth of in-depth reporting from my motherland. "No one has a full-fledged bureau in Iran.""

Russia Must Reassess Its Iran Policy from RealClearWorld

A very interesting in-the-weeds look at how Russia may be subtly screwing countries like Iran domestic economic reasons.

"On the surface, Moscow's official reason for inviting President Ahmadinejad seemed logical. Hoping to avoid the same accusations of external meddling and mischief, Russia was quick to recognize the controversial leader. However, this decision was viewed differently in Tehran by anti- Ahmadinejad supporters; Moscow supports Ahmadinejad because an isolated Iran works to its advantage."

China, US Relay in Resolving North Korea Issue from the Yankyoreh [of South Korea in English]

"The source added that due to former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s visit to North Korea earlier this month, China’s diplomatic space for moving on negotiations has widened."

Talk to Burma from the National Interest

"Isolating Rangoon hasn’t worked. Washington should offer carrots to encourage liberal reform."

Pentagon Worries Led to Command Change in Afghanistan from the Washington Post

Some interesting analysis from Rajiv Chandrasekaran [of 'Imperial Life in the Emerald City' fame] on Obama's evolving strategy for Afghanistan.

"Gates and Mullen had been having doubts about McKiernan since the beginning of the year. They regarded him as too languid, too old-school and too removed from Washington. He lacked the charisma and political savvy that Gen. David H. Petraeus brought to the Iraq war.  McKiernan's answers that day were the tipping point for Mullen. Soon after, he discussed the matter with Gates, who had come to the same conclusion."

Guantanamo Detainees: Headed for Northern Michigan from Politics Daily

"Standish is a company town of about 1,600 people. The penal complex is the largest employer in the area, providing work for over 300 state corrections workers. Although the local population is predictably squeamish about accused terrorists and suspected al-Qaeda or Taliban members moving into their midst, without the new business, the penitentiary is due to close."

Health-Care Reform: Obama Finesses the Public Plan from Time Magazine

"The headlines and news coverage coming out of the Aug. 16 shows might have seemed to mark a major turn in the debate over health-care reform. WHITE HOUSE BACKS AWAY FROM PUBLIC HEALTH CARE OPTION, cried ... But was this big news? .... Hardly a new development, considering that the White House and the President have been sounding pretty flexible for months on the subject of a public option."

Obama's Health-Care Counterattack Gains Ground (Al Hunt) from Bloomberg News Service

"The first week of the month, congressional Democrats, on their summer recess or district work period as some call it, were on the defensive; ... By last week, the dynamic had shifted some. Democrats and health-care proponents didn’t have the edge as angry demonstrations against health care continued, but a counteroffensive was gaining ground."

Ronald Reagan and Obama's Health Care Struggles (David Corn) from Daily Politics

"While Obama was toiling away on the presidential transition, his political operatives -- such as campaign manager David Plouffe -- ought to have been plotting how to reorganize Obama's grass-roots support for his presidency."

Telling Grandma 'No' (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times

"If the Democratic Party’s attempt at health care reform perishes, senior citizens will have done it in, not talk-radio listeners and Glenn Beck acolytes. It’s the skepticism of over-65 Americans that’s dragging support for reform southward. And it’s their opposition to cost-cutting that makes finding the money to pay for it so difficult."

A very clear, concise and not unhopeful assessment of where things are right now.

Life After the Death of the Public Option (Nate Silver) from

"From the President on downward, the White House now seems resigned to losing the fight over the "public option", a government-run insurance plan that would complete against private plans. It's time to re-assess the playing field in light of this development."

Indies Not Lost to Dems from the National Journal

"The kingmaker demographic [independents] has become warier of health care reform but not overwhelmingly so"

Carville: Let GOP Kill Health Care -- Then Run Against Them from Raw Story

"Democratic Party strategist James Carville offered up a new strategy for Democrats to follow in their battle to reform health care: Let the GOP defeat it, then defeat the GOP at the ballot box."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

News Nuggets 227 [Netroots Special Edition]

Obama at a town hall meeting yesterday in Montana - see news nugget below.


An amazing progressive bloggers' conference just finished up yesterday here in Pittsburgh -- and there is SO MUCH to say about it! For those of you who were not there, below are video links to several of the high points:

Opening Speeches for the Convention

Bill Clinton's Keynote Address

Howard Dean's Town Hall Meeting.

Obama Special Advisor Valerie Jarrett's interview and some other sessions

For a sense of what the conference was like, see The Great Liberal Blogger Pilgrimage from the Daily Beast

"Thousands of progressive bloggers came to Pittsburgh for the Netroots Nation conference this weekend. Rebecca Dana reports that unlike in past years, they couldn’t keep the A-listers away."


Some sage words from Carolyn who attended the conference:

My biggest take away is that it's not enough to elect Barack Obama President. I have work to do in getting the change I want passed into legislation.

Coming home on the 61A last night, I saw a group of guys on Forbes Avenue, plastering Oakland with Obama Joker posters. In case you haven't see one, I'm attaching an example to this email, only these said "fascism" across the bottom. As I walked along Forbes, tearing the posters down, four people sprang out of nowhere to help-- inspiring me to consider all the people out there just waiting to take action.


At Free Clinic, Scenes from the Third World from the Los Angeles Times

"Doctors and dentists volunteering their services at the Forum see scenes like those in impoverished areas overseas."

A good commentary on these M.A.S.H. units from Joan Walsh of Salon HERE.

Now some regular nuggets (of a sort)

Why America Will Lead the 'Asian Century' from RealClearWorld

As China and India rise, and Japan becomes more "normal," they will balance each other within the US-led hierarchy to ensure that the US remains on top and one or the other doesn't dominate."

Obama Wins Over a Montana Crowd on Healthcare from the Christian Science Monitor

"President Obama flew cross-country Friday into a headwind of rural anger and suspicion about his healthcare reform package. And the mood of the town hall meeting awaiting him at an airport hangar in Belgrade, Mont. was framed by severe weather and about 800 “tea party” protesters gathered on the western horizon. But in the end, as a hail storm sent the demonstrators outside scrambling for cover, the 1,200 citizens indoors were not only receptive to what Obama said, but gave him standing ovations."

Repeat of '94 Looks Unlikely (Bill Schneider) from the National Journal

"In August 1993, at the end of his first 200 days, President Clinton's job-approval rating stood at 44 percent, 12 points lower than Obama's is now. In 1994, white men comprised 43 percent of the electorate. In 2008, their share fell to 36 percent."

In America, Crazy is a Preexisting Condition (Rick Perlstein) from the Washington Post

"The similarities across decades are uncanny. When Adlai Stevenson spoke at a 1963 United Nations Day observance in Dallas, the Indignation forces thronged the hall, sweating and furious, shrieking down the speaker for the television cameras. Then, when Stevenson was walked to his limousine, a grimacing and wild-eyed lady thwacked him with a picket sign. Stevenson was baffled. "What's the matter, madam?" he asked. "What can I do for you?" The woman responded with self-righteous fury: "Well, if you don't know I can't help you." The various elements -- the liberal earnestly confused when rational dialogue won't hold sway; the anti-liberal rage at a world self-evidently out of joint; and, most of all, their mutual incomprehension -- sound as fresh as yesterday's news."

Sarah's Ghoulish Carousel (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times

"So Newt took it upon himself to become Palin’s Pygmalion. ... He advised, the dizzy Palin has to be “clear in her own head what she wants to do.”

Barriers to GOP Revival in the Revolt Against Obama's Healthcare Plan from the Los Angeles Times

"Party leaders want to turn the conservative activism into votes, but find themselves the target of ire from many of the protesters."

When the Kooks Take the Stage (Scot Lehigh) from the Boston Globe

"Some Republicans are gleeful in the hope that the testy town hall encounters will derail Obama’s signature initiative. Question: Do they really think the country is dopey enough to mistake microwave mobs staging Potemkin Village protests as an accurate expression of true American opinion? If so, they’re delusional."


Like Past Presidents, Obama Celebrates the Grandeur of Yellowstone from the Christian Science Monitor

"It's also a chance for the president to see how national parks - likened to Europe's cathedrals - need political and fiscal support."

A related story from Time Magazine HERE.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

News Nuggets 226

A honey bee -- in Poland -- from Der Spiegel

NOTE: Yours truly will be at the Netroots Nation Annual Conference the next several days so my postings will probably not be "daylee". I may post some of my own observations or link to some of the live-blogging of the conference that will be going on. FIRST UP: Bill Clinton will be the key-note speaker tonight! Howard Dean tomorrow!

Five Risks to Watch for in the Middle East from the China Post [of Taiwan in English]

"From Iran's nuclear ambitions and post-election tensions to the fallout from the financial crisis in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the Middle East offers a string of risks that could spill over to wider world markets."

Where World Leaders Vacation from Newsweek

"The most powerful people in the world spend August escaping their capital cities, sleeping in, and showing off their abs. A survey of how heads of state spend their vacations."

Revolution Leaders Struggle for Power in Tehran from Der Spiegel

"In the wake of a bogus election, the deadly harassment of protestors and squabbling among hardliners, everything seems to have changed in Tehran. Two men could now pose a serious threat to the regime: Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri and multimillionaire Hashemi Rafsanjani."

Why America Should Play the Long Game in Iran (Editorial) from the National [of Dubai in English]

"These developments require that the United States rethink its long-term strategy towards Iran’s nuclear programme. The Iranian regime is experiencing a deep legitimacy crisis; it is weak, and feels vulnerable. It would love to have seen the Obama administration wade in with support for the opposition, thereby discrediting that opposition. Wisely, Washington declined to rise to the bait."

Cheney Uncloaks His Frustration with Bush from the Washington Post

"In his first few months after leaving office, former vice president Richard B. Cheney threw himself into public combat against the "far left" agenda of the new commander in chief. More private reflections, as his memoir takes shape in slashing longhand on legal pads, have opened a second front against Cheney's White House partner of eight years, George W. Bush."

It was only a matter of time before the principles from the last administration started shooting at each other. This is LONG overdue in my view.

Hillary's Visit is 'No Bad Thing' (Editorial) from Le Potential [of Congo in English]

"It's no bad thing to deal with the 'powerful nations.' To maintain responsible cooperation would mean immensely profitable opportunities and the opening of a new era of relations between the DRC and the United States."

Long Lines as Free Health Care Offered in LA Areas from the Associated Press

"The Los Angeles event marks the first time Remote Area Medical has provided such medical care in a major urban area. The medical group typically serves patients in rural parts of the United States and travels to underdeveloped countries."

Is it Now a Crime to be Poor? (Barbara Ehrenreich) from the New York Times

"In defiance of all reason and compassion, the criminalization of poverty has actually been intensifying as the recession generates ever more poverty."

Obama is Taking Back the Debate on Health-Care Reform from the Editorial Board of the Seattle Times

"PRESIDENT Obama's return to public meetings on health-care reform elevates a debate that had spiraled dramatically downward. He has been on the defensive. The challenge for Obama is to move from defending reform to selling it."

So Much for Bipartisan Governing (Derrick Jackson) from the Boston Globe

"Only a half year into Obama’s presidency, the only strategy the Republicans have is to stoke so much anger in Americans that they forget what they want."

Town Hall Anger Rages On from Politico

"Out on the health care firing line, senators and members of Congress continued to get battered by constituents angry over President Barack Obama’s reform plan Wednesday — with voters raising questions about everything from assisted suicide to coverage for illegal immigrants."

A Price to Pay for the Town Hall Rage (David Broder) from the Washington Post

"Scenes like the one in Romulus have filled cable TV news as Democrats across the country have been meeting their constituents during this August congressional recess. The cameras were watching as Sens. Arlen Specter and Claire McCaskill were harangued on Tuesday. What doesn't make the news is what the reaction is among the larger population of voters whose views will ultimately influence the fate of health-care legislation."

First Thoughts on MD Town Halls (Chuck Todd et al.) from MSNBC

"While the focus of all these town-hall meetings across the country has been on health care, what has become clear is that the anger and frustration in the debate is about much more than that. ... They were irritated with the direction of the country after the 2008 election, with a man as president they didn't vote for, and with a Congress ruled by Democrats. They were angry with being out of power and having -- because of being in the minority -- what they felt was no say."

The Reckless Right Courts Violence (David Frum) from The Week

"Hysterical talk from TV and radio hosts may be a cynical marketing exercise. But it's getting too dangerous to ignore."


Alfred Hitchcock: The Master's View from The National [of Dubai in English]

An odd source for this kind of piece -- but there it is.

"Directors, of both high art and low pulp frequently cite the influence of master filmmakers on the dramatic action, no matter how insignificant or ungainly, within their own frames. And yet it says something truly profound about the ubiquity of Hitchcock’s influence."


Making Sense: An Interview with Leslie Gelb [the author of Power Rules] from RealClearWorld

"Editor's Note: Leslie Gelb is President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book: Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue U.S. Foreign Policy. A Pulitzer Prize winner for the New York Times, Gelb served in both the Defense and State Departments. When we spoke, President Obama had just unveiled his new strategy for Afghanistan."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

News Nuggets 225

Bilbies in Currawinya National Park in Australia -- from the Global Post.  See the Animal Nugget below.

Waking From Its Sleep from the Economist [of London]

"The Arab world has experienced two decades of political stagnation, says Peter David. But there is a fever under the surface."

Africa's New Path (Fareed Zakaria) from Newsweek

"President Obama was right to give his recent address in Ghana, highlighting an African success story rather than casting his speech against the backdrop of poverty and pity. One of the great underreported stories of the last decade has been the rise of this new Africa."

Cedar Evolution from the National Interest

"The relationship between Syria and America has been on the mend. With American and Arab envoys making more frequent trips to Damascus, Syrian influence in the region is rising, and Jumblatt jumped ship to mend his fences with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. ... Jumblatt realizes that the regional and international winds have been changing."

New Momentum - But No Clear Goal - for Iran's Street Protests from Time Magazine

"In recent days, despite the regime's heavy-handed efforts to stifle the resistance, public demonstrations have become more decentralized and frequent as protesters become increasingly bold and defiant."

The Sun Also Rises from the Economist [of London]

"The president pleaded for the passage of a massive fiscal stimulus, insisting that “doing nothing is not an option.” By the time he returned to Elkhart on August 5th he was quite a bit sunnier. Local factories are “coming back to life”, he proclaimed. A few days earlier he had declared the economy to have done “measurably better” than expected. Mr Obama’s good spirits are well grounded: America’s recession appears to be coming to an end."

Guide to the 2010 House Races from the Congressional Quarterly

"Democrats have a virtual lock on 198 seats for November 2010, and in another 31 districts the opportunities for a GOP upset are tenuous at best. Put those groups together and you have 229, well above the 218-seat majority threshold."

GOP at War with Itself in Florida Senate Race from Time Magazine

"Crist's crossover appeal — along with his powerhouse skills as a fundraiser and campaigner — has made him a heavy favorite to join the Senate in 2010. To some observers, his success in the largest swing state could be a national model for a GOP in the wilderness, proof that the party still appeals to independent voters.  But those observers do not tend to be Republicans, much less the conservative partisans who tend to dominate closed Republican primaries."

This is a preview of most Republican primaries next year.

First Thoughts on Obama's N.H. Town Hall (from Chuck Todd et al.) from MSNBC

"As it turns out, one of the most striking things watching the town halls yesterday -- Obama's, Specter's, and McCaskill's -- was how misinformed the public was about the health-care debate."

Has the GOP Blown Health Care? from The Week

"Why the raucous town hall protests may be undermining conservatives’ chances of derailing health care reform."

A more in-depth examination of this issue is made HERE from The Moderate Voice

"This has been the problem with the GOP in recent years: most of its pitches, when the rubber meets the road, eventually boil down to arguments that seem aimed at wavering Republicans and the style and tone of the rhetoric is — as we have called it here — the confrontional, angry and demonizing talk radio political culture."

Easing the 'Death Panel' Fear (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post

"We do need to turn down the rhetorical heat lest we miss important issues in the proposed House health-care bill.  Unfortunately, Palin's more thoughtful comments followed a made-for-the-tabloids Facebook post suggesting that under President Obama's health-care reform, a "death panel" would kill her elderly parents and her Down syndrome baby.  Once upon a time, radical reformers could only dream of such helpful enemies."


Bring Back the Bilbies from the Global Post

"On a 7,100-acre patch of land in a remote corner of Australia, a furry little long-eared animal that might well have been designed in Stephen Spielberg's animation lab is edging back from the brink of extinction."