Wednesday, November 25, 2009

News Nuggets 260

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I will be away until next Wednesday.

In His Slow Decision-Making, Obama Goes with Head, Not Gut (Joel Achenbach) from the Washington Post

"President George W. Bush once boasted, "I'm not a textbook player, I'm a gut player." The new tenant of the Oval Office takes a strikingly different approach. President Obama is almost defiantly deliberative, methodical and measured, even when critics accuse him of dithering. When describing his executive style, he goes into Spock mode, saying, ... Obama's handling of the Afghanistan conundrum has been a spectacle of deliberation unlike anything seen in the White House in recent memory."

Obama's Mistakes: Way Too Early to Judge (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine

Our ON-THE-MONEY pundit of the day!

"Oh, I could sling opinions about every one of the events cited above — some were unfortunate — but it would matter only if I could discern a pattern that illuminates Obama's presidency. The most obvious pattern, however, is the media's tendency to get overwrought about almost anything."

Surge Targets Taliban Targets from the Wall Street Journal

"Commanders in Afghanistan say they will devote the majority of the fresh troops expected from the White House to securing the country's troubled south and will especially target this volatile city, the Taliban's main power base."

The Feeling's Mutual (Editorial) from the Times of India [in English]

"tMost Americans do believe that the US has an abiding interest in India's gradual but steady rise as an economic and diplomatic power. Asia is too important to be left to a single country to exercise hegemony, as the recent Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Thailand also acknowledged."

Obama to Go to Copenhagen with Pledge of Emissions Cuts from the New York Times

"President Obama is pledging a provisional target for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, the first time in more than a decade that an American administration has offered even a tentative promise to reduce production of climate-altering gases, the White House announced on Wednesday."

I'm Thankful I'm Not President Obama (Joan Walsh) from Salon

"Backers deride Katrina-style negligence, haters hate him more each day. Can this presidency be saved? Of course."

GOP Purity Test Would Have Banished Bush, Reagan from Raw Story

"A new GOP "purity test" named for Ronald Reagan moves the line even farther to the right, and a liberal website has found that the test -- if used in the past -- would have screened out President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush as viable conservatives."

India Basks in White House Welcome from the Associated Press

"When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met in Washington this week with President Barack Obama, the White House lavished attention on the unassuming, bookish Indian leader. There was a state dinner. ... It was Washington's way of telling the world's largest democracy that it matters — despite America's ties to India's main rivals, Pakistan and China."


Sarah Palin, Worst Veep Pick Ever? Not So Fast. (Matthew Cooper) from the Atlantic

if you think about the vice presidential selections since World War II began, is Sarah Palin even the worst? A quick review of contenders.


Modern Flourishes at Obama's State Dinner from the New York Times

This event looks like it was a lot of fun!

"It is an old tradition, a White House dinner governed by ritual and protocol that happens to be this city’s hottest social event. But at their first state dinner on Tuesday night, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, made sure to infuse the glittering gala with distinctive touches."


Burma Journal: Curiosity and Hope in the Land of the Lost from Politics Journal

"They say that Venice is sinking, but really, when you arrive in Rangoon, it becomes clear that if any place is slowly edging deeper into the earth, it's this one. "

Monday, November 23, 2009

News Nuggets 259

Another good dog-and-cat picture from last week.

Trusting the President on Afghanistan (Editorial) from Forbes Magazine

"Americans give their presidents latitude in the conduct of foreign affairs when they trust them. Perhaps surprisingly, given Hillary Clinton and John McCain's attacks on his foreign policy credentials during the campaign and the Republicans' relentless pummeling of late, many of them trust Obama on the next steps."

British Military Leader Called Bush Team "Arrogant" "Group of Martians" Over Iraq from the [London] Daily Telegraph via Raw Story

"Hostility between US and British military leaders in Iraq ran deep, with one describing his US counterparts as "group of Martians," the Daily Telegraph reported Monday, citing leaked government documents."

Democrats Step Up Push for Votes on Health Care from the New York Times

"Anxious that Saturday’s party-line Senate vote to open debate on a health care overhaul gives them little maneuvering room, Obama administration officials and their Congressional allies are stepping up overtures to select Senate Republicans in hopes of winning their ultimate support."

A Milestone in the Health Care Journey (Ronald Brownstein) from the Atlantic

A must-read for understanding the cost question on the health care overhaul.

""I'm sort of a known skeptic on this stuff," Gruber told me. "My summary is it's really hard to figure out how to bend the cost curve, but I can't think of a thing to try that they didn't try. They really make the best effort anyone has ever made. Everything is in here....I can't think of anything I'd do that they are not doing in the bill. You couldn't have done better than they are doing.""

Economists Say Stimulus Package Rescued Economy from Free Fall from Politics Daily

"Liberal and conservative economists continue to duel over whether the big economic stimulus package enacted last year has worked, but the New York Times says that with a quarter of the stimulus money spent over the last nine months, “more dispassionate analysts” have concluded the measure rescued an economy in free fall even if it has not created as many jobs as hoped."

Leveraging the Obama Brand (Matt Bai) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine

"The president may not have coattails. But when it comes to persuading Congress, he has something more important."

Manufactured Failure #1 & Manufactured Failure #2: The Press, Obama, Asia (James Fallows) from the Atlantic

"Two colleagues with different perspectives -- from each other's, and sometimes from my own -- marvel at how badly the mainstream American press distorted the picture of what happened during Barack Obama's just-ended tour of Asia.

Fallows has gone OFF on this topic -- hear his comments on NPR's "On the Media" program this morning HERE. Another reason (if one was needed) to avoid cable news at all cost!

They Chose Celebrity (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times

"Before the 2008 election, almost nobody outside Alaska and Arkansas had heard of Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee. But in a long and crowded campaign season, they were the only Republican politicians who inspired any genuine enthusiasm. ... They seemed unready for high office, and owed their appeal more to personality than to substance. This meant that both faced the same post-election choice. Did they want to take their newfound eminence seriously? Or did they want to cash in on their celebrity? ... So far, they’ve chosen celebrity"

Republicans Eye the Tiger of Populism from the New York Times

"Palin's return brought into focus a big question for Republicans as they watched the intense reactions she generated: To what extent should they try to energize their electoral prospects by hitching themselves to the powerful but volatile strain of populism — characterized by anti-elitism and deep skepticism of government — that Ms. Palin has come to embody?"

Beware the powerful fantasy world of Sarah Palin, Warrior Princess (Andrew Sullivan) from the Times [of London]

"The US vice-presidential candidate’s memoir mocks the truth, but she remains a possible future American leader."

Rep. Joe Sestak trying to outrun Sen. Arlen Specter from the Los Angeles Times

"The Democrat has arguably the hardest-working staff on Capitol Hill scrambling to meet requests from constituents, lobbyists and the media. Now he wants to beat Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator."


How Hillary Became Secretary of State from Vogue Magazine

""I was stunned after the election when President Obama asked me to consider this," she says. "I really was very unconvinced. I did not think it was the right thing to do. I didn't want to do it. I just really had a lot of doubts, and I kept suggesting other people: Well, how about this person! How about that person! This one would be really good! But then a friend of mine called me and basically said, 'How would you have felt if you'd been elected and you'd called him and asked him to do this?' And that really made a big impression on me."


Who Knew I was Not the Father from the New York Times Sunday Magazine

"DNA testing has led more men to discover that their children are not biologically theirs. Families are upended, and so is the law."

Friday, November 20, 2009

News Nuggets 258

Some of you probably know about the Chinese terra cotta soldiers being unearthed in China for the last decade or so. Some of them are on tour in the US right now. They were originally built over 2,000 years ago during the Han dynasty, the first dynasty that unified China approximately as it is constituted now. The picture shows the progress of the archeologists. WHAT a spectacle! Absolutely amazing! From Smithsonian Magazine.

Do We Have Enough Troops for Afghanistan Surge? from the Atlantic

Answer: NO.

"ll of the options that President Obama is reportedly considering for troop increases in Afghanistan require tens of thousands of soldiers. The top commander there, General Stanley McChrystal, has requested at least 40,000, the high end of the options under consideration. But an in-depth investigation by Spencer Ackerman reveals that the American military may simply lack enough troops for that to be a viable option."

Russia's Imperial Crutches (Op-Ed) from the New York Times

"Stalin’s ghost come back to haunt not only the Metro, but all of Russia. This appeared as a Rubicon. To cross it would be to start anew on the whole glorious path of Soviet imperialism. But President Dmitri Medvedev, in his last two broadcasts over the Internet, tried to blow up the bridges."

Holder's Reasonable Decision (Op-Ed) from the Washington Post

"Reasonable minds can disagree about Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other alleged Sept. 11 perpetrators in a Manhattan federal court. But some prominent criticisms are exaggerated, and others place undue faith in military commissions as an alternative to civilian trials."

Leaving Afghanistan Won't Risk Collapse (Editorial) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Many advocates of continuing or racheting up our presence in Afghanistan are cut from the same domino-theory cloth as those of the Vietnam era. They posit that losing in Afghanistan would almost certainly lead to the further “loss” of the entire South and central Asian region."

Why is it a Problem? (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points memo

"A lot of people ... were on the Sunday shows yesterday denouncing the administration's decision to jail and try KSM and four accused 9/11 plotters in New York City. And most of the criticism comes under three distinct but related arguments...The first two arguments strike me as understandable but basically wrong on the facts. The third I find difficult in some ways even to understand and seems grounded in bad political values or even ideological cowardice."

Small Town to Liz Cheney: We Want Gitmo Detainees, Not Your Fear-mongering (Greg Sargent) from the Plum Line and the Washington Post

"Officials in a small Michigan town featured in a new video about Guantanamo by Liz Cheney’s national security group want her to know that they’re not falling for her “fearmongering” — and tell us they want Gitmo detainees in their town."

Senate Likely Has 60 Votes for Motion to Proceed on Health Care Bill from Open Left

"It now seems quite likely that the Senate has the 60 votes necessary to force cloture on the motion to proceed with the health care bill. The final three votes Senate majority leader Harry Reid needed were Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Mary Landrieu, but all three now appear to be ready to vote "aye." Here is a rundown of all three"

A Leap Forward to Better Care (Peter Orszag) from the Washington Post

"The nation stands on the verge of achieving fundamental health-care reform. For the first time in history, the House of Representatives has enacted comprehensive health-reform legislation, and the Senate has begun its own debate. These bills will provide a bedrock sense of security and stability for Americans who have health insurance, and quality, affordable options for Americans without it."

Why I Voted 'No' to Health Reform (Jason Altmire) from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

OK, JASON -- What's up?!

"When Congress set out to accomplish health-care reform earlier this year, I had two main goals in mind: slowing the growth of health-care spending over the long term and building a system that focuses on quality of care, rather than simply quantity of care."

The Palin Effect (Max Blumenthal) from the Nation

This long-form article is right on-the-money! A very interesting examination of the larger Palin problems the GOP faces.

"Why has her appeal only increased in the wake of her catastrophic political expeditions? Why won't she listen to, or abide by, conventional political wisdom? The answer lies beyond the realm of polls and punditry in the political psychology of the movement that animates and, to a great degree, controls, the Republican grassroots--a uniquely evangelical subculture defined by the personal crises of its believers and their perceived persecution at the hands of cosmopolitan elites."

It is Still 1960 in Washington (Amy Walter) from the National Journal

"The decision by Scozzafava to drop her bid -- and ultimately endorse the Democratic candidate -- just 72 hours before the election looked impetuous. She had been tanking the polls, and most of us had long since dismissed her odds of winning. Still, the move was out of the ordinary. The response from Karl Rove, however, was downright 1960. He told Fox News' "On the Record" that "you can understand this. Her feelings were hurt." Really? What's next -- someone wondering if "lady troubles" were responsible for her downfall?"

Election 2010: Arizona Senate GOPO Primary Poll Sees McCain in Trouble from Rasmussen Reports

It seems like the Tea Party crowd will find fertile ground in Arizona next year. It certainly would be amazing if they gave McCain the ax in the primaries.

"2010 Arizona GOP Primary: McCain 45%, Hayworth 43%. Senator John McCain’s future in the U.S. Senate may be a little less assured than previously thought."

Poll: Majority of Republican Think Obama Didn't Actually Win 2008 Election -- ACORN Stole It! from Talking Points Memo

"This number goes a long way towards explaining the anger of the Tea Party crowd. They not only think Obama's agenda is against America, but they don't think he was actually the choice of the American people at all!"

Given the vitriol we've heard over the last year, it may surprise some of you to hear me say that it is THIS poll's finding that leaves me the most stunned and, to some extent, despairing. I had long assumed that (at some point) the a majority of the nutjobs would eventually come to some accommodation with the REALITY of Obama's presidency. That 52% of Republicans think Obama and ACORN stold the election shows clearly that they are simply fleeing further into UNREALITY. We're talking 20-30% of the electorate, much higher in some regions of the country. God only knows what havoc they will cause in the coming years or decades.

Tea Partiers Turn on Each Other from Politico

"After emerging out of nowhere over the summer as a seemingly potent and growing political force, the tea party movement has become embroiled in internal feuding over philosophy, strategy and money and is at risk of losing its momentum. "

Aww, what a SHAME! And there was so much possibility for good over there!

The Return of McCarthyism (Rick Unger) from True/Slant

"The conditions couldn’t be more perfect. And with no shortage of candidates lining up to take on the modern day role of Joseph McCarthy, in what could easily become a repeat of one of the nation’s most disgraceful legacies, the question must be asked – Are we entering a new era of McCarthyism?"

You betcha'!"

Palin and the Future of Conservatism (Cal Thomas) from RealClearPolitics

"The Palin phenomenon -- for that is what it is because her celebrity flows singularly from John McCain's choice of her as a running mate -- offers an opportunity for conservatives to choose their path to the future. Will it be a path of the angry and disenfranchised outsider, or will it be something of substance that produces triumphs in both politics and policy? The victim thing is getting old."


The President, the Professor, and the Wide Receiver from Foreign Policy

"When the biracial U.S. President Barack Obama visits South Korea tomorrow, he will be visiting a country grappling with its prejudices about race."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

News Nuggets 257

The endangered lynx with its kitten in Colorado -- the first time they've been seen there since the 1930s. From the National Geographic

Khamenei Will Be Iran's Last Supreme Leader from Newsweek

"The clerical establishment has become so sick of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that they will not replace him when he dies."

Showdown Set for Health Bill from the Wall Street Journal

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set the stage for a climactic debate in the Senate over health care by unveiling a 10-year, $848 billion bill that would extend insurance to 31 million Americans without coverage."

Reid Plan Ups Pressure on Moderates from Politico

AMAZING -- Reid actually is actually PRESSURING some of his colleagues!

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled his $848 billion health reform bill Wednesday to broad support from fellow Democrats — and the move quickly turned up the pressure on the last few wavering moderates to support the plan, which includes a sizable chunk of deficit cutting. "

More in the same vein HERE from Politico

Health Reform's False Abortion Debate (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post

"Let's dispense with three fallacies swirling about the question of abortion coverage in health-care reform. Two are being peddled by antiabortion forces. One, perhaps the most relevant, is being pushed by the pro-choice side."

The Wrong Side of History (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times

"Critics storm that health care reform is “a cruel hoax and a delusion.” Ads in 100 newspapers thunder that reform would mean “the beginning of socialized medicine.” ... All dire — but also wrong. Those forecasts date not from this year, but from the battle over Medicare in the early 1960s. I pulled them from newspaper archives and other accounts."

What They Really Believe (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"You don’t believe in global warming? You’re wrong, but I’ll let you enjoy it until your beach house gets washed away. But if you also don’t believe the world is getting more crowded with more aspiring Americans — and that ignoring that will play to the strength of our worst enemies, while responding to it with clean energy will play to the strength of our best technologies — then you’re willfully blind, and you’re hurting America’s future to boot."

The GOP's No-Exit Strategy (EJ Dionne) from the Washington Post

"It's ... time to start paying attention to how Republicans, with Machiavellian brilliance, have hit upon what might be called the Beltway-at-Rush-Hour Strategy, aimed at snarling legislative traffic to a standstill so Democrats have no hope of reaching the next exit."

Hugs all round as Barack Obama meets half-brother during Asia tour from the [Manchester] Guardian

"US president greets Mark Ndesandjo, his brother on his father's side, who lives in the Chinese city of Shenzhen."

What Made Michelle Obama Anxious and Nervous (Lynn Sweet) from Politics Daily

"First Lady Michelle Obama revisited a stressful period of her youth on Monday, opening up to teen girls at a Denver mentoring event when asked about her views of standardized testing"

Senate Shake-Up, 2010? (Larry Sabato) from the VA Center for Politics

"Let's stress this from the outset: Democrats will almost certainly retain control of the Senate. Some bloggers aside, few of the top analysts on the Republican side question this conclusion. The GOP's real hope is to cut the Democratic margin by a few seats, so that they can regain the power to stop legislation (assuming they stick together--a giant "if")."

Fillibusted (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post

"In their quest to thwart President Obama, Republicans do not fear the hobgoblin of consistency."

Conservative Cowards (Markos Moulitsas) from The Hill

"Seems that macho conservatives are terrified of shackled terrorists in orange jumpsuits and the United States Constitution. "

The 10 Differences Between Fox News and MSNBC from Air America

"Fox News fans defend their network's journalistic integrity by pointing to high ratings and MSNBC as the liberal equivalent. While the comparison may seem valid on the surface, there are glaring differences between the two networks."

Palin-Beck Ticket? Palin Doesn't Rule It Out from Newsmax

This is truly something straight out of Bizarro World.

"It's no secret that former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Fox News host Glenn Beck share great respect and admiration -- so their fans can be forgiven for wondering: Is a "dream ticket" of Palin-Beck ticket is completely out of the question? Perhaps not."

Another GOP Rep Bowing to the Birthers ... in New Jersey! from Daily Kos

The birthers/tea partiers are going to be quizzing GOP primary candidates with JUST these kinds of questions. The most unprincipled candidates will cave -- and then be slow-cooked during the general election.

"Yet another Republican congressman has joined forces with the birthers. The most recent example: Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey said President Obama should produce his birth certificate after being pressed on the issue by constituents who believe President Obama is actually a Kenyan citizen." ... It's also time to start paying attention to how Republicans, with Machiavellian brilliance, have hit upon what might be called the Beltway-at-Rush-Hour Strategy, aimed at snarling legislative traffic to a standstill so Democrats have no hope of reaching the next exit."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

News Nuggets 256

Quite the dog house!!

Some nifty pet images today -- we may have a few more later this week.

Obama's Year of Vitriol and Rebuff at Home, Deadlock Abroad. Not a Bad Start (Jonathan Freedland) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Obama's victory speech at Grant Park may seem a distant mirage. But for all the failings, he can point to real progress."

Russia's Pivot in the Iran Nuclear Issue (Editorial) from RealClearWorld

"From a critical meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, to an escalating proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the Saudi-Yemeni border, this was a loaded weekend."

China and US Poised to Break New Ground in Green Technology Partnership from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Barack Obama said the US and China will break new ground in their partnership on clean energy technology during a summit in Beijing tomorrow that will also seek to find a new way forward for global climate talks."

Chinese Gov't Monitors Obama Memorabilia from the Washington Post

"With President Obama in the Chinese capital Monday on the second day of his first state visit to the country, the government seems to have adopted a two-track policy toward Obama memorabilia for sale here. Obama dressed as Superman is in. Obama dressed as a Red Guard is out."

The Global Reset Button from the Times [of London]

"Former Vice-President Cheney, it turns out, stood firm and erect and shook the Emperor’s hand. Mr Cheney worked for an Administration that inflicted immeasurable damage on America’s global reputation. Mr Obama leads one that finds itself challenged on every front, but still has the potential to turn its initial promise of enlightened leadership in a multipolar world into reality."

Obama Opposed to Stupak Amendment from CNN

"As Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to avoid a brewing intra-party battle over treatment of abortion in health care reform legislation, a top presidential adviser is reiterating that President Obama remains opposed to legislation that contains language preferred by more conservative Democrats in Congress."

The Obama Diaspora from New York Magazine

"When Barack Obama’s half-brother George releases his autobiography early next year, he may transition from Kenyan bad boy to best-selling author. How are the fellow members of the far-flung First Family adjusting to their sudden associative celebrity?"

Hate Obama? You May Not Be Racist. But You Will Be White (Michael Tomasky) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"The president's critics are not all prejudiced but the crowd is mutating to the extremes. And we have a bad history on this topic."

Hundreds Attend Vigil Outside Lieberman's Home Over Health Care from the Danbury News Times [of Connecticut]


"Quietly holding candles, hundreds of clergymen, congregants and reform advocates lined the sidewalks outside Independent U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's Stamford home Sunday night in a show of support for universal health care."

Dems Poised to End GOP Court Filibuster from RealClearPolitics

This actually happened later in the day.

"Democrats were poised Tuesday to end a Senate filibuster against a controversial appeals court nominee and show Republicans they can't stop President Barack Obama from turning the federal judiciary to the left."

Conservatives Say Gitmo Detainees Would Be Fine in IL, Warn of 'Scaremongering' from Talking Points Memo

"Former Republican Congressman and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, have teamed up to urge the Gitmo detainees be taken to the U.S."

Bazooka Joe: Lieberman's Comic Health-Care Ploy (Jonathan Alter) from Newsweek

"A decade ago, Joe Lieberman was a source of great pride for American Jews. Now Jews (who voted 78 percent for Barack Obama) are debating a critical question: why is Joe such a putz? Tough crowd. "Putz" is a Yiddish word for the male anatomy."

Palin's Base Appeal (Christopher Hitchens) from Newsweek

I usually find Hitchens to be arrogant and condescending -- and he certainly is in this article -- but I think there's more truth than usual here.

"The problem with Palin's populism is not just that it stirs prejudice against the "big cities" where most Americans actually live, or against the academies where many of them would like to send their children. No, the difficulty with populism is that it exploits the very "people" to whose grievances it claims to give vent."

One-man Crusade Taking Toll on Ensign from Politico

You know, it is fascinating these days how ONE VERY DETERMINED PERSON -- combined with a modest amount of media coverage -- can create very big stinks for establishment pols! Don't be surprised if some right-wing teabagger jumps into Ensign's reelection bid next year and creates more trouble for him.

"Five months after Sen. John Ensign admitted to having an extramarital affair, the scandal is still in the headlines — in large part because the husband of his onetime lover keeps making them."

Republicans Heading for a Bloodbath in Florida (David Frum) from CNN

"The Republican fratricide in the November 3 special election in upstate New York may prove just an opening round of an even more spectacular bloodbath in Florida in 2010."

Conservative Club for Growth Targets GOP from Politico

The tea party movement -- at it again!

"the anti-tax, anti-big-government group now is positioning itself to be a major 2010 player in Senate races, too, a development likely to cause headaches for both parties."


Hitler? He's just a big softie: The diaries of Mussolini's lover that show what Italian dictator REALLY thought from the [London] Globe and Mail

"Diaries written by the mistress of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini have revealed how he thought Adolf Hitler 'an old sentimentalist at heart'.

The previously unpublished diaries of Claretta Petacci also note Mussolini's fervent anti-Semitism, his disgust at mixed-race marriages between Italians and locals in African colonies, and his anger at the pre-war Pope, Pius XI."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

News Nuggets 255

A so-called "eco-hostel" in Zanzibar, Tanzinia, in Africa

Hersh: Obama finally ‘taking control’ on Afghanistan from Raw Story

"President Barack Obama is not satisfied with any of the options on Afghanistan he has received from his national security team and is demanding revisions, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow turned to veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh for insight.

"It could be huge," Hersh told Maddow, "simply that the president's finally saying, 'I'm taking control.'""

Racial Rethinking as Obama Visits from the Washington Post

I knew this was happening around the time Obama was elected -- It's good to see that Obama's sheer existence continues to roil these same waters around the globe.

"As the country gets ready to welcome the first African American U.S. president, whose first official visit here starts Sunday, the Chinese are confronting their attitudes toward race, including some deeply held prejudices about black people. Many appeared stunned that Americans had elected a black man, and President Obama's visit has underscored Chinese ambivalence about the growing numbers of blacks living here."

In a similar vein:

Obama Can Teach Shanghai Officials a Thing or Two (Editorial) from the China Daily [of the People's Republic of China in English]

"This op-ed from the China Daily, columnist Hong Liang, uses the imminent visit of Barack Obama to explain why young people in Shanghai love the president - and loath the 'authoritarian excess' that critics regard as the hallmark of the Beijing regime."

Debunking the Myths About Trying Mohammed in New York (Andrew Cohen) from the Washington Post

Very interesting item!

"A Mohammed trial for Sept. 11 crimes -- the case might actually be styled United States v. Mohammed -- could be one of the biggest legal landmarks in American history. It's not surprising that bringing one of the "faces of terror" to within blocks of Ground Zero would generate a lot of fear, trepidation and political hysteria. So let's try to separate sizzle from steak. Here are six myths about Mohammed and his trial that ought to be destroyed:"

Town Welcomes Idea of Gitmo Detainees' Arrival from the Chicago Breaking News Center

"News that the federal government seems interested in transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Thomson Correctional Center was greeted warmly in this small, rural farm town along the Iowa border."

Tensions Brewing Between Republicans and CEOs Over Health Care Reform from The Hill

"Tension between Republicans and the nation’s top CEOs over healthcare reform escalated this week when the executives released a report praising aspects of President Barack Obama’s top initiative."

GOP Faces Choice If Health Bill Passes (Ronald Brownstein) from National Journal

"If Obama does sign a reform bill, which appears more likely than not, Republicans will face a momentous choice between consolidation and repudiation -- between accepting the new program and seeking to dismantle it."

This is a no-brainer -- they will seek to dismantle it. Passing the legislation -- why should that stop the conservatives doing everything they can to undercut health care?

Pelosi's Bill: How She Did It from the National Journal

"She was the player most responsible for guiding the complex measure to passage -- not President Obama or White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and not the committee chairmen. She engaged in constant deal-making, in several dozen caucus meetings and perhaps thousands of phone calls and hallway conversations with Democratic members."

Pelosi, Emanuel Tough as Nails from National Journal

"This health bill could have foundered in so many places, not the least of which involved abortion restrictions, but Pelosi and Emanuel muscled it through."

Orszag: US Health Care Overhaul Will be Enacted this Year from Bloomberg News Service

“We think we’re going to get this done before the end of the year,” Orszag said yesterday at the Bloomberg Washington Summit. “We need the Senate to move, and we need to move to conference” to negotiate a House-Senate compromise, he said."

The Old Republican Revival (Terrence Samuel) from the American Prospect

"Will the GOP be sufficiently rebuilt to challenge Obama and the Democrats in 2010? Probably not"

MO: Republican Senator Blunt Faces GOP Crowd Somewhat Wary of His Washington Record from the St. Louis Beacon

More teabagging trouble for the GOP!!

"His standing-room-only audience at Chesterfield City Hall of the West County Republicans group included a sizable number who made clear -- although generally (but not always) politely -- that they weren't necessarily buying Blunt's pitch."

And over in Utah:

Utah Becomes a Battleground in the GOP's Civil War from the Los Angeles Times

"Sen. Robert Bennett is under fire from those in the party who find him insufficiently conservative. His battle may be a reflection of an anti-establishment anger that could affect both parties."

Lou Dobbs Resignation Memo Leaked to the Press from Huffington Post

Normally, I avoid "pundit" stories -- I so don't care -- but this one caught my eye. I'm amazed CNN kept him on so long!

British Scouts Investigated Over Anti-Jewish Chants from the [Manchester] Guardian

Teabagging goes trans-Atlantic. Just what the world needs.

"Dressed in full uniform, the explorer scouts, who were taking part in Remembrance Sunday service in Romford, Essex were heard to repeatedly shout "Let's kill the Jews" at Jewish second world war veterans."

Memoir is Palin's Payback to McCain Campaign (Review) from the New York Times

"In what reads like payback for McCain aides’ disparaging comments about her in the wake of the ticket’s loss to Barack Obama, Ms. Palin depicts the McCain campaign as overscripted, defeatist, disorganized and dunder-headed — slow to shift focus from the Iraq war to the cratering economy, insufficiently tough on Mr. Obama and contradictory in its media strategy."


For Vermont Senator Bernie Saunders, Breaking Up is Hard to Do from the Nation

"Vermont's Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (D) coined the phrase, "If you're too big to fail, you're too big to exist," back when he voted against the initial Wall Street Bailout in October 2008. Now, none other than former Fed Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker are parroting it, and a lot of other notables from across the political spectrum have come around to support busting up the banks too, as the Senator describes below.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

News Nuggets 254

A rare King-Bird-of-Paradise from a remote valley in Indonesia - from the Manchester Guardian

Europe's Continent Envy from the Daily Beast

"As Obama jets off to Asia, Europeans are still licking their wounds over his decision to blow off the Berlin Wall anniversary. Alex Massie on the Atlantic crowd’s case of continent envy."

US Finally Wise to Pyongyang's Ways (Editorial) from the Asia Times

"In the past few weeks, North Korean watchers have been confronted with a sight they do not see frequently: Americans outsmarting North Koreans. "

Kim Jong Il's Cry for Help from the Global Post

"But most analysts believe that what appeared to be an aggressive clash was in fact a sign from Pyongyang that it is willing to continue engaging with the rest of the world."

We Have a President (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic

"The news that Obama has refused to sign off on any of the four major options presented to him in Afghanistan reminds me of why he was elected president. This critical decision - arguably the most critical of his young presidency - is one that will not be rushed the way such decisions often are."

My Solemn Meeting on Veterans Day with President Obama at My Friend's Resting Place in Arlington from the NY Daily News

"He didn't introduce himself. He didn't have to. President Obama simply stuck out his hand and asked for my name as he stepped toward me amid a bone-chilling drizzle in the Gardens of Stone."

Gen. Powell to Obama on Af-Pak Strategy: "Take Your Time" from ABC News

"Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell revealed that he recently advised President Obama to take his time in devising his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.."

The Plural to Anecdote is Data (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"There’s the observation: walking around, things look better than I expected."

Take a Deep Breath (Gail Collins) from the New York Times

"In troubled times, it is important to try to maintain a certain level of serenity. Right now we citizens have quite a lot on our plate and there is no reason to go completely crazy about the least little thing."

Texting Last Week's Lies Today (Joe Conason) from the New York Examiner

"Within hours after the House of Representatives approved health care reform by a narrow margin, Republicans predicted retribution at the polls next fall. They promised to make every Democrat regret that historic vote as the first step toward the reversal of power in Washington. And as the current debate has proved, they aren't going to let honesty become an obstacle."

A Defining Choice (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times

"President Obama and Congress will soon make defining choices about health care and troops for Afghanistan. These two choices have something in common — each has a bill of around $100 billion per year. So one question is whether we’re better off spending that money blowing up things in Helmand Province or building up things in America."

A Hard Choice on Health Care (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post

For some years, Democrats have denounced parodies that cast their party as utterly closed to the views of those who oppose abortion. Last weekend, Democrats proved conclusively that they are, indeed, a big tent -- and many in the ranks are furious.

The Misfits: Eight Politicians Who Really Ought to Switch Parties (Jill Lawrence) from Politics Daily

"It would make perfect sense for a lot of the misfits to switch parties. But that would mean sacrificing their dissident status and the attention that goes with it. It would also mean less havoc -- a sad prospect for those who enjoy political spectacle."

Obama's Organizing Army Finally Targets Republicans (Ari Melber) from the Nation


"In an unusually aggressive move, Organizing for America announced Wednesday that it is mobilizing its volunteer army to confront the 32 Republican legislators who voted against health care reform -- despite representing districts that voted for Obama."

Who Are the Blue Dogs? (Michael Tomasky) from the New York Review of Books

"A crucial fact about today's Congress, and one that even many politically astute observers may not fully appreciate, rests in the vast ideological differences between the two congressional parties. I don't mean by this that the Democrats have become uniformly liberal and the Republicans uniformly conservative, which is the standard grievance issued by the press, but rather that only the latter has happened—and that it has happened with surprising speed."

Underdogs' Senate Bids Put Pressure on GOP from the Wall Street Journal

"The trend suggests that conservative surges in a New York House race and a Senate primary in Florida were not isolated incidents and pose a dilemma for the GOP. Party leaders have stopped endorsing candidates, and in some cases establishment candidates have shifted to the right."

Tea Party Civil War? Lawsuit, GOP Friction Splits Leaders from the Huffington Post

"In October, Amy Kremer, a founder and top staffer for the Tea Party Patriots (whose activists swarmed health care town halls last summer), was forced out of the group for joining a second, more "moderate" Tea Party organization -- the Tea Party Express. Now, the Tea Party Patriots have filed a lawsuit against Kremer and issued a temporary restraining order because she tried to lock down TPP resources on her way out."

There we go! An insurgency within the insurgency!!


Catering to Their Needs from the Washington Post

"For pet parents who pledge allegiance to Whole Foods and the locavore lifestyle, the number of unpronounceable and unthinkable ingredients in mass-produced canine treats can cause a paw-size pause. So, if cooking at home is good enough for human foodies, could it work for your pet, too? Many animal lovers and canine chefs think so."


The Right to Have Loud Sex from The Week

"A British court says Caroline Cartwright can't scream during sex because she scares the neighbors. Is noisy sex a right, or a privilege?"