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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

News Nuggets 270

An image of Arcadia National Forest in Maine earlier in the year.


Winners and Losers of the Decade from Foreign Policy Magazine

'The Losers: [Topping the list] George W. Bush: It almost seems too easy. But upon reflection, it's not even close."


Poll: Americans Most Admire Obama, Clinton, Palin from USA Today

"The Obama part of this poll is especially interesting when you look at the question they asked. The Palin piece is deeply mysterious to me. "While the president's job-approval rating has eroded during his first year in office, his standing as the most-admired man demonstrates "a very strong fan base," says Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief."


Obama Gets Heat for Treating Americans Like Adults in Terror Incident (Rick Ungar) from True/Slant

"According to the media and the Republican critics, the president erred in not taking immediately to the airwaves to provide his fellow Americans ‘assurance and comfort’ that everything was, indeed, okay. What are we…five year olds? Obviously, everything was and is not okay and hearing the President of the United States pretend otherwise would only have provided me with assurance that the government was treating me like an imbecile."


China's Not a Superpower and It Won't Be Anytime Soon (Minxin Pei) from The Diplomat

"In world history, only one country--the United States--has truly acquired all the capabilities of a superpower: a technologically advanced economy, a hi-tech military, a fully integrated nation, insuperable military and economic advantages vis-a-vis potential competitors, capacity to provide global public goods and an appealing ideology. ... The challenges China faces in becoming the next superpower are truly daunting."


Don't Give Up on the US (Joel Kotkin) from Forbes Magazine

"Two in three adults now fear their children will be worse off than they are. Nearly 40% think China will become the world's dominant power in the next 20 years, as indicated by a recent survey. Yet, in spite of everything, I would still place my long-term bets on the U.S. Here's why:"


Our Euro-President (Joel Kotkin) from Forbes Magazine

I missed this item from October -- a fascinating look at Obama from the European perspective.

"Barack Obama's seemingly inexplicable winning of the Nobel Peace Prize says less about him than about the current mentality of Europe's leadership class. Lacking any strong, compelling voices of their own, the Europeans are now trying to hijack our president as their spokesman. ... Indeed it's likely that if Obama wanted to run for presidency of the E.U., he could mail it in. Unfortunately for him, he presides over a country that faces a very different future from that of Europe."


In a similar vein is this absurd and provocative editorial from a Danish newspaper called, Obama Greater Than Jesus from Politiken [of Denmark in English]

"His tangible results in the short time that he has been active – are few and far between. His greatest results have been created with words and speeches – words that remain in the consciousness of their audience and have long-term effects. ... And no we are not thinking of Jesus Christ, whose birthday has just been celebrated - - but rather the President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama."


Why the Mullahs are Vulnerable from the Wall Street Journal

"Six months after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hotly disputed election victory, the Green protest movement led by Mir Hossein Mousavi,..., shows no sign of abating. As a result, the Iranian regime finds itself once more resorting to the tactics of repression it has relied on for more than 30 years. ... Rather than being quelled by the regime's brutal response—as happened during the antigovernment protests of 1999 and 2003—the protestors' resolve has been strengthened"



The Tipping Point in Iran (Abbas Milani) from the Wall Street Journal

"This weekend's bloody protests during the holiday of Ashura culminate a pattern of persistence and perseverance on the part of the opposition. There can now be little doubt about the movement's staying power"


Growing Desperation [in Iran] from the Economist [of London]

"Increasingly fierce repression in Iran suggests that the regime has begun to fear for its future."


Obama's Historic Health Care Victory (Robert Dallek) from the Wall Street Journal

"If the reform works as intended by expanding health insurance to an additional 30 million Americans and reducing the national debt, the Democrats will pillory the Republicans for the indefinite future."


The Home Stretch: Democrats are one step from turning dreams of health reform into reality from the Economist [of London]

"Whatever the manoeuvres, the hard part will be the substantive compromises to come. The current betting is that the Senate version will prevail on most points"


Everything is Always Good for Republicans (Steve Benen) from Washington Monthly

"By all appearances, it doesn't matter if the Republican attacks are baseless and ridiculous. It doesn't matter if Republican national security policies failed. It doesn't matter that Republicans are more anxious to denounce the president than they are to denounce terrorism. What matters now is what mattered before -- whether GOP voices can create and exploit just enough misguided panic and fear to benefit politically. "


Sen. Hatch Admits GOP "Standard Practice" was to Run Up Deficit from Raw Story

"MSNBC's Rachel Maddow believes she has found the smoking gun proving Republicans' hypocrisy on health care and the budget deficit: an admission by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch that, during the Bush administration, "it was standard practice not to pay for things.""


The Left's Idiocy on Health Reform (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine

"The issue that has brought them together is opposition to the Senate's health care–reform bill, which makes some sense on the right, but none at all on the left."


BOOK NUGGET!!

The Shadow of War: A Review of Germany, 1945: From War to Peace from the National Interest

"The publication of Richard Bessel’s harrowing and intelligent account of the end of World War II in Europe, Germany 1945, is an important corrective to the self-indulgent panic of the present day. "


Sunday, December 20, 2009

News Nuggets 269


From the "cute pet" department -- from Andrew Sullivan's blog at the Atlantic


Obama's Foreign Engagement Scorecard (James Traub) from the New York Times

"The math required to hand out such grades is complicated. Engagement can fail with its immediate object, but still reshape the climate of opinion; it can succeed in warming deep-frozen relations, but at a cost not worth paying. ... Where, then, over the last year, has engagement actually advanced America’s national interest?"


Examining the Copenhagen Accord (Michael Levi) from the Council on Foreign Relations

"The Copenhagen Accord, agreed to on Saturday, is neither earth-shattering nor a failure. It avoids an international political mess that appeared likely as late as Friday afternoon. It falls short of expectations mainly because expectations had been ratcheted up far beyond what could be realistically supported. It is a meaningful step forward, but its ultimate value remains to be determined."

I KNEW IT!! Does this sound familiar or what? We should come up with a new term for those who are opposite to the realists out there: the UNREALISTS. They certainly are unreal -- as in unbelievable!


A Change of Weather from the National Journal

"The Obama administration is working climate-change awareness and countermeasures into a vast array of endeavors."


For those who are wondering where the healthcare bill is going from here, Nate Silver has an excellent summary of what's ahead and the still possible breakdowns that might occur.


A Bill Fit for a Kennedy (Adam Clymer) from the Daily Beast

"As Senate Democrats proclaimed the 60 votes needed to pass health-care reform, Kennedy biographer Adam Clymer says the late senator would have backed this bill."


Deal on Health Bill is Reached from the Washington Post

"Senate Democrats said Saturday that they had closed ranks in support of legislation to overhaul the nation's health-care system, ending months of internal division and clearing a path for quick Senate passage of President Obama's top domestic policy priority."


The New Senate Health Bill Explainer: Changes You Should Know About from Politics Daily

"Nobody said passing legislation was easy, but we’re here to help you make sense of it all. Below is a breakdown of what the big changes are today, what’s ahead for health reform in Washington, and what it means for you."


Howard Dean Walks it Back from Newsweek

"After setting off a political firestorm last week for telling legislators to kill the Senate health-care bill, progressive leader Howard Dean walked back his opposition this morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Instead of advising Congress to vote against the bill for not containing the public option, as he stridently declared on Thursday, Dean said the Senate bill had actually “improved” over the past few week..."


Why I Believe in This Bill (Jacob Hacker, a notable policy expert) from the New Republic

"It would therefore be tempting for me to side with Howard Dean and other progressive critics who say that health care reform should now be killed. It would be tempting, but it would be wrong. Since the first campaign for publicly guaranteed health insurance in the early twentieth century, opportunities for serious health reform have come only rarely and fleetingly. If this opportunity passes, it will be very long before the chance arrives again."


The Republican Health Care Blunder from the New Republic

"The United States is on the doorstep of comprehensive health care reform. It's a staggering achievement, about which I'll have more to say later. but the under-appreciated thing that strikes me at the moment is that it never would have happened if the Republican Party had played its cards right."


Democrats Take on the Liebermonster (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post

Milbank -- ever the contrarian.

"To them he has become a Liebermonster, loathed as if he were Dick Cheney -- maybe more, because liberals feel betrayed by Lieberman."


CIMATE CHANGE NUGGET!!

For India and China, A Climate Clash with Their Own Destiny from the New York Times

"The Copenhagen fault lines can be interpreted not as India and China versus the global rich, but rather China 1800 versus China 1978 versus China 2100."


Saturday, December 19, 2009

News Nuggets 268


A pika, a relative to the rabbit that lives out west. From National Geographic.


Obama Plays Hardball on Climate Change (David Corn) from the Atlantic

"Obama played it simple and hard. He maintained the United States was calling for three basic principles: mitigation, transparency, and financing. But he noted that it was absolutely necessary to verify the reductions commitments of the major emitters. ... Obama essentially accused other leaders of preferring "posturing to action.""


Copenhagen: What Does it Mean? (Walter Russell Mead) from Politico

While I think Mead is one of the best commentators on US foreign policy out there, boy, are there a lot of folks who do not share his assessment here.

"Winners: The Big Winner: Barack Obama: Active and unconventional personal diplomacy enabled President Obama to dominate the global summit like no other figure. Whatever you think of the result, this showed who the most important world leader really is."


Democrats Clinch a Deal on Health Bill from the New York Times

A miracle out of scripture!

"Senate Democrats said Saturday that they had clinched an agreement on a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s health care system and forged ahead with efforts to approve the legislation by Christmas over Republican opposition."


The Washington Post's coverage is HERE.


Our ON-THE-MONEY pundit of the day!

Dean's Blind Spot (Ronald Brownstein) from the Atlantic

"Maybe one reason former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and so much of the digital Left can so casually dismiss the Senate health care reform bill is that they operate in an environment where so few people need to worry about access to insurance."


The Moment Ted Kennedy Would Not want to Lose (Victoria Kennedy) from the Washington Post

"If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn't do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn't arise again for a generation."


The $2 Trillion Man from Foreign Policy Magazine

"In one sense, Obama achieved more in the first 11 months of his presidency than his predecessor managed to in eight years. My research clearly shows that he has begun to restore America's good name, an intangible asset with highly tangible (read: lucrative) consequences. As head of state, Obama has boosted the value of "Brand America" by just over $2 trillion, up from $9.7 trillion in 2008 to $11.8 trillion this year."


He's Not Perfect But Obama Deserves at Least a B (Editorial) from the Financial Times [of London]

"Against these largely correctable mis-steps, though, Mr Obama has achieved something far larger. By adopting a tone of civility and respect towards those who may often disagree with America, from the mosques of Cairo to the street caf├ęs of old Europe, Mr Obama has cut a lot of ground from under those who always hate America."


Russia, US Close to Nuclear Pact from the New York Times

"Russia and the United States are very close to resolving all remaining questions on a new treaty to slash vast Cold War arsenals of nuclear weapons, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday."


How Democrats Can Get Themselves Back in Shape (Editorial) from the New Republic

"The ten and one-half months between now and the midterm elections are an eternity in politics … and not long at all. If Democrats are to turn things around, they must quickly agree on their best strategy, and then execute it relentlessly. Here are my suggestions."


Emotional Reasoning (Michael Tomasky) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"I was just thinking about this intra-liberal slugfest that's developing between people who say a) the bill is plenty good enough and the consequences of its failure are too immense to chance and b) the bill is a sellout that's worse than the status quo and doesn't represent change we can believe in."


A Man of the Left (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest

"Any health care bill is a big step forward from the Democratic perspective. Obama is not wrong when he tells Democratic Senators that passage of a health-care bill would be the biggest accomplishment since the establishment of Social Security."


How Michelle Turned Around Her Image (Lynn Sweet) from Politics Daily

"The latest polls demonstrate how firmly she has turned around her image since hitting a low point during the presidential campaign, when she was seen by some as angry, dogged by her February, 2008 remark about how, "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country." She has done this by framing herself as a wife, mother, daughter and sister, not trying to redefine the role of first lady, limiting interviews and staying militantly noncontroversial."


Thursday, December 17, 2009

News Nuggets 267

A view from a hotel room in one of China's major industrial cities. No commentary necessary. By James Fallows at the Atlantic.


UP-FRONT ON-THE-MONEY PUNDIT OF THE DAY!

The Politics of Ressentiment [yes, that's spelled correctly] (Julian Sanchez) from True/Slant

Usually I save the overtly political items for further down the daily list -- but not today. Here's a really insightful look at what's driving conservatives these days.

"Ressentiment is a sense of resentment and hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one’s frustration, an assignation of blame for one’s frustration. The sense of weakness or inferiority and perhaps jealousy in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration. The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability."


Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic has some additional comments on these ideas HERE.


Obama Averts the 'Nobel Trap' (Editorial) from Le Figaro [of France in English]

"He graciously accepted the praise of the prestigious jury, but did so without seeming to enjoy his tremendous popularity outside the U.S. so as not to benefit those who criticize him for being naive with his consensual approach to international issues."


Mr. Obama's Afghanistan Gamble Corners Europe from Le Figaro [of France in English]

"The European allies of NATO were demanding a strategy for getting out of Afghanistan. … Obama has taken them at their word. If they intend to preserve relations with Washington, it will now be harder to refuse contributions to an effort presented as limited in duration."


The Climate Summit and the Challenge of Governing the Planet (Editorial) from Le Figaro [of France in English]

A perceptive take on what the Copenhagan Summit seems to demonstrate. On the truly macro-level, can the nations of the world really deal effectively with something as global as climate change? As things stand now, it seems not.

"The fact that questions of such complexity are being discussed in a forum as large and disorganized as this shows how much progress is needed … Whether there is an agreement or not, the creation of a global organization for the environment is required to end the rat race."


More on Liberal Opposition to Health Care Reform (Michael Tomasky) from the [Manchester] Guardian

An EXCELLENT run-down of what's still in the Senate health care bill.

"What liberal coming out of that coma would say this was a bad deal? Not a one. It only looks like a bad deal because a) people made a fetish of the public option, which I was certainly for but not as a fetishist, and b) because people liberals don't like (Lieberman) have had too much power in this process."


Health Reform Options Narrow (Ed Kilgore) from the Democratic Strategist

"But the fact remains that there are only 58 reasonably assured votes for cloture on the recently negotiated Team of Ten "deal" for health care reform. ... So what are the options left to the White House and the Democratic congressional leadership?"


Illusions and Bitterness (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"There’s enormous disappointment among progressives about the emerging health care bill — and rightly so. That said, even as it stands it would take a big step toward greater security for Americans and greater social justice; it would also save many lives over the decade ahead."


Has Howard Dean lost His Mind? (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post

"At this point, the bill does more harm than good,” he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Good Morning America. “This is an insurance company’s dream, this bill. ” This is self-defeating lunacy."


Sorry Senator Kerry (Gail Collins) from the New York Times

"Politicians switch direction all the time, but the Lieberman experience has been weird because he doesn’t seem to feel as though he’s changed. He bounds around happily, doing the talk shows, confident that he’s the same independent-minded independent who believes in independence as always."


The Case for Optimism on the Economy (Alan Blinder) from the Wall Street Journal

"There are serious dangers to the nascent recovery. But you've heard all that many times. Let me offer instead, in deliberately one-sided fashion, the case for optimism. It is, after all, the holiday season."


Speaker Pelosi to Shield Vulnerable Members from Controversial Votes from The Hill

I suspect there's nothing new here. I think this has been going on from the beginning of the congressional session THIS year.

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has privately told her politically vulnerable Democratic members that they will not vote on controversial bills in 2010 unless the Senate acts first."


SEVERAL GREAT PROFILE NUGGETS!

1. Nancy Pelosi: Runner Up for Person of the Year (Karen Tumulty) from Time Magazine

"It can be foolish — maybe even dangerous — to underestimate Nancy Pelosi. A former stay-at-home mom of five who didn't run for public office until she was almost 47, Pelosi holds the highest post ever attained by any woman in U.S. history, and stands second in line of succession to the presidency. She has consolidated more power than any other Speaker in modern history, scholars of the office believe."


2. Can Artur Davis Become Alabama's First Black Governor? (Cynthia Tucker) from the Atlanta journal Constitution

I have to confess that I'm a huge fan of both Artur Davis and Cynthia Tucker.

"Davis, the black Democrat who has represented Alabama’s seventh district in Congress since 2003, is running a shrewd campaign, with Jere Beasley, who once served as lieutenant governor under George Wallace, as his campaign chairman. Several polls have shown Davis either leading or keeping up with Republican contenders, while easily besting a Democratic challenger."


3. Dubya: The Surreal Afterlife of an Ex-President from the [London] Independent

At least he's keeping his mouth shut for the most part.

"What has the most unpopular US President of all time been doing during his first year of retirement? Telling bad jokes – and defending his reputation, discovers Alex Hannaford in Texas"


BOOKCASE NUGGET!!

Eleven of the Coolest Bookcases! from the Huffington post

"Coolest" -- and easily the most dysfunctional.


OCTOPUS NUGGET!

Wannabe Crabs from Andrew Sullivan's Blog at the Atlantic

I am increasingly becoming a fan of octopi!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

News Nuggets 266


An award-winning image of a whale coming out of its aerial leap -- from the [Manchester] Guardian


For those of you besides themselves over Joe Lieberman's antics, we have several very good consolation nuggets first up.


What Public Option Supporters Won (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic

"Disappointed progressives may be wondering whether their efforts were a waste. They most decidedly were not. The campaign for the public option pushed the entire debate to the left--and, to use a military metaphor, it diverted enemy fire away from the rest of the bill."supporters-won


Health Care's Home Stretch (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones

"With the public option now out of the healthcare bill, is it still worth passing? ..., I think the answer is pretty firmly yes—and that liberals who now want to pick up their toys and hand reform its sixth defeat in the past century need to wake up and smell the decaf. Politics sucks. It always has. But the bill in front of us—messy, incomplete, and replete with bribes to every interest group imaginable—is still well worth passing."


Deal or Die on Health Care (Paul Starr) from the American Prospect

"None of this, however, affects the central provisions of the legislation, which would extend health coverage to an estimated 33 million of the uninsured, raise standards of protection for millions whose coverage is limited, eliminate some of the most hated abuses of the insurance industry, and create a new system of insurance exchanges that would enable people who buy policies individually or through small groups to get new choices and better prices for coverage."


Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill (Nate Silver) at FiveThirtyEight.com

"For any "progressive" who is concerned about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America, this bill would be an absolutely monumental achievement."


Predictions of Western Decline are 'Presumtuous' (Editorial) from the China Daily [of the People's Republic of China in English]

No -- this posting does not relate to the health care legislation.

"Should Chinese take pleasure in the economic pain of the West, while rejoicing at the way their country has weathered the global economic crisis? According to Hong Liang of the state-run China Daily, those who now do so are engaged in a self-defeating delusion."


Is Obama Really A Hawk? (Leslie Gelb) from the Daily Beast

"Conservatives have read too much into Obama’s recent comments on the necessity of war. Leslie H. Gelb on the president’s peaceful—and increasingly promising—foreign policy."


Obama's Christian Realism (David Brooks) from the New York Times

"After Vietnam, most liberals moved on. It became unfashionable to talk about evil. ... Barack Obama never bought into these shifts. In the past few weeks, he has revived the Christian realism that undergirded cold war liberal thinking and tried to apply it to a different world."


A Policy Bears Fruit (Jackson Diehl) from the Washington Post

"The verdict on Obama's policy of multilateralism, engagement and circumscribed American ambitions is very much still out. Its proponents have said all along that it would take time to show results. And -- partly because of the administration's own missteps -- the critics have failed to notice that at least some of those results are starting to come in."


Reality Check from Oslo (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post

"The president reminded us why he had seized the imaginations of so many in the first place. The speech was commonly described as a defense of "just war," and it was -- a rigorous, unblinking argument for why violence and the threat of violence can be necessary on behalf of the right and the good. But even more, the speech revived a school of foreign policy thinking that allied realism with idealism."


Disaster and Denial (Paul Krugmen) from the New York Times

Our ON-THE-MONEY pundit for the day!

"Talk to conservatives about the financial crisis and you enter an alternative, bizarro universe in which government bureaucrats, not greedy bankers, caused the meltdown. It’s a universe in which government-sponsored lending agencies triggered the crisis, even though private lenders actually made the vast majority of subprime loans. It’s a universe in which regulators coerced bankers into making loans to unqualified borrowers, even though only one of the top 25 subprime lenders was subject to the regulations in question."


Win or Lose, Hillary Clinton Just Goes from Strength to Strength from the [Manchester] Guardian

"Defeat by Barack Obama was supposed to signal a return to the Senate: instead, Hillary Clinton has become a high-profile secretary of state, and is being tipped for the vice-presidency in 2012 and the White House in 2016."


The Republicans' War Within from the Washington post

"There are large parts of the state where the party is irrelevant," said Allan Hoffenblum, a well-known California political analyst who has been a campaign manager for Republicans in the state. "It's not even a statewide party, really." But few stories better reflect the divisions and disarray among state Republicans than the saga of an obscure Southern California assemblyman."


RECESSION NUGGET!!

I didn't know where else to put this short, strange reflection on the impact of these hard economic times.

"Ain't No Shame in Bein' a Ho" from the Atlantic

"No, what my daughter is doing is using her natural born talents. Her beauty. She's using the tools god gave her. Some at my church might call it immoral. I think it good business sense. Especially these days."


Sunday, December 13, 2009

News Nuggets 265


A beautiful sunset in Chicago earlier this week - from Americablog.


A really great speech from Obama in Oslo. Check it out in four parts HERE, HERE, HERE, and finally HERE.


Obama Doctrine Emerges in Oslo Speech (Doyle McManus) from the Los Angeles Times

"The president's speech was about much more than the regrettable necessity of war. It also contained the fullest exposition so far of Obama's evolving approach to global diplomacy, including his attempts at "engagement" with hostile regimes in places such as Iran, North Korea and Sudan -- in other words, the emerging Obama doctrine."


A similar comment on an emerging Obama doctrine can be found HERE at the National Journal


Classic Obama: Obama's Nobel Speech (James Fallows) from the Atlantic

"This was a very good and serious speech, which like many of his major addresses ... will stand re-reading and close inspection, and which shared an obvious intellectual and structural architecture with all his other major addresses."


Of Niebuhr and Nobels: Divining Obama's Theology from Politics Daily

"Niebuhr is a defining influence on the “Obama doctrine” that many say does not exist, but that’s probably because they are looking in the wrong place."


Words That Matter (David Broder) from the Washington Post

Gee whiz! I can't remember the last time Broder made a nugget worth referencing!

"One of the things that sets Barack Obama apart from most politicians is how much can be learned from listening to his speeches. The president is sometimes criticized for the volume of his public appearances, and, in truth, he is out there orating a lot. But we learned in the course of his campaign -- and it was reinforced in this first year of his term -- that it's a mistake to think of these talks as routine. They have no equal in providing insights into the way his mind works and the context that guides his decisions."


Do Conservatives Know What They Are Embracing? (Michael Tomasky) from the [Manchester] Guardian

"I'm surprised and somewhat amused by the conservative laurels being strewn at Obama's feet over the Nobel lecture. It really makes me wonder what they heard. I think I know."


Iran's Conservative Crackup from Foreign Policy Magazine

"A series of political defections and a new poll provesthat Ahmadinejad is losing support among the conservatives who once made up his base."


Iran Signals Interest in Fuel Deal from Politico

"A day after the European Union and Obama White House said they would soon press for sanctions on Iran, the Iranian foreign minister told an international conference that Iran accepts in principle a deal to swap its enriched uranium for fuel rods it can use in nuclear medicine"

The difficulty here, however, is that Iranian officials have almost systematically squandered their credibility over the last two years and in the last six months especially. Obama would be taking a huge risk here taking anything they say on face value. For Obama, raising the bar would seem to be in order.


The Comeback (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National interest

"If Obama can sign one shortly before or after Christmas, he will experience a bump in the polls. Forget the details of the bill. The media loves a big story and it will be all about the vindication of the president. Another month of lower job losses will also make a big difference in public perceptions of Obama’s performance. In truth, he could be poised for a comeback."


Scoring Obama's Nat'l Security Team from Politico

I wouldn't take this as gospel -- but it is an interesting analysis nonetheless.

"Who would excel in the new administration? Who would feel their influence ebbing and leave? A year later we know some of the answers. "


Obama's Enforcer from Newsweek

"The president's patience with Iran has worn thin. That's where Stuart Levey—rhymes with 'heavy'—comes in."


Jobs Are On the Way! (Daniel Gross) from Newsweek

"Jobs are on the way, and sooner than you think. Not enough to make everybody happy, of course, or to reach anything approaching full employment. But the data suggest that the economy, now growing at a rate above its historical trend, may be creating more jobs than are being lost."


Massive Financial Reform Passes House from the Los Angeles Times

"The bill would give broad new powers to regulators, including the ability to break up firms like AIG and Lehman Bros. whose failure could shake the economy."


In Copenhagan and in US Congress, Obama Plays a 'Cunning Game' (Editorial) from Le Figaro [of France in English]

"Wedged between the disillusioned and the skeptical, the position of the American president seems increasingly difficult to maintain. Yet Obama continues to play his part with 'cunning and determination.'"


Bipartisanship at Last? The Parties Fashion the 2012 Presidential Nominating Process from the VA Center for Politics

"The two parties each have their own commission studying a revamp of the system for next time. They could produce a later starting date, a spread-out primary calendar, and on the Democratic side, a sharp reduction in the number of unelected "superdelegates." (The latter, a variety of party and elected officials, comprised nearly 20 percent of the last Democratic convention and drew criticism as being anti-democratic.) The big news, though, is that for the first time ever, the two parties are working concurrently and are consulting with each other in the process."


Iowa Tea Partiers Eye Palin, Jindal, Pence (Marc Ambinder) from the Atlantic

Jindal -- who raised taxes in Louisiana? Surprising.

"Tea-party support figures to be a hot commodity for Republicans running for president in 2012, and, according to an Iowa tea party organizer, the three leading contenders to win the backing of tea partiers in the first caucus state are Sarah Palin, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (IN)."


BOOK NUGGET!!

What Obama learned from my Book (Gordon Goldstein) from the Daily Beast

This article relates to Goldstein's book "Lessons in Disaster" which Obama insisted that most of his foreign policy folks read in preparing for the troop surge decision.


TOP 100 NUGGET!!

Foreign Policy Magazine's First Annual List of the 100 Top Global Thinkers from Foreign Policy Magazine

A VERY INTERESTING list -- worth the time to read in depth.

"From the brains behind Iran's Green Revolution to the economic Cassandra who actually did have a crystal ball, they had the big ideas that shaped our world in 2009. Read on to see the 100 minds that mattered most in the year that was."


URBAN NUGGET!!

The World's Smartest Cities from Forbes Magazine

"The green-only litmus test dictates cities should emulate either places with less-than-dynamic economies, like Portland, Ore., or Honolulu, or one of the rather homogeneous and staid Scandinavian capitals. In contrast, I have determined my "smartest" cities not only by looking at infrastructure and livability, but also economic fundamentals."


UK ROYALTY NUGGET!!

Prince William to Share Duties: Treasury Document Reveals Secret Plan to Make Him the 'Shadow King' from the [London] Daily Mail

I have to confess I normally couldn't care less what the Windsors are doing on any given day -- but, if true, this story does not speak well of the Queen just as a human being. Moreover, since the days of Victoria it is astonishing to contemplate how much effort the royals have given to raising their children to carry the "burden of kingship" -- only to fail -- at least by their own tyrannical lights (see Edward VII, Edward VIII, and now Charles). I think they'd do better just by picking some random British couple and having them raise their offspring instead. Good God! The Dursleys (of Harry Potter fame) could have done a better job.

"The Queen is to hand over a substantial part of her public duties to Prince William to help him prepare for the day when he becomes King, according to a confidential document obtained by The Mail on Sunday."


Thursday, December 10, 2009

News Nuggets 264


A statue of Obama -- at age 10! Where can you find this item?! In his old stomping ground in Jakarta, Indonesia. From the Jakarta Globe -- see the last nugget today. I find this pretty hilarious!


Obama Shrinks the War on Terrorism (Peter Beinart) from Time Magazine

Our ON-THE_MONEY pundit of the day!

"His foreign policy in the greater Middle East amounts to an elaborate effort to peel back eight years of onion in hopes of finding the war on terrorism's lost inner core: the struggle against al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda alone. That's the subtext underlying his new Afghan strategy."


Interview with an Iraqi Translator from the New York Times

"The idea of an Iraqi knowledgeable and passionate about American literature might seem strange to some: Waleed was definitely not your average citizen, true. For me, it was a reminder of the people we cross paths with in this life and often know little about. ... In this case, I was fortunate to get a glimpse of the Iraq I served in through Waleed’s eyes. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation."


Senate Compromise on Health Care Gaining Support from the Huffington Post

"President Barack Obama as well as Democratic liberals and moderates all found something to like Wednesday in an emerging compromise to expand the role of government in the nation's health care system, raising hopes inside the party that passage of overhaul legislation might be within reach after a struggle lasting decades."


A Jaw-Dropping Political Deal (Eric Alterman) from the Daily Beast

"The health-care bill had a list of enemies thicker than Tiger Woods’ little black book. Despite it all, the majority of Americans who favor reform just might get their wish."


Reid Strikes a Good Deal (Editorial) from the Editorial Board of the Boston Globe

"SENATE MAJORITY leader Harry Reid has brokered a workable compromise on health care without sacrificing the basic goals of reform. Any national health law that requires everyone to have insurance must offer a range of affordable policies to choose from."


Howard Dean is Moving toward Reality on Reform and Other Liberals Should, Too (Jill Lawrence) from Politics Daily

"Look to Howard Dean for cues and clues to the fate of health reform. The former Vermont governor, presidential candidate and Democratic Party chairman was adamant last spring that real health reform had to include a government-run public plan. He's now supportive of a Senate compromise that's a long way from where we started, but possibly the only way to get us to the finish line."


EPA is Preparing to Regulate Emissions in Congress's Stead from the Washington Post

EXCELLENT NEWS!! THIS is why it makes a difference who is in the White House! It also showcases that who gets appointed MATTER!

"The Obama administration moved closer Monday to issuing regulations on greenhouse gases, a step that would enable it to limit emissions across the economy even if Congress does not pass climate legislation."


HERE's some commentary on this change from Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe.


And two views from Europe:

1. They Don't Come Any Greener than Obama from Der Spiegel

"As the curtains open at the global summit in Copenhagen, critics in Europe are calling US President Barack Obama a liar and a traitor in the fight to slow global warming. In truth, though, he's the greenest president America has ever seen."


2. Barack Obama Given Power to Cut Greenhouse Gases from the [London] Daily Telegraph

"Hopes that the US will pass new laws vital to limiting carbon emissions were given a major boost on the opening day of the Copenhagen climate summit."


And a blast from James Fallows at the Atlantic contrasting the NYT and the Washington Post's coverage of climate issues:

Climate 101 (James Fallows) from the Atlantic

"Not to overdramatize, but: in a way the papers are betting their reputations with these articles. The Times, that climate change is simply a matter of science versus ignorance; the Post, that this is best treated as another "-Gate" style flap where it's hard to get to the bottom of the story. While I don't claim to be a climate expert, the overwhelming balance of what I've read convinces me that the Times's approach is right."


Obama Administration Rolls Out Unprecedented Transparency Plan from Huffington Post

"On Tuesday, the Obama administration acted on a promise the president made on his first day in office -- to make government agencies more transparent, participatory and collaborative via an "Open Government Directive." Transparency-in-government advocacy groups hailed the announcement."


Tea Party Conservatives, A Political Surge from the Washington Post

""It's time to take control," conservative activist Eric Odom declares on the Web site of his new political action committee, Liberty First PAC, which will "support fellow patriots looking [to] defend our liberty." Odom, who played a central role in organizing the first tea party protests this spring, says the PAC will not support incumbents of either party."

GO FOR IT, DUDE!!


Limbaugh vs. McConnell: GOP Leader Targeted by Conservative Groups from The Hill

"Rush Limbaugh and conservative interest groups are criticizing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for not putting up a strong enough fight to stop the Democratic healthcare legislation."

"YEAH!! Take him down too while you're at it!


Tea Party Tops GOP on Three-Way Generic Ballot from Rasmussen Reports

Amazing!

"In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided."


Statue of a Young Obama to Watch Over Indonesian Capital from the Jakarta Globe

"A bronze statue of a young Barack Obama is set to stand in the Menteng neighborhood of Central Jakarta where the US president spent part of his childhood."