Sunday, February 28, 2010

News Nuggets 288

This undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday Feb. 28, 2010, shows the newly unearthed 3,400-year old red granite head, part of a huge statue of the ancient pharaoh Amenhotep III, at the pharaoh's mortuary temple in the city of Luxor. Egypt's Culture Ministry says a team of Egyptian and European archaeologists has unearthed a large head made of red granite of an ancient pharaoh who ruled Egypt some 3,400 years ago. See the Ancient Egypt Nugget below.

Quote Nugget: [On the right's tendency to oppose any criticism of the US] "Alexis de Tocqueville, a hero to many on the right, noted with concern nearly two centuries ago that Americans were prone to “the perpetual utterance of self-applause.” For all of his prescience, I suspect the great Frenchman would be surprised and disappointed to find that all these years later, at a time when the country faces daunting long-term challenges, one of the nation's two governing ideologies has come to define itself by its singular dedication to the proposition that the standing ovation never stop. "

- from Damon Linker at the New Republic.

The Surge is Working: All the Signs Point America's Way from Newsweek

A surprisingly upbeat assessment.

"Though the Taliban is entrenched in Helmand province, where Marja is situated, its grip is slipping in the rest of Afghanistan as President Barack Obama's 30,000-troop surge unfolds. These developments undercut the common belief that America is doomed to fail in a land of fiercely tribal, pro-Taliban Pashtuns who hate infidel invaders. In fact, Afghanistan's demography, sociology, military situation, and politics all favor Obama's counterinsurgency strategy. That's why it's working."

[On Iraq] Rebirth of a Nation from Newsweek

This was their cover story this last week.

"Something that looks an awful lot like democracy is beginning to take hold in Iraq. It may not be 'mission accomplished'—but it's a start."

We the Problem (Evan Thomas) from Time Magazine

Thomas is on the money here.

"The problem is not the system. It's us—our "got mine" culture of entitlement. Politicians, never known for their bravery, precisely represent the people. Our leaders are paralyzed by the very thought of asking their constituents to make short-term sacrifices for long-term rewards. They cannot bring themselves to raise taxes on the middle class or cut Social Security and medical benefits for the elderly. They'd get clobbered at the polls. So any day of reckoning gets put off, and put off again, and the debts pile up."

The Blair House Test: Obama's Summit Sets a Precedent (Jonathan Alter) from Newsweek

I'm not sure that I agree with Mr. Alter's assessment -- but it's interesting nonetheless.

"A funny thing happened on the way back to the usual bickering. The wonky cable conclave became one of the most important events of the year old Obama presidency—and for reasons beyond its potential to advance landmark legislation. The leaders didn't actually accomplish anything, but they inadvertently created a new democratic institution. The face-off set a teleprompter-free precedent that will be tough for future presidents or members of Congress to break."

How the GOP Goes Green (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"It is early evening on Capitol Hill, and I am sitting with Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who, along with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, is trying to craft a new energy bill — one that could actually win 60 votes. What is interesting about Graham is that he has been willing — courageously in my view — to depart from the prevailing G.O.P. consensus that the only energy policy we need is “drill, baby, drill.” What brought you around, I ask?" Graham’s short answer: politics, jobs and legacy.

Learning from the Sin of Sodom (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times

"For most of the last century, save-the-worlders were primarily Democrats and liberals. In contrast, many Republicans and religious conservatives denounced government aid programs, with Senator Jesse Helms calling them “money down a rat hole.” Over the last decade, however, that divide has dissolved, in ways that many Americans haven’t noticed or appreciated. Evangelicals have become the new internationalists."

How Ireland Lost Its Faith from Foreign Policy Magazine

"The recent child abuse scandals are just the latest development in the Catholic Church's long retreat from its one-time stronghold."

A Kennedy Considers Running for House Seat from the Boston Globe

So much for the "end-of-the-Kennedy dynasty" talk. There's actually a bunch of them looking to make an electoral entrance somewhere.

"With speculation mounting that US Representative William D. Delahunt will not seek reelection, Joseph P. Kennedy III, son of the former congressman and great-grandson of the Kennedy family patriarch, is eyeing a run to succeed him in the 10th Congressional District, senior Democratic sources say."

Hillary Clinton: Betrayed in the End, by Senate Boys Club? from Politics Daily

This sounds right to me -- although I think it had less to do with sexism than broad-based Clinton fatigue -- but who knows?

"In "Notes From the Cracked Ceiling," author Anne E. Kornblut makes the case that the national electorate isn't ready for a woman president, judging by her own coverage of Hillary Clinton's campaign for The Washington Post. Actually, it may be the Washington elected class that's most resistant to a gender game change -- meaning in the 2008 drama, Clinton's own fellow senators."

On Spending, Conservatives are Quite Conflicted from Salon

"The government spends too much! Except when it comes to schools and infrastructure and Social Security and ..."

An outrageous indictment in my view. The top two items they are most keen to cut are public schools and childcare. Never mind that even eliminating these items entirely won't dent the deficit -- but it's interesting how our culture (and I mean everyone) is so indifferent to the plight of our children.

And here is Michael Tomasky's response to this, The Seduction of Rhetoric at the Guardian [of the UK]

See also the Education Nugget below for something that is in the same vein in my view.

The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged (Frank Rich) from the New York Times

"If I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, ... I’d put my money instead on the murder suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18. It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen. What made that kamikaze mission eventful was less the deranged act itself than the curious reaction of politicians on the right who gave it a pass — or, worse, flirted with condoning it."

Conservatives Target Their Own Fringe from Politico

I suspect this is where many of the most neophyte elements of the Tea Party fringe are going to start to become disillusioned and (hopefully) go back into the uninformed, conspiracy-ridden limbo they crawled from. If not, this could get really ugly -- in an interesting sort of way.

"After months of struggling to harness the energy of newly engaged tea party activists, the conservative establishment — with critical midterm congressional elections on the horizon — is taking aim for the first time at the movement’s extremist elements."


South Dakota Legislators Tell Schools to to Teach "Astrological" Explanation for Global Warming from ThinkProgress

There is SO MUCH about this item that is loony, it stands head-and-shoulders above the average insanity!

"After repeating long-debunked denier myths and calling carbon dioxide “the gas of life,” the resolution concludes that public schools should teach that “global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact”"


What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart? from the Wall Street Journal from 2008

"Finnish teachers pick books and customize lessons as they shape students to national standards. "In most countries, education feels like a car factory. In Finland, the teachers are the entrepreneurs," says Mr. Schleicher, of the Paris-based OECD, which began the international student test in 2000."

Some commentary here: How Does Finland's Education Become the Best in the World? (Opinion) from and here: Focus on Schools Helps Finns Build a Showcase Nation from the Washington Post


Let These Women Pray! from the Daily Beast

"In an uprising reminiscent of the lunch-counter protests of the 1960s, women at one of Washington D.C.'s most popular mosques are copying the tactics of the civil-rights movement, and refusing to follow rules that ban them from praying with the men. Asra Q. Nomani on the arrest threats and outrage that followed."


New Yorker Editor to Publish Obama Biography from the Guardian [of the UK]

"David Remnick's book, based on hundreds of interviews with the president and close associates, will be published in the US in April, and in the UK in May"


Massive Pharaoh Head Unearthed in Egypt from the Associated Press via Huffington Post

"Archaeologists have unearthed the massive head of one Egypt's most famous pharoahs who ruled nearly 3,400 years ago, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Sunday."


Liberalism, Atheism, Male Sexual Exclusivity Linked to IQ from CNN

"Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds."


I'm not sure anyone else will be fascinated by this story form MSNBC concerning the Copper magnate and US Senator William A. Clark, one of the richest guys in the world ... in 1900. MSNBC does a very interesting "slide-show story" on him and his daughter ... who should be alive somewhere.

The Clarks: An American Story of Wealth, Scandal, and Mystery from MSNBC

"Here's the story of a U.S. Senator who fathered a child with a woman in Paris 39 years younger, but waited until the child was 2 years old before telling anyone. When he is finally forced to resign, the governor is tricked into leaving the state, so the lieutenant governor can appoint the disgraced senator to fill his own vacancy. It's all true, but it happened more than 100 years ago."


Murder by the Drop: A Review of the Poisoner's Handbook from the New York Times

"A rich history of the development of forensics in New York, by a Pulitzer-winning science writer."

Friday, February 26, 2010

News Nuggets 287

Mexico's Cave of Crystals deep below the Chihuahuan desert. This image BLEW ME AWAY! I'm used to seeing these types of rock formations in glass cases in museum minerals sections. These are like LIMOUSINE-SIZED formations. From National Geographic.

Is Obama Tough Enough? from the Editorial Board of the Economist

"Mr Obama is “the groveller in chief”, says Michelle Malkin, a conservative blogger. ... An anti-Obama bumper-sticker asked: “So you’re for abortion but against killing terrorists?” Most of these barbs are bunk. ... Conservatives call him too weak to be a warrior. Tell that to the Taliban."

Obama's Pakistan Successes (Michael Hirsh) from Newsweek

"How the U.S. is gaining cooperation in Islamabad, making the country more stable while hitting the Taliban hard."

China Fine-tunes its Iran Strategy (Editorial) from the Asia Times [of Hong Kong in English]

"Around mid-year 2010, the Obama administration expects China to stand and deliver the final building block needed for the Security Council resolution, either by abstaining and exposing Iran to potentially "crippling" follow-on national sanctions, or casting a veto and joining Iran in pariah status on the geopolitical sidelines."

What We Have in Iran is an Unfolding Revolution (Editorial) from the Daily Star [of Lebanon in English]

"Obviously, though, the wind of change has already swept through the Iranian landscape and there is no turning back. Sooner or later, the rigid and ultra-conservative Iranian regime will have to change, as all revolutions do."

The End Seems Near for the Putin Model (Anders Aslund) from the Washington Post

"A recent week in Moscow left one clear impression: The Putin model of crony state capitalism is dead. For years, the structure that Vladimir Putin crafted looked invincible, with its steady, high growth rates and effective, mild repression. But the system only distributed ample oil rents to the elites and the ordinary people, creating neither moral nor economic value. Today the bill is due."

Obama to GOP: It's Over (Greg Sargent) from the Plum Line via the Washington Post

"Obama is saying that unless Republicans support comprehensive reform as Obama and Dems have defined it — dealing with the problem of 30 million uninsured and, by extension, seriously tackling the preexisting condition problem — they will almost certainly move forward with reconciliation."

Winners and Losers from the Health Care Summit (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post

"What Obama did do was paint himself -- for anyone who was watching -- as someone genuinely interested in compromise and genuinely interested in engaging with his Republican colleagues. (Whether that was a facade or the real thing remains a major point of debate between partisans.)"

Obama Walks Tall, Carries Big Paddle (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post

"An equal number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers assembled around a table at Blair House, and each had a chance to speak during the seven-hour televised talkathon. But members of the opposition party may not have fully understood that they were stepping into Prof. Obama's classroom, and that they were to be treated like his undisciplined pupils."

TR: The Conservatives' New Demon (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post

"Such is the zeal in portions of the tea party right that it is not enough to sweep out living members of the establishment such as John McCain. A brisk, ideological scrubbing must be applied to history as well. ... The problem with America, apparently, is not just the Great Society or even the New Deal; it is the Square Deal."

Crist Sounding More and More ... Independent from The Hill


"Either Charlie Crist realizes he can’t escape the stimulus, or he’s leaning toward an independent run for Senate."

Will Charlie Crist Ditch the GOP? (Editorial) from [Central Florida] Sun Sentinel

"Two highly placed and independent sources, speaking strictly on background, tell me that Gov. Charlie Crist is preparing to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent in the race for the U.S. Senate. ... So tell me, do you believe it is possible that Crist will leave the Republican Party to run as an independent. You do, don't you? And that is why Crist will lose to Rubio."

Missing Element in Obama's Ties with GOP Leaders: Good Chemistry from the New York Times

I can believe it! However, I think the authors are off in putting the onus on Obama as they seem to do.

"Beyond all the hand-wringing about hyper-partisanship that accompanies every discussion here these days, a more subtle — and perhaps pertinent — reality hangs over the much-anticipated Blair House confab: Mr. Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill appear to have no personal chemistry whatsoever."

Taking Exception: Why Conservatives Refuse to See America's Flaws (Damon Linker) from the New Republic

Some interesting observations here about conservatives' views of America's historical narrative.

"What Lowry and Ponnuru want to accomplish is something far more pernicious—namely, to relegate contrary voices in our national narrative to the periphery of our history, and perhaps even to read them out of our history altogether."

Missing the Tea Party (Linda Greenhouse) from the New York Times

Greenhouse is one my favorite Supreme Court watchers.

"The real surprise of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which magnified the ability of corporations to spend money in political campaigns, is how widely disliked the ruling is across the ideological spectrum. After more than a month, the storm set off by the Citizens United ruling is still raging."

The End of the Tea Party (Editorial) from American Prospect

This article captures very well my long-held view on the Tea Party crowd. Burns hot -- then flames out.

"Since Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," this ever-recurring force has been thoroughly examined by historians and sociologists. But what really binds these episodes together is their transience. McCarthy had much of Washington intimidated, until one day he was just a sorry alcoholic with no sense of decency. Gingrich boasted that after his revolution, Medicare would "wither on the vine"; instead, it was his movement that withered. What brings these movements to an end deserves as much study as what gets them started."

Most 'Tea Party' Followers are Baby Boomers Reliving the '60s from the Los Angeles Times

"More likely to be white and male than the general population, tea partyers also skew toward middle age or older. That's the tell. Most came of age in the 1960s, an era distinguished by widespread disrespect for government. In their wonder years, they learned that politics was about protesting the Establishment and shouting down the Man. No wonder they're doing that now."

Those boomers again -- I don't know why the LATimes paints this as a surprise. I do think they view this too narrowly, painting the Tea Partiers as leftover hippies and Viet Nam protesters. I think conservative boomers came out of the sixties with many of the same "me, me" proclivities as those on the left at the time. The Times is also way off in saying that this group is an "ever-expanding" demographic. As if the mere fact of reaching a certain age is what is turning these folks into Tea Partiers. It is a generational shift as Great Depression and WWII folks pass from the scene and are replaced by boomers, the same people who fought over Vietnam and Watergate, then voted for Reagan, the Contract for America, and Bush II. Now these folks are entering their senior years and are bringing the same hard-nosed, uncompromising politics that they've always practiced with them.

Here's a related item: Are Old People Killing the GOP? from The Week

"People over 65 are flocking to the Republican Party. What does this mean for the party's future?"

The GOP's Misguided Hunt for Heretics (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post

"Inevitably and predictably, the new senator from Massachusetts -- Mr. 41, Mr. I-Drive-A-Truck, tea party poster dude -- has disappointed his base by, alas, representing his constituents. It's the purity test all over again; only this time, the stakes are high and the weird are turning seriously pro."

It's George Wallace's GOP Now (Jonathan Rauch) from National Journal

"Like Wallace and his supporters 40 years ago, today's conservative populists are long on anger and short on coherence. For Wallace, small-government rhetoric was a trope, not a workable agenda. The same is true of his Republican heirs today, who insist that spending cuts alone, without tax increases, will restore fiscal balance but who have not proposed anywhere near enough spending cuts, primarily because they can't."


The FP Guide to Climate Skeptics: Can't Tell the Legitimate Concerns from the Nonsense? from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Climate skepticism covers a broad range of views. A first group -- call them the professionals -- has often raised legitimate questions, whether about methodology and transparency, and stuck more or less to a scientific critique. And then there are the shouters, who don't add much more than sensationalism, confusion, and outright deception to the debate. To sort out the noise from the serious concerns, FP is here to help."


Young Adults Doing Religion on Their Own? Blame it on Politics from Politics Daily

I've sensed that this was happening. Who needs all the screaming and cultural grandstanding?

"Young adults are not losing faith, just unplugging from religious institutions at a rate unprecedented in U.S. history. ... That data got me thinking about Robert Putnam, the Harvard professor whose book "Bowling Alone" made a powerful case a decade ago that Americans were disengaging from all manner of institutions -- from churches to social clubs to bowling leagues."


Afghans Compensated For Damage: Civilians Negotiate With Soldiers For Reimbursement from the Associated Press via Huffington Post

On the one hand, this is really smart on the military's part. On the other, the ethics of it from a westerner's point of view are hard to reconcile. Very interesting.

"The farmer, an elderly man with a beard and turban, wanted compensation. "What's a fair price for five trees? I don't know. How much is a tree worth?" Shields mused. Then, he couldn't resist: "Money doesn't grow on trees.""

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

News Nuggets 286

A white tiger diving into an observation tank at a California zoo -- from National Geographic

Pakistani Reports Capture of Taliban Inner Circle from the New York Times

This continues to be an important developing story. Two things are in play here that I have not heard mentioned: First, the US and Pakistani intelligence authorities are clearly working together at a pretty high (and effective) level. I view this as another significant difference Obama's presence in the White House makes. For PR reasons alone, Pakistani authorities found it almost impossible to work closely with the Bush folks for fear that they would be savaged at home. Not nearly so much with Obama. And two, as the Taliban's areas of control shrink combined with Obama's conciliatory tone and more nuanced treatment of muslim communities in Afghanistan and Iraq have, I suspect, led to a flood of good intelligence which in turn has led to greater success in capturing or assassinating Taliban leaders. I may be wrong, but I think it only a matter of time before Mullah Omar and bin Laden himself get captured or wiped out.

"Mullah Kabir is a member of the Quetta Shura, the small group of leaders who direct the Taliban’s operations and who report to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the group’s founder."

EU Plans Massive Sanctions Against Iran from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

"The EU is preparing tough sanctions against Iran's energy and financial sectors, according to a confidental list of proposals drawn up for EU foreign ministers and obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE. The measures, aimed at forcing Iran to back down in the nuclear dispute, would have a dramatic impact on the economy."

China's Alternative to Communism and Democracy: Enter Confucius from the Christian Science Monitor

"In the Cultural Revolution, “Confucius” was often just a label used to attack political enemies. Today, Confucianism serves a more legitimate political function; it can help to provide a new moral foundation for political rule in China."

Compared to Europe, the US Can at Least Make a Pretense at Democracy (Gary Younge) from the Guardian [of the UK]

"Nation states have been superseded by greater forces. Greece's people are now seeing the naked disregard for their will."

A very interesting take on the importance of the disputes in Greece this last week. It definitely forecasts some future problems for the EU.

Martyrdom Interrupted from The National Interest

"The former head interrogator in Iraq goes undercover in Indonesia to learn the secrets of their top-notch interrogation program. To win the battle against terrorism, violent extremists must be converted into antijihad advocates. Learn how a country can become terror free."

Sudan to Sign Darfur Ceasefire Deal from Aljazeera English

"Sudan's largest opposition group is set to sign a peace deal with the government that could end the conflict in Darfur."

It's interesting how most US news sources have completely ignored this story.

Blacks and Education: What We Learn (Opinion) from The Root

"In 1960, more than 40 percent of adult whites were high-school graduates compared to 23 percent of adult blacks. That’s nearly a 20 percent gap. Now, black and white high-school graduates are nearly the same—87 percent for whites and 83 percent for blacks."

Obama Stays on Offense with Health-Care Proposal from the Washington Post

Not meaning to quibble, but has he ever been on offense with health care? If he was, I guess I missed it.

"There had been rampant speculation that the White House would narrow its ambitions for health-care legislation after the loss of the Democrats' filibuster-proof Senate majority last month. Instead, the president's proposal is striking for the extent to which it hews to the basic scale and framework of the bills on which Congress has toiled for months."

The President's Punchy Proposal: How His Health Care Bill Is Better (Walter Shapiro) from Politics Daily

"The President's Proposal represents a significant improvement over the original Senate legislation. Rather than eviscerate the Senate bill in a last-minute quest for a mythical middle ground for compromise, the White House surprisingly and seriously addressed the major flaws in the legislation."

Health Care No Stranger To Reconciliation Process (Julie Rovner) from NPR

"Health care and reconciliation actually have a lengthy history. "In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process," says Sara Rosenbaum, who chairs the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University."

Steele's Spending Spree Angers Donors from Politico

This has been one of the more interesting developing under-the-radar stories concerning the GOP's money situation. They are WAY BEHIND the Dems right now -- and the Tea Baggers have added very little to their coffers despite their enthusiasm. I'll be curious to see how this unfolds at election time.

"“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” said one longtime Republican fundraiser. “He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”"

Senate Advances Jobs Bill After Collecting Five GOP Votes from the Washington Post

"Five Republicans, including new Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) joined 57 Democrats in voting to proceed on the jobs bill, after a suspenseful buildup in which members of both parties wondered whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could cobble together enough votes to proceed."

Conservatives Turn Venomous on Scott Brown Over His Vote for the Jobs Bill from Americablog

No surprise. Many people forget that Brown is up for reelection in TWO years. Voting like this puts him in jeopardy in MA GOP primaries -- but (if he continues along these lines) enhances his chances for reelection in the general.

"Congratulations to Comrade Scott "Marxist" Brown on Voting For Bolshevik Jobs Bill. ... You're aiming for a 1 term seat eh? forgot, you can just run next time as a democrat."

The Quest for Innocence and the Loss of Reality in Political Journalism (Jay Rosen) from PressThink at New York University

"In a word, the Times editors and Barstow know this narrative is nuts, but something stops them from saying so — despite the fact that they must have spent over $100,000 on this one story. And whatever that thing is, it’s not the reluctance to voice an opinion in the news columns, but a reluctance to report a fact in the news columns, the fact that the “narrative of impending tyranny” is ungrounded in any observable reality, even though the sense of grievance within the Tea Party movement is truly felt and politically consequential."

Conor Friedersdorf has a good follow-on to Rosen's critique HERE from True/Slant

Monday, February 22, 2010

News Nuggets 285

A manatee with fish in Florida - from National Geographic

Marines Converge on Taliban Holdouts in Marjah from the Associated Press

"Marines and Afghan units converged Sunday on a dangerous western quarter of the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, with NATO forces facing "determined resistance" as their assault on the southern town entered its second week."

War Game Shows How Attacking Iran Could Backfire from the McClatchy News Service

"With diplomacy failing and precious intelligence just received about two new secret Iranian nuclear facilities, Israel launches a pre-emptive strike against Tehran's nuclear complex. The strike is successful, wiping out six of Iran's key sites and setting back its suspected quest for a bomb by years. But what happens next isn't pretty."

In many ways, there is no story here. The military brass have known this since Bush's time. It was the same brass that blew the lid to Seymour Hirsh of the New Yorker when Cheney and his minions decided that they wanted to bomb Iran back in '07. I hope this story gets a lot of attention in the wider public.

In a similar vein, see also Don't Scramble the Jets: Why Iran's Dictators Can Be Deterred (Fareed Zakaria) from Newsweek

A Solid Partner (Michael O'Hanlon) from The National Interest

"Even though the Marja campaign is proceeding in fits and starts right now, as is expected in such battles, the overall news from Afghanistan has been very encouraging this week. Despite some setbacks, the mission in Marja has been relatively successful to date, with only modest numbers of casualties to American and Afghan troopers, as well as Afghan civilians by the standards of such combat. And we are hearing very encouraging news about Pakistan’s increased willingness to go after elements of the Afghan Taliban within in its own territory."

Why China, and Others, Stubbornly Defend Rogue Nations (Editorial) from Die Welt [of Germany in English]

Interesting global politics piece here.

"China, Russia and many others see themselves in a defensive struggle against democracy. And in that struggle, every state that remains in the authoritarian camp becomes an important ally."

The Bankruptcy Boys (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

Even though Mr. Krugman is on my shit list right now [for his myopic views on politics -- economics he's great], his harpooning of the GOP this morning is too good to pass up. I think he's actually identified a historically significant ideological shift that occurred in Republican fiscal policy back in the eighties, one that has had disastrous consequences!

"Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit. ... So the beast is starving, as planned. It should be time, then, for conservatives to explain which parts of the beast they want to cut."

Climate Changes Are a Proven Fact (Op-Ed) from the Boston Globe

One of the most unnerving aspects of the climate change debate is the unwillingness of REAL climate scientists to engage the issue politically -- which is largely where their critics are coming from. Climate scientists are losing the public debate even as the scientific debate is all but settled. They will continue to lose the debate so long as they remain so much on the sidelines as anti-environmental pundits, ideologues and well-paid scientific commentators continue to run with a policy-crippling narrative that is, as of today anyway, winning.

"We have never before dealt with a problem that threatens not us, but our distant descendants. The philosophical, scientific, and political issues are unquestionably tough. We might begin by mustering the courage to confront the problem of climate change in an honest and open way."

Michelle Speaks Frankly About Race from Politico

"In tackling the problem of childhood obesity, first lady Michelle Obama is doing something that her husband rarely does — talking about an issue bluntly in terms of race and helping urban America. "

Gay Hate Wrapped in a Republican Embrace (Andrew Sullivan) from the Times [of London]

"Since I left the UK a quarter of a century ago as a supporter of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the gulf between American and British conservatism on this question has never been this wide."

Republicans Voting Against Stimulus Then Asked Obama for Money from the Bloomberg News Service

"More than 100 congressional Republicans and several Democrats who, after voting against the stimulus bill, wrote Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seeking money from $1.5 billion the plan set aside for local road, bridge, rail and transit grants."

Read that: "MORE THAN 100..."

The Barrier to Republican Success in 2010: Republicans (David Corn) from Politics Daily

"The out-of-power party, also known as the Republicans, need not do much to capitalize on this powerful dynamic. It can thrive without offering well-honed counter-policies or specific solutions for the problems ailing the nation. It just has to make sure it doesn't come across as the party of wing-nuts and scammers. That seems to be a challenge for the GOP."

Tea Party USA: It's Still the Economy, Stupid (John Cassidy) from the New Yorker

"In the wake of yesterday’s fascinating report in the Times about sixty-something Tea Party activists bracing for a violent counter-revolution, several people have asked me why Americans are so angry. ... the real danger to any democracy comes when military conflict or economic dislocation swells the ranks of the permanently alienated with legions of people who are temporarily disadvantaged or angry. And that, I think, is what is happening now."

The GOP's 'Small Government' Tea Party Fraud (Glenn Greenwald) from Salon

"The Right is petrified that this fraud will be exposed and is thus bending over backwards to sustain the myth. ... The last eight years of Republican rule was characterized by nothing other than endlessly expanded government power, even as they insisted -- both before they were empowered and again now -- that they are the standard-bearers of government restraint."

The Republican Sprint Away from Sanity (William Galston) from the New Republic

"Put simply, the forces within the conservative movement who oppose any and all tax increases mobilized against legislation that might have produced the long-sought grand bargain—significant entitlement reform coupled with additional revenues."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

News Nuggets 284

Some retailers can get very creative -- I love the dinosaur!

There are many pundits out there who, in one form or another, say “we should listen to the tea party … that we need to take their grievances seriously.” In that spirit, I say to hell with Obama’s agenda! Let’s consider what initiatives we SHOULD adopt to make them feel included. Here are the TOP TEN can't-go-wrong moves to make that will bring unity and harmony to the nation!

  1. Establish a joint-congressional committee to investigate whether Obama is REALLY an American.
  2. Create a special prosecutor to investigate how ACORN stole the 2008 election.
  3. Establish literacy tests to bar non-English speakers from voting, citizenship be damned.
  4. Pass a law barring the federal government from establishing ‘death panels.’
  5. Institute massive tax cuts – recession be damned.
  6. Close down the internment and indoctrination camps in North Dakota and elsewhere.
  7. Pass a constitutional amendment barring people who conservatives think are socialists from being president.
  8. While at it, pass an amendment barring anyone who is not a conservative middle-aged white man from serving any elective office whatsoever.
  9. Pass laws barring the US from joining or supporting the One World Government.
  10. Pass laws establishing that evidence is no longer needed to find someone guilty of conspiracy.

Most definitely an agenda to be taken seriously! This is not what most tea partiers think, you say? Check THIS out from Newsweek.

A Foreign Policy President (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest

"As Obama faces political trouble at home, he is increasingly turning his attention abroad—and chalking up some impressive results."

More Taliban Leaders Captured from live-blogging at the Huffington Post

"Pakistani officials say up to nine al-Qaida-linked militants have been arrested in several raids in the southern city of Karachi. ... Make that one more Taliban leader captured. Yesterday we highlighted the report from Newsweek's Declassified blog about the capture of a second Taliban leader in Pakistan last week, Mullah Abdul Salam, right around the same time as Pakistani authorities grabbed the Taliban's second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar."

Don't Start Bombing Iran Just Yet (David Frum) from the FrumForum

"The Iran nuclear program issues press releases like a second-place political campaign. Why? Two possible answers: -The Iranian nuclear program is not going very well. Lacking an actual completed weapon, the Iranian mullahs may seek to gain some of the political benefits of weaponizing by boasting and bragging. Watch out for us! We’re coming! Any minute now! Getting closer! Or -Might the regime be deliberately provoking a foreign strike?"

Judging Stimulus by Job Data Reveals Success (David Leonhardt) from the New York Times

A VERY important article today in the NYTimes!!

"Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked. Let’s say this bill had started spending money within a matter of weeks and had rapidly helped the economy. Let’s also imagine it was large enough to have had a huge impact on jobs — employing something like two million people who would otherwise be unemployed right now. If that had happened, what would the economy look like today? Well, it would look almost exactly as it does now. Because those nice descriptions of the stimulus that I just gave aren’t hypothetical. They are descriptions of the actual bill."

Happy Birthday, Dear Stimulus! (Daniel Gross) from Slate

"Don't listen to those Republicans—you're a big success."

Tribunal and Error (Op-Ed) from the New York Times

"Indeed, it’s very disappointing to see politicians and pundits smear the law enforcement community, to imply that the United States attorneys and the F.B.I. cannot do their job properly under the law. Our justice system is an integral weapon in our war against Al Qaeda, and its successes are a big reason the terrorist group has failed to hit our homeland for nine years."

Fear of a 'Multicultural' Nation from Truthdig

"Tom Tancredo made opening-night remarks at the inaugural National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. ... Obama’s election reveals the need for us to “have a civics [or] literacy test before people can vote in this country.” Tancredo is wrong. United States political history reveals our long-standing tradition in this area."

Mullen Finds Little Resistance Among Soldiers to Gay Troops from the McClatchy News Service

"At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., urged Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to "keep the impact it will have on our forces firmly in mind." Yet those gathered at Marine House made it clear they've already accepted the idea of gays and lesbians serving among them."

Probing the Tea Party's Conspiracy Theorist Fringe from the Atlantic

"The Tea Party movement proudly boasts an anti-establishment, anti-incumbent, small-government worldview. But, as a movement, it continues to struggle with its conspiracy-minded roots. Andrew Breitbart and other conservatives recently rejected a high-profile birther speech at the first Tea Party convention in Nashville. There, the tension between the Tea Party's mainstream political ambitions and its vocal, conspiracy-theorist fringe was on full display."

Mount Vernon Statement: the Contradiction at the Heart of this Conservative Fusion (Op-Ed) from the Christian Science Monitor

"Do conservatives really think that two of history’s most radical documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – were conservative?"

Learning to Manage the Fringe from the Washington Independent

"Conservative activists and Republican politicians have, thus far in the Obama presidency, largely been able to escape the negative attention generated by the movement’s fringes."


Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right from the New York Times

"Worried about hyperinflation, social unrest or even martial law, she and her Tea Party members joined a coalition, Friends for Liberty, that includes representatives from Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, the John Birch Society, and Oath Keepers, a new player in a resurgent militia movement."