Wednesday, March 31, 2010

News Nuggets 307

Pineberries? See the Fruit Nugget below. From the Globe and Mail [of the UK]

Lo, the Mideast Moves (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times

"All the global mutterings about the “Carterization” of Obama, and the talk (widespread in Israel) of kicking the can down the road and so getting through the “garbage time” of a one-term president — that is suddenly yesterday’s chatter. The reminder was timely: This man is no softie. He’s a politician tough enough to watch his rivals auto-destruct on his cool, and principled enough to set the right long-term objectives,"

Israel Fears Obama Heading for Imposed Mideast Settlement from Haaretz Daily News [of Israel in English]

"U.S. President Barack Obama's demands during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Tuesday point to an intention to impose a permanent settlement on Israel and the Palestinians in less than two years, political sources in Jerusalem say. "

WOW! This could be big!

Obama Throws Out the Political Rules (Clive Cook) from the Financial Times [of London]

"The passage of US healthcare reform is enormously consequential, and not just for the things the new law aims to affect. The manner of its passage, as much as its substance, makes November’s mid-term elections pivotal. They may decide the political trajectory of the United States for the next several decades."

The Essence of Anarchy (Sean Wilentz) from the New Republic

"America's long, sordid affairs with nullification."

Unlike Republicans, Obama Chooses Butter Over Guns from Izvestia [of Russia in English]

"In the age-old dilemma faced by all governments - that between guns and butter - Obama chose the latter. Perhaps it's not for nothing that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."

Drilling and Nuclear Plants ... In Exchange for What? (Steve Benen) from Washington Monthly

"As I understand it, the plan the White House has supported for months includes a give and take on energy -- Republicans would get the drilling and nuclear advances, while Democrats would get cap-and-trade. There are plenty of related details, but in general, this would serve as the basis for a grand, comprehensive bargain on energy."

When I heard about this, this is just where my mind went. Benen asks a key question here though - why concede this now?

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic has more interesting analysis HERE

Other views on what's going on:

Why is Obama Opening Up New Offshore Drilling? from the Atlantic

"The plan would open the Atlantic coast from Delaware to Florida, parts of the Gulf of Mexico, and a large area north of Alaska. Here are the challenges and payoffs of the offshore drilling plan and why Obama's doing It"

Top Five Hurdles Climate Bill Must Clear from The Hill

"KGL appears to have created new momentum for a carbon cap, but the following is a list of hurdles the bill will have to clear to pass."

Health Care Repeal Campaigns Could Backfire on Republicans in Fall Elections from the Associated Press

"Top Republicans are increasingly worried that GOP candidates this fall might be burned by a fire that's roaring through the conservative base: demand for the repeal of President Barack Obama's new health care law. It's fine to criticize the health law and the way Democrats pushed it through Congress without a single GOP vote, these party leaders say. But focusing on its outright repeal carries two big risks."

President Obama's Black Agenda from The Root

"From where I sit--with more than three decades of experience working to make public policies more fair and inclusive of all people--the past year has seen tremendous investment in the African-American community right along the lines we laid out four years ago."

Credibility Gap: Pope Needs to Answer Questions (Editorial) from the National Catholic Reporter

"We now face the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history. The Holy Father needs to directly answer questions, in a credible forum, about his role -- as archbishop of Munich (1977-82), as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1982-2005), and as pope (2005-present) -- in the mismanagement of the clergy sex abuse crisis.Nothing less than a full, personal and public accounting will begin to address the crisis that is engulfing the worldwide church."

Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope? (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times

"It doesn’t seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin."

UK 'Climategate' Inqury Largely Clears Scientists from the Associated Press via

GOD, I hate to link to this a--hole's site!

"The first of several British investigations into the e-mails leaked from one of the world's leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved."

Michael Steel Called Tone Deaf by GOP Brass, Urged to Resign from Huffington Post

"On Monday morning, the Daily Caller reported that the RNC spent thousands of dollars on high-end travel arrangements, swanky hotels and, most remarkably, "meals" at a lesbian-and-bondage-themed nightclub in West Hollywood."

White House Swamped with Authors Looking for the Inside Story from the Washington Post

"The White House has practically been overrun by journalists pumping top officials for behind-the-scenes details for a growing roster of behind-the-scenes books."

In a very similar vein:

A Bounty of Obama Kid Lit from the Washington Post

"If Obama books have cornered a large chunk of the non-fiction shelves, then check out what's happening over in the children's section. It's overflowing with Obama kid lit. And, implicitly and explicitly, those books are grappling with the subject of race."


Casting Call: Lee Daniels' 'Selma' from The Root

This sounds like it could be really good. How timely, too. The Root's casting suggestions are quite interesting.

"Buzz is swirling about the casting of Lee Daniels' next film, a biopic on the 1965 voting rights marches. Robert De Niro as Gov. George Wallace? Lenny Kravitz as Andrew Young? In case Daniels wants The Root's unsolicited help, here are our picks."


Feces, Bite Marks Flesh Out Giant Dino-Eating Crocs from National Geographic Daily News

"As long as a stretch limo, Deinosuchus—"terrible crocodile"—likely prowled shallow waters and hunted dinosaurs its own size, the evidence suggests."


Pineberries and Cream? from the Globe and Mail [of the UK]

"The new summer fruit which looks like a white strawberry... but tastes like a pineapple."

Monday, March 29, 2010

News Nuggets 306

Barack Obama's edits for his 'State of the Union' speech earlier this year - from the White House. See James Fallows' article below.

Who's Winning the War in Afghanistan? (Bruce Reidel) from the Daily Beast

"The combination of the war inside Pakistan and new American policies are having a welcome effect."

Secrecy, Surprise: Anatomy of Obama's Afghan Trip from Reuters

"Any trip by a U.S. president requires careful planning, but sneaking him into Afghanistan -- a country in the midst of an eight-year war with Islamic militants -- is a special case."

Obama's Power Surge (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast

"Ever since health care passed, the president is getting comfortable with flexing his muscles. Peter Beinart on the rise of the liberal Reagan."

Principled and Passionate: How Obama Sealed His Place in History (Editorial) from the Guardian [of the UK]

"After a bruising first year, the president has seen off the cynics by remembering what drew him to seek office."

Obama Gains Steam, Plows Ahead from Politico

"The fact that today Obama is poised to plow ahead on an ambitious agenda is as much a testament to the pendulum of Washington politics – when you’re hot, you’re hot – as it is to Obama’s sustained quality of always playing the tortoise to everyone else’s hare. "

Obama Transcends Ideology by Riling Both Flanks (Al Hunt) from Bloomberg News Service

"Obama, charges former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, is “the most liberal president” in modern times, pursuing “an agenda that really is foreign to mainstream America.” Other Republicans routinely talk about the president’s “socialist” agenda. Simultaneously, the left wing says he’s a traitor to their cause. ... A left winger who betrays left-wing causes? Ideology isn’t the ideal prism to evaluate the Obama presidency."

The President Plans Spring Offensive from Politico

"An emboldened President Barack Obama will take a stronger hand with Congress in coming weeks, planning to push lawmakers to pass new regulations for Wall Street by September, the second anniversary of the meltdown, aides tell POLITICO. "

Health-Care Overhaul Leaves Democrats in Stable Condition from the Washington Post

"The Democratic Party's leaders have emerged mostly unscathed, according to a new Washington Post poll, but they have not received a notable boost in approval ratings."

Owned: Sorry Republicans. Your Cost-control Ideas Belong to Democrats Now from the New Republic

"By unilaterally ceding control over the contents of the health bill, Republicans have also ceded any claim to the policy innovations therein. Ideas that were once championed by conservatives have now been adopted by Democrats, who have become their primary champion. Going forward, if they are successful, these ideas will be permanently considered Democratic achievements."

Obama Brought Cool Campaign Persona to Healthcare's Toughest Days from The Hill

"President Barack Obama and Democrats missed repeated deadlines, fought back cries of "death panels" and watched healthcare reform nearly die more than a dozen times. Through it all, Obama was the steady captain of the ship, his top aides say, a role the president has played since the early days of the 2008 presidential campaign."

No August Repeats: How the Dems are Approaching Recess with HCR Victory Behind Them from TalkingPointsMemo

"Play offense and "don't run away" from health care reform. That's the advice Democratic leadership is giving rank-and-file members as they fan out across the country to their home districts with a health care victory in their pocket."

Is This Going to be 1994 -- or 1934? (Daniel Gross) from Slate

"Many Republicans expect November to be a repeat of 1994, when popular anger against an overreaching, reform­ist Democratic Party enabled the GOP to pick up 56 seats in the House of Representatives. But Republicans might be well-advised to look back at an earlier midterm election: 1934."

Hilda Solis: Labor's New Sheriff from the Nation

A very interesting story!

"During the Bush years, the Department of Labor became a cautionary tale about what happens when foxes are asked to guard the henhouse. But since California Congresswoman Hilda Solis became labor secretary last winter, she has brought on board a team of lifelong advocates for working people--some of whom come from the ranks of organized labor--and has hired hundreds of new investigators and enforcers."

More labor news ...

Labor May Gain, Business Sends 'Red Alert' on Becker from Bloomberg News Service

"The appointments “signal a long-overdue shift whereby workers, and not just bosses, will receive equal consideration in crucial matters such as labor disputes and elections,” Randi Weingarten, president of the Washington-based, American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement."

Which Republicans Will Be Too Stale for 2012? from Salon

"The snarky answer is "all of them." But by one reliable measure, 5 GOP White House prospects can be scratched today."

Preexisting Condition Vexes Romney from Politico

"Just as health care, ... hangs over this year’s midterm elections, it is also already casting a shadow upon the 2012 presidential contest — and its GOP front-runner. What was once thought to be an asset for Romney, his passage as Massachusetts governor of a health care mandate for the state’s residents, now poses a potentially serious threat to his White House hopes."

He is SOOO doomed in 2012.

Tea-Party Candidates Face Hard Cash Realities of Campaigns from the Wall Street Journal

""The problem with the tea-party movement is it has inspired too many candidates," says Patrick Hughes, a candidate with tea-party backing who was trounced by Rep. Mark Kirk in the crowded Illinois Republican Senate primary. "The movement will fail if it can't coalesce behind candidates who can win.""

Getting Scary Out There (Editorial) from the Atlantic

"For elected officials who spew this line, it's hard to explain their behavior except by suspecting that they are exceptionally sore losers. It's just not credible that they don't know better. They lost control of the House and Senate in 2006, and they lost the presidency in 2008. Did they not expect there would be policy consequences? They can't seriously contrive to feel cheated --- to feel there was some sort of legislative legerdemain --- when a Democratic majority voted in favor of a policy advocated by Democrats for almost a century and proposed by a Democratic president. What did they think was going to happen?"

There is a part of me that excepts the "sore loser" explanation. There certainly seems to be a lot of sour grapes floating around. I think the GOP came to feel that it was somehow their RIGHT to be in charge.

About That Extraordinary Photo of an Obama Edited Speech (James Fallows) from the Atlantic

"The quality of his editing is exceptional for a public figure."

Some further commentary is HERE from an editor at the Washington Post


Dirigible Dreams from the Atlantic

"Lockheed’s P-791 prototype might not look like the next cool frontier in aviation. In fact, its wide, tri-lobe shape, which allows its body to generate lift, is the high-tech descendant of an idea that engineers, inventors, and crackpots have pursued since the Civil War. And by the end of 2011, something like it may be a fixture in the skies over Afghanistan, hunting down the improvised explosive devices that cause up to 70 percent of the combat casualties there."


Animals Being Tickled Video clips from Huffington Post

The kitten is just hilarious!


Christian Faith: Calvinism is Back from the Christian Science Monitor

"Today, his theology is making a surprising comeback, challenging the me-centered prosperity gospel of much of modern evangelicalism with a God-first immersion in Scripture. In an age of materialism and made-to-order religion, Calvinism's unmalleable doctrines and view of God as an all-powerful potentate who decides everything is winning over many Christians – especially the young."

Just what we need -- ANOTHER flavor of religious nuttiness!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

News Nuggets 305

Just a nice picture of a dog -- from Americablog.

Two Big Wins Transform the Presidency for Obama from Agence France-Presse

"Two big wins for Barack Obama at home and abroad — a historic health care bill and a new arms treaty with Russia — have injected sudden momentum into a presidency that had been looking beleaguered."

Obama: A Giant Killer Feeling His Oats (Helene Cooper) from the New York Times

"Mr. Obama could retire into the history books, many presidential scholars say, on the health care achievement alone. But there is a swagger emanating from the White House that suggests he may now have acquired a liking for the benefits of sticking his neck out to lead."

Israel Absorbs Twin Rebukes from Top Allies from the New York Times

"Even as Mr. Netanyahu met with Mr. Obama at a session during which the White House pointedly withheld the usual trappings of a visit by the head of a government, Israel’s other ally, Britain, expelled an Israeli diplomat. It was a rare move by a friendly government, meant as a rebuke for what appeared to be the use of a dozen fake British passports by assassins suspected of being Israeli agents in the killing of a Hamas official in Dubai."

Obama Tears Up Israel's Carte Blanche (Andrew Sullivan) from the Times [of London]

"‘Let me know if there is anything new,” was Barack Obama’s final, somewhat contemptuous, instruction to Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, whom he left in a room at the White House and subsequently stiffed for dinner. Those who believe that Obama is incapable of anger are, it appears, being proven wrong."

Benyamin Netanyahu Suffers Worst Week of his Second Premiership from the Guardian [of the UK]

"Israeli PM under fire from press at home after dispute with US over new settlements in East Jerusalem."

The US-Russian Arms Treaty May Not Be Big News, But It's Good News (Editorial) from Slate

"In sum, the new treaty is a good thing—for Obama, politically, a very good thing."

Obama Recess Appoints 15 Top Officials End-Running GOP Obstruction from the Huffington Post

"In a post to the White House blog that accompanied Obama's announcement, spokeswoman Jen Psaki wrote that the president "was no longer willing to let another month go by with key economic positions unfilled, especially at a time when our country is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.""

Why Did Health Care Reform Pass? Nancy Pelosi Was in Charge (Op-Ed) from the Washington Post

"This wasn't just another piece of legislation for Pelosi -- this was the culmination of a crusade she has been waging her entire career to reorder Washington's priorities. Pelosi's animating ambition has been to put so-called women's and family issues such as health care, education and the welfare of children on the same level as homeland security, foreign relations and defense."

The Key Moments in Obama’s Struggle to Pass Health Reform from The Hill

"The difference between the passage and failure of health reform arguably came down to the Democrats’ ability to take a punch, a 7-hour White House summit and 312 votes in a Minnesota Senate race."

President Wins Early Spin Battle from The Hill

"Democrats, led by President Barack Obama, have put Republicans on their heels in the crucial first few days after Congress passed an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system."

Health Care Repeal Wars Fracturing GOP Primary Candidates from TalkingPointsMemo

"For Republican candidates across the country, the movement du jour seems to be a pledge to repeal health care reform if elected. Republicans are rushing to co-sponsor and promote efforts to repeal the bill on Capitol Hill. But not everyone is biting, exposing another fissure between the GOP's right and far-right."

The Rage is Not About Health Care (Frank Rich) from the New York Times

"To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress; the Civil Rights Act received even more votes in the Senate (73) than Medicare (70). But it was only the civil rights bill that made some Americans run off the rails. That’s because it was the one that signaled an inexorable and immutable change in the very identity of America, not just its governance."

Right's Anger Could Backfire (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune

"Today's conservative coalition, like the Democrats of the 1960s, appears to be subdividing between the angry and the angrier. House Republican Leader John Boehner quite properly condemned those who threaten or vandalize and told them to "take that anger and channel it into positive change" in political campaigns and the voting booth. Good advice."

Obama Derangement Syndrome (Paul Rosenberg) from OpenLeft

"This week Harris released a poll showing widespread belief in things about President Obama that are so clearly delusional that Republicans really don't want to talk about them. Oh, sure, they'll talk about the most popular one-that Obama is a socialist (presumably for continuing Bush's bank bailout & pushing a national version of Mitt Romney's health care plan for Massachusetts). But most of the rest the GOP would rather just keep well below the radar. As well they might."

The findings here are quite startling.

Foul Mouths in Congress? Big [expletive] Deal (Norman Ornstein) from the Washington Post

"The incivility on Capitol Hill today is the worst I've seen in decades. And the partisanship that makes people demonize their opponents is dangerous, ... But such behavior is not unprecedented. Indeed, the recent incidents are mild when compared with Congress's storied history of salty language -- and worse."

I love the slides that go with this.

With No Jobs, Plenty of Time for Tea Party from the New York Times

"When Tom Grimes lost his job as a financial consultant 15 months ago, he called his congressman, a Democrat, for help getting government health care. Then he found a new full-time occupation: Tea Party activist."

Pope Faces Fresh Wave of Child Abuse Scandals in Italy from the Guardian [of the UK]

"The head of the Catholic church is bracing himself for a new round of allegations by victims of paedophile priests — in Italy."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

News Nuggets 304

Yes, Hillary was there when the Health Care Bill was passed in the House earlier in the week. From the White House.

Obama's Mideast Gamble from Politico

"The question facing Obama is whether he will be able to turn a perception of increased “evenhandedness” into Arab engagement in the peace process that the administration sought, but did not get, last year. "

1965 All Over Again? Obama's 'Persistent Progressivism' (Jonathan Alter) from Newsweek

"It's important for Democrats to get serious, not just about the right policy prescriptions but about girding themselves for battle against a formidable, disciplined adversary."

Who Won? How 25 Players Fared in the Health Debate from the National Journal

"What follows is an analysis of the roles that 25 key characters have played thus far and their potential influence going forward."

Learning from LBJ (Evan Thomas & Katie Connolly) from Newsweek

"Obama may be playing a more subtle game than is readily apparent. Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin ... says she now realizes that by working so closely and deferentially with Congress on health care, Obama was taking a page from LBJ's oft-expressed philosophy: "If they're with you at the takeoff, they'll be with you in the landing."

Health Bill Changes Everything (Bill Schneider) from the National Journal

"The prediction of electoral catastrophe for Democrats may turn out to the most overwrought forecast since Y2K. The reason is this: Once the health care legislation is law, everything changes."

Obama Found His Voice on Healthcare (Editorial) from the Guardian [of the UK]

"Healthcare reform was the Democrats' signature issue – and Obama has managed something that eluded his predecessors"

Lawyers vs. Health Reform: Why the Court Challenges Will Fail (Dahlia Lithwick) from Newsweek

"Given the relative novelty of the individual mandate and the fact that the current Supreme Court is as conservative as it's been in nearly a century, the arguments aren't all completely hopeless. But "lack of hopelessness" isn't usually the basis for filing major lawsuits. Cuccinelli's claim, however, is coming in for extra-special scorn from scholars on both the right and the left."

History Suggests Passions Fade from Politico

"History suggests there is a better chance the passions over the country's new health care regime will cool with an alacrity that seems unthinkable amid the clenched fists and snarling insults of the recent debate. "

Sharp Momentum Shift Back to the Democrats after Passing Health Bill from The Hill

"Democrats are heading into the two-week Easter recess in high spirits after passing the most sweeping domestic policy reform since Medicare was enacted four decades ago. President Barack Obama on Thursday dared Republicans to make healthcare reform a campaign issue."

Whose Country Is It? (Charles Blow) from the New York Times

"The bullying, threats, and acts of violence following the passage of health care reform have been shocking, but they’re only the most recent manifestations of an increasing sense of desperation. It’s an extension of a now-familiar theme: some version of “take our country back.” The problem is that the country romanticized by the far right hasn’t existed for some time, and its ability to deny that fact grows more dim every day"

Nancy Pelosi -- It's Her House (Harold Meyerson) from the Los Angeles Times

"Pelosi's role in passing healthcare reform puts her in the top rank of House speakers."

There is similar praise HERE from the Boston Globe.

David Frum and the Closing of the Conservative Mind (Bruce Bartlett) from the Capital Gains and Games website

This story that relates to the on-target post by conservative David Frum from the other day.

"Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI "scholars" on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do."

Bartlett says more HERE while Atlantic reporter Joshua Green comments HERE.

In the Faces of the Tea Party Shouters, Images of Hate and History (Colbert King) from the Washington Post

"The angry faces at Tea Party rallies are eerily familiar. They resemble faces of protesters lining the street at the University of Alabama in 1956 as Autherine Lucy, the school's first black student, bravely tried to walk to class. ... People like that old woman in Little Rock, the Alabama mob that hounded Autherine Lucy, the embracers of Duke's demagoguery in Louisiana, never go away."

Vatican Attacks Media on 'Pope role' in Sex Abuse Case from the BBC

"The Vatican has attacked the media over charges that the Pope failed to act against a US priest accused of abusing up to 200 deaf boys two decades ago."

I guess we've officially shifted into the "Agnew nattering nabobs" phase of this scandal. The folks at the Vatican are shockingly clueless.


Six Uighurs Released from Gitmo Face Culture-Shock in Palau from Foreign Policy Magazine

I wondered what was going to happen to these folks.

"For the six Uighurs released from Gitmo to Palau, the prospect of an eternity in a small island country, with no passport and no Uighur community other than themselves, is its own kind of confinement."


National Memorial to Eisenhower to be Completed by 2015 from Politics Daily

I can get with this. As a historian I appreciate that the world could easily (and literally) have gone to Hell under his watch -- and it didn't -- and it was no easy or small deal that it didn't.

"An tribute to an American icon, former President Dwight David Eisenhower, may soon grace the National Mall in the nation's capital. A Frank Gehry-designed memorial to the popular president and World War II hero -- "Ike" to his legion of admirers -- could be completed within five years."


Gordon Brown Floats Idea of European peace corps from the Guardian [of the UK]

What an awesome idea!

"British PM wants thousands of young Europeans to volunteer across developing world in new organisation shaped on US peace corps"


Stoicism and Us: Reviews of Marcus Aurelius: A Life by Frank McLynn and A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine from the New Republic
I've been on an ancient Rome jag lately -- so I found this review quite interesting.

"The Stoics, by contrast, did not aim at emotional repression--but at retraining our emotional responses. They thought that one could achieve a state of consciousness such that the things most people mind about--such as physical pain, and all the things that usually cause us anger, grief, frustration, and so on--would no longer feel important."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

News Nuggets 303

Cuatro Cienegas (Four Marshes) wetlands, in Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert. From National Geographic.

Russia and US Report Arms Pact Breakthrough from the New York Times

"President Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Dmitri Medvedev, have broken through a logjam in their arms control negotiations and expect to sign a new treaty in Prague next month that would slash American and Russian nuclear arsenals, officials from both nations said Wednesday."

Promise Delivered: Now Can Obama Keep the Momentum? (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine

"The President emphasized a common humanity with his peers, normally an afterthought in the performance art of politics. He appealed to the battered sense of honor and idealism that still resided beneath their scar tissue. He was seeking not only to inspire his colleagues, but to comfort them. I don't think I've ever seen a President do that before."

In Health Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality (David Leonhardt) from the New York Times

"For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago."

Chairwoman of the Old Boy's Club (Eleanor Clift) from Newsweek

"Pelosi is that rare public official in Washington who, when she says she'll get something done you can take it to the bank, or in the case of health care, to the White House."

The Zeitgeist Shifts (Jonathan Chait) from the New Republic

"The psychology of victory and defeat is a remarkable thing. A week ago, the Democrats were perceived to have an enormous political problem. Their agenda was stalled in Congress. There was a mass groundswell of public anger they had to contend with. Suddenly those problems have been flipped on their head."

Now, A War for Public Opinion (Scot Lehigh) from the Boston Globe

"To win the broader victory needed to secure the law, Democrats need to wage a full-scale persuasion campaign. That means repeatedly reminding people of the protections and benefits the new law will bring them. It also means defending the law against hyperbolic attacks from those who see super-heated opposition as their path back to political power. As Obama showed in the last few weeks, and particularly with his masterful performance at the bipartisan health-care summit, he is eminently capable of that."

Repeal Drive Loses Steam (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post

"Republicans were using the word "repeal" a lot in the hours after the House voted to pass the health-care reform bill. But as the hours turn to days, they're talking about repeal less, qualifying it more, and even finding themselves mentioning things they like about the bill."

President Obama to Repeal-Minded Republicans: 'Go For It' from The Hill

"With his signature agenda item signed into law, Obama switched from selling the bill to aggressively promoting it during a speech in Iowa City, Iowa, the town where Obama announced his healthcare reform agenda as a candidate in 2007."


Dems Ready for Repeal Efforts (John Mercurio) from National Journal

"Republicans confidently predict their drive to repeal health care reform will motivate conservatives, energize donors and drive voters to the polls this fall. ... But if Republicans are right, why are Democrats more aggressively pushing the storyline this week? Because apparently they welcome the newest chapter of this yearlong debate."

The GOP's Dirty Health-Care Secret (Matthew Dallek) from the Daily Beast

"Republicans are screaming that Obamacare’s mandates are a “stunning assault on liberty,” as one put it. That’s ironic, since Richard Nixon, Bob Dole, and Bill Frist all embraced the idea."

One Miscalculation Follows Another (Hendrick Hertberg) from the New Yorker

"The Republicans appear to have decided on a slogan for this fall’s midterm election. “Kill The Bill!” having fizzled, they saying they’ll go with “Repeal It!”"

Will Post-Health-Care-Fatigue Syndrome Thwart GOP Plans? (David Corn) from Politics Daily

"It seems that the GOPers will be forced to hold a debate within their own ranks over exactly what sort of repeal campaign to adopt — and that could get messy. ... And Democrats seem eager to take on any Republican repeal effort — and depict Republicans pushing for repeal as in favor of removing the new restrictions on abusive insurance company practices."

House of Anger (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times

"Reagan was all about sunny optimism, and at times bipartisan bonhomie. In him, the American people saw their better half. ... The Republican Party has taken some of the worst elements of Tea Party anger and incorporated them into its own identity."

Vatican Declined to Defrock US Priest Who Abused Boys from the New York Times

"Your Holiness -- there is a cancer on the papacy..."

"Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit."


Writer's 'Happy Meal' Refuses to Decompose After One Year from Americablog

"What's a McDonald's Happy Meal look like after it's been sitting outside for a year? Pretty much the same as the day it was made."

Pretty hilarious!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

News Nuggets 302

Marcelas Owens of Seattle, left, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., right, and others, look on as President Barack Obama signs the health care bill in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 23, 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Having Marcelas there is such an "in-your-face" move by Obama.

What's in the Health Bill for You Right Away? (Nancy Pelosi) from The Gavel: The Speaker's Blog

"Under the legislative package the House passed on Sunday (the Senate-passed health bill as amended by the reconciliation bill) many key provisions take effect this year - here are some of them:"

How Obama Revived his Health-Care Bill from the Washington Post

An interesting long-form analysis of how Obama and the Dems got to "Aye."

""Pelosi lectured the others about the political realities of the House: Her Democratic troops did not trust the Senate, and she would face a mutiny if she asked them to do what Reid was suggesting. They talked over each other, round and round, repeating the arguments Obama had heard for weeks. "Let me finish," he broke in. This was not how the president had envisioned things. He was just one day away from celebrating his first year in office. By now, he was to have signed into law a landmark bill guaranteeing health care to every American, the broadest piece of social policy legislation since President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Instead, he was confronting the very real prospect of failure on an equally grand scale."

White House Talking Points on New Health Law (Greg Sargent) from The Plum Line via the Washington Post

Another list of the key provisions that take effect immediately and in the near term.

Healthcare's Fight was Obama's Proving Ground (Editorial) from the Los Angeles Times

"What became clear in the healthcare debate is that Obama is a president with a combative stubbornness, one that was not often visible in his cool, above-the-fray public demeanor. And he has demonstrated that a president who picks a goal, adopts a battle plan and sticks with it, come what may, is not easy to knock out."

Don’t Short Obama (Daniel Gross) from Newsweek

"Don't short Obama. In fact, that's been the lesson of Obama's entire career so far. Think of Obama as a stock. When he came onto the national scene, he was small and undercapitalized. Some investors (i.e., donors and organizers) went long, but plenty of the heaviest hitters bet against him. During the campaign, the prospects of his success were continually downplayed by the Clintons, the national media, and the Republicans. Those shorting the Obama candidacy got crushed. And since January 2009, so, too, have those who have shorted the Obama presidency—especially the performance of the markets and economy under Obama."

Hail the Conquering Professor (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times

It has been AGES since Dowd wrote anything worthy of nugget status. I find her smarmy, gossipy, pseudo-analysis very dissonant in the face of the serious challenges the country faces right now. Even with those characteristics, this one is interesting.

"One minute they were legislative losers, squabbling and scrambling for the off-ramps. The next they were history-makers, sharing chest bumps and goose bumps at the White House. How had the lofty president and the wily speaker suddenly steered them off Jimmy Carter Highway and onto F.D.R. Drive?"

Gallup: Americans Now View Health Plan Favorably (Greg Sargent) from the Plum Line via the Washington post

"Gallup sends over some polling results, to go live on their site at 3 PM, that suggest opinion is already turning in the wake of passage of Obama’s health bill."

HERE's some analysis of this poll from Ezra Klein at the Washington Post

Obama’s Bounce Changes the World (Editorial) from the Financial Times [of London]

"President Barack Obama has leapt out of his political sick-bed, ripped out his feeding tubes and is ready to dance a jig around the Oval office. The Congressional approval of healthcare reform has reinvigorated the Obama presidency in a way that has implications not just for Americans, but for the world."

Now, Political Fodder for the Courts (Marc Ambinder) from the Atlantic

"The chances of success in the Supreme Court are low, but the point of the lawsuits isn't legal -- it's political. It advances the politics of conservative jurisprudence, and the political ambitions of conservatives, and it keeps the legislation itself in a state of suspended political animation. "

How Health Care Helps Obama's Foreign Policy (Heather Horn) from the Atlantic

"Is it possible that the Democratic victory could also have foreign policy implications? That's what some commentators are suggesting as they muse on Obama's revamped image around the world. We know Europe's a fan of health care reform, but could the bill's passage actually help Obama in, say, the Middle East? Here's the debate:"

Health Win May Boost Obama Stature from Politico

"When Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu faced off with President Barack Obama over housing in Jerusalem earlier this month, he was facing a distracted American leader whose presidency hung in the balance. When he goes to the White House on Tuesday night, he’ll find Obama at the moment of his administration’s greatest success, a shift that may affect Obama’s negotiating power in ways both subtle and dramatic. "

An Absence of Class (Bob Herbert) from the New York Times

"This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry."

Three Points for Conservatism (E.J.Dionne) from the Washington Post

"In its current incarnation, conservatism has taken on an angry crankiness. It is caught up in a pseudo-populism that true conservatism should mistrust -- what on Earth would Bill Buckley have made of "death panels"? The creed is caught up in a suspicion of all reform that conservatives of the Edmund Burke stripe have always warned against. Authentic conservatism is better than this."

Republicans Feeling Blue as Scott Brown Win Backfires from the Boston Herald

"Republican folk hero Sen. Scott Brown is being taunted by triumphant Democrats - and slammed by irked conservatives - after the historic health-care bill he was elected to kill was signed into law by President Obama yesterday. “If he were a milk carton, he would be expired,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman John Walsh"

Boy -- I've seen actual cartons of milk that lasted longer! No surprise though -- that grow Republicans in MA like they do virtually anywhere else.

America's Most Shameless Politician (Matthew Yglesias) from the Daily Beast

MAN! How could you narrow it down to just one!?

"Mitt Romney was for health care before he was against it. And in 2012, he’s headed for a double-talking disaster that would make John Kerry cringe."

British Envoy: Iran is Getting Weaker from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Iran is "still some way from being able to produce a weapon" and that there "is still time for diplomacy and political pressure to work." He also said Tehran craves international respectability and that sanctions have been working. "The current strategy is having some impact," he argued. "Not everything is going Iran's way and in some respects Iran's strategic hand is weaker than a year ago.""

New Abuse Charges Against Catholic Clergy in Germany from Reuters

"The Regensburg diocese in Pope Benedict's native Bavaria confirmed new allegations of child sexual abuse against four priests and two nuns on Monday, in the latest cases damaging the Catholic Church's image in Germany."

As I've mentioned to some of you, I view this brewing scandal with the Pope and his former archdiocese in Germany as the Catholic equivalent of Watergate -- and we are segueing from the "burglars" phase into the "cover-up" phase. It's clear the Vatican is clueless concerning how bad this is going to get.