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."
"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."
MORE-WHACKED-THAN-USUAL POLITICAL NUGGET!!
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 knoxnews.com and here: Focus on Schools Helps Finns Build a Showcase Nation from the Washington Post
MUSLIM WOMEN'S NUGGET!!
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"
ANCIENT EGYPT NUGGET!!
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."
"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.
"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."
ANOTHER BOOK NUGGET!!
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."