Wednesday, September 29, 2010

News Nuggets 444

 Baby bearcats at a Berlin animal park.  Can't say I know much about these critters.  From the Huffington Post.

Ahmadinejad Returns to Chaos (Reza Aslan) from the Daily Beast
"Don’t let the Iranian president’s confidence at the U.N. last week fool you: He is going home to a country in political turmoil, an economy on the verge of utter collapse, and a government in total deadlock."

North Korea's 'Evil' Sister (Philip Shenon) from the Daily Beast
"Kim Kyong Hui, sister to the outgoing ruler, got a big promotion in Pyongyang Tuesday, putting her at equal standing in North Korea’s nuclear-armed military with the dictator’s youngest son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un. Philip Shenon on the new four-star general’s reputation for being a mean drunk, bumping off political rivals, and driving her own daughter to suicide."
This country is so messed up!

US-Japan Ties in Focus After Boat Row (Editorial) from the China Post [of Taiwan in English]
"As a result of increased Chinese assertiveness — despite continued insistence that its rise will be peaceful — other countries on China's periphery, besides Japan, are also beginning to see the need to hedge against the emerging power."

Bangladesh, 'Basket Case' No More (Sadanand Dhume) from the Wall Street Journal
"For the outside world, much of the country's history can be summed up as a blur of political protests and natural disasters punctuated by outbursts of jihadist violence and the occasional military coup.  No longer."
Who knew?

NATO Confirms Senior al-Qaida Commander Killed from the Associated Press via RealClearWorld
"A NATO air strike killed a senior al-Qaida commander in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday, while Pakistan is investigating reports that a separate CIA drone-launched missile killed the insurgents' No. 3 commander in its territory"
These types of stories have become so routine that one has to wonder what the state of al-Qaida's leadership is right now.  What kind of impact are these killings having on the organization?  I'd love to know.

Welcome to the Stay-Put Economy (Derek Thompson) from the Atlantic
"Recessions have a way of freezing things. Credit, spending, labor mobility: everything seizes when uncertainty clutches the economy."

The White House, Rouse Style (Marc Ambinder) from the Atlantic
"If President Obama selects Pete Rouse, his former Senate chief of staff, to be a caretaker executive in the White House, there will be little visible manifestation of Rouse's presence to the outside world. Inside the White House, however, while circadian rhythm will be less frenetic, the changes will be significant."

Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans from the New York Times
"Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion."
I am SOO surprised!

Imagining a Deficit Plan from Republicans (David Leonhardt) from the New York Times
"In their Pledge to America, Congressional Republicans have used the old trick of promising specific tax cuts and vague spending cuts. It’s the politically easy approach, and it is likely to be as bad for the budget as when George W. Bush tried it."

Tea and Crackers: How Corporate Interests and Republican Insiders Built the Tea Party Monster (Matt Taibbi) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware…"
This piece is REALLY funny.  The title alone is priceless!

The Tea Kettle Movement (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"Based on all I’ve heard from this movement, it feels to me like it’s all steam and no engine. It has no plan to restore America to greatness. The Tea Kettle movement can’t have a positive impact on the country because it has both misdiagnosed America’s main problem and hasn’t even offered a credible solution for the problem it has identified."

In a similar vein:
The Serious Right vs. "The Pledge" (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic
"We do care about the fiscal crisis looming, and we will do all we can to highlight those conservatives and liberals serious about tackling the problem and those who aren't. The current GOP leadership is absolutely not serious about it, will have no mandate to do anything serious if they win the House this fall, and no-one, Democrat, Republican or Independent, should be under any illusions about that."

Mapping a Left Turn: A Book Review of Herding Donkeys from the Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Berman, a smart young liberal journalist who writes for the Nation, isn't merely a pundit hopping on the Obama bandwagon a bit too late. His book—about how grass-roots progressives helped to revive Democratic fortunes and make Mr. Obama president—is a well-reported tour de force that would be worth reading as a snapshot in time even if the Democrats went the way of the Whigs after November."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

News Nuggets 443

A view of the Manhattan waterfront in 1946.  See yesterday's History Book Nugget.  From the New York Times.

"Despite threats to quit negotiations over Israel's resumption of settlement building, Palestinian president keeps hope of compromise alive."
This is very good news.  It also suggests that Abbas thinks progress is being made through the talks.  If no progress was being made, I suspect he would have used this issue to take a walk.

In the Footsteps of the Kaiser: China Boosts US power in Asia (Walter Russell Mead) from the American Interest Online
"Is China the best friend of American power?  Beijing’s recent missteps in Asia — moving ahead with reactor sales to troubled Pakistan and crudely threatening Japan over the arrest of a
Chinese fishing captain — are swiftly solidifying America’s Asian alliances."
I often disagree with Mead's views on recent history -- but this was too good to pass up!  The illusion to the strutting egotism and insistent desperation to be taken seriously and to be consulted on all global matters was SO TRUE for Germany under the Kaiser.  The comparison with modern China is quite interesting.

"Kim Jong-un looks set to replace his father as North Korea’s leader. But what does another Kim mean for its people?"

A related item appears here:
North Korea and the Perils of a Third Kim Regime from the Editorial Board of the Christian Science Monitor
"The ruling elite of North Korea meet this week and may anoint a successor to Kim Jong-il -- possibly his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, who was made a military general. This leadership transition, however, won't go easily. China needs to stop propping up a weak, violent regime."

Anti-Iran Computer Bug Had Powerful Backers from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Stuxnet computer code designed to infect industrial plants created by well-funded hackers, says Symantec Corp expert."

More detail on the Stuxnet worm is here:
Six Mysteries of Stuxnet from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Langner guesses that Stuxnet is aimed at Bushehr, Iran's civilian nuclear power plant, which is slated to go online this fall. Langner's case rests largely on the fact that Bushehr runs Siemens software and that Russian contractors would have had access to the facility -- and that they would have used USB drives to set up the system."

Delhi's Dirty Reality? from The Diplomat
"In a careless and inappropriate remark, Bhanot suggested that Indians and foreigners have different standards of cleanliness, causing public dismay and hand wringing. However, if the truth be told, it may not have been far off the mark."

NOTE: The Diplomat has a surprising range of interesting articles on Asia, many others of which are worth checking out. 

"24/7 Wall St. took a look at ten large companies whose success will prove that the recession has ended for most Americas – consumers and businesses alike. None of them are rapidly growing. Most are relatively mature. This makes them a good litmus tests for showing an improvement in economic growth because rapidly expanding companies such as Apple can give off false signals."

Many Wanted Health Care Law to Do More from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire
"A new Associated Press poll finds that Americans who think President Obama's health care law should have gone further outnumber the ones who think the government should stay out of health care by 2 to 1."
I have LONG suspected as much.  NOTE: The AP link was defective when I tried to use it at Political Wire.  Salon has more discussion of the poll HERE.

New Polls Give Dems Something to Smile About (Mark Blumenthal) from the Huffington Post
"It may just be the bouncing ball of randomness at work but new polls in California, Nevada, Ohio and Kentucky released over the weekend gave Democrats something to smile about, or perhaps just a little less to wince at."

The Worst Drivers in America from the Daily Beast
"What was more surprising: how the breakdown between states with more dangerous drivers and safer drivers fell almost completely along the lines of the 2008 McCain-Obama election, with the Republicans again coming up on the short end. Nine of the 10 worst-performing states went for McCain, while nine of the 10 best performers voted for Obama. (Delaware and Rhode Island were the respective outliers.)"

Monday, September 27, 2010

News Nuggets 442

Tech problem: Google's "Add Images" tool isn't working -- so no daylee picture.

[Forwarded from one of our regular readers]
JURY Duty Scam

For yourself, your elderly parents, and your grown children. This has been verified by the FBI (their link is also included below).  It is spreading fast so be prepared should you get this call. Most of us take those summonses for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty that a new and ominous kind of fraud has surfaced. 

The caller claims to be a jury DUTY coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the Scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Give out any of this information and bingo, your identity was just stolen. 

The fraud has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma , Illinois , and Colorado, AZ and more. This (swindle) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they are with the court system. 

The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning  consumers about the fraud. 

Back to our regularly scheduled news nuggets:

More on Friday's headliner [at least it was headliner here]:
"A new cyber weapon may have been designed to find and sabotage a nuclear facility in Iran."

Finally the New York Times gets to the story HERE.

Reuters also has some interesting followup:
Of course they're going to say this.  The fact that they released ANY news on this tells you this was more than a few personal laptops getting infected.
"A computer virus that experts said may have been created by a state did not affect Iran's nuclear plant or government systems, but did hit computers of staff at the plant and Internet providers, officials said on Sunday."

Our on-the-money pundit for the day!
"The newly rising powers—China, India, Brazil—rightly insist that they be more centrally involved in the structures of power and global decision making. But when given the opportunity, do they step up to the plate and act as great powers with broad interests? On trade? Energy use? Climate change? No.  …  Says Shimon Peres, “You can call yourself a decision maker, but if you are not ready to donate, to sacrifice life, to take risks—not because your country is being attacked but because peace is being put into danger—then it’s more of a perception than reality.”"
I agree with Zakaria -- but it raises several interesting questions.  Are up-and-comers REALLY going to focus on that last set of issues?  Or are those issues simply a global convention adopted since, say World War II?  Will Chinese leaders ever really care about peace in Africa -- or anywhere where their vital interest aren't directly at stake?  I'm skeptical.

Their Moon Shot and Ours (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. … Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan. This contrast is not good."

Fiscal Crises and Imperial Collapses: Historical Perspective on Current Predicaments (Niall Ferguson) from the Peterson Institute for International Economics
"What I want to emphasize this evening is the nonlinearity of fiscal history, the suddenness with which things can go wrong in the realm of public finance and from there, to the realm of geopolitics."
See Ferguson's slides along with the video feed.

'Polarities' Old Hat in Newest of World Orders (editorial) from the Irish Times
"Multipolarity is too statist for this century, he argues, in agreement with Haass about the dispersal of power. ... The idea that the EU will become a pole should be tested rather than asserted. It will be a trans-Pacific rather than a trans-Atlantic century, making that a much greater priority for EU policy."

Downhill With the GOP (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Once upon a time, a Latin American political party promised to help motorists save money on gasoline. How? By building highways that ran only downhill. … For these days one of America’s two great political parties routinely makes equally nonsensical promises. Never mind the war on terror, the party’s main concern seems to be the war on arithmetic. And this party has a better than even chance of retaking at least one house of Congress this November.  Banana republic, here we come.

"Whether it is about killing or simply about being out in the woods, in the cold and wet of fall dragging a big animal over steep terrain, hunting is just not cool to many young people."

What Will Future Generations Condemn Us For? (Op-Ed) from the New York Times
"Looking back at such horrors, it is easy to ask: What were people thinking?  Yet, the chances are that our own descendants will ask the same question, with the same incomprehension, about some of our practices today.  Is there a way to guess which ones?

When Kennedy Met Nixon: The Real Story (Ted Sorenson) from the New York Times
"Six myths have persisted throughout the innumerable reports on this historic confrontation. As someone who helped Kennedy prepare and negotiate the terms for the Chicago debate, I’d like to set the half-century-old record straight."

"Mr. Carter’s 25th book, “White House Diary,” the edited and annotated journals of his turbulent years in office, reminds one of the plagues visited on him, many beyond his control, and the way he stumbled, suffered, tried to do the right thing, tried to understand his errors and seemed to believe that politics in a fallen world doomed him to being unappreciated."

"Say you’re a New York City newspaper reporter and the year is 1948. Your editor tells you to go down to the docks and check out the latest in a string of murders. For some reporters, the task would have meant an afternoon of work. For Malcolm Johnson, the New York Sun reporter who took this particular handoff from his boss, the assignment led deep into the world of organized crime…"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

News Nuggets 441

A giant manta ray off the coast of the Socorro and San Benedicto Islands off the Mexico coast.  
From the Daily Mail of the UK.

"Iranian media reports say the country's nuclear agency is trying to combat a complex computer worm that has affected industrial sites in Iran and is capable of taking over power plants."
It seems that SOMEONE has declared very high-level cyber-war on Iran.  I'm sure this has been going on for years at a lower, easier-to-hide level.  Now it's out in the open.  ABC News has more on the worm HERE.  I have no doubt that the White House and Obama's NSC (or similar agency) are important enablers of this development.

Why is this important?  Issued the same day from the Associated Press via RealClearWorld:
"Iran would consider ending higher level uranium enrichment, the most crucial part of its controversial nuclear activities, if world powers send Tehran nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters Friday.  Addressing a packed press conference in a New York hotel, Ahmadinejad also said Iran was prepared to set a date for resumption of talks with six world powers to discuss Tehran's nuclear program, saying October would be the likely time for the two sides to meet."
Prediction: Iran is throwing in the towel on its nuclear enrichment program.  Their supply lines for key materials are completely corrupted; since the Green Revolution, the program has been leaking intel like a sieve; and, NOW, we see that not only is the program's software going through a computer-worm infested meltdown, the worm has now attacked software in key sectors of the Iranian economy -- and they have no clue how to stop it.  Thus, the "see you in October" tail to this story.

Obama's Freedom Agenda Announced at the UN from Foreign Policy Magazine
"With this speech, the historically bipartisan U.S. commitment to supporting liberty and human dignity abroad has returned, and on the world stage of the United Nations General Assembly."

Obama and His Audacity of Hope for Middle East Peace Talks from the Editorial Board of the Christian Science Monitor
"At the UN, Obama put his presidency on the line with his hopeful statements about the fragile Middle East peace talks. But now is exactly the time for risk taking. Above all, by Abbas and Netanyahu."

"After months of leaving Sudan policy on a back burner, President Obama put the weight of his administration and his own personal esteem in Africa on the line Friday, demanding that north and south Sudan ensure that their likely split into two nations early next year proceed peacefully."

Wallowing in Decline (James Traub) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Americans have gone from gloating over their global influence to bemoaning the loss of it. They were wrong then, and they're wrong now."

"Belgium and the Netherlands both held general elections in June. Since then, both have limped on under caretaker governments as the emergence of radical new movements has upset the usual cozy coalition building among conservative, liberal and socialist parties."

Another Reason To Question the "Enthusiasm Gap" (Ed Kilgore) from the Democratic Strategist
"Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen's recent post on Obama approval ratings among his own 2008 voters is so very interesting: "Our national poll last week- which is conducted with registered, rather than likely, voters- found that 88% of people who voted for Obama still approve of the job he's doing.""

Get Off Your Butts, Dems (Matthew Yglesias) from the Daily Beast
"As health care goes into effect and the GOP lays plans to repeal it, progressives are sitting on their hands. Matthew Yglesias on the case for going to war to help sick kids."

The Timorous Republican Pledge to America (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest
"The pledge, in other words, doesn't really believe in pledging very much."
Heilbrunn references THIS hilarious assessment of the pledge from Erik Erickson at
"These 21 pages tell you lots of things, some contradictory things, but mostly this: it is a series of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because the House GOP does not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama."
WOW!! You mean Democrats aren't the only ones guilty of "compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes"!?  Who knew?

Germany's Enduring Divide (Doug Saunders) from the [Toronto] Globe and Mail
"After trillions of euros, Berlin next week will begin celebrating the 20th anniversary of that experiment’s beginning. Chancellor Angela Merkel, a former East German, has been able to produce statistics that allow her to boast of a modest success. But by its own terms, and those set by her predecessor, there is nothing much to celebrate."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

News Nuggets 440

A massive wind farm off the Kentish coast in the UK.  See the Energy Nuggets below.  From Discovery News.

"Iran increasingly appears willing to enter into negotiations in the near future over its nuclear program, diplomats close to the talks said Wednesday, a move that would restart a process that ended abruptly last fall."

Cuba Move is a Victory for US Policy from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The Castro regime's stunning announcement that it is planning to lay off more than 500,000 state workers in the next six months, dropping fully one-tenth of the country's labor force into a barely existent "private sector" has sparked a flurry of commentary on just what the move portends for the captive island's future."

"Rising frictions between China and its neighbors in recent weeks over security issues have handed the United States an opportunity to reassert itself — one the Obama administration has been keen to take advantage of."

"As one of his advisers bluntly put it, the president "doesn't like new people."
Like it or not, he will soon be surrounded by them as an expected staff shuffle will deprive Obama of two of his closest aides and an influx of replacements will take their places within the West Wing."

Exodus Could Shift White House Tone from the Wall Street Journal
"White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is likely to resign in a matter of weeks, hastening a remake of the Obama White House that could lead to a lower-key, more cooperative approach after the November midterm elections."

The Massive Resistance Movement Against Obama (Sherrilyn Ifill) from The Root
"The right has adopted tactics that echo efforts to block school desegregation in the 1950s. This time they may permanently damage our political system."

Divided and Conquer?  The GOP and the Defense Budget (Heather Hulbert) from the Democratic Strategist
"The GOP spent the summer using Islam-bashing to paper over a canyon-sized fissure on national security. But the word "fissure" makes the problem sound neat and orderly, where what is going on beneath the surface is more of a free-for-all among old-fashioned realists, neocons, paleocons, Tea Partiers and libertarians."

"My colleague Ben Adler brought the quick reaction yesterday evening, arguing that the plan is unlikely to inspire. And so, far it looks like he's mostly right."

"It’s the culmination of a cool relationship that dates back to 2002, when Palin lost out to Murkowski in the sweepstakes to win appointment to the Senate seat left vacant by Murkowski’s father, Frank, who had just been elected governor."

"The flesh-and-blood Rosa Parks was a lot more interesting than the one we read about in history books. A new book details how she was a warrior for justice for black women who were brutally raped by white men in the segregated South."

"The world's largest offshore wind farm opened in Britain on Thursday, as part of the government's bid to reduce the carbon emissions that drive climate change.  The project received a qualified welcome from environmental campaigners.  The site, a forest of giant turbines in the North Sea off the east Kent coast, has 100 turbines installed so far with a total of 341 planned."

A related story is:
Is Wind Power Green? from Discovery News
"As the U.S. energy industry inches away from reliance on fossil fuels, experts have heralded various greener technologies, such as ethanol, solar and geothermal power, as choice alternatives. And while each of those alternatives holds marked environmental advantages over dirty oil and coal, none match wind power’s squeaky clean performance."

The Most Under-rated General in American History: You be the Judge (Thomas Ricks) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"So, who is the most under-rated? My guess is that it will come down to O.P. Smith, Nathaniel Greene and George Thomas, with Thomas winning. "
Like his choices for  his earlier "Worst Generals" list, this one is interesting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

News Nuggets 439

Deer Cave in Borneo.  Over 5 million bats live in it!  That's a lot of bats! From National Geographic News.

"Russian immigrants to Israel have emerged as a central obstacle to achieving a Middle East peace deal, according to former President Bill Clinton. He voiced fears that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which increasingly consists of soldiers hailing from this community, might not be fully willing to oppose Israeli settlers as a result."

North Korea: The Hermit Emerges (Malcolm Moore) from the Telegraph [of the UK]
"The world's most secretive state faces turmoil if Kim Jong-il hands over control to his son. Will it spiral out of control, or could Chinese-style capitalism save it?"

Job-Creation Idea No. 2: Rescue the States (Dan Froomkin) from the Huffington Post
"State and local governments are the country's largest employers. They provide essential public safety, education, health and social services -- services that are even more needed during an economic downturn. But when the economy slows down and tax receipts drop, state and local governments have to cut back. And their spending cuts don't just reduce those necessary services, they work like an anti-stimulus -- dollar for dollar."
An interesting idea.  Wont' happen though.  Today's widespread obsession with deficits will doom any effort to "bail out" the states.

Court Affirms Overturning Fla. Gay Adoption Ban from the Associated Press via Raw Story
"Florida's strict ban on adoption by gay people is unconstitutional because no other group, even people with criminal backgrounds, are singled out for a flat prohibition by state law, an appeals court ruled Wednesday."

South Carolina's GOP War (Samuel Jacobs) from the Daily Beast
"Is the South Carolina big enough for Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint? They are hardly friends and they clearly disagree about the direction of the Republican Party."

Incumbency: The Democrats’ Best Hope (Ken Silverstein) from Harpers Magazine
"The scenario for the midterm elections remains grim for Democrats, but they have two factors working in their favor. First, the pathetic state of the GOP and second, and more importantly, the advantages of incumbency."

"Top White House officials believe expectations were set so low for Democrats that they just may keep control of the House and Senate by grinding out victories in individual races, and there are signs emerging that the most powerful Republican business lobbyist may privately agree with that assessment."

Don't Be Misled by the Generic Ballot (Ed Kilgore) from the Democratic Strategist
"Democrats: Don't be misled by the generic ballot - the most recent numbers are so bloody damn close that the only message they send is that dozens of races will be decided by how hard we fight and if we let our opponents trick us into demoralization."

Palin is the New McGovern (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"Go ahead, pull your party to the far right, Sarah. But your ideological purification drive will spell doom soon. Peter Beinart on what the GOP should learn from 1972."

The Juicy Bits in Bob Woodward's Book (Bryan Curtis) from the Daly Beast
"From Hillary’s buck-passing to Obama getting rolled, Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars lays out the president’s Afghan adventure. The Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis snagged an early copy."

Based on this review, the book actually sounds … boring.  The following article actually makes Carter's diaries sound much more interesting.

"The former president’s official White House diaries are filled with surprisingly honest assessments on everything from his support among Jewish voters to why Clinton was annoyed with him."

"Not since we all learned that Rand Paul forced a blindfolded classmate to kneel in a stream and pray to the Aqua Buddha -- and possibly not since the revelation that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had participated in an exorcism -- have political junkies been as overjoyed as they were when they saw footage of Christine O'Donnell admitting that she'd "dabbled into witchcraft" in her younger and more vulnerable years."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

News Nuggets 438

A valley on Kauai in Hawaii.  From Newsweek.

Students Pick 2010's Top Colleges from the Huffington Post
"Over the past 12 months, we asked more than 30,000 students across America to weigh in and tell us their stories. What is it actually like on your campus? Which schools have the most intellectual student bodies? Where do students feel safe?"
CMU is NUMBER ONE!!!  Here's an excerpt: "The students at Carnegie Mellon, in Pittsburgh, PA, don’t beat around the bush: “Here is CMU's big selling point: the academics. They are great.” The approximately 6,000 undergrads at this Pittsburgh, PA school won’t stop raving about their “brilliant” professors who go out of their way to “know who you are,” and the “truly intellectual environment” this creates. There’s something else it also creates: “A workload that is not to be taken lightly.” “We’re forced into late night work/study sessions every other day,” said one."

"Binyamin Netanyahu hopes release of spy will appease right wing but US intelligence likely to oppose the deal."

"Netanyahu opened his remarks by speaking very positively about President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also said positive things about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, describing him as a real partner for peace. "

The Obama Administration's 'Pipe Dreams' (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"Barney Frank once told her that getting a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a "pipe dream." I think some people will see that as a mark against Frank, but he was right, at least judging by Washington's record over the previous 20 or 30 years. In fact, a lot of the Obama administration's accomplishments were pipe dreams."

"Consider the facts. After the fall of Lehman, credit froze in the U.S. economy. Banks stopped lending to anyone, even Fortune 500 companies with gold-plated credit. People couldn’t get consumer and car loans at any price, businesses couldn’t get short-term loans to meet payroll. Private-sector borrowing—the lifeblood of modern economies—fell from 15 percent of GDP in late 2007 to minus 1 percent of GDP in late 2008."

Vatican's $30 Million Money Scandal from the Associated Press
"Italian authorities seized euro23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money-laundering probe."
What is going on over there?!

President Obama Hints at High-Level Changes from the Wall Street Journal
"President Barack Obama raised the prospect of changes to his economic team Monday, saying his over-worked staffers were "going to have a whole range of decisions about family that'll factor into" their career decisions."
Long overdue in my view -- although I am not yet convinced that his economic team should be the ones to take the fall.  I hate to say it (because I like his low-key approach and personality) but David Axelrod and others in Obama's political shop are the problem area.  Their messaging has been DREADFUL since the summer of last year.

"In response to Obama's proposed tax hike for people making more than $250,000 a year, Henderson writes, ironically, "that makes me super rich." He goes on, for nine paragraphs, to explain why he actually isn't rich, finally extending an invitation to Obama to "judge for himself whether the Hendersons are as rich as he thinks.""
This debate is really interesting.  The Huffington post article has some of the highlights.

What 'Republican Establishment' is the Tea Party Rattling? (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Sorry to interrupt the anti-establishment violence, but could we pause long enough to ask a question: What is this "Republican establishment" of which you speak?"

"For the past month, most of the national press has been uncritically swallowing a steady diet of Republican propaganda: The race for the House is over; the Republicans have already won.
As someone who has been involved in congressional politics for more than 30 years and served as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman for the 1996 and 1998 cycles, I questioned this. …Even if everything breaks for the GOP, short of a total national blowout, they would have to win all the seats identified to get to the magic number of 43."

Poll Watch - Hope for the Dems? (Simon Rosenberg) from NDN
"Both the Real Clear Politics Congressional Generic average and the new Gallup track show similar national trend lines - Dems gaining ground, GOP dropping.   Similarly, the Gallup track has Obama's approval rating improving by 10 net percentage points in the past month, from 42/51 to 47/46 (RCP has shown movement despite 2 clear outlier Rasmussen and AP

The Tea-Party Tempest (John Heilemann) from New York Magazine
"All this sound and fury signifies a lot of problems for Republicans like John Boehner and Mitt Romney next year."

""Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, today filed a pair of complaints concerning Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's use of more than $20,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses.  "Christine O'Donnell is clearly a criminal, and like any crook she should be prosecuted," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said."
WOW!  It's rare you see a mainstream outfit like CREW come out with statements this inflammatory.  Them's fighting' words!!  O'Donnell's transgressions have to be pretty egregious and naked for them to say this.