Wednesday, November 30, 2011

News Nuggets 815

THE DAYLEE PHOTO: A Two-Tailed Pasha or Foxy Emperor butterfly.  From National Best Photography Magazine.

As usual, Democracy Journal's latest collection of articles is first rate.  Here are a couple of good ones:
Our Foreign Policy Blind Spots (Leslie H. Gelb) from Democracy Journal
"Responses to attack or threat or crises usually begin well, in a shower of patriotism and unity. Then, with the help of revenge seekers, the country flies into a political and policy rage, followed by rash actions in and toward countries about which our leaders and experts know little. Inevitably, the wrong lessons are learned."

The Future of Al Qaeda (Fawaz Gerges) from the Democracy Journal
"... like bin Laden himself, Al Qaeda—the very embodiment of what “terrorist organization” has come to mean in the minds of Americans—no longer exists. It has all but vanished, or at least dwindled to the palest shadow of its former self."

Satellite Image Shows Devastation Caused by Iran Blast They Said was an 'Accident'... as ANOTHER Explosion Rocks Country from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"This satellite image shows the devastation caused by a mysterious blast at an Iranian missile base earlier this month. Its buildings are destroyed, mountains of debris are scattered in courtyards and roads are severely damaged. ... Now, with a further blast yesterday in the western city of Isfahan, observers are questioning the competence of those in charge of the country's missile programme."
I find the general silence on this story from the large media outlets to be ... interesting.  It very much reminds me of the original Stuxnet story -- and I think it is no accident that many of the same news sources that broke the Suxnet story are covering this one (the Guardian of the UK).  My suspicion is that only a few media outlets have any real sources on Iran ... but it strikes me that with these explosions there is a *very important story or set of stories* developing around Iran's nuclear facilities that is largely passing under the media radar.  What is going on!? We shall see.

US May Abandon Pakistan Supply Routes (Amir Mir) from the Asia Times [of Hong Kong in English]
"The United States may abandon Pakistan as a major supply route to Afghanistan unless the blockade on provisions to coalition forces is ended, after Islamabad turned down a request to allow crucial food and military hardware to transit to neighboring Afghanistan ..."

Homs, Syria: Inside the City of Fear (James Harkin) from Newsweek
"James Harkin is one of the few non-Syrian journalists to get into Homs. There, in the midst of murderous civil strife, he befriends a brave 18-year-old who dreams of a free Syria."

Embassy Assault in Iran Dramatizes Internal Feud from the Wall Street Journal
"Students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran in response to new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, an attack stemming in part from the fight for political control between Iran's conservatives."

As part of our occasional primer on US Defense spending and policy, there's the following entry.  As regular readers know, I have cast a critical eye on the extraordinary size of the US Navy compared to others in the world.  Kaplan is the first analyst I've seen who addresses this question directly.  I'm still skeptical -- but I do want to hear the case for the big navy.
The US Navy Fostered Globalisation: We Still Need It (Robert Kaplan) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"There is a big difference between a 346-ship US navy and a 250-ship navy – the difference between one kind of world order and another."

US House Prices Continue to Slide (Johanna Kasel) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"US house prices fell by more than expected in September, again dashing expectations that the housing market will stabilise and posing a continued threat to economic growth in 2012."

A World Apart: Is America Becoming More Integrated? (Ryan D. Enos) from the Boston Review
"As the United States has grown more diverse, it has moved from being “two societies, one black, one white,” in the words of the famous Moynihan Report, to two societies, white and nonwhite"
Some unexpected results discussed in this interesting article!

President as Piñata (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"... as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for."

The Brainless Use of Pop Psychology to Diss Obama (Robert Shrum) from The Week
"Critics claim to get inside Obama's head, and proclaim that the president is an indecisive failure. Nothing could be farther from the truth."

GOP Is Set to Self-Destruct Over Payroll Tax (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"In rejecting an extension of the payroll-tax cut, Senate Republicans show beyond a doubt that their party favors the wealthy over ordinary Americans, says Michael Tomasky."

The Generational Divide That Will Define 2012 (Michael Crowley) from Time Magazine
"To a large degree, it seems, the split represents two very different reactions to change in American life. Pew found that seniors are unhappy about trends like immigration and diversity, and gay and interracial marriage. In one of the survey’s most striking facts, fewer than half of them say the Internet has been a positive development. And few things provoked livelier replies from the many seniors interviewed in Florida for this story than the impact of technology on American life. “Kids are running amok!” one told me. Millennials, by contrast, barely even register the idea that the Web might do more harm than good: only 11% call it a change for the worse. More relevant for the 2012 election, 30-and-under Americans largely embrace the social changes that their elders reject."
The whole story is really quite interesting and explains a lot.

More Now Disagree with Tea Party – Even in Tea Party Districts from the Pew Research Center
"Since the 2010 midterm elections, the Tea Party has not only lost support nationwide, but also in the congressional districts represented by members of the House Tea Party Caucus. And this year, the image of the Republican Party has declined even more sharply in these GOP-controlled districts than across the country at large."
As I've argued for some time, the Tea Party's time has passed.  

Romney's Fading Popularity from Public Policy Polling
"You want to know the biggest reason Mitt Romney hasn't surged at any point in the Republican Presidential race this year? It's because the more GOP primary voters across the country have been exposed to him, the less they've liked him."

Why Conservatives Like Newt Gingrich (Ben Adler) from the Nation
"Why would a movement nominally dedicated to preserving traditional marriage prefer Gingrich, a serial adulterer, to a devout family man such as Rick Santorum? What is it that makes Gingrich at all appealing on his own terms? The answer lies in what many in the mainstream media tend to perceive as a weakness, rather than strength, of Gingrich’s: his over-the-top rhetorical condemnations of Democrats and liberals."

Herman Cain’s Media Base Leaves The Cain Train from Talking Points Memo
"Herman Cain may be quietly reconsidering what to do next with his campaign, but some of his most ardent defenders on the right have already made up their minds."

Was Herman Cain’s High-Risk Campaign Fueled by Testosterone? (Michelle Cottle) from the Daily Beast
"As Cain weighs whether to quit the presidential race amid allegations of a 13-year affair, it seems testosterone put him in a position where exposure was all but guaranteed."

Kennedy, Reagan, Loved for All the Wrong Reasons (Robert Dallek) from Bloomberg News Service
"What gives Kennedy and Reagan such a strong hold on American imaginations is not what they did but what they said and still stand for."
I agree with Dallek's headline -- but don't share some of his reasoning.  I think both Reagan and Kennedy are worthy of praise but not for many of the reasons touted by their most avid supporters.  As a rule, I think US presidents deserve a lot of credit -- when they get right the big (but rare) existential threats to the US and the world.  Example: Kennedy screwed up a lot -- but he got the Cuban Missile Crisis right.  Presidents rarely face missile-crisis-like challenges -- but the bottom line is: if they get it wrong, the consequences are almost incalculable!  Lincoln could have made a hash of the Civil War many different ways and lost the conflict.  US and global history would have been fundamentally different if it had gone that way.  The same is true for Kennedy.

On Aging Baby Boomers, and the Question of Where to Live from the New York Times
"A new book by an architect and a gerontologist collects examples of homes designed to bridge the distance between one’s vital and declining years."

The Not-So-Invisible Empire: A Review of 100 Percent American: The Rebirth and Decline of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s by Thomas R. Pegram (Kevin Boyle) form the New York Times
"No longer would it be enough to target African-Americans, not when there were Catholics, Jews and immigrants to hate as well. They also added an aggressive political pitch, seizing on the hyperpatriotism of the recently concluded World War to turn the Klan into the champion of “one hundred percent Americanism,”..."

David Thomson on Films: The Most Tender Tribute Marilyn Monroe Has Ever Received from the New Republic
"Some time towards the end of this delightful entertainment, the realization dawns of how much courage Michelle Williams needed in accepting the offer to play Marilyn Monroe."

Monday, November 28, 2011

News Nuggets 814

DAYLEE PICTURE: Gas releases in a frozen lake in the Canadian Rockies.  
From National Geographic.

Iran: Explosion in Isfahan Reported Near Nuclear Facilities from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Widely conflicting reports emerge of apparent explosion in the north-east of Isfahan near where nuclear facilities are located."
What now?  Iranian officials later denied that anything happened.  Y-NET News of Israel describes it as a "huge explosion".  Speculation is all over the place.  An attack on the facilities by Israel?  Another cyber attack?  Old fashioned sabotage?  Incompetence?  Who knows?  It could also relate to the Obama foreign policy stories below.

Democrats Unveil Devastating Video on Mitt Romney's Flip-Flops (VIDEO) from Daily Kos
"Mitt Romney's campaign is holding 12 different conference calls today to respond to this ad."
WOW!  Devastating indeed!  This ad is like something Michael Moore in his prime would have done!

Three distinct views on Obama's foreign policy in light of recent events:
1.  Obama's Foreign Policy Doctrine Finally Emerges With 'Offshore Balancing' (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
The deadly NATO strike in Pakistan reveals that the president has decided to contain U.S. adversaries with an affordable strategy of maintaining our naval and air power while strengthening smaller nations. It’s about time, says Peter Beinart."

2.  Not Just One Pivot: Time to Acknowledge Obama’s Broad Redefinition of U.S. National Security Policy (David Rothkopf) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"While most of the U.S. government and frankly, most major governments worldwide, are mired in a swamp of political paralysis, victims of their own inaction, the president and his national security team are engineering a profound, forward-looking, and rather remarkable change."

3.  Doctrine of Silence (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"President Obama has gone undercover. You have to figure that one day somebody sitting in Tehran or Islamabad or Sana is going to wake up and say: “Hey, this guy Obama, he went to war in our country but just forgot to mention the fact. Should we perhaps go to war in his?”"

Best and Worst Run States in America — An Analysis Of All 50 from 24/7 Wall Street
"For the second year, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed data on financial health, standard of living and government services by state to determine how well each state is managed. Based on this data, 24/7 Wall St. ranked the 50 states from the best to worst run. The best-run state is Wyoming. The worst-run state is California."
PA comes in at #15 of the best run states.  Can't say that I buy it -- but check out the brief analysis.

In WI, Walker Recall Effort Has Over Half its Needed Signatures, Organizers Say from the Green Bay Press
"United Wisconsin announced on Monday that more than 300,000 signatures have been gathered during the first 12 days of the recall effort, which was officially launched on Nov. 15. Organizers would need to gather 540,208 valid signatures by Jan. 17 to get the recall on the ballot next year."

God and Man and William F. Buckley (Carl Bogus) from the Los Angeles Times
"One cannot understand the modern conservative movement without appreciating this sentiment. ... From its origins in 1951, the conservative movement has perceived itself not essentially as an advocate for a more effective political philosophy but as a bulwark against evil. Though many liberals may be naive rather than malevolent, they are nonetheless leading America into something foul and wicked."
This perspective explains in part why conservatives have SO much more staying power than liberals when it comes to slugging it out in elections every two years.  Conservatives view the Dems as not just wrong ... but as evil.  For them, the battle is existential ... not simply a difference in opinion.  When Dems can start to find even half that fire, then (and only then) will they start taking back our country.

Republicans vs the World (Daniel Drezner) from the Spectator [of the UK]
"Having investigated the policy platforms of the Republican field, however, I have concluded that most of them have done Americans a huge favour. The Grand Old Party candidates’ current thinking on foreign affairs is a noxious mixture of cowardice, belligerence, ignorance — and, unfortunately, political savvy."
Drezner has more to say on this subject at his FP blog.

The Republican Party Is Losing Its Grip on Foreign Policy (Leslie H. Gelb) from the Daily Beast
"The Republican Party is losing its grip on international reality—and its foreign policy hold on American voters."

The GOP’s Supercommittee Backlash (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"Across the political spectrum, Americans are appalled at Washington’s latest failure—but John Avlon crunches the numbers and explains why Republicans are getting the most flak."

Five Weeks to Go Until the Iowa Caucuses (Chuck Todd et al.,) from MSNBC's First Read
"Here’s where we stand in the GOP presidential race with five weeks (36 days!!!) to go until the Iowa caucuses..."

Cain's 'Consensual' Conduct with Accuser (Howard Kutz) from the Daily Beast
"Herman Cain, whose campaign was already fading, may have reached the tipping point.  After denying four separate accusations of sexual harassment, Cain found himself late Monday facing an account by an Atlanta businesswoman of a 13-year extramarital affair--and she has phone records to back up her claim. While Cain is denying the latest allegations, his lawyer, Lin Wood, offered comments that practically amounted to a confirmation..."
Yes -- he's had an affair for 13 years -- and it's the mainstream media's fault!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

News Nuggets 813

DAYLEE PICTURE: Something to be very thankful for - the northern lights.  From National Geographic.

The News Nuggets will be on hiatus until Monday the 28th.  Feel free to check out the recent postings to catch up on some of the great stories and analysis we've showcased of late!!  Have a great holiday!!

Finding a Butterball in Baghdad: Rajiv Chandrasekaran Recalls a Wartime Holiday from the Washington Post
"As U.S. troops prepare to celebrate their final holiday season in Iraq, Washington Post associate editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran recalls the challenge of acquiring a turkey in Baghdad during the war’s first year."

And another:
Be Thankful — Sensible Solutions Do Exist for U.S. Problems (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"The post-industrial, information economy is dominated by the United States. The industries of the future, from biotechnology to nanotechnology, are dominated by the United States. The best research centers, universities and companies remain American. ..."

And one more!
Occupy the Gravy (John Dickerson) from Slate
"Slate’s annual guide to your Thanksgiving dinner-table arguments."

Yemen’s Leader Agrees to End 3-Decade Rule from the New York Times
"After more than three decades of autocratic rule, President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed an agreement on Wednesday that immediately transferred power to his vice president, bowing to unrelenting street protests and raising hopes for an end to a political crisis that brought this impoverished nation to the brink of collapse."

The Women’s Lib Movement in Libya Sees a Surprising Twist (Liesl Gernholtz) from the Daily Beast
"As female activists in Tripoli push for equal rights, they get a surprise visit from the country’s highest-ranking men, including chairman of the National Transitional Council—who hedges on his controversial stance on polygamy."

The Poor, the Near Poor and You from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"One in three Americans lives in poverty or close to it. If the country does not change direction, more Americans will be struggling."

How We Were All Misled: A Review and analysis of Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis  (John Lanchester) from the New York Review of Books
"Boomerang is about what he has come to see as the larger phenomenon behind the credit crunch: the increase in total worldwide debt from $84 trillion in 2002 to $195 trillion now. The thesis is that “the subprime mortgage crisis was more symptom than cause. The deeper social and economic problems that gave rise to it remained.”"

Don’t Blame this Mess on Obama (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post
"For all the eleventh-hour, “where-was-Obama?” moaning, the bipartisan congressional directive to the White House as the supercommittee did its work was simple: Back off. That’s right. The message from both Republican and Democratic members of the group was that presidential involvement could only be counterproductive."

When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable? (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"If every Democratic president disappoints, maybe there’s something wrong with our expectations. Tough love from a fellow traveler."

The GOP's Dual-Trigger Nightmare (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"So now there are two triggers. One is an extremely progressive spending trigger worth $1.2 trillion that goes off on January 1, 2013. The other is an extremely progressive tax trigger worth $3.8 trillion that goes off on...January 1, 2013. If you count reduced interest payments, the two policies alone would reduce future deficits by about $6 trillion. That's far more than anything the supercommittee came close to discussing."

GOP Intransigence Could Hand The Left A Huge Budget Win (Matthew Yglesias) from Slate
"It's possible that by refusing to agree to a relatively modest tax increase relative to current policy (i.e., relative to full extension of the Bush tax cuts) the congressional Republicans have locked into place a much more left-wing deal in which the majority of deficit reduction is done by tax hikes and a majority of spending cuts come on the national security side."

Unacceptable In Today's GOP? Realism And Compassion (Joe Conason) from the National Memo
"What the debate also revealed again is that a Republican who dares to utter a few words of compassion or realism is likely to prove unacceptable to the base of that party."

Hostility To Knowledge Has No Place In Modern World (Cynthia Tucker) from the National Memo
"I remember the antics of the late George Wallace, who used to denounce "pointy-headed intellectuals." But this unfortunate proclivity seems to have reached its apex at just the wrong time: On a "flat" and interconnected planet, Americans need more knowledge, not less. We need to be better educated, not more ignorant. In other words, the nation needs all the pointy-headedness it can muster."

The GOP Debate: Six Takeaways from Politico
"The GOP debate on national security Tuesday night raised far more questions — and exposed far more divisions — than it resolved. While the topic isn’t central to the 2012 nomination battle, it was nevertheless critical for candidates to meet a modest threshold to remain viable — at least a minimal level of fluency in international affairs. Not everyone hit that mark."

Newt's Gift to Obama (Marc Ambinder) from National Journal
"Now, whether you agree with Gingrich or Romney, recognize that the DNC and the Obama campaign now has a new incentive to see Newt Gingrich become the true face of the GOP anti-establishment opposition to Romney, as ironic as that last phrase is."

New Hampshire 'Birther' Hearing: State Attorney General Michael Delaney Calls For Investigation from the Huffington Post
"New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney asked State Police to investigate a Ballot Law Commission hearing on Friday involving several state representatives and "birther queen" Orly Taitz that turned ugly after the committee unanimously rejected an effort to have Obama removed from the state presidential ballot because she claimed that his birth certificate was a fake."

Democrats Could Gain Three Seats Under Judges' Congressional Map from the Houston Chronicle
"Democrats could gain as many as three new congressional seats and avoid a nasty primary fight between Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett thanks to a proposed federal court-drawn interim congressional redistricting map that was released today."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

News Nuggets 812

DAYLEE PICTURE: Colorful sea pens off the coast of New Zealand.  From National Geographic.

Counting Our Blessings: From Twitter to Vegetarianism, 10 Things to Celebrate This Thanksgiving (Charles Kenny) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"...look more broadly at the state of the world and there's a lot going right -- so give that thanks and pass the gravy."

#Occupy Bat Signal for the 99% from YouTube
"Video from the #occupy bat signal crew. Inside look at this series of inspirational video projections on the side of the Verizon building on November 17th."
More OWS stories are below.

Al-Qaeda Targets Dwindle as Group Shrinks from the Washington Post
"The leadership ranks of the main al-Qaeda terrorist network, once expansive enough to supervise the plot for Sept. 11, 2001, have been reduced to just two figures whose demise would mean the group’s defeat, U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials said."

Springtime in Sudan (David Ottaway) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Omar al-Bashir's many opponents are organizing to end his 22-year rule. But can the Arab Spring reach Khartoum?"

The Euro's North-South Divide from the Economist [of London]
"A large chunk of the single-currency area has a chronic competitiveness problem, with a horrible mixture of high unemployment, low productivity and low investment."

In Supercommittee, Dems Moved Right and Republicans Moved Righter (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"Frankly, it's hard to find even one area in which supercommittee Republicans offered a substantially new compromise -- or even matched what Boehner offered Obama."

UC Davis Chancellor Sorry for Pepper-spray Incident from Reuters via Raw Story
The chancellor certainly got a rough reception yesterday!
"Taking the stage following a parade of speakers who railed against her, Katehi told the crowd: “I’m here to apologize. I really feel horrible for what happened on Friday.” Many in the audience answered with boos and catcalls. ...  She left the stage after about a minute, looking shaken, and was hustled by security personnel to a waiting car, followed by a throng of media and a cluster of students yelling: “Don’t come back!”"

Occupy Movement Has Best Media Week Yet from the Pew Research Center
"A series of police crackdowns resulted in the biggest week of Occupy Wall Street media coverage since the protests began two months ago."

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here? ...a Proposal from Michael Moore from
"This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement's "vision statement" to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street..."
The list of demands is *long overdue* and it works as a starting point.  My first thoughts on the list: (1) too many items, needs to have something simpler and more direct; (2) not much here for either young people (nothing on student debt) or home owners (nothing on the housing crisis); (3) (the BIG missing) not enough on causing jobs NOW.  One final note -- there's not a lot of creativity here.  There's something to be said for packaging a list of demands (such as the Contract with America or the New Deal).  Still this list represents a very good place to start.

Police Arrest 15 at Massachusetts Foreclosure Protest from Reuters via Raw Story
"Fifteen people were arrested at a sit-in against home foreclosures at a Bank of America branch in Massachusetts on Monday, while Tea Party supporters demonstrated across the street, organizers and police said. Roughly 350 supporters of New England tenants and former homeowners complaining about foreclosures by large Wall Street banks were joined by protesters from anti-Wall Street “Occupy” movements at a Bank of America branch in downtown Springfield."

Economic Dislocationin the GOP (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times
".. this [conservative] intellectual ferment coexists with a Republican primary season whose domestic policy debates have been intellectually vacant even by the low standards of presidential primaries. ... the highest-profile proposals have consistently been the dumbest..."

The GOP War on 'Smart Power' (Jacob Stokes) from CNN
"The concept of smart power was coined in 2004 to describe the belief that trade, diplomacy, foreign aid and the spread of American values should be employed alongside military force to achieve U.S. goals in the world. It brings together a mix of soft power, the proverbial carrot, with hard power, the stick, in order to achieve aims. The concept is so basic, so elemental as to be almost cliché – it’s foreign policy 101. And yet the Republican field has dedicated itself to rejecting it."

Gingrich Now Leads GOP Field in Positive Intensity from Gallup
"Newt Gingrich now leads all of his Republican presidential rivals in garnering positive image ratings from Republicans and Republican leaners nationwide -- marking a first for 2011. His +20 Positive Intensity Score gives Gingrich a sizable lead over Herman Cain, in second with +14, and Mitt Romney, in third with +11."
COOL!  And what are his numbers with Independents and Dems?  No +20 I assure you.

CNN Republican Debate: Winners and Losers (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"Another day, another Republican presidential debate. We live-blogged the whole thing but also took note of a few of the night’s winners and, yes, losers."

Obama's 'Big Brother' Reggie Love Reveals President's Daily Demands from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"In a rare interview set to air on ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer tonight, Mr Love details what it’s been like to work for the commander-in-chief, who calls him ‘little brother.’"

The Pilgrims Before Plymouth from the Smithsonian Magazine
"A tour of the Dutch city of Leiden yields new insights into a chapter of the Thanksgiving story not taught in schools."

Around the World, Protesters Bare All for a Cause from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"Across the globe people are shedding their clothes for political causes. Chinese supporters of Ai Weiwei are posting nude pictures on the Internet, while an Egyptian art student has created a storm with her naked photos. It's the perfect way to addle authorities, but the protesters may end up paying the price."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

News Nuggets 811

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Merced River in Yosemite.  From National Geographic.

Khmer Rouge Leaders Accused of Brutality ‘Defying Belief’ from the New York Times
"Opening statements in the most significant stage of a United Nations-backed trial of Khmer Rouge leaders began here on Monday with a horrifying and detailed account of the atrocities of a regime that a prosecutor said was responsible for the deaths of one-fourth of the population. Though the wide-ranging accusations were familiar, their presentation in a coherent narrative, studded with specific examples, was powerful and caused some elderly Cambodians to shed tears."

Chasing the Dragon in Tehran from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Behind its façade of Muslim piety, Iran is one of the most drug-addled countries in the world."

Republicans Are Endangering National Security (William Cohen) from the New York Times
"I have long been concerned that my party’s rigid antitax ideology is harming the fiscal health of our nation. Now it is harming our national security as well, as cuts in defense spending on a calamitous scale are about to be triggered. Congressional Republicans need to look back at this sad episode and decide: Do they care more about keeping “a no tax pledge” or giving our troops the tools they need to protect the nation?"

Overcoming Depression in Old Age: Pitt Program Helps Elderly Fight Malady Often Brought on by Grief, Pain and Disability from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Grief. Pain. Disability. They're among the primary causes of depression at late age for adults. Retirement, social isolation and chronic insomnia are other factors that trigger lower feelings among some elderly than they have ever experienced when younger. Fortunately for Ms. King, Ms. Miller and Mr. Janecek, they have received help as participants in studies at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Late Life Depression Prevention and Treatment Research."

Scott Walker Recall Activists Become Targets Of Threats, Thefts from the Huffington Post
"The fight over a potential recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) took a dark twist over the past week, as anti-Walker activists reported receiving death threats and having items stolen from their properties."

President Obama’s Base of Support Remains Solid Heading into 2012 (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"... an examination of the polling data among key subgroups that constitute Obama’s base makes clear that he has as much support from them as any modern president seeking a second term."

Democrats Consolidating Hispanic Vote Early from Talking Points Memo
"President Obama’s relationship with Hispanic advocacy groups and lawmakers hasn’t always been perfect. But with the election a year off, he’s starting to put up some strong polling numbers among Latino voters."

New Public Study: Watching Fox News Makes You Dumber from Daily Kos
"A new Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind Poll finds that the Sunday morning political shows on television "do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who they don't watch any news at all.""

The White Party (Thomas Edsall) from the New York Times
"Republicans running for the House and the Senate defiantly calculated that they could win in 2010 with a surge of white voters, affirming the Republican role as the default party of white America. ... Now, moving toward what has all the markings of a historic ideological and demographic collision on Nov. 6, 2012, Republicans are doubling down on this racially fraught strategy."

When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality? (David Frum) from New York Magazine
"Some of my Republican friends ask if I’ve gone crazy. I say: Look in the mirror."

A related sentiment here:
Have They Gone Nuts in Washington? (David Gergen) from CNN
"Who can tell how a volatile mixture of political failure in Europe and in the U.S. will play out in coming weeks? The truth is nobody knows for sure. That's why this failure of the super committee represents a reckless, irresponsible gamble by our "leaders" in Washington. It's difficult to remember a Congress that has put the nation so much at risk in the service of ideology and to hold onto office."

Both Sides of GOP Still Bouncing (Ronald Brownstein) from the National Journal
"The big change in the poll was Romney's decline in his strongest group: the Republicans who don't identify with the tea party. "

Does Character Matter to Republicans? Or Will the GOP Embrace a Scoundrel? (Jennifer Rubin) from the Washington Post
"Back in September Right Turn chided certain Republican presidential candidates for appealing to ignorance, glorifying contempt not just for liberal elites but for intellectualism in general. The good news is that voters are rejecting ignorance. The bad news is that they may have forgotten about character."

Tuning Out Rick Perry (Reid Wilson) from the National Journal
"Imagine the frustration if you'd spent huge amounts of money on advertisements aimed at improving your image and it hadn't helped one bit. Now you have an idea of how Rick Perry's campaign must be feeling right now."
Someday, some Hunter S. Thompson-type writer will pen an extraordinarily rich and hilarious picture of the 2011-2012 GOP primary season.

Live Free Or Die Seeking A Birth Certificate (Alec MacGillis) from the New Republic
"New Hampshire is going through a bit of a birther moment right now. Taitz -- the Soviet Union-born lawyer/dentist/state senate candidate from California and self-anointed birther standard-bearer -- came to Concord on Friday to argue before the state's Ballot Law Commission that Barack Obama should be barred from the state's primary ballot because he is in fact not a U.S. citizen. And she had some seemingly well-credentialed local supporters at her side..."

NASA Mars Mission to Test Planet for Ability to Sustain Life from the Washington Post
"NASA’s most high-stakes, ambitious planetary mission in decades is scheduled to launch next week with a goal right out of science fiction: to learn whether Mars was, or ever could be, home to extraterrestrial life."

Turkish Women's Magazine Searches for Intersection of Islam and Fashion from the Atlantic
"The previously little-known magazine has begun outselling Vogue and Elle here, sparking a national debate over whether fashion and Islam can coexist"

For Sale: Bond Villain Lair, £100million-plus (Shark Tanks and Henchmen not included) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Floating 300-foot lair offers helipads and an observation deck
'Legs' enable hideaway to move to different locations."

Large Section of Coastal Los Angeles Roadway Slides into the Ocean (Photos) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"A large rainstorm in San Pedro caused an enormous stretch of coastal road to collapse into the Pacific Ocean Sunday, and left a gaping hole where the road once was."
There's more hole than there is road! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

News Nuggets 810

DAYLEE PICTURE: A translucent shrimp on some anemones in the Kingman Reef halfway between the Hawaiian Island and American Samoa.  From National Geographic.

UC Davis Chancellor Emerges From Press Conference (VIDEO) from the Second Alarm
"A press conference, scheduled for *4:00pm* between the UC Davis Chancellor and police with local press on campus, did not end in an hour, as planned. Instead, a mass of Occupy Davis students and sympathizers mobilized outside, demanding to have their voice heard. After some initial confusion, UC Chancellor Linda Katehi refused to leave the building, attempting to give the media the impression that the students were somehow holding her hostage. A group of highly organized students formed a large gap for the chancellor to leave. They chanted “we are peaceful” and “just walk home,” but nothing changed for several hours. Eventually student representatives convinced the chancellor to leave after telling their fellow students to sit down and lock arms (around 7:00pm)."
What has happened at UC Davis is SO 1960s-Berkeley Free Speech Movement!!  More specifically, rarely have I ever seen a university president so totally unmasked as a lying, save-my-job-at-all-costs, damn-the-protesters hypocrite!  CHECK OUT the video.  The president, claiming that she feared student violence against her, had holed up in her office for hours -- to finally emerge.  The students (hundreds, maybe more) have lined both sides of the walkway sitting in silence as she walks to her car -- quite a distance away.  She gets into her car and drives down the road -- with silent sitting students lining the road as far as the eye can see! I can't help but think that she is done.

Memo Reveals How Seriously Powerful Interests Take OWS (George Zornick) from the Nation
"This morning, Up With Chris Hayes unveiled a major scoop: the show obtained a written pitch to the American Bankers Association from a prominent Washington lobbying firm, proposing a $850,000 smear campaign against Occupy Wall Street."
These folks are Johnny-come-latelies.  The smear campaign has been going full-bore for at least ten days now if not longer.

It's Not Just Our Leaders Who are in a Crisis. Democracy Itself is Failing (Peter Beaumont) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"The world's statesmen no longer shape events but merely respond to them, in thrall to market forces."

Dishevelled and Smeared in Sand, New Pictures Show Moment Gaddafi's Playboy Son Saif was Captured by Rebels from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"This is the moment Colonel Gaddafi's heir was captured by rebel forces as he tried to flee the country his family had ruled for four decades. Looking dishevelled, covered in dust and without his western-style glasses, Saif Al Islam looked a far cry from the urbane diplomat who tried to burnish Libya's reputation abroad."

Why China Can't Risk Any Bold Moves (Rowan Callick) from the Australian via Real Clear World
"China has ... clearly been attempting in the past couple of years to test the limits of the power that has been fuelled by its growing economic muscle. It has observed that previous great powers built a capacity to project military muscle to match their economies, and sought to test it first in the South China Sea. This was a bad choice."

It Might Not be an Asian Century After All (David Goldman) from the Asia Times [of Hong Kong in English]
"China's greatest challenge is not American strength but American weakness. America has no designs on any part of Chinese territory (unless Hollywood decides to invade Tibet), and the Pax Americana in the Pacific creates a backdrop of stability in which China's economy has flourished. If China looks inward more than outward, and regards America as an enemy rather than as an unthreatening rival, it will decline. "

Europe Fears a Credit Squeeze as Investors Sell Bond Holdings from the New York Times
I'm no economist -- but this looks NOT GOOD.
"Nervous investors around the globe are accelerating their exit from the debt of European governments and banks, increasing the risk of a credit squeeze that could set off a downward spiral."

Europe: The Crisis that Just Won't Quit from CNN Money
"The debt problems in Europe have been so persistent and pervasive that the debt crisis is beginning to feel like the new normal. It's been at least 18 months since the turmoil became a full-blown crisis, and many analysts say there is more pain to come."

Bloomberg’s One Percent Solution (Chris Smith) from New York Magazine
"Understanding why Occupy Wall Street has stymied the mayor at every turn."

Why Occupy Wall Street Will Keep Up the Fight (Kalle Lasn and Micah White) from the Washington Post
"Occupy was born because we the people feel that our country and our economy are moving precipitously in the wrong direction; that America has evolved into a kind of corporate oligarchic state, a “corporatocracy”; and yes, that what is needed is a regime change — a Tahrir moment of truth in America."

Lasn and White's role in the origins of OWS are explored here:
Pre-Occupied: The Origins and Future of Occupy Wall Street (Mattathias Schwartz) from the New Yorker
"This is how Occupy Wall Street began: as one of many half-formed plans circulating through conversations between Lasn and White, who lives in Berkeley and has not seen Lasn in person for more than four years. Neither can recall who first had the idea of trying to take over lower Manhattan. In early June, Adbusters sent an e-mail to subscribers stating that “America needs its own Tahrir.”"

The Homeless: Pawns in the War on OWS? (Matthew Reichel) from Alternet via Salon
"A death at Occupy NOLA leaves protesters questioning the motives behind the city's closure of a nearby tent city."

Occupy Poster Art Joins Lineage of Resistance Messages from Daily Kos
"is there any room left, any purpose served, by the good, old-fashioned propaganda poster? Does ink and paper matter anymore? It would seem so, given the plethora of powerful posters the Occupy movement has produced in just a few months."
Powerful posters indeed!!  Check out the story and examples!

Occupy ‘Bat-signal’ Creator Explains How He Brought it Off from Raw Story
"As Occupy Wall Street protesters were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday evening, a mysterious series of images flashed across the facade of the Verizon building, located near the East River, starting with a circled “99%.”"
Very clever -- and effective!

Penn State's New Villain: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (Buzz Bissinger) from the Daily Beast
"The investigation of Jerry Sandusky began when Tom Corbett, the Pennsylvania governor, was attorney general. What took so long?"
Boy, I think that didn't take long at all!  One minute he's the Johnny-on-the-spot everywhere-on-cable-news governor.  The next, he's a heel.  Well, I guess the message here is ... heels can't hide their heel-ing qualities for very long!

Thousands Rally Against Wisconsin Governor Walker from Reuters via Raw Story
"Thousands of people gathered at the Wisconsin capitol on Saturday to demand a recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose controversial and successful drive to limit public unions last winter sparked the biggest protests in the state since the Vietnam War."

Krugman: ‘Only Fools and Clowns’ Believe Republican Ideology from ABC News via Raw Story
"“I have a structural hypothesis here,” Krugman told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour Sunday. “You have a Republican ideology, which Mitt Romney obviously doesn’t believe in. He just oozes insincerity, that’s just so obvious. But all of the others are fools and clowns."

Down with the Ship: Obama Would Beat Romney Handily (Michael Walsh) from National Review
"You may think Obama is eminently beatable, but unlike Mitt Romney, he has a solid base that is a dead-certain lock to be there for him next year: "

‘Anybody But Mitt’ (Jeremy Peters) from the New York Times
"... if you read, watch or listen to news media that draw large conservative audiences, it is not hard to discern a reason: a recurrent “anybody but Mitt” drumbeat from right-leaning pundits and media outlets that are responding to and feeding a conservative disaffection with him."

Newt Gingrich Would Be a Godsend to the Democrats (Paul Begala) from the Daily Beast
"What’s next? The Santorum Surge? The Huntsman Hiccup? Why Newt Gingrich would be a godsend to the Democrats."

The Classic Steve McQueen Movie Immortalised Three tunnels at Stalag Luft III PoW Camp, Now Astonished Archaeologists have Discovered a Fourth Called George (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"It has lain hidden for nearly 70 years and looks, to the untrained eye, like a building site. But this insignificant tunnel opening in the soft sand of western Poland represents one of the greatest examples of British wartime heroism. And the sensational story became the Hollywood classic, The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen."

In the Pilgrims’ Footsteps, Through England and the Netherlands from the New York Times
"... the leaders of the separatist movement came from just a handful of farming villages in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and southern Yorkshire, most within walking distance of one another. This is not the touristy, thatched-cottage part of England, but it is beautiful nonetheless, and last spring my wife and I visited to see what we could learn about her ancestors, who in so many ways are forefathers to us all."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

News Nuggets 809

DAYLEE DAYLEE PICTURE: Trekking along the arctic tundra in Svalbard, the northernmost part of Norway.  From National Geographic. What a spectacularly beautiful image!
1.  Contain and Constrain (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"An Iranian society that today is a combustible mix of depression, division and dysfunction — overseen by a Brezhnevian supreme leader at loggerheads with his erratic president — would unite in fury. This, in the cautionary words of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, could have “unintended consequences.”"

2.  Israel’s Secret Iran Attack Plan: Electronic Warfare (Eli Lake) from the Daily Beast
"Israel has been building stealthy, multibillion-dollar electronic weapons that could be deployed if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear sites, U.S. intelligence officials tell Eli Lake."

3.  Obama Has Kept Iran Threat at Bay, and U.S. Republicans Know It (Mel Levine) from Al Haaretz [of Israel in English]
"Apparently, the Republican candidates for president, led by former Governor Romney, have been so busy talking with each other that they have somehow developed an alternative universe of facts."

4.  Christian Politics Create Unholy Alliances (David Gushee) from USA Today
"This version of Christian politics is inherently corrupting to Christian faith, ethics and witness. It encourages politicians to take God's name in vain, and to do so routinely."

5.  Gabby Giffords ABC Interview (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"I watched it online this morning, and it really is a remarkable story. One measure of how remarkable is that it stands on its own without all of the tricks TV often uses to milk a story for drama and emotion."
If you haven't seen this, you must see it!

6.  Next Up: `Occupy Congress’ (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"One of the enduring questions about Occupy Wall Street has been this: Can the energy unleashed by the movement be leveraged behind a concrete political agenda and push for change that will constitute a meaningful challenge to the inequality and excessive Wall Street influence highlighted by the protests? A coalition of labor and progressive groups is about to unveil its answer to that question. Get ready for “Occupy Congress.”"

7.  The Fracturing of Pennsylvania (Eliza Griswold) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine
"There are more than 4,000 Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania, with projections ranging from 2,500 new wells a year to a total of more than 100,000 over the next few decades; 458 of those wells are in Washington County and 60 are in Amwell Township, to which fracking has given an injection of new income and business; it has also spurred one of the first E.P.A. investigations into fracking’s effects on rivers, streams, drinking water and human health."

8.  Republicans Lose Way Misreading Bush History (Ramesh Ponnuru) from the Bloomberg News Service
"For decades, conservatives have been trying to pull the Republican Party rightward and root out first liberals and then moderates. But that impulse grew stronger in the aftermath of the political defeats in the late years of George W. Bush’s administration, because conservatives believed that ideological impurity, especially on spending, had caused those losses. [...] But there’s little evidence that big government was the reason, or even an important reason, for Republican defeats at the end of the Bush years."

9.  How Republican Conformity is Ruining Politics (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post
"Gingrich, in the manner of Cultural Revolution self-criticism, has now called his appearance with Pelosi the “dumbest single thing I’ve done in recent years.” ... It is now a familiar pattern — the scandal of sanity."

10.  From Michelle Obama's Jason Wu to Jackie Kennedy's Couture, Smithsonian's Tribute to Presidents' Wives Inaugural Gowns (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
The pictures are quite interesting here!
"A new exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, which opens tomorrow, will see the display of the most famous dresses worn by U.S. Presidents' wives - and a whole section has been dedicated to their first outfits in the role of first lady."

NOW -- back to our regularly scheduled nuggets, stories on today's hot topics!!

Time is Running Out for Bashar Assad from the Economist [of London]
We've been hearing this line for some time now -- so is it running out anytime soon?
"Though Syria’s embattled president seems bent on self-destruction, keep offering him a sensible exit."

Hillary Clinton in Burma: Why She's Visiting the Oppressed State (Lennox Samuels) from the Daily Beast
For those looking to get up to speed on the significance of Clinton's Burma trip, this article summarizes things quite well.
"It's been 50 years since a U.S. secretary of state visited the oppressed Asian country—but is it really a sign that Burma is opening up? Lennox Samuels on the trip's global significance."

Why China and Russia Help Iran (Richard Weitz) from The Diplomat
"Neither China nor Russia want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, but Russian and Chinese opposition to imposing additional sanctions on Iran is unsurprising. Both governments have consistently defended the right of Iran and other countries to pursue nuclear activities for peaceful purposes, such as civilian energy production. ... Chinese and Russian officials may want to change the behavior of the Iranian regime, but they both fear regime change in Tehran."

Why Turkey's Dream of Regional Leadership Failed (Steven Cook) from the Atlantic
"With the sharp deterioration of Turkish-Syrian relations over the last two days, some Turkish and Western observers have declared Ankara's "zero-problems" foreign policy dead and buried. ... The facts are hard to ignore.  In an era when Ankara aspired to no problems with its neighbors, it actually has cok (many) problems: Syria, Israel, Armenia, Iran, Cyprus, and the EU to name just a few."

Why The Catholic Church Feels Oppressed (Michael Kinsley) from the National Memo
"Is there any truth to the Catholic Church's complaint that America is becoming less tolerant of Christians? Michael Kinsley investigates in his new column, Catholic Bishops Issue Hollow Plea For Sympathy:"

Occupy the Agenda (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"... the mayor helped save the demonstrators by clearing them out, thus solving their real estate problem and re-establishing their narrative of billionaires bullying the disenfranchised. Thanks to the mayor, the protests grew bigger than ever. I watched in downtown Manhattan last week as the police moved in to drag off protesters — and several credentialed journalists — and the action seemed wildly over the top."

Militarization of Campus Police (Bob Ostertag) from the Huffington Post
"I teach at UC Davis and I personally know many of the students who were the victims of this brutal and unprovoked assault. They are top students. In fact, I can report that among the students I know, the higher a student's grade point average, the more likely it is that they are centrally involved in the protests."
In case you missed it, this video captures the incident at UC Davis.  Shocking.  Heads will roll over this one.

On Education Reform ... How About Better Parents? (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement."

Should a President Be Intelligent? (Gary Hart) from the Hufffington Post
"Neither Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, nor John Kennedy were intellectual giants. But the keenness of their respective minds was revealed every day. And they were not threatened by smart people around them. A leader must be able to see farther ahead than most others, must generate creative new ideas and policies for new challenges and times, and must be able to convince the rest of us to try those ideas."

Empress of All the Russias: A Review of Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert Massie from the Sunday New York Times Book Review
"How delightful to discover that Robert K. Massie, 82 years old, hasn’t lost his mojo. At a heft befitting its subject, his long-awaited “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” is a consistently nimble and buoyant performance, defying what might in a lesser writer’s hands prove a deadly undertow of exhaustively researched historical facts."
Robert Massie is one of the BEST biographers of the last half century!  If you haven't read his bios, Peter the Great, or Nicholas and Alexandra, they are must-reads!!  The NY Times had a related story earlier in the week on the author.

Adolf and Eva: A Review of Eva Braun: Life with Hitler by Heike Görtemaker from the Sunday New York Times Book Review
Hitler could not have wished for a better girlfriend. In this first full-scale biography of Eva Braun, the German historian Heike B. Görtemaker examines the known sources for Braun’s life and emerges with a highly readable and consistent portrait of an ordinary woman who loved sports, fashion and jazz; and who was, without a doubt, utterly devoted to the man history has seen as “evil incarnate.”

The Real James Bond: Ian Fleming’s Commandos Reviewed (Michael Korda) from the Daily Beast
"A new book relates the remarkable story of Ian Fleming’s daring commando group during World War Two and how they inspired the story of the greatest spy ever: James Bond. Michael Korda finds his own family story in its midst."

Saved from a Muddy Grave: Baby Elephant and its Mother Pulled from Lagoon Where They Got Stuck Because They Wouldn't be Separated (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
I saw this story earlier in the week and didn't post it -- but I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.  The images are quite moving.  So -- I figured I should just post it.
"Trapped in the mud and sinking fast, this pair of elephants seemed doomed. The mother had gone to the rescue of her baby, but had got stuck herself – leaving the rest of the herd understandably wary of trying to save them. So, with no time to lose, a team of conservation workers sprang into action."

Lovely Owl: Cute/Ridiculous Animal Thing Of The Day (VIDEO) from the Huffington Post
If you like owls, this clip is pretty cute.
"Owls have proven time and time again that they are adorable. We know that cats pretty much dominate the blogosphere in terms of cute videos, but we'll take a d'aww filled owl video over another "kitten vs. blank" any day."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

News Nuggets 808

Glencoe in Scotland.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

The Palinization of the GOP (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"The headline on Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s recent Newsweek essay dodged subtlety: “The Stupid Party.” “Republicans used to admire intelligence. But now they’re dumbing themselves down,” was the subhead. Democrats couldn’t agree more. And quietly, many Republicans share the sentiment. They just can’t seem to stop themselves."

Next Up: `Occupy Congress’ (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"One of the enduring questions about Occupy Wall Street has been this: Can the energy unleashed by the movement be leveraged behind a concrete political agenda and push for change that will constitute a meaningful challenge to the inequality and excessive Wall Street influence highlighted by the protests? A coalition of labor and progressive groups is about to unveil its answer to that question. Get ready for “Occupy Congress.”"
THERE IS A GOD!  This is EXACTLY what they need to do!  They are looking at Dec. 5-9.  Too soon in my view.  I think they underestimate how much planning and careful thought about strategy and tactics they'll need.  But they are DEFINITELY thinking from the right place!

Qaddafi’s Son Seif al-Islam, Said to Be Captured in Libya from the New York Times
NPR seemed to confirm this story this morning.
"In a scene of celebration outstripped only by news of Colonel Qaddafi’s capture and death last month, Tripoli’s streets erupted into revelry. Vehicles clogged intersections, horns blaring, and militiamen shot their rifles into the sky."

Brain Drain: Russian Scientists Packing Up Their Beakers and Heading West from Kommersant [of Russia in English]
"Not for the first time, Russian scientists are taking their considerable knowledge and moving abroad. Some of the brainy emigrants cite funding problems and Russian red tape as reasons to move. For others, heading West is simply a lifestyle choice."

Older, Suburban and Struggling, ‘Near Poor’ Startle the Census from the New York Times
"They drive cars, but seldom new ones. They earn paychecks, but not big ones. Many own homes. Most pay taxes. Half are married, and nearly half live in the suburbs. None are poor, but many describe themselves as barely scraping by."

The Fracturing of Pennsylvania (Eliza Griswold) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine
"There are more than 4,000 Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania, with projections ranging from 2,500 new wells a year to a total of more than 100,000 over the next few decades; 458 of those wells are in Washington County and 60 are in Amwell Township, to which fracking has given an injection of new income and business; it has also spurred one of the first E.P.A. investigations into fracking’s effects on rivers, streams, drinking water and human health."

The Brutal Politics Of Super Committee Failure from Talking Points Memo
"Failure is very much an option. And if failure happens, Capitol Hill politics will take a severe turn heading into the 2012 election."

Five Myths About Student Loans from the Washington Post
"President Obama responded, in part, last month with an improved income-based repayment plan, but most of the protesters and petitioners will not qualify for it. The increased attention on education debt has also brought attention to many misconceptions about how people borrow to pay for school."

Obama Outpaces GOP Rivals — and his Own 2008 Results — in Small Donations from the Washington Post
"Even with low approval ratings and an uncertain path to reelection, President Obama is exceeding expectations in one area: His campaign is doing far better at attracting grass-roots financial support this year than his GOP rivals or his own historic effort in 2008, according to new contribution data."

Take Heart, Liberals. Dems Hung Tough this Time (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Post
"Progressives often think that Dems always cower in fear or cave to Republicans in the face of GOP attacks painting them as Big Spending Liberals, but here’s a case where Dems stood their ground and did the right thing."

What Iowa Voters Want in a Republican Nominee from the Wall Street Journal
"Caucus goers are looking for a candidate who is committed to repealing ObamaCare, reforming entitlements and devolving Washington's power."

Why Gingrich is Back (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune
"Gingrich's resurrection came after the recent GOP presidential debates in which he showed the ferocity of a Rottweiler, not against his fellow Republicans but against an all-purpose whipping boy, the "mainstream media." The ABMs hope Gingrich is a guy who will spank Obama in debates."

Santorum: Americans Should Suffer from Think Progress
"If “you’re lower income, you can qualify for Medicaid, you can qualify for food stamps, you can qualify for housing assistance,” Santorum complained, before adding, “suffering is part of life and it’s not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life.”"
And Santorum is considered on of the more sane candidates in the GOP field!!

Medieval Foes With Whimsy from the New York Times
""The Game of Kings: Medieval Ivory Chessmen From the Isle of Lewis,” a famous cache of pieces, is on view at the Cloisters."

Critic’s Review of ‘Unbuilt Washington’ at the National Building Museum from the Washington Post
"“Unbuilt Washington” is the National Building Museum’s best chance at drawing blockbuster crowds in years. Devoted to the might-have-beens in the wastebasket of Washington’s design history, it begins with variations on the basic city plan laid out by Pierre L’Enfant in 1791 and ends with a spectacular sculptural bridge the museum would like to construct in the enormous atrium of the Pension Building."

From Michelle Obama's Jason Wu to Jackie Kennedy's Couture, Smithsonian's Tribute to Presidents' Wives Inaugural Gowns (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
The pictures are quite interesting here!
"A new exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, which opens tomorrow, will see the display of the most famous dresses worn by U.S. Presidents' wives - and a whole section has been dedicated to their first outfits in the role of first lady."