A poppy field in Geneva, Switzerland. From National Geographic.In Libya, the Price of Delusion (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"I had dinner with an official who’s met with the colonel several times and described him as coherent and articulate. Qaddafi is not mad. But never underestimate the human capacity for delusion."
Love of Medicare Chills Tea Party Fever (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune
"Seventy percent of those who identified themselves as supporters of the fiscally conservative movement in a new McClatchy-Marist poll oppose cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to solve the country's deficit woes."
The Politics of the Debt Ceiling (Gerald Seib) from the Wall Street Journal
"When the party in power needs the debt ceiling raised, its representatives in Congress do what they must to let the government pay its bills and keep the full faith and credit of the U.S. in order. Meanwhile, the opposition party gives posturing speeches about the evils of debt. When power changes hands, the roles reverse. In all cases, lawmakers are voting to limit debt they help create in the first place. The debt ceiling is, in short, a deeply flawed vehicle for an important conversation."
An Anatomy of Apathy (Thomas de Waal) from the National Interest
"Why Western-style democracy can't take root in bleak, fatalistic former-Soviet countries."
China May Grow Old Before It Grows Rich (Isabel Hilton) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"A rapidly ageing, gender-skewed population is giving China a headache – as are migrant workers who have moved off the land."
The Monarchy Earns Its Keep (Anna Whitelock) from the New York Times
"While only a small minority here favor a republican government, many Britons hope the wedding might signal the dawning of a more populist monarchy."
Economy Isn't as Bad as New Data Make it Look, Analysts Say from the McClatchy News Service
"Analysts remained confident that the U.S. economy will continue to grow despite the data showing a sharp slowdown during the first three months of the year, which raised concerns in some quarters that the fragile recovery may be sputtering back into weakness and rising unemployment."
Why Did Obama Take on the Birthers? (David Corn) from Mother Jones Magazine
"It had as much to do with the media as the right-wing crazies."
The Worst Place To Hide From a Twister from Slate
About half of those killed in tornadoes were in a mobile home."
GOP Strategists Fear Fallout From Obama Birth Record (David M. Drucker) from Roll Call
"The question of whether President Barack Obama was born on U.S. soil will have zero impact on the 2012 campaign but could significantly damage Republicans’ prospects for retaking the White House if it lingers. That was the consensus analysis of more than a dozen experienced GOP political strategists, consultants and operatives who were interviewed Wednesday within an hour of Obama going on national television to publicly release the long-form version of his birth certificate."
The President is Citizen Obama. Get Over It (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"Two ugly forces had to combine to produce the birth certificate sideshow, which can only be described as a national disgrace. One is a calculated attempt by Obama’s political opponents to de-legitimize his presidency. ... Also required was an increasing tendency for facts to be treated as personal accoutrements, as easily adopted or discarded as the newest-model smartphone."
The Birther Question Obama Shouldn’t Have Dignified with an Answer (Cedric Mobley) from the Washington Post
"Until Wednesday, what Obama said by not saying anything spoke volumes. In my native South, blacks historically had to take ridiculous tests to vote. “Quick, tell me how many jelly beans are in this jar” or “how many bubbles are in this bar of soap?” In other words, they could never be good enough. ... But here’s what I need him to know: Even though he may be able to let some things roll off his back, how he reacts to the way that he is treated as a black man affects all African Americans."
For Birthers, Obama's Not Black Enough (Melissa Harris-Perry) from the Nation
"Many on the left say that birtherism is just racism, but there’s more than simple racial animus behind it. I suspect that part of the problem is that Obama is indeed not black enough; specifically, the president is not sufficiently Negro—the historical variation of blackness that is uniquely and indisputably American."
Donald Trump's Lunacy Reveals Core Truth About the Republicans (Johann Hari) from the Independent [of the UK]
"He is the Republican id - finally entirely unleashed from all restraint and reality."
The Other (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"At the turn of the last century, Miles Romney was sent to Mexico by the bearded patriarchs of the Mormon Church, there to start a colony for those who thought it was divine right to have as many wives as they wanted. Romney’s father, George, was born in Mexico, a descendant of outlaws with harems. I started thinking about the extraordinary family past of the possible Republican presidential nominee after reading part of Janny Scott’s fascinating new book, “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.”"
Dad’s Immigration File Offers More Evidence Of Obama’s Birthplace from the Arizona Independent
"Documents obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service through a Freedom of Information Act request offer evidence that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii."
In U.S., Negative Views of the Tea Party Rise to New High from Gallup
"About half of Americans, 47%, now have an unfavorable image of the Tea Party movement, the highest since it emerged on the national scene."
Quality of Life: India vs. China (Amartya Sen) from the New York Review of Books
"The steadily rising rate of economic growth in India has recently been around 8 percent per year (it is expected to be 9 percent this year), and there is much speculation about whether and when India may catch up with and surpass China’s over 10 percent growth rate. Despite the evident excitement that this subject seems to cause in India and abroad, it is surely rather silly to be obsessed about India’s overtaking China in the rate of growth of GNP, while not comparing India with China in other respects, like education, basic health, or life expectancy."
PROTEST SONG BOOK NUGGET!!
Sing It Loud: Changing the World With a Stirring Cri de Coeur: A Review of 33 Revolutions Per Minute 33: A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day by Dorian Lynskey from the Sunday New York Times Book Review
"One good thing about “33 Revolutions Per Minute,” which is subtitled “A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day,” is that Mr. Lynskey doesn’t waste much time shooting bad political songs like fish in a barrel. He’s more interested in protest songs — Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Ohio,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” — that make the hair on your neck stand up, even decades later."
VIETNAM WAR OBITUARY NUGGET!!
Madame Nhu, Vietnam War Lightning Rod, Dies from the New York Times
"Madame Nhu, who as the glamorous official hostess in South Vietnam’s presidential palace became a politically powerful and often harshly outspoken figure in the early years of the Vietnam War, died on Sunday in Rome, where she had been living. She was believed to be 87."
From what I've read of Madam Nhu, she was quite a piece of work!