Sunday, July 31, 2011

News Nuggets 709

Holy Trinity church in Minchinhampton in England.  From the Daily Mail.  
We have a second Daylee photo at the bottom of today's posting.

Congressional Sources: Republicans and Democrats Reach Tentative Debt Deal from ABC News
"Democratic and Republican Congressional sources involved in the negotiations tell ABC News that a tentative agreement has been reached on the framework of a deal that would give the President a debt ceiling increase of up to $2.4 trillion and guarantee an equal amount of deficit reduction over the next 10 years."
This deal has a very nasty thorn in it: automatic cuts to social programs and defense spending that will kick in around Thanksgiving of 2012.  Supposedly, the fact that defense spending is there will create an impetus for the Tea Party folks to be more flexible in their negotiations around entitlements.  Two problems with that: Tea Partiers haven't shown much fidelity to defense spending (to their credit) so it's a weak stick as sticks go.  Second, and more importantly, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire shortly after Thanksgiving.  The Dems want to end those tax cuts on the wealthy, not on everyone (at least the Dems in the Senate).  Dems are going to have to work hard to make sure these two things don't get linked -- to the detriment of entitlements. 

Obama is Already Invoking the 14th Amendment (Jack Balkin) of the Balkinization blog at the Yale Law School
"Some Democrats in Congress, including Steny Hoyer, have called for President Barack Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to resolve the debt ceiling crisis.  What they don't realize is that Obama has already invoked it in effect. Despite his statement that his lawyers told him it wasn't a "winning argument.""

U.S. Default Could Deliver Swift Hit to Consumers from the Washington Post
"Life might get more difficult for many Americans if Congress doesn’t reach a deal to raise the government’s borrowing limit."

White House, GOP Discuss Potential Debt Limit Pact; Deal Has Wins for Both Sides from the Associated Press via Real Clear Politics
"White House officials and congressional Republicans are reaching toward a potential end to their bitter debt limit showdown, raising hopes that a deal could be in place by Tuesday to avert a possible federal default."

Debt-Ceiling Debate Shows a Republican Party at War with Itself (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"No matter the outcome of the effort by the House speaker, John A. Boehner, to jam his debt ceiling bill through the House over the opposition of a band of freshmen and other conservatives, it is increasingly clear that the same political insurgency that put Republicans into power also has the potential to leave the party so divided that it struggles to govern."

Obama’s Crucible Moment at Intersection of Politics and the Economy from the New York Times
"It was a day that brought fresh evidence of all the forces converging on President Obama in the latter half of his term: a weakened economy he cannot lift, a deeply divided Congress he cannot move and, as a result, a level of political risk he seems hard-pressed to control."

Houses Passes Boehner's Debt Deal, But at What Price? from Politico
"“This has come down to a big battle. And for Boehner, it’s kind of a do or die situation,” former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) told POLITICO Friday. “I always had a philosophy, it was an old coaching philosophy that I had, if the coach was in the headlines every week, the team’s in trouble."

America's New Civil War (Kathy Kiely) from the National Journal
"The similarities to today's apocalypse-almost-now moment are striking, and underscore that the debt ceiling debate now gridlocking the nation's capital is about far more than economic policy. On the 150th anniversary of the war that pitted American against American, we seem to be spoiling to secede from our "more perfect union" again."

Rush Limbaugh’s Anti-Obama Rant (Colbert I. King) from the Washington Post
A bleak view into the one of the darkest of wright-wing minds.
“So for Colbert King to say, ‘Rush Limbaugh, his biggest concern was Republicans should do nothing to help Obama.’ Damn right. Damn right. Helping Obama hurts the country." ... It also explains their willingness to put the country on the path to economic suicide if the downgrading of U.S. debt will help bring down President Obama. For wingers, there is no price too high to pay to break Obama. Sabotaging the president of the United States is, in their view, good for the country.”

The Never-Ending Search for Political Courage (Walter Shapiro) from CNN
"The demolition derby on Capitol Hill makes you wonder about political courage -- and why it has vanished from Congress and the White House."

Leaked Emails Highlight GOP Rifts from the National Journal
"A series of e-mails among conservative activists, obtained by National Journal, reveal the tensions between the demands of governing and those of ideological purity."

Tiny Tea Party Rally vs. Large Progressive Rally: Which Gets More Beltway Ink? (Leslie Savan) from the Nation
"Wednesday’s conservative rally, organized by the Tea Party Express, was a bust: only about fifty people showed up to see presidential candidate Herman Cain and hear Senators Jim DeMint, Rand Paul and Mike Lee speak... But then, Thursday’s American Dream rally—organized by MoveOn, Rebuild the Dream, AFSCME and AFGE, and featuring speakers like Van Jones and Representatives Keith Ellison and Jan Schakowsky—clocked in an estimated 450–500 people, according to the coalition."
I have been observing this phenomenon since the 2010 elections.  The dirty little secret is that the Tea Party, as a national grass-roots political force, is dying fast -- and the last to see this will be the beltway media and (sad for them) the GOP.  The Republican Party has become so reflexively fearful of its Tea Party wing, I predict it will overcompensate in their direction through the 2012 election cycle, and, in the process, lose control of the House and probably fail to take the WH as well.  Through dramatic shadow and light shows, Tea Party activists will continue through next year to exercise enormous influence at the national Republican Party level.  As an activist army to be feared by anyone else, however, the evidence is everywhere: item, Glenn Beck losing his Fox program; item, the tanking ratings for right-wing talk radio generally and Beck & Limbaugh specifically; item, the Palin documentary's two millisecond lifespan in theaters; item, more generally, the increasingly obvious clownification of Sarah Palin; item, the exceptional drop-off in attendance at Tea Party rallies virtually everywhere in the US; item, the WI recall elections -- Tea Party folks have been trying to rally to Gov. Walker and the endangered GOP lawmakers, investing millions of dollars and lots of volunteers but NO ONE has been intimidated so far.  The real story will be told on Aug 9 but GOP governors can take no solace from what the Tea Party has brought to these contest; item, Tea Party irrelevance vis-a-vis Democratic and Independent lawmakers at the national level and, more and more, at the state level.  Increasingly, Tea Party activists have influence ONLY in the GOP.  This last point is key, particularly in reference to the debt ceiling debate going on right now.  I predict that, when this is all over, the Tea Party supporters and their lawmakers in Congress will be very DAMAGED GOODS -- even among many conservatives and especially among the Wall Street wing of the party.  How this debt ceiling crisis ends will determine and reveal A LOT.

The Debt Crisis Comes Home (David Graham) from the Daily Beast
"The gridlock over the debt ceiling is wreaking havoc—on legislators' families. Political spouses tell David A. Graham about strained marriages, lost quality time, and dwindling family dinners."

My Very Own Captain America (Charles Blow) from the New York Times
"Yes, I know that racial revisionism has become so common in film that it’s almost customary, so much so that moviegoers rarely balk or even blink. And even I try not to think too deeply about shallow fare. Escapism by its nature must bend away from reality. But this time I was forced to bend it back. It was personal."

In Afghanistan, Rage at Young Lovers from the New York Times
"After months of stolen “hellos” and secret talks on the phone, they decided to make their relationship public, and were immediately greeted with a four-hour riot that killed one man and left a police station charred. Their parents are so furious the teens met without family approval that they promise to kill them when they’re released."

Chimp's Maternal Instincts Awakened as She Feeds Milk to a Baby Tiger from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"These adorable images reveal the close bond that has formed between a two-year-old chimpanzee called Do Do and a two-month-old tiger cub called Aorn."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

News Nuggets 708

The creative tree-growing efforts of a couple in south-east Queensland, Australia.  They most often used Myrobalan Plum trees for shaping what they called their Pooktre forest.  The story can be found HERE from the Daily Mail of the UK.

A VERY insightful look at what's happening yesterday and today.
"Tea Party and conservative House members don’t really care about important committee assignments. They don’t place a value on fundraising help. And earmarks and extra pork for their districts? Forget about it."

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled a new debt-limit bill Friday night that strongly resembles a plan first suggested by his rival, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)."
WOW! What chutzpah! 

Boehner’s Grip on Fractured Party Slips (James Rowley) from Bloomberg News Service
"The same forces that brought John Boehner to power as speaker of the U.S. House are now the ones that weaken him. For all the unity within the House Republican majority that he forged this year to thwart President Barack Obama’s agenda, Boehner was unable yesterday to amass the votes to pass his plan to cut the federal deficit and raise the debt ceiling."

How Did Republicans Convince Themselves Obama Would Sign Boehner's Bill (Jonathan Chait) from the New Republic
"One of the bizarre things about John Boehner's debt ceiling bill is that all the Republican opposition has come from the right. Nobody in the party thinks the bill is too recklessly conservative. Amazingly, Republicans all seem to believe Boehner's fairy story about how passage of his bill will lead to Senate Democrats passing it and President Obama signing it."

Debt-Ceiling Drama: Obama is Not Invisible (Jonathan Capehart) from the Washington Post
"“President on Sidelines in Critical Battle Over Debt Ceiling” reflects the Beltway meme that President Obama is invisible in this epic fight over raising the debt ceiling. That he was pushed off the stage by Congress to get this done. As the chatter in the echo chamber reinforced itself, folks glossed over or forgot that the president ordered Congress to come up with a plan."

Debt-ceiling Crisis: Congress' Phones Jammed Again from the Los Angeles Times
"As he did earlier in the week, President Obama Friday urged Americans to contact members of Congress to push them to reach an bipartisan agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling. And again, those listening appear to have heeded the call."

Washington’s Not-So-Adult Moment (Patricia Murphy) from the Daily Beast
"Despite a long day of arm-twisting, John Boehner couldn’t get the votes to pass his own debt bill. Patricia Murphy on why Boehner's frantic lobbying couldn't save his measure. Plus: The House GOP Naysayers."

The Boehner Trap (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"A significant segment of the GOP now thinks John Boehner is too liberal. As Michael Tomasky argues, that might mean the House will never agree to a debt compromise."

The GOP at War with Itself (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
"These elephants are stampeding in different directions at once. Maybe Boehner has a few poisoned darts to shoot. But maybe he doesn't. Well: they asked for it, didn't they?"

The Tea Party's Terrorist Tactics (William Yeomans) from Politico
"As we stumble closer to Aug. 2, it has become clear that many in the tea party are willing to inflict massive harm on the American people to obtain their political objective of a severely shrunken federal government."

The Tea Fragger Party (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"The debt ceiling may have been raised and the crisis averted by the time this column appears, but that event should not erase the memory of what transpired. The Tea Party was a movement that changed the conversation in Washington, but it has steeped too long and has become toxic. It’s time to toss it out."

Insiders Become Outsiders as Lobbyists Shut Out of Debt Debate from Bloomberg News Service
"“There’s really just mass confusion everywhere, not on Congress’s part, but the rumor mill of the lobbying world,”"

How Would the Supreme Court Rule on Obama Raising the Debt Ceiling Himself? (Jeffrey Rosen) from the New Republic
"If all the justices are true to their constitutional philosophies, the Court would rule for Obama by a lopsided margin."

Why Progressives Need a Big Idea (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"Conservatives are on a winning streak because they have a Big Idea that serves as an animating, motivating, unifying force. It happens to be a very bad idea, but it’s better than nothing — which, sadly, is what progressives have."

Blue-Collar Jobs Can Save the Black Middle Class (John McWhorter) from The Root
"Despite the doomsayers, there are nondegree jobs that will ensure a prosperous future."
I have to confess that I am not a big fan of McWhorter's -- but anyone who is *seriously* in this conversation is worth an occasional look.

Ghost Towns on the Increase as Rural America Loses Population from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Vast swathes of the U.S. countryside are emptying and communities becoming ghost towns as rural America now only accounts for just 16 per cent of the population. The 2010 census results suggest that by 2050 many of these areas could shrink to virtually nothing as businesses collapse and schools close."

"For ambitious young achievers, a job on Capitol Hill can be a dream come true. But what happens when you work for an Anthony Weiner or a Bob Ney?"

First Baby Elephant for the Czech Zoo (VIDEO) from YouTube
It's pretty hilarious to see how the pool and the ball get the better of this very active critter.
"First baby elephant every born to Czech Zoo. Rashimi, ray of light, thoroughly enjoying her pink swimming pool. Cuteness overload here, what an active little girls she is!"

Friday, July 29, 2011

News Nuggets 707

A record 343 balloonists go up at the 12th Lorraine World Air Balloon Festival in Chambley-Bussieres, France.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Get Over It: This Is Who Obama Is (James Warren) from the Atlantic
""His ideological inclinations are liberal but, as far as being a politician, he's about getting things done. He was always pragmatic and about getting things done," said Peter Baroni, a Republican attorney-law professor-lobbyist in Chicago who had a bird's eye view of Obama while serving as legal counsel to Republicans in the Illinois Senate and to its Judiciary Committee."
Some VERY interesting and good) commentary on this article is at Daily Kos.  Here's just one snippet to give you a sense:
"I'm afraid that too many on the left have been beaten down by decades of little or no progress. Losing has become part of their ideological identity to the extent that compromise is interpreted as failure . Progressives must learn to define success in ways other than losing righteously. There's a rising generation of progressives who aren't overburdened with cynicism and they're determined to get something done."

Boehner Pulls Debt Limit Bill Again, With Days Left Before Default from Talking Points Memo
This article gives you the best sense of what happened last night.
"What was originally described as a brief snafu has turned into a stunning rebuke of House Republican leaders, who were unable Thursday to round up the minimum number of votes to pass Speaker John Boehner's debt limit bill."

John Boehner’s No-Confidence Vote (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"“Get your ass in line,” Speaker John Boehner had told House Republicans who resisted his plan to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default But really, it was Boehner’s butt that was on the line – and late Thursday night, he had it handed to him."

Five Reasons the House GOP Is to Blame (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"...anyone who thinks I am mainly blaming the Republicans for the needless debt-ceiling fracas, especially the Tea Party-era House Republicans arrayed behind Rep. Eric Cantor (and Rep. Jim Jordan), is correct. To put the reasons in one place, as things go down to the wire, here they are:"

And what are congressmen from OUR area doing?  LET'S GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE and see our GOP rep, Mike Kelly in the huddle yesterday with his House colleagues:
"Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), a bulky former Notre Dame football player, gave a rousing football-themed speech and said he would vote for the bill. He told colleagues they needed to do three things: Put on your helmet, put in your mouth piece and tighten your chinstrap. He gave out signs with the Notre Dame football saying, “Play like a champion today.” “Let’s kick the s—- out of them,” Kelly said in the meeting, according to several sources."
Oh.My.God.  Mercer?  Butler?  Never heard of those places.  They must be on the other side of the state.

A Conservative Revolt in Full (John Stanton and Humberto Sanchez) from Roll Call
"What for months had been a quiet campaign to pressure the GOP into a more conservative footing has, over the course of the debt limit negotiations, blossomed into a full-blown insurrection..."

House Republicans Unprepared For Senate Rejection Of Boehner Debt Limit Plan from Talking Points Memo
"...if it passes, Republicans will have to grapple with a key question -- one they haven't really considered, and which Boehner hasn't prepared them to answer: What happens when the Senate sends them back a different plan?  ... "No, no discussion about that at all," Fleming said.""

S&P Softens Stance on Debt Rating Debate from the Washington Post
"The president of a major credit rating agency said Wednesday that some of the plans being considered by lawmakers to reduce the deficit by less than $4 trillion could still preserve the United States’ sterling credit rating."

Democrats Can Lose Debt Fight, Win on Bush Tax Cuts (Ezra Klein) from Bloomberg News Service
"Democrats will have their turn. On Dec. 31, 2012, three weeks before the end of President Barack Obama’s current term in office, the Bush tax cuts expire. Income tax rates will return to their Clinton-era levels. That amounts to a $3.6 trillion tax increase over 10 years..."
Can ANYONE be sanguine that Dems won't trade away that cookie at some point between now and then? Sadly, I'd actually bet that they will.

Quit Yer Whinin' (Roger Simon) from Politico
"Simon says Congress is a fantasy baseball camp where amateurs pretend they are major leaguers."

Here's What Happens if Ratings Agencies Downgrade U.S. Debt: It's Really Bad (Kevin Hall) from the McClatchy News Service
"The debt-ceiling debacle already is weighing on the economy. Here's a closer look at what a ratings downgrade would mean:"
A more alarming picture than the one presented by the NY Times yesterday.

Yes to Moderation, No to Centrism (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"What the country yearns for is moderation. What we hear about is the political center. But centrism has become the enemy of moderation."

Media Blows Debt Crisis Coverage With Balance Bias (Ari Melber) from the Nation
I have been seeing this everywhere!
"Balance Bias (bal-ance bi-as)
1. The assumption that there is truth and legitimacy to both sides of every dispute.
2. The iron law in political journalism that one side in a debate can never be exclusively right, or have a monopoly on the facts."

Obama, White House Seek to Reassure Base on Debt Ceiling Talks from the Washington Post
"The White House is waging an aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to reassure core Democratic activists, following weeks of criticism from liberals who fear that President Obama has given too much ground in his debt-ceiling talks with Republicans."

Liberals Seek Boost From Debt Talks from Roll Call
"Two years ago, stimulus packages and bailouts fed a nationwide revolt that became the tea party movement. Now, liberal groups say frustration over the debt ceiling talks is fueling a left-wing equivalent."

Bachmann Declares Husband Off Limits In Campaign — After Slamming Michelle Obama In ‘08 from Talking Points Memo
"Bachmann has a very different take when it comes to other candidates' spouses: She's repeatedly attacked Michelle Obama in the harshest terms and specifically challenged the press to join in on her condemnations."
Sorry, honey!  As Geraldine Ferraro could have told you from her experience in  '84, spouses are FAIR GAME.  Should have factored that one in a long time ago!!  Kos (from Daily Kos) has a very nice summation.

Rep. Joe Walsh Defends Not Paying $117,000 In Child Support: ‘This Is Where Real America Is’ from Think Progress
"Last night the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story that Tea Party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who has spent months lecturing President Obama and Democrats on fiscal responsibility, owes $117,437 in child support to his ex-wife and three children. ... Walsh not only refused to acknowledge his hypocrisy but insisted that being a deadbeat dad meant he understood the plight of average Americans:"
Read the whole story.  I would be silent for weeks given how many ways this guy leaves me speechless!!

We haven't touched base with the Murdoch scandal for a while.  Today, news that the Murdoch crew seemed to really outdo themselves in global shamelessness:
News of the World Targeted Phone of Sarah Payne's Mother from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Exclusive: Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had personal details of murdered girl's mother."
Apparently, Rebekah Brooks befriended the family, provided them with a mobile phone and then hacked that phone.

Obama to Announce New Fuel Standards from National Journal
"In what will represent the administration’s biggest move on energy policy this year, President Obama on Friday will announce that his administration has struck a deal with the nation’s biggest automakers to ramp up vehicle fuel-economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025..."

The Invention of Our Music: A Review of The Christian West and Its Singers: The First Thousand Years by Christopher Page from the New Republic
"Yet it puts the achievement of Page’s remarkable book into perspective, because just about every note under consideration in these six hundred pages was written before Hildegard was born. And so extremely esoteric is the subject matter in academic terms that it is no exaggeration to say the author has founded a new department of research."

Liberate Liberal Arts from the Myth of Irrelevance from the Christian Science Monitor
"Today’s employers want workers who are thinkers. To meet the demands of the 21st century student and economy, a new model of liberal arts is emerging – one tied to hands-on experience."

‘It’s Alive! It’s Alive!’ Maybe Right Here on Earth from the New York Times
"Here in a laboratory perched on the edge of the continent, researchers are trying to construct Life As We Don’t Know It in a thimbleful of liquid."

The Science of Slogans: The Best and Worst Ad Campaigns of All Time from the Atlantic
"What's in a slogan? One part elegant phrasing, two parts brand positioning, and a glaze of virtue and idealism. Oh, and don't forget a pinch of good luck."

World's Largest Urban Bat Colony Forms in the City of Austin Texas (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Stand on a certain bridge in Texas, hold you breath and get ready to be amazed by what you see. There are 1.5 million bats living under a bridge in Austin that make up the world's largest urban bat colony, and a historic drought is making them hungrier than ever when they come out for food."
The photos here are AMAZING!!

'As Though the Residents Simply Vanished’: A Visit to Chernobyl, 25 Years Later from the Boston Globe
"The diary was lying face up on the floor of a kindergarten classroom that, save for the decay and peeling paint, was frozen in time, pretty much exactly as it was when the order came to evacuate that day a quarter-century ago."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

News Nuggets 706

Quite the image of a stag beetle in the Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra.  From National Geographic.

How a Debt Downgrade May Affect Consumers from the New York Times
This article clears up a lot of rumors surrounding default.  The really bad news is deep in the article.
"Shortly after a downgrade, he said, he would expect interest rates to spike a bit, though he said he did not expect rates on fixed-rate mortgages to rise more than half a percentage point to a full percentage point, at most. ... The interest rates on most private student loans are pegged to the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, which is influenced by Treasury yields. So if the yields on government securities rise, student loan rates could rise as well, said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the FinAid and Fastweb Web sites."

U.S. Rating Rests On S&P’s View of Washington from Bloomberg News Service
"Critics say the company is misreading the political dynamics in Washington and that it shouldn’t engage in political prognosticating at all. “If we fail to increase the debt ceiling, they have every right to take the U.S. down as many notches as they want,” said Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. “I don’t look to S&P for political analysis” and “their job is not to try to do political crystal-ball gazing. Their job is to assess the reliability of U.S. debt.”"

House Democratic Leaders To Obama: Use The 14th Amendment from the Huffington Post
"House Democratic leaders emerged from a Wednesday Caucus meeting with a message for President Barack Obama: Invoke the Constitution to resolve the debt standoff."
Our top-of-the-line story tells you why this may be a really bad idea -- at least if you are the president. Here's the problem with invoking the 14th.  It does nothing to address the concerns of the jerks at S&P and the other credit agencies.  Without SOMETHING that looks like deficit reduction, they will almost certainly downgrade the US's AAA rating, causing an economic upheaval -- even without default -- and Obama would get **100% of the blame** for that economic downturn.  He would have no cover whatsoever.  In my view, S&P has been acting as something of a political wingman for the GOP against any deal that didn't include major deficit reduction.

Obama and the Dems (and many in the GOP I suspect) want to send the credit agencies a warning about political meddling.  Look no further than:
Credit Rating Agency Executives To Testify Before Congress from Reuters via Huffington Post
"Executives from rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service are scheduled to testify on Wednesday on attempts to reform the credit rating industry and the role it is playing in the U.S. debt ceiling debate."
Congress's message to credit agencies: 'You mess with us - believe it, we WILL mess with you!"

More here:
Debt Police Go Rogue (Zachary Karabell) from the Daily Beast
"How did a bunch of unelected corporate suits get the power to wreck the global economy? Zachary Karabell on the real bogeymen of the debt debacle: unaccountable ratings agencies."

Boehner’s Debt Plan Rewrite Faces Test In Thursday Vote from Talking Points Memo
"The new Boehner bill will cut the deficit $917 billion over ten years and raises the debt limit $900 billion, a net cost savings of $17 billion, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis. In the next year along, fiscal year 2012, the bill would cut $22 billion in spending."
Interesting -- I don't get that the S&P will be even remotely jazzed by this plan and, I suspect, neither will a sizable number of hard-right lawmakers.  All these WEEKS of hand-wringing angst and political blood-letting -- and FOR WHAT?  $22 billion in savings next year!?  THIS is what the GOP is going to run on next year as the big deficit-reduction concession they wrought out of big bad Obama and those big-spending Dems!?

GOP Coalition Splinters Into Open Conflict Over Debt Ceiling from Talking Points Memo
"The Republican leadership's efforts to avert a debt ceiling crisis with a two-tiered set of cuts is turning into the most divisive wedge issue the party has confronted since President Obama took over in 2009. ... their Tea Party colleagues are leading a rebellion of epic - perhaps even galactic - proportions. Cue the John Williams music and find out who stands where in this stand-off between the Establishment's storm-troopers and the Rebel Alliance."

GOP's Circular Firing Squad (Howard Kurtz) from the Daily Beast
"If the Republican Party isn’t having a collective nervous breakdown about the impending default deadline, it’s doing a pretty good imitation. The level of finger-pointing within the conservative movement is getting uglier by the moment."

A Republican Caucus Fleeing Its House Speaker? (Jim Gallway) of the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Quoting from former congressman Buddy Darden (D-GA): “The responsibility of being the ruling party, or the party in charge, is that you’re responsible for a positive outcome. This, in my mind, is unprecedented – that the speaker can’t get a majority of his own caucus to step up. There are enough Democratic votes if he can get a majority of his own caucus to pass it. “But personally, it looks to me like [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor is undermining the speaker….The speaker has apparently lost control of his caucus – which I’ve never seen.”"
WHO CALLED IT!?  I thought I saw the tip of Cantor's sword protruding from Boaehner's lapel yesterday!

Tea Party Takes On Boehner (Patricia Murphy) from the Daily Beast
"Republican lawmakers who vote for the speaker’s debt-ceiling measure will face Tea Party retribution at the polls next year, movement leader Mark Meckler tells Patricia Murphy."

The 'Big Headache': Boehner Backed Into Corner by Tea Party, Obama (Ed Hornick from CNN
"House Speaker John Boehner is in a tough position: between a rock and a hard place, wedged squarely into a corner. ... he has the small but powerful tea party freshman class in the House, many of whom are unapologetic in their desire not to give an inch on tax increases and are quite willing to push the negotiations to -- and possibly over -- the edge."

Boehner Bill Dividing GOP Groups (Reid Wilson) from the National Journal
"House Speaker John Boehner's proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $1 trillion in exchange for $1.2 trillion in cuts has achieved what Democrats have spent months trying to do: It has divided Republican interest groups that have so far stood united."

So Long, Speaker Boehner? (David Morris) from the Kiplinger Letter
"With tea partiers reluctant to negotiate, he has only bad choices as the default deadline looms."

GOPers chant 'fire him' at RSC Staffer Caught Blatantly Undercutting Speaker from Politico
"House Republicans 0n Wednesday morning were calling for the firing of Republican Study Committee staffers after they were caught sending e-mails to conservative groups urging them to pressure GOP lawmakers to vote against a debt proposal from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Infuriated by the e-mails from Paul Teller, the executive director of the RSC, and other staffers, members started chanting “Fire him, fire him!” while Teller stood silently at a closed-door meetings of House Republicans. “It was an unbelievable moment,” said one GOP insider. “I’ve never seen anything like it. ... House Republicans were particularly peeved that the RSC was targeting some of its own dues-paying members.”

More evidence:
Boehner Plan Causes Conservative Blogs to War from Politico
"While Capitol Hill Republicans choose sides on House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling plan, the sniping in the conservative blogosphere has degenerated into an online civil war."

Boehner Is Gang of One Trapped by Politics (Margaret Carlson) from Bloomberg News Service
"Over the last year, Boehner and Obama have developed a working rapport, if not a friendship. Obama understands what Boehner is up against. Blessed with the luxury of leading a mostly sane party, Obama has more leeway than Boehner to reach consensus. ... Deep down, Boehner has more in common with Obama than with the extremists in his own caucus."

After Aiding Republicans, Business Groups Press Them on Debt Ceiling from the New York Times
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent millions of dollars last year helping elect Republicans to Congressional seats, is struggling to convince the House it helped to build that the debt ceiling must be increased. ... But as the government runs out of money, those efforts have not produced the desired result. The freshman class of House Republicans, along with longer-serving members, is balking at Mr. Boehner’s plan, let alone anything that Senate Democrats and the White House might be willing to accept. The tension highlights the distance between the pro-business stalwarts of the traditional Republican Party and the populism of its newer representatives, many of whom seem to view Wall Street and Washington with equal suspicion."
BOY, the irony here is too rich not to miss!  To make Gov't more subservient to big business, the Chamber threw millions at Tea Party candidates -- the SAME people who are now ushering the US and it's vaunted capitalist system off the economic cliff.  Thank you SO MUCH C of C!!

The GOP's Reality Test from the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal
"The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor."
The mocking tone of the WSJ towards the tea partiers here is pretty hilarious!

Obama Faring Better Among Dem Voters Than Every Democratic President Since Truman: Gallup (Sam Stein) from Huffington Post
"President Obama currently enjoys a higher popularity among Democratic voters than every Democratic president dating back to Harry Truman had at similar junctures in their presidencies."

On Social Security and the Budget, Raising Medicare Age Won't Save Money (Theodore R. Marmor) from the Philadelphia Inquirer
"The Kaiser study estimates that 65- and 66-year-olds would spend another $5.6 billion a year, while employers would spend another $4.5 billion. That's spending $10.1 billion to save $7.6 billion."

Voters Still Blame Bush For Economy, Poll Says from the National Journal
"When asked whether the policies of President Obama and the Democrats or Bush and the Republicans are more responsible for the country's current economic problems, 57 percent said Bush and the Republicans are more responsible, according to the CNN/ORC poll, while just 29 percent said Obama and the Democrats are more responsible. 10 percent said both are responsible while three percent indicated they find neither to be culpable."

The Cult That Is Destroying America (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system."

Generation of Young Women are Putting Off Motherhood due to Money Worries from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"A generation of young women are delaying having  children because they cannot afford a family, according to a report yesterday. More than four out of ten working women in their 20s intend to put off having children because of ‘financial worries’."
This was exactly the pattern in the US during the Great Depression.

As Democrats Seize Advantage in Wisconsin Recalls, Right-wing Money Pours in (Chris Bowers) from the Daily Kos
"With the release of new Daily Kos polling earlier today, it's no longer accurate to call the Wisconsin recall elections a toss-up. Democrats now have the advantage."

Some journalistic malfeasance here:
Not Leveling with Viewers (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"The top headline running now on CNN reads: "They're all talking, but no one is compromising, at least publicly. Democratic and GOP leaders appear unwilling to bend on proposals to raise the debt ceiling." By any reasonable measure, this is simply false, even painfully so."

That's One Expensive Car Crash! from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"She scraped her £250,000 Bentley Azure down the side of a £75,000 Mercedes S Class.  Her 2.7 tonne beast then crashed into a £140,000 black Ferrari F430, before going head on into an £80,000 Porsche 911 and a £140,000 Aston Martin Rapide."

EDUCATION NUGGET [of a sort]!!
For-Profit College Chain In Kentucky Accused Of Cheating Students Out Of Financial Aid from Huffington Post
"The Kentucky Attorney General filed suit Wednesday against a chain of for-profit colleges in the state, claiming that administrators at Daymar Colleges have consistently deceived students by making false promises about the ability to transfer course credits and have forced them to purchase textbooks and supplies at substantially marked-up rates."
So many of these for-profit schools are such BAD NEWS!!  Lawmakers and the feds need to start going AFTER these people!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

News Nuggets 705

See the Up-Front Economy Nugget below.

*** On Yesterday's Call to Action ***
Heeding Obama, Voters Swamp Congress' Websites, Phones from McClatchy News Service
"President Barack Obama asked Americans to reach out to Congress to make their voices heard on the debt ceiling debate — and so they did."
Of course, I can't know how many of you heeded yesterdays "Call to Action".  For those of you who did, thank you.  You asserted a call for sanity at a crucial moment!!

How the Deficit Got This Big from the New York Times
"With President Obama and Republican leaders calling for cutting the budget by trillions over the next 10 years, it is worth asking how we got here — from healthy surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and the promise of future surpluses, to nine straight years of deficits, including the $1.3 trillion shortfall in 2010. The answer is largely the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions."
James Fallows of the Atlantic comments HERE.

U.S. Officials Believe al-Qaeda on Brink of Collapse from the Washington Post
"Beyond bin Laden, “we have eliminated a number of generations of leaders,” said the senior U.S. counterterrorism official. “They have not had a successful operation in a long time. You at some point have to ask yourself, ‘What else do we have to do?’"

Jasmine Blooms in Marrakesh (Dov S. Zakheim) from the National Interest
"Reform has come quietly and peacefully to Morocco. Mubarak and Ben Ali should have followed King Mohammed's lead."

The End of the Road in Pakistan? (Malou Innocent) from the National Interest
"Pakistan will never be the ally Washington wants it to be. Ignoring that reality is nothing short of insanity."

Assad Foundations Eroded by Waves of Revolt (David Gardner) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"... erosion is eating away at the narrow foundations of a regime pounded by waves of revolt. The savagery of the government’s response, and the zero credibility of the concessions it has made to the protesters, makes it probably more dangerous for them to stop, and risk reprisals, than to carry on and brave repression."

Some international reaction to the debt ceiling issue.  It's almost TOO PAINFUL to read.
The Nutters' Side of the Story (Phil Levy) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The domestic incredulity over U.S. debt ceiling battles has gone global."

Here's the latest on the debt ceiling:
Debt-limit Bill Yanked by House GOP from Politico
"House Republicans delayed by at least a day a floor vote on their package to raise the debt ceiling, the latest challenge facing Speaker John Boehner and GOP leaders as they try to avoid a default on the nation’s debt."

Top House Conservatives Says Boehner Lacks Sufficient GOP Support To Raise Debt Limit from Talking Points Memo
"One of the most influential conservatives in Congress says he's confident his own Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will lack the votes to pass his plan to raise the debt limit in the House of Representatives.  Complicating matters further for Boehner -- the Dems' top vote counter wryly suggested at a simultaneous press briefing that few, if any, Democrats will vote for the GOP's bill..."
He says "with confidence"?  Now, why would he say that?  God knows, I am no House of Representatives insider -- but what has transpired since last night reeks of double-dealing.  Publicly Rick Cantor is supporting Boehner -- but I wonder if he isn't giving Boehner a sword in the back behind the scenes.  If Boehner's plan can't pass the House AND the country goes into default, I wouldn't be surprised if Boehner is done as Speaker.

A related story (no surprise):
Boehner Risks Losing Leverage in House Deficit-Reduction Plan vote from The Hill
"Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is heading into a critical House vote on his deficit-reduction plan, at risk of losing significant leverage in the GOP’s drag-out fight with the White House over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit."

Boehner's Debt Ceiling Plan Found Insufficient By Wall Street (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post
"When CNN's Erin Burnett reported Monday evening that the raters at Standard & Poor's would not be satisfied with a plan that neither lifted the debt ceiling through the 2012 elections nor reformed entitlement programs, party leadership jumped on the news. If the sequence seemed a touch too political, it shouldn't have."

The Republican Wreckage from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"House Republicans have lost sight of the country’s welfare. It’s hard to conclude anything else from their latest actions, including the House speaker’s dismissal of President Obama’s plea for compromise Monday night. They have largely succeeded in their campaign to ransom America’s economy for the biggest spending cuts in a generation. They have warped an exercise in paying off current debt into an argument about future spending. Yet, when they win another concession, they walk away."

Obama Fights Full-tilt Tea Party Crazy (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"Faced with John Boehner's lies about the debt-ceiling process, the president stakes his presidency on compromise."

Why Obama’s Base Won’t Revolt (Eric Alterman) from the Daily Beast
"Gay marriage, Israel, choice—talk is rife of a 2012 primary challenge to Obama from the left, but liberals’ support and fear of GOP extremism mean it won’t happen, says Eric Alterman."

Wu to Resign From Congress from the New York Times
"Representative David Wu, a Democrat from Oregon, said Tuesday that he will resign from Congress after allegations that he had had a sexual encounter with a young woman."
One thing I will have to say about Nancy Pelosi's management style, even as minority leader: she has a low threshold for this kind of BS.  Whether it's Wu or Anthony Wiener or whoever, unlike the GOP, her patience surrounding sexual improprieties inside her own caucus can be measured in nanoseconds.  Financial scandals (see Maxine Waters or Charlie Rangel) it may be a different story.  I guess in her view, there are going to be NO MARK FOLEYS on her watch!!

And, lo and behold, here's the story!!
Pelosi Boots Another Scoundrel ( Michelle Cottle) from the Daily Beast
"Anyone who thought David Wu could hang on despite sexual misbehavior hasn’t been paying attention to the House’s new scandal culture. Michelle Cottle on why Nancy Pelosi had to push him out."

The Help-Wanted Sign Comes With a Frustrating Asterisk from the New York Times
"The unemployed need not apply.  That is the message being broadcast by many of the nation’s employers, making it even more difficult for 14 million jobless Americans to get back to work."
Y'know, this is the kind of bulls#@t that turns average, hard-working Americans into VOLATILE, unpredictable and angry voters!  If you tilt the playing field THIS MUCH against the unemployed, there will be trouble -- and this is just one manifestation of a pervasive phenomenon!

'I was like "Wow"': How Michelle Obama and Jill Biden Found Out About Top Secret Bin Laden Raid from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"The First Lady Michelle Obama said: 'I knew something was happening, but when it gets down to that level of secrecy, there's just a small number of people who know anything."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

News Nuggets 704 & CALL TO ACTION!

The Basilica di Santa Maria del-Fiore in Florence, Italy.  From National Geographic.
For those of you who did not see the President's brief speech last night, here it is.
Last night, in response to Obama's call for people to contact their congressmen and women, Congress's server crashed.  For those of you in congressional districts represented by Republicans, NOW is the time to call, write, or e-mail that person and to tell them how you want them to proceed on the debt ceiling negotiations.  It could be that all you need to say is 'I expect you to compromise'.  While I think it is appropriate to call your rep if he/she is a Democrat too, it is the Republicans who need to hear from voters who are not right-wing extremists right now.  In the Pittsburgh area, that means Rep. Tim Murphy in the South Hills.  If you are from the South Hills, you need to act TODAY!  It means if you are from up north of the city from Butler to Erie, you need contact Mike Kelly -- and you need to act TODAY.  Here is the information with links:

Rep. Tim Murphy
Phone: (202) 225-2301 
Fax: (202) 225-1844
322 Cannon House Office Building 
Washington, DC 20515

Rep. Mike Kelly (R)
515 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5406
Fax: (202) 225-3103

If you are from somewhere else in the country and are represented by a Republican, you also need to act.  You can go HERE to locate the contact information on your representative.  For many of you, I already know you may be resigned and cynical about the process right now - either because Obama has not been as steadfast as you would have liked or because of the deep dysfunctionality on display.  But, make no mistake, the deeper dysfunction will be if you as a voter become so resigned that you turn away right now when so much is at stake and do nothing!

For those looking for some trenchant observations about last night's speeches, what was most telling actually came before Obama or Boehner walked before the cameras:
Conservatives Denounce Boehner Plan from The Hill
"The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee wasted little time announcing his opposition to the House GOP leadership's two-step plan to raise the debt ceiling."
IN-credible!! How could they have let him go out there and press his "plan" when his own caucus wasn't aligned with it -- and he had no Democratic support!? WTF!?  Oh, but he did fully brief Rush Limbaugh on the plan!  I guess he thought that should suffice.

Here's more:
Tea Party Coalition Rejects Boehner's Debt Proposal (UPDATE) from the Huffington Post
"A coalition of Tea Party chapters and conservative lawmakers on Monday rejected the debt proposal put forward by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), despite his efforts to sweeten the deal with provisions favored by his conservative base."
Ah -- I see.  Boehner probably couldn't get through to his caucus because Tea Party lawmakers are too busy taking Erik Erikson's temperature over at
"In the past 48 hours I have had call after call after call from members of the United States Congress. They’ve read what I’ve written. They agree. But they feel the hour is short and the end is nigh. So some are calling looking for alternatives. Some are calling looking for energy. Many are calling looking for absolution. And so I address them and put it here so you can see my advice. I can give no absolution for what you may be about to do."

Norway Shooting: Glenn Beck Compares Dead Teenagers to Hitler Youth from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"Glenn Beck, the leading Right-wing American broadcaster, has prompted outrage after comparing the teenage victims of the Utoya Island massacre to the Hitler Youth."
This blog rarely traffics in the latest inane mouthngs of Beck/Limbaugh/Palin et al.  But THIS ONE was just so ... exceptional!  It is  PRECISELY the kind of thing the shooter would have said to justify what he did!!

Ross Douthat at the NY Times says pretty much the same thing here:
A Right-Wing Monster (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times
"Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have an obligation to acknowledge that Anders Behring Breivik is a distinctively right-wing kind of monster. But they also have an obligation to the realities that this monster’s terrible atrocity threatens to obscure."

Obama Holds the Cards -- If He Will Play Them Well (Robert Kutttner) from the Huffington Post
"... The President of the United States will be revealed to be holding more of the cards -- if he has the nerve to start playing his hand well (for a change."

Among House Republican Freshmen, Debt-Ceiling Uncertainty Reigns (Filicia Sonmez) from the Washington Post
"The waning hours of the debt-ceiling debate have generated a proliferation of new proposals to solve the crisis. But for many of the House freshman at the heart of the GOP opposition to a deal with President Obama, all theses ideas amount to little more than displays of Washington treachery."
This is NOT uncertainty -- it is paranoia.  And it's why they can't bring themselves to anything resembling a "yes."

GOP Stumbles Over Surprise Dem Debt Limit Offer (Brian Beutler) from Talking Points Memo
"Republicans were not expecting to wake up to headlines noting that Reid's offering more immediate cuts than House Speaker John Boehner's proposing. Second, because about a trillion of those dollars comes from the expected wind down of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- a source of savings Republicans have recently opposed but, oops, voted for in the House GOP budget."
Sounds like a pretty savvy move on Reid's part.  Rather than getting tax increases, liberals will take MAJOR defense spending cuts, cuts the GOP has already endorsed!  What next?  The problem is Reid and the Senate don't have time to put together hard legislation to cause this.

Tension Runs High at WI Town Hall Meeting from the White Fish Bay Patch Newsletter
"Roughly 120 people packed Whitefish Bay Village Hall Sunday night, but recall candidates Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Sandy Pasch were not among them."

For the latest on what's happening in WI:
Wisconsin Recall Elections 2011: News & Updates From The Badger State from the Huffington Post
"In the coming weeks, recall elections will take place in nine of Wisconsin's state Senate districts. Six Democratic challengers will run to oust Republican incumbents from their seats, while three GOP hopefuls will compete to remove Democratic lawmakers from office."

Palin Documentary Headed for Pay-Per-View as Ticket Sales Plummet from Reuters News Service
"With its Sarah Palin documentary "The Undefeated" increasing its playdates by 40 percent this weekend, only to watch box office revenue decline by more than 63 percent, distributor Arc Entertainment announced Sunday that the film will soon be available on pay per view."
Surprise! Surprise!

The Kingdom and the Paywall (Seth Mnookin) from New York Magazine
"Some people thought that on Arthur Sulzberger Jr.’s watch, the New York Times could actually become extinct. They might need to issue a correction."
Hooray for the New York Times!!

A Forbidding Kingdom of Snow Leopards from the New York Times
"Using cannily placed motion-sensitive camera traps, scientists have amassed a wealth of snow leopard images, allowing them to estimate population numbers, identify individuals and track migrations. They’ve also gained a glimpse of the cat’s daily schedule."

Monday, July 25, 2011

News Nuggets 703

As part of our occasional primer on defense policy, the following is quite instructive:
Armied to the Hilt: The World's Biggest Armed Forces from the Economist [of London]
" In absolute numbers, rich and populous countries such as America, China and India keep the biggest militaries. Countries that have seen war (Iran, Vietnam) or are situated in strife-torn regions such as the Middle East also feature prominently."

Nuclear Scientist or Student Killed in Tehran? Either Way, Iran Blames US, Israel from the Christian Science Monitor
"If Saturday's shooting victim was connected to Iran's atomic program, his death would be the fourth killing or attempted killing of scientists linked to the country's nuclear efforts in less than two years."

Pressure on James Murdoch Is About to Intensify from the New York Times
"After his testimony in Parliament was challenged by two former senior employees and referred by a lawmaker to Scotland Yard for investigation, James Murdoch has come under rising pressure in Britain’s phone hacking scandal that is likely to intensify this week."

Police Face New Claims in News of the World Scandal from Agence France Presse via Raw Story
"Police faced new allegations Sunday that officers leaked details about terror attack victims and a murdered schoolgirl to journalists at Rupert Murdoch's felled News of the World tabloid."

'Super Congress': Debt Ceiling Negotiators Aim To Create New Legislative Body from the Huffington Post
"Debt ceiling negotiators think they've hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public's unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress."

Defense on the Chopping Block (Robert Dreyfuss) from the Nation
"In the disgusting spectacle of the talks between President Obama and the Republicans on cutting spending, there’s one bright spot: the Department of Defense is facing serious cuts."

Four Ways Rick Perry Could Shake Up the GOP Race from The Week
"The Texas governor is flirting with a run for the Republican presidential nomination — and he'd arguably make the contest a lot more interesting."

In CA, Mitt Romney Isn't Seeing Love or Money This Time Around (Dan Morain) from McClatchy News Service
"Romney is perceived as the front-runner to win the GOP presidential nomination this time around. But despite his best efforts to become one with the Golden State, Romney is finding California Republicans to be a tough crowd, particularly those who have money to spend on politics."

Pawlenty Calls Obama 'Chicken' from Politico
""if you're the leader of the free world, would you please come to microphone and quit hiding in the basement about your proposals, and come on up and address the American people? Is he chicken?""
WHAT A LAUGH coming from this clown!  Here's the guy who has consistently bugged out on his tough talk statements when confronted to back them up.  

How Obama Could Win the GOP Primaries (Robert Shrum) from The Week
"Tea Party firebrand Michele Bachmann is soaring in the polls — alarming the GOP establishment, and greatly aiding the president's campaign."

The Gay Harlem Renaissance (Linda Villarosa) from The Root
"Quiet as it's kept, a number of the brightest lights of the Harlem Renaissance fell along the LGBT rainbow spectrum."

Nguyen Cao Ky, 80; Ruled South Vietnam During the War from the Boston Globe
"Nguyen Cao Ky, the flamboyant former air force general who ruled South Vietnam with an iron fist for two years during the Vietnam War, died Saturday. He was 80."
Madam Nhu bit the dust just a few months ago.  Good riddance to this one too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

News Nuggets 702

The "Wall of Death" stunt at a fair in Srinagar, India.  From National Geographic.

US Shines at ASEAN Forum (Luke Hunt) from The Diplomat
"With trade dominating Southeast Asian nations’ agendas, it’s left to the US to save the organisation’s moral bacon, says Luke Hunt."

In 3 Countries, Challenging the Vatican on Female Priests (Laurie Goldstein) from the New York Times
"While these disparate acts hardly amount to a clerical uprising and are unlikely to result in change, church scholars note that for the first time in years, groups of priests in several countries are standing with those who are challenging the church to rethink the all-male celibate priesthood."

Poll: Anti-Muslim Sentiment Grew After Bin Laden Death from the Huffington Post
"Many Muslim Americans had hoped that the death of Osama bin Laden would improve their image among other Americans, but according to a new survey, just the opposite has happened."

The 14th Amendment, the Debt Ceiling and a Way Out (Adam Liptak) from the New York Times
"A few days ago, former President Bill Clinton identified a constitutional escape hatch should President Obama and Congress fail to come to terms on a deficit reduction plan before the government hits its borrowing ceiling. He pointed to an obscure provision in the 14th Amendment, saying he would unilaterally invoke it “without hesitation” to raise the debt ceiling “and force the courts to stop me.”"

Boehner's Market Signals? Did August 2nd Just Become Tomorrow? (Steve Clemons) from the Atlantic
"Reports have emerged that House Speaker Boehner told his caucus that their team needs to "provide a positive signal on a plan to avert a U.S. default by tomorrow."  That's right, by the time markets in Asia open tomorrow."

Republicans, Zealots and Our Security (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"IF China or Iran threatened our national credit rating and tried to drive up our interest rates, or if they sought to damage our education system, we would erupt in outrage."

Durbin to GOP: 'You Break It, You Own It’ (Alicia M. Cohn) from The Hill
"The second most powerful Democrat in the Senate warned Republicans Sunday that they are toying with a fragile economy and would take the blame for any fallout from a debt default."
I like this line of argument.

In Cantor’s District, Republicans Spread the Blame Around from the Washington Post
"A hundred miles south of the bickering in the nation’s capital, Republicans in the district of one of the chief negotiators, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R), delivered a mixed and sometimes contradictory picture on Saturday of what they hope will emerge from the talks."

With Response, Obama Makes Case to Left and Independents (Aamer Madhani) from the National Journal
"Substantively, the collapse of debt talks may have marked the biggest disappointment of his presidency. But the president deftly managed to play to both his liberal base and independent voters at the same time. Obama showed the left he’s willing to fight, while forcefully making a pitch to independents—the folks that will ultimately decide whether or not he serves a second term—that he’s the adult in the room that is a deeply-divided Washington."

11 Days Until Disaster, Three Options to Prevent It (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
" can’t get a deal unless you can get the votes. And what’s been clear for some time is Speaker John Boehner cannot get the votes."

News of the Betrayed from the Sydney Morning Herald [of Australia]
"The sheer number of phone-hacking victims means Rupert Murdoch will be paying for years to come. Robert Wainwright reports from London."

Tipping Points: How the News Corp. Scandal Blossomed (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"It was Ed Miliband, the British Labor Party leader, who posed the haunting question in Wednesday’s parliamentary debate about the phone-hacking scandal: “Why didn’t more of us speak out about this earlier?”"

Why Obama Will Win in 2012 (Jamelle Bouie) from the American Prospect
"It might be “the economy, stupid,” but radicalism on the right will doom Republicans’ chances at the presidency."

Michele Bachmann Launches Scathing Attack on Tim Pawlenty from Politico
"Michele Bachmann delivers a harsh counterattack on her former home-state governor, hitting back at his charge that she lacks the experience to be president and blaming Tim Pawlenty for a "multi-billion-dollar budget mess" back home:"