Tuesday, January 31, 2012

News Nuggets 868

DAYLEE PICTURE: A black lab cavorting in a lake.  From National Geographic.  See the special Dog Nugget at the bottom of today's post!
Beatitudes with Attitude -- for the 21st century Christian Patriot!  
There is a very provocative item over at Huffington Post: Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus by Phil Zuckerman and Dan Cady. It makes some very interesting assertions such as: “The results from a recent poll published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveal what social scientists have known for a long time: White Evangelical Christians are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus. It is perhaps one of the strangest...ironies in contemporary American culture." It made me think if Jesus was giving his Sermon on the Mount now to an audience of South Carolina GOP voters how it might sound:

1.  [Traditional version] Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
[21st century Christian Patriot version] Blessed are those who increase the suffering of the poor for they shall save the taxpayers’ money and teach the poor how to get off their lazy asses.

2. [Traditional version] Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
[21st century version]  Blessed are those who show no pity and those who laugh at other people’s pain for they shall feel superior to their neighbors and get more air time on television.

3. [Traditional version] Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
[21st century version]  Blessed are the bellicose, the resentful, and the uncompromising for they shall always be able to blame others and never be held to account for making the world a better place to live in.

4. [Traditional version] Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. 
[21st century version]  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness only from liberals and Democrats for they shall always have good campaign issues to run on.

5. [Traditional version] Blessed are the merciful, 
for they shall obtain mercy. 
[21st century version]  Blessed are the torturers for they shall grant no mercy and save America from the “evildoers.”

6. [Traditional version] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
[21st century version]  Blessed are those who live scandal-plagued lives for all they will have to do is invoke God’s name to be let off the hook and to get re-elected.

7. [Traditional version] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
[21st century version]  Blessed are the warmakers, the arms manufacturers and their supplicants in Congress for they shall get wealthy and be able to tell the rest of the world what to do -- and where they can go if they have a problem with it.

8. [Traditional version] Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[21st century version]  Blessed are those who persecute anyone who disagrees with them for they shall live in an artless world of comfortable uniformity.

9.  [Traditional version] Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 
[21st century version]  Blessed are those who wantonly and speciously invoke God’s name to justify their own likes and dislikes for they shall never be aware of the evil they do in the name of the Lord.

Back to our regular nuggets!

Hamas Out in the Cold? (Paul Scham) from the National Interest
"The Arab Spring has deprived Hamas of its patrons. The organization must adapt quickly to survive."

Foolish Suspicion of Political Islam (Paul R. Pillar) from the National Interest
"Fear and Islamophobia drive Western media to misrepresent the largely peaceful, moderate Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood."

Polls Show Toll on House GOP Approval from Politico
"House Republican poll ratings have plunged over the past year, as Washington’s brutal battles have taken a toll on a party that was flying high last January when it took the majority."

Republicans Have Only Themselves to Blame (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post
"The Republican establishment acts as if this season’s goon squad of presidential candidates has come out of nowhere, an act of God — a tsunami that hit the party and receded, leaving nothing but nitwits standing. In column after column, conservative commentators lament the present condition, but not their past acquiescence as their party turned hostile to thought, reason and the two most important words in the English language: It depends."

Character, Values Concerns May Sink GOP Nominee (Robert Creamer) from the Democratic Strategist
"According to Biden, the day before he ordered the raid that finally stopped Osama Bin Laden, President Obama met with his top national security advisers in the Situation Room. At the close of the meeting, he went around the room asking each person for his or her recommendation on whether to launch the risky nighttime mission. ..."

The Republicans' 1972 (George Packer) from the New Yorker
"Republicans might not lose the Presidency, but they’re as isolated—and as calcified—as the Democrats were when they nominated McGovern…"

Why Does Mitt Romney Want to be President? (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"It is remarkable that the well-orchestrated blitzkrieg to save Florida for Romney was designed solely to raise doubts about Gingrich’s character and electability — rather than convince voters that Romney, on the merits, should be president. It makes you wonder whether the GOP luminaries supporting this guy really believe in him."

Is Mitt Romney Actually Electable? (George Miniter) from Forbes Magazine 
"... why does nearly every pundit and politician think that is the only “electable” candidate, the only one who can beat Obama? The facts and evidence tell a different story. Romney has never won a majority (50% or better) of Republican primary or caucus voters. And, two-thirds of the time, he has had to spend vast sums just to claim the number two spot."

Another related view from a notable conservative pundit:
Character Matters and Romney's Worries Me (Mark Levin) from his Facebook page
"I am beginning to think that the nature and level of attacks being launched by Mitt Romney against Newt Gingrich, which he would surely use against any conservative threatening his nomination, are going to make it very difficult for Romney to unite the different factions of the GOP and the conservative movement behind his candidacy should he win the nomination."

And another conservative columnist:
Romney Explains Why He Can't Beat Obama (David Catron) from the American Spectator
"The most telling moment of the debate was the latter's response to Rick Santorum's eloquent explanation of Obamacare's importance to the GOP's strategy in the general election and why giving Romney the nomination would be tantamount to surrendering the high ground on health reform. ... The former Massachusetts governor responded with the usual rote talking points, which Santorum vehemently rejected. Romney then uttered the most revealing words of the debate: "First of all, it's not worth getting angry about." Most Republican voters, and more than a few independents, would disagree."

Newt Gingrich's Promise To Campaign Until The Convention May Not Be A Bluff (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post
"... what if Gingrich isn't bluffing? The Republican primary process is, at its heart, a race for delegates: the first candidate to net 1,144 wins. By the time Floridians finish voting on Tuesday, just five percent of the total delegate pool will have been awarded. The upcoming states include a number of caucuses and southern primaries, the former of which play to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)'s strengths and the latter of which work to Gingrich's advantage. The more delegates a candidate accrues, the larger his influence becomes over the party platform. As one top Republican Party official said of Gingrich's proclamation: "Why would he quit?""

Bad Blood Between Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich Will Linger (Rick Klein) from ABC News
"The Republican Party is poised to move a big step closer to landing on its presidential nominee this week. But the party will be simultaneously taking a big step away from being happy with that nominee."

Rick Perry’s Campaign Burned Through Millions from Politico
"Texas Gov. Rick Perry burned through the bulk of a once-sizable campaign war chest late last year in what became an increasingly desperate attempt to right his listing — and ultimately doomed — presidential campaign, federal financial disclosures released late Monday show."

Taking the Subway: Black and White Images Reveal the Early Days Underground in New York From the Opening Ceremony to War-time Travel and Plush 1930s Interiors from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"...photographs from the beginning of the last century show how the New York City subway clambered to its feet to become the service millions of commuters take for granted today."

Why Your Dog Really DOES Love You (and It's Not Just Because of All the Treats You Give It!) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"‘You know Bruce, she loved us as much as we loved her.’ Scientists find this idea hard to handle. They say only animals with ‘higher emotions’ — humans — are capable of love. But Michael’s words came back to me this week when I read newspaper reports claiming the dog has been man’s best friend for far longer than anyone imagined. They described how archaeologists digging in Siberia and Belgium found two canine skulls dating back 33,000 years."

Monday, January 30, 2012

News Nuggets 867

DAYLEE PICTURE: A brown bear soaking in the foam from a waterfall in Kamchatka, Russia.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.   There's another great bear photo at the end of today's post.

How Conservatives Lost Their Moral Compass (Neal Gabler) from Politico 
"There is a reason we have never previously had a hatemonger like Rush Limbaugh enjoy popularity for as long as he has. The reason was shame. ... Surely when a group can publicly cheer a man’s death for not having health insurance, the sense of shame is gone. It faded not only because liberals had subverted it by casting it as a conservative scheme to corset society, but because conservatives managed to delegitimize it."
Some of you may recall Gabler as the author of an award-winning biography of Walt Disney.

Without showcasing it, I linked to this long-form 1995 story last week.  It provides extraordinary insight into Ginrich's background and ... mental state.  A MUST-READ!
The Inner Quest of Newt Gingrich (Gail Sheehy) from Vanity Fair 
"From the cauldron of his childhood—the father who abandoned him, the manic-depressive mother who loved him too much, the stepfather whose anger shaped the family—Newt Gingrich emerged with a heroic need that became his mission. Just a few samples:  "I found a way to immerse my insecurities in a cause large enough to justify whatever I wanted it to.” ... In the spring of 1977, she was in Washington to attend a census-bureau workshop when Gingrich took her out to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. He met her back at her modest hotel room. “We had oral sex,” she says. “He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, T never slept with her.’” Indeed, before Gingrich left that evening, she says, he threatened her: “Tf you ever tell anybody about this, I’ll say you’re lying.’”"

Israeli Jet-Sized Drone Crashes During Flight from the Associated Press 
"The Israeli military says a drone that can fly as far as Iran has crashed in central Israel on a routine experimental flight. ... The Heron TP drone is also known locally as the Eitan. It has a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), making it the size of a Boeing 737 passenger jet. It is the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel's military arsenal."

Out of Afghanistan: Incredible Stories of the Boys Who Walked to Europe from the Guardian [of the UK]
"The country is so dangerous it's no wonder so many leave, travelling alone across the Middle East in search of a new life."
An amazing, long-form look at young Afghans' flight to Europe!

Obama’s Lean, Mean SEAL Machine (Daniel Klaidman) from the Daily Beast 
"The rescue of two aid workers in Somalia and the president’s bold, new strategy."

US Calls on Pakistan to Release Doctor who Helped Find Osama bin Laden from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Al-Qaida chief's location in Abbottabad was established with help from Shakil Afridi, says US defence secretary Leon Panetta."

The Austerity Debacle (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"It turns out that by one important measure — changes in real G.D.P. since the recession began — Britain is doing worse this time than it did during the Great Depression. Four years into the Depression, British G.D.P. had regained its previous peak; four years after the Great Recession began, Britain is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground."

For Poor Whites, Charles Murray Does It Again (Joan Walsh) from Salon 
"Big government has created a new lower class of lazy, shifty, low-IQ folks, he argues. But this time, they're white."

Obama: The Most Polarizing President. Ever. (Chirs Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"...we are simply living in an era in which Democrats dislike a Republican president (and Republicans dislike a Democratic one) even before the commander in chief has taken a single official action. The realization of that hyper-partisan reality has been slow in coming for Obama. But in recent months, he seems to have turned a rhetorical corner..."

What Americans Mean When They Say They're Conservative (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"The word is invoked to refer to a number of surprisingly diverse worldviews -- and politicians take advantage of that.

Who in God’s Name Is Mitt Romney? His Greatest Passion is Something He’s Determined to Keep Secret (Frank Rich) from New York Magazine
"Romney is in some ways more exotic and more removed from “real America” than Obama ever was, his gleaming white camouflage notwithstanding. Romney is white, all right, but he’s a white shadow. He can come across like an android who’s been computer-­generated to be the perfect genial

A Florida Bush Stays Silent, and to Many, That Says a Lot (Jeff Zeleny) from the New York Times
"As the center of Republican politics has once again returned to Florida, with Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich making final appeals to voters across the state on Sunday, Mr. Bush has been noticeably — and, several friends say, purposefully — absent from the conversation."

Romney and Gingrich Set the GOP on a Path Toward Self-Destruction (John Batchelor) from the Daily Beast
"A GOP professional laments the “slime and dirt and muck attached not only to the two candidates but also to the party itself.”"

Romney's Problem is Romney: He Doesn't Deliver Red Meat to the Rank and File (Jack Kelly) from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Mr. Romney's stump speech is insipid pap. He says nothing that offends, consequently nothing that motivates or inspires. In debates, he has qualified his answers so carefully that "he comes across as a wimp," said Boston radio talk show host Howie Carr."

GOP Insiders Rise Up to Cut Gingrich Down to Size (Charles Babington) from the Associated Press via ABC News
"The gathering criticisms are bitingly sharp, as if edged by a touch of panic, a remarkable development considering the target once was speaker of the House and will go down in history as leader of the Republicans' 1994 return to power in Congress."

Newt May Be Mad and Mental Enough to Fight On Long After Florida (John Heilemann) from New York Magazine
"Pledges to continue the fight unabated in the face of harsh and/or humiliating outcomes are staples of presidential campaigns. ... in Gingrich's case, he might be serious, so much has he come to despise Romney and the Republican Establishment that has brought down on him a twenty-ton shithammer in Florida, and so convinced is he of his own Churchillian greatness and world-historical destiny."

Newt: Mitt Can Have Florida But This Is Going All The Way To The Convention from the Huffington Post
"The conservatives clearly are rejecting Romney. He is nowhere near getting a majority. And the fact is, once you get beyond Florida, these are all proportional representation states, and he’s not going to be anywhere near a majority by April,” Gingrich explained..."

Newt Gingrich Responds To Mitt Romney's 'Carpet-Bombing' Ads By Going Nuclear (Jon Ward) from the Huffington Post
"Newt Gingrich stepped out of church Sunday morning and launched some of his most vitriolic attacks on Mitt Romney to date in the Republican primary, seeking to recover lost ground in the polls two days before primary voting ends here on Tuesday. "I believe the Republican Party will not nominate a pro-abortion, pro gun-control, pro-tax increase moderate from Massachusetts," the former House speaker said."

Newt Gingrich’s Deep Neocon Ties Drive His Bellicose Middle East Policy (Wayne Barrett) from the Daily Beast
"If elected, Gingrich would be the first American president to emerge from the dark think-tank world born in the Reagan era that gave us the Iraq war and lusts now for an Iranian reprise. The Daily Beast closely examines Gingrich’s long-time association with this discredited cabal."

Good News and Bad News for Gingrich in Florida (Ronald Brownstein) from the National Journal
"He's probably going to lose Tuesday, but he could emerge a stronger contender."

Why Apple Should Start Making a 3D Printer Right Now (Ross Andersen) from the Atlantic
"Hobbyists and tinkerers are testing out the future with a technology that you're probably going to have sooner than you think."

On Amazon, An Uneasy Mix Of Plagiarism And Erotica from NPR's All Things Considered
"She decided to take a closer look at her competition. Cruz was clearly prolific and successful. She had 42 titles, 41 of which were erotica stories. But one title seemed out of place. It was called Dracula Amazing Adventure. Sharazade, who worked as a college professor, says she felt there was something odd about the ebook. "I took a sentence from the description and put it in between quotes and dropped it into Google, and Bram Stoker's Dracula came up." Shar says. "It was word for word Dracula." It didn't stop there. Shar says she found instances of plagiarism in every single book published by Cruz, mostly from the website Literotica, where people can upload stories for free."

The Thrill of Blaming Others from Salon
"We've always loved scapegoats, in politics and our own lives. Now science offers a new glimpse into its appeal."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

News Nuggets 866

DAYEE PICTURE: A rainbow intersects with a lone surfer in Tahiti.  From National Geographic.
1.  How the GOP Awakened Obama (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest 
"Then came the budget battle over raising the debt ceiling. ... The upshot is that since then, Obama has been reinvigorated. The GOP, to put it another way, awakened a slumbering giant. Obama's State of the Union address signaled that he is uninterested in compromise. ... So far, Obama has every reason to believe that his fortunes have decisively turned for the better."

2.  Why it’s China’s Turn to Worry about Manufacturing (Vivek Wadhwa) from the Washington Post
"New technologies will likely cause the same hollowing out of China’s manufacturing industry over the next two decades that the U.S experienced over the past twenty years. That’s right. America is destined to once again gain its supremacy in manufacturing, and it will soon be China’s turn to worry."

3.  The GOP Deserves to Lose (Bret Stephens) from the Wall Street Journal 
"As for the current GOP field, it's like confronting a terminal diagnosis. There may be an apparent range of treatments: conventional (Romney), experimental (Gingrich), homeopathic (Paul) or prayerful (Santorum). But none will avail you in the end. Just try to exit laughing."

4.  Blame the GOP Establishment for the Rise of Gingrich (Conor
Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"It's Beltway "thought leaders" on the right who are responsible for this flawed candidate."

5.  Rush Limbaugh: Resentment, Cultural Insecurity Fueled Gingrich's Rise (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"In his telling, Gingrich's victory is rooted in the cultural insecurity and resentment of conservative Republicans. The only difference between his analysis and the folks I've quoted is that he regards this
emotionalism as unproblematic and justified. ... Limbaugh may think this victim complex, and the desire for revenge and emotional catharsis it creates, is justified. He is nevertheless admitting that the behavior of the conservative base isn't grounded in principle or patriotism or a desire to advance conservative policy."

6.  From Gingrich To Palin To Gingrich (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast 
"This now is the party of Palin and Gingrich, animated primarily by hatred of elites, angry at the new shape and color of America, befuddled by a suddenly more complicated world, and dedicated primarily to emotion rather than reason. That party is simply not one that can rally behind a Mitt Romney."

7.  The Tribe of Newt (David Weigel) from Slate
"As a Democrat, he was blissed out. ... Who were these crazy people? They were Gingrich voters, Frankensteins stitched together from the parts of other, extinct conservatives. ... Gingrich was saying that all criticism of Republicans from the media should be suspect. ... Romney, who recites America the Beautiful in his campaign speeches, didn’t convince them that he hated “the elites.” Gingrich did. He’d outdebate Obama because he didn’t accept the notion that Obama was a competent, eloquent president. They didn’t accept it, either. "

8.  Newt Gingrich Wins. What It Means (Erik Erikson) from 
"Newt Gingrich’s rise has a lot to do with Newt Gingrich’s debate performance. But it has just as much to do with a party base in revolt against its thought and party leaders in Washington, DC. The base is revolting because they swept the GOP back into relevance in Washington just under two years ago and they have been thanked with contempt ever since. ... Sure, he’d probably be an erratic President, but right now Republican voters don’t care about his Presidency. They care about the fight with the left both Mitt Romney, and the Washington Republican leaders like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell don’t seem inclined to engage in."

9.  Is Newt Nuts? (Jacob Weisberg) from Slate
"Consider the symptoms: Bouts of grandiosity, megalomania, irritability, impulsiveness, spending sprees …"
As I noted yesterday, the Reid Report is looking at the same topic HERE.  That article is based on a 1995 Vanity Fair article which can be found HERE.

10.  African American Women See their Own Challenges Mirrored in Michelle Obama’s ( Krissah Thompson and Vanessa Williams)  from the Washington Post 
"“She is mainstreaming to the world what a lot of us already know about ourselves,” says Dacenta Grice, a 37-year-old black woman who works as a physician assistant in Atlanta. “She reinforces the reality that so many of us live. She is a black woman who just seems fantastic in her own right, who just seems like every day people and is relatable.”"

Now -- to today's news nuggets for Sunday, January 29.

Egypt's Revolt and the American Model (Ed Husain) from the Council on Foreign Relations
"The Arab revolutionaries did not look to China or Russia for a model of government. They looked to four-year presidential terms, inspired directly by American democracy."

Made in the World (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"There is a big gap in how C.E.O.’s and political leaders look at the world."

Davos and Disconnected Elites (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"As the “best and brightest” from the developing world plug into the global grid, they inevitably unplug from their local political, business and cultural networks. It’s a subtler version of what used to be called the “brain drain.” The entrepreneurs keep their businesses at home, where they are making their money, but they and their children join the global elite in a web of Four Seasons hotels and Ivy League tuition bills."

Winners and Losers of the Defense Budget (Robert Haddick) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Who benefits from the Pentagon's Rumsfeldian shift toward technology and special ops?"

Should Obama Brag About GM? Absolutely (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic
"... everybody who follows the industry also acknowledges that the entire domestic industry – not just GM and Chrysler, but possibly Ford and the massive, sprawling network of parts makers that supply the companies – could have collapsed if Obama hadn’t acted."

Gay Marriage Moving Forward Around the Country (Abby Rapoport) from the American Prospect
"It's not just Washington state. Maryland, Maine and New Jersey are also home to new initiatives for gay marriage."

All Stirred Up: Look for a Lot of New Faces in the House Next Year, Regardless of Which Party Gains Seats (Charlie Cook) from the National Journal
"The states have completed approximately two-thirds of their decennial redistricting. The remap itself looks like a partisan wash. But neutral doesn’t mean calm. Consider the following five developments—as a certain cast member of the Jersey Shore might say, “We have a situation.”"

‘Family Values’ Still Matter — When it’s the Other Party’s Indiscretions (Melinda Henneberger) from the Washington Post
"Ask a Republican about Gingrich’s history of philandering, and the odds are excellent that the next sentence you hear will include the words “Bill Clinton.”"

As Florida Race Turns Personal, GOP Insiders Fear for Party Unity from The Hill
"Gone from the race in Florida are the long-winded outlines of their plans to create jobs, cut the national debt and pull homeowners out of foreclosure. Gone are the policy-based condemnations of who is too moderate or whose tax plan too unrealistic. They’ve been replaced by attacks that would make a kindergarten teacher call a foul: Gingrich says Romney is a liar; Romney says Gingrich is a failure."

It's Not About Newt  (Joseph M. Koenig) from the American Thinker
"The fact that such an audience, and surely millions of viewers at home, felt such elation, such euphoric relief, that they were prompted to offer not one, but multiple standing ovations to a political candidate,
demonstrates the utter paucity of spirit and lack of understanding so glaringly obvious in the GOP political elite."

Newt’s Real Legacy (Gail Collins) from the New York Times
"... actually, when you’re talking about 1) Committing adultery, 2) Divorcing your wife while she’s sick to marry your mistress, 3) Committing adultery, 4) Allegedly asking your wife to let you keep the mistress on the side and 5) Divorcing your wife while she’s sick to marry your mistress ... it’s pretty clear everybody doesn’t do it."

Gingrich’s GOP Revolution of the ’90s Looks Different from Today’s House from the Washington Post
"Former speaker is criticized for his top-down style, but it may be more effective than current approach."

A Designer of Perfect Homes No One Can Live In from Salon
open the new, expanded edition of Diedricksen’s book, “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts, and Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here!” (out Feb. 1 from Lyons Press), and you’ll see this backyard architect’s inventive micro-homes through an entirely different, more exciting artistic lens."

How Gossip Became History: Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram (Brad Gooch) from the Daily Beast
"From Gore Vidal to Tony Kushner, a new book, Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram, traces the history of America gay writers as they emerged from the literary closet. Brad Gooch on how gossip became history. Plus, a gallery of the most famous."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

News Nuggets 865

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Samaritan woman in a fruit sukkah in Nablus on the West Bank.  From the National Geographic.  

How the GOP Awakened Obama (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest 
"Then came the budget battle over raising the debt ceiling. ... The upshot is that since then, Obama has been reinvigorated. The GOP, to put it another way, awakened a slumbering giant. Obama's State of the Union address signaled that he is uninterested in compromise. ... So far, Obama has every reason to believe that his fortunes have decisively turned for the better."

Crushing the Radical Axis (Benedetta Berti, Yoel Guzansky) from the National Interest
"The alliance of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas has been dealt a blow by the Arab Spring. Will it prove fatal?"

Five Myths About China’s Power (Minxin Pei) from the Washington Post 
"Many ask how China has grown so much so fast, whether the Communist Party can stay in power and what Beijing’s expanding global influence means for the rest of us. But to understand China’s new role on the world stage, it helps to rethink several misconceptions that dominate Western thinking: 1. China’s rise is marginalizing American influence in Asia. ..."

German Angst as U.S. Troops Bid "Auf Wiedersehen" (Alexandra Hudson) from Real Clear World
" News that the 172nd infantry brigade, with its 3,500 soldiers and 8,000 family members, is being pulled from Grafenwoehr to return to the United States has hit this town hard. After 67 years of living together, locals in Bavaria say the Americans are not just their employers and customers, but also close friends."

Corruption Scandal Rocks Vatican, Whistle Blower Archbishop Vigano Was Transferred Against His Will from the Huffington Post
"The Vatican was shaken by a corruption scandal Thursday after an Italian television investigation said a former top official had been transferred against his will after complaining about irregularities in awarding contracts."

America’s Permanent Dead Zones from Salon
"As other parts of the nation recover, certain communities from Dodge City to Durango remain in persistent decline."

Unlikely Support for an Argument by Obama (Mark Landler) from the New York Times
"Written by a Mitt Romney adviser, the book, “The World America Made,” argues that American decline is a myth."

First Thoughts: Romney Owned Gingrich, But Problems Linger: NBC/WSJ Poll… All Three Republicans Negative (Chuck Todd et al.,) from MSNBC
"The most important item in the NBC/WSJ poll was that all three Republican candidates are a net-negative when it comes to favorability. ...  The primary has done damage to Romney. He cannot afford a long primary. ... George W. Bush, John McCain, and Bob Dole were all in primary fights and ALL were a net-POSITIVE at this time in the election cycle. In the past 20 years in the poll, no one who went on to be the major party nominee of either party with a net-negative at this point - except John Kerry, and we all know how that turned out."

Smoke Gets in Mitt’s Guise (Michael Graham) from the Boston Herald 
"After the electoral fiascoes of ’06 and ’08, it wasn’t the Washington GOP that turned things around. It was the conservative base and the Tea Party. They helped elect Sen. Scott Brown here and handed the House back to the GOP. And now party bosses wonder why the base refuses to take our “Mitt medicine” and do as we’re told. Maybe it’s because we’re tired of losing. That’s the real message Republican voters are trying to send. No more losing politely with some moderate squishy candidate who cares more about what East Coast elites think of him than conservative voters do."

Newt Gingrich Under Fire From Conservative Media from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"Forget the so-called liberal media. Right now Newt Gingrich's most ardent critics are conservative pundits and columnists, many of whom have launched aggressive campaigns to discredit him and trip up his run for the Republican nomination."

The GOP Empire Strikes Back at Gingrich (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
" The revenge of the Republican establishment is a sight to behold. From one corner to another, those who have tangled with Newt Gingrich, who feel aggrieved toward Newt Gingrich or who fear Newt Gingrich have amassed to stop him. They know how much harder it will be to do so if the former House speaker wins Florida on Tuesday."

And We Should Hate Newt Gingrich for This? (Erik Erikson) from
"The fix is in for Romney, which just means when he is crushed by Barack Obama a lot of Republicans will have a lot of explaining to do."

For Newt, ‘World War III’ Is Just the Beginning (Spencer Ackerman) from Wired Magazine
"Newt Gingrich doesn’t just want to lay waste to his political enemies and a large part of the news media. The former House speaker and presidential hopeful wants to bomb a significant part of the planet, too."

Is Newt Nuts? (Jacob Weisberg) from Slate
"Consider the symptoms: Bouts of grandiosity, megalomania, irritability, impulsiveness, spending sprees …"
The Reid Report is looking at the same topic HERE.  That article is based on a 1995 Vanity Fair article which can be found HERE.

Sarah Palin: Newt Gingrich's Secret Weapon from Politico
"Newt Gingrich has a new unofficial campaign surrogate and her name is Sarah Palin. As the 2008 veep nominee sees it, Gingrich is getting a raw deal from the national media and conservative elite, the very same forces who conspired against her when she was on the national ticket."
Somehow it seems perfectly logical that Palin would run to Gingrich's defense.  If she really threw in her lot with Gingrich in attacking the "GOP" establishment, the divisive damage the two could do would be enormous!

President John Tyler’s Grandson Says Newt Gingrich is a 'Jerk' from Politico
We posted the amazing story the other day about Tyler's still-living grandchildren!
"President John Tyler’s grandson Harrison Tyler, 84, says he’s not impressed with the state of politics today and particularly thinks Newt Gingrich is a “big jerk” for his three marriages."

She's a Wallflower! Artist 'Disappears' by Painting Her Body to Match the Colorful Backdrop (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
The pictures are quite amazing!
"At first glance, Cecilia Paredes' artwork just looks like pictures of particularly colourful wallpaper. But look a little closer and the bold, floral images start to take on a human form. The Peruvian artist
experiments with her own body by painting designs on herself to blend into various backgrounds."

Friday, January 27, 2012

News Nuggets 864

DAYLEE PICTURE: An appropriate image given the tenor of the GOP primaries.  An unhappy young wild tiger being transported for medical treatment in Africa. From National Geographic.

Obama's State of the Union Rallies his Troops (Bill Schneider) from Politico
"In a “prebuttal” delivered hours before President Barack Obama’s spoke on Tuesday night, Romney said, “It is shameful for a president to use the State of the Union to divide our nation.” There was only one problem. He didn’t. The president did talk about fairness. He even demanded that millionaires pay higher taxes. But he found a way to do it that wasn’t divisive. He used the image of all Americans fighting together as a team."

State of the Union: Greed is Good? The GOP Seems to be Okay with That (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"If you heard a loud “gulp” Tuesday night after President Obama’s State of the Union address, it probably came from Republican political strategists as they realized their party’s odds of capturing the White House this fall are getting longer. Obama may be no Ronald Reagan, but he’s no Jimmy Carter, either."

Confident Obama Struts his Stuff from The Hill
"Both public appearances illustrate the assuredness and moxie the president has exhibited in his quest for another term. They also highlight a stark contrast with Mitt Romney, who has appeared unconfident and downright clunky in recent weeks, as he has dealt with a series of missteps having to do with his wealth and income tax filings."

Obama Wins in Global Poll Showing Investors Resist Gingrich from Bloomberg News Service
"As U.S. growth strengthens, global investors are warming to Obama’s economic stewardship, with 40 percent of them optimistic about the impact of his policies on the business climate, up from 30 percent who said so just seven weeks ago."

Maine Poised For Second Public Vote On Gay Marriage from the Huffington Post
"Gay rights activists in Maine, the only New England state that doesn't allow gay marriage or civil unions, said Thursday that they are forging ahead with plans to put the marriage question up to a second statewide vote."

The GOP primary battle dominated the rest of the analysis today!
Florida GOP Debate: 7 Takeaways from Politico
"Gingrich and Mitt Romney were supposed to be the main attractions, but Rick Santorum and Ron Paul won notice at the 19th GOP debate, hosted by CNN at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Below are POLITICO’s seven takeaways:"

Why the GOP Race Could be Irrelevant (Steve Kornacki) from Salon
"While the Mitt and Newt show rolls on, Obama is enjoying some of the best news and best poll numbers of his term."

GOP Frets Over Light Agenda from Politico
"Staring nervously at a high unemployment rate, with the November elections around the corner, GOP lawmakers are concerned that what their leadership is revealing for this year’s work is simply not enough."

GOP Candidates Are Wrong to Urge a Second Front War in Iran (Bruce Riedel) from the Daily Beast
"Obama is catching heat for not doubling down on Iran and Afghanistan at the same time, but if he is wise he will heed Lincoln’s advice to fight ‘one war at a time.’

Kornacki gets a two-fer today:
The Trouble with Being the Swiss Bank Account Guy (Steve Kornacki) from Salon
"The income gap that’s haunted Mitt in the GOP race could be a serious election problem – if he gets that far."

Obama Team Sees Romney Damaging Self with Independents for Fall Campaign (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"A new Washington Post-ABC News poll highlights the damage Romney has sustained. By a margin of more than 2 to 1, independent voters have an unfavorable impression of the former governor. Two weeks ago, more independents had a favorable opinion of him than an unfavorable view."

Tea Party vs. Cocktail Party in Fla. (Jonathan Martin) from Politico 
"As the Republican race moves to a state defined by the extremes in recession-era America — where the underwater and unemployed live just a few miles from the 1 percent — a sharp class divide is emerging between the two top contenders."

On Gingrich: Deconstructing a Demagogue (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"Newt Gingrich has perfected the politics of personal destruction."

On Politics: Gingrich Insurgency Tests Party's Old Guard from the New York Times
"In an era when party leaders are ceding power to grass-roots conservatives who are defined by populism and often anger at institutions, it is not clear that there is a meaningful Republican establishment any longer."

Newt’s No-win Political Appeal (Stave Lyons) from Salon
"The neo-Confederate wing of the GOP cares more about humiliating Obama than about beating him in November."

Gingrich Winning the Crowd Race in Florida from the New York Times  
"Polls show Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich tied in Florida, but in terms of the crowds at rallies Mr. Gingrich is crushing his opponent."

The Right Drops a Bomb on Newt (Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen) from Politico 
"Newt Gingrich better hope voters who lapped up his delicious hits on the “elite media” and liberals don’t read the Drudge Report this morning. Or the National Review. Or the American Spectator. Or Ann Coulter. If they do, Gingrich comes off looking like a dangerous, anti-Reagan, Clintonian fraud. It’s as if the conservative media over the past 24 hours decided Gingrich is for real, and they need to come clean about the man they really know before it’s too late. This is just a sampling of what’s hitting Newt:"

Dole vs. Gingrich: The GOP Empire Strikes Back (Major Garrett) from the National Journal
"The Republican establishment mobilizes to prevent the nomination of Newt."

Newt Gingrich Gets Angry Again in Florida (Lois Romano) from the Daily Beast
"With Florida’s high-stakes primary closing in, Gingrich barnstormed the state with harsh new attacks against the ‘grotesquely hypocritical’ Mitt Romney. Lois Romano reports."

Newt Gingrich Launches Furious Attacks Against Mitt Romney in Florida Speech (Amy Gardner) from the Washington Post
"Newt Gingrich stirred a huge tea party crowd in this central Florida town Thursday by accusing Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment of slinging “mud” and “junk” because “they’re against change in Washington.” Using the word “stupid” at least a dozen times to describe how Romney views voters, Gingrich said his rival’s negative ads about Gingrich’s consulting work for the mortgage giant Freddie Mac are dishonest and hypocritical — and represent a desperate attempt by the establishment to block Gingrich’s campaign."
YEAH MAN!! You tell'em!!  DON'T you let them push you around!  YOU get a big handful of mud and you get back in there and you LET'EM HAVE IT!!  Oh--and by the way, you can go MUCH FURTHER than the word 'stupid.'  Bring that well-earned PhD vocabulary to bear. Use some of those ten-dollar words like 'craven' or 'criminous' ...

To the Moon, Callista! Newt Gingrich Promises Lunar Colony by 2020 (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"Returning to a favorite subject over the years, Gingrich inadvertently reveals how little he's interested in real, rational problem-solving."

Newt's Secret Florida Weapon: Marco Rubio's 2010 Campaign Manager (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"The fault lines of the 2010 primary campaign show signs of persisting in Florida, where Gingrich, like Rubio, draws support from Tea Party voters, social conservatives, and party activists."

Re-Elect Obama! Vote Newt (Ann Coulter) from
I think this is Ann Coulter's FIRST ever listing here at Daylee News Nuggets.
"Newtons claim Romney is a "moderate," and Gingrich the true conservative -- a feat that can be accomplished only by refusing to believe anything Romney says ... and also refusing to believe anything Gingrich says. "

Florida's Rubio a Star, but an Unlikely VP Pick from Reuters
" Rubio may not be as coveted as Gingrich or Romney would have it appear as they press for votes in Florida, where more than 450,000 Hispanics identify themselves as Republicans. Despite his reputation as a watchdog over federal spending, Rubio, 40, has had significant financial problems that could keep him from passing any vetting process as a potential vice presidential choice, Republican and Democratic strategists say."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

News Nuggets 863

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Leopard Prince orchid at the Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA near Philadelphia.

Supremely Irrelevant: Iran Tried to Take Advantage of the Arab Spring. It Failed, Miserably (Colin Kahl) from Foreign Policy Magazine
The reaction in Tahrir Square represented a sign of things to come. Iran has tried to exploit events, but the winds of political change have not blown in Tehran's favor."

Poll: High Marks for Obama's State of the Union Speech from CBS News 
"According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president's address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved."
WOW.  Ninety-one percent!!  It just goes to show that Bill Clinton's approach to the SOTU address was probably correct: a long, rigorously poll-tested laundry list of accomplishments will trump soaring rhetoric and some big vision statements EVERY TIME.  I personally hate the tedious enumeration, the posturing from the Congress, and the manipulative "showcasing" of some notable "average person of the moment" in the gallery.  But then, clearly, this is an event where genuinely average voters seem to eat it up!

Senate Democrats Plan To Put Republicans On The Wrong Side Of The Middle Class from Talking Points Memo
"Senate Democrats are preparing an aggressive legislative agenda to complement the vision President Obama outlined in his State of the Union Address. The goal is to test the idea that the public supports an agenda of aggressive federal action on behalf of the middle class, and that Republicans are locked in a pattern of reactionary opposition, even to popular policies."

Kornacki: Boehner ‘Entirely at the Mercy’ of the Tea Party from Raw Story 
"“We’ve already seen the situation that John Boehner is in as House Speaker,” Kornacki said on Countdown. “He really is the most weak House Speaker that we have seen in decades, almost ever, because he is entirely at the mercy of the House Republican caucus that believes any form of cooperation, any form of compromise with Barack Obama is a sellout of conservative principles.”"

The GOP Goes MAD: The Candidates Go Thermonuclear, but the Party Itself May Get Hit (Daniel Henninger) from the Wall Street Journal
"For nearly three decades, the American and Soviet nuclear arsenals cohabitated uneasily inside a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction without blowing each other up. MAD was insane, but the players were not. Campaigning politicians operate under no such rational constraint. We are hours away from the second Florida primary debate in which Newt Gingrich will give Mitt Romney a lesson in massive retaliation for the governor's Gatling-gun attack on the speaker last Monday night. Traditionalists will dismiss the idea that the GOP is in the process of blowing itself up. Campaign politics has always been about the rough and tumble, old boy. It was ever thus. Thus is over."
"Massive retaliation..." -- oh yeah.  I'll believe it when I see it.  Newt didn't help himself with his "base on the moon" idiocy yesterday.  

Obama Team Counting on Weakened Romney (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post 
"The president’s political advisers, still struggling to win over independents, see the Republican crippled by a major strategic mistake."

Rush Limbaugh: Resentment, Cultural Insecurity Fueled Gingrich's Rise (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
Friedersdorf is on a ROLL!!  His analysis of the S.C. electorate and their support for Gigrich has been DEAD ON!
"In his telling, Gingrich's victory is rooted in the cultural insecurity and resentment of conservative Republicans. The only difference between his analysis and the folks I've quoted is that he regards this
emotionalism as unproblematic and justified. ... Limbaugh may think this victim complex, and the desire for revenge and emotional catharsis it creates, is justified. He is nevertheless admitting that the behavior of the conservative base isn't grounded in principle or patriotism or a desire to advance conservative policy."

The State of the Union Address: After Some Sleep (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
" I think my reaction to the SOTU reflects a skewed perspective - much different than most people tuning in, who were the speech's core audience. A big part of the speech was reminding Americans of the facts about Obama's record - as opposed to the massive lies and distortions we keep hearing in the GOP debates. That's new to many; and it's impressive."

Don't Let Conservatives Blame Mitt Romney for Their Woes (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"Whatever one thinks of Romney, no one forced Republicans to make him their frontrunner. Guys like Steyn are loath to say anything critical about the Tea Party or movement conservatism's rank-and-file, but that wing of the GOP coalition's spectacular failure to produce a viable candidate cannot go forever ignored. The frivolity of the campaign has been determined by the pathologies of the conservative movement much more than the individual failings of Romney."

A Vote for Newt is a Vote for... from the Economist [of London]
Again -- a dead on assessment of the hard-right GOP voter!
"Mr Gingrich's bristling retort to Juan Williams about race and his ferocious attack on John King's question about his ex-wife's allegations amounted to a sort of fantasy-fulfillment for many white, conservative Christians aggrieved by the erosion of their cultural dominance. Mr Gingrich took what indignant conservatives yell at their televisions, dressed it up in soaring rhetoric, and barked it at the business end of the TV camera. "Screw you and your superior P.C. bullshit, Juan Williams! Screw you and your sleazy anti-conservative, character-assassinating 'journalism', John King. You 'elites' are not better than us. This is our country, not yours. Our values set the standard, not yours." To all this, South Carolina's Republicans said "Woooo!""

Obama’s ‘Built to Blast’ Speech (Matt Miller) from Washington Post  
"In reality, the speech was built to blast. To blast Mitt Romney, that is."

Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation Poll: Mitt Romney Won't Like These Poll Results (David Nir) from Daily Kos
"Q: Which of the following statements do you agree with more: 'Mitt Romney has strong principles' or 'Mitt Romney will say anything he has to to get elected'?  Has strong principles: 26  Will say anything: 61  Unsure: 12"

Newt Slams Romney's 'World of Swiss Bank Accounts' from Politico
Boy -- that didn't take long! As I said yesterday, negative messaging about Swiss bank accounts in the current political environment is a complete no-brainer.
""You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and making $20 million for no work, to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said."

Gingrich Has Repeatedly Sold Out the Right (Jennifer Rubin) from the Washington Post
"Why the right would consider Gingrich to be the savior of consistent conservatism is a mystery to me. And anyone who thinks Gingrich would suddenly be gripped by ideological devotion rather than personal expediency once in office doesn’t know with whom they are dealing. Just as he sold Reagan out on the contras, tried to bully conservatives on spending, dissed capitalism and, let’s not forget, pummeled the best conservative Medicare reform idea (Paul Ryan’s) in a generation, he would once again sell out the right in a heartbeat. He always does."

TX-GOV: Battered And Bruised, Perry Returns To Texas (Wade Goodwyn) from NPR's All Things Considered
"The crux of Perry's problem is that he came across as not being very smart. And it certainly doesn't help Texas' image and obviously, this made a pretty negative impact on the folks back home."

Former President John Tyler’s (1790-1862) Grandchildren Still Alive from Yahoo News
"Former President John Tyler, born 221 years ago, still has two living grandchildren. The one-term president isn't a well-known historical figure; he's probably best remembered for helping to push through the annexation of Texas in 1845, shortly before leaving office."

Start Early To Curb Heart Risks For A Lifetime (Patty Neighmond) from NPR's All Things Considered
""If at age 45 you have two or more of either elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes or smoking, and you're a man, then there's a 50-50 proposition that you will have a heart attack or a stroke during your remaining lifespan," cardiologist Donald Lloyd-Jones, who headed the study at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Women with two risk factors have about a 30 percent chance. ...  Nonsmokers who make it to middle age with normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar have almost no risk of heart disease. "Our data suggested that for a 45-year-old man the likelihood that he would have a heart or stroke by 80 was only 1.4 percent," Lloyd-Jones says."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

News Nuggets 862

DAYLEE PICTURE: AMAZING images of northern lights caused by intense solar flares over the last 24 hours.  See more pictures at the end of today's post.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

We have several stories that I've posted recently that deserve more attention:
(1) Blame the GOP Establishment for the Rise of Gingrich (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
I posted this yesterday based on a quick read of the first paragraphs. The WHOLE article is full of great analysis.  Just an example:
"What a political movement gets when it spends years marshaling more demagoguery than sound arguments against its opponents, what it gets when its intellectuals are deposed by its entertainers, what it gets when Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh are its agenda-setting personalities; what it gets when all these factors and more prevail, is a Newt Gingrich victory in South Carolina, where the voters, having been trained to elevate emotion and style over substance, didn't even realize that they've chosen as their champion a man who is neither conservative nor capable of leading anyone."
In addition to this piece, Friedersdorf has followed with some further commentary HERE and HERE.

(2) Why it’s China’s Turn to Worry about Manufacturing (Vivek Wadhwa) from the Washington Post
This story has more to do with the direction technology is going and presents a fascinating picture of the US's economic future!
"New technologies will likely cause the same hollowing out of China’s manufacturing industry over the next two decades that the U.S experienced over the past twenty years. ... there are three exponentially accelerating technologies—artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital manufacturing—that will reshape the competitive landscape for manufacturing. Specifically, these technologies will make manufacturing more creative, less expensive, more local and more personal."

(3) From Gingrich To Palin To Gingrich (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast 
As with the Friedersdorf, this column is filled with a clear-eyed assessment of where GOP "elites" have created their own monsters.
"... the concept of a responsible, sane, pragmatic party leadership able to corral or coax or manage a party's base is, it seems to me, a preposterous fiction on its face, as we are seeing. The Republican Establishment is Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, and their mainfold products, from Hannity to Levin. ... They have never quite reconciled themselves to Romney since he represents a gray blur in a stark Manichean universe they have created for more than a decade now. ... There is only them and us. Anyone who diverges an iota from this schematic is speaking without a microphone in front of a revving airplane engine."

Now -- today's regular nuggets!!
Biggest Political News of the Day: Confidence in the Economy (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic
"Once again, today's biggest political news isn't about the Republican candidates or the President, even though the former are battling in Florida and the latter is about to give the State of the Union address. It's the latest Gallup survey, which shows economic confidence has risen sharply since August and is now at levels not seen since May."

Obama To Announce Mortgage Crisis Unit Chaired By New York Attorney General Schneiderman (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post
"During his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama will announce the creation of a special unit to investigate misconduct and illegalities that contributed to both the financial collapse and the mortgage crisis."

It's the Insurgents vs. Establishment in the GOP (Gerald Seib) from the Wall Street Journal
"Mitt Romney, welcome to John Boehner's world. Both men—one the presidential candidate just stung in South Carolina, the other the speaker of the House—are fairly conventional leaders attempting to ride herd on a restless Republican Party that seems more interested in insurgent leaders. Let's just say they are having limited success.  That's the real lesson of South Carolina's Saturday primary..."

The Republican Base Simply Does Not Like Mitt Romney & Why The Press Rarely Reports It (Erik Erikson) from
"Mitt Romney who no one much cares for outside of well paid consultants, lobbyists, and First Class Acela Express Republicans in Washington and New York is going to drive up his own negatives to make Newt Gingrich more toxic to the base than himself. "

A similar view from the right-wing punditry:
Why Newt Could Win the Nomination (Michael Walsh) from the National Review 
"The problem with Romney, it seems to me, is that not only is he the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, politically ill-wind speaking, he has no natural constituency ,,, Newt’s inoculated himself against further Super PAC attack ads and renegade ex-wives, it’s unlikely that Romney can carpet-bomb him as effectively as he did in Iowa. Newt’s now like one of those nuked Japanese film creatures that not only was not destroyed but is back, bigger, badder and more cheesed off than ever.  To whom does Romney really appeal?"

Public Sours on Romney in January (Jon Cohen) from the Washington Post 
"The number of Americans with negative views of Mitt Romney has spiked in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, compounding the former Massachusetts governor’s challenges as he tries to rally from Saturday’s big loss in South Carolina. Among independents, Romney’s unfavorable rating now tops 50 percent — albeit by a single point — a first in Post-ABC polling back to 2006."

Swiss Mitt (Reid Wilson) from the National Journal
"Mitt Romney had a Swiss bank account. You're welcome, Democratic National Committee. ... Romney handed Democratic opposition researchers a trove of new data that will surely show up in attack ads this fall, if he's lucky enough to be the GOP nominee."
THIS is one of the key reasons Romney didn't want to disclose his taxes. Even the most moronic spin meister can weave this into political gold: "Romney's been hiding his assets in Swiss bank accounts -- just like ex-dictators and drug kingpins."  You can see the ads now.

Mitt Romney's Attacks Only Help Newt Gingrich (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"As Newt surfs Tea Party sentiment, Mitt's negative messaging in Florida serves merely to boost Gingrich's insurgent credentials."
I SUSPECT that this is true -- and we'll see next week.

Andrea Mitchell: "Top Romney Advisor" Said "Party Elites" Will Find Alternative If Mitt Loses Florida from
""I talked to a top Romney adviser tonight who said, 'Look, if Mitt Romney can not win here in Florida then we're going to have to try to reinvent the smoke-filled room which has been democratized by all these primaries. And we're going to have try to come with someone as an alternative to Newt Gingrich..."
IF TRUE, this "top advisor" gives some hint as to why the Romney campaign is failing so badly to connect with GOP voters: any late entry orchestrated by the GOP establishment would play right into the angry victimization meme that is fueling Gingrich's campaign in the first place. Clearly Gingrich is a MASTER of this rhetorical landscape.  Moreover, why is a top ROMNEY advisor saying this?!  To even suggest this is to admit your campaign is already in deep trouble.  I cannot see any scenario where Romney would drop out - no matter how badly he might lose in Florida or anywhere else.  So why is this campaign "insider" even going there?

The GOP Deserves to Lose (Bret Stephens) from the Wall Street Journal   
A brutal (and largely accurate) critique of the GOP field.  But also without doubt the most vicious back-handed attack on a candidate spouse I've ever read in a supposedly top-tier newspaper.
"Voters instinctively prefer the idea of an entertaining Newt-Obama contest—the aspiring Caesar versus the failed Redeemer—over a dreary Mitt-Obama one. The problem is that voters also know that Gaius Gingrich is liable to deliver his prime-time speeches in purple toga while holding tight to darling Messalina's—sorry, Callista's—bejeweled fingers."
Don't get it?  Look up Messalina (3rd wife of Roman Emperor Claudius). Maybe I'm missing something here, but as far as I can see, Stephens just called Calista (to put it politely) a sexually voracious prostitute.  Now -- as many readers here already know, there is quite a bit I don't care for about Calista.  But as far as I can see, she has done nothing that even remotely warrants this characterization!  Moreover, THIS kind of too-cute-by-half, hiding-a-gutter-comment-in-an-obscure-reference is cowardly, smarmy, and (in its content) vaguely misogynistic.  I've never heard of Stephens, the author -- but that the WSJ editorial board would give this line  the green light suggests that Rupert Murdoch has perhaps had more of an impact of the Journal's editorial policies than I had suspected.  It also further suggests that the GOP "establishment" really is going to throw everything they can at Gingrich to stop his candidacy!

Gingrich is Obama’s Best Surrogate (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post 
"The most important figure in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address wasn’t on the House floor. In fact, he hasn’t taken a seat in front of the chamber in 13 years. But as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination in Florida, former House speaker Newt Gingrich was doing more to boost President Obama’s reelection prospects than anything Obama himself could do."

Will GOP Risk Goldwater II With Gingrich in 2012? (Stuart Rothenberg) from Roll Call
"In 1964, an angry Republican Party nominated conservative Barry Goldwater for president. Eight years later, Democrats rallied behind George McGovern, an unapologetic liberal. In each case, the parties embraced what they thought were truth-tellers who reflected their core values. And, of course, both candidates lost badly."

The Gusts of Gingrich (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
"The candidate hasn’t grown careful, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting him."

Newton Leroy Gingrich: America's 'Hypocritical Moralizing Apostle' (Editorial) from Nachrichten [of Austria in English]
"Far-right Republicans see in Gingrich a mirror image of themselves: a retro-party led by angry White men, whose frustration with the challenges of globalization has erupted into resentment. Gingrich understands this sentiment better than anyone. And he uses it in the worst way."

You Can Thank The Supreme Court For Newt Gingrich’s Extended Campaign from Talking Points Memo
"Were this 2008, that probably would have been the end of the line for Gingrich: he wouldn’t have had the cash to run any ads in the early primary states. But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — which celebrated its two-year anniversary over the weekend — gave life to “independent expenditure” political action committees closely tied to political campaigns, letting Gingrich’s broke campaign carry on with a little help from Newt’s pal Mr. Adelson."
It's good to hear this. The only way Citizens United will get struck down in the short term is if GOP politicos and/or voters perceive it as damaging to THEM.  And there is increasing evidence that at least some are beginning to see it in this light.  Maybe a decisive Gingrich win in the primaries and his corresponding defeat in the general election could create some momentum in that direction.

The GOP’s Unemployment Trap (Andrew Leonard) from Salon
"Romney and Gingrich aren't talking about unemployment for a reason: Because they don't have any solutions."

The Story of Washington’s Cherry Blossoms (Ichiro Fujisaki) from the Washington Post
"This spring will mark the 100th anniversary of the chilly day in late March 1912 when two women in heavy coats dug into the earth along the north edge of the Tidal Basin to plant saplings. First lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Iwa Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador to the United States, were joined by just a few people as they helped cherry blossom trees from half a world away take root in the nation’s capital."

African American Women See Their Own Challenges Mirrored in Michelle Obama’s ( Krissah Thompson and Vanessa Williams)  from the Washington Post 
"“She is mainstreaming to the world what a lot of us already know about ourselves,” says Dacenta Grice, a 37-year-old black woman who works as a physician assistant in Atlanta. “She reinforces the reality that so many of us live. She is a black woman who just seems fantastic in her own right, who just seems like every day people and is relatable.”"

The Midnight Phoenix Rises: Biggest Solar Storms for Six Years Create Spectacular Northern Lights (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]  
The video that goes with this story is incredible! Also see the pictures below.
"The Northern Lights have lit up the skies above Scotland, Canada and Norway after the biggest solar storm in more than six years bombarded Earth with radiation. The Canadian Space Agency posted a geomagnetic storm warning on Tuesday after residents were also treated to a spectacular show in the night sky."