Monday, March 19, 2012

News Nuggets 916

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Peacock Tree Frog during a night time rain in Tanzania.  From National Geographic.

Bin Laden: A Lion in Winter (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"What’s riveting about the documents taken from Osama bin Laden’s compound, beyond the headline items about plots to kill American leaders, is the way they allow the reader to get inside the terrorist mastermind’s head."

A Gift of True Communion at My Mother’s Catholic Funeral (Anne Monahan) from the Washington Post
"As my mother’s congestive heart failure approached its end stage, she and Dad informed their pastor that they wanted me to participate “up front” at her funeral. When she told me that the priest had agreed, I cynically thought, “The Second Coming will arrive first.” But I said I would ask about funeral participation when the time came. ... "You can do anything you want,” Father responded. “Anything?” “Anything,” he repeated."
FINALLY -- a story about a Catholic priest whose heart and head are in the right place!!

Chevron Executives Barred from Leaving Brazil Over Spill from Reuters 
"Seventeen executives from Chevron and Transocean have been barred from leaving Brazil pending criminal charges related to a high-profile oil spill last November."
Oil executives being held responsible for spilling oil and creating a natural disaster? What a novel idea.

Health Care Reform: Why It's Safe from the Supreme Court (Mike Sacks) from the Huffington Post
"The battle this time is likely to be an intra-conservative conflict between the economic libertarianism underlying the mandate's challenge and the traditional principles of judicial restraint that have defined right-wing jurisprudence for more than a half-century."

Housing Ready to Rebound (Jonathan Laing) from Barron's
"... there are signs that the long nightmare for American homeowners is in its terminal stage, and that, maybe, just maybe, home prices will bottom and begin to turn by the spring of 2013—if not before."
I think he's wrong about housing but hope that he's right.

The Story of a Suicide: Two College Roommates, a Webcam, and a Tragedy (Ian Parker) from the New Yorker [from February]
With the verdict on Dharun Ravi, I have felt the desire to revisit some of the details of the case.  This is the best long-form examination I've found.  You so often hear about how there needs to be a big public debate about this or that controversial issue.  For cyber-bullying [as it comes out in this case], I think the country is going to have one of those big conversations.  This case is so saturated with tragedy, I think it will be hard to ignore.
"Dharun Ravi grew up in Plainsboro, New Jersey, in a large, modern house with wide expanses of wood flooring and a swimming pool out back. Assertive and athletic, he used “DHARUNISAWESOME” as a computer password and played on an Ultimate Frisbee team."

Mitt Romney Doesn't Have Enough Information To 'Take A Stand' On Afghanistan (Ryan Grim) from the Huffington Post
Romney says this:
"Said Romney: "[Obama] likewise failed in the way we left Iraq, and this is a president who simply does not have experience in tough situations, no negotiating or leadership experience [and more in this vein]."
But then there is this:
"More than a decade into the war in Afghanistan, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney does not have enough information to "take a stand" on whether troops should remain or continue to withdraw on the timetable set by President Obama.  "Before I take a stand, I want to get input [from military leaders] that are there," "
Do you think in 2008 Obama would have gotten away with this lame-a#$ response!? Within the hour, HRC and her team would have been all over this!  Are Romney's GOP rivals going to say anything?  Don't hold your breath. They don't want to get any closer to this topic than Romney has. As a related observation: frankly, I am rather surprised that Romney wasn't more prepared for this question. Read the whole article and Romney is actually all over the place on Afghanistan.  For the first time, I wonder if Romney really has anything close to the foreign policy chops that I had assumed.

Which brings me to this item:
McCain says Romney is 'Improving Dramatically' from Politico
""Obviously, Mitt Romney will tell you first of all, he's got to do a better job," the Republican senator said. "He's working on doing a better job. He's got to focus more on the economy. He’s been giving major speeches on the economy and jobs. And I think he is improving dramatically as a candidate.""
"Improving dramatically..."?  Oh, really?  I have actually been surprised at the extent to which (1) he has NOT improved as a candidate; and (2) he keeps making basically the same mistakes over and over.  It's very much an open question for me how much more capacity Romney has for real growth -- because he will NEED to be "bigger" and more adroit than he has shown so far if he's going to have any chance of winning in November.  One of the additional problems he faces (which I haven't really heard anyone mention yet) is the growing media consensus that Romney is not only not a real strong candidate but that he is (a) hapless; (b) inauthentic; and (c) so painfully disconnected from average voters that he, all of these things put together, comes off as (I don't know how else to say it) almost a pathetic figure.  Pity is rarely a quality a presidential candidate wants to excite in a voter.  What is most striking to me is that this consensus completely crosses the ideological spectrum.  From his harshest left-wing critics at Mother Jones to the mavens of MSM conventional media wisdom to the disenchanted right-wing talkers at, you hear consistent notes of ... pity for the GOP front-runner.  Now -- I say this confident that the election will be close and that Obama will have to bring his A-game to have any chance for a second term.  But, if I were on Mitt Romney's team right now, I'd be concerned about the basic memes that are emerging out there about my candidate.  Doubt what I'm saying?  Look at the next three stories from (respectively) the left, right, and center.

Is Elvis a Mormon? (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times
"There’s a certain pathos to Romney. His manner is so inauthentic, you can’t find him anywhere. Is he the guy he was on Wednesday or the guy he was on Thursday? He has the same problem that diminished the equally animatronic Al Gore. Gore kept mum on the one thing that made him come alive..."

Mitt Romney’s Lust for Presidency (Peter Galzinis) from the Boston Herald  
"Everything in the batch of emails unearthed from Mitt Romney’s time as governor tells us what we already knew: There isn’t a genuinely spontaneous bone anywhere in this guy’s body. It’s like searching for a soul in your computer’s hard drive."

Will Romney be the GOP's Dukakis? (Doyle McManus) from the Los Angeles Times
"Romney's beginning to look a bit like a Republican version of Dukakis: a Massachusetts governor who might win the nomination by outlasting weak opponents but who may never quite win his party's heart — or the nation's. That's partly because, as Dukakis did, Romney is selling himself as a better manager for the federal government, not as the leader of a grand crusade." He may prove the Republican Party's Massachusetts rule."

Capping off this trio, is this item.  Over the top in several places -- but the author makes some interesting points:
Sarah Palin's Legacy is Mitt Romney's Problem from Daily Kos
"If Palin were running in the primary election for president, there is no doubt that she would be winning it, probably handily. This, in a nutshell, is why Mitt Romney, the only plausibly qualified candidate running for president in the GOP, is having such a hard time winning what should be a cakewalk primary. This party is no longer the party of the country club or even of Ronald Reagan. This is a party unhinged from reality. This is the party of Palin."

More from McCain here:
McCain: GOP Needs To Give Up On Contraception from Talking Points Memo 
"The comments reflect deep unease that has settled in the GOP over their push for the Blunt Amendment to roll back the Obama administration’s birth control rule, which McCain and all but one Senate Republican voted for."

Missouri Caucuses Marked by Contention, with No Clear Victor Yet from the Kansas City Star
"Missouri Republicans met in more than 100 counties Saturday to begin picking their presidential nominee at party caucuses marked in some places by crowded rooms, loud disagreements — and no clear victor."
WHAT IS IT with the GOP caucusing this year!?  Have any of these state caucuses gone off without a hitch?! I can easily see both parties looking to dump them in 2016 -- they are simply way too squirrelly. 

No comments: