Tuesday, October 9, 2012

News Nuggets 1081

DAYLEE PICTURE: Dewdrops on a blade of grass in Trauchgau, Germany.  From the Atlantic.

The Currency of Power (Robert Zoellick) from Foreign Policy Magazine  
"Want to understand America's place in the world? Write economics back into the plan."

Defecting Iranian Cameraman Brings CIA Priceless Film of Secret Nuclear Sites from the Debkafile [of Israel in English]
“This is one of the CIA's most dramatic scoops in many years, and an epic disaster for Iran. One of Ahmadinejad's personal cameramen brought with him an intelligence treasure trove of photographs and videos of top leaders visiting their most sensitive, secret nuclear sites.”
Warning: Debkafile is one of the most interesting US-Israel National Security sites out there -- AND they occasionally jump the gun on their stories.  We'll see about this one.

Truth About Jobs (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"If anyone had doubts about the madness that has spread through a large part of the American political spectrum, the reaction to Friday's better-than expected report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics should have settled the issue. For the immediate response of many on the right — and we’re not just talking fringe figures — was to cry conspiracy."

Census Data: Number of Americans Without Health Insurance Falls Amid Middle Class Struggles from the Keystone Research Center
"New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week offer a mix of good and bad news. The share of Americans without health insurance declined by more than in any year since 1999, thanks largely to a number of provisions in the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, the data also illuminated how the middle class continues to struggle in the wake of the recession and the acceleration of income inequality."

Longtime Republicans Torn Between Party Loyalty and Obamacare (Elizabeth Cohen) from CNN
"Perhaps no other election has posed such a difficult personal decision for some conservatives: How do you vote if you're ideologically conservative, but you're benefiting, or stand to benefit, from the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as "Obamacare"?"

Regular readers know that over the last several years I have occasionally taken on getting informed through occasional primers on important topics (such as US Defense policy and cyber warfare).  Today (with the assist of a regular nuggets reader) I'm inaugurating a new primer series on the energy sector with special emphasis on the oil business.  Here are our first two entries:

1. U.S. Reliance on Oil From Saudi Arabia Is Growing Again from the New York Times
"This reversal is driven in part by the battle over Iran’s nuclear program. ... While prices have remained relatively stable, and Tehran’s treasury has been squeezed, the United States is left increasingly vulnerable to a region in turmoil."

2.  Shell’s Iced Arctic Project Shows Oil Independence Myth (Loren Steffy) from the Houston Chronicle
"Far from providing proof that America could be independent of foreign oil, Shell’s project reminds us of why we won’t be."

Obama Quickens Fundraising Pace from the Wall Street Journal
"President Barack Obama's $181 million fundraising haul in September is helping to calm Democrats who fear a deluge of negative ads from Republican super PACs and remain anxious after Mitt Romney's strong performance in last week's presidential debate."

Desperately Seeking the Real Obama (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post
"The search for the True Obama is the Holy Grail of the conservative movement. It is a quixotic quest, a fool’s errand, that induces a kind of delirium in the president’s critics.  ... This need to turn a political foe into the frightening “other” is a reaction against modernity — the permanent platform of the Republican Party. ... Remarkably, the man who gets the blame for all this is a dad out of a ’50s sitcom, a national security hawk who, in his personal qualities, is an insurance underwriter’s dream. Still, the right awaits the Freudian slip that will reveal Obama’s trueness, a lapse into possibly Russian or, worse, French."

30 Days Out: Fundamentals Still Favor Obama (Amy Walter) from ABC News 
"There's a new injury going around in political circles these days: it's called political whiplash. ... Fortunately, there is a cure for this. It involves focusing less on the minute by minute movements and more on the fundamentals. And, at this point, the fundamentals favor Obama."

Oct. 7: National Polls Show Signs of Settling (Nate Silver) from the New York Times
"Mitt Romney remains in a considerably stronger polling position than he was before last Wednesday’s debate in Denver. But the polls released on Sunday did not tell quite as optimistic a story for him as those in the debate’s immediate aftermath."

So Much for Romney's Post-Debate Bounce? (Josh Voorhees) from Slate 
"If you broke the data down further and compared only the three days before the debate to the three days following it, things looked even more promising for Romney: a 5-point Obama lead disappeared to leave the two men tied at 47 percent apiece. But Gallup's since updated its seven-day rolling average to include Sunday's polling, and what a difference a day makes. Obama's now back up five points, 50 percent to 45 percent."

Why There's No Liberal ‘Unskewed Polls’ (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Post
"... there’s simply no equivalent institutional support for smears and falsehoods of this kind within the much more rudimentary Democratic-aligned partisan press. Most liberals don’t get the bulk of their information through liberal talk shows and blogs; they use the neutral press and supplement it. Conservatives, however, have been warned for 40 years that they can’t trust the “liberal” media (never mind that academic studies generally show that the neutral press contains all sorts of institutional biases but not partisan biases). Nor do Democrats in responsible positions – members of Congress, for example – repeat the more crazy things that fringers might come up with.:"

How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party (Kevin Baker) from the New York Times
"The Republican Party is, more than ever before in its history, an anti-urban party, its support gleaned overwhelmingly from suburban and rural districts — especially in presidential elections. ... For
Republicans, cities became object lessons on the shortcomings of activist government and the welfare state — sinkholes of crime and social dysfunction, where Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens” cavorted in their Cadillacs. ... The national Republican Party still can’t get seem to get past its animus toward the very idea of urban life."

Mitt Romney's Delusional Foreign Policy (Michael Cohn) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Absent true policy differences, the Republican nominee's fantasy of American power reveals a fragile grasp of global realities. ... In Mitt Romney's worldview—in so much as one can detect one—the key to American power lies in some amorphous notion of US leadership disconnected from the extraordinary challenges of actually conducting foreign policy. Talking about leadership and resolve is easy—doing it is the hard part. This explains, more than any other reason, why Romney's policy prescriptions are so vague and meaningless. It's the yawning chasm between what American power can actually achieve and what a politician seeking to be president says it ought to be doing."

With Foreign Policy Speech, Romney Runs for Obama’s Second Term (Spencer Ackerman) from Wired Magazine
Here's one of the challenges Obama will face in Debate #2.
"The first debate stopped his slide in the polls. His speech might have the effect of reassuring voters that Romney won’t swerve wildly from a foreign policy they generally like. What might be galling for Obama is that he can fairly look at a lot of Romney’s speech and say: I built that."

Mitt Romney Spain Quip Adds To Foreign Policy Troubles from the Associated Press
"If Mitt Romney becomes president, he might need a crash course in Diplomacy 101. He irritated Britons and Palestinians during a summer tour abroad and has declared Russia to be America's No. 1 geopolitical foe. Just last week, the Republican candidate, who plans a foreign policy speech Monday, raised eyebrows in Spain by holding it up as a prime example of government spending run amok."

The Death-Ray on Wheels: US Army Begins Testing Monster Laser Truck that Can Shoot Down Anything, Including Missiles from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Boeing's land-based laser weapon could be used for missile defence.  Beam will hit targets at a phenomenal 186,000 miles a second."

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