Wednesday, February 29, 2012

News Nuggets 897

DAYLEE PICTURE: Giraffes at the Samburu National Park in Kenya.  From National Geographic.

Sorry's Not Good Enough in Afghanistan. Here's Why (Greenwald & Crowe) from the Huffington Post
"...the Qurans burnings ignited a highly volatile mix of hostility created over years of constant offenses inherent in a long-term occupation and the specifics of U.S. military policies in Afghanistan. As anyone who's ever been in any kind of relationship will tell you, saying sorry when you do wrong is necessary, but when your partner knows the bad behaviors will continue, sorry doesn't cut it."

The GOP Sounds Un-Christian in Condemning Obama’s Quran-Burning Apology (Kristen Powers) from the Daily Beast
"The president’s apology over the Quran burning is notable because Obama did apologize, something you don’t often see him do, Kirsten Powers writes."

Why China Will Have an Economic Crisis (Michael Schulman) from Time Magazine
"The view in most of the world is that China is indestructible. Shrugging off the crises multiplying elsewhere, China seems to surge from strength to strength, its spectacular growth marching on no matter what headwinds may come. ... My answer to all of this is: think again."

The Ritz-Carlton of Failed States (Michael Wise) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Welcome to the Serena Hotels, outposts of multi-star luxury in countries with zero-star conditions."

Stratfor: Osama bin Laden 'Was in Routine Contact with Pakistan's Spy Agency' from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"Osama bin Laden was in routine contact with several senior figures from Pakistan's military intelligence agency while in hiding in the country, according to a large cache of secret intelligence files."

Administration Will Weather Latest Afghan Storm (Kevin Baron) from National Journal
"It’s unlikely the current firestorm over the U.S. military’s accidental burning of Korans will have political legs in Washington, much less among disinterested U.S. voters -- at least enough to change the course of the war or hasten its end. The U.S. has larger strategic interests, long-term plans, and hundreds of billions invested which trump outraged Afghans, and even U.S. casualties."

How ‘Shadow Inventory’ Is Killing the Housing Market (Katherine Tarbox) from Time Magazine
"... two reports surfaced last week indicating that, for the nation as a whole, home prices dropped by 3.5% to 5% in 2011. And one factor hurting the prices of homes that are for sale is the enormous number of homes that aren’t for sale — but that should be."

Obama Attacks Romney at UAW from the Atlantic
"President Obama, launching his most direct campaign attack yet at a Republican foe, on Tuesday mocked Mitt Romney’s stance on the automobile industry, telling autoworkers that the former Massachusetts governor’s recent statements are an effort to “rewrite history” and “a load of you-know-what.”"
QUITE a barnburner!!  Here's the whole speech.  Check it out!!

How to Extract Gas Responsibly (Joe Nocera) from the New York Times 
"Fracking isn’t going away. ... One thing I’ve always liked about the Environmental Defense Fund is its hardheaded approach. Founded by scientists, it believes in data, not hysteria. It promotes market
incentives to change behavior and isn’t afraid to work with industry. Utterly nonpartisan, it is oriented toward practical policy solutions. And that has been its approach to fracking."

The 10 Most-Liberal Senators: 2011 Vote Ratings from the National Journal 
"National Journal's annual vote ratings for 2011 are out, and here are the top 10 liberal senators. "

Romney Wins Michigan and Arizona, but Political Tourette’s Is Costing Him (Paul Begala) from the Daily Beast
"Mitt Romney won Arizona, but his Michigan victory was humiliatingly close, and his gaffes have reached a pathological level, says Paul Begala. Plus, Howard Kurtz, Patricia Murphy, and more Daily Beast contributors weigh in on the results."

GOP Frets Over 2012 Knife Fight from Politico
"At the core of their concern is the atmosphere of daily vituperation among the top candidates. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are now engaged in a seemingly constant knife fight, interrupted by only the sparest of positive, policy-oriented debate. Worst of all, there is no clear end in sight for what has become, in the eyes of many Republicans, a joyless and prolonged nomination fight."

Santorum on Manufacturing: What an Idiot (Daniel W. Drezner) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Now, most commentators are focusing on the "snob" comment or the broader thrust of Santorum's jeremiad against higher education or whether this will play in Michigan.  I want to focus on the idiocy contained in the first part of Santorum's comment."

The Out-of-Touch Republican Front-Runners (Harold Meyerson) from the Washington Post
"The longer the Republican presidential contest drags on, the more uncomfortable Mitt Romney seems around blue-collar Americans, and the more antagonistic Rick Santorum seems toward America’s professionals, current and aspiring, and their ideals. This does not portend Republican success in November. Romney’s victories in Arizona and Michigan on Tuesday do not alter this dynamic."

Santorum’s Failed Pandering to Blue-Collar Workers (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"Politicians say the darnedest things, especially when their lips are moving. Perhaps it is on account of such a long primary season, but the more they talk, the tastier their feet. While Mitt Romney is merely guilty of saying things that make him seem disconnected from the lives of most Americans, Rick Santorum makes ideological statements that make him appear to be disconnected from the present tense."

It’s a College, Not a Cloister (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times 
"What good are ideas formed and fortified in a protective cocoon, without exposure to other ways of thinking? Or convictions that haven’t been tested by, and defended against, competing ones? Not much, I’d submit. And in this, as in so much else, I apparently part company with Rick Santorum.Rick Santorum misses the belief-testing point of education."

ME-SEN: Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe to Retire in Blow to GOP (Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake) from the Washington Post
"Snowe’s retirement represents a major setback for the GOP’s efforts to regain a majority in the Senate. As a moderate Republican, she may be the party’s only hope to hold a seat in the strongly blue state. Republicans did get some traction in the state in 2010, including electing Republican Paul LePage as governor. But in a more neutral political environment, and in a federal race, Democrats will be heavy favorites to steal this seat from Republicans — their best pickup opportunity in the country, for sure."
The Daily Beast has more HERE.

WI-GOV: Scott Walker Recall: Wisconsin Governor Narrowly Trails Likely Opponents In New Poll from the Huffington Post
"A new poll finds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) trailing two likely opponents in a recall election. However, their narrow leads suggest a long road ahead for Democrats hoping to unseat the embattled governor."

'Jesus Discovery:' Jerusalem Archeology Reveals Birth Of Christianity from the Huffington Post
"On the morning of Tuesday, June 29, 2010, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, we made an unprecedented archaeological discovery related to Jesus and early Christianity. This discovery adds significantly to our understanding of Jesus, his earliest followers, and the birth of Christianity. In this book we reveal reliable archaeological evidence that is directly connected to Jesus' first followers, those who knew him personally and to Jesus himself."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

News Nuggets 896

DAYLEE PICTURE: Girls herding goats in Djibouti.  From NationalGeographic.

Iran May be "Struggling" with New Nuclear Machines (Fredrik Dahl) from Real Clear World
"Iran is still relying on decades-old technology to expand its nuclear program, a fact that suggests it might be having difficulties developing more modern machines that could speed up production of potential bomb material, experts say."

What Ails Europe? (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Why has Europe become the sick man of the world economy? Everyone knows the answer. Unfortunately, most of what people know isn’t true — and false stories about European woes are warping our economic discourse. Read an opinion piece about Europe — or, all too often, a supposedly factual news report — and you’ll probably encounter one of two stories, which I think of as the Republican narrative and the German narrative. Neither story fits the facts."

Wikileaks Emails Indicate Stratfor Discovered Israel Already Destroyed Iran’s Nuclear Facilities from the Raw Story
"Growing concerns over Iran’s nuclear facilities may prove to be all for naught. Officials from the global intelligence company Stratfor allegedly discussed that Israel may have already destroyed the Iranian nuclear facility, according to one of the emails released by Wikileaks Monday. In one of the over five million emails leaked, the conversation centered on Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praising the news of deadly munitions blasts at a base of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. “I think this is a diversion. The Israelis already destroyed all the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks ago,” one intelligence official wrote in an email dated November 14, 2011."

Court filing: Bevilacqua Ordered Shredding of Memo Identifying Suspected Abusers from the Philadelphia Inquirer
"Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing."
As this scandal has continued to unfold, I find myself increasingly asking: do some of these religious authorities who have covered things up actually need to go to prison before the Church gives the matter the serious attention it desperately needs?

Elderly Drivers Take Toll On American Roads from NPR's All Things Considered
"Moretti recently completed an extensive research study on older drivers, the problems they face on the road, and innovative solutions to address these problems."

Partisans Ignoring Stimulus’s Success (Juan Williams) from The Hill 
"Is there any evidence that the stimulus helped the economy? As Sarah Palin might say, “You betcha!” But in looking back on the news coverage and the angry rhetoric used by the GOP during the congressional debate of the stimulus, it is striking how little discussion there was of what the stimulus actually entailed."

Republicans are Losing the Class Warfare Fight (Marc A. Thiessen) from the Washington Post
"Without a robust recovery to trumpet, the president is betting his reelection on class warfare — focusing on “income inequality” and “fairness.” Class warfare is not a winning strategy, but it is the only card Obama has to play. That’s the good news for Republicans. The bad news is: Right now, the GOP is blowing it."

For Republicans, Social Issues are Losers (Julian Zelizer) from CNN 
"This is a risky bet for the GOP and a positive development for the administration and congressional Democrats. While most successful Republican presidential candidates have paid lip service to social conservatism in the last three decades, the truth is it has never been an issue through which Republicans have been able to build successful coalitions that can win at the polls and get bills passed."

The Possum Republicans (David Brooks) from the New York Times
 "In recent decades, one pattern has been constant within the Republican Party: Wingers fight to take over the party, mainstream Republicans bob and weave to keep their seats."
Sometimes possums are playing dead -- and sometimes they are roadkill.  I think the moderate GOP is much more the latter than the former.

Obama hits Romney with Withering Mockery as He Makes Case for Reelection (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"In a speech to the United Auto Workers just now, Obama defended his decision to bail out the auto industry, lacing into Mitt Romney with withering derision. But this speech was about more than the auto-bailout. It was Obama’s case for reelection."
Benjy Sarlin of TPM and Andrew Sullivan comment on this speech.

Battleground Poll: GOP President’s Race Takes Toll, Obama Inches Up from Politico
"A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll reveals the prolonged nominating battle is taking a toll on the GOP candidates and finds the president’s standing significantly improved from late last year."

New Lows Among Conservatives Mark Romney’s Popularity Problem from ABC News
"Mitt Romney has fallen to a new low in personal favorability among strong conservatives in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, as his persistent problems in this core GOP group now threaten his fortunes in today’s crucial Michigan primary."

Polls Apart (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"The volatility in polling suggests a few things, not least of which is that Romney’s electability edge has virtually evaporated."

The GOP’s Michigan Give-Away (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"Ideological rigidity and Obama hatred led Republicans to reject the auto bailout. Now they’re doubling down on their opposition—and surrendering Michigan in the general election."

In a similar vein:
What Mitt Romney Has Already Lost (Rick Klein) from ABC News
"Romney can solidify his claim on the Republican nomination with a victory in his native state. But what he can’t claim back is the ability to excite and perhaps simply unify the party behind his bid — critical shortcomings that are likely to haunt his bid for the presidency for as long as it lasts."

Michigan’s Primary Party Crashers: Democrats Crossing Over to Thwart Romney (Ben Jacobs) from the Daily Beast
"Democratic voters who resent Romney’s stance against the auto industry bailout and prefer to see Obama face Santorum could tip the balance against Mitt in the state, where he and the Pennsylvania ex-senator are now deadlocked."

Tea Partiers Against College—For Other People's Kids (David Frum) from the Daily Beast
"Conservatives may have fiercely resented Barack Obama's "bitter clingers" remarks from 2008, but Rick Santorum's presidential campaign increasingly seems to take it for granted that Obama was right. Ask yourself: For whose ears was Santorum's "snob" remark intended?"

Michigan Call: Santorum in a Squeaker (John Cassidy) from the New Yorker 
"After Romney’s resurgence last week, most pollsters and forecasters are still predicting he will win. But I am going against the trend and predicting that Santorum will squeak out another surprise victory."

Santorum’s JFK Story Makes Me Want to Throw Up (Joan Walsh) from Salon 
"Kennedy never said anything like "people of faith have no role in the public square," and the GOP zealot knows that."

Gingrich to Afghanistan: ‘Figure Out How to Live Your Own Miserable Life’ from the Wall Street Journal
"His prescription:”What you have to do is say, ‘You know, you’re going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life… Because you clearly don’t want to learn from me how to be unmiserable.’”"
AS IF they invited us in!!  AND this guy is supposed to be one of the brighter bulbs in the room!!  Daily Kos comments on the Newtster HERE

We Don't Need No Education, We Don't Need No Thought Control (David Weigel) from Slate
"Obama hasn't told the lumpen proletariart to go to liberal arts schools and become indoctrinated in left-wing thought and a cappela. His universal college call, which took on form in 2009, was for some kind of higher education. Trade schools? Have at it. Politically, here, it hardly matters. As he does on many topics, Santorum skillfully cracks open a policy issue and finds the culture war walnut within."

Sen-NE: Bob Kerrey Changes his Mind, Will Run for Senate, Source Says from the Washington Post
"Former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) has changed his mind and plans to run for the open Senate seat in Nebraska, according to a senior Democratic aide. The aide said Kerrey has called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to inform him of his plans."

Redesigning People: How Medtech Could Expand Beyond the Injured (David Ewing Duncan) from the Atlantic
"Radical human modification is coming, like it or not, by the end of this century—if not earlier. How much are you willing to alter yourself?"

Monday, February 27, 2012

News Nuggets 895

DAYLEE PICTURE: A pair of foxes on Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.  From National Geographic.

2012 or Never (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
A VERY INTERESTING long-form analysis!  Check it out! The picture of a Gingrich crowd that goes with this article is really disturbing.  Heck, even the thirteen year old up front looks like a serial killer!
"Republicans are worried this election could be their last chance to stop history. This is fear talking. But not paranoia. ... perhaps the strain that has taken deepest root within mainstream Republican circles is the terror that the achievements of the Obama administration may be irreversible, and that the time remaining to stop permanent nightfall is dwindling away.  ... The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency."

Up in the Air in Iran from the Economist [of London]
"The probability of an attack on Iran’s nuclear programme has been increasing. But the chances of it ending the country’s nuclear ambitions are low."

A Radioactive Situation in Iran (Eric S. Margolis) from the National Interest 
"An Israeli attack on Iran would draw America into a war that is neither affordable nor in its interests."

Al Qaeda on the Ropes from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Al Qaeda was partially a victim of its own violent success. Political overreach and excessive violence undercut its claim to be a protector of Islam in the face of Western imperialism. Those failures have proved debilitating during the Arab Spring, where al Qaeda has been a sideshow to tech-savvy young people and more mainstream Islamist groups."

Qur’an Burning is a Political, Not a Theological, Issue (Haroon Siddiqui) from the Globe and Mail [of Toronto]
"Shocking, isn’t it, that after a decade in Afghanistan, foreigners still don’t have a clue about what is or is not acceptable to the locals and, more pragmatically, what might backfire on the mission? Cultural
illiteracy continues to hobble Americans."

Burma's Punk Scene Fights Repression Underground from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"Despite signs of greater openness, Burma's government continues to wield an iron fist. Among its targets is the punk scene, whose bands are forced to play and practice in secret to avoid harsh punishments. Here, punk isn't a lifestyle. It is an act of genuine rebellion."

Successful Chinese Emigrating to West in Droves from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English] 
"Despite their country's stunning economic growth, many successful Chinese entrepreneurs are emigrating to the West. For them, the Chinese government is too arbitrary and unpredictable, and they view their children's prospects as better in the West."

A Greek Exit from the EU: Nothing to Fear but the Lack of Fear Itself from the Economist [of London]
"The prospect of euro-zone departures doesn’t scare people as much as it should."

Who’s Behind the Leaked Letters Roiling the Vatican? (Barbie Latza Nadeau) from the Daily Beast
"Newly leaked letters to Pope Benedict XVI have laid bare sordid allegations of corruption and infighting within the Holy See. Is it a ploy to influence who the next pope will be?"

For Market, There’s No Such Thing as Bad News Now from CNBC
"The way things are going these days, the New York Stock Exchange could be aflame and the only reaction from investors would be to buy stock in companies that make fire extinguishers. Nothing, it seems, can stanch the three-month rally — not debt crises, Mideast violence, nor a global slowdown — as the market rides a 20 percent bull-market run that has taken hold since October. It’s not that there aren’t reasons to sell off — plenty of them in fact. It’s just that nobody seems to care."
This optimism is quite misplaced in my view -- but maybe those folks know all kinds of things I don't.

From Europe, Silence Is Golden (Jim Tankersley) from the National Journal 
"Greece’s latest bailout won’t fix Europe—but it should help Obama in November."

'Hallwalkers': The Ghosts Of The State Department from NPR's All Things Considered
"The halls of the State Department are haunted, not by actual ghosts, but by people who might as well be ghosts: whistleblowers, people who angered someone powerful and people who for one reason or another, can't be fired. "People like me, that the State Department no longer wants, but for some reason can't or won't fire, are assigned to what we call 'hallwalking,'" says author Peter Van Buren."

The Demonizing of Barack Obama (Colbert King) from the Washington Post 
"To read in a mainstream publication that Barack Obama should be killed takes the breath away. ... In this political environment, there is no invective too repugnant, too vicious to throw at this president of the United States. ... "

2008 v. 2012: Is the Presidential Landscape Changing? from Daily Kos 
"The map, most assuredly, is changing. To understand the contours of the new electoral math, let's break up the 51 presidential contests into three groups: the Obama/Democratic "base states" (states won by Democrats in all three elections), the Republican "base states" (states won by Republicans in all three elections), and the "Obama coalition" states (states lost by either Kerry or Gore, but won by Obama in 2008)."
A very interesting and thoughtful first-look at the electoral map for Obama looking ahead to November.

Republican Governors Concerned About Long 2012 GOP Primary Race from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"Even Democratic governors of some typically toss-up – or "purple" – states, said they like Obama's chances."In a purple state people want to see results and they also want to see a level of collaboration and teamwork. I think he is going to win Colorado," the state's governor, John Hickenlooper, said. Meanwhile, virtually no Republican governors were willing to predict their party's nominee would prevail in November."

‘The Country Deserves Better’: Maine Gov Unloads On GOP Field from Talking Points Memo
"In remarks captured by the Portland Press Herald, Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage unloaded on the GOP 2012 field Saturday, decrying all the candidates as damaged goods after having battered each other. He said the country “deserves better” than the current crop and called for a brokered convention to pick a dark horse candidate to challenge President Obama."

Mitt Romney’s Latest Challenge: His ‘Home State’ of Michigan  (Jonathan Lemire) from the New York Daily News
"Win or lose: Michigan's primary on Tuesday could destroy Romney's campaign."

US Election 2012: a Tired Mitt Romney Slumps Towards Michigan from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"After nearly a decade of positioning himself for America’s highest office, it is perhaps unsurprising that Mitt Romney looks tired as he enters a crowd of voluble Tea Party supporters in his home state of Michigan, pausing to greet the room with his familiar wooden wave."

Michigan Tea Partiers Share Rick Santorum’s Fears Over Obama’s College Push from Talking Points Memo
"Clement’s husband, Stephen, said Santorum was right on the mark when he said that Obama wants to send kids to get college degrees so as to produce more liberals. “It starts down at the elementary school level with all this bullshit about diversity, pardon my French,” he said. “Diversity and sensitivity and all that crap. That’s the stuff that needs to be taught at home not by my teachers." ... They all agreed that college can help some people — but they also agreed that universities are basically socialism factories. “They try and disguise it with, you know, ‘equal opportunity’…” Stephen Clement began. “It’s communism,” Murrow said, cutting him off. “The professors are all teaching the kids…”"

Rick Santorum’s Home-School Hokum from Salon
"America's most famous home-schooler spent three years soaking Pennsylvania taxpayers for his kids' education."

Newt Gingrich Goes Bonkers (Again) (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest
"Gingrich's bluster encapsulates just about that has gone awry with Republican foreign policy."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

News Nuggets 894

DAYEE PICTURE: A grizzly bear mother and cub in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.
1.  U.S. Does Not Believe Iran is Trying to Build Nuclear Bomb from the Los Angeles Times
"The latest U.S. intelligence report indicates Iran is pursuing research that could enable it to build a nuclear weapon, but that it has not sought to do so."

2.  The Iran-Washington Conspiracy? (Leslie H. Gelb) from the Daily Beast  
"Both Washington and Tehran are maneuvering to head off an Israeli attack against Iran, a process of intriguing diplomatic gamesmanship."

3.  Al Qaeda Is Going Gently into the Night from the Atlantic
"Counter-terrorism experts said Al Qaeda wouldn't vanish in a sweeping final act but in a gradual, winnowing decline. A new report out of Southeast Asia gives a sketch of what that looks like.  Reporting from Jakarta, the Associated Press writes that Al Qaeda's foothold in Southeast Asia appears to be gone."

4.  Navy SEALs: Obama’s Secret Army (Daniel Klaidman) from Newsweek
"At a time when many Americans think their government is inept, the ‘Special Operators’ get the job done. Just ask the President, who is doubling down on the Navy SEALs."

5.  The Way Greeks Live Now from the Sunday New York Times Magazine
"At some point, I asked Hadjigeorgiou how the crisis was affecting him personally. Life was getting difficult, he acknowledged. Then, prodded a bit more, he mentioned that he had not been paid by his newspaper, the major left-leaning daily, in four months. Nor had any of his colleagues at the paper. "

6.  When Do Political Rules No Longer Apply? (Stuart Rothenberg) from Roll Call
"Traditionally, there are “rules” that apply in politics as well. But this year, things seem different. They don’t seem to apply, which is a problem for those of us who look at the past to understand the present and to project future outcomes."

7.  Republican Race's Volatility is Historic (Alex Roarty) from the National Journal
"Calling the 2012 Republican presidential primary the most volatile for the GOP in generations isn't political hyperbole - it's empirical fact."

8.  President Obama as an Alien (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post 
"They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist. ...  Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education. Please forgive this outburst. It’s simply astonishing that a man in his fourth year as our president continues to be the object of the most extraordinary paranoid fantasies."

9.  Right Wingers Go Wild Against Women Around the Country (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"This isn’t politics. It’s not even theology... And it’s most certainly not morality. It’s quite the opposite of morality. It’s a consequence of a mindset that equates compromise with capitulation, that insists on purity, that attempts to abuse the tools of democracy to secure anti-democratic outcomes, and that is driven by rage against modernity. And it’s hardly an accident that all these forces come together to assume their foulest shape against women."

10.  Real-world Issues, Fantasy-Land Solutions (Fred Hiatt) from the Washington Post
"Run to the extreme in the primary, move to the center in the fall: That’s expected. But moving from the cartoon world the Republican presidential candidates have constructed back into three dimensions might prove more difficult. In their debate Wednesday night, the remaining candidates seemed to be continuing their drift from reality — the reality of a center-right electorate they propose to woo and govern, and of the complexities of the problems they promise to solve."

Now, to our regular nuggets for Sunday, February 26.

Conservative Chickens Come Home to Roost (Matt Taibbi) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"This is justice. What we have here are chickens coming home to roost. It's as if all of the American public's bad habits and perverse obsessions are all coming back to haunt Republican voters in this race: The lack of attention span, the constant demand for instant gratification, the abject hunger for negativity, the utter lack of backbone or constancy (we change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, all it takes is a clever TV ad): these things are all major factors in the spiraling Republican disaster.Most importantly, though, the conservative passion for divisive, partisan, bomb-tossing politics is threatening to permanently cripple the Republican party. They long ago became more about pointing fingers than about ideology, and it's finally ruining them. ... Santorum, instead of turning around and laying into Paul, immediately panicked and rubbed his arm as if to say, "See? I’m made of the right stuff," and said, "I’m real, Ron, I’m real." These candidates are behaving like Stalinist officials in the late thirties, each one afraid to be the first to stop applauding."

Hamas Ditches Assad, Backs Syrian Revolt from Reuters
"Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule. The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation"
Hamas "backs Syrian revolt"?  That could be interesting.  How so?

Why Republicans Welcome Birth Control Politics (Nancy Scola) from Salon 
"More voters are worried about governmental control than women's health, they say."

Ghastly Outdated Party (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times
"Do we need another “Lysistrata” until Republicans stop campaigning against sex?"

The Religion and Politics of Division (Lisa Miller) from the Washington Post
"Obama: "I’ve said this before, and I know this raises questions in the minds of some evangelicals. I do not believe that my mother, who never formally embraced Christianity as far as I know;. I do not believe she went to hell.” Most Americans are with Obama on this."

Fading Chances: Republicans Appear Incapable of Nominating Someone Who Can Win the Votes of Independents in November (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"Simply put, the passion and energy of the Republican Party today may well fail to produce a nominee with a decent chance of winning in November. My assumption was that Romney would be the nominee and would make a good run. Now, I have begun to doubt both propositions. His odds of winning the nomination are growing longer. And even if he does, he has twisted and turned himself into a human pretzel. I’m not sure how electable he is. The alternatives, however, seem even less so."
Now -- this is something when Charlie Cook is saying this.  Beltway insider conventional wisdom doesn't get more insider-like than Cook's.

Romney Aides Warn Backers of a Long Fight for Nomination (Jim Rutenberg) from the New York Times
"As Mitt Romney’s campaign intensifies fund-raising to meet rising costs, some Republicans are worried about the impact of a prolonged party contest on the November election."

Obama’s Dream: To Run Against Santorum (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"Let me be blunt: If Republicans nominate Rick Santorum to run for president, they will lose. The prospect of four more years of President Barack Obama holds some appeal for many Americans but probably not for most Republicans. It may give doubters among them some comfort, however, to know that Obama and Santorum share the same prayer: that Santorum be the Republican nominee."
It is rather interesting to see pundits on the right conclude that Obama and his team "set up" conservatives on the issue of contraception, to make them look bad and send the GOP on a culture war witch hunt that would be a total loser for them.  As much as I admire Obama and the people around him, even I don't think Obama's mind is THAT three-dimensional.  I DO think he is one of the best political counter-punchers ever -- and thus I think his strategy has been responsive rather than as part of some thought-out initiative on his part.

The Lost Party (John Heilemann) from New York Magazine
"The strangest primary season in memory reveals a GOP that’s tearing itself apart. ... “The fact that Romney is running with basically the same views as then but is seen as too moderate tells you that the base has moved rightward and doesn’t simply want a conservative candidate—it wants a very conservative one.” The transfiguration of the GOP isn’t only about ideology, however. It is also about demography and temperament, as the party has grown whiter, less well schooled, more blue-collar, and m"

Rick Santorum’s New Punching Bag: the Press from Politico
"Rick Santorum has a new punching bag: the press. Facing increased scrutiny and more intense media coverage as his campaign has surged, the former Pennsylvania senator is intensifying his criticism of the media."

Wisconsin Recall Rival Slams Scott Walker from Politico
"In a preview of the Wisconsin recall election, top Democratic challenger Kathleen Falk has come out guns blazing against Gov. Scott Walker, saying he ruined the state, has no scruples in labeling any opponent as a union pawn, and is under a cloud from the ongoing “John Doe” criminal
investigation into some of his former aides."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

News Nuggets 893

DAYLEE PICTURE: A chameleon on a door latch in Hyderabad in India.  From National Geographic.

The Iran-Washington Conspiracy? (Leslie H. Gelb) from the Daily Beast  
"Both Washington and Tehran are maneuvering to head off an Israeli attack against Iran, a process of intriguing diplomatic gamesmanship."

'It is Not in the American National Interest to Go to War Against Iran Anytime Soon' (Thomas E. Ricks) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"But the bottom line is, I don't know a single person in government, civilian or in uniform, who thinks it is in our national interest to go to war with Iran now."
Y'know, I could be completely wrong about this, but I am surprisingly certain that Obama and his team are in complete agreement with Ricks's comment here and will do whatever it takes to avoid a conflict with Iran.

What Would John Adams Do About Iran? It’s Time for No. 44 to Channel No. 2. (James Traub) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The public, led by Adams's own Federalist Party, was demanding a declaration of war. Adams himself had stoked those public passions. But now, in the summer, he hesitated between belligerence and yet more diplomacy. The United States is now locked in conflict with Iran, another revolutionary, expansionist power. It is not yet summer 1798, but it's getting close."

Gulf War III Isn’t an Option (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post 
"We’ve heard this quickening drumbeat before. Last time, it led to the tragic invasion and occupation of Iraq. This time, if we let the drummers provoke us into war with Iran, the consequences will likely be far worse. Rat-ta-tat-tat. Weapons of mass destruction. Boom-shakka-boom. A madman in charge. Thump-thump-thump. Mushroom clouds. Tune out the anxiety-inducing percussion and think for a minute. Yes, there are good reasons to be concerned about the Iranian nuclear program. But it doesn’t follow that launching a military attack — or providing support for an attack by Israel — would necessarily be effective, let alone wise. The evidence suggests it would be neither."

In Break, Hamas Supports Syrian Opposition from the New York Times 
"Marking the first public rift with its longtime patron, a leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria."
You have to take this as a big blow to Assad.  Hamas owes the Assad regime A LOT -- and yet they are jumping ship.  I take it as a given that they know which way the wind is blowing.

Clear and Present Safety: The United States Is More Secure Than Washington Thinks (Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen) from the journal, Foreign Affairs
"U.S. officials and national security experts chronically exaggerate foreign threats, suggesting that the world is scarier and more dangerous than ever. But that is just not true. From the U.S. perspective, at least, the world today is remarkably secure, and Washington needs a foreign policy that reflects that reality. "

Symbolic Legislation to Nowhere: Why Statehouses Fail in Governance (Andrew Cohen) from the Atlantic
"With proposals such as mandated ultrasounds for abortion seekers and bans on Sharia law, state legislatures avoid actual governance in favor of dead-end ideas."

An Expert Witness for the GOP Gender Gap (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"It is tempting to speculate that Issa’s head contains some regret that his hearing, which was supposed to be about an assault on religious freedom by President Obama, instead became a symbol of Republicans trying to take the pill away from women. This is not a good position for Republicans. ...  judging from the reporters standing in the aisles to hear Fluke (the House Recording Studio’s refusal to broadcast the pseudo-hearing generated even more media attention), Republicans are losing the perception war."

Dems Salivate Over Coming GOP Birth Control Misstep from the Talking Points Memo
"The GOP’s ongoing push to allow employers to deny contraceptive — or any — health care coverage has Democrats in an amusing position: outraged that the Republican party has reignited the culture wars, and simultaneously salivating over what they believe is a deadly GOP political misstep."

The GOP’s Other Nomination Headache (Steve Kornacki) from Salon
" It’s not just the top of the ticket that could cause Republicans headaches this year. The headlines of the past few days have raised or reinforced questions about the viability of two of the top prospects for the No. 2 slot."

Republicans Starting to Rethink Romney (Ryan Lizza) from the New Yorker 
"DeWine is still an outlier, but we are starting to see a trickle of Romney backers, and Republican operatives whose bosses have backed Romney, expressing misgivings. ... DuHaime’s remarks, as well as DeWine’s and Huntsman’s, suggest the lack of enthusiasm for Romney is getting more pronounced rather than less as the campaign goes on."
What is there to "rethink"?  That train has already left the station.

Romney’s Economic Closet (Paul Krugman) form the New York Times
"According to Michael Kinsley, a gaffe is when a politician accidently tells the truth. That’s certainly what happened to Mitt Romney on Tuesday, when in a rare moment of candor — and, in his case, such moments are really, really rare — he gave away the game."

No Bailouts for Romney’s Intellectual Bankruptcy (Jonathan Alter) from the Bloomberg News Service
"By all accounts, Mitt Romney is a smart businessman with a sophisticated understanding of how economies work. So why is he so tied up in knots over basic questions of government spending in a recession and the limits of the free market? Because he’s running for president in a party that has lost its economic common sense, its political bearings and probably Michigan’s electoral votes."

Why Mitt Romney Might Be Even Weaker Than You Think from Talking Points Memo
"Mitt Romney’s got a problem. Purple Strategies released their “Purple Poll” on Thursday, data from twelve swing states the showed former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) in a better position to beat President Obama than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. "

The Increasingly Worthless GOP Nomination (Robert Shrum) from The Week  
"Mitt Romney is pandering so desperately to the far-right fringe that he's become all but unelectable in November."

What follows are a series of stories on Romney's big economic speech earlier today in Detroit.  What a FIASCO!!
With Detroit Debacle, Mitt Romney Steps on His Momentum—Again (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"The Republican candidate has a tendency to make cringe-inducing gaffes right when things are going well for his campaign."

Frontiers in Advance Work (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"What’s striking about this is that the Romney campaign frequently boasts about its success at process. ... Jed Lewison has a roundup of all the critical reaction to the Ford Field choice on Twitter from neutral reporters and even one conservative."
OMG!  Even the temporary folding chairs section near the stage is half empty!!  WHY did they choose this venue!?  The tweets from reporters on the scene are HILARIOUS!!  Another aspect of Sargent's commentary: the arrogance of Romney's oppo team really comes out in this piece.

Romney Speech Falls Flat in Detroit from The Hill
"Mitt Romney spoke to several empty seats Friday in Detroit, in a speech that offered Democrats more fodder for their attacks and failed to deliver the major economic address his campaign promised. Television cameras showed rows of empty chairs as Romney rehashed many of the policies and quips he'd used in previous speeches, made a few jokes that appeared to fall flat with the audience and said that his wife, Ann, drives "a couple of Cadillacs," which will likely give Democrats more ammunition for their depiction of him as rich and out of touch."

In response to the "Cadillacs" part of Romney's speech comes this item:
Mitt Romney Needs All Those Cars Because of All Those Mansions from Daily Kos
A humorous look at how many mansions and cars Romney owns -- with pictures of his various homes!  They show five homes -- I'm not sure that's all of them.  Seeing even this group is ... strangely compelling, and I could easily see a devastating SuperPAC-funded ad (or, at the least, a Jon Stewart sendup) coming from it.

Wisconsin, One Year Later (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"Twelve months ago, 100,000 protestors took over Madison. The political storm they stirred up is still raging as polarizing Governor Scott Walker faces a recall."

How Hollywood Conquered the World (All Over Again) (Stephen Galloway) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"For all the talk of American decline, there’s one thing we still make better than anyone on the planet: movies."

Friday, February 24, 2012

News Nuggets 892

DAYLEE PICTURE: Cows in the town of Neyveli in India on the eve of the Diwali festival.  From National Geographic.

U.S. Does Not Believe Iran is Trying to Build Nuclear Bomb from the Los Angeles Times
"The latest U.S. intelligence report indicates Iran is pursuing research that could enable it to build a nuclear weapon, but that it has not sought to do so."
I've been following this story pretty closely -- and it is my sense that US intel on Iran's program is excellent, extraordinary really.  As I have noted here at times, it is my sense that Obama and his intel people are almost as current on Iran's nuclear program developments as Iranian leaders are themselves.  This news strikes me as the administration's effort to push back against the war mongering that seems to be increasing lately.

Syrian Leaders Listed by UN for Crimes Against Humanity from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Panel of UN experts says senior Syrian officials, including, it is claimed, President Assad, could face investigation."

Syria's 'Srebrenica': Situation Grows Increasingly Grim in Rebel Stronghold of Homs from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"Two foreign journalists died in a Syrian government shelling on Wednesday while reporting from the rebel stronghold of Homs. Hounded by snipers and hunger, activists are comparing the bombardment to genocide and begging the West for help."

U.S., Allies Set to "Challenge" Assad to End Siege from CBS News
"The Obama administration, under renewed pressure to help end the violence in Syria, is working with allies on a united, international "challenge" to the Assad regime, demanding that Syria stop the siege on the central city of Homs within days and allow immediate medical and humanitarian aid to flow directly to aid agencies trying to help the city's battered civilians."

Can the Taliban Avoid Fracturing Over the Qatar Peace Talks? (Yousafzai and Moreau) from the Daily Beast
"Afghan insurgent leaders struggle to keep their men aboard for negotiations with the U.S. Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau on unrest in the ranks."

Can Montana's Supreme Court Decision be Used to Overturn Citizens United? from Americablog
"The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to overturn the Montana ruling, and decided instead to issue a stay pending review.  That's where it gets interesting. The whole thing turns on three sentences added by Justices Ginsberg and Breyer to the SCOTUS ruling that placed a hold on the Montana ruling (pdf; my emphasis):"
A very interesting analysis of Ginsberg and Breyer's clever thinking on the case.

Big Turnaround in Support for Auto Bailout: Majority Now Says Rescue Plan was Good for Economy from Daily Kos
"According to Pew's latest survey (conducted February 8-12 and 16-20 with a margin of error of ±3%), 56 percent of the American public now believes the auto bailouts were mostly a good thing for the economy. Just 38 percent disagrees, a huge shift from October, 2009 when 54 percent thought the bailouts were mostly bad for the economy and 37 percent thought they were good."
There will be a similar shift eventually with Obamacare.

New York Court Affirms Towns' Powers To Ban Fracking (Lena Groeger) from the National Memo
"In a decision that could set a national precedent for how local governments can regulate gas drilling, a New York state court yesterday ruled for the first time that towns have the right to ban drilling despite a state regulation asserting they cannot."

Right-Wing Media Group Pledges To Strip Birth Control Out Of Health Plan After Providing It For Years from Think Progress
"Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, is providing a sneak preview to the kind of discrimination employees will experience if the amendment becomes law."

GOP Fears Rise Over 2012 Tone, Message from Politico
"In 2008, after Republicans were routed in the presidential and congressional elections, there was widespread consensus within elite GOP circles about the party’s structural problems: The Republican voter base was too old, too white, too male and too strident for the party to prosper long term in a country growing ever more diverse. Four years later, many of the same GOP leaders are watching with rising dismay as the 2012 presidential campaign has featured excursions into social issues like contraception and a sprint by the candidates to strike the toughest stance against illegal immigration, issues they say are far removed from the workaday concerns of the independent voters Republicans need to evict Barack Obama from the White House."
BOY.  If folks in "elite GOP circles" thought this in 2008, what further demonstration do you need that these circles have almost no influence on the course of events?

Republican Race's Volatility is Historic (Alex Roarty) from the National Journal
"Calling the 2012 Republican presidential primary the most volatile for the GOP in generations isn't political hyperbole - it's empirical fact."

Poll: GOP Primary Bleeds Romney (Burns and Haberman) from Politico 
"The folks at Purple Strategies have a poll out this morning that tests the mood of the electorate in a dozen general-election swing states, and validates concerns among Republicans that the drawn-out primary campaign is seriously compromising Mitt Romney's candidacy:"

The Arizona CNN Debate's Republican Unreality Show (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Ana Marie Cox: By fighting to out-conservative each other on social issues, this cranky crew just gifted Obama a win on jobs and the economy."

Santorum is a Social Conservative on Steroids, and that Troubles Some Voters from the McClatchy News Service
"...the same steely resolve that boosts him with the Republican Party's sizable social conservative bloc could also be a huge liability among moderate voters — and among independents that a GOP candidate would need to win the general election."

Santorum's Gamble Reveals Huge Blind Spot (J.P. Green) from the Democratic Strategist
"Republican myopia regarding Latino voters is turning out to be a huge blessing bestowed on Democrats, as some recent statistics indicate:"

Cox gets a two-fer today.
The Paradox of Rick Santorum's Conservative Beliefs (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Santorum's supporters denounce the government's religious interference, but it's their mantra that feels like oppression."

Republican Fratricide from the Economist [of London]
"The Republicans did not want their primary season to look like a
coronation. That, to say the least, is no longer a danger. It is now clear only that a large share of the party’s conservatives just do not like Mr Romney. This traps the party in a fratricidal exercise that could continue for months, if not all the way to the party convention in Tampa in August."
A cartoon from the Economist:

Bretton Woods Uncovered (a Scoop, of Sorts) (Jeremy Warner) from the Daily Telegraph
"Students of economic history are in for a treat. An official studying deep in the bowels of the US Treasury library has recently uncovered a prize of truly startling proportions – an 800 page plus transcript of the Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, the meeting of nations which established the foundations of today's international monetary system."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

News Nuggets 891

DAYLEE PICTURE: Galapagos sharks swimming through slivers of light from
 a research boat in the Mozambique Channel.  From National Geographic.

Do-Over Season (Linda Greenhouse) from the New York Times
"Is there really a chance that the Supreme Court might reconsider Citizens United? A week ago, I wouldn’t have thought so, and I still think it’s an extreme long shot. But a provocative statement last Friday by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer makes this crazy idea worth pondering – which is undoubtedly what the two justices intended."
Greenhouse is one of the most knowledgeable SCOTUS watchers out there.  Her perception of this topic is worth noting.

Another Court Finds Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional from the Politico
"Another federal judge has found unconstitutional a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law which forbids providing federal government benefits to same-sex spouses."

Did Crafty Dems Make Contraception a Campaign Issue? from the Salon 
"First Rush Limbaugh, now the Washington Post women's blog, claim the GOP was set up by its enemies on birth control."

Contraception Coverage Fights Spread to States from Politico
"The contraception fight is expanding far beyond Washington, with several states eyeing ways of blocking the new Obama administration rule requiring most insurers cover contraception, or considering rolling back rules that the states themselves already had on the books. The combination of a hot-button social issue and the calendar for state implementation of the health care reform law’s fine print virtually guarantees the fight will continue for months."

If Latinos Really Do Decide 2012, GOP is in Serious Trouble from Daily Kos 
"Neither Romney nor Santorum get those benefits of the doubt, and their rhetoric is far more overtly hostile and extreme than McCain's ever was. And ..., it means that Nevada will be out of reach for them, Colorado will be an uphill climb, Florida will be tougher nuts to crack, Arizona will be in play, and even states like Virginia and North Carolina—which should be reverting Red this year—will remain competitive because of explosive Latinos growth. And that's just talking about 2012. The GOP's long-term prospects will look even worse. Because no matter how much they wish it was still 1950, that America no longer exists."

President Obama as an Alien (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post 
"They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist. His especially creative opponents see him as having a “Kenyan anti-colonial worldview,” while the less
adventurous say that he’s an elitist who spent too much time in Cambridge, Hyde Park and other excessively academic precincts. Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education. Please forgive this outburst. It’s simply astonishing that a man in his fourth year as our president continues to be the object of the most extraordinary paranoid fantasies. A significant part of his opposition still cannot accept that Obama is a rather moderate politician quite conventional in his tastes and his interests. And now that the economy is improving, short-circuiting easy criticisms, Obama’s adversaries are reheating all the old tropes and cliches and slanders."

Will GOP Perp Walk Lead to White House? (Roger Simon) from Politico
"I am sick to death of the media’s scare tactics. Which is why I nearly jumped out of my skin when CNN’s John King said during Wednesday night’s Republican debate, “One of these men could be president 11 months from now.” It was enough to give one chills."

Real-World Issues, Fantasy-Land Solutions (Fred Hiatt) from the Washington Post
"Run to the extreme in the primary, move to the center in the fall: That’s expected. But moving from the cartoon world the Republican presidential candidates have constructed back into three dimensions might prove more difficult. In their debate Wednesday night, the remaining candidates seemed to be continuing their drift from reality — the reality of a center-right electorate they propose to woo and govern, and of the complexities of the problems they promise to solve."

No 'Romney Rebound' in the Polls (at Least Not Yet) from Daily Kos  
"... the general trends continue to hold: (1) if there is a Mitt Romney polling rebound yet, it really isn't showing up in any substantial way, and (2) the president may still suffer from middling job approval, but he still looks better than one would expect when paired with his even less popular Republican opposition. ... President Obama's numbers, however, look pretty good in this heavy midweek sampling of polls. Which makes one wonder if those softer numbers earlier in the week were just a blip on the radar. There is something to be said, however, for the fact that Obama's numbers in Wisconsin and Michigan now look better than they did against John McCain in 2008."

Live-Blogging the Mesa Debate (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast 
"Maybe I've lost my mind after all these debates, or maybe I secretly want him to win (because he would finally expose all the insanity that has been building in this party and needs venting). But I thought Santorum was on form tonight. My sense is that he will not lose his current momentum after tonight. I didn't feel Newt tonight. Romney doesn't wear well. Paul was great and funny and human. But there was a winner, it seems to me. He's in the White House."

And the Winner Is: Barack Obama (Jamelle Bouie) from the American Prospect 
"Without question, the winner of Wednesday’s Republican debate was Barack Obama. ... by the end of the event, the candidates had revealed their hostility toward women and Latinos, and further ensured that they would stay on Obama’s side into the fall."

Nine Takeaways From the Arizona Debate (Carl M. Cannon) from Real Clear Politics
"If the much-hyped debate didn’t live up to its billing, and didn’t do anything to change the pecking order, it did leave impressions of each candidate that were not always flattering, and not always “on-message,” as political handlers might say. Here are nine examples:"

Republican Voters Lose in Arizona GOP Debate (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Post
"Republican voters and conservatives are losers because there are certainly strong arguments — mainstream conservative arguments — against President Obama’s policies, whether it’s on national security or the budget or health care or any other issue. But they’re not hearing any of it; they’re hearing third-rate slogans, misleading rhetoric and outright mistruths that would fit right in among the cheaper booths at a conservative convention."

The Moral Scandal Of Rick Santorum And "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
"It seems to me that no politician who has aggressively defended these core violations of human dignity can be described as someone for whom human dignity is a "touchstone" of his worldview. The effrontery is not that of the media; the effrontery is from Santorum when he lectured John McCain..."

Santorum’s Martyr Complex (John Dickerson) from Slate
"His camp says he is being attacked because of his faith. Forgive me, but that’s downright sinful."

The Real Caveman Diet from Slate
"Did people eat fruits and vegetables in prehistoric times?"

Cat Saves Owner's Life Just Hours After Being Adopted from the Huffington Post
" Soon after going to bed, Amy Jung, who has had diabetes since childhood, started having a diabetic seizure in her sleep. That's when Pudding sprang into action."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

News Nuggets 890

DAYLEE PICTURE: Puffins on the Machias Island in Maine.  From National Geographic.

Strauss-Kahn Arrested by French Police Investigating Alleged Prostitution Ring from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Former IMF chief held for questioning over allegations he helped procure prostitutes for orgies in France and the US."
Ok -- where now is Bernard Henri Levy, world-class DSK apologist and American-justice bashing big mouth!?  It seems that, at least in the hotel maid case, the NYPD had a better sense of who they were hauling off a plane at JFK than a large percentage of the French punditry.  How do you say, "Book'em, Dano" in French?!  The Wall Street Journal has more on the story HERE.

More Than Half Of Older High School Dropouts Not Employed Today from the Huffington Post
"More than half of the high school dropouts in America above age 25 are currently out of work, according to The Wall Street Journal. Americans who didn't finish high school seem to be bearing the brunt of the country's unemployment crisis..."

Democrats Say Virginia Ultrasound Measure ‘Akin To Rape’ from Talking Points Memo
"Virginia legislators are considering two bills that would create harsh restrictions on abortions. One of the measures, Democrats say, is “akin to rape.” But there are signs that some Republicans may be having second thoughts."

Do The Birth Control Lawsuits Have Legal Standing? Hardly from Talking Points Memo
"...barring a departure from precedent, the lawsuits aren’t set to go very far. “I don’t think they have much of a case under current precedent,” said Jessica Arons of the Center For American Progress. ... Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA, was more blunt. “This lawsuit is inspired by politics and nothing more,” he told TPM. “Even under the previously announced rule there was little chance of success.”"

Brokering a GOP Disaster (Jonathan Bernstein) from Salon
"Republicans hoping for a deadlocked convention overlook the perils to the party."

Two Charts That Should Make Romney Gulp from Talking Points Memo
"It’s no secret that, as far as frontrunners go, Mitt Romney’s never exactly set the grassroots on fire. But his latest fundraising numbers drive home just how weak his small donor appeal is compared to his rivals — and especially President Obama."

January fundraising: Winners and Losers (Aaron Blake) from the Washington Post
"Obama’s campaign had $76 million cash on hand at the end of the month; the four GOP candidates had less than $13 million combined. Even better for Obama is the fact that Romney’s opponents closed the fundraising gap significantly, which will reduce Romney’s spending advantage going forward (see below for more on this)."

The GOP's Looming Election Disaster Is Just Like 1964 (Geoffrey Kabaservice) from the New Republic
"A specter is haunting the Republican establishment—the specter of Barry Goldwater. With recent polling data suggesting that Rick Santorum has surged ahead of Mitt Romney among Republican voters nationwide, the people whose livelihoods depend on Republican electoral victories are terrified by the growing possibility of a massive wipeout in November, much like the one that Republicans experienced in 1964, when Goldwater was their nominee."
"Massive wipeout."  I like the sound of that.  A very interesting column.

Mitt Romney's Burn Rate a Boon for Barack Obama from Politico
"Mitt Romney is burning through cash more than twice as fast as he’s raising it, new reports filed Monday show — a clear sign that a protracted GOP primary fight could leave the front-runner limping into a general election fight with President Barack Obama."
Daily Kos has some in-depth analysis of Romney's numbers HERE.

Rick Santorum Cries Nazi (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Rick Santorum sees Nazis everywhere: in the Middle East, in doctor’s offices and medical labs, in the Democratic Party, and now in the White House. The Republican presidential candidate told a group of supporters Sunday night that this year’s election was like the time between 1940 and 1941 when Americans didn’t act against Adolf Hitler because they thought he was “a nice guy” and not “near as bad as what we think.”"

Thanks, Rick Santorum! No, Really (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"Your backward views are alerting American voters about GOP extremism on issues of health and privacy."

Rick Santorum Defends Satan Comments from Politico
"“You know … I’m a person of faith. I believe in good and evil. I think if somehow or another because you’re a person of faith you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier for president, we’re going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president,” Santorum said. Santorum said questioning whether he believed Satan was attacking America was “not relevant.”"
Not much of a defense.

Rick Santorum Questioned Obama's Faith In 2008, Said There's No Such Thing As A Liberal Christian from the Huffington Post
"When asked if he believed Obama is a "sincere liberal Christian," the former Pennsylvania senator said he didn't believe that sort of ideology exists, and that Obama's church, United Church of Christ in Chicago, had "abandoned Christendom" and used a non-literal interpretation of the Bible."

A welcome rejoinder to this comment comes from a long-silent source: 
Religion And Politics Don't Mix, Major Religious Groups Tell Presidential Candidates from the Huffington Post
"After Rick Santorum ignited controversy over the weekend by saying President Barack Obama has a "phony" and "different theology" that's not "based on the Bible," and amid ongoing discomfort among some politicians and religious figures over Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, a coalition of major religious organizations is calling on presidential candidates to keep religion out of politics."

Rick’s Religious Fanaticism (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times 
"Longing for the Victorian age, Rick Santorum might lose the Victoria’s Secret vote."

It’s Not Conservative, It’s Reactionary (Jennifer Rubin) from the Washington Post
"Santorum on social issues is not a conservative but a reactionary, seeking to obliterate the national consensus on a range of issues beyond gay marriage and abortion. A reactionary is one who seeks to return to a previous state of affairs. It is not a conservative outlook, which in the Burkean sense looks to people as they are, prefers modest over the radical solutions and builds on the existing morals and habits of the society."
Um ... I hate to break it to you, Jennifer, but the ideological center of gravity for the GOP these days is REACTIONARY.  They are not conservative any more.  They look to the future with profound pessimism -- and what they offer America are cartoon versions of the past, usually something from the Eisenhower years but occasionally throwbacks from Teddy Roosevelt's time and even moldy oldies that are pre-Abraham Lincoln.  As a practical matter, Republicans disdain the "future" largely (I suspect) because they see so little of their world view surviving in it.  

A view that reflects a similar sentiment:
Where is the GOP's Positive Program? (David Frum) from the Daily Beast 
"Does the GOP have a message for 2012 besides anti-Obamaism? ...  A Republican program that emphasizes "repeal" and "undo" is not a positive program. It's not a future-oriented program either: it's a program to refight the battles of the past four years, hoping this time to win the fights that were lost last time."

In WI, March Release of Employment Situation Highly Anticipated, Consequences for Gov. Walker from the Appleton Post Crescent [of Wisconsin]
"The state Department of Workforce Development will release job numbers next month that could be the most anticipated statistics of Gov. Scott Walker's short tenure. If the January and February numbers show Wisconsin lost another 4,500 positions, the state will — on paper — have fewer jobs now than before Walker took office."

The Two Americas: A Review of Coming Apart by Charles Murray (Timothy Noah) from the New Republic
"We are, Murray posits, two nations: one a pampered and clueless but high-functioning meritocratic elite, and one a bruised and resentful and low-functioning working class. Murray can’t resist caricaturing the elite as largely a bunch of NPR-listening, New Yorker-reading, Galapagos-cruising liberal nitwits, but he concedes that most of the conservatives who inhabit America’s upper tier are similarly out of touch with proletarian culture."
I've been curious to see how the New Republic might review this controversial book.

The Artisits: Notes on the Lost Art of Silent Film Acting (David Denby) from the New Yorker
"From the beginning, the silent cinema was an art devoted to physical risk and to primitive passions, to rage, lust, ambition, and obsession (silence made emotions more extreme in many ways), and it produced obsession in its huge audience."

Obama Sings 'Sweet Home Chicago' During Blues Concert At White House (VIDEO) from the Huffington Post
"The president just couldn't say no: Mick Jagger held out a mic almost by way of command, and soon Barack Obama was belting out the blues with the best of them."
WOW!!  Obama shows that he REALLY CAN sing!!  I'd listen to his album any day!

The War of 1812: Stupid but Important (Diamond and Aronovitch) from the Globe and Mail [of Toronto]
"The War of 1812 saw the last foreign invasion on Canadian soil. Ironically, its commemoration has become a battleground in Canada. The arrival of the war’s bicentennial has ushered in a national debate on its significance in both Canada and the United States, the level of government support it deserves and, of course, that 200-year-old chestnut: Who, if anyone, won?"

The Great Worker Revolt of 1877 from Salon
"In the 1876 election deal, Thomas Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad, whose mediation plan delivered the disputed electoral votes to Hayes got a federal bailout of  the Texas and Pacific railroad in which he owned a large stake. While it is not clear if this deal led to the’ sending of federal troops to the strike-torn areas, the possibility of a quid pro quo arrangement is reasonable."