Thursday, January 31, 2013

News Nuggets 1169

DAYLEE PICTURE:  A snowy owl on Long Island.  From National Geographic.

The Tectonic Impact Of Obama's Re-Election (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
"Is it just me or are more people surprised by the snowballing impact of Obama's re-election? It's not just the return to Clinton tax rates for the very wealthy; it's a real cultural shift as well."

Obamacare Sticker Shock: Not Very Shocking (Nate Cohn) from the New Republic
"The real story about Obamacare, the one the law’s critics don’t emphasize, is that far more people will actually pay less. And while those paying more may not be happy about it, they’ll also be getting something for the extra premium dollars they pay up front."

Western States Continue To Drift Into Democrats’ Column from the Associated Press via National Memo
"A political generation ago, the West signaled the nation’s rightward swing — from the emergence of Ronald Reagan to the success of tax-limitation ballot measures in California and Colorado. But now the fabled expanse of jagged peaks, arid deserts and emerald coastlines is trending in a different direction. From Washington state — where voters in November legalized marijuana and upheld the legality of gay marriage — to New Mexico, once a hotly contested swing state that Republicans ceded to Democrats in the presidential campaign, the West has become largely Democratic terrain."

Hagel Defense Nomination Will Pass (Michael O'Hanlon) from USA Today 
"Despite concerns over his views on Israel, Iran and Afghanistan, he'll serve president well. ... Hagel's skepticism about a hard line could be a welcome antidote to a strong consensus leaning toward the use of force in coming months, a decision that would be fraught with danger."

Obama's Permanent Campaign: Can He Use His Reelection Playbook to Change Washington? (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"Organizing for Action could be the key to enacting the president's agenda. Obama's best hope for his aggressive program may lie in the same innovative campaign techniques of grassroots mobilization and data-based field organizing that got him reelected in November. And if he pulls it off, he could revolutionize lawmaking the way he's already revolutionized campaigns."

Gun Advocates Take Back Seat to Calls for Stricter Laws at Newtown Forum from the New York Times
"In riveting testimony repeatedly interrupted by standing ovations, parents, public officials, law enforcement officers and school employees issued a full-throated call on Wednesday night for strengthening the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the massacre of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December."

How Obama and the Democrats Could Win on Gun Control—by Losing (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"The president may fail to get his controversial legislation through Congress. But Eleanor Clift says the issue could end up lifting his party in 2014."

Republicans in Disarray Over Immigration (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos 
"The immigration debate is exposing the fissures in the Republican Party more than any other debate has yet, between the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove faction and the crazy teabagger Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck/Michelle Malkin crowd."

Immigration Reform Practice Masks Great Test of Republican Principle (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Tough border measures in the bipartisan agreement are a sop to conservatives, but will the GOP cross this Rubicon of reform?"

Immigration Reform Proposal Shows Similar Ideas Betweeen Bush and Obama (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"The immigration-reform plan embraced by Obama is remarkably similar to what the George W. Bush administration proposed. The difference, writes John Avlon, is that it has a good chance of passage now."

I Don’t Like Marco Rubio’s Plan (Erick Erickson) from RedState
"Immigration is an issue that keeps hispanic voters from trusting the GOP. Many call it a “gateway” issue. I get that. But pandering in the name of a solution does not actually fix the problem. This is just another policy debate the Democrats can use to get the GOP to fight itself."

Gay Marriage Opponents Suffer From Fundraising Shortfall from Reuters   
"Foes of same-sex marriage are laboring to pay the tab for an epic legal case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, as the movement suffers from fundraising shortfalls that could sap its strength in future battles."

Democrats, Don’t Freak Out on the Electoral College! (Richard L. Hasen) from Slate
"Why fears that Republicans will gerrymander the Electoral College are overblown."

The Tea Party is Losing a Few of its Revelers (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Revelers" -- as in clowns!
"Is it last call for the tea party? Consider these recent developments: ... Demagoguery works well in bad times, but it’s harder to stoke fear and anger when the stock market is at a five-year high and the private sector has been adding jobs for nearly three years. If anything, anger has turned against tea-party lawmakers."

Patty Andrews, Singer With Her Sisters, Is Dead at 94 from the New York Times
"Patty Andrews, the last of the Andrews Sisters, the jaunty vocal trio whose immensely popular music became part of the patriotic fabric of World War II America, died on Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94."

Kitten Meets Hedgehog For The First Time, Adorableness Ensues (VIDEO) from the Huffington Post
"In a new Youtube video, a kitten named Loki meets Harley the hedgehog for the first time. The inquisitive kitty edges toward the odd creature to investigate, tentatively pawing at Harley's container."

The Real Green House: Villa That Comes with a Vertical Garden and a Lap Pool on the Roof from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Welcome to the exclusive villa where the thought of trimming your vertical garden of 4,500 plants will leave you scratching your head.  The incredible 2,600 sq ft house has a garden with 25 different plant varieties growing up its walls and a swimming pool wrapped around the length of its top floor balcony."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

News Nuggets 1168

DAYLEE PICTURE: Compressed ice that resembles a wave in Antarctica.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

GOP’s Electoral Vote Scheme Already On Life Support from Talking Points Memo
"Four states down, and just two remain. Key Republican officials in Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and Michigan are coming out against a RNC-backed scheme to rig the electoral vote in Democratic-leaning states in order to boost Republican presidential candidates. That leaves just Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as the remaining blue states with Republican statehouses actively considering the idea."

Unions, Hollywood Open to Bankrolling Obama’s Advocacy Arm from The Hill 
"Labor unions and Hollywood donors are open to bankrolling Organizing for Action, the outside group that has been formed in support of President Obama’s second-term agenda. Traditionally one of the biggest donors to Democrats, unions are considering putting their financial weight behind the group as it tries to harness the grassroots power of Obama’s reelection machine."

Obama’s Favorability Best Since ’09; 2-1 Approval for Inaugural Address from ABC News
"Barack Obama has advanced to his highest personal popularity since his first year in office, and Americans who’ve formed an opinion of his second inaugural address last week broadly approve of it, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds."

GOP Needs More Northeast Republicans to Save the Party (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"Split over immigration, the GOP’s own stalwarts are attacking it as lost, dying, even ‘stupid.’ John Avlon argues that the party can solve its existential crisis by nurturing more politicians like Chris Christie, who have moderate records and wide appeal—including among Democrats."

Is Washington Getting Less Dysfunctional? (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic 
"From immigration reform to the debt ceiling, there are rampant signs the Capitol isn't the gridlocked mess to which we've become accustomed."

Five Reasons Republicans Won't Win Latino Voters with Immigration Reform (Harry Enten) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"If the GOP has decided to embrace immigration reform to bolster its electoral chances with Hispanic voters, it should think again."

The Fight on the Right Over Immigration from Politico
"The GOP needs Hispanics — if there’s one thing conservative pundits can agree on, it’s that. But as for this new immigration deal? Well, that’s another matter altogether, and it’s one that’s creating a split between the Republican party’s most influential media voices."
Don't be surprised if Obama and the Dems position the upcoming immigration legislation right where its going to really accentuate this split.  Thus even if the reforms don't pass (the most likely outcome despite today's happy talk), it will at least advance the further marginalization of the hard-right.

Another view:
Immigration divides GOP (David Lightman) from the McClatchy News Service 
"Republicans are split into two camps. There are those such as Rubio who will consider a path to citizenship along with tighter border security. They’re willing to talk to Democrats over how to deal with illegal immigrants and have strong business community support as well as a willingness by key senators to listen. Then there’s the hard line, championed by Limbaugh and others, who insist on tougher border enforcement and suggest “paths to citizenship” are a euphemism for amnesty."
I believe this author has it wrong.  The emphasis on border security and "no amnesty" on the hard right masks a very simple truth.  The basic attitude of the latter group is "send those 11 million back where they came from. Period. And don't allow hispanic immigrants to become citizens. Ever."  These folks will never embrace the reforms being considered.  Reform's only prospect is if the Dems join with a rump GOP made up of those lawmakers who have at least one foot in reality.

If you think I'm being cynical, check out THIS guy:
GOP Rep Says He Opposes Immigration Reform Because Latinos Are Uneducated, Will Never Support Republicans from Raw Story
"Responding to the bipartisan framework, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) echoed the rhetoric surrounding immigrants and Democratic voters throughout the 2012 election and suggested that Hispanics would never vote for Republicans who don’t provide them with government hand outs:..."

A Second G.O.P. (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"It’s time for a second Republican stream, one that shows a deep interest in reforming our bloated institutions and repairing our human capital."

Can Republicans Ever Stop Being The ‘Stupid Party’? (Gene Lyons) from the National Memo
"Today’s GOP thrives on idiot contumely. Nor did the crowd applaud Jindal’s pronouncement that Republicans “must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive…We are a populist party and need to make that clear.” Now exactly what Jindal means by a populist GOP is almost as interesting as what he thinks would constitute an intelligent political conversation."

Poll: Texans Oppose Rick Perry’s Re-Election (Henry Decker) from the National Memo
"According to a new Public Policy Polling poll, an overwhelming majority of Texas voters are sick of Governor Rick Perry. The poll finds that Perry is now one of the most unpopular governors in the country; ... Rick Perry seems to have pulled off the remarkable feat of being too extreme for Texas Republicans."
Wow!  There's more grey matter in Texas than I thought!

Bob Guccione's Penthouse Secrets Bared from the New York Post
"A Wealthy hedge funder who began buying unclaimed storage lockers as a hobby has uncovered a treasure trove of artifacts from the estate of late Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. Jeremy Frommer, a former Royal Bank of Canada managing director, snapped up a series of Englewood, NJ, storage spaces to find the meticulously preserved possessions of the flesh magnate who went from the Forbes 400 to bankruptcy."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

News Nuggets 1167

DAYEE PICTURE: A rare baby okapi (a deep forest relative of the giraffe) at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida.  From ZooBorns.

Senate Immigration Reform Proposal Surprisingly Good (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos
"...if the fate of those in-limbo immigrants really depends on those border-state governors, then look out. Because our challenge in the South has been motivating Latino voters into turnout out. If Texas Latinos voted at the same rates as California Latinos, the Lone Star State would already be a swing state. And nothing will motivate them more than giving them the opportunity to decide the fate of their mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, cousins and aunts and extended family."

Why Obama Picked Hagel (Bob Woodward) from the Washington Post
"In the first months of the Obama presidency in 2009, Chuck Hagel, who had just finished two terms as a U.S. senator, went to the White House to visit with the friend he had made during the four years they overlapped in the Senate. So, President Obama asked, what do you think about foreign policy and defense issues? According to an account that Hagel later gave, and is reported here for the first time, he told Obama: “We are at a time where there is a new world order. We don’t control it. You must question everything, every assumption, everything they” — the military and diplomats — “tell you.""
If Hagel said this, he sounds like he could make a great Secretary of Defense!

Is America in Decline? (Robert J. Samuelson) from the Washington Post 
"In a report to clients, analysts at Goldman Sachs argue that the United States still has the world’s strongest economy — and will have for years. There is a growing “awareness of the key economic, institutional, human capital and geopolitical advantages the U.S. enjoys over other economies,” contend Goldman’s analysts."
I rarely post anything by this unrelenting Eyeore of an economics pundit.  Even here, the sourness of this sour grape comes through!

Obama's Eyes Are on 2014 -- and Then His Legacy (Richard Benedetto) from Real Clear Politics
"What upset Boehner and many of his Republican colleagues is that they have finally recognized what Obama’s second inaugural address really was: the first speech of the 2014 congressional campaign. That has them in a panic. ... His apparent two-year strategy is to work hard to help Democrats win back control of the House of Representatives and use his final two years to build the liberal legacy he outlined in his address -- a legacy that will be near-impossible to achieve as long as the GOP controls the House."
I'm actually somewhat skeptical of this perspective -- simply because the odds of the Dems taking back the House in 2014 seem pretty long to me given the GOP's redistricting advantage.  BUT maybe Obama knows something I don't -- especially if his election machine from 2012 has some more juice in it!

Obama's Parting Gift to Hillary Clinton (Joshua Green) from Businessweek 
"... a team of top Obama donors decided to surprise Clinton, and thank her for her loyal service, by raising enough money to pay off her bills. As secretary of state, she was forbidden from political fundraising."

Why Obama Thanked Hillary (Michael Hirsh) from National Journal
"The president's former political rival journeyed a long, hard road to loyalty. ... Obama has, in truth, good reason to feel grateful to his former political rival--far more than the public generally knows. In an impressive display of discipline and devotion after one of the fiercest primary fights in American political history, Clinton managed to submerge her political ego almost totally during her four years in office..."

'We're All Living Longer'? No, We're Not (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos 
"They are completely blind to the fact that there's a big segment of the population that is in fact dying earlier than they did just two decades ago. That's reality."

The GOP’s Big Sequester Bluff from Talking Points Memo
"The contradictory postures suggest that GOP leaders are fronting for conference conservatives who are restive about their leaders’ failure to force Democrats to accept more cuts to federal spending. It’s also a thinly veiled bluff."

Romney Adviser: “The Culture Wars are Kind of Over and Republicans Largely Lost” (John Aravosis) from Americablog
"Romney 2012 Iowa adviser Dave Kochel told host Dave Price that, “frankly, the culture wars are kind of over and Republicans largely lost.”  (Video below.) Kochel uses the explanation a number of commentators are now relying on, the “demographic shift.”"

3 Tensions that are Breaking Apart the Republican Party from The Week 
"As Robert Reich forcefully argues, "The GOP crackup was probably inevitable. Inconsistencies and tensions within the GOP have been growing for years — ever since Ronald Reagan put together the coalition that became the modern Republican Party." ... Here are where the fault lines are forming:..."

A Giant Floating Airship Could Be Future of Flight (VIDEO) from Bloomberg News Service
"Bloomberg Television looks at the history and future of airships."

Monday, January 28, 2013

News Nuggets 1166

DAYLEE PICTURE: An aerial view of the Fordow nuclear facility near Qom in Iran.  From the Daily Telegraph of the UK.

Mystery Over 'Explosion' at Iran's Fordow Nuclear Site from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"Israeli and Iranian officials have both failed to explain the mystery of a reported explosion said to have rocked the notoriously impregnable Fordow nuclear site in Iran."

Ex-CIA Man: Iran Blast Largest Sabotage in Decades from the Jerusalem Post [of Israel in English]
"Iranian dissident-turned CIA operative Reza Kahlili told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that an alleged blast at the Fordow nuclear installation in Iran is "the largest case of sabotage in decades." Although it has not yet been verified, a report by  Kahlili, according to which a massive blast rocked Iran's key Fordow nuclear installation last week, continued to spread on Monday."

Iran Denies Mystery Explosion at Fordow Facility from the Jerusalem Post [of Israel in English]
"According to former Iranian Revolutionary Guard report, explosion at Fordow destroyed much of the instillation; remains unverified."
Those who follow this blog know that this is not the first time of reports like this one -- and that denial and silence are the standard Iranian response. Whether this is a bombing strike, sabotage (as the JPost suggests above) or an accident is unclear.  Based on my reading of the Stuxnet centrifuges sabotage from 2010, I think the latter two possibilities (or a combination of the two) are the more likely. Indeed, I suspect that Iran's nuclear program is shot through with intelligence leaks, corrupted software, and deliberately maladjusted hardware that any attempt by Iran to bring their program to the next level could cause explosions -- as I think happened in 2011 and perhaps at other times.  I'm confident Obama and his team have a pretty good sense of what's gone down.  We shall see. 

In N. Africa Terror Battle, U.S. Should Lead From Way Behind (Blake Hounshell) from CNN
"The hearings should have been more substantive because the United States is at a dangerous inflection point in North Africa and the Sahel region to its south, and leaders in both parties need to think carefully about how deeply we want to get involved in this volatile part of the world."

A Book Review of ‘The Insurgents’ by Fred Kaplan (Thanassis Cabanis) from the New York Times
"“The Insurgents,” by Fred Kaplan, tells the story of David H. Petraeus and the small fraternity of strategists that changed the way America conceived of, and actually fought, war."

Barack and Hillary: Before a Departure, a Rare Joint Interview from the New York Times 
"As for any residual bad feelings, they said it had taken their aides longer to get over it than it had taken them. “What did evolve was a friendship, as opposed to just a professional relationship,” Mr. Obama said. “Friendships involve a sense of trust and being in the foxhole together. And that emerged during the course of months when we were making some very tough decisions.”"

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s Lovefest on ‘60 Minutes’ (Lauren Ashburn) from the Daily Beast
"The president and his outgoing secretary of state were so laudatory of each other on the CBS news program that they were practically cuddling. Lauren Ashburn on the polishing of Hillary’s image—perhaps for 2016. Plus, watch the best moments."

Obama Spending Binge Never Happened (Rex Nutting) from the Wall Street Journal
"Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true. But it didn’t happen. "

Catholicism’s Curse (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
"Roman Catholic leaders pay too much heed to insulating, justifying and protecting their priesthood and themselves."

Three Strategies to Block the Gerrymandering of the Electoral College (John Nichols) from the Nation
"So can Priebus be stopped? It’s possible. But democracy advocates need to move fast, and smart. What to do?"

Makers, Takers, Fakers (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
" Their proposals for a makeover all involve changing the sales pitch rather than the product. When it comes to substance, the G.O.P. is more committed than ever to policies that take from most Americans and give to a wealthy handful."

What Should the Republican Party Stand For? (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic 
"GOP leaders don't just want to be the party of "no" -- but they have a hard time articulating what they want to say "yes" to."

GOP Digital Divide May Take Years to Bridge from Politico
"Republicans are running a 1.0 digital ground game operation in a 3.0 world — and they know it. At their recent leadership retreat, Chairman Reince Priebus and others sounded the bell for closing the vast
technological divide that made all the difference for Democrats in getting out the vote last fall in numbers that stunned the pundit class."
I doubt it will take nearly as long as this article suggests.  You don't need nearly as much grass roots activism or engagement when you have endless amounts of cash and can hire some high-priced consulting firms to do the intensive leg work for you.  Look for such firms to spring up like weeds after this last election; they'll be promising that, given enough money, they can replicate what Obama's team did for GOP lawmakers or their well-heeled backers.

The Hitler Home Movies: How Eva Braun Documented the Dictator’s Private Life (Robert McCrum) from Raw Story
"It’s hard, now, to appreciate how little was known of Hitler’s mistress in the 1950s and 60s. It was Becker’s research that would change the world’s perception of the Führer and the Aryan wife (Braun married Hitler the day before their suicide) who died at his side in the bunker."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

News Nuggets 1165

DAYLEE PICTURE: A lion sleeping in South Africa.  From National Geographic.

The Republican Pity Party (Colbert I. King) from the Washington Post   
King has for years been a prolific but clearly second-tier political pundit.  He's never been a pundit-of-the-day here, much less an up-front pundit! But in this lengthy column, he combines ironic schadenfreude (definition: pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others) with many on-the-mark observations on why the GOP is in the trouble they are.  This attitude closely tracks my own mix of feelings on a daily basis.
"Simply put, conservatives are in agony over the president’s smashing victory. Their pain is hard to watch. Only small-minded Democrats would gloat. What we’re seeing is the impact of losing when you believed with all your heart, soul and mind, buttressed by the predictions of pollsters and pundits, that you would win handily. ... For four long years they hit Obama with everything they had, assailing him at every turn. No insult was too offensive to be hurled; no abuse too outrageous to be tried; no name too abusive to call. From Day One, destruction of the Obama administration and preventing his reelection was top priority; the second item too far down the list to remember."

Scientists Hate the GOP for a Reason (Amanda Marcotte) from Salon
"What Sarewitz fails to understand is that scientists, as a community, admirably held off becoming overtly political until this shift occurred. Before recent election cycles, only researchers whose actual work was under attack who defended themselves. But now Republicans are a threat to science itself. ... They oppose these ideas because they come in conflict with Republican ideological concerns. In a larger sense, conservatives aren’t going to abandon their discomfort with empiricism, because it’s so destabilizing to their political authority."

As Netanyahu Weakens, Obama Grows Stronger (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"When most Americans hear the results of yesterday’s Israeli elections, they’ll be confused. When Barack Obama hears them, however, he should feel at least a little hope."

Barack Obama is Not Pleased: The President on His Enemies, the Media, and the Future of Football (Franklin Foer & Chris Hughes) from the New Republic
"Although he hardly sounded angry, he voiced an impatience with Republicans and the media (and college football) that he once carefully reserved for private conversations. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation."

Advocates for Gun Control Take to D.C. Streets from CBS News
"Thousands of people, many holding signs with names of gun violence victims and messages such as "Ban Assault Weapons Now," joined a rally for gun control on Saturday, marching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. Leading the crowd were marchers with "We Are Sandy Hook" signs, paying tribute to victims of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn."

Marco Rubio and the Neocon Resurgence (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest
"Their ascendance suggests that it is most improbable that a debate, let alone a civil war, will erupt within the GOP over foreign affairs. On the contrary, the neocons appear to be more firmly in control than ever."

Senators Near Agreement on Immigration (Rosalind S. Helderman and David Nakamura) from the Washington Post
"Proposal would represent the most substantive bipartisan effort toward comprehensive legislation in years."

Democrats, Don’t Freak Out! (Richard L. Hasen) from Slate
"Why fears that Republicans will gerrymander the Electoral College are overblown."

Republicans Might Be Outsmarting Themselves on the Electoral College (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Democrats don't have the votes to fight back with anything similar, but they do have another weapon in their back pocket: the National Popular Vote interstate compact, an agreement among states to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote nationwide. If states with more than half of all electoral votes sign up for this, it goes into effect."

What Is the Future of Conservatism? (Peter Wehner) from Commentary Magazine
"Every political movement, including conservatism, faces the danger of elevating certain policies into catechisms and failing to take into account new circumstances. When that occurs, we lose the capacity to correct ourselves."

Several responses to Wehner's piece:
Good Luck With That, Peter Wehner (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast 
"Conservatism needs people like Wehner to write big cover stories for Commentary on, for example, Why We Need to Stop Listening to Rush Limbaugh. It follows completely from what he argues here, after all. It would certainly get attention."

The Five-headed Future of Conservative Thought (Damon Linker) from The Week
"One place to look for signs is a symposium in the January issue of Commentary magazine on the future of conservatism in the wake of the 2012 election. No fewer than 53 intellectuals, pundits, and strategists weigh in. Should liberals be worried? To judge from the current thinking of their ideological adversaries, the answer is no. Or rather: Not yet."

Why Pundits Should Stop Blaming 'the Media' (Ryu Spaeth) from The Week 
"The media is treated like a monolithic entity — and its top critics are often card-carrying members. ... Krauthammer speaks of the media and the commentariat as if he didn't belong to them, when in fact he is using one of the country's largest print and internet platforms to make his argument. ... In other words, a very large chunk of the media, including Krauthammer, has pegged Obama as a crypto-socialist for the past four years."

Alexandria the Great (G. Willow Wilson) from Newsweek
"An ancient city that's alive once more with books."

Mud, Blood and Terror: The Brutality of the Vietnam War Captured in Harrowing Images from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"LIFE magazine war photographer, Larry Burrows, covered the fighting on the front lines during the Vietnam War and is now being remembered for his extraordinary work as the 41 year anniversary of his death approaches.  Mr Burrows captured the compelling images of Operation Prairie, the U.S. offensive against the North Vietnamese near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), that lasted from August 3 to October 27, 1966."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

News Nuggets 1164

DAYLEE PICTURE: A cape fur seal off the shore of South Africa. From National Geographic.

What the Suez Crisis Can Remind Us About U.S. Power (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"What’s interesting about Eisenhower is that, while sympathetic to Israel’s defense needs, he was also determined to maintain an independent U.S. policy and avoid a war that might involve the Soviet Union."

The Indian Spring (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"Americans dismayed by politics in Washington might find something familiar in what’s happening in India. Here, frustration with government has turned into rage."

China Wouldn't Mind a Unified Korea—Just Not Yet (Matt Schiavenza) from the Atlantic
"How far will China to go to protect an increasingly belligerent North Korea?"

Why Obama Didn’t Bother to Reach Out to the GOP (George E. Condon Jr.) from National Journal
"In normal times, the president’s Inaugural Address might have been viewed as overly divisive and polarizing. But those days are past."

Key Republicans Back Away From Electoral Vote Scheme from Talking Points Memo
"Momentum for an RNC-backed plan to rig blue state electoral votes in favor of GOP presidential candidates appears to be stalling as more Republicans come out against the idea."

The Tomorrow Majority (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"The country isn't more liberal -- but the center has moved, and Republicans have not."

The Ice Is Breaking (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine
"There was unanimity, for once, among the Washington commentariat that it was a liberal speech--but, with the exception of climate change, this was not an agenda-setting address. It was a proclamation that the Reagan reaction to the events of the 1960s had come to an end. The welfare state would not be repealed. ... The speech confirmed the November results: that a political party tethered to a white, regional, rural base no longer has the electoral firepower to govern the country."

Deficit Hawks Down (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"President Obama barely mentioned the budget deficit in his Inaugural Address, and that’s a very good thing."

House Republicans, Living in a Fantasy World (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Because the state has a Republican legislature, his budget, or something close to it, will likely become law. He has real power, so he is acting responsibly. Ryan and his fellow House Republicans, by contrast, know their budget will never become law. They are free to be as reckless as they want to be, to throw as many bombs as they wish. The dichotomy explains why the national Republican Party is in so much difficulty now, even as Republican governors maintain strong brands."

Lessons Conservatives Need to Learn: Obama is a Formidable Foe. He Means to Change the Country and Crush the GOP (Peggy Noonan) from the Wall Street Journal
"Finally, it became obvious this week that the Republican party top to bottom has to start taking Barack Obama seriously. ... He's a chill presence in a warm-blooded profession.  But he means business. He means to change America in fundamental ways and along the lines of justice as he sees it."
Noonan, as usual, makes several good points in this lengthy piece -- although she has come to rely way too much on the right-wing spin machine for much of her analysis.  It's a shame.  She used to be much more like David Frum and Ross Douthat.  

A 12-Step Program for the Republican Party (Tim Alberta and Jim O'Sullivan) from National Journal
"The GOP has finally admitted it has a problem winning over voters. Here’s a 12-step program to get the party back on track."

Republicans Today are Held Hostage (Carter Eskew) from the Washington Post 
"Just as Democrats once clung to a narrow issue set that appealed to its shrinking base but had outlived its usefulness for recruiting new voters, Republicans today are held hostage by a diminished conservative, white and male minority. ... There seem to be three responses to this Republican political trauma."

As G.O.P. Looks to Rebuild, Party Divisions Grow from the New York Times  
"The competing schools of thought illustrate the conflicting currents pulling the Republican Party in opposite directions: Even as Mr. Jindal and an array of leaders are encouraging the party to temper its tone and appeal to a broader set of voters, its core conservative voters continue to punish Republicans who do just that."

GOP Wants to Party Like It's 1994, Voters Be Damned (Robert Schlesinger) from US News and World Report
"Judging by their actions, you would think the GOP had just won a 1994- or 2010-style vindication at the polls. ... The right is haunted. They are not haunted by their recent, round rejection by the voters but by the ghosts of their own victories past."

GOP Leaders Have Obama Campaign Envy (Beth Reinhard) from National Journal 
“Community organizing? Sign me up!" said Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry, alluding to the president’s former occupation and the underlying spirit of his grassroots campaign. “We’re going to find ways to engage with diverse communities.”
BOY -- the ironies here are extraordinary!!  They used to mock Obama, the community organizer, implying that he never did "real work."  The sad part -- look for fat-cat GOP candidates in 2014 and later to hire expensive consulting firms to do their "community organizing" for them.  Screw the grass roots!

POLL: Clear Majority Want No Medicare, Social Security Or Education Cuts (Jason Sattler) from the National Memo
"58 percent want no cuts to Medicare or Social Security and 61 percent want to completely preserve current public education spending. So what do Americans want to cut? Clear majorities say they are for some cuts to defense, health insurance subsidies, unemployment insurance, food stamps, aid to farmers, federal salaries, foreign aid and the war in Afghanistan."

12 Rational Responses to Irrational Gun Arguments (Richard Eskow) from Salon and Alternet
"With the gun control debate hitting a fever pitch, a handy how-to guide for dealing with gun rights."

In Fight Over Life, a New Call by Catholics from the New York Times 
"Some Catholic leaders and theologians are asking why so many of those who call themselves “pro-life” have been silent, or even opposed, when it comes to gun control."

States' Rights Pushed in Bill that Would 'Assert the Sovereignty of the State' from the Clarion-Ledger
"More than a half century ago, Mississippi created a state Sovereignty Commission to block enforcement of federal laws. Now two key state lawmakers are introducing legislation to attempt to do much the same thing. House Bill 490 would create a committee to help neutralize federal laws and regulations “outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government in the United States Constitution.”"

Diderot, an American Exemplar? Bien Sûr! (Andrew Curran) from the New York Times
"What Denis Diderot, the great provocateur of the Enlightenment, can teach us about freethinking."

Spouses Club Relents, says Lesbian Army Wife Can be 'Full Member' from NBC News
"Hours after same-sex Army wife Ashley Broadway was named Fort Bragg's 2013 “spouse of the year,” the on-base spouses club — that has for two months rebuffed Broadway's bid to join — fully reversed course and invited her "to become a full member," according to emails sent to NBC News and Broadway."

Friday, January 25, 2013

News Nuggets 1163

DAYLEE PICTURE: Compton Downs in Shaftesbury in the UK.  From the Daily Mail.

N. Korea Threatens Nuclear Test, More Rocket Launches in Wake of New Sanctions from the Washington Post
"North Korea has spent decades as East Asia’s chief provocateur — developing weapons; launching rockets; making and breaking denuclearization deals; threatening all-out war — and analysts admit that its rhetoric can often feel repetitive. But the North, those analysts say, is indeed becoming more dangerous."

Barack Obama — Politician (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"...he person who would succeed in politics must have something different, an inner certainty born, sometimes, of failure. As Weber wrote: “Only he has the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer.” This strikes me as an apt description of Obama, circa 2013."

Obama Follows in Reagan’s Footsteps (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post
"Like Reagan, Obama hopes to usher in a long-term electoral realignment — in Obama’s case toward the moderate left, thereby reversing the 40th president’s political legacy. The Reagan metaphor helps explain the tone of Obama’s inaugural address, built not on a contrived call to an impossible bipartisanship but on a philosophical argument for a progressive vision of the country rooted in our history."

Boehner, Ryan Gamble on Pledge to Balance the Budget in 10 Years from The Hill
"Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) pledge to back a Republican budget that balances within 10 years raises the political stakes for his party and sets up another major test of his leadership. Democrats eyeing a takeover of the House in 2014 view the move as a gift, since the GOP budget plan will likely make deeper cuts to popular government programs that any leadership-backed blueprint has before."

In Benghazi Hearings, Hillary Clinton Storms Capitol Hill (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"They blamed her mismanagement for the death of Americans in Benghazi, Libya. They accused her of a cover-up. Some even suggested that she faked an illness to avoid testifying about the attack. On Wednesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally had her chance to respond to critics, and the outgoing secretary of state served up a potent brew of righteous outrage. ... Clinton’s appearance on the Hill, expected to be her last before she is succeeded by John Kerry, provided a broader vindication of the one-time (and probably future) presidential candidate."

Benghazi Hearings: Capitol Hill’s Angry Little Men Keep Making Hillary Bigger (Joe Conason) from the National Memo
"Anyone truly concerned over the safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad ... has fresh reason for fury over last September’s disaster in Benghazi and its aftermath. But the target of public anger should not be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose conduct has been exemplary  ... Far more deserving of scorn are the likes of Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and all the other grandstanding, conspiracy-mongering, ill-informed politicians who questioned her Wednesday on Capitol Hill."

Hillary Clinton 69, Rand Paul 10 (Brent Budowsky) from The Hill
"Paul suggesting he would have fired Clinton is like the Little League coach suggesting he would have fired Babe Ruth. I expect Hillary Clinton to run for and win the presidency, and I very much hope Paul runs against her. If he does, Hillary Rodham Clinton will pulverize Rand Paul into outer space."

Hillary Faces Down the Angry Men (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"From simpleton Ron Johnson to delusional Rand Paul, GOP senators swung at the Secretary of State and hit themselves."

In Her Capitol Hill Swan Song, Hillary Clinton Shines (Suzi Parker) from the Washington Post
"Hillary conquered Capitol Hill on Wednesday. ... For Hillary, the testimony was a triumphant capstone on her term as the chief U.S.vdiplomat. If Hillary had not dealt with the Benghazi affair before she left office, she could have been viewed as a failure and a weakling. Instead, she came blazing onto Capitol Hill in true Hillary style"

It Takes A Lot Of Nerve (David Kurtz) from Talking Points Memo
" takes a lot of nerve to sit there and rip a secretary over the decisions made about how and where to deploy security resources when not only is the department chronically underfunded and having to make do, but while you yourself have called for slashing the departments budget by nearly half. That’s not serious. And neither is Paul."

GOP Attracting Minorities? (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"Not. Going. To. Happen. Michael Tomasky on why Republicans’ recent rhetoric about trying to win over minority voters is completely delusional."

Democrats Launch Plan to Turn Texas Blue from Politico
"National Democrats are taking steps to create a large-scale independent group aimed at turning traditionally conservative Texas into a prime electoral battleground, crafting a new initiative to identify and mobilize progressive voters in the rapidly-changing state, strategists familiar with the plans told POLITICO. ... At the center of the effort is Jeremy Bird, formerly the national field director for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, who was in Austin last week to confer with local Democrats about the project."
Look for them to get substantial push-back from the national and state-level GOP. They know that if Texas truly becomes a swing state, all the redistricting shinanigans they're pursuing now in states like PA will make no difference in presidential races.  Can this effort make a difference in 2016?  I suspect it's too soon - but we shall see.

America Is Ever So Slowly Falling Out of Love With Guns (Joshua Green) from Bloomberg Businessweek
"In the near term, then, advocates of gun control will likely be disappointed. But their prospects look much better further on, because the composition of the Democratic electorate is changing in ways that make it more willing to impose restrictions."

Bobby Jindal Speaking Truth to GOP Power from the Washington Post
"Jindal’s speech — and his call to “recalibrate the compass of conservatism” — is the latest shred of a growing amount of evidence that the Louisiana governor is positioning himself to not only run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but do so in direct (or close to it) opposition to his party in the nation’s capital."
Yeah -- based on the talking points here, he'll be able to commiserate with John Huntsman about the
prospects of this strategy succeeding.  

Learning to Love Grains, Potatoes was Key to the Evolution of Dogs (David Brown) from the Washington Post
"You know that dog biscuit shaped like a bone but made mostly of wheat? Your dog’s willingness to eat that treat, instead of going for a bone in your thigh, helps explain how its ancestors evolved from wolves into house pets."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

News Nuggets 1162

DAYEE PICTURE: Walking the dog at Point Isobel in Richmond, California.  From National Geographic.

Obama II: Prepare for America's New Danger-Averse Global Course (Andreas Rüesch) from the Neue Zuercher Zeitung [of Switzerland in English] 
"Weakened by years of partisan bickering but freed of the pressure of having to face popular election again, Barack Obama will on Sunday begin his second term as leader of the United States. ...  There will be no more large-scale operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pressure on the Pentagon to economize will continue to grow. Land forces, in particular, will have to justify their existence. Faced with the choice of trimming the social welfare state or the military budget, Obama will no doubt choose the latter."

One for the History Books (Todd Purdum) from Vanity Fair
"The 57th presidential inauguration was different in many ways from the 56th —but deeply satisfying, and a celebration of some things that are right about America."

Dumb America (Garry Wills) from the New York Review of Books
"Tradition dies hard, hardest among those who cannot admit to the toll it has taken on them. That is why the worst aspects of the South are resurfacing under Obama’s presidency. It is the dignity. That a black should have not merely rights but prominence, authority, and even awe—that is what many Southerners cannot stomach. ... This is the thing that makes the South the distillation point for all the fugitive extremisms of our time, the heart of Say-No Republicanism, the home of lost causes and nostalgic lunacy."

Obama’s Big and Quiet Transformation (Michael Tomasky) from the New York Review of Books
"All these factors point toward Republicans taking a much harder line in the spring. Here, it’s important to understand that Republican obstructionism is not merely ideological, although it is certainly that. Few realize that the Republicans have created a perverse political incentive system, which rewards obstruction of administration legislation and punishes cooperation with Democrats."

Obama: A Party of One (Josh Kraushaar) from National Journal
"President looks to bypass Congress, even his own allies, in passing second-term agenda."

Contemplating Obama’s Place in History, Statistically (Nate Silver) from the New York Times
"With President Obama’s second term under way, we have begun to see more reflections on how he might come to be regarded historically. As common sense might dictate — and as the statistics will also reveal — it is far too soon to conclude very much about this. Second-term presidents may be derided as lame ducks, but it is often in the second term when reputations are won or lost."

Post-Partisan No More: Who Is the New Obama? (Ron Fournier) from the National Journal
"Obama's inaugural address buried the brand he rode to the White House. What will take its place?"

Obama Version II Ready to 'Return Blow for Blow!' (Jean-Sébastien Stehli) from Le Figaro [of France in English]
"This is a moment to savor. ... After completing Herculean tasks, Obama can focus on his values. That is the meaning of his inaugural speech. ... The program for Barack Obama's second term will soon be put forward in his State of the Union speech. The president who always sought compromise with Republicans and was guided by one objective - his own defeat - has been replaced by a White House resident determined to return blow for blow. Finally!"

Why Benghazi Didn't Bring Down Hillary Clinton (Harold Maass) from The Week
"Republicans accuse her of negligence and worse in connection with the deadly attack in Libya. 4 theories on why the critiques just won't stick."

House Republicans Declare Victory After Debt Limit Surrender (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"It's not that I was expecting them to come out and hail the demise of the Boehner rule, but do they really think this nonsense is convincing spin? Apparently so..."

The GOP’s Biggest Cave Yet (Steve Kornacki) from Salon
"Instead of voting to raise the debt ceiling, now they'll just pretend it doesn't exist."

The House Suspends the Debt Limit: Are Republicans in the Driver's Seat? from The Week
"Boehner has put the House in a position where it has to pass a budget that would cut spending more severely than the so-called Ryan plan, which proved to be political poison on the campaign trail."

Dems Put One Last Squeeze On Boehner from Talking Points Memo
"The thrust was more or less: “We’d like to thank Speaker Boehner for his extraordinary leadership in totally caving to us, and congratulate President Obama on his enormous victory over Republicans, and we look forward to passing the House bill right away.”"

Boehner: Obama’s Goal is to 'Annihilate' the Republican Party (Jonathan Easley) from The Hill
"Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he believes the primary goal of President Obama’s second term is to “annihilate the Republican Party.”"

Obama Elevates Stonewall, Boxes In Roberts (Frank Rich) from New York Magazine
"Every week, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich talks with assistant editor Eric Benson about the biggest stories in politics and culture. This week: Obama's inaugural, the GOP's debt-ceiling surrender, and the future of abortion rights."

Obama's Covert Plans for Climate (Darren Samuelsohn) from Politico 
"President Barack Obama got green hearts fluttering when he devoted more time to climate change than any other single issue during his inaugural address. But don’t expect a climate crusade. It’s more like covert action."

Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell Near Filibuster Deal from Politico
"The exact contents of the package remain murky, but Reid is expected to win GOP concessions to speed debate during a handful of occasions, including to end filibusters intended to prevent debate from beginning on bills."

Religious Right Joins the NRA in Gun Control Battle from Salon
"Unsurprisingly, groups like the Family Research Council and the Liberty Counsel are standing with Wayne LaPierre."
They answer the eternal question: what would Jesus do?  Clearly, he would reach for his Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle.

Did the Pro-Life Movement Lead to More Single Moms? (Naomi Cahn and June Carbone) from Slate
A legacy conservatives have not grappled with. ... They express these two beliefs—that they are Christian and thus uncomfortable with abortion and that they are relieved their daughter decided to raise the child alone—as if they are not connected. But in fact this may be one of the stranger, more unexpected legacies of the pro-life movement that arose in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade..."

And These Are the People Making Laws in Louisiana (Phil Plait) from Slate 
"I mentioned Zack Kopplin, a young man (he’s 19!) who has gone toe-to-toe with creationists in the Louisiana government. He’s been tireless in pointing out their hypocrisy and illegal activities. After I posted that, Kopplin sent me an email where he included links to a couple of must-see videos."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

News Nuggets 1161

DAYLEE PICTURE: Parakeets in the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador.  From National Geographic.

Texas Shooting Puts New Spotlight on Issue of Concealed Weapons on Campus from the Daily Beast
"The Lone Star College incident left three people injured, two in custody, and one charged—and shook up a Texas state senator’s bid to allow concealed weapons on campus. Christine Pelisek reports. ... Their decision shows that even among some staunch conservatives, Mr. Obama’s inauguration could be ushering in a more pragmatic tone — if not necessarily a shift in beliefs."

Obama Speech Leaves G.O.P. Stark Choices from the New York Times
"President Obama’s aggressive Inaugural Address on Monday presented Congressional Republicans with a stark choice over the next two years: accommodate the president’s agenda on immigration, guns, energy and social programs and hope to take the liberal edge off issues dictated by the White House, or dig in as the last bulwark against a re-elected Democratic president and accept the political risks of that hard-line stance."

GOP Likely to OK Temporary Debt-Ceiling Extension in House Vote (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"The House is expected to vote Wednesday on authorizing the government’s borrowing authority through May 19—and it appears Boehner has lassoed enough rebellious Republicans to say yes."

GOP’s Magic Debt Ceiling Plan Won’t Solve the Problem (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"When it comes down to it, the current governing crisis we’re dealing with right now is the result of the same old problem: Republicans who claim to care about the deficit don’t want to agree to any more deficit reduction in the form of new revenues from rich people."

A New Obama (Paul Begala) from the Daily Beast
"He confidently took his part in a debate that stretches back centuries. The president gave the communitarian vision in contraposition to Reagan’s anti-government individualism. He mocked the notion that an individual alone can meet and master the challenges of the 21st century as akin to sending musket-bearing militiamen to confront Hitler’s Panzers."

Obama: No Patsy Now (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"What it all really means, of course, is that Barack Obama has been liberated by a second term, free to take risks that he hopes will make his legacy great. This is his moment, his emancipation proclamation, his hinge point of history — and there’s no looking back now."

The Obama Majority (Harold Meyerson) from the Washington Post
"“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek,” candidate Barack Obama said in 2008. At the time, his comments came in for criticism: They were narcissistic; they were tautological; they didn’t make a whole lot of sense. But in the aftermath of Obama’s 2012 reelection and his second inaugural address, his 2008 remarks seem less a statement of self-absorption than one of prophecy. There is an Obama majority in American politics, symbolized by Monday’s throng on the Mall, whose existence is both the consequence of profound changes to our nation’s composition and values and the cause of changes yet to come."

The Liberal Hour (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times
"America may not be quite as liberal as its president, but so long as the Republican Party remains unable to offer a coherent alternative to progressivism there's an opportunity to continue pushing the American center leftward. And on the evidence of his second inaugural (and, indeed, his entire post-re-election political approach), that's an opportunity Obama is determined to exploit. For now, there are good reasons to think he will succeed. Liberalism's majority is real..."

Can Obama’s Second Term Unleash Power of His First? (Ezra Klein) from the Bloomberg News Service
"U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term confronting a familiar and frustrating incongruity: the gap between how much change he has fostered and how little about the country seems different. A partial accounting of Obama’s first term reveals more accomplishments than most presidents secure in two."

Reid to Senate Republicans: Filibuster Deal in 36 Hours or Face Nuclear Option (Alexander Bolton) from The Hill
"The Nevada Democrat said he would give Republicans another 24 to 36 hours to agree to filibuster reform and then trigger the so-called nuclear option. This controversial tactic would allow him to change the Senate rules with a simple majority vote."

Background Checks: Senate Republicans In Disarray Over Popular Gun Control Measure from the Huffington Post
"Ask a Senate Republican if he or she supports an assault weapons ban and you'll likely get a "no." But ask about tighter background checks -- one of few items in President Barack Obama's gun violence package with a shot at passing Congress -- and you'll likely get a vague response about needing more information, if you get a response at all. "Uh, I don't know what you mean," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who then ended the conversation by turning around and walking into a room where senators were having lunch, closing the door behind him."

U.S. Budget Discord Is Top Threat to Global Economy in Poll from the Bloomberg News Service
"Global investors say the state of the U.S. government’s finances is the greatest risk to the world economy and almost half are curbing their investments in response to continuing budget battles, a Bloomberg poll shows."

Sundance’s ‘Manhunt’: Three CIA Agents Who Hunted Bin Laden Tell All (Marlow Stern) from the Daily Beast
"The documentary ‘Manhunt’ chronicles the CIA’s twenty-year hunt for Osama bin Laden. Three CIA agents featured in the film tell Marlow Stern about ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ torture, Bill Clinton’s culpability, and more."

Clinton More Popular than Biden; Let the 2016 Handicapping Begin from ABC News
"Of two potential Democratic successors to Barack Obama, one has a clear advantage in personal popularity: Hillary Clinton, whose favorability rating exceeds Joe Biden’s by a hefty 19 percentage points in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. ... Clinton also shapes up well against prominent Republicans, as measured in polling last summer."

Joe Biden 'Intoxicated' by 2016 Run from Politico
"Joe Biden summoned more than 200 Democratic insiders to the vice presidential residence Sunday night to chat about the 2012 triumph — but many walked away convinced his rising 2016 ambitions were the real intent of the long, intimate night. “I took a look at who was there,” said longtime New Hampshire state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, “and said to myself, ‘There’s no question he’s thinking about the future.’ ”"
If Hillary runs, he has almost no chance.  If she chooses NOT to run, he has as good a chance as anyone else I could name.  In the main, though, it has long been my sense that Biden's sell-by date has long passed.  Younger voters, African American and Latino voters -- I can't see them viewing a Biden nomination with any excitement.  It will be interesting to see where Obama eventually comes down on who he wants for his successor.

The 2016 Presidential Race Begins Today (Stuart Rothenberg) from Roll Call 
"... it is never too early to ponder about the next step of the political ladder. And for some, the White House is the only rung that really matters."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

News Nuggets 1160

DAYLEE PICTURE: A cold day in Teesdale in the UK. From the Daily Mail of the UK.

The Obama Revolution: Republicans Must Face the Reality of Obama’s Success (Matthew Continetti) from the Washington Free Beacon
"On the eve of his second inauguration, we ought to face the unpleasant fact that Obama will be remembered as a president of achievement and consequence. It does not matter if, like I do, you think those achievements are horrible and that their consequences will be worse. Obama’s reversal of the Reagan revolution is here."

House to Vote Wednesday on Raise in Debt Limit from the Associated Press 
"The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on an increase in the nation's debt limit, a move designed to prevent a first-ever government default. The vote marks a change in strategy for House Republicans who run the chamber and who remain adamant about reducing government spending but decided not to use the debt limit to trigger a confrontation with President Barack Obama."

‘Obama Made History Today’: Reactions To Obama’s Second Inaugural Address (Pema Levy) from Talking Points Memo
"Liberals and conservatives alike took stock of the progressive vision articulated in President Obama’s second inaugural address Monday, which called for equal rights for minorities and a robust social safety net for those in need. ... Here’s a roundup of key reactions:..."

The Collective Turn (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"The best Inaugural Addresses make an argument for something. President Obama’s second one, which surely has to rank among the best of the past half-century, makes an argument for a pragmatic and patriotic progressivism."

Obama’s Progressive Second Inaugural Address (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The Obama who begins his second term is much more acutely aware that the opposing party rejects, at the most philosophical level, the definition of the good that he has put forward as the national creed. Four years ago he expressed a jaunty confidence that the differences must be bridged. Today he committed himself to the same goal, but with a wariness borne of harsh experience."

Obama’s Unapologetic Inaugural Address (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post
"He gave a speech in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt’s second inaugural and Ronald Reagan’s first: Like both, Obama’s was unapologetic in offering an argument for his philosophical commitments and an explanation of the policies that naturally followed. Progressives will be looking back to this speech for many years, much as today’s progressives look back to FDR’s, and conservatives to Reagan’s."

An Expansive Case for Progressive Governance, Grounded in Language of Founding Fathers (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"Halfway through President Obama’s inaugural address, James Fallows tweeted: “I believe this is the most ‘progressive’ speech he’s ever given.” I would take that a step further. Obama’s speech lacked signature lines and was more direct than soaring, but it was nonetheless enormously ambitious. "

America's Most Important Gay Rights Speech? (Richard Socarides) from the New Yorker
"No one anticipated it, but President Barack Obama used the occasion of his second Inaugural Address to give what was perhaps the most important gay-rights speech in American history. ... President Obama used the occasion to make the first direct reference to gay-rights in an Inaugural Address, and he did so with a power and forthrightness we have not heard before, even from him."

Scenes from the Inauguration (David Remnick) from the New Yorker
"This was Barack Obama without apology—a liberal emboldened by political victory and a desire to enter the history books with a progressive agenda. His rhetoric was not high-flown, but it was muscular, clear. Gone is the primacy of compromise, which marked Obama’s days as president of the Harvard Law Review and even his first years in office. He no longer seems determined to transcend ideology or partisanship; experience has led him toward an engagement with politics in a tougher, clearer way."

Chinese Bloggers, Seeing Obama’s Bible, Ask If Religion is the Secret to Democracy (Lily Kuo) from the Atlantic
"We’ve reported before on how interested Chinese people have been in US politics lately, ranging from fascination with the spectacle of the presidential race to admiration for open debate. Now that a new generation of leaders are taking the helm in China in March and talking about reform, at least some Chinese are looking at the US and wondering if religion is the key to constitutional democracy."

Is Obama Trying to Destroy the GOP? (Jill Lawrence) from National Journal 
"From immigration to climate change, the president lays out an agenda that will aggravate Republican divisions."

Some Ph.D.'s Choose to Work Off the Grid from the Chronicle of Higher Education
"It might be easy to mistake Thomas Ernst for a traditional academic. His CV has a long list of journal articles, and he can often be found on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He attends lectures, works with graduate students, and spends time in its libraries. But Mr. Ernst is not on the tenured faculty at UMass, nor is he a professor anywhere else. He is an independent scholar, who does most of his research and writing from the solitude of the second bedroom in his small apartment near the Amherst campus. In the past 20 years he has written a book, published a dozen journal articles, and contributed two chapters in encyclopedias."

Is that a Compass, a Map, a Toothbrush and a Bottle of Purell in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy To See Me? from NPR's This American Life 
A cautionary tale of transformation gone wrong!! Hilarious ... and strangely inspiring.
"... he was changing his name to "Peace Pilgrim." He plans to spend six months walking, in hopes that he'll figure out his purpose in life. He gives away everything he owns and all his money, and sets off from Delaware. He lasts three days."

Rotation, Rotation, Rotation: The House Built on a TRICYCLE for Those Who Can't Afford Their Own Place from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"As the populations of the world's major cities continue to grow, accommodation will become an increasingly sought-after commodity. Now designers in China, which itself has more than one billion inhabitants, have have come up with a potential solution. It's a mobile home called the Tricycle House that has been created for people who cannot afford their own home. It is equipped with an integrated water tank, bath tub and a stove."