Wednesday, January 16, 2013

News Nuggets 1155

DAYLEE PICTURE: A bird diving for fish in Mexico.  From National Geographic.

Obama Gets Tough (David Frum) from the Daily Beast
Frum, as is often the case, is eloquently spot-on with this column. 
"In his first term, President Obama reached out to political opponents. He praised Republicans, shaped his stimulus program to please Republicans, based his health plan on Republican ideas—even showed up at the Republican congressional retreat in January 2010. The reelected Obama, however, has struck out on a very different path. In the two months since November, he has played much rougher than in all the four previous years. ... What he wants is a reckless Republican overreach, leading to public outrage, leading to a Republican rout. The president has been often quoted as saying he wants to “break the fever.” Translated into plainer English: he wants to break his opponents."

Sandy Relief Passes House Despite Conservative Opposition from the Huffington Post
"The full $51 billion relief bill passed the House 241-180, with 179 Republicans opposed."
As the Frum article above suggests, this is a KEY victory for Obama.  Both on the fiscal cliff and now on hurricane relief, controversial legislation got through the House with Democrats and a small (but decisive) rump of "moderate" Republicans.  These victories indicate that we can (hopefully) say "sayanora" to the Hastert Rule, the House Republican rule that has said since the fall of Newt Gingrich that no bill will be brought to the floor without the support of a majority of the majority of GOP house members.  It also suggests that a new governing coalition is at least possible in the House, one that basically allows the hard right members to vote against everything while still allowing essential legislation to pass.  What we MIGHT also be seeing is the Tea Party Republicans seeing the political benefit of allowing this coalition to form and proceed.  The right-wingers can go back to their districts and say how much they opposed this and that without paying any political price for falling off cliffs, sending the country into default, or shutting down the government.  Of course, we will have to see how the debt ceiling and sequestration battles play out.

In Debt Game, an Early Move From Obama (Richard Stevenson) from the New York Times
"In a high-stakes negotiation, the most important moves often come not in the end game but at the very start, when one side or the other prevails in defining what is on the table. ... Mr. Obama appeared intent on establishing that he was just one more deal away from putting the government back on sound footing, if only Republicans would go along. His numbers are relatively straightforward."

Another GOP Senator Recognizes the Inevitable (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"Reality seems to be enjoying a sudden burst of momentum this afternoon, as more Republicans and conservatives are coming out and acknowledging the debt ceiling will have to be raised. The latest: GOP Senator Susan Collins."

Poll: Obama Favored On Debt Ceiling Talks from the Huffington Post 
"President Barack Obama enters the debt limit talks with largely the same set of advantages he enjoyed during the fiscal cliff debate: relatively strong personal capital and a public inclined to side with him on the issues at hand, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows."

With Schumer Support, Predictions Of Hagel Confirmation Battle Fizzle (Ali Gharib) from the Daily Beast
"Today, Schumer came out in support of Hagel. Gillibrand, too, is not poised to buck the president on his defense pick. And with 55 Democrats in the Senate set to fall in line, only a few of Hagel's fellow Republicans will need to be peeled off to block a filibuster—a possibility that sources say is not even being discussed by Republicans on the Hill."

U.S. Neocons Should Heed Hagel’s Eisenhower Model (Evan Thomas) from the Bloomberg News Service
"The conflict between Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. secretary of defense, and his neoconservative detractors feels personal. Hagel once disparaged the neocons as “chicken hawks,” and the neocons call Hagel “an appeaser.” But beneath the name calling lies a deeper and more substantive divide in the Republican Party that goes back more than a half-century.
Hagel has told friends that he takes Dwight Eisenhower, a fellow soldier, as his model."

Bush Speechwriter Michael Gerson Exposes Obama’s Sinister Being-Reasonable Ploy (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
Chait nails how unsustainable the GOP's central "blame Obama" meme is! "Gerson’s method of reconciling his party loyalty and disdain for the party’s stance is to blame it all on Obama. Here's the really devious part of Obama’s gambit. After Republicans are forced to reject his sensible and popular positions, they will likely shut down the government, thereby hurting the public and making them like Obama even more and Republicans even less."
THAT OBAMA!  He is SO mean!!

For ‘Party of Business,’ Allegiances Are Shifting (Jackie Calmes) from the New York Times
"Corporate chiefs in recent months have pleaded publicly with Republicans to raise their taxes for the sake of deficit reduction, and to raise the nation’s debt limit without a fight lest another confrontation like that in 2011 wallop the economy. But the lobbying has been to no avail. This is not their parents’ Republican Party."
Even the Koch brothers are slamming the GOP!

House GOP Desperately Seeking Agenda from Politico
"The leadership has yet to cobble together anything resembling an agenda, and their members are complaining about what they describe as poor messaging. Right now, House Republicans don’t know how to challenge Obama and whether it’s even worth the fight."

Obama to Announce Most Expansive Gun-control Agenda in Generations (Philip Rucker) from the Washington Post
"President Obama on Wednesday will formally announce the most aggressive and expansive national gun-control agenda in generations as he presses Congress to mandate background checks for all firearms buyers and prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips."

Obama Gun Proposal to Look Beyond Mass Shootings from the New York Times 
“The president has made clear that he intends to take a comprehensive approach,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday. Mr. Carney said the proposals were aimed, broadly, at what he called “the scourge of gun violence in this country.”

NRA Membership Spike May Be Driven By Huge Discounts from the Huffington Post
"While some gun owners may feel jittery about the prospects of new legislation, the NRA is also giving them another incentive to join its organization. Since December, the group has been running a major discount membership campaign. "

The NRA’s Shameful Day: Shooting App for Kids, ‘Stand and Fight’ Ad (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"The shooting app for 4-year-olds, one month after Sandy Hook, was bad enough. Then came the ad deliberately insulting the president. The NRA’s just doubling down on indecency, says John Avlon."

NRA Ad Attacked for Including Obama Daughters from Politico
"“They are out of step, out of the mainstream, totally out of sync with what’s going on in our society, and quite frankly after seeing that, I think some of the people who run that thing are sick,” Brzezinski said. “I really do. I think they are sick in the head. “And I’m serious,” she continued. “I am embarrassed right now.”"
The ad is offensive on so many levels.  Anytime I hear Obama attacked as "elitist" I see it as the right-wing brain's code for "uppity."  How DARE Obama presume to act like a wealthy white person!? However, my suspicion is that this ad will only appeal to those who already hate Obama.  If there is some attempt here to reach out to average, middle-of-the-road voters, I can't imagine that this will have any impact whatsoever.  Indeed, the ad's heavy-handed-ness is so transparently divisive and wrong-headed on its face, I won't be surprised if it backfires -- not so much on the NRA -- but on the GOP who seem poised again to line up on the wrong side of where most of the public is on this issue.

Hillary Clinton 2016? Women Look Ahead To ‘History In the Making’ (Paul Alexander) from the Daily Beast
"After Hillary Clinton left 16 million cracks in the glass ceiling, supporters anticipate that she can smash through it in 2016. Paul Alexander reports. Women see in Clinton a female candidate who could not only run for but win the presidency."

Lance Armstrong Seeks Agreements with Justice Department and USADA from the Washington Post
"... he started banking that his confession will have value in two arenas that have nothing to do with Oprah Winfrey’s television ratings or his standing in the public eye. One is the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which has the latitude to shorten his lifetime ban from competition. The other is the U.S. Justice Department, which is weighing whether to join a
whistleblower suit that could cost him nearly $100 million."

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