Thursday, February 21, 2013

News Nuggets 1188

DAYLEE PICTURE:  Obama in the Oval Office.  From the White House.

Scientology for Rednecks: What the GOP Has Become from the Huffington Post 
THIS from a former GOP staffer!! OMG!! Read the whole thing!
"As with many religions, political parties have a tendency to start as a movement, transform into a business, and finally degenerate into a racket designed to fleece the yokels. One organization which has gone out of its way to illustrate this evolution is the Republican Party. "

Russian Meteor Kicks Up Cloud of Mistrust (Leonid Bershidsky) from the Bloomberg News Service
"If I had to choose a single word to describe the dominant attitude in Russian society, it would be “mistrust.” The meteor, or possibly small asteroid, that exploded over the Ural Mountains city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15 illustrated this as few other events could. ... Trust is higher in societies “with stable and open institutional systems,” and lower in societies “with a high level of violence, aggression, an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government.” In repressive societies, “mistrust becomes an important strategic resource for social survival, success and upward mobility.”"

Obama Rated at 3-Year High in Poll, Republicans at Bottom from Bloomberg News Service
"President Barack Obama enters the latest budget showdown with Congress with his highest job- approval rating in three years and public support for his economic message, while his Republican opponents’ popularity stands at a record low."

On issues, Public is More Aligned with Obama than GOP (Susan Page) from USA Today
"President Obama starts his second term with a clear upper hand over GOP leaders on issues from guns to immigration that are likely to dominate the year, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds. On the legislation rated most urgent — cutting the budget deficit — even a majority of Republican voters endorse Obama's approach of seeking tax hikes as well as spending cuts."

John Kerry: The un-Hillary Clinton from Politico
"In the three weeks since Kerry succeeded Clinton as secretary of state, he’s already sent unmistakable signals of his independence with a more assertive, proactive and risk-taking stewardship of America’s foreign policy — with a more sustained focus on the Middle East and Europe than his predecessor, according to current and former administration officials."

Why Congress Won’t Win a Sequester Showdown with President Obama — in 3 Easy Steps (Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake) from the Washington Post 
"...why Republicans in Congress would do well to avoid a confrontation with President Obama over the sequester. Here’s why — in 3 very simple steps:..."

The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts (Jordan Weissmann) from the Atlantic
"The graphs below, drawn from National Science Foundation Data and some of my own calculations, depict Ph.D. employment at graduation. ... But looking at these figures over time, it seems pretty obvious that there's no great run on trained scientists in this country. "

How to Save the Republican Party (Michael Gerson & Peter Wehner) from Commentary Magazine
This lengthy analysis by two leading conservative pundits is quite interesting!
"The Republican Party is in trouble: In the wake of the presidential election, everybody has said so, and everybody is right. ... Then there is the quality of the candidates fielded by the two sides. Democrats have nominated two candidates—Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—endowed with formidable political skills. The former is one of the most naturally gifted politicians in modern American history; the latter is one of the most ruthlessly efficient ones. ... Intellectual honesty is the first requirement of self-renewal. Republican problems are not superficial or transient."
This last sentence is key.  The GOP (on SO MANY levels) has become the party of intellectual DIShonesty, I can't imagine how its current leadership at almost all levels could do anything about it -- given that it has been this dishonesty which created their path to power in the first place.  In the realm of intellectual honesty, there are many central issues that Gerson & Wehner don't even get near.  First, GOP leaders and lawmakers have to stop tolerating bigoted and stupid loudmouths for the sake of winning one or two news cycles! When Obama is accused of being a muslim or wanting to destroy America or when state Republican officials come out with dumb offensive statements against immigrants, women, gays, the poor, or when Rush Limbau says civil rights leader John Lewis should have carried guns in Selma back in 1963, it is at precisely those moments that GOPers who style themselves as national leaders need to stand up and call these people stupid, ignorant and offensive to common decency. What we have had for years is a complicity of silence from leading Republicans which prioritizes character assassination and inflicting momentary damage on your political opponents over anything else.  Second, in the area of foreign policy Republicans need to reckon with their legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This includes not just the lack of WMDs (one of the biggest FP blunders in US history!) and the mishandling of the reconstruction in both places but also includes their embrace of torture and the damage that did to America's reputation around the world and the already shaky moral case the US had for going into Iraq in the first place.  As with so much about Bush 43's administration, the GOP's response has been to pretend like that presidency didn't even happen. By most appearances, the Republicans (led by the likes of McCain and Graham) have learned nothing from all of this.  The Chuck Hagel confirmation hearings were a golden opportunity to showcase all of these bitter legacies; unfortunately Hagel did not come prepared to make the case.  For most Americans, though, no case really needs to be made.  It is only within Republican foreign policy circles that the Iraq war still viewed as worth the extravagant waste in lives and treasure.  Indeed, Romney's foreign policy team was made up almost exclusively of these unrepentant hawks.  After Vietnam, Democrats spent several decades openly and honestly searching for the appropriate lessons to draw from that conflict.  As best as I can see, the GOP has not spent five minutes.  I could go on and on.  Intellectual honesty is definitely needed from Republican leaders -- and yet will it happen?  I cannot see how, given their current leaders and opinion-shapers.

The Fall Of The GOP True Believers (Gene Lyons) from the National Memo 
"Beyond mischief-making, however, there are signs that conservative thinkers are beginning to challenge moribund Republican orthodoxy. The water is moving under the ice. Heterodox opinions once limited to former GOP operatives like David Frum and Bruce Bartlett have started appearing all over."

Sensing Weakness, Karl Rove’s Critics Pounce from Politico
"“He’s got a donor backlash and he’s got an activists backlash,” said one prominent Republican donor. Several people who cut big checks to Crossroads feel burned, this person said, adding some believe Rove is letting his group off too easy with his insistence that the problem last year was bad candidates."

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