Saturday, March 30, 2013

News Nuggets 1208

DAYLEE PICTURE: A butcher shop in Havana, Cuba.  From National Geographic.

“The State of War” – Kim Jong Un’s Bombastic, and Ominous, Bluster (Gordon G. Chang) from the Daily Beast
"The one-a-day rhetorical blasts suggest something Is terribly wrong in North Korea, writes Gordon G. Chang. ... As he makes threat after threat, Kim is making it more difficult for himself to back down, especially since his regime has, over the course of decades, built its legitimacy on the use of deadly force."

China’s Glass Ceiling (Geoff Dyer) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Sure, the Middle Kingdom is becoming a superpower, but it's always going to be No. 2."

Nice Speech, Mr. President: Obama Said All the Right Things in Jerusalem. Now What?" (Daniel Levy) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Having handed over the blank check, he added the advisory note to user: If used badly, all that support would still not be enough to save Israel from the inevitable fallout from its current path."

Obama’s Pragmatic Approach to Mideast (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"Obama is moving instead toward a more pragmatic approach in Syria, with the CIA playing a central role, supplemented by the State Department and the U.S. military. The United States will train Syrian rebels and help build governance in areas liberated from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad."

Only 43.8 Percent of Military Identify As Republican, Down From 56 Percent In 2005 (Jason Sattler) from National Memo
"The military is also less conservative than it was seven years ago. In 2005, a total of 50 percent of respondents described themselves as “conservative” or “very conservative.” The next year that number fell to 44 percent. And in 2012 it hit 42.72 percent, making it slightly more popular than the next most popular group, “moderate,” at 41.54 percent."

Cheating Our Children (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
" Suddenly, the argument has changed: It’s not about the crisis next month; it’s about the long run, about not cheating our children. The deficit, we’re told, is really a moral issue. There’s just one problem: The new argument is as bad as the old one. Yes, we are cheating our children, but the deficit has nothing to do with it."

Obama Administration Moves Ahead with Sweeping Rules Requiring Cleaner Gasoline from the Washington Post
"The Environmental Protection Agency will move ahead Friday with a rule requiring cleaner gasoline and lower-pollution vehicles nationwide, amounting to one of President Obama’s most significant air pollution initiatives, according to people briefed on the decision."

Republicans’ Hispanic Outreach Effort Off To A Rocky Start (Henry Decker) from National Memo
"The idea behind the memo seemed to be that, if Republicans won’t attract Hispanics with appealing policy proposals, they should at least try to stop driving them away with racially charged language. Clearly, Representative Don Young (R-AK) didn’t get the message."

Gay Marriage And Children: The Worst States For Kids Of Same-Sex Parents from the Huffington Post
"There are millions of children in the U.S. being raised by same-sex couples, and many of them live in states that don't recognize their parents' relationship or make it difficult for both parents to claim legal ties to the child. Discriminatory laws cause these children "immediate legal injury," Kennedy said."

Conservatives React to DOMA and Prop 8: The Best of the Worst (Katie McDonough) from Salon
"Gay marriage could be the end of children -- or capitalism. Erick Erickson just hopes there's room enough in hell."

Clinton’s Take on Gay Marriage Today (Robert Shrum) from the Daily Beast 
" The former president’s new rationalizations on DOMA are a futile effort to redeem his tarnished legacy."

The Coming GOP-Evangelical Divorce (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast 
"It may take a couple of election cycles, says Michael Tomasky, but Republican moderation on social issues is inevitable—and many evangelicals will respond by withdrawing from politics."
I have been predicting for some time that I thought evangelicals would eventually go this pathway.  Historically, the compromise-laden road of routine US politics eventually wears out even the most vigorous religious political movements.  With the exception of the abortion issue (from which I think religious conservatives will never concede the field), evangelical voters now look across a landscape of issues where longterm defeat or stasis are clearly in view.  Of course it starts with all aspects of the gay issue set -- but it goes much further.  The whole world of so-called "family values" (school prayer, state-support for religious institutions and religious messages, creation science) has either hit some rhetorical deadend or been roundly rejected by younger voters.  I think evangelicals have already largely shifted their attention to the states -- but as with so many issues, the demographics do not look good.

Clinton Is Strongest-Ever Frontrunner. If She Runs. (Albert R. Hunt) from Bloomberg
"The rules are different for Hillary Clinton. No non- incumbent in the history of contemporary U.S. presidential politics ever looked so formidable three years before an election."

Exclusive: Congressional Ethics Probe Adds to Michele Bachmann’s Political Woes (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"Add the Office of Congressional Ethics to the long list of probes and lawsuits that may be the only enduring legacy of Bachmann’s presidential face-plant. John Avlon exclusively reports."

Squid Wearing 'Crittercam' Reveals Speed, Color Change, Migration Patterns (VIDEO) from the Huffington Post
"To see firsthand how an elusive species of jumbo squid lives, scientists have strapped video cameras to the carnivorous sea creature in the eastern Pacific. The footage has helped reveal some remarkable secrets of the Humboldt squid: They are capable of amazing bursts of speed, up to nearly 45 mph (72 km/h); they "talk" to each other by changing their body color; and they hunt in big synchronized groups."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

News Nuggets Update!!

Daylee Picture: A Komodo Dragon clutch of eggs at the Memphis Zoo.  From Zooborns.

To allay any concerns (or folks suffering nuggets withdrawl symtoms) the News Nuggets will be on break this week.  We will return to our regular schedule of postings beginning this coming weekend!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

News Nuggets 1207

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Muntjac fawn at an animal rehabilitation center in Colchester in Essex, the UK.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America (Chana Joffe-Walt) from NPR's This American Life
"...people on disability don't show up in any of the places we usually look to see how the economy is doing. But the story of these programs -- who goes on them, and why, and what happens after that -- is, to a large extent, the story of the U.S. economy. It's the story not only of an aging workforce, but also of a hidden, increasingly expensive safety net."
Here's the This American Life program.  Here's a separate segment from All Things Considered.

Now, those who follow this blog regularly know that, on the one hand, I am a long-time Democrat and passionate supporter of President Obama, and, on the other hand, I have become (increasingly) a tough critic of Bill Clinton and his tenure in office, a rare bird in today's progressive activist community who seem to get dewey eyed every time he opens his mouth.  Stated simply: for the life of me I don't understand why progressives swoon over Bill Clinton or, in any way, look back on his presidency as anything but a train wreck for progressive politics and a progressive vision for America.  What did he actually accomplish as president?!  Let's look at four of the "high-ticket" items that routinely top his list of accomplishments:  (1) welfare reform.  If any was needed, this NPR investigation puts pay to this storyline.  Like so many of Clinton's "achievements," this one looked good for about two minutes (ok, maybe one or two years).  Looking back now, it looks like one huge deficit-shifting program from the states to the fed, one that leaves its beneficiaries rather than trapped in so-called "welfare dependency" are now trapped in SSI-Disability dependency -- with no avenue off the program and law firms from across the country milking the system for all its worth.  Let's continue: (2) Clinton's Banking de-regulation "reform" legislation of 1999 which cut the guts out of the 1930s Glass-Steagal Act which originally separated consumer savings and loan from the investment/brokerage side of most large banks.  More than any other piece of legislation, this one became the seedbed for the Great Recession we are still living through.  Granted, this was largely a GOP initiative -- but Clinton signed it and (for a time) bragged about what a model of bi-partisan governance it was.  What next? (3) the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and relatedly the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy for the military.  Clinton's treatment of the gay community (and his endorsement of these programs specifically) exemplified the kind of triangulating political cowardice that (it is increasingly becoming my view) were hallmarks of Clinton's tenure in office.  How convenient that Hillary now says she endorses legalization of gay marriage!  What surer sign do you need that she'll be running in 2016.  Now for item (4): in my view the most substantive thing Clinton did in office (at least on the domestic policy side) was to serve as a wall against Newt Gingrich and GOP extremists.  But even here, even as Clinton was blocking many of the worst Republican ideas, he and his team spent SO MUCH time of his eight years in office shoveling fodder (most of it of his own making) to the right-wing attack machine against which he then had to waste political capital defending himself and Hillary.  The list is almost endless: the 8-10 different hydra heads of the Whitewater scandal; travelgate; Vince Foster; the Rose law firm; missing and then reappearing boxes of documents; Paula Jones; Jennifer Flowers; troopergate; Hillary's cattle futures and stock options; and then, of course, Monica Lewinski.  There went another year and half with months of revelations, the blue dress, the meaning of the word "is," Kenneth Starr, the House managers, and on and on -- all the way to his final months in office with renting out Lincoln's bedroom to fundraisers and presidential pardons to the spouses and friends of mega-donors. People forget that one of the reasons Al Gore lost in 2000 was because so many progressives either stayed home due to Clinton fatigue or simply figured that there was no difference between Clinton and Bush and threw away their vote on Nader.  In my view, Al Gore would have been the real deal.  Barack Obama (in the face of even more pushback from the GOP than Clinton got) IS the real deal so far as it is possible given the political landscape. Looking ahead, if Hillary runs in 2016 I think she will get the nomination and win the general election.  And, make no mistake, I will campaign for her and vote for her.  But this litany of 1990s political missteps should serve as a cautionary note to all those progressives out there who somehow think the Clintons carried their banner.

GOP Civil War Reminiscent of Our Own, Except for the 'Winning Later' Part (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos
"Ten years ago, when the Netroots was just a wee baby, establishment Democrats convinced themselves that survival depended on holding the line against gay rights (Howard Dean was unelectable because of civil unions!), against gun control and against anything smacking of a tax increase. An entire cottage industry arose around trying to get Democrats to better appeal to religious voters. And it didn't matter how unnecessary a war was, it was verboten to oppose one."

Related analysis:
Republicans Today can Learn Lessons from the Democrats’ Past. But Will They? (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"The report by the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project lays bare the depth of the problems of a party that has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections and that is on the wrong side of the demographic forces that are changing the country."

Dominican Official Links Daily Caller to Alleged Lies about Menendez from the Washington Post
"A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)."
WHO CALLED IT?!  Now, you might be tempted to think that the right-wing media machine will learn from this episode that making stuff up is a bad idea.  Oh contrare!  I view the antics of Tucker Carlson and the Daily Caller here as a harbinger of more things to come.  To really get this, you have to ask yourself: why would these folks so transparently manufacture this story about a sitting Senator (something that is a crime)?  People do this when they think their party (re: the GOP) and what they know their country to be (Eisenhower's America) are experiencing an existential crisis.  In plainer English: the country they love is collapsing around them and the main culprits (Satan, the Democrats and other commies) are winning everywhere.  If one truly believes this, you not only will say defamatory things, you will organize plots, fabricate stories, and, yes, commit crimes to stop them.  If our roles were reversed and I thought the GOP and conservatives represented such a threat to America, I might be tempted to do the same thing -- or at least I could understand it.  I think it is readily apparent that the GOP is poised to spend some time in the wilderness -- and the more that becomes clear the more people on the right will embrace this hyper-crisis mindset.

Obama to Israelis: ‘The World Can Change’ (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"Above all, it was a great speech because Obama challenged the core narrative of Netanyahu and his American supporters: that Jews are the world’s permanent victims, licensed by their fears to worry only about themselves."

Reviewing This Week's Mea Culpas on Iraq: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Greg Mitchell) from the Nation
"By 2004 it was clear that Saddam’s WMD would never be found, but with another election season at hand, sorry was still the hardest word. But a few very limited glimmers of accountability began to appear. So let’s begin our catalog of the art of mea culpa and Iraq here. Much more in my new ebook, So Wrong for So Long."
My question: what about those folks who got it RIGHT in 2002 and 2003 ... and then saw their careers in the media go into the dumper as a result?  When was the last time you saw Phil Donahue on TV?!  We need to know who they are ... if for no other reason then to debunk the "everyone-thought-there-were-WMDs" meme.

The Numbers Prove It: The GOP is Estranged from America (Andrew Kohut) from the Washington Post
"In my decades of polling, I recall only one moment when a party had been driven as far from the center as the Republican Party has been today. The outsize influence of hard-line elements in the party base is doing to the GOP what supporters of Gene McCarthy and George McGovern did to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s — radicalizing its image and standing in the way of its revitalization."

Why Tea Partiers Are Boycotting Fox News (David Freedlander) from the Daily Beast
"Is Fox News going soft? That is what a number of Tea Party activists are saying and they are organizing a boycott to protest the conservative station’s coverage, especially what they view as the network’s relative silence in investigating the attacks on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.’"
Oh dear!  I guess they missed the memo. There was this election in November ... and it's over.  The Benghazi "scandal" no longer serves its political purpose -- along with "Fast and Furious," "Obama-is-a-Muslim," and birtherism and on and on.  At some point, it will dawn on these folks how badly they have been led down some thorn-lined primrose path.

RNC 'Autopsy' Is Latest Stop On The GOP's Cycle Of Grieving (Linkins and Wing) from the Huffington Post
"...let's return to those heady post-election days, push through to CPAC and the RNC "autopsy" report, and document the whole effort to "rebrand" and renew the Grand Old Party, in its entirety. After all, it’s a process."

PRES-2016: Gov. Christie Says He Does Not Believe in Gay Conversion Therapy from the New Jersey Star-Ledger
"Under pressure from Democrats, Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday said he opposes the controversial use of "gay conversion therapy," but he did not stake a position on a bill that would ban the practice."
WHO thinks this man has any chance of getting the GOP nomination in 2016?!  Not happening.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

News Nuggets 1206

DAYLEE PICTURE: Sunset Cloud Village in the Red Land region of China.  From National Geographic.

Analysis: Obama, He Had Us at 'Shalom' (Herb Keinon) from the Jerusalem Post [in English]
"As Irit Linor said on Army Radio, discussing what she deemed the over-the-top Obama Madness that gripped the nation, if this is the way the country greeted Obama, what’s left to greet the Messiah? We are a nation that feels isolated – unaccepted and hated in the region, misunderstood abroad."

The Painful Lessons of Iraq (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"Ten years ago this week, I was covering the U.S. military as it began its assault on Iraq. As I read back now over my clips, I see a few useful warnings about the difficulties ahead. But I owe readers an apology for being wrong on the overriding question of whether the war made sense. Invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein a decade ago was one of the biggest strategic errors in modern American history."

As Senate Passes Spending Measure, Stark Budget Views Are on Display in House from the New York Times
"The Senate passed a spending measure on Wednesday to keep the government financed through the end of September, resolving one contentious budget fight as Congress moved quickly to the next."

No, Government Spending Really Isn’t Going Up Right Now (Jared Bernstein) from On The Economy
"On the Bill Maher show the other night, I pointed out that contrary to the talking point that government spending is spiraling out of control, it in fact went up only 0.6%, 2009-2012.  Whenever I say that, I get emails from people who don’t believe it, and not just complaining conservatives.  Many progressives can’t believe that’s the case given the hair-on-fire rhetoric about Obama’s alleged ongoing spending spree. Well, here are the numbers, straight out of CBO."

Dems No Longer Fear 'ObamaCare' from The Hill
Three years after President Obama signed his landmark healthcare law, Democrats are confident they’ve finally played the politically divisive issue to a draw. Thursday marks the third anniversary of the final House vote to pass the Affordable Care Act, and Obama signed the bill into law three years ago Saturday. While the debate over the law’s merits still rages in Washington, there are also strong signs that beating up on ObamaCare simply isn’t the potent political weapon it once was."

The GOP’s Looming Gay Crisis (Andrew Sullivan) from The Dish
"In the latest polling, 81 percent of those under 30 favored marriage equality. I was shocked by the number, but shouldn’t have been. ... for the young generation, and all those who follow it in the future, the GOP’s aggressive stance and brutal rhetoric against marriage equality simply identifies them as bigots. Some may not be. But that is what they will be seen to be."

The GOP Still Won't Own Up to Its Real Problem With Voters (Joshua Green) from Businessweek
"Implicit in the suggestion is that African Americans don’t feel respected or cared about by the GOP. While that is, on the one hand, head-smackingly obvious, it strikes me as the height of cynicism that the report doesn’t delve a little deeper into why this might be so."

Shining a Light on Two Major GOP Problems (Jonathan Capehart) from the Washington Post
"The attempt to keep blacks from voting and the effort to undermine the legitimacy of the first African American president backfired — not just with his most loyal constituents, but also with a majority of the American people."

On Government Spending, GOP Faces a Reckoning (Neera Tanden, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin) from the Washington Post
"... the so-called sequester may well be the beginning of the end of the budget wars that have long gripped Washington, because Republicans may soon face an electoral reckoning they cannot overcome. The rising coalition of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, women and young people that helped reelect President Obama does not share the anti-government sentiment of the conservative base. Time is running out for those on the right who are seeking to slash the size of government."

The Tea Party Caucus is Dead and That's OK (David Weigel) from Slate 
"There's no way to un-spin this. Nationally, the Tea Party flag is so tattered that it's not in a Republican's interest to maintain it."

With Leaders Like This, Libertarians Can't Trust the Tea Party (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"Wouldn't it be nice if libertarians could enthusiastically embrace the Tea Party, a protest movement that purports to be about small government and strict adherence to the Constitution? ... But for now, the Tea Party movement cannot be trusted in the realm of foreign affairs, because on executive power, too many of its leaders are still closer to Dick Cheney and John Yoo than James Madison."

Why Paul Ryan’s Star Dimmed (Howard Kurtz) from the Daily Beast
"Once celebrated as the GOP’s next big thing, the Wisconsin congressman has lost the respect of the media and is taking fire from his own side over his fantastical budget. Howard Kurtz on how Romney’s running mate fell from grace."

The "Rick Perry Comeback" Meme is Even Funnier Than You'd Think (David Weigel) from Slate
"...why not ask whether he can come back? If Mark Sanford can come back, can't Rick Perry? Ha, ha, no. The big problem is that the people praising Rick Perry in this story worked for Rick Perry."

Steel Yourself Could a robotic exoskeleton turn you into a real-life Iron Man? from Slate
"Last week, I watched as physical therapists at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan helped Woo into a robotic exoskeleton. He braced himself for a moment with crutches. Then he stood up and strode out of the room, his carbon-fiber leg joints whirring with each step. “My kids call me Iron Man,” Woo told me with a grin. “They say, ‘Daddy, can you fly too?’” He can’t. But don’t rule out the possibility."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

News Nuggets 1206

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Reed Frog in Botswana.  From National Geographic.

Unlike many of the critics of the GOP and CPAC, Walter Shapiro is one of the most knowledgeable and seasoned reporters on Congress. 
Republican Disarray on Full Display at CPAC (Walter Shapiro) from Yahoo News
"In an era when every politician is a robotic follower of message discipline, CPAC was riotously off-message. The chief reason for the thematic disarray was that most prominent Republicans simply do not agree on the long-term message to offer that will help them win presidential elections."

Arguing Iraq—Ten Years Later: A Symposium from the New Republic
"Ten years ago this week, the U.S. began its invasion of Iraq, ostensibly in search of "weapons of mass destruction." Today, the American war in Iraq is over, but the argument about it still hovers over our foreign policy. We asked eight writers—some of whom supported the war, others who opposed it—to reflect on what the past decade has meant."

Tomas Young, Dying Iraq War Veteran, Pens 'Last Letter' To Bush, Cheney On War's 10th Anniversary from the Huffington Post
"A bullet from an AK-47 severed his spine. Another struck his knee. Young would never walk again, and in fact, for the next nearly nine years, he would suffer a number of medical setbacks that allowed him to survive only with the help of extensive medical procedures and the care of his wife, Claudia. ... He has ... saved his most powerful criticism for what he claims will be his last. Young says he'll die soon, but not before writing a letter to Bush and former Vice President Cheney on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War."

G.O.P. Opposition to Immigration Law Is Falling Away from the New York Times
"Republican opposition to legalizing the status of millions of illegal immigrants is crumbling in the nation’s capital as leading lawmakers in the party scramble to halt eroding support among Hispanic voters — a shift that is providing strong momentum for an overhaul of immigration laws."

Red States Respond To Obamacare With Angry Tea-Party Denial (Joe McLean) from the Daily Beast
"The rejection of low-cost private insurance could prove a blessing in disguise, moving us closer to a single=payer system, writes Joe McLean."

RNC Reassures Angst-Ridden Religious Right that Nothing's Going to Change (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"Romney's biggest improvement over John McCain was turning out more evangelical whites, but it wasn't nearly enough to carry him to victory. Republicans basically can't win presidential elections with their current coalition."

The GOP: A Party Increasingly at Odds With Itself (Stuart Rothenberg) from Roll Call
"The Republican Party continues to fracture more seriously than I expected following last year’s re-election of President Barack Obama. ... if Republicans have a long-term problem that requires major changes in message and organization, the party has equally big near-term problems. I recently asked a smart veteran Republican pollster what his party could do to turn things around in the near future. His response what refreshingly honest: Nothing."

Social Conservatives Figure Out They’re Screwed (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"...if you think of politics as “stuff you do to win elections” and policy as “stuff you do when you win elections,” it makes perfect sense. Exploiting fear of gays and undocumented immigrants is a part of the GOP’s political strategy. It’s not really a big part of its policy agenda. Regressive tax cuts and lax business regulation is not a platform for winning elections, it’s what you do when you win an election."

What Happened to the Tea Party Caucus? (Daniel Newhauser) from Roll Call 
"Democrats slam the group as a haven for radicals while conservatives tout membership among their bona fides, but the fact is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus has been inactive for several months."

Colorado: How to Turn a State Liberal (David Sirota) from Salon
"Colorado's progressive miracle is a road map to a much brighter America. Here are 9 steps behind the transformation."

Are Paul Ryan's 15 Minutes Over? (Jon Terbush) from The Week
"A new poll shows that even Republicans are having second thoughts about their former VP nominee By Jon Terbush."

PRES-2016: No, Wait -- Could Rand Paul Actually Win? (James Hohmann) from Politico 
"Here are five reasons why Paul will be a force to be reckoned with ahead of 2016, even if the odds of him winning the nomination are long."
The answer to the big question is no -- but these are the types of stories you get when there is so little actually going on in Washington right now.

FL-GOV: Florida Poll: Charlie Crist Crushes Gov. Rick Scott from Politico 
"Crist — who switched to the Democratic Party after having served as a GOP governor — gets 50 percent while the Republican Scott pulls in 34 percent, with the remainder being undecided or not answering, according to a Quinnipiac Polling Institute survey."

Verizon, Cablevision Emerge as Unlikely Allies of Cable-TV Customers Fed Up with Bundling from the Washington Post
"Cable viewers have long complained about paying ever-higher bills for hundreds of channels they don’t want to watch. Now, in a twist, some cable companies are beginning to agree."

Dog Rescue Mission: Parker from Hope for Paws  

Nature in All Her Dazzling Beauty: Stunning New Landscape Photos Capture the Breath-Taking Countryside of Italy and France from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Italian photographer Alessio Andreani captured beautiful shots of the European landscapes for a series of images. The 25-year-old says he often had 'only a few seconds' to capture the shot he wanted as the sun rose or went down."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

News Nuggets 1205

DAYLEE PICTURE: Lake Baikel in Siberia.  From National Geographic.

MI6 and CIA Were Told Before Invasion that Iraq had No Active WMD from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein's foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was "active", "growing" and "up and running"."
So much for the "EVERYONE thought Iraq had WMDs" excuse!

Marches of Folly (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents — but they were out of the mainstream. The trouble with this argument is that it was and is circular: support for the war became part of the definition of what it meant to hold a mainstream opinion. Anyone who dissented, no matter how qualified, was ipso facto labeled as unworthy of consideration."

Media's Failure on Iraq Still Stings (Howard Kurtz) from CNN
"Tom Ricks, who was the paper's top military reporter, turned in a piece in the fall of 2002 that he titled "Doubts," saying that senior Pentagon officials were resigned to an invasion but were reluctant and worried that the risks were being underestimated. An editor killed the story, saying it relied too heavily on retired military officials and outside experts -- in other words, those with sufficient independence to question the rationale for war. "There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?" Ricks said."

Lessons on Ends and Means in Iraq from Foreign Policy Magazine
"A decade later, what lessons haven't we learned from the war in Iraq that we should?"

Iraq, 10 Years On: Did Invasion Bring 'Hope and Progress' to Millions as Bush Vowed? (F. Brinley Bruton and Ghazi Balkiz) from NBC News
"[P]resident [Bush] had stressed that "a liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions." An estimated $61 billion in U.S.
reconstruction funds later, reality has fallen short of these expectations. Iraq is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and many of the improvements promised have not materialized. Sectarian tensions regularly explode into open violence."

Iraq War Anniversary Finds Republicans Regretful, Seeking A Path Forward (Jon Ward) from the Huffington Post
"Where the GOP goes from here is unclear. It is in the midst of what The Atlantic's Steve Clemons called "an unresolved simmering civil war." And Rand Paul's rise raises more questions than it answers. The traditional conflict within the party between two dominant schools -- what Clemons called the "cold-eyed realists" of the Nixonian bent and the "messianic" interventionist neocons -- has been complicated with the entry of a third wing: the Randians."

How to Shrink the Dangerous Republican Empathy Gap (Jill Lawrence) from National Journal
"New outreach efforts won't work until the party aligns its policies with how people really live and strive to get ahead."

CPAC 2013: Postmortem (Hunter) from Daily Kos
"I am, finally, back from CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, aka the Blunderdome, aka PullUpTheLadderPalooza, aka The Great White Mope, aka The Place That Still Likes Sarah Palin. ... I sat in the panels, and chatted very politely with the other attendees, and listened to agonizingly silly things being tossed around as gospel truth by various vendors."

The GOP’s Smart Plan to Avoid Change (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The aggregate effect of these changes would be to have Republicans spend less time communicating their ideas via moderated public debate, and more time communicating them via crafted propaganda. Whatever the civic merits of the idea, it appears to be a shrewd gambit to present a more appealing face to the public."
There is a direct line between John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as VP in '08 and this broad strategic decision by (basically) this core of the Republican Party leadership.  They have now abandoned any serious attempt at convincing voters of the rightness of their positions and embraced instead a program of misleading voters about what they might actually be voting for.  Look for GOP candidates to design whole campaigns around isolating themselves from reporters, voters, and just about anyone who might ask them real questions.

Habeas GOP (John Dickerson) from Slate
"The Republican Party’s autopsy of its 2012 loss puts political expediency over principles. Now it just needs to find a body to lead it."

The GOP, Now With Less Crazy (David Weigel) from Slate
"The Republican plan to reform the party is less a program of reform than a rough blueprint about how to marginalize the nutters at the base."

Winning the Voting Wars from Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
Check the entire issue of Michael Tomasky's online journal!!  Lots of interesting content!!
"The assault on voting may not have succeeded in 2012—but that doesn’t mean that the forces behind voter-suppression efforts are going into hibernation. Far from it. What can we expect from them in 2014 and beyond? And what kind of positive voting-rights agenda can change the terms of the debate?"

Winifred Smith, 92-Year-Old Cincinnati Woman, 'Reunites' With Gorilla She Cared For As A Girl from the Huffington Post
"A 92-year-old Cincinnati woman reunited on Sunday with one of her dearest friends from her childhood, whom she hadn't seen in over 60 years -- who just happened to be a gorilla."
Below this rather odd story is a WONDERFUL series of videos of moving animal-human reunions!

Monday, March 18, 2013

News Nuggets 1204

DAYLEE PICTURE: Haleakala Park in Hawaii.  From the Smithsonian Magazine.

Three Women were Paid to Falsely Claim They had Sex with Menendez, Dominican Police Say from the New Jersey Star Ledger
"The women, whose claims generated media attention in the United States, were hired by a Dominican attorney to make the videotaped statements, spokesman Maximo Baez told reporters. Two of the women received about $425 and the other was paid about $300, he said. Authorities are seeking to interrogate the attorney, Melanio Figueroa, about the payments and have not determined his motive or whether he was in turn paid by someone else to set up the interviews, Baez said."
Bet dollars to doughnuts: this "attorney" is either a GOP operative or someone working for some GOP PAC or activist group.  Well, Mr. Tucker Carlson at the Daily Caller?  Are you still standing behind your "big scoop"?

Ten Years Later, the Hubris That Landed Us in Iraq Has Collapsed (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"A decade of wild successes—international, economic, ideological—before 2003 eroded America’s caution. But Peter Beinart says on the 10th anniversary of the war, for better or worse, we’ve lost our epic ambition."

And yet:
Few Regrets as Neoconservative Advocates for Iraq Invasion Look Back (Eli Lake) from the Daily Beast
"Ten years after the toppling of Saddam, some key neocons—and architects of the war in Iraq—say they have few regrets. Eli Lake reports."

The Speechwriter: David Frum on the Rhetoric of Iraq (David Frum) from Newsweek
"When Bush decided to go to war in 2003, you’d think he would have been gripped by self-questioning and hot debate. That never really happened. Bush’s speechwriter David Frum looks back at the daunting messaging effort—and how Tony Blair swayed Democrats in Congress and liberal hawks in the media."
Oh yeah.  Right.  Selling that war was hard, I'm sure.  I've come to appreciate David Frum's sensible critique of where conservatism has gone in the last 10+ years -- but this item so reminds me that his career was built on selling one of the most shameful exercises of US power in our history.  And, lo and behold, in his eyes it was actually Tony Blair's fault!  Even the normally straight-shooting Frum can't bring himself to look at the Iraq war clearly.

As Demographics Shift, Democrats Look to Win the South (David Francis) from the Fiscal Times
"... the Republican grip on the south, and the strong standing that this grip affords the party, might be weakening. Dramatic demographic shifts in a number of southern states are underway, potentially ushering in a new Democratic majority and ending the Republican reign over the south."

The American Mind (Sam Tanenhaus) from Prospect Magazine [of the UK] 
"The historian Garry Wills has written better than anybody else about modern America. ... A good Catholic who nonetheless has declared war not only on church elders but on the Vatican itself. When the sex abuse scandals erupted a decade ago, and others writhed in torments of apology or denial, Wills coolly explained that what seemed like desecrations of the faith were in reality outgrowths of its most hallowed rituals."

Six Big Takeaways From The RNC’s Incredible 2012 Autopsy from Talking Points Memo
"President Obama’s campaign staff boasted throughout the 2012 race that the GOP’s dismissal of minority concerns, intolerance towards gays, celebration of wealth, and fetishism of Ronald Reagan would doom them in November. Today the RNC released their official response: “You were right.”"

Right Blasts RNC 'Autopsy' as Power Grab from Politico
"Tucked in near the end of the 97-page report, formally known as The Growth and Opportunity Project, are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions. Each of those steps would benefit a deep-pocketed candidate in the mold of Mitt Romney."

RNC Calls for Sweeping Reforms to Party from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire
"The Wall Street Journal calls it a "scathing self-analysis" that "describes the party as ideologically ossified, unable to speak to a wider electorate and increasingly seen as representing the rich and the old.""

It Won’t be Your Father’s GOP (Jennifer Rubin) from the Washington Post 
"Thirty years after Ronald Reagan was president, Republicans are still running on a tripartite alliance of social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatives. Alas, such candidates run on a myth; that coalition has splintered and what will replace it is far from clear.

In Defense of GOP Consultants: It’s the Candidates’ Fault (Byron York) from the Washington Examiner
"If there was any villain at the just-completed Conservative Political Action Conference, it was the generic figure of the Republican political consultant.  Overpaid, unprincipled, always on the lookout for the next client — or easy mark — the consultants, to listen to a number of CPAC speakers, have helped bring the Republican Party to its current low state. ... “Now is the time to furlough the consultants and tune out the pollsters!” said 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin."
Well that's a relief!  After the months of post-election self-analysis and hand-wringing, it is comforting to hear that GOP activists have learned ... absolutely nothing.  A clear look at the post-election coverage will tell you that, for the most part, it has been the consultants who have come the closest to saying anything that might actually make a difference for the Republican Party.  This will teach them to  pipe down and tow the line!!

Conservatism (Coming Apart) (Matt Lewis) from the Daily Caller
"Social issues are another conundrum. ... Yet more and more, their foundational beliefs are seen as obstacles to the GOP’s survival (the GOProud vs. CPAC skirmish is merely a surrogate battle in a larger argument.)"

Plouffe: Hillary Clinton ‘Probably the Strongest Candidate’ for 2016 (Lloyd Grove) from the Daily Beast
"With the GOP about ‘as popular as the Ebola virus,’ top Obama strategist David Plouffe says Clinton is ‘probably the strongest candidate’ for 2016 if she decides to run. Lloyd Grove reports."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

News Nuggets 1203

DAYLEE PICTURE:  A Black Trevally amid a school of sardines. From National Geographic.

The GOP Keeps Getting Whiter (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"While the country is becoming more racially diverse, Republican congressional districts are becoming less. ... could the Republicans’ arguably rigged House majority actually be a curse disguised as a
blessing? It’s an interesting question. They clearly did everything they could to purge Democratic voters from their districts ahead of 2012, no matter whether those voters were white, black, Hispanic, left-handed, or right-minded—just as Democrats would have done had the roles been reversed. But in the process of quarantining Democrats, Republicans effectively purged millions of minority voters from their own districts, and that should raise a warning flag."

Profile: New Pope, Jesuit Bergoglio, was Runner-Up in 2005 Conclave from the National Catholic Reporter
"Though it's hard to say how seriously one should take the specifics, the general consensus is that Bergoglio was indeed the "runner-up" last time around. He appealed to conservatives in the College of Cardinals as a man who had held the line against liberalizing currents among the Jesuits, and to moderates as a symbol of the church's commitment to the developing world."

Entrenched Troubles at Vatican Await New Pope from the New York Times 
"It remained to be seen whether Cardinal Bergoglio will display the mettle to tackle the dysfunction and corruption that plagued the papacy of his predecessor."

Pope Francis, Need Some Public-Relations Help? Here's Advice from America’s Political Consultants from the National Journal
"Despite the notable differences between the pope and a politician (infallibility, lifetime appointment, etc.), the new pontiff could take a few cues from the world of politics on how to shore up his base, reach out to new constituents, and develop an effective communications strategy. Below, some top political and communications strategists dish out advice on how the church should position itself for the future."

Watch Out, Vatican City: Francis Is Here (Christopher Dickey) from the Daily Beast
"Pope Francis is warm, humble, and ready to shake things up. Christopher Dickey on the cardinal who managed to escape the taint of the church’s worst scandals."

Domestic Politics, Pyongyang-Style (Sheila Miyoshi-Jager) from the New York Times
"The fiery rhetoric seemed to foreign observers a desperate attempt to force the United States and South Korea to restart stalled talks on denuclearization, in the hope of extracting aid and concessions. But recent history suggests that it was motivated less by international politics than by domestic concerns: North Korea’s new hereditary leader, Kim Jong-un, may have been stoking fears of a foreign threat primarily to dampen political unrest at home."

Stealing Books for the Poor (Yu Hua) from the New York Times
"In the West, piracy is a matter of intellectual property — copyright, patents and trademarks — but in China, the issue is not just legal, but social. Why are fake goods everywhere? ... the most basic reason, in my view, is the huge demand for pirated and knockoff products. After more than 30 years of rapid economic development that made China the world’s second largest economy, there are still more than 100 million Chinese, mostly peasants, who make less than $1 a day."

The Delinquent Generation: Why Students Aren’t Repaying Their Loans (Benjamin Landy) from the National Memo
"Consumers are getting better at paying their bills on time, too: the number of delinquent borrowers behind on their payments by 90 or more days has fallen substantially in almost every credit category. Student loans remain the glaring exception, soaring to $966 billion last quarter as college costs—and applications—continued to rise unabated. That’s nearly triple the debt that students held in 2004, thanks to a 70 percent increase in the number of borrowers and an average loan balance among indebted graduates that passed $26,600 in 2011. Student debt would not be such a problem if borrowers were finding jobs and paying their bills."

Obama's Plunge in Popularity is No Big Deal (Yet) (Nate Cohn) from the New Republic
"Too much weight is given to the 50-percent threshold. Falling below that mark might give the impression that the president is “weaker” politically, but it hardly warrants notice."

The GOP's Real Agenda (Tim Dickinson) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"Since last fall, Republicans have pretended to be more moderate - but their politics are harsher and more destructive than ever."

CPAC: March Madness on the Potomac (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast 
"The annual conservative gathering is always bad, says Michael Tomasky, but this year’s choices of main speakers seem designed to alienate as many Americans as possible."

At CPAC, Calls for Fresh Ideas Are Followed By The Same Stale Shtick (Michael Moynihan) from the Daily Beast
"The annual freak show goes a way towards validating the “lamestream media’s” view of a Republican Party at war with itself, writes Michael Moynihan."

More Sarah Palin Than Ronald Reagan: CPAC’s Paranoid Style (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"At CPAC, the old politics of paranoia are always in vogue, writes John Avlon."

Republican Rock Stars of 2009 Won’t be Onstage at CPAC from Politico 
"Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie are two of the Republican Party’s big success stories: popular East Coast governors who have enacted conservative policies in states that President Barack Obama won twice. Elected together in 2009, the pair formed an advance guard for the 2010 Republican revolution. And during the Conservative Political Action Conference this week, both governors find themselves on the political ash heap."

Senate Democrats Discuss How To Counter GOP Nominee Obstruction (UPDATE) from the Huffington Post
"A senior Democratic aide confirmed the discussions to The Huffington Post. Two Senate Democratic sources also told HuffPost that in a meeting with Democratic senators Tuesday, Obama complained about the slow pace of nominations and suggested that the rules be changed."

The Lyndon Johnson Tapes: Richard Nixon's 'Treason' (David Taylor) from the BBC
"Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations - he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks... but said nothing."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

News Nuggets 1202

DAYEE PICTURE: A sunrise over rural Iran.  From the Atlantic.

What the Iraq War Did To and For the Middle East (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"I mean to distinguish the casus belli that is now most often discussed -- the discredited and possibly manufactured warnings about Weapons of Mass Destruction -- from the vision expressed by the war's most serious-seeming advocates. These were people for whom the WMD threat, or reminders about Saddam Hussein's [alleged] plot to murder the first President Bush, were useful ways to add urgency to what they viewed as the real, moral purposes in going to war. Depending on the advocate, these included: ..."
Fallows references this book in his review here.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle East? (Fred Kaplan) from Slate
"Ten years later, it’s clear that the Iraq war cast “a very large shadow” indeed, but it was a much darker shadow than the fantasists who ran American foreign policy back then foresaw."

Popeology 101: How to Interpret the Sistine Chapel Results (Howard Chua-Eoan) from Time Magazine
"The ideology may have already been preordained since, before his abdication, Pope Benedict XVI basically packed the College of Cardinals with prelates who apparently agreed with his conservative agenda. ... Still, the politics of the Holy See will divide even Cardinals who share the same interpretation of doctrine. There are two large factions. For want of real designations, let’s call them the repairers and the bureaucrats."

Analysis: For First Time, a Pope from the United States is a Serious Possibility from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"On the day when three different size white cassocks were unpacked and placed in the room next to the Sistine Chapel for the next pope, talk emerged Monday that a cardinal from the United States could end up wearing one of them. It's the first time Americans have been considered serious contenders, particularly if voting for the leading candidates becomes deadlocked."

Smart, Poor Kids Are Applying to the Wrong Colleges (Matthew Yglesias) from Slate
"How an information mismatch is costing America’s best colleges 20,000 low-income students every year."

Paul Ryan's Budget, Simplified: Save the Rich, Spare the Old, Forget the Poor (Derek Thompson) from the Atlantic
"Paul Ryan's new budget is quite long, but its thesis can be stated briefly. If you cut spending on the poor to the bone and radically change the U.S. government's promises to help needy people pay for health care, it is remarkably easy to balance the budget."

Paul Ryan’s Magical Budget (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post 
"Paul Ryan’s budget is an amazing and wondrous document.  Not only does it balance the budget in 10 years while reducing tax rates, it also does so without any pain or suffering — or even breaking a sweat. ... Here’s how: The former Republican vice presidential candidate’s budget eliminates ___ loopholes in the tax code, cutting the ___ and the ____ deductions. It reduces spending on the ____ program by _____ and the _____ program by _____. Retirees would see ____, students would experience ____ and the poor would be _____. There are so many blanks in Ryan’s budget that it could be a Mad Libs exercise. "

Heresy Hunters Rule CPAC, and GOProud, Chris Christie Need Not Apply (Michael Moynihan) from the Daily Beast
"Ideological purity! Patriots only! The heresy hunters of this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference sniffed out and rejected those who aren’t ‘suitably’ right wing, like Chris Christie and GOProud. It’ll ensure the same losing result, writes Michael Moynihan."

How Can Hillary Pass Up 2016? (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos
"With Quinnipiac the latest to show Hillary Clinton romping toward the White House, it's becoming increasingly clear that she would face an easier path to the White House than anyone since Eisenhower, and maybe even since Thomas Jefferson."

Is Jeb Bush Running for President? (Joy-Ann Reid) from the Miami Herald 
"’s easy to “misunderestimate” Dubya’s baby brother, and to forget that he is one of the savviest political operators to emerge from the fever swamps of Florida politics."

With Woeful Approval Rating, Pa. Gov. Corbett’s Re-Election Hopes Look Dim from Talking Points Memo
"His constituents down on his job performance, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) approaches his 2014 re-election campaign in a politically precarious position, according to a poll released Tuesday. The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed a mere 33 percent of Keystone State voters approving of the job Corbett is doing. ... In hypothetical matchups of next year's gubernatorial race, Corbett lagged behind all five Democrats tested by PPP."

Survival of the Friendliest; Did Dogs “Self-domesticate”? Did Humans? (Tiffany O'Callaghan) from the New Scientist via Slate
"He was telling me that our closest relatives, the chimpanzees and bonobos, are not good at reading gestures the same way that we are in a cooperative context. I said, "Wait a second, I think my dog can pass the same test the apes are failing." That's how it got started."

The Good Goering: Nazi Hermann's Younger Brother Could Be Honoured for Saving Jews During the Holocaust from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Albert Goering, who died in 1966, believed to have saved hundreds of Jews . Petitioned for them to be freed and funneled aid to refugees across Europe. Yad Vashem in Israel preparing file for Righteous Among the Nations award."

The Case for Reviving Extinct Species from the National Geographic
"There are a lot of reasons for bringing back extinct animals, the author argues."

The Kiss Before Dying: Nurse's Poignant Farewell to First World War Soldier Gassed in the Trenches from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Edith Appleton kissed Private Kerr once for his mother, once from herself.  Moving extracts from her diaries reveal she grieved for her 'poor little boy'"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

News Nuggets 1201

DAYEE PICTURE: Tamblingan Lake in Bali in Indonesia.  From Smithsonian Magazine.

The Iraq War: Who Got It Wrong (Jason Sattler) from the National Memo 
"We’ve given credit to some of those who opposed the war when it was unpopular to do so. Though those of us who lived through this sad chapter in American history know many of the names of those who led us into the Iraq War, it’s worth calling them out again."

Constitutional Reforms: Hungary Steps Away from European Democracy (Keno Verseck) from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"As expected, the Hungarian parliament on Monday evening passed a package of constitutional amendments that legal experts say are an affront to democracy. Berlin, Brussels and Washington all voiced their concern in the run up to the vote. Leaders in Budapest, however, were unfazed."

Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About the Papal Elections (Dylan Matthews) from the Washington Post
"Tomorrow at about 5:30 p.m. Central European Time (12:30 p.m. EDT), 115 cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel and begin the process of selecting a new pope. But how exactly does that process work? Here are the basics."

GOP Meltdown: Paul Ryan Doubles Down On His Losing Southern Strategy (Lloyd Green) from the Daily Beast
"Paul Ryan’s mistaken plan to cut benefits for older Americans will alienate one of the last groups that’s stayed loyal to his party, writes Lloyd Green."

Outside Washington, Sequestration Begins To Inflict Pain from Talking Points Memo
"...outside of Washington DC, sequestration is already causing real problems for regular people, and Democrats are engaged in a counteroffensive — highlighting the day-in, day-out problems sequestration is causing outside of the capital."

Republicans Feeling Sequester Pain as Democrats Highlight Local Cutbacks (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"Democrats, on the defensive over the sequester, are fighting back. Eleanor Clift on how they are spotlighting cuts in GOP districts."

Politics by Intimidation (Joe Nocera) from the New York Times
"In Oregon, extremists fight gun laws with harassment. It’s the post-Newtown world."

Conservative News Site Duped By Fake Story That Paul Krugman Declared Bankruptcy (Brett LoGiurato) from Business Insider
"A satirical item published last week purporting that economist Paul Krugman had filed for bankruptcy has spread to and the conservative website Breitbart this morning. ... Krugman responded to the mix-up this morning, writing on his blog that he knew of the fake news item and was asked about it by a Russian television station. He wrote that he did not address it on his blog because he "wanted to wait and see which right-wing media outlets would fall for the hoax."

New Problem for House GOP Leaders: Rank-and-File May Vote Against Rules from The Hill
"Votes on rules are supposed to be party-line and serve as tests of a caucus’s unity. So it was disconcerting for leaders to see so many Republicans vote against the rule they had crafted."

GOP Needs To Make Up Its Mind On Immigration Reform (Mary Sanchez) from the National Memo
"In recent days, Bush has stressed that he doesn’t want to create incentives that might cause more people to come to this country illegally. But this too reveals a sleight of hand about what he clearly understands about the current immigration system. If the U.S. truly wanted to eliminate the possibility of too many people illegally in the country it would fix the system, making it responsive to the needs of the economy. Allow those workers a legal way in."

Sunday Talk Interviews Show Why Jeb Bush Will Never Be President (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"The younger Bush may be flirting with a run, but for a Republican to seriously compete in 2016, he must publicly distance himself from George W. Bush—and in five interviews Sunday, Jeb showed he wouldn’t do that if he could."

Calgary Cruz Sure is Lucky He Wasn't Born in Hawaii (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"Conservative commentator Byron York has written an entire post explaining to his readership that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is in fact eligible for the presidency despite being born in Canada because his mother was a U.S. citizen, making him a natural-born citizen."
HA HA!! Poetic justice for the purveyors of anti-Obama BS!!

Nine Retailers with the Worst Customer Service from Wall Street 24/7
"To identify the nine retailers with the worst customer satisfaction, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the customer satisfaction scores published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) for e-commerce and retail trade companies. ...  These are the nine retailers with the worst customer service.""

A Trip to Iran from the Atlantic

Saturday, March 9, 2013

News Nuggets 1200

DAYLEE PICTURE: A lone acacia tree next to the Sossusvlei Sand 
Dunes in the Namib Desert in Namibia.  From National Geographic.

It’s Hard Being in Charge in Egypt from the Economist [of London]
"After years of being oppressed, the Muslim Brothers enjoyed a sheen of goodness and efficiency. Now that they are in power, they are rapidly losing it."
This was predictable.  For all those critics of Obama's response to the Arab Spring, this is what awaited on the other side: give the Islamist parties a chance to govern, it was almost a certainty that they would govern badly and create openings for the other more moderate parties.

Republican Splits Over Immigration, National Security Appear As Obama Comes To Deal from the Huffington Post
"Republican Party divisions over immigration, anti-terrorism and other issues are bubbling to the surface just as President Barack Obama shows a new interest in capitalizing on GOP differences."

Republicans and Gay Marriage: The Times Have Changed (Jennifer Rubin) from the Washington Post
"I’ve been saying for some time now that Republicans are out of step with their fellow citizens and even the younger generation in their party. Now there is some powerful polling evidence to back that up."

Gallup Presidential Poll: How Did Brand-Name Firm Blow Election? (Mark Blumenthal) from the Huffington Post
"Gallup, which has long touted itself as the most trusted survey brand in the world, is facing a crisis. If Barack Obama's reelection in November was widely considered a win for data crunchers, who had predicted the president's victory in the face of skeptical pundits, it was a black mark for Gallup, whose polls leading up to Election Day had given the edge to Republican nominee Mitt Romney."

Officer Who Fired Shot In New York High School Suspended from the Associated Press via Talking Points Memo
"A New York town that began assigning an armed police officer to guard a high school in the wake of the Connecticut massacre has suspended the program after an officer accidentally discharged his pistol in a hallway while classes were in session."
Once you started hearing all the chatter about putting armed guards in schools, this episode was perfectly predictable!

Priebus: GOP Needs New Strategy from the Des Moines Register
"“The issue is that in the past, it wasn’t just Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina. It used to be that we fought over states like Washington and California. We actually fought in the Northeast. And we were winning in places like Delaware and New Jersey. Now we’re not winning any of those places."

Two More News Outlets Had Been Told of Fake Menendez Claims, but Rejected the Story (Hunter) from Daily Kos
"It looks like the manufactured story of Sen. Bob Menendez supposedly visiting Dominican Republic prostitutes was shopped around quite a bit before finally finding a willing patsy in Tucker Carlson and his conservative Daily Caller site. ... ABC only said that "Republican operatives" assisted them in securing interviews with the women, but nobody involved will identify those operatives."

2016-PRES: Rand Paul: ‘Seriously’ Weighing 2016 Bid from Politico
"Before Thursday, Rand Paul — tea party firebrand — hadn’t vaulted into the top tier of Republican power players. But all that seemed to change this week. The Kentucky Republican senator showed serious clout by holding a 13-hour filibuster to delay the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s candidate to head the CIA, John Brennan."
OH GOOD!  The 2016 GOP presidential parade has its first clown! Who's next?  Rick Perry? Rick Santorum? Oh Herman Cain, where are you?!

Boehner Blasts 'Baseless and False' Book by Ex-colleague that Accuses Him of Being 'More Interested in Golf, Women, Cigarettes and Alcohol' from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"House Speaker John Boehner is hitting back at claims by a former
colleague that he's more interested in women, golf and booze than his job, calling his book 'baseless and false.' The book was written by Bob Ney, the former chairman of the House administration committee, was forced to resign his post after he was wrapped in a corruption scandal."

How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars' (Devin Leonard) from Businessweek
"One weekend last October, Robert Iger, chief executive officer of Walt Disney (DIS), sat through all six Star Wars films. He’d seen them before, of course. This time, he took notes. Disney was in secret negotiations to acquire Lucasfilm, the company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, and Iger needed to do some due diligence."