Wednesday, April 10, 2013

News Nuggets 1216

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Painted Dunes in California's Lassen Volcanic National Park.  From National Geographic.

Pro-Gun Absolutism: The Gun Lobby’s Push to Privatize Law and Order (Will Marshall) from the Daily Beast
"In the gun lobby’s America, you’ll have to kill if you don’t want to be killed. Will Marshall on the delusional project of outsourcing public safety to private vigilantes."

Republican Threats To Filibuster Gun Bill Appear To Be Falling Apart from Talking Points Memo
"Numerous Republicans said Tuesday they won’t vote to block gun control legislation from reaching the floor, making Senate Democrats increasingly optimistic that they’ll have the necessary votes to begin debating their bill, even though final passage remains uncertain."

Stay Cool. Call North Korea’s Bluff (Andrei Lankov) from the New York Times
"People who talk about an imminent possibility of war seldom pose this question: What would North Korea’s leadership get from unleashing a war that they are likely to lose in weeks, if not days? ... the use of nuclear or other terror weapons would be certain to invite overwhelming retaliation, delivering North Korea’s decision makers to a fiery oblivion. Suggestions that those leaders are irrational and their decisions unfathomable are remarkably shallow. North Korea is not a theocracy led by zealots who preach the rewards of the afterlife."
While in the main I agree with this author, the real danger here lies in North Korean military leaders either buying into their own rhetoric (a real possibility given how misinformed many of them are about the US and the rest of the world generally) or becoming obsessed about "losing face" as the whole world watches.  See the following item for more on these types of concerns.

With Friends Like These… (Helen Gao) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Even the Chinese are finally starting to think their allies in Pyongyang are a little bit crazy."

Getting Ready for Post-Castro Cuba (Arturo López-Levy) from the National Interest
"In Cuba, a post-Castro era is looming on the horizon. The Obama administration should muster the political will to prepare the United States for February 2018, when neither Fidel nor Raúl Castro will remain at the helm of the Caribbean island."

Obama Budget Catching Hell From Both Sides: Why That’s a Good Sign (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"Liberals are howling ‘sellout’ over Social Security reform, and Republicans are readying their reflexive ‘tax and spend liberal’ attacks. That’s how you know Obama’s budget is a good one, says John Avlon."

Supreme Court Nominee-in-Waiting (Jeffrey Toobin) from the New Yorker 
"The next Supreme Court confirmation hearing begins on Wednesday afternoon, April 10th. Technically, Sri Srinivasan is just a candidate for the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but few are misled. The stakes in this nomination are clear: if Srinivasan passes this test and wins confirmation, he'll be on the Supreme Court before President Obama's term ends."

Obama Could Win in 2014 Midterms by Losing Legislative Battles Now (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"The president may be in trouble on guns, immigration, and the deficit, but Eleanor Clift reports that his failure could boost Democratic chances of winning back the House."
As I have noted here before, I think taking back the House in '14 is Obama's paramount goal for this next year.

Memo to the GOP: Ideas Win Elections; Winning the Issues is the Winning Strategy (David Winston) from National Review
" If the Republican party is going to fix its branding problem, then it must first focus on generating products (policies derived from those principles and ideas) that will bring back customers. That’s the real challenge ahead for the party and its candidates. Unfortunately, much of the Republican campaign-consulting community — from strategists to pollsters to ad gurus — treats candidates and their ideas as liabilities, not assets. For decades, their strategic focus has consisted of negative ad campaigns and little else."

Paul Stumbles Trying To School Howard Crowd On Black History from Talking Points Memo
"As Rand Paul told it, the biggest problem keeping African Americans from voting Republican is that they didn’t know Republicans have long been leaders on abolition and civil rights. As students at Howard University heard it, the problem was that Paul was condescending, misleading, and removed from the issues facing their community."
What a dope!  Thank God it looks like he'll be running for president in 2016.

Vichy Lives!—In a Way (Robert O. Paxton) from the New York Review of Books 
"L’Héritage de Vichy is an unconventional work—more a catalog of curiosities than a regular book. It advances a strong claim: that contemporary France still bears today many traces of the Vichy regime that governed under German occupation from 1940 to 1944."

Think Apartments in New York are Cramped? Extraordinary Images of the 'Living Cubicles' that are Home to Millions in Hong Kong from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Incredible shots offer a glimpse into the reality of living in one of the most densely populated areas of the world.  Hong Kong is home to a population of seven million crammed into an area of just 424 square miles. Claustrophobic nature of Hong Kong high-rises captured by German
photographer Michael Wolf"

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