Friday, May 31, 2013

News Nuggets 1243

DAYLEE PICTURE: A sunset in Manhattan.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Poll: Huge Majority Says Economy Should Trump Congressional Investigations from Talking Points Memo
"An overwhelming majority of Americans said that the economy and
unemployment should take precedence over the Congressional investigations into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups, the Justice Department's subpoena of Associated Press phone records and last year's deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University released Thursday."

Another Obamacare Train Wreck Not Happening: Federal Exchanges Look Like They'll Have Plenty of Insurance Options (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic
"One of these days, a dire prediction about Obamacare will come true. Today isn’t it. The Administration on Thursday released new information about the “Federally Facilitated Marketplaces.” Under Obamacare, every state must have an exchange—a place where people without
employer-sponsored insurance can find insurance. Some states are running their own exchanges."

Republican Red Flags All Over in Bellwether States from National Journal 
"For all the lip service given by Republicans to the party's efforts to modernize its image, a quick look at the GOP's standing in two must-win battlegrounds doesn't paint a promising picture of their efforts.  ... The GOP's recruitment struggles in Virginia and Colorado don't bode well for the party's long-term health."

The GOP is Too Juvenile to Govern (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously. ... What we don’t need is the steady diet of obstruction, diversion and gamesmanship that Republicans are trying to ram down the nation’s throat. It’s not as if President Obama and the Democrats are doing everything right. It’s just that the GOP shrinks from doing anything meaningful at all."

Why GOP Scandal Mongers Can’t Have Nice Things (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
" we have another good example of why Republicans so often have bad luck these days with bogus scandals they’re so hyped up about or ones that actually are legitimate scandals but which get overrun by so much hysterical nonsense that the actual scandal gets forgotten amidst a lava-like deluge of The Crazy. In a few words, most of the right-wing press is just astonishingly bad."

RI-GOV: Lincoln Chafee’s long journey from Republican to Democrat (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"Chafee is a strong supporter of President Obama, who issued a statement warmly embracing his switch. Chafee campaigned for the president in 2008 and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. But what’s remarkable is that someone with Chafee’s priorities was once a Republican. Chafee left the GOP six years ago, largely because he had decided it had squandered its mantle as a party of fiscal responsibility. Since then, however, his view of his former party has only dimmed, if Vareika’s quotes are any indication."

Michele Bachmann No Force in Congress from Politico
"Establishment Republicans have spent years tiptoeing around the tea party, concerned that its hot rhetoric and deep pockets could wreak havoc in their ranks and further disrupt the national party leadership’s carefully-laid plans. But Rep. Michele Bachmann’s sudden fall exposes the reality of tea party players: their power in Congress is mostly a mirage."

Michele Bachmann, GOP Squeaky Wheel, Ready to Retire (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"It’s hard to see the mothballing of Bachmann as anything but unalloyed good news, for the party and the country."

Michele Bachmann Retires As President of Crazyland (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"She is President of Crazyland, a title she has jostled for and maintained, in the face of unrelenting intraparty competition, since 2009. In that sense, Bachmann is walking away at the top of her game. Bachmann’s contributions as president were manifold."

I was a Liberal Mole at Fox News (Joe Muto) from Salon
"... it was more a decentralized, entrepreneurial approach. Each show was an autonomous unit. Each showrunner — who had not risen to their position by being stupid — knew exactly what was expected of them, knew what topics and guests would be acceptable. ... "

Why the Boomers Are the Most Hated Generation (Edward Tenner) from the Atlantic
"F. Scott Fitzgerald's flappers also grew up in a time of plenty, but they were allowed to age out of their sybaritic image. What makes the Boomers different?"

Belief Is the Least Part of Faith (T.M. Luhrman) from the New York Times 
"It is more helpful to think about faith as the questions people choose to focus on, rather than the propositions observers think they must hold."

Architects Unveil Wildly Futuristic Mock-ups for a Penn Station Makeover from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Four teams of architects presented plans Wednesday for the reimagined train station. The design challenge was sponsored by the Municipal Art Society  It was prompted by an upcoming vote by New York's City Council on renewing Madison Square Garden's permit to operate on top of Penn

Russians Find Mammoth Carcass With Liquid Blood from the Associated Press via Talking Points Memo
"A perfectly preserved woolly mammoth carcass with liquid blood has been found on a remote Arctic island, fueling hopes of cloning the Ice Age animal, Russian scientists said Thursday."

Lets 'Chute Some Photos: Bird’s Eye View of the World’s Most Beautiful Landscapes, Taken by Paragliding Photographer from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
The images of Mozambique are breath-taking!!
"These are the breathtaking images of the world's most beautiful landscapes, taken by a globetrotting paraglider. Highflying photographer Jody Macdonald, 37 sailed at speeds of 35kph and reached altitudes of 20,000ft over some of the most remote landscapes in the world to get her photographs."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

News Nuggets 1242

DAYLEE PICTURE: Grant Swamp Pass near Silverton, Colorado.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Can Obama Clean Up Bush’s National-Security Mess? (Jeffrey Goldberg) from Bloomberg News
"it seemed absurd and irresponsible that his predecessor had labeled Iran a member of the “axis of evil” without even having a plan to confront such evil, and because Obama, despite allegations to the contrary, takes the threat of a nuclear Iran seriously.  ... the landmark speech Obama gave last week at the National Defense University is best read as an indirect repudiation of Bush-era policies and rhetoric, and as an elliptical denunciation of Bush’s understanding of the fight against Islamist extremism."

Democrats Prepare for Nuclear War (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post 
"I’m not sure folks appreciate just how epic a political battle we could be heading for this summer, when a number of current storylines could culminate in Dems opting for the nuclear option to revisit filibuster reform via a simple majority."

Circling the Media Wagons (Walter Pincus) from the Washington Post 
"It wasn’t the substance of the leaked info that most deeply concerned the intelligence community. Rather it was that Rosen’s story alerted the North Koreans that the United States had penetrated their leadership circle. A second concern was how quickly someone with access to TS/SCI information — a limited, top-level security classification applied primarily to electronically intercepted messages — had leaked it. ... The person or persons who told the Associated Press about the CIA operation that infiltrated al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Kim — or someone else — who informed Rosen about North Korea, were not whistleblowers exposing government misdeeds. They harmed national security and broke the law."
I suspected that something like this was what was going on.  It sounds like for the sake of an "exclusive," FOX News indirectly blew the cover of one of the US's most critical sources in the North Korean regime.

Why the Clinton Scandals Were a Bigger Deal Than the Obama Ones (Garance Franke-Ruta) from the Atlantic
"In contrast to the highly personal nature of the Clinton scandals, none of the so-called Obama scandals involve direct actions by the president or his wife, let alone their romantic or financial dealings before or during their time in office. Instead, the controversies swirling around the administration all involve the conduct of individuals within the federal government overseen by Obama as the head of the executive branch."

The Wisdom of Bob Dole from the editorial board of the New York Times 
"The difference between the current crop of Tea Party lawmakers and Mr. Dole’s generation is not simply one of ideology. While the Tea Partiers are undoubtedly more extreme, Mr. Dole spent years pushing big tax cuts, railing at regulations and blocking international treaties.  ... But when the time came to actually govern, Republicans used to set aside their grandstanding, recognize that a two-party system requires compromise and make deals to keep the government working on the people’s behalf."

Memo to the GOP: It’s Time to Listen to Your Elders (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"Reagan wouldn’t even make it today? John Avlon on why Bob Dole and John Warner’s dire warnings about the Republican Party’s hard tack to the right are worth taking seriously."

The Path Forward for Conservative Reform (Ben Domenech) from Real Clear Politics
"... the Republican Party has failed to connect with people, has failed to meet the test of competency, and has failed to live up to its promises. ... As the representatives of conservatism in the political square, the Republican Party has proved to be an abject failure at delivering to the people what they promised. There are numerous reasons for this."

Michele Bachmann Retiring under Fire from Politico
"Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — the tea-party firebrand facing
investigations and a daunting reelection race — abruptly announced on Wednesday morning that she will not seek reelection to a fifth term.  Her move marked a spectacular fall for a congresswoman with a bull’s eye on her back every congressional cycle: Less than two years ago, she won the Iowa straw poll and was briefly regarded as a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination."
GOOD RIDDANCE to this over-inflated trouble-maker!

Bachmann's Departure Relieves GOP Headache (Reid Wilson) from National Journal
"Bachmann may have been the loudest member of the class of 2006, the one who inspired the most heated arguments. But she will hardly be the most consequential; her enduring legacy may be the lessons she taught in how to lose friends and become completely uninfluential."

Michele Bachmann, Daddy, Jesus, America (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"So Michele Bachmann isn't running for Congress again. Here's her rather interminable, eight-minute (!) explanation of why. It of couse has nothing to do with the ethics investigation into her 2012 presidential bid!"

A Glimpse Behind the Iron Curtain: A Rare Snapshot of Everyday Life in Communist Russia from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Stifled by censorship and with western culture shrouded by an Iron Curtain, Soviet photography can probably be described as less than avant garde for the majority of the 20th century.
But 'underground' photographers working beneath the radar of the communist regime managed to capture everyday life through a lens in a more experimental and cutting edge way than the authorities would probably have approved of."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

News Nuggets 1241

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Red Fox in Manitoba.  From National Geographic.

Sixth Night of Violence in Sweden from CNBC
"Rioting spread to several Swedish towns on Friday night as police stepped up arrests during a sixth night of unrest and far-right vigilantes chased non-whites in southern Stockholm. In Linköping, central southern Sweden, police responded to 120 incidents as cars, caravans and two schools were set alight. At one point a blazing truck was rolled into a building, which caught fire."
Sweden?!  As I have been noting for some time, the far right is experiencing a dramatic resurgence across the EU.  In my view, this is largely due to the Union's inability to deal with the recession.  The austerity programs imposed by northern Europeans on mostly southern Europeans have had the unintended consequence of causing a huge surge in migration out of southern Europe to the north thus escalating already tense anti-immigrant attitudes and increasing competition in job markets still suffering from the great recession's hangover.  I'm amazed that at this late date political leaders in Brussels and across the EU are still clinging to austerity measures that (a) have not improved their economies and (b) have profoundly imperiled the democratic political order and left them so vulnerable to the return of fascism.  They seem completely oblivious to this threat -- and yet the evidence is everywhere.

Rebooting the War on Terror (Doyle McManus) from the Los Angeles Times
"President Obama's speech last week on the future course of America's 11-year-old war against Al Qaeda was long overdue. Never before has he offered the public such a detailed explanation of his anti-terrorism strategy. In part, that's surely because so much of it was officially secret — but also because the public hasn't demanded a position more nuanced than "tough on terrorism.""

The Obama Riddle (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"He’s an anti-ideological leader in an ideological age, a middle-of-the-road liberal skeptical of the demands placed on a movement leader, a politician often disdainful of the tasks that politics asks him to perform. He wants to invite the nation to reason together with him when nearly half the country thinks his premises and theirs are utterly at odds. Doing so is unlikely to get any easier. But being Barack Obama, he’ll keep trying."

Is Obamacare A ‘Once-In-A-Generation Opportunity’ For Democrats? (Jason Sattler) from National Memo
"What happens when millions of voters find out that they’re being denied a federal benefit because of where they live? What happens when voters in Alabama discover that they won’t get the same subsidized insurance as their cousins in Kentucky because elected Republicans have decided it wasn’t a good idea?"

George Zimmerman Judge: No Trial Delay in Trayvon Martin Shooting from the Orlando Sentinel
"The George Zimmerman second-degree murder case will proceed to trial June 10, after his judge today denied his defense team's latest request for a delay. The ruling was among several important decisions by Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson during a two-hour hearing this morning at the Seminole County Courthouse."
Good for the Judge!!  It is clear from this article that the Defense team was going to put the murder victim on trial!

Under the Cover of Scandals, Immigration Reform Chugs Along (Raul A. Reyes) from NBC Latino
"Conservative talk radio, which was credited with helping kill reform in 2007, has been abuzz about Benghazi, not “amnesty.”  Tea Party activists have been obsessed by the IRS hearings.  With the anti-reform crowd otherwise engaged, lawmakers have been able to get things done (one conservative website wondered if this was all part of a “fiendish” conspiracy by the Obama administration)."
It boggles the mind!  Real immigration reform may happen ... largely because the GOP is so busy chasing bullshit to really focus on undermining something that is quite substantive! 

How to Save the GOP: What Republicans Can Learn from the Democrats’ Revival (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"The party is in desperate straits. ... On nearly every issue of national significance—from social affairs to fiscal matters to foreign policy—its positions are increasingly out of step with those of the majority of Americans. Riven by factions, it sometimes seems more like a collection of squabbling interest groups than a coherent political entity. ... This is the plight of the Republican Party today."

The GOP’s Pitiful Reformers (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast 
"A group of pundits is supposedly trying to inject some new thinking on the right. Michael Tomasky could not be less impressed—with their ideas or with their chances of success."

Why John McCain Hates Republicans Again (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"There is more going on here than just another dyspeptic outburst. McCain is displaying increasing signs of agitation with the ideological currents driving his party. His journey from orthodox Republican to the left edge of his party and back may have one more reversal yet."

Bob Dole: GOP Should be ‘Closed for Repairs’ (Lyndsey Layton) from the Washington Post
"The Kansas Republican said he was disturbed by his party’s obstructionist behavior on Capitol Hill.  “It seems almost unreal that we can’t get together on a budget or legislation,” he said. ... Dole said his party needs stronger leadership. “Somebody has to stand up and say, ‘We’re not going to do this,’” he said."
"Leadership"?!  I love it when GOP ex-Congress people and presidential candidates finally come and say what has been obvious for years.  Former Maine Senator Olympia Snow is out hawking her book and echoing some of what Dole says.  My response is: Who cares what these folks have to say now?  Where has their "leadership" been for the last 10+ years when GOP nutiness was clear for all to see?  Now that they personally are out of the asylum, what cred do they have to turn around now and say "Those people in there are really crazy"?

Star Trek' Brands: Sleek or Weak? from Entertainment Weekly
"ranchise takes many forms; two EW fanatics set up a pecking order of the movies, TV series, and more"

Friday, May 24, 2013

News Nuggets 1240

DAYLEE PICTURE: A wild parrot in the Cuzco region of Peru.  From National Geographic.

The Nuggetsman will be away for the holiday!  Have a great Memorial Day weekend!!  Nuggets will resume on Tuesday.

No Wonder Republican Criticism of Obama Isn’t Working (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"They’re attacking the president where he’s least vulnerable at a time when they have minimal credibility."

The Covert Commander in Chief (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"Watching President Obama's compelling speech on counterterrorism policy Thursday, one couldn’t help wondering what he might accomplish if he could apply the same intellectual focus and intensity to governing the nation that he has shown as covert commander in chief. By announcing new
restraints on the use of armed drones for targeted killing and pushing again for the closure of the Guantanamo prison, Obama signaled more strongly than ever that he means to turn the page of American history that began on Sept. 11, 2001."

The World Still Needs American Muscle (Robert Kaplan) from Real Clear World
"The fact is that hard power is supremely necessary in today's world, for reasons having nothing to do with humanitarian intervention. Indeed, the Harvard professor and former government official, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., who, in 2004, actually coined the term "soft power" in an eponymous book, has always been subtle enough in his own thinking to realize how relevant hard power remains."

Pivoting From a War Footing, Obama Acts to Curtail Drones from the New York Times
"In a widely anticipated speech, President Obama on Thursday said he would impose new curbs on the use of drone strikes, and he sought to renew his effort to close the prison at Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba."

The End of the Perpetual War from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"For the first time, President Obama clearly stated that the current state of war is unsustainable for a democracy."

Boy Scouts Vote to Allow Gay Members from USA Today
"The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to allow gay youth to participate in scouting. The historic vote, with 60% in favor, signals another shift in American public opinion about homosexuality but still leaves the organization with many future hurdles."

Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting for Public Opinion to Turn Against Obama (Jill Lawrence) from National Journal
"The president has a base of loyalists that won't quit and, at least for now, there's no evidence he was involved in any scandals."

Fewer Americans Identify as Economic Conservatives in 2013 (Andrew Dugan) from Gallup
"Thirty percent say they are liberal on social issues, a new high"

More Evidence that Scandalmania is Taking a Toll on the Party of Nixon (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"... by the end of the summer he's going to be forced to resign, after which he will be forced to live in ignominy with William Jefferson Clinton, the last president to have been impeached by the Republican Party. But in the meantime, let's enjoy the party, because as the latest ABC/Washington Post survey shows ... the GOP isn't enjoying the fruits of its scandal-exposing labors (RVs, 5/16-19, ±3.5 percent):"

Debt Limit, Budget Fight Fracturing GOP (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos 
"The best political show in D.C. this week wasn't the IRS hearings, it was the GOP drama playing out sporadically on the Senate floor as four tea party bombthrowers, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Mike (me-too! me-too) Lee faced off against Susan Collins and John McCain over the budget."

The Al Jazeera Revolution: Al Jazeera is the Best Thing to Happen to Journalism -- Unless it Isn't (Christopher Dickey) from Newsweek
"I’ve been following the ups and downs of Al Jazeera America all year, talking to staffers in the States, Europe, and the Middle East, and it’s still a good guess its pockets are too deep for it to fail, at least in the short term. ... And it will bring a lot of fresh energy as well as controversy to the news scene in the world’s most important television market. It could transform the way we see news and the way we think about it. But, then again, it could be a disaster in almost every sense of the word."

Obama Met Privately with Friedman, Ignatius, etc. from Politico
"President Obama held a private meeting with top national security journalists on Thursday afternoon following his national security policy address at the National Defense University in Washington, POLITICO has learned."

PRES-2016: Gov. Walker Travels to Iowa, Sparks 2016 Talk from USA Today 
"Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker heads to Iowa on Thursday, stoking the inevitable speculation about whether he's interested in running for president. ... These days, trips to early presidential primary and caucus states inevitably warrant talk about 2016."
GREAT.  Now, let's see.  Who does that give us?  Rand Paul ... Ted Cruz ... now Scott Walker.  I'd say the field is rounding out very nicely -- for a GOP rout in 2016.

A Brief History of Romantic Comedies from the Atlantic
"In this video, Orr looks back at some of the most memorable scenes from classics like The Philadelphia Story and Annie Hall — reminders of a time before Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, when romantic comedies were driven by real tensions and real rewards."

Michelle Obama Overtakes Hillary Clinton in List of the World's Most Powerful Women from the Daily Mail [of the UK] 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
"First Lady Michelle Obama has overtaken Hillary Clinton in Forbes list of the world's most powerful women unveiled today. The former First Lady and Secretary of State dropped three places from last year's no 2 ranking before taking a seat directly behind Mrs Obama who came in fourth."

Dogs And Babies Sleeping Are What The World Needs Now from the Huffington Post
"Because they are not just man's best friends..."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

News Nuggets 1239

DAYLEE PICTURE: An alligator in North Carolina.  From National Geographic.

Man with Ties to Boston Bombing Suspect Admits Role in 2011 Murders; Shot During FBI Questioning from NBC News
"Dead Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and another man — who was killed by the FBI on Wednesday — murdered three people in Massachusetts after a drug deal went wrong in 2011, law enforcement sources tell NBC News. Sources say that what began as a drug ripoff ended in a triple homicide when Tsarnaev and friend Ibragim Todashev realized their victims would later be able to identify them."

How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled (Paul Krugman) from the New York Review of Books
"...the case for austerity was and is one that many powerful people want to believe, leading them to seize on anything that looks like a justification. I’ll talk about that will to believe later in this article. First, however, it’s useful to trace the recent history of austerity both as a doctrine and as a policy experiment."

How Obama Handles Crisis (Jon Favreau) from the Daily Beast
"The handwringers and bed wetters in the D.C. punditocracy should know that Barack Obama will never be on their timeline, says his longtime speechwriter Jon Favreau."

Ben Bernanke to Congress: You’re Doing It Wrong (Daniel Gross) from the Daily Beast
"The Federal Reserve chairman has been working like a dog to keep the economy moving, he told Congress today, but they’re not pulling their weight. He's absolutely right."

Leaks, Privacy and Journalism (Paul R. Pillar) from the National Interest 
"The damage of leaks appears to be widely misunderstood, given how swiftly many commentators are brushing aside the issue of damage in the current case. Leaking of classified information significantly harms national security because it is awfully hard to run an effective national security operation if what stays secret and what becomes public is determined by any individual with an ax to grind or a personal agenda to push and enough of a wild streak to break the rules."

State of Play: Where the IRS Case Stands After 3 Hearings (Shane Goldmacher) from National Journal
"Despite the flurry of activity, some of the most basic details in the case remain foggy, including how exactly the targeting began, who began it, and how it was allowed to continue for so long. Both Democrats and Republicans want answers to those questions. And after more than a dozen hours of often contentious testimony, Republicans have yet to tie the targeting of tea party groups for extra scrutiny to President Obama and the White House."

She Has To Go (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"Whether or not she should be fired for whatever she did in the scandal itself, deciding to take the fifth means she needs to be removed from her position."

Sorry, Republicans — Nobody’s Getting Impeached (Gene Lyons) from the National Memo
"Sure, the Internet empowers crackpots. But it also enables in-house bloggers like Paul Krugman and Ezra Klein to bring facts and arguments into the online pages of the high-dollar press that could be censored out of the “mainstream” as recently as the Clinton administration. So nobody’s getting impeached on this tripartite nonsense, OK? Anyway, let’s take them one at a time:..."

Life Lessons in Fighting the Culture of Bullshit: What Politics Taught Me that Current Graduates Need to Know (Jon Lovett) from the Atlantic 
"One of the greatest threats we face is, simply put, bullshit. We are drowning it. We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie; in industry-sponsored research; in social media's imitation of human connection; in legalese and corporate double-speak. It infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, making it harder to achieve anything."

GOP Moderates Feud with Conservatives Over Stall Tactics on Budget (Lori Montgomery) from the Washington Post
"Long-simmering divisions among Republicans burst into public view Tuesday evening, when GOP moderates challenged tea-party conservatives on the Senate floor over their refusal to proceed to formal negotiations with Democrats over the federal budget."

Ted Cruz: ‘I Don’t Trust The Republicans’ from Talking Points Memo 
"Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday defended his objection to initiating House-Senate budget negotiations unless Democrats take a debt limit increase off the table, saying he doesn't trust his party to hold the line. "The senior senator from Arizona urged this body to trust the Republicans. Let me be clear, I don't trust the Republicans," Cruz said. "And I don't trust the Democrats.""
This guy definitely has his hand on the pulse of the GOP grassroots.  Glad to hear that he's considering running for president in 2016!

A Tornado Chaser Talks About His Science and Craft from National Geographic
"Samaras, a National Geographic grantee known for getting instruments inside tornadoes to measure pressure and wind speeds, talked about what we still don't know about these devastating storms, why he chases them, and what he does in the off-season."

Ruthless Iran: Can a Deal Be Made? (Roger Cohen) from the New York Review of Books
"The eerie effort to whitewash the Islamic Republic in Going to Tehran is so extreme that it would be comical if it did not stray close to obscenity."

So THIS is What Caused the Irish Potato Famine: Scientists Finally Identify Unique Pathogen that Caused the Blight from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"A strain called US-1 was long thought to have been the cause. Plant pathogen dubbed HERB-1 now identified as cause of Irish potato blight." 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

News Nuggets 1238

DAYLEE PICTURE:  Bats in a tamarind tree in Madagascar.  From the New York Times.

‘Obama Scandals’ Could Actually Hurt Republicans (Ramesh Ponnuru) from Bloomberg News Service
"The biggest danger for Republicans in giving themselves over to scandal mania is one that the conventional retelling of the Clinton impeachment neglects. ... Republicans have similar vulnerabilities on the issues now. They have no real health-care agenda. Voters don’t trust them to look out for middle-class economic interests. Republicans are confused and divided about how to solve the party’s problems. What they can do is unite in opposition to the Obama administration’s scandals and mistakes. So that’s what they’re doing. They’re trying to win news cycles when they need votes."

Is the Vision Thing Important? (Joseph Nye) from the New York Times 
"Leadership experts stress the importance of transformational presidents with grand visions and an inspirational style rather than incremental leaders with a transactional style. In a careful study of the 20th century leaders who presided over the growth of American primacy, I found that many mattered — but not always in the ways that experts predict."

More Heat than Light in Senate’s IRS Hearing (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"A Senate hearing on the ongoing IRS scandal featured lots of outraged bluster, but few admissions of responsibility and nothing like a smoking gun. Eleanor Clift on a day of dead ends."

Will Republicans Screw Up Again? Some Are Already Overreaching (Stuart Rothenberg) from Roll Call
"Republicans failed to capitalize on President Bill Clinton’s inappropriate conduct by over-playing their hand and pushing impeachment. Not only did they fail to drive him from office, the GOP ended up losing a handful of House seats in the 1998 midterms instead of adding seats as initially expected. ... That same danger exists once again for the GOP."

Republicans’ Hatred of Obama Blinds Them to Public Disinterest in Scandals (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"Republicans are so focused on their bitter battles against Obama, they can’t see how little impact the “scandals” have had on public opinion."

GOP Aides Mock House Republicans’ ‘Crazy’ Benghazi Witch-Hunt (Ben Armbruster) from Think Progress
"OP aides are criticizing the House Republicans’ partisan witch-hunt over the Obama administration’s handling of the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya last year, arguing that the Party should focus more on substantive issues, such as lessons learned and how to recalibrate diplomatic security. Roll Call reports that Republican aides are saying staffers are getting bogged down chasing bogus accusations."

The Suburbanization of Poverty (Emily Badger) from the Atlantic
"... over the last decade, suburbs have increasingly become home to America's poor. Between 2000 and 2011, the population living in American cities below the poverty line increased by 29 percent. During that same time, across the country in the suburbs of metropolitan areas as diverse as Atlanta and Detroit and Salt Lake City, the ranks of the poor grew by 64 percent."

The Economic Geography of America's Abortion Wars (Richard Florida) from the Atlantic
"The word "choice" presumes that women actually have options. While the right to have an abortion is still protected by Roe v. Wade, in practical terms, it has become a privilege that is reserved for the residents of relatively affluent states. "

China's Property Values Are Skyrocketing, With No End in Sight from the Atlantic
"High demand fuelled by easily available credit has pushed prices up, making it harder for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder and raising concerns that a property bubble is developing."

Welcome to the Real Space Age (Dan Lee) from the New York Magazine 
"This is not a rendering. It is a launching pad in the New Mexico desert for rocket planes that will send you into space for $200,000. It opens later this year."

Monday, May 20, 2013

News Nuggets 1237

DAYLEE PICTURE: Lightening strikes in the Grand Canyon.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Rough Times for Obama? Sure. But Nixonian? Please. (Matthew Dallek) from the Washington Post
"The White House deserves some of the blame for the mess it’s in, but let’s be clear: The comparisons to Nixon are hyperbolic. Watergate, with its unique depth of criminality, remains a scandal unlike any other in modern times, and the echoes today reveal far more about the culture of Washington than about the supposed similarity between Obama’s troubles and Nixon’s crimes."

‘Who’s Going to Jail’ Over IRS Scandal? Probably Nobody. (Aaron Blake) from the Washington Post
"We don’t know yet. But it’s also quite possible that nobody will ever be convicted of breaking the law in the IRS scandal. “I am not aware of any statute that prohibits IRS targeting of applicants,” said Republican lawyer Jan Baran, who served as general counsel to George H.W. Bush and the RNC. Other politically inclined lawyers agree."

Conspiracy Theorists Flummoxed in Face of Actual Scandals (Alex Seitz-Wald) from Salon  
"The Benghazi/IRS/AP trifecta was the moment critics of Obama and the government had been waiting for. Or was it? For some of Obama’s biggest and most imaginative critics, the abundance of scandal stinks to high heaven and suggests the White House is intentionally drowning itself in controversy — for some reason."

IRS Hearing: The Takeaways from Politico
"Democrats are mad, but they aren’t taking it out on Obama.  Sure, Democrats want everyone to know they’re outraged too. But so far, they’re not demanding that President Barack Obama do more — at least not in public. They’re perfectly happy to take it out on the IRS."

Presidential Scandals, Only in the Minds of Republicans (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"... dig into the internals of the poll and you find something striking. In the case of the IRS and Benghazi stories, the lurid and nefarious view of Obama’s involvement in them being peddled by the right is held only by Republicans — big majorities of them — while most moderates and
independents, i.e. the middle of the country, believe the White House’s arguments."

Hillary and the 9 Dwarves (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post 

"Writing about the 2016 Democratic presidential race really means writing about two races. The first race isn’t a race at all. It’s Hillary Clinton’s internal debate about whether she wants to run for president or not. ... The second race is among everyone not named Clinton — a race to see who can grab the small amount of political oxygen that the former Secretary of State leaves behind."

Hillary '16 Campaign Off to Excellent Start (Paul Waldman) from the American Prospect
"The lesson that should be drawn from recent history is that it really doesn't matter who the Democratic nominee is. Republicans will hate him or her, and that hate will grow from an ember to a consuming fire. ... That hate will have a different flavor depending on who the candidate is—if it's Clinton, we'll see the return of all the sexual panic and misogyny she inspires—but what won't change is its quantity."

Mark Penn All But Out For Potential Hillary Clinton 2016 Run from the Huffington Post 
"...if Clinton runs in 2016, Penn is extremely unlikely to join on again, according to the Washington Post."

7 Juicy Claims From A Romney Campaign Insider’s New Book from BuzzFeed 
"Former policy aide Gabriel Schoenfeld’s new book, A Bad Day on the Romney Campaign: An Insider’s Account, blames Romney’s staff for his defeat."

Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don't Fire Us? (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Smart machines probably won't kill us all—but they'll definitely take our jobs, and sooner than you think."

The Ethics of Extreme Porn: Is Some Sex Wrong Even Among Consenting Adults? (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"A defense of consent as a lodestar of sexual morality."

Hard Knocks: Shanghai, Can the NFL Plant Its Flag in China? (Hua Hsu) from Grantland
"...beyond all this, there's football itself, which has never been an intuitive product for American export. Even nations with an appetite for American things have traditionally found football exotic and inscrutable, one of those aspects of the culture that simply doesn't translate well. But something unusual is happening throughout China's major cities, where football is one of the fastest-growing sports."

Friday, May 17, 2013

News Nuggets 1236

DAYEE PICTURE: A close-up view of the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm, Alaska.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

The Scandals are Falling Apart (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post 
"There’ll be more hearings, and more bad press for the Obama administration, and more demands for documents. But — and this is a key qualification — absent more revelations, the scandals that could reach high don’t seem to include any real wrongdoing, whereas the ones that include real wrongdoing don’t reach high enough. Let’s go through them...."

IRA, AP, Libya Scandals are a Trifecta with Little Payout (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post
"Folks, deep breath time. This is not the end of the Obama presidency. It’s a bad stretch with an unfortunate confluence of unfortunate events. None of which will make the first paragraph — not even the first page — of the account of the Obama administration in the history books. [...] Bad things happen in second-term presidencies, often in clumps. This is no coincidence; first-term chickens come home to roost in a second term. The inevitable arrogance bred by winning reelection never helps. But this bad run demands perspective."

It's Official: Those Bogus Email Leaks Came From Republicans (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine
"It's not as if we didn't know this already, but today Major Garrett made it official: last week's leaks that misquoted the Benghazi emails came directly from Republicans. Here's the report on the CBS Evening News: ..."

Wow, This is Pretty Epic (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"Generally, once partisan, tendentious sources leak information that turns out to be wrong, nothing’s ever done about it. That’s for many reasons, some good or somewhat understandable, mostly bad. But on CBS Evening News tonight, Major Garrett did something I don’t feel like I’ve seen in a really long time or maybe ever on a network news cast. He basically said straight out: Republicans told us these were the quotes, that wasn’t true."

White House Email Contradicts Benghazi Leaks (Jake Tapper) from CNN
"CNN has obtained an email sent by a top aide of President Barack Obama, in which the aide discusses the Obama administration reaction to the attack on the U.S. posts in Benghazi, Libya. The actual email differs from how sources characterized it to two different media organizations. The actual email from then-Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes appears to show that whomever leaked it did so in a way that made it appear that the White House primarily concerned with the State Department's desire to remove references and warnings about specific terrorist groups so as to not bring criticism to the department."

Understanding the Politics of the IRS Scandal from Talking Points Memo 
"We’re just at the front end of investigating the IRS scandal. And all the standard blah blah blah about how we don’t know just what we’ll find. But I think we do know pretty much exactly what the political implications will be. And they’re significant."

Nixon All Over Again? Not Even Close (Scot Lehigh) from the Boston Globe 
"Watergate? Nixonian? Impeachment? Please. Someone get the smelling salts. [...] [C]harges of a Benghazi coverup don’t pass the evidence test. Comparisons to Nixon are idiotic. And it’s the height of partisan absurdity to suggest that anything we’ve seen in these so-called scandals could justify impeachment."

Nope, Still No Cover-Up (Andrew Rosenthal) from the New York Times 
"First, this White House has no clue how to handle a public relations crisis; it should have released those emails ages ago. Second, the more we learn, the clearer it is that there was no cover-up. Third, the
Republicans in Congress don’t care about the truth of the matter."

A Tough Week, But Obama’s Agenda Isn’t Dead (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"It was rough— the IRS, Benghazi, the AP phone calls. But the president’s already moving past the week’s ‘Watergate’ to get back to business, as immigration reform edges forward."

Memo to GOP: Don’t Pretend You Care (Kirsten Powers) from the Daily Beast 
"Republicans blasting Obama over the AP snooping scandal seem to have selective-memory disorder. They’ve been trying to nail journalists and leakers for years, writes Kirsten Powers."

Why the GOP Thinks it Could Blow it from Politico
"Top GOP leaders are privately warning members to put a sock in it when it comes to silly calls for impeachment or over-the-top comparisons to Watergate. They want members to focus on months of fact-finding investigations — not rhetorical fury. Why the fuss? Well…"

Hispanic Outreach Director Explains Why He Said ‘Adios’ to the GOP (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"The RNC’s guy in charge of reaching out to Florida Hispanics has bolted for the Dems. Pablo Pantoja talks to John Avlon about the racist immigration report that was the final straw."

North Miami Mayoral Candidate Touts Endorsement from Jesus Christ from TV Local 10 [of Miami]
"A mayoral candidate in North Miami claims she has received an endorsement from a higher power.  Campaign posters for Anna L. Pierre tout that she was endorsed by Jesus Christ. "It's a spiritual endorsement. Why? Because everything I do I always get God involved," Pierre said."

FBI Seeks Source of Prostitution, Corruption Allegations Against Sen. Robert Menendez from the Washington Post
"... investigators are looking at whether someone set out to smear him while he was running for reelection last year and then ascending to his new post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to four people briefed on the inquiry. The scene of federal agents interviewing two of the world’s wealthiest sugar barons, whose business holdings include Domino Sugar, underscores the unusual twists of the saga..."

Skeptical Science Flattens Deniers: 97% of Peer-reviewed Papers say Humans Causing Climate Change (Meteor Blades) from Daily Kos
"As researchers under the guidance of John Cook at Skeptical Science discovered in a "citizen science" survey of 11,944 peer-reviewed articles, 1.6 percent of the authors expressing an opinion on the subject rejected or were uncertain about the consensus that the earth is undergoing anthropogenic (human-generated) global warming (AGW). And 97.1 percent of the nearly 4,000 articles in which the author(s) took a position endorsed the AGW consensus."

Christianity Declining 50pc Faster than Thought – as One in 10 Under-25s is a Muslim from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"Christianity could be facing a catastrophic collapse in Britain according to official figures suggesting it is declining 50 per cent faster than previously thought."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

News Nuggets 1236

The Nuggetsman will be travelling Wednesday and Thursday -- thus there will be no nuggets on those day.  News Nuggets will resume on Friday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

News Nuggets 1235

DAYEE PICTURE: White-tailed Eagles lunging for the same prey in Poland.  From National Geographic.

Our Ceaseless Circus (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
Bruni's Best. Column. Ever.  A lengthy excerpt is in order here.
"Four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya: people with unrealized hopes, unfinished plans, relatives who loved them and friends who will miss them. But let’s focus on what really matters about the attack and its aftermath. Did Hillary Clinton’s presumed 2016 presidential campaign take a hit? [...] Now we have a scandal at the Internal Revenue Service to factor in. And a scandal it is, in urgent need of a thorough investigation, which President Obama pledged at his news conference on Monday and which we’re very much owed. But before we get a full account, let’s by all means pivot to the possible political fallout, politics being all that seems to matter these days.  [...] It never gets better and may in fact be getting worse: the translation of all of the news and of all of Washington’s responses into a ledger of electoral pluses and minuses, a graph of rising and falling political fortunes, a narrative of competition between not just the parties but the would-be potentates within a party. On issue after issue, the sideshow swallows the substance, as politicians and the seemingly infinite ranks of political handlers join us journalists in gaming everything out, ad infinitum."

IRS Acted Alone In Developing Targeting Criteria For Conservative Groups: Report from the Huffington Post 
"The IRS' Friday admission that it disproportionately scrutinized groups with the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status has led some politicians to lay the blame on the Obama administration. However, a report in the Wall Street Journal Sunday said that a forthcoming Treasury Department inspector general report would show that no one outside IRS developed the criteria."

IRS Audits, Benghazi, Sebelius: Obama’s Second Term Is Scandal Heaven (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"IRS Tea Party audits, Benghazi, oh my! The events unfolding in Washington may have journalists seeing blood in the water, but Obama’s second-term scandals are no Watergate, John Dean tells Eleanor Clift."

IRS Tactics Sully Legitimate Hunt for Fraudulent Nonprofits (Brian Dickson) from the Detroit Free Press
This columnist cuts to the chase as to what was probably going on at the IRS. 
"It’s undisputed that a significant number of groups organized in the name of “tax fairness” or “defending the Second Amendment” have put their tax-exempt status in jeopardy by campaigning energetically for conservative candidates in Republican primary elections. Besides avoiding taxes, masquerading as a tax-exempt 501(c)4 organization such organizations to conceal the identity of donors seeking to promote candidates anonymously."
Here's the catch 22.  Name me the Tea Party group that was not campaigning energetically for Republican candidates.  Moreover, as Rachel Maddow and others have argued, many Tea Party groups  were supported directly or indirectly by the GOP or conservative super-PACs.  All of these aspects should make these groups ineligible for tax-exempt status and were thus appropriate targets for IRS scrutiny.  The "political bias" of the IRS stems from the problem that there was no explosion of left-leaning organizations in 2010 and later that sent up as many red flags as these Tea Party groups.  Botton line: in 2010 and 2011 there was a dramatic spike in the number of right-wing groups filing for tax exempt status whose claims to that status were highly problematic.  There was no corresponding spike of left-wing groups. Oddly, as this NYTimes piece seems to indicate, the IRS seems to have rubber stamped the tax exempt status of the largest right-wing PACs and organizations that emerged in 2010 and 2011. Given all this, good luck to the IRS folks who will need to explain this to hostile Congressional interrogators.  They will NEED IT.

IRS Scandal’s Central Figure, Lois Lerner, Described as ‘Apolitical’ (Caitlin Dickson) from the Daily Beast
"Lois Lerner is in the eye of the IRS-Tea Party firestorm. Caitlin Dickson reports on the ‘apolitical’ director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division—and whether she could have averted the scandal."

Breathless Over Benghazi: Republicans Can't Help Overplaying their Hand (David Horsey) from the Baltimore Sun
"The latest round of House hearings about the Benghazi incident provides a perfect example of how American politics has been warped and gummed up by bombastic, partisan extremism. A cool, methodical inquiry could well uncover serious mistakes and provide remedies so that future incidents can be thwarted before more American diplomats are killed in the line of duty. But the current generation of Republican lawmakers does not know how to do cool. Hot rhetoric more suited to a Glenn Beck tirade seems to be the only way they know how to communicate. [...] It is a fever dream for Republicans to think they can bring down President Obama with this pipsqueak of a scandal."

Benghazi Investigation Does Not Reignite Broad Public Interest: Reactions Split Along Partisan Lines from the Pew Research Center
"The public paid limited attention to last week’s congressional hearings on Benghazi. Fewer than half (44%) of Americans say they are following the hearings very or fairly closely, virtually unchanged from late January when Hillary Clinton testified."

White House: 'No Knowledge' of AP Phone Record Seizure (Justin Sink) from The Hill
 "The White House on Monday distanced President Obama from the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press telephone records. “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. Carney said the White House had no involvement in the Justice effort."
"No knowledge" is a pretty cut-and-dried statement -- and for Obama's sake, he and his people (re: AG Eric Holder at the DOJ) better be able to stand by that statement given the heat that is coming their way. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

News Nuggets 1234

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Bamboo Stinkhorn Fungus in India.  From Wikipedia. 

Why Outrage is Dead (Marc Ambinder) from The Week
"Republicans want to know where the outrage is hiding. Why aren't Americans angrier about the (a) cover-up (b) conspiracy (c) lunacy (d) evil-ness of how the Obama administration responded to the events in Libya? ... If everything is an outrage, then nothing is an outrage."
In some ways, this will represent one of the biggest barriers (as well as one of the biggest political dangers) the GOP faces in their effort to "get Obama" over the Benghazi or the IRS issues.  They and the right-wing more generally have zero credibility with the larger electorate.  Even their own base doesn't believe what GOP lawmakers are saying most of the time.  Can Issa/Graham/McCain and company really gin up a compelling enough corpus of evidence to alter the general public's view that these efforts are anything put an abuse of partisan political power?  I doubt it.  But that doesn't mean they won't try.  See Tomasky's commentary below.

The Coming GOP Civil War Over Climate Change from the National Journal 
“[Newt] Gingrich and [Mitt] Romney understood, … and I think they even believed the evidence and understood the risk,” [MIT scientist Kerry] Emanuel says. “But they were so terrified by the extremists in their party that in the primaries they felt compelled to deny it. Which is not good leadership, good integrity. I got a low impression of them as leaders.” Throughout the Republican presidential primaries, every candidate but one—former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was knocked out of the race at the start—questioned, denied, or outright mocked the science of climate change." Soon after his experience in South Carolina, Emanuel changed his lifelong Republican Party registration to independent. “The idea that you could look a huge amount of evidence straight in the face and, for purely ideological reasons, deny it, is anathema to me,” he says.

New Orleans Shooting: I Saw the Mother’s Day Parade Gunman from the Daily Beast
"Medical student Jarratt Pytell was dancing with the crowd at the Mother’s Day parade when he heard a sound like fireworks. He describes seeing the young gunman—and responding to some of the 19 wounded."
It will be on-going episodes like this that will keep gun control front and center for the foreseeable future.

Student Debt and the Crushing of the American Dream (Joseph Stiglitz) from the New York Times
"The crisis that is about to break out involves student debt and how we finance higher education. Like the housing crisis that preceded it, this crisis is intimately connected to America’s soaring inequality, and how, as Americans on the bottom rungs of the ladder strive to climb up, they are inevitably pulled down — some to a point even lower than where they began. This new crisis is emerging even before the last one has been resolved, and the two are becoming intertwined."

How to Reinvent College (Nick Romeo) from the Daily Beast
"An undergraduate having to pay off $120,000, and a university that has more than $165 million in debt? Paying adjuncts less but having them teach more, and instructors who give A's 43 percent of the time? Nick Romeo on a new book that critiques how higher education has changed, and what needs to be done to save it."

The Coming Attempt to Impeach Obama (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast 
"The idea of impeaching Obama is industrial-strength insane. Republicans will probably try anyway, predicts Michael Tomasky."
It has long occurred to me that an Obama 2nd term might go this way.  Having failed to defeat him in 2008 and again in 2012, the GOP will take whatever scandal-like material they had on hand in 2013 and (if they controlled the House) simply impeach him.  It has NOTHING to do with the merits of the case or whether any "high crimes or misdemeanors" were committed.  It is simply an exercise in power and a desperate attempt to cater to an extremely angry and misinformed party base.  Since Republicans have done nothing about anything legislatively they have to bring something to their constituents to say they are doing something -- so look for this to be it.  It's unclear to me what Obama can do to derail this effort -- but I suspect his team and the Dems will take this quite seriously as Tomasky suggests.

Right-wing Media Check up: still crazy: The Right-Wing Media Hasn't Learned Anything from its Failures in 2012 (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Several observers have pointed out that the conservative media's real complaint about #BENGHAZI is that the coverage in the MSM hasn't taken their side, and, even more to the point, the American public at large (i.e., those outside the Fox News demographic) has not responded to the coverage with outrage and alarm to match their own. The Week's Mark Ambinder has teased out why that is; they aren't on board with the guiding principle of today's right-wing journalists: Obama is evil."

Politics and Race: Looking Ahead to 2060 (Paul Taylor) from the Pew Research Center
"The report on the racial and ethnic breakdown of voters in 2012 released Wednesday by the Census Bureau attracted lots of well-deserved attention. But for readers of political tea-leaves, a report the bureau issued last December tells an even more compelling story. That report projected the racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population through 2060. If you combine key numbers from those two Census Bureau reports into a single chart, as we’ve done below, you’ll get a feel for a political and
demographic drama that’s going unfold over the next half century. And if you’re a Republican thinking of running for president one day, you may be a bit concerned."

Republicans Ask: Where Is John Boehner? from BuzzFeed
"Worried rank-and-file Republicans say the speaker seems to be “a bit checked out” as new legislative battles loom. His allies say he’s working behind the scenes to move the conference forward.  ... Today though, Republicans shoulder the brunt of the responsibility for the outrage they're not finding. "

South Carolina 'Creationist' Science Quiz is Real (Hunter) from Daily Kos 
"This has been floating around for a while, but it looks like Snopes has now confirmed it. It's real. The above is an actual science quiz given to 4th graders at Blue Ridge Christian Academy in South Carolina."

Spire Installed on WTC Tower, Making It 1,776 Feet from the San Francisco Chronicle
"The World Trade Center's rebirth has long revolved around creating a centerpiece of unsparing symbolism: a skyscraper 1,776 feet tall, its height an homage and a bold statement about looking forward. The new 1 World Trade Center reached that height with the lowering of a silvery spire from a crane on Friday, officially taking its place as a signature of the city's skyline and, with some argument, the nation's tallest tower.

Friday, May 10, 2013

News Nuggets 1233

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Red-eyed Frog on a Horned Beetle in Costa Rica.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Whistleblower’s Yarn Fails to Tie Benghazi Lapses to Politics (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"They summoned a whistleblower to Capitol Hill, but instead they got a virtuoso storyteller. ... Hicks was of little use to Republicans in their efforts to connect the lapses in the Benghazi response to Clinton or to the Obama White House."

National Circus: Benghazi Isn’t Watergate (Frank Rich) from New York Magazine
"They believed that Benghazi was figuratively as well as literally the 9/11 of 2012, and that its fallout would usher Romney into the presidency. In fact, it barely registered as a concern in any polls. Now they believe (in Lindsey Graham’s characteristically understated judgment) that Benghazi is “every bit as damaging as Watergate,” a gateway both to the president’s impeachment and to a GOP victory over Hillary in 2016. Yet no one else does."

The Republicans’ Benghazi Obsession from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"The hearing did not prove anything like an administration cover-up or other hysterical allegations of crimes equal to Watergate that some Republicans, such as Representative Steve King and Senator Lindsey Graham, have alleged."

Benghazi Hearing's Real Target: Clinton in 2016 (David Rothkopf) from CNN 
"That is not to say that the tragic events that unfolded last year in Benghazi are not worthy of serious investigation. They just didn't get them from Issa's committee. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her passionate testimony in December, we need to know what went wrong to prevent future tragedies. ... But Issa and his co-inquisitors were more interested in the arithmetic of 2016 presidential politics than with the events of last September 11 in Libya."

No, Benghazi Won’t Hobble Hillary in 2016 (Stephen Stromberg) from the Washington Post
"[I]f their obsession with Benghazi is partly an attempt to render [Clinton] incapable of winning the general election in 2016, the affair won’t do it for them. Or even get close."

The Myth of Presidential Leadership (Norm Ornstein) from National Journal 
"I have grown increasingly frustrated with how the mythology of leadership has been spread in recent weeks. I have yelled at the television set, 'Didn't any of you ever read Richard Neustadt's classic Presidential Leadership? Haven't any of you taken Politics 101 and read about the limits of presidential power in a separation-of-powers system?' But the issue goes beyond that, to a willful ignorance of history.""

Economists See Deficit Emphasis as Impeding Recovery from the New York Times
"After two years of stalemate on how to spur job creation and slash deficits, the consensus is that fiscal tightening has been a drag on economic recovery."

Joe Biden: The Rolling Stone Interview (Douglas Brinkley) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"Never before have a president and vice president been as close personally and professionally as Barack Obama and Joe Biden - just think about the past 80 years. FDR switched out VPs with the regularity of a farmer rotating his crops. Harry Truman had little use for the lightweight Alben Barkley.... Of course, Al Gore and Dick Cheney were formidable presences in the past two White Houses. But by the time both of those men left Washington, their relationships with their bosses were strained."
I think Brinkley is missing a key development here; the transformation of the office and responsibilities of the VP itself.  I would argue that the responsibilities of the Presidency have become so burdensome that whoever occupies the Oval Office now MUST have a VP who can shoulder A LOT of responsibility -- and thus has to be someone the President can trust and dole out key tasks to.  That is how Clinton used Gore, how Bush used Cheney and how Obama has used Biden -- and how future Presidents will use their VPs and what they will look for in a VP nominee.  For those who know something about the history of Ancient Roman, emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) created a series of co-emperors because the Roman Empire simply became too vast and too complex for one person to manage effectively.  I recall either Obama or one of his aids saying that the pace of life in the White House is like having a fire hose of critical events coming at you each day.  I thank God Obama has someone of Biden's calibre to turn to.

Meet Democrats’ Newest Republican Crush: Ted Cruz?!?! from Talking Points Memo
"Their distaste for his antics and his radical ideology is undoubtedly genuine. But Democrats are also thrilled that someone with those — should we call them qualities? — has emerged after the rout in 2012 as a Republican powerbroker in his own right, in a party whose leadership is too weak and timid to control him. And, the greater his stature in the party, the more harm they believe he’ll do to the GOP nationwide, whether or not he runs for president in 2016."

A Thinner Chris Christie Still Faces Big Political Challenges (Robert Shrum) from the Daily Beast
"Thanks to the GOP’s self-defeating refusal to back pragmatists over true believers, he may not be a winner, says Robert Shrum."

Heritage Foundation Does Damage Control from Politico
"The Heritage Foundation has gone into damage-control mode in the last few days, after coming under fire from Republicans and conservative outside groups over a report it published that puts the price tag of immigration reform at $6.3 trillion. ... The group has also come under scrutiny after it was reported that one of the authors of the report asserted previously that white Americans have higher IQs than immigrants."

Agreeing with McCain on Cable Bill (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos 
"At first blush, this bit of legislation coming out of Sen. John McCain's office is full of awesome: ... A la carte: As anyone trying to sign up for cable or satellite knows, you get stuck paying a bill for dozens (if not hundreds) of channels, when the vast majority of us really only watch a handful."

2012 Most Popular Names in the US from Nameberry
The boys' names I can pretty much get my head around -- most of the girls' names, forget it!  I am mystified that huge numbers of parents would use these names.

Atlantis Discovered? (Mac Margolis) from the Daily Beast
"Off the coast of Brazil, in one of the earth’s least explored waters, geologists have made an intriguing find. ... “Today we believe we may have found vestiges of an unknown continent,” Roberto Ventura Santos, head of the Brazilian Geological Service, told The Daily Beast. The evidence? Not gold but granite. “We expected to find volcanic rock and debris, typical of a seabed, not granite. Granite is typically found on the continental shelf.”"

Mother's Day in the Animal Kingdom for Super-Cute Baby Prairie Pups, Tigers and Polar Bears from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"These are the heart-warming pictures which prove a mother's love really is unconditional - no matter what species you are. With Mother's Day just around the corner, these adorable snaps show a whole host of patient mothers bonding with their boisterous babies."