Wednesday, July 31, 2013

News Nuggets 1273

DAYLEE PICTURE: A male lion on the Serengeti in Africa.  From National Geographic.

Inequality in America: The Data Is Sobering (Eduardo Porter) from the New York TImes
"Despite its riches, in many areas the United States looks depressingly backward. Addressing that will take more than the president’s words."
Republican Solution: for people to shut up about what it's like in other countries and for Americans not to travel outside the U.S.  Problem solved.

U.S. Economy Grew by 1.7% in 2nd Quarter, Faster Than Expected from the New York Times
"The resilience in the economy came despite automatic spending cuts imposed by Congress earlier this year."

The Steady Decline of Homeownership, for Everyone, Everywhere (Emily Badger) from the Atlantic
"America's homeownership rate has been declining for several years, and for multiple reasons, some tied directly to the housing collapse. For one class of would-be homeowners, it's simply harder today to qualify for a mortgage than it was at the height of the housing boom. For another, the allure of homeownership itself has declined."

Manning and Snowden (Bill Keller) from the New York Times
"What the Bradley Manning verdict could mean for Edward Snowden."

Obama Can Best Weaken the GOP by Courting Its Traditional Business Backers (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"The more the president drives a wedge between the GOP and its traditional backers, the better for him and for his party down the road."

New War Begins: Beating Voting Rights Bigots (Joan Walsh) from Salon  
"Eric Holder found a way to use the Voting Rights Act to fight Texas voter restrictions. Now other states await."

With Deficit Negotiations at an Impasse, Obama Offers Republicans a ‘Grand Bargain’ on Jobs from the Washington Post
"President Barack Obama is extending a new proposal to Republicans that he hopes will break the political gridlock on budget negotiations, offering to cut corporate tax rates in exchange for job investments."

The Senate votes, and the National Labor Relations Board Will Function Again (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos
"For the first time in a decade, the board will have five fully confirmed members, and will avoid having to close up shop next month."

The GOP’s Shutdown Showdown (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post 
"Republicans try to put the brakes on Obamacare, again."

Conservatives Concede Defeat In Obamacare Shutdown Fight from Talking Points Memo
"Multiple conservatives leading the charge to shut down the government if Obamacare isn’t defunded have begun to admit it’s a lost cause as senior Republicans put the kibosh on the plan."

The Destructive Rise of the No-Government Conservatives (Jon Favreau) from the Daily Beast
"The Republican Party is divided—and the small-government conservatives, who want to reduce government’s size but preserve its institutions, are losing. Jon Favreau on the ruinous ideology that’s ascendant."

A Bet on Clinton: If They Network, She Will Run from the New York Times
"A new group dedicated to paving the way for a Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 has already recruited dozens of the Democratic Party’s elite donors and bundlers, effectively kicking off the presidential money hunt more than three years before Election Day."

GOP's Obamacare Obsession is Starting to Look like Political Suicide (Jules Whitcover) from the Baltimore Sun
"Many present-day Republicans seem bent on making "Backward, Christian Soldiers" their marching song in their relentless determination to "repeal and replace Obamacare," even to the point of repeating their lemming-like plunge over the cliff of another government shutdown."

Doubling McDonald's Salaries Would Cause Your Big Mac To Cost Just 68¢ More: Study from the Huffington Post
"Morelix's research comes as fast-food workers across the country strike for a $15 per hour minimum wage. Workers are also protesting for the right to unionize without fear of retaliation. Protesters are holding strikes in seven cities over a four-day period, according to Salon."

Rush Limbaugh To Greta Van Susteren: 'Republican Party Wants A New Base' (VIDEO) from the Huffington Post
""The Republican Party wants a new base. The Republican leadership isn't conservative. They're not particularly crazy about conservatives," Limbaugh said. "I'm a fairly prominent media conservative, I get more grief than the Taliban gets. I get more grief than Al Qaeda gets. All conservatives do because we constitute a threat to the way Washington views the country.""
Let's face it: Rush wants a different America than the one we have right now.  

Rush Limbaugh is Finished (Alex Pareene) from Salon
"With or without Cumulus, his political power is much diminished. But the radio king can still do some damage."

Obama vs. Bush (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Post
"Will 44 finally be more popular than 43?"

The Ultimate Electric Driving Machine: Official Launch of BMW's Futuristic Super-mini that Takes Three Hours to Charge and Reaches 93mph from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"The BMW i3 'super-mini' launched officially in London, New York and Beijing Pictures of futuristic car leaked on the internet a week early Vehicle will cost £25,680, with a £5,000 'green' subsidy from Government."

Stunning Scene of FOUR Waterspouts Off Greece Coast is Captured in Awe-inspiring Photographs from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Italian Roberto Giudici captured images while sailing off Greek island.  Taken in 1999 but have only been unveiled after appearing on NASA website. Seeing one waterspout is considered to be once-in-a-lifetime event."

Monday, July 29, 2013

News Nuggets 1272

DAYLEE PICTURE: Banff National Park in Canada.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Growing Number Of States Are Reporting Lower Than Expected Health Care Premiums from Think Progress
"The prices Marylanders will pay are lower than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) anticipated, but do cost more than the bare-bones plans that are available today. Residents will have a choice of nine insurance carriers and three out of four people purchasing coverage through the exchange will qualify for tax credits, further reducing the cost of coverage."

Signs of Declining Economic Security (Hope Yen) from the Associated Press 
"Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend."

Sixty Years After the Korean War, the Cold War’s Unending Conflict Continues from Time Magazine
TIME talks with Sheila Miyoshi Jager, author of the new book Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea, on how a 20th century war continues to influence Korean geopolitics

Status and Stress (Moises Velasquez-Manoff) from the New York Times  
"The poor and powerless are at greater risk of early death."

An Online College Revolution is Coming (Danielle Allen) from the Washington Post
"Whether for good or ill, MOOCs augur a disruption of the relationships among students, colleges and trade schools, and the credentials those schools offer — a relationship that has stabilized higher education for at least a century. Yet if done right — a big if, as recent events at San Jose State and Colorado State universities have shown — they may help address the quality and cost of higher education. What’s the nature of the disruption?"

Obama Is Right to Mess With Texas (Alec MacGillis) from the New Republic 
"Pro-tip: When you win a big court case giving you the go-ahead to suppress voter turnout for your political opponents, don’t gloat about it. ... The alacrity with which Texas, North Carolina and other states have rushed to take advantage of the ruling seriously weakened the sober conservative argument, from Chief Justice John Roberts and others, that Southern states no longer needed to be singled out for special scrutiny because they had long since left their discriminatory ways behind."

Time to Mess with Texas (Eric Lewis) from the New Yorker
"This Roberts Court failed to protect the rights of minorities by ignoring the concerted voter-suppression efforts of today. Jim Crow with a smile and a request for an I.D. is still Jim Crow."

GOP Gets it Wrong on Health Law (Juan Williams) from The Hill
"That is why the Republican political strategy on ObamaCare is so wrong. First, it leaves them open to their greatest vulnerability: charges of being unproductive obstructionists and brazen partisans. Second, it is a serious misreading of the public."

States Seek to Nullify Obama Efforts from Politico
"The nullification trend in recent years has largely focused on three areas: gun control, health care and national standards for driver’s licenses. It has touched off fierce fights within the states and between the states and the feds, as well as raising questions and court battles over whether any of the activity is legal."

Anarchists of the House (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The Republican Congress is testing a new frontier of radicalism—governmental sabotage. ... Spectacles like this have turned into a regular feature of life in the Republican House. The party
leadership draws up a bill that’s far too right-wing to ever become law, but it fails in the House because it isn’t right-wing enough."

GOP Goes Public With Long-Brewing Foreign Policy Civil War (Zeke J Miller) from Time Magazine
"The long-delayed GOP foreign policy civil war is finally here. For years the Republican Party has fractured over foreign policy, but libertarians and neoconservatives, while vehemently disagreeing on substance, tried to project an air of party cohesion. Those days are over."

Are Republicans Too Divided to Have a Civil War? (Byron York) from the Washington Examiner
"The coming battles inside the Republican party will be a series of moving fronts, with changing sides and changing tactics. It could be ugly at times, and it could be serious enough to ensure a chaotic presidential primary fight in 2015 and 2016. But all-out civil war? Probably not."

Young Republicans: GOP Must Make Substantive Changes from the Associated Press
""We don't have to lose our principles," said Angel Garcia, who leads the Young Republicans in Chicago, Obama's hometown. "But we have to have a conversation on all these issues so we don't leave Democrats to say we're just old white men and racist, bigoted homophobes.""

Romney: Doubts, then Confidence and Loss in 2012 (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"The 2012 Republican presidential nominee describes his path of thought in deciding to run, the doubts he harbored, and the role his family played in his campaign."

“Ridiculous Pseudo-Science Garbage”: Meet the GOP’s Environment Leaders! (Jullian Rayfield) from Salon
"How do the 8 Republicans who sit on the Senate Environment Committee feel about climate change? We break it down:..."

Cumulus Planning to Drop Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity from Politico 
"Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets."
Boo hoo.  What a loss to civilization.

The Show that Made it After All (Suzanne Allard Levingston) from the Washington Post
"The story of the groundbreaking “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”"

Marilyn Monroe Circa 1944 Was A Beaming Beauty (PHOTOS) from the Huffington Post
"Marilyn Monroe is celebrated even to this day, 50 years after her passing, as an iconic beauty. But old photos reemerged recently that show the blond bombshell was gorgeous even before making it big in Hollywood."

Hot wheels! Naked models Covered in Body Paint Help Artist to Create Vision of Fiat 500 from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Body artist creates illusion of car from painted nude models for advert. Craig Tracy used paint safe for human skin to cover women from head to toe."

Friday, July 26, 2013

News Nuggets 1271

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Jameson's Mamba Snake in Cameroon.  From National Geographic.

Republican Health Care Panic (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times 
"Conservatives and others on the right are confronting their ultimate nightmare: that Obamacare is probably going to work."

Afghan War Poll Finds That Two-Thirds Say That It Wasn't Worth The Cost from the Huffington Post
"Nearly 12 years after U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan, two-thirds of Americans think that the war was not worth the cost, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Friday."
It seems to be the case that every generation since World War II needs to relearn the lessons of Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq and Afghanistan: don't go to war unless you HONEST-TO-GOD have no other choice.  Cavalier adventuring like that practiced by the Bush administration was a double-barreled mistake of historic proportions and we (and that region of the middle east) will be living with the negative consequences for the foreseeable future.

Halliburton will Plead Guilty in BP Gulf Oil Spill (Ben Geman) from The Hill
"Oilfield services giant Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced Thursday evening."

Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, Driver Of Derailed Train In Spain: 'I Want To Die' from the Huffington Post
"Police detained Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, in the hospital where he was being treated for minor injuries on Friday. According to local media reports cited by the Telegraph, authorities received transcripts of the driver lamenting in the wake of the crash: "I've fucked it up. I want to die.""
Nope.  You get to live, buddy.  And Spanish authorities are going to make an example out of you, you can count on it.

White House hardens stance on budget cuts ahead of showdown with Republicans from the Washington Post
"The posture represents a more confrontational approach than that of this spring, when President Obama decided not to escalate a fight over across-the-board reductions known as sequestration in an earlier budget battle with Republicans."

GOP Feuds Over Obamacare Tactics from Politico
"A growing number of Republicans are rejecting calls from leading conservatives, including Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, to defund the president’s health care law in the resolution to keep the government running past Sept. 30. The rift exposes an emerging divide over how the GOP can best achieve its No. 1 goal — to repeal Obamacare — while highlighting the spreading fears that Republicans would lose a public relations war if the dispute leads to a government shutdown in the fall."

GOP To Conservatives: Stop Acting Crazy Over Obamacare from Talking Points Memo
"The GOP push to hold government funding hostage to gutting Obamacare appears to be losing steam in Congress as a growing chorus of Republicans and conservative writers are coming out of the woodwork to urge hardliners within their party to be realistic."
When you play around too much with feeding the beast, its no surprise when the day comes when the beast feeds on you.

Senior GOPer: Try To Ditch Obamacare? Dream On, Guys from Talking Points Memo
"Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a deputy majority whip, has taken to the airwaves over the last 24 hours to pour cold water on GOP attempts to demand that the party withhold support for keeping the federal government open after Sept. 30 unless Obamacare is gutted. He has dismissed the conservative effort as a “temper tantrum” and likened it to “blackmail.”"

GOP Senator: Gov’t Shutdown Threats Over Obamacare ‘The Dumbest Idea I’ve Ever Heard’ from Talking Points Memo
"Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) on Thursday tore into efforts by his GOP colleagues to shut down the government if Democrats don't agree to defund Obamacare.  "I think it's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of," he told reporters. "Listen, as long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law.""

Tom Coburn: Campaign to defund Obamacare ‘dishonest,’ ‘hype’ (Byron York) from the Washington Examiner
"Tensions inside the Republican Party about a proposal to defund Obamacare reached a new level Friday when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a lawmaker with unsurpassed credibility in the field of cutting federal spending and limiting the size of government, called the defunding plan “dishonest” and “hype.”"

Voting Rights Challenge in Texas Opens Up New Obama-GOP Fight (Sam Baker) from The Hill
"Attorney General Eric Holder’s surprise decision to challenge Texas’s voting laws triggers a huge new fight between the federal government and Southern states dominated by the Republican Party."

Inside Groundswell: Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a "30 Front War" (David Corn) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Ginni Thomas, Allen West, and a crew of conservative activists and journalists have formed a hush-hush coalition to battle progressives—and Karl Rove."

Septuagenarian Strut (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"Discovered inside a full stadium, a cure for baby boomer self-loathing."

Trump Heads to Iowa, Plots a 2016 Run (Robert Costa) from the National Review
"Donald Trump has long resisted calls for him to run for president. But now, at age 67, he tells me he’s considering a bid. “I’m looking,” Trump says. “I have a large following of people who are tired of seeing this country ripped off, and taken advantage of [by] everyone who does business with us."

News Nuggets 1270

DAYLEE PICTURE: Sockeye Salmon swarm the Adams River in British Columbia.  From National Geographic.

State Republican Parties Mired in Dysfunction from the Denver Post 
"Democrats are not immune to such problems, but the conflicts on the Republican side highlight the tug of war over the GOP's future as national leaders work to improve the party's brand. At the same time, the Republican dysfunction raises questions about the GOP's ability to coordinate political activities in key battleground states ahead of next year's midterm congressional elections."
As regular readers of this blog know, I've been arguing for some time that we are now in the midst of a historic, BIG CHANGE political realignment, the kind that happens only one or twice in a lifetime.  In US history, one could look to the 1810s, the 1850s or the early 1930s to see a comparable moment -- when one party falls apart.  Given the disproportionate influence conservative GOPers exercise right now in Congress and some state legislatures, I could understand some skepticism on this theory -- but this story from the Denver Post is the latest critical piece of evidence.  We already know that the national Republican Party is fracturing into warring camps and that extremists are not ceding any ground to those trying to chart a more pragmatic, centrist course for the party.  This story confirms (really for the first time) that the chaos we see at the national level is now penetrating the state-level party organizations.  Make no mistake, these state-level groups are the bone and muscle of the Republican Party.  They do the heavy lifting when it comes to electing members of the Houses, senators and presidents.  While this internecine war may not effect 2014 congressional races too deeply, look to 2016 and beyond for the real meltdown to begin.  Note: how the current battle over implementation of Obamacare plays out could accelerate the process.  See the stories below.

Libya's Long, Slow Recovery from the Atlantic
"The economy continues to suffer: Oil production is way down, and tourism has nearly evaporated. But foreign aid has increased, reconstruction in Benghazi has picked up, and Libya is bidding to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament."

Audit of Glaxo Casts Cloud on Drug Research in China from the New York Times
"A 2011 audit suggests that GlaxoSmithKline’s problems may go beyond the sales practices at the center of a bribery and corruption scandal in China, and may extend to its research center in Shanghai."

Polar Thaw Opens Shortcut for Russian Natural Gas from the New York Times
"Less ice along the Northeast Passage means Russian energy companies have more places to drill and a clear shipping lane to reach customers in China."

Health Care Reform Drives Republicans Stark, Raving Mad (Gene Lyons) from the National Memo
"... fostering public ignorance is the whole GOP game plan at this point. Having been defeated in the House and Senate, failing to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and being rejected by voters in the 2012 presidential election, disinformation and sabotage are all they’ve got left."

Government Shutdown Looms Over ObamaCare (Alexander Bolton) from The Hill 
"ObamaCare is at the center of a rapidly escalating fight that threatens to shut the government down this fall. Senate Republicans, including two members of the leadership, are coalescing around a proposal to block any government funding resolution that includes money for the implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act."

Are Republicans Fooling Themselves About Obamacare? (Byron York)  from the Washington Examiner
"On that day the government will begin subsidizing health insurance for millions of Americans. (A family of four with income as high as $88,000 will be eligible for subsidies.) When people begin receiving that entitlement, the dynamics of the Obamacare debate will change. At that point, the Republican mantra of total repeal will become obsolete."

The Unprecedented—and Contemptible—Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare (Norm Ornstein) from the National Journal
"Doing everything possible to block the law's implementation is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials."
This from a pundit who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank!

House Republican Budget Strategy Collapsing from Politico
"Like an army that’s outrun its supply line, the Republican budget strategy in Congress shows almost daily signs of coming apart. The central premise, as sold by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, was that Washington could wipe out deficits in 10 years and protect defense spending, all while embracing the lower appropriations caps dictated by sequestration. Four months later, it’s proving to be a bridge too far."

Rep. Steve King’s Rotten Tomatoes (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Now the immigration debate is really getting juicy. Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, has always been a bit of a melon head, but he outdid himself in an interview that came to light this week in which he described “DREAMers” — people brought to this country illegally as children — as misshapen drug mules."

The Do-Nothing Congress Has Done a Lot (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic 
"That’s enough to stabilize the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio, meaning that the debt will no longer be growing faster than the U.S. economy. In short, the deficit has been tamed."

Don’t Repeal Any Laws, Repeal John Boehner (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"The speaker says Republicans should be judged on how many laws they repeal. This is unprecedented, irresponsible, and terrifying. Michael Tomasky on the desperate need for thinking GOP leaders."

Shhhh. Republicans Are Defending Earmarks (Amy Harder) from the National Journal
"Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are starting to quietly defend earmarks, three years after Congress banned the practice because members said it wasted taxpayer dollars during a time of trillion-dollar deficits."

The Case for Ted Cruz—Why Liberals Should Hope the GOP Taps Him in 2016 (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
If 2016 pits Clinton against Cruz, the Democrats will carry Georgia, writes Michael Tomasky.

The Rise of the Christian Left in America from the Atlantic
"The religious right has been in decline for years. Can progressives build a new "moral majority"?"

'A Skillful Horsewoman': A Brief History of Royal Childhoods from the Atlantic
"What it's like to be a modern-day heir to the British throne."

America in the 1970s: New York City from the Atlantic
"Today's subject is New York City, an area covered by many photographers, showing some of the urban decay and congestion that helped prompt environmental legislation, as well as glimpses of New Yorkers at work and play. Stay tuned for part 2 of Documerica Week tomorrow, when we travel southwest."

14 Stars Who Lost It All from Investopedia
"When you're feeling the stresses of everyday life, take a moment to be grateful that even if it has been a difficult year financially, you probably haven't lost as much money as these celebrities."

Monday, July 22, 2013

News Nuggets 1269

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall in southern Iceland.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

China's Gradual Descent from the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune
"When China slows, the world feels it. To an extent, business activity in the U.S., Europe and Japan will be constrained. That might sound like a problem, but it could turn out to be a big plus in the long run. Here's why:..."

Kerry: Agreement Reached On Basis For Mideast Peace Talks from Talking Points Memo
"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israel and the Palestinians will meet soon in Washington to finalize an agreement on relaunching peace negotiations for the first time in five years. Kerry has told reporters that he and the two sides “reached an agreement that establishes a basis for direct final status negotiations,” but he added that it is “still in the process of being formalized.”"

This Could Actually Work (Hussein Ibish) from Foreign Policy Magazine 
"Why John Kerry's Middle East peace push isn’t a fool's errand."

When It Comes to Domestic Spying, the U.S. is No China (Wang Lixiong) from the Washington Post
"In China, the government can enter any space of any citizen anytime it wants. It is the “counterespionage” of citizens that is prohibited."

Welcome to the ‘Sharing Economy’ (Thomas L. Friedman) from the New York Times
"Who knew the spare bedroom could pay the monthly mortgage?"

“Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Me” (John Dickerson) from Slate
"President Obama’s remarks on race are what his election always promised: His best attempt to knit Americans together.

Obama on Trayvon Martin: The First Black President Speaks Out First as a Black American (David Maraniss) from the Washington Post
"In Obama’s search for identity, he figured out how to straddle different worlds. In terms of family, he realized that he would find the comfort of home only in black society. But beyond that, in his professional life and outlook, he believed that he could not confine himself to one perspective, that his unusual composition offered him an unusual platform."
It is astonishing to read what Obama's critics are saying about this speech!  Obama is "race-baiting" and "playing the race card" and how his words were so "divisive"!!  To me, these criticisms speak volumes about the assumptions of their authors and say very little about what Obama actually said.  Assumption #1: Obama IS one of the most divisive presidents ever.  Assumption #2:  Obama (and many of his supporters) are extremely racist and that the President "plays the race card" to divert people's attention when he is in trouble; Assumption #3: Obama must never be trusted on what he says or does.  And assumption #4: Obama has used his oratorical skills to fool the American public about what he is really up to -- and that the only ones who see through his act are non-racist conservative whites who happen to watch a lot of FOX News and listen to Rush Limbau.  Caveat: One of the more interesting side-lights to the Obama presidency is how it has showcased the different ways conservatives and non-conservatives understand the word, "racist."  For many conservative whites, they understand "racist" as being someone who TALKS about race and who discusses openly the ways our country is divided by race.  For these folks, the fact that they never talk about race demonstrates clearly that they are NOT racist.  It is only those people who can't shut up about it -- they are the true racists.  This formula is really quite elegant because it never requires any introspection, empathy, or anything but the most superficial understanding of the issues.  All it requires is silence. Nothing Obama says will ever make any difference for these people -- they simply have too much noise going on in their own heads to hear one word of what he is actually saying.

The GOP Can’t Reboot With Bigots In Its Midst (Cynthia Tucker) from the National Memo
"Thoughtful Republicans — the moderates and right-leaning modernists who accept diversity — need to convene a meeting to take their party back and restore the brand to its pre-1960s luster. They ought to name their group “Republicans Against Racism.” They will have to be prepared to call out and criticize the insensitive claptrap and vitriolic nonsense that gets bandied about not only by Limbaugh, but also by other well-known conservative pundits ..."
I completely agree with Tucker's views here -- but any leader or lawmaker who takes her counsel will run into an angry buzz saw driven by the sentiments I've noted above.  

Obama Takes on Race (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"... so, after delivering what was at bottom a very pessimistic message — racial discrimination is very much still with us, and any conversation politicians have is unlikely to do all that much to fix things — Obama sought to end on a more optimistic and conciliatory note. To use the formulation he often employs, he was saying the arc of history is bending in the right direction."

The Next Phase of the Obamacare Battle Begins (Paul Waldman) from the American Prospect
"Try to imagine a government trying to build a new bridge, while all throughout their political opponents were not only telling people they'd die if they drove across it, but going out to throw rocks at the construction workers. Nevertheless, the Obama administration seems to be cautiously optimistic about its ability to overcome the obstacles."

Obamacare is Working—Believe Republican Naysayers at Your Peril (Egberto Willies) from Daily Kos
"For states that have decided to be proactive and work for the wellbeing of all their citizens and small businesses, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is being implemented successfully. There will be bumps but it will be successful where politicians start supporting it as opposed to putting obstacles in its way to attempt to cause it to fail for ideological reasons."

Even the Aide Who Coined the Hastert Rule Says the Hastert Rule Isn't Working (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"John Boehner is hamstrung by a stricture that a majority of the majority must back any bill. Would he be a stronger speaker if he collaborated with Democrats more, not less?"
Given how little the House has accomplished with Boehner as Speaker and how weak and ineffective he has appeared, I find it interesting that this conservative columnist is even asking this question.  Will Boehner accept accomplishing nothing long term as the price it takes to stay in the Speaker's chair?  We'll see. 

Democrats Try Hardball on the Vanilla Issues of Legislating (Niels Lesniewski) from Roll Call
"Senate Democrats and the White House are striking an aggressive tone on some bread-and-butter issues after successfully playing “nuclear” hardball to confirm President Barack Obama’s executive appointees."

Senate Republicans Splinter As Moderates Rise Up from Talking Points Memo 
"Whether it’s immigration reform, the budget, or President Obama’s nominees, a faction of more moderate Republican senators are increasingly splitting from both their leadership and the tea party and partnering with Democrats on key issues."

The White House Is Not a Metronome (Nate Silver) from the New York Times 
"On first approximation, then, presidential election results have resembled a random walk, with the important exception that an incumbent party has had a significant advantage when it has held exactly one term in office. I am suspicious of the patterns that people claim to identify beyond that, which may reflect the human bias toward detecting signal in random noise."

Are Republicans Trying to Lose the 2016 Presidential Race? (Ryu Spaeth) from The Week
"The RNC's much-hyped autopsy report has largely been ignored. And when Republicans like Marco Rubio try to take the RNC's advice, they get hammered by the base."

The Most Painful Insect Stings from the Weather Channel
"Schmidt decided to create a pain index scale of insect stings ranging from 0 to 4. A 1 elicits minimal reaction. “You’re out at the pool and you’re drinking your favorite beverage and a little sweat bee lands on the crook of your elbow,” Schmidt says. “She stings you, it’s a little bit of a sharp pain, but it’s not enough to make you drop your glass. It’s a pretty minor thing.” Fours, on the other hand — those critters are Schmidt’s favorites. Getting stung by a tarantula hawk, for example, feels like a cattle prod or 20,000 volts."

‘Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-First Century’ by Orville Schell and John Delury (Joseph Kahn) from the New York Times 
"Two scholars argue that the humiliation of defeat by foreigners has been a nationalist rallying cry in modern China."

A Review of ‘A Call to Arms: Mobilizing America for World War II ’ by Maury Klein (Jonathan Yardley) from the Washington Post
"With those words, FDR set the United States on the course it was to follow through another year of ostensible neutrality and then four years of warfare around the world. The story of how America became the “great arsenal of democracy” is the subject of “A Call to Arms,” and I can’t imagine it being told more thoroughly, authoritatively or definitively."

Friday, July 19, 2013

News Nuggets 1268

DAYLEE PICTURE:  Thinking cool thoughts on a hot day!  Here's a winter scene from Bulgaria.  From National Geographic.

Fortress White America (Richard Kim) from the Nation
"... there you have a succinct blueprint for the construction of Fortress White America: evict as many brown people as legally possible; build a wall to keep out the rest. ... For the past two decades, the GOP has waged a crusade to redraw the political map so as to maximize the number of white voters in Republican-leaning districts, while lumping as many minority voters as possible into Democratic-leaning ones. The siege mentality is baked into the very DNA of the party, and it creates a perverse incentive structure in which only white voters matter."
Lots of truth in Kim's final sentence.  Republicans simply can't fake it.

Hitting China’s Wall (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"All the signs coming from the economic data show that China is in big trouble."

A Very Clear Explanation of China’s Economic Woes (Brad Plumer) from the Washington Post
"The problem is that this model works well for a developing economy, but when you become the second-largest economy in the world, as China has, it’s very difficult for the rest of the world to absorb those imbalances. If China wants to produce more than it consumes, someone else has to consume more than they produce."

Enough of the Daytonians (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"In Bosnia, the time has come to move past division and denial."

Middle Class Still Left Behind in U.S. economic recovery, data show (Jim Tankersley) from the Washington Post
"The economic recovery of summer 2013 is playing out in an all-too-familiar way for poor and middle-class Americans: Gas prices are up, growth is slowing, and there still aren’t nearly enough new jobs to employ the almost 12 million people seeking work."

Obamacare Skeptics Are Deluding Themselves (Matthew Yglesias) from Slate 
"Conservatives think the law is unraveling. But implementing the Affordable Care Act is going to be a huge success."

The Obamacare Train Still Hasn't Wrecked (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic
"The fact that premium bids seem to be coming in lower than CBO and other experts predicted is a pretty big deal—and not for reasons widely understood. For one thing, it means the overall price of Obamacare—the amount of money the government must spend, in order to make the law function—is going to be even lower than predicted."

The Party of No Flirts With Yes as Mitch McConnell’s Grip on the GOP Slips (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"After calling ‘bullshit’ on McConnell, Bob Corker said he was ‘glad that that occurred.’ Michael Tomasky on the minority leader’s restless caucus."

House Republicans Cave On Marriage Fight from Buzzfeed
"“[T]he House now seeks leave to withdraw as a party defendant.” House Republicans stop defending statutes similar to the Defense of Marriage Act that ban recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages."

Zimmerman Acquittal Another Reason to Wake Up (Leonard Pitts) from the Miami Herald
"Four words of advice for African Americans in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal: Wake the hell up."
I think Pitts is channelling a largely overlooked sentiment here, one that has already had an impact in the 2012 elections and stands to seriously upend the projections for the 2014 election cycle.  Given the Supremes' ruling on the Voting Rights Act and the outcome of the Martin trial, I would project that African American turnout for the mid-term elections will dwarf current projections and what recent history would suggest.  Interestingly (given how ham-fisted the GOP has been generally on the issue) I suspect that many in the Republican Party leadership KNOW there is trouble here given the vocal noise that has been generated from Boehner et al., about passing new voting rights legislation that would pass legal muster. The base of the GOP has no interest in any new legislation.  GOP leaders know, however, that in 2012 (for the first time) African American turnout (as a %) surpassed white turnout.  In light of these continued assaults on African American rights, look for another round of unprecedented turnout (for a midterm election) next year.  Republicans, white conservatives generally (and their conservative media surrogates) do not appreciate the extent to which they have hit on a CORE issue for black voters.  This is not food stamps or racial profiling or gun violence or bad inner city schools or affirmative action or one of dozens of important topics that African American voters care about.  The GOP (through its base of southern white voters) has substantively attacked the Voting Rights Act ... and Pitts's comment aside, black voters are waking up!

Rand Paul Can Never be a Mainstream Republican (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post
"This disdain for Lincoln is not a quirk or a coincidence. Paulism involves more than the repeal of Obamacare. It is a form of libertarianism that categorically objects to 150 years of expanding federal power."

PRES-2016: Pete King Says He’s ‘Certainly’ Looking at Running for President (Colin Campbell) from Politicker
"Late last night, Newxmax reported that Long Island GOP Congressman Pete King, not widely considered one of the top contenders for the White House for 2016, was nevertheless looking at running for president, citing anonymous sources."
AH!  A NEW clown jumps into the GOP ring for 2016!  Let's see: we now have Rick Perry, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz with some flirtations coming from Scott Walker and (the only marginally sane one of the bunch so far) Marco Rubio.  Three other lesser fruits include Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Bobbie Jindal.  However, these three (when they haven't been actively damaging their standing with GOP base voters) seem to be keeping pretty low profiles.  My guess, they (and other sane potentials for 2016) are waiting to see what Hillary is doing.  If she runs (and most evidence suggests that she is planning to), look for all of these moderate types to fold their cards and wait for some later cycle.  The one exception (and he could be the most formidable) may be Jeb.  Jeb is now 60 years old -- he was originally planning to run in 2000 if not earlier.  If he sits out 2016 and Hillary wins, he will be 67 in 2020 and (if the Democrat won two terms) Jeb's next real chance would be 2024 when Jeb would be 71!  Sorry folks, even in this day and age, that is too old for someone to be entering the White House.  The physical wear and tear the job takes is making being President a job more suited for younger, more physically fit people.  Even with Hillary (who I support), I have a concern about her age and health.  In addition to the age issue, politically Jeb Bush's sell-by date will long since have passed by 2024.  Looking at this set of timelines, the Bushs may figure that 2016 would be Jeb's last best chance.  I could not argue with the logic -- but, against Hillary, they may still decide to give it a pass.  However, if Hillary takes a pass, look for Bush (and Christie and Jindal) to jump in.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

News Nuggets 1267

DAYEE PICTURE: The Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico.  From National Geographic.

Can China Change its Economic Course? (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"... many wonder if China’s model of a pro-growth dictatorship is the best path for developing countries. Some have questioned whether Western democracies — with their dysfunctions and paralysis — can compete with China’s long-range planning. Now, as its growth slows to almost half its pace in 2007, the Chinese system faces its most significant test."

Global Attitudes Reflect Shifting U.S.-China Power Balance, Survey Concludes (William Wan) from the Washington Post 
"People around the globe believe that China will inevitably replace the United States as the world’s leading superpower, but that doesn’t mean they like the prospect, according to a new study on global attitudes. The survey that the Pew Research Center conducted in 39 countries confirms much of the conventional wisdom in Washington about the shifting balance of power between the United States and China."
This is without doubt my biggest foreign policy bugaboo -- because as I have been chronicling here for several years now, this conventional wisdom is simply bunk.  And it's dangerous bunk the more people in the US and China believe it.  Make no mistake, China has already arrived as a very big regional player.  But a superpower that surpasses the US?!  They are many decades away from anything approaching "global superpower" status.  An economic superpower -- perhaps.  But the fundamental military power, requisite political and economic stability, and willingness to lead on global issues are not there -- and may never be.  As I have noted here, power is routinely a product of perception, and the Chinese have been remarkably effective at presenting themselves to the world as a far more advanced, stable country than they really are.  The museums story below picks up on the Chinese obsession with "selling" themselves as big players in the world.

Republicans, White House in Talks Toward Big Fiscal Deal from National Journal
"GOP senators and Obama's chief of staff have been meeting for weeks to set a course that might avoid a crisis when America hits its debt limit in the fall."

Richard Cordray Approved as Consumer Watchdog Director: Why You Should Care (Martha C. White) from Time Magazine
"In the brief period of time that the CFPB has been operational, it has done a decent job of fulfilling the simple pledge “to stand on the side of consumers … and see that they’re treated fairly,” as Cordray put it earlier this year."

Trayvon's Death Is an Outrage, But ... (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine 
"Thanks to immigration, stronger laws and years of hard work, our poisonous biracial era is ending."

Senate Filibuster Deal An Embarrassment For Mitch McConnell from the Huffington Post
"McCain was there, according to several sources who spoke about private, behind-the-scenes talks on the condition of anonymity, because he and and several other Republicans grew fed up with their own side's stalling tactics and went around McConnell (R-Ky.) to cut the deal with Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), avoiding a "nuclear option" rules change to pass the nominees."

Has the G.O.P. Gone Off the Deep End? (Thomas Edsall) from the New York Times
"Has the G.O.P. Gone Off the Deep End? Disaffected conservatives are increasingly anxious about the ideological intransigence of Republican legislators."

Hispanic Media to GOP: “Cuidado!” (Chuck Todd et al.) from First Read  
"If you want to see how big of a potential problem Republicans have with Spanish-language media right now in this immigration debate, look no further than what Univision TV anchor Jorge Ramos said earlier this week."

Marco Rubio Stumbles from Politico
"The very issue Rubio (and Harris) thought would be a game-changing, legacy-builder looks like a big liability for the Florida senator, at least right now. In the process, the self-confident presidential hopeful suddenly looks wobbly, even a little weak, as he searches for what’s next."

Now Issa’s on the Hot Seat (Alex Seitz-Wald) from Salon
"With the IRS scandal narrative imploding, the people who started it will face questions today."

PA-GOV: Pennsylvania Republicans Looking to Push Out Their Governor from the National Journal
"Tom Corbett is one of the most unpopular politicians in the country. Now his own party is turning on him."

Illinois State Senator Barack Obama Led Fight On Racial Profiling from the Huffington Post
"In 1999, a fresh-faced state senator on Chicago's South Side heard constituents complain that police were free to pull over drivers because they were black. So Barack Obama proposed a bill to tackle racial profiling. When it failed, he revised it and proposed it again and again."

Get a Clue, McDonald’s: The Other Insult No One’s Talking About (Paul Campos) from Salon
"McDonald's got heat for telling its staff to have two jobs. Its financial planning advice is even more offensive."

Museum Forced to Close in China After Claims that Most of its 40,000 Antique Artefacts were Fake from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"The Jibaozhai Museum closed its ticket offices yesterday.  It followed claims its extensive collection of ancient relics were knock-offs."
I am SERIOUSLY beginning to wonder -- is ANYTHING you hear about China these days actually true?  Or are it's "rise" and assertions of global power largely illusory -- not just a Potemkin village but a Potemkin country, the ultimate in propaganda!?  

“Even If You’re A 300-Lb Black Kid, You Still Wanna Be Calvin” (Andrew Sullivan) from The Dish
"Scott Beggs is super-psyched about the upcoming documentary on the creator of Calvin and Hobbes:"

From a Luxury Cat Condo to the Dog House! Family Moves their Eight Felines (and Chihuahua) Out of Custom Designed Home and into a Trailer from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Their former creature comforts featured an elevated feline freeway and floor-to-ceiling scratching posts in their San Diego abode, known for a quarter century as 'The Cats' House'."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

News Nuggets 1266

DAYEE PICTURE: A replica of the Mayflower with a number of other vessels welcoming it into New York Harbor in 1957.  From National Geographic.

McDonald's Can't Figure Out How Its Workers Survive on Minimum Wage from the Atlantic
"In a financial planning guide for its workers, the company accidentally illustrates precisely how impossible it is to scrape by on a fast food paycheck."

Health Plan Cost for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50% from the New York Times 
"Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday."

Putin Says U.S. Ties More Important Than Snowden from Reuters
"President Vladimir Putin signalled clearly on Wednesday that he did not want a dispute over the fate of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to derail Russia's relations with the United States."

IRS Interviews Show No Political Bias Against Tea Party Groups from Reuters
"A top Democrat investigating U.S. Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of conservative groups on Tuesday said interviews with 15 agency employees had found no hint of White House involvement, challenging Republicans on a lingering controversy."

The Nature of the Beast: The Breathless Press and the Phony IRS ‘Scandal’ (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"While you were watching the Zimmerman trial, the narrative about the IRS targeting Obama’s enemies has been thoroughly debunked, writes Michael Tomasky."

How The Senate Filibuster Reform Fight Saved Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Board from the Huffington Post
"On Tuesday morning, 71 senators voted to move forward on Cordray's confirmation, including 17 Republicans. Later in the day, Cordray was confirmed by a vote of 66-34. None of the GOP demands had been met. So what changed? The politics around the filibuster."

After Bush, the Blues (Peter Beinart) from Newsweek
"The party Bush once commanded is repudiating much of his legacy. And it’s doing so because it no longer shares his temperament. Bush was, at his core, an optimist."

Delusions of Populism (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Have you heard about “libertarian populism” yet? If not, you will. It will surely be touted all over the airwaves and the opinion pages by the same kind of people who assured you, a few years ago, that Representative Paul Ryan was the very model of a Serious, Honest Conservative. So let me make a helpful public service announcement: It’s bunk."

The Real Reason Why Republicans Folded on the Filibuster from the New Republic
"The Republican threat of what the party would do if the filibuster were to crumble is a list of things that a veteran Republican senator himself frames as being way-out-there and part of a “dangerous trend.” ... Implicit in his argument is that this agenda would not be a very popular one."

Senate Democrats Threaten Nuclear Option and Win (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Once again the majority party forced the minority into a total capitulation. There is a lesson here, and it’s not that the Senate is a wonderfully congenial place whose rules must not be touched."

The Filibuster was Reformed Today. Really. (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos
"Democrats established that they could bust through any filibuster with a simple majority anytime they wanted. Sure, it's still a process to do so, full of blustery threats and hyperbolic doomsaying, but it's a process. And best of all, it won't be limited to just administration appointments."

Average Ideology of the House and Senate, 1947 - 2012 from the Brookings Institution
"The following graphics show the average ideology of the Republican and Democratic parties in Congress since World War II. In recent years, the Republican party has become far more conservative than the Democratic party has become liberal. The average ideology of the House has likewise become more conservative; this shift began during the 104th Congress."

The Speaker Is Mute But Not Unintelligible: What John Boehner is thinking (Jennifer Senior) from New York Magazine
"Most Democrats discern in him a rational streak, though they pity him for it. (“John Boehner is a reasonable man,” Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, told me this spring, “and that probably damns him.”)"

Double Down On Whites? Good Luck with That (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"...a new look at the numbers, by Ruy Teixeira and Alan Abramowitz, shows that this strategy is almost certainly destined to fail. One point they note is that a lot of the ‘double down on the white vote’ talk has been based on an analysis of the 2012 election that is quite misleading - the supposed fact that a lot of white voters simply sat out the 2012 election..."

House GOP’s Endgame on Immigration: Do Nothing? (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"... so the end game of necessity would be that House Republicans would never hold any vote on comprehensive immigration reform. And this would be the better outcome. The worse one — which Strong suggests as a real possibility — is that House Republicans pass nothing whatsoever."

2016-PRES: Hillary Clinton and the Quiet Gender Revolution (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post
"What's obvious to everyone is that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming Democratic favorite, if she decides to get in... The last time, she had to persuade the party. This time, the party wants to persuade her. ... But support for Clinton has at least as much to do with hard-core calculations that she could win because of her wide experience, her likely strength among working-class voters and her sheer endurance in the face of tests that few other politicians have had to confront."

2016-PRES: Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas heading to New Hampshire from the Associated Press
"Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is heading to New Hampshire as part of a summer swing through early voting states on the presidential calendar."

SEN-WY: Liz Cheney Wyoming Senate Run Echoes GOP Divisions from the Huffington Post
"Liz Cheney says her GOP primary challenge to Wyoming's senior U.S. senator is about sending a "new generation" to Washington. But it has all the hallmarks of the same divisions that have roiled the Republican Party nationally for years."

There She Blows: The Incredible Pictures of a Man-made Geyser in the Middle of the Nevada Desert from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"They could be pictures of another planet or the set of a science fiction movie. But it is in fact an amazing phenomenon created by accident in the middle of the Nevada Desert. The otherworldly images show Fly Geyser, a little-known attraction described as one of the most beautiful sights in the state."

Monday, July 15, 2013

News Nuggets 1265

DAYLEE PICTURE: A lightening storm in the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Meet the Real Life Terminator: Most Advanced Robot Ever is Able to Walk Through Battlefields as Bullets Fly and Even Nuclear Disaster Zones to Rescue the Injured from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
I've posted some creepy robotics videos before -- but this one from DARPA and Boston Dynamics takes the cake for creepiness!! Check it out.
"At 6ft 2in tall and weighing 330lb Atlas is a formidable figure. And with 28 hydraulically actuated joints and stereo vision, it is one of the most advanced robots ever.  Although the robot, designed by DARPA and Boston Dynamics, is built to help respond to disasters, such as the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan in 2011, it looks like it could easily star in the Terminator films."

Snowden Plans To Seek Asylum In Russia from Talking Points Memo
"Edward Snowden plans to seek asylum in Russia, a Parliament member who was among those meeting with the NSA leaker said Friday."

Hunger Games, USA (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable."

Our Real Problem is White Rage (Edward Wyckoff Williams) from Salon 
"For all the warnings about supposed black riots, don't forget who exploded throughout the George Zimmerman affair."

Why Abortion Is Not Like Other Issues (David Leonhardt) from the New York Times
The Republican-Democrat duel over abortion seems to favor neither party."

Opinion: GOP Right’s Anger Fueled by Fear (Juan Williams) from The Hill 
"For all the talk of porous borders and holding to conservative principles, the hardball reasons for House Republican opposition to any compromise on immigration reform did not get aired at the GOP meeting. There are two:..."

The GOP’s Principled Suicide (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post 
"Republicans seem to be adopting the self-immolation tactics of principled martyrs. Of course, principled or not, you’re still dead in the end. ... 90 percent of life is picking your battles, and congressional Republicans keep picking the wrong ones."

Poll: Most Blame GOP Obstruction For Gridlock, Not Obama’s Lack Of Persuasion from Talking Points Memo
"According to the latest survey from Quinnipiac University, 51 percent of voters believe gridlock is mainly a result of the congressional GOP's determination to block any of Obama's initiatives. A mere 35 percent blamed gridlock on Obama's lack of "personal skills to convince leaders of Congress to work together." "

'Gasland' Sequel Asserts Drillers Corrupting Gov't from Yahoo News 
"Josh Fox galvanized the U.S. anti-fracking movement with his incendiary 2010 documentary "Gasland." Now he's back with a sequel — and this time, he's targeting an audience of just one. "We want the president to watch the movie, and we want him to meet with the people who are in it," says Fox, whose "Gasland Part II" makes its HBO debut Monday."

TX-GOV: Wendy Davis Can’t Lose in 2014 — No Matter the Outcome (Jonathan Bernstein) from Salon
"Yes, she’s a Democrat in a very red state -- but regardless of the result, here’s why she should run for Governor."

Consumer Reports: How to Complain and Get Action from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Many companies have two approaches to customer service: one for the majority of customers, who retreat after a quick brushoff, and another for the "squeaky wheels" -- consumers who know their rights and the power their wallets yield."

Friday, July 12, 2013

News Nuggets 1264

DAYLEE PICTURE: Bamboo trees in a jungle in Japan.  From National Geographic.

A Redder And Bluer World (Andrew Sullivan) from The Dish
"... our division is not really about politics or even ideology. Ideology is an often ill-fitting misnomer for something much more powerful – deep cultural alienation between the two parts of America. That alienation, in my view, is at its core the same alienation we are seeing in countries as diverse as Turkey and Egypt and Iran and Israel. It’s about the response to modernity – a choice between fear/rejection and relish/adoption."

Trapped: An Air Escape from Moscow Unlikely for NSA Leaker Snowden from the McClatchy News Service
"Aviation experts say that even if Snowden accepts the tentative offers of Venezuela, Nicaragua or Bolivia to give him shelter, it’s virtually impossible to chart a flight plan to those nations that doesn’t include traveling over or refueling in a U.S.-friendly country that could demand inspection of the plane – and detain him."

Edward Snowden’s Parasites: Evo Morales, Julian Assange & More (Michael Moynihan) from the Daily Beast
"The NSA drama has reeled in a host of global grandstanders desperate for relevancy. Michael Moynihan on the Bolivian farce, the WikiLeaks sideshow, and other yanqui ‘victims.’"

U.S. Navy Just Landed Fighter Jet-Sized Drone On Aircraft Carrier from Talking Points Memo
"The Navy successfully landed a drone the size of a fighter jet aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time Wednesday, showcasing the military’s capability to have a computer program perform one of the most difficult tasks a pilot is asked to do."

Effects of Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Start Rippling Out Through Government (Jeremy Peters) from the New York Times
"... in a sign that the political momentum from that ruling is being felt elsewhere, a Senate committee is expected to approve a bill on Wednesday that would grant protection from discrimination to people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It would be the first measure of its kind to advance to the floor in either house of Congress."

How Food Stamp Resentment Feeds Crabby Conservatism from the Huffington Post
"... many Americans do not want to let people on food stamps eat cake. This sentiment is particularly prevalent among conservatives in Congress. Cash register resentment of the sort directed at Riley feeds Republican animus toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program."

House Republicans Have A New Problem With Immigration Reform: Obama from the Huffington Post
"Much of the opposition that tea party members voiced in Wednesday's meeting goes deeper than a policy difference about a pathway to citizenship, and comes down to an issue of trust. Many Republicans continue to reject the basic legitimacy of the Obama presidency, and they don't trust the president to faithfully carry out laws designed to secure the border ..."

Pass the Bill! (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"This could be a tragedy for the country and political suicide for Republicans, especially because the conservative arguments against the comprehensive approach are not compelling. [...] Whether this bill passes or not, this country is heading toward a multiethnic future. Republicans can either shape that future in a conservative direction or, as I’ve tried to argue, they can become the receding roar of a white America that is never coming back."

Boehner, Cantor Wax Orwellian on Health Care (Matt Miller) from the Washington Post
"Miller’s first law of political rhetoric holds that when one party in a Washington debate resorts to certifiably Orwellian language, they’re desperate, doomed or both. Yet there’s no other way to view the latest Republican assault on Obamacare."

Whites and the Safety Net (Paul Krugman) from the New York TImes
"As a practical matter, the current GOP agenda isn’t so much about hard money or even lower top marginal rates as it is about slashing safety-net programs. There has been a highly successful attack on unemployment benefits, and the party has worked itself into a lather about food stamps too. So, news flash: these programs don’t just benefit Those People; they’re also very important to downscale whites, the very people that will supposedly rescue the GOP."

Why Whites Will Abandon the GOP (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"All these conversations about Republicans and the white vote, argues Michael Tomasky, assume that the white working class will always be as conservative as it is today. Problem: it won’t."

Conservatives Hate All Legislation Now (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"... tea-party logic simply regards the existence of compromise as disqualifying. The moral purity of opposition has become untethered from any political or policy objective, and appears to have sprouted into an actual freestanding principle."

In the House, a Refusal to Govern from the Editorial Board of the New York TImes
"It was the first time since 1973 that food stamps haven’t been part of a farm bill, and it reflected the contempt of the far right for anyone desperate enough to rely on the government for help to buy groceries. These actions show how far the House has retreated from the national mainstream into a cave of indifference and ignorance."

Sabotage Governing (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"It’s now become accepted as normal that Republicans will threaten explicitly to allow harm to the country to get what they want, and will allow untold numbers of Americans to be hurt rather than even enter into negotiations over the sort of compromises that lie at the heart of basic governing."

Rivals No More, Obama Veterans to Lead Clinton Group from ABC News 
"The daily operations of a campaign-in-waiting for Clinton, ABC News has learned, will be overseen by Jeremy Bird, the national field director for the Obama campaign who was pivotal in building an army of grassroots supporters. Joining him is Mitch Stewart, who was one of Obama’s earliest campaign aides and led his effort in battleground states during the 2012 re-election campaign. It is the latest sign that Ready for Hillary, the super PAC seeking to pave the way for a possible candidacy, is serious."

Report: PA Attorney General Won’t Defend Gay Marriage Ban from Talking Points Memo
"... Lawyers involved in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage said that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane will not defend the state in the case,.."

The 15 Smartest and Dumbest Presidents of the United States from
"Apart from the obvious answer (that it is one’s ability to ask a string of rhetorical questions) “smartness” is a concept that is open to a range of interpretations, so it is conceded that the assessments made in this article are open to debate"

Cheetah-ing death: Impala escapes hungry predators by jumping into a car full of tourists who let it out once the coast is clear! from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
Impala made an unusual escape at Kruger National Park. The animal jumped into a tourists' car to avoid becoming lunch.  The two chasing cheetahs were left bewildered and hungry."

Bride and tomb: The 1,500-year-old murals discovered buried with Chinese warlord and his wife that have been impeccably preserved from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
The domed tomb's murals were discovered in Shuozhou City, about 200 miles (330 kilometres) southwest of Beijing.  Archaeologists believe the couple buried at the site consisted of a military commander and his wife.  Researchers estimate that the murals cover an area of about 860 square feet (80 square metre).

As if it died yesterday: Amazingly preserved woolly mammoth found frozen in Siberia after 39,000 YEARS goes on display in Tokyo (and it's still woolly!) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
Female woolly mammoth was found frozen in a Siberian ice tomb in May The creature will be on display in Tokyo until September.  Scientists think she got stuck in a swamp and died over 39,000 years ago  Blood sample found at the scene could be used to clone the beast."