Friday, November 29, 2013

News Nuggets 1342

DAYLEE PICTURE: Clouds over Mullaley, New South Wales in Australia.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

"Tens of thousands of protesters have demanded that the country shake off its post-Soviet identity and move into the orbit of a more prosperous Europe."

The Real Reason Neocons Are Scared About Obama's Iran Deal (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest
"... for sheer panic it is almost impossible to surpass the alarms being sounded by the neocons. ... The worst nightmare for the neocons will be if Iran does in fact adhere to the agreement with Obama (though they may increase their own visibility in the GOP, though for how long would be an open question). It would deprive the neocons of a valued enemy and diminish their own importance. If he succeeds, Obama may not only neutralize Iran, but also the neocons."

Why Obama Has Room to Maneuver on Iran (Ronald Brownstein) from National Journal
"A war-weary public is willing to cut the president some slack on diplomatic initiatives. But it's not willing to do so on his domestic priorities."

"Francis said women must play an increasingly important role in the church, but that letting women be priests was "not a question open to discussion.""

"... canceled plans sparked a political firestorm as people realized President Obama's promise — "If you like your plan, you can keep it" — didn't apply to everyone. But Neff, a 46-year-old self-employed writer, isn't outraged. She's relieved. Even though she makes too much money to receive a subsidy to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the policy cancellation was good news for her. She's not the only one." 

"Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is overseeing a promising rollout of the healthcare law. Defying bitter GOP opposition, he says it's medicine the state needs."

"Some things to keep in mind as you wade through the histrionics surrounding tomorrow's relaunch of"

Liberalism Will Survive Obamacare (John Cassidy) from the New Yorker 
"The great irony of the reforms is that the most “socialized” bits are working out pretty well. The problems have been in trying to promote private enterprise."

The Obamacare Worm Turns (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"I suggested yesterday that we’re probably heading for a turning point in the health reform discussion. Conservatives are operating on the assumption that it’s an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016; but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day, and Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about. And it’s already starting to happen."

Obamacare’s Secret Success (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent?  The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic."

Rooting for Failure (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"California is just as good. It’s enrolling more than 2,000 people a day. New York is humming as well. And Kentucky, it’s the gold standard now ... This is terrible news, and cannot be allowed to continue. ... But not to worry. The failure movement is active and very well funded."

"... that pattern, unfortunately, is one we’ve seen over and over in this debate. People giving up their current plans get tons of attention. People getting new coverage don’t. Those Americans paying higher premiums next year have been all over the media. Those Americans paying lower premiums haven’t."
To readers: It is for THIS reason that I have been piling in so many Obamacare stories these last several weeks.

On Thanksgiving, Understanding What Gratitude Requires (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post
"Thanksgiving Day is awash in sentiment, but gratitude is not a sentiment. It’s a virtue. It’s certainly nice, but it is more than a feeling or an emotion. Properly understood, gratitude is hard because it entails both an admission and a demand. A genuine sense of gratitude is rooted in the realization that when I think about all that I am, all that I have and all that I might have achieved, I cannot claim to have done any of this by myself. None of us is really “self-made.”"

Reliving The Iraq War, Ctd (Andrew Sullivan) from the Dish
"I think that andrew-sullivan-i-was-wrong-covermuch can be summarized and learned from your very first post written during 9/11, in particular, “When our shock recedes, our rage must be steady and resolute and unforgiving.” If there is one lesson I think that is vital to learn, it’s that rage is never a good response to an attack. ..."

Rumsfeld’s War and Its Consequences Now (Mark Danner) from the New York Review of Books
"... this intense will to triumph and dominate shows in the film’s protagonist only in his studious denials. Morris’s camera struggles with that self-satisfied opacity and so do we, knowing that beneath it, somewhere, lies the bottomless ambition that led Nixon to dub Rumsfeld “a ruthless little bastard.”"

"The myth of our holiday’s Pilgrim origins took hold. But the dishes we eat at Thanksgiving? They capture other stories about the making of the American nation."

Meet the O’Bamas from Politico
"How the president’s Irish “cousin” is making shrewd use of the First Family."

"The first family might choose to stay in Washington, D.C., after President Obama leaves office in 2016, the president and first lady Michelle Obama told ABC News’ Barbara Walters in an interview. By then, their eldest daughter Malia will be in college, and their youngest daughter Sasha will still be in high school as a sophomore."

"Experiencing something approaching human flight has long been possible. For a price, anyone can leap out of a plane with a parachute, and jetpacks can make up the difference. As for the second, more elusive part of the equation? Researchers from Texas and Toronto say they have invented two different types of invisibility cloaks. For now, these devices only make things seem to disappear on wavelengths undetectable to the human eye, but researchers on both products say a full-scale invisibility cloak is no longer just an impossible dream."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

News Nuggets 1341

DAYLEE PICTURE: Another beautiful image of the Palouse Valley in Washington State  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Due to the holiday, the News Nuggets will be on hiatus until next Monday, December 2.  Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!

The Obamacare Success Stories You Haven't Been Hearing About from the Los Angeles Times
"Holzman and Vezina are exactly the type of people Obamacare is designed to help--indeed, rescue from the cold, hard world of individual health insurance of the past. That was a world where even an undiagnosed condition might render you uninsurable. Where your insurance could be canceled after you got sick or had an accident. Where your financial health was at risk as much as your physical well-being. These are the stories you're not hearing amid the pumped-up panic over canceled individual policies and premium shocks--many of which stories are certainly true, but the noise being made about them leads people to think they're more common than they are."

Can Obama Recover? He Did Already (By Alex Seitz-Wald) from National Journal
"The problems with are real, but the media has declared Obama and his health law dead before— yet they're both still here. ... "If you're feeling some déjà vu, there's a reason," Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist and media critic wrote in his column in the Columbia Journalism Review last week. "Journalists are falling victim to the same extrapolation fallacy that pervades so much political coverage. In these sorts of stories, reporters identify a current trend and spin out a story in which it continues to implausible extremes.""

State Successes Show Health Law Can Work from Politico
"There are states that are running their own websites and enrolling a lot of people, way more than the amateur-hour federal website that serves most of the states. Medicaid enrollment, another part of the law, is going significantly better than the signups for private insurance — nearly 400,000 people were determined to be eligible in October."

Obama Goes On Offensive Over Health Care Law from Reuters
"Almost two weeks ago, President Barack Obama, looking down, walked into the White House briefing room and apologized for the flawed rollout of his healthcare reform law. That picture of a chastened leader now appears to be gone. During a three-day Western swing through Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Obama touted the accomplishments of his signature law, popularly known as Obamacare, and promised the glitches were going away."

A Plea to Avoid Crush of Users at Health Site from the New York Times 
"With a self-imposed deadline for repairs to the website approaching on Saturday, the administration is trying to strike a delicate balance. It is encouraging people to go or return to the website but does not want to create too much demand. It boasts that the website is vastly improved, but does not want to raise expectations that it will work for everyone."

Is Another Republican Wave Building? (Reid Wilson) from the Washington Post
"President Obama’s poll numbers are at record lows. The health care law that serves as the cornerstone of his domestic policy legacy is even more unpopular. And there are few chances to change the conversation among a skeptical public that isn’t happy with Washington. Sound familiar? It should: The national political climate today is starting to resemble 2010, when Republicans won control of the House of Representatives by riding a wave of voter anger."
Now HERE is a very representative slice of beltway bullshit wisdom as distributed by the MSM these days!!  Wilson says "there are few chances to change the conversation among a skeptical public ..."  Nonsense!!  If Obamacare starts working as it is intended in January, the narrative should change substantially.  And it is quite predictable that it will, given how board the media should be by then of the website/old policies story lines.  This analysis so showcases for me how out of touch most people in the press corps are these days!  Not only are they ignoring how the landscape for this program might change once it's working, reporters' income levels (particularly in television and at the big national papers) are routinely so high that they make the practical impact of Obamacare an abstraction to which they have no personal connection whatsoever.  Now -- having said all that, the Dems are in trouble right now over Obamacare -- and they have been WAY too passive in their responses.  Obama and the Dems need to bring their game to a whole new level, given how the GOP has reacted.  Obama did very little to sell this program back when it was passed.  Now that it is being implemented, he and the Dems will need to devote WAY more time in January and beyond to selling its successes -- and to continue to do so over and over and over!  Obama will need to bring his many oratorical skills to the forefront again -- whether it is at town hall meetings or in the State of the Union address.  Otherwise, as Wilson suggests here, the Dems (especially in the Senate) could get hurt pretty bad next November.

CNN/ORC Poll: Are Obamacare's Flaws Fixable? from CNN
"Despite the flawed rollout of, a majority of Americans still seem to have an open mind about whether Obamacare will work, and more than half of those surveyed in a new national poll believe the current problems can be solved."

The Birth of Obamacare McCarthyism (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"... over the last few days I've noticed a new trend, or at least the frequency of it seems to be increasing. Let's call it Obamacare McCarthyism, a new intra-Republican political cudgel cued up for the 2014 political season, in which different anti-Obamacare Republicans attack each other for either being crypto-supporters of Obamacare, being Obamacare-curious or even just having earlier periods of Obamacare confusion."

The Vatican's Journey From Anti-Communism to Anti-Capitalism (Emma Green) from the Atlantic
"The pope's strong condemnation of income inequality and free markets shows how much has changed in the Catholic Church since the Cold War."

New Rules Would Rein In Nonprofits’ Political Role from the New York Times 
"The Obama administration’s proposals would curtail political activity by tax-exempt nonprofit groups, a significant change for one of the fastest-growing sources of campaign spending."

Nuclear Accord With Iran Opens Diplomatic Doors in the Mideast from the New York Times
"It is also a seminal moment — one that thrusts foreign policy to the forefront in a White House preoccupied by domestic woes, and one that presents Mr. Obama with the chance to chart a new American course in the Middle East for the first time in more than three decades."

Americans Back Iran Deal by 2-to-1 Margin: Reuters/Ipsos Poll from Reuters 
"Americans back a newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran by a 2-to-1 margin and are very wary of the United States resorting to military action against Tehran even if the historic diplomatic effort falls through, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday."

Israel's Iran Dilemma (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"The six-month interim deal between major powers and Iran, renewable for a further six months pending a full accord (for a period to be defined), freezes Iran’s nuclear program about where it is — at a technologically advanced point short of militarization. But it fast-forwards American-Iranian relations and may thereby redraw the strategic map of the Middle East."

RIP, the Middle Class: 1946-2013 (Edward McClelland) from Salon
"When I was growing up, it was assumed that America’s shared prosperity was the natural endpoint of our economy’s development, that capitalism had produced the workers paradise to which Communism unsuccessfully aspired. Now, with the perspective of 40 years, it’s obvious that the nonstop economic expansion that lasted from the end of World War II to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 was a historical fluke, made possible by the fact that the United States was the only country to emerge from that war with its industrial capacity intact. Unfortunately, the middle class – especially the blue-collar middle class – is also starting to look like a fluke ..."

Right-Wing Extremists Face New Moral Conundrum (Brian Beutler) from Salon 
"When actually starts working, GOP will have to choose between politics or their constituents' health."

A 31-Year-Old Is Tearing Apart the Heritage Foundation (Julia Ioffe) from the New Republic
"Think Republicans have been making fools of themselves? Blame Michael Needham."

Teenager Constructs Rollercoaster from 25,000 K'Nex Pieces in his Bedroom from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Nick Cottreau, from Nova Scotia, Canada, spent more than six months to create one giant rollercoaster model that fills his entire bedroom. He said the fascination and obsession to build mammoth models started when Nick received his first K'Nex set at the age of five."

The Ohio State University Marching Band: Gettysburg Address from Youtube

Monday, November 25, 2013

News Nuggets 1340

DAYLEE PICTURE: A "roll cloud" in Warrambool, Australia.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

We Have a Deal With Iran. A Good One (Fred Kaplan) from Slate
"It's everything Obama hoped to achieve in Geneva."

This Is Bigger Than a Nuclear Deal (Uri Friedman) form the Atlantic 
"The agreement with the Islamic Republic isn't just a diplomatic milestone—it symbolizes an unprecedented era in U.S.-Iran relations."

Historic US-Iran Deal Is First Step Toward Peace (Bob Dreyfuss) from the Nation
"The substance of the accord reached in Geneva is a breakthrough, but the politics of the agreement is equally important. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry signed the deal in explicit, full-frontal defiance of American hawks, neoconservatives and hardliners, the Israel lobby, and anti-Iran partisans in Congress."

What Critics are Getting Wrong about the Iran Deal (Fareed Zakaria) from CNN
"This is a sensible deal – signed off on by France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – but it is just an interim deal and not a historic rapprochement. And that’s why so much of the opposition to it is

3-decade Gridlock Broken: The Nuclear Deal with Iran in Geneva (Jim Sciutto and Ben Brumfield) from CNN
"The diplomatic gridlock between Iran and the West seemed immovable for decades. But on Sunday, diplomats made history when Iran and six world powers came together on an agreement over Iran's nuclear program. The deal dials back Iran's ability to work toward a nuclear weapon and at the same time loosens the choke hold of international sanctions on Iran's economy."

US-Iran War Averted by Agreement to Negotiate on Nuclear Enrichment (Juan Cole) from
"The decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled."
While Cole indulges in some hyperventilating rhetoric here, I think he is essentially correct.  Neo-cons dating back to the Bush-Cheney years with their allies, Lieberman-McCain-Graham had been itching for years to mix it up with Iran.  Too bad.  So sad.  For those liberals who have felt disenchanted with Obama, wake up!  Obama just dealt these folks a MAJOR defeat!!

And in case anyone doubted which foreign leader was complicit in this "plot"...
Iran Deal Leaves Israel Few Options (Josef Federman) from the Associated Press
"After feverishly trying to derail the international community's nuclear deal with Iran in recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now has little choice but to accept an agreement that he has derided as deeply flawed."

No, Obama’s Iran Deal Was Not a Munich-Style Surrender (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"U.S. and Israeli hawks are rushing to call the interim nuclear agreement a capitulation and Obama another Chamberlain. It’s another sign the doomsayers don’t know their history."
Sigh!  Well ... I have reached a point with right-wing rhetoric that the minute I hear them making comparisons to "Munich", I KNOW they're full of crap.  Munich (and that other eternal nugget of relentless war mongers, Yalta) have appropriate historical lessons to teach us -- but those lessons have no bearing for the hard right wing which, since World War II, has been hostile to and profoundly skeptical of diplomacy in general.  In the minds of most on the hard right, diplomacy = capitulation.  REAL superpowers and REAL he-man leaders don't negotiate, they dictate.  These are largely the same people who would have torpedoed  Reagan's outreach to Gorbachev (and indeed they tried), Nixon's outreach to China, and Carter's outreach to Sadat.  There is NO DEAL Obama could have reached that would have satisfied them.  They believe that war is the only way you really settle these matters -- and no number of U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, or anywhere else will convince them otherwise.  Indeed, these people are especially dangerous in my view because they become the willing tools of Israeli leaders like Netanyahu (and some in Saudi Arabia) who would like nothing better than to have the US military solve their problems with Iran by going into Persia guns blazing.  Side note: One of the sad aftereffects of this mindset is that GOP leaders, as evidenced by the Bush/Cheney years, have become remarkably ineffective in doing "diplomacy."  For their 8 years in power, the Bush administration accomplished virtually nothing in the diplomatic realm: no treaties, no arms agreements, no peace initiatives that led to anything.  To the extent that effective diplomacy occurs at all, most nonpartisan analysts now acknowledge that the Dems are the only ones who now have the skill sets and experience to do this.  As I suggest above, it is a critical accomplishment for Obama that he has foiled the "war with Iran" crowd -- at least for now.  

White House, Allies Weigh Nomination Strategy under New Senate Rules from the Washington Post
"The White House and its allies are formulating ways to take maximum advantage of this week’s change in the Senate’s filibuster rules to rapidly confirm more than 240 judicial and executive nominees awaiting approval. Democrats hope to break a logjam in President Obama’s
appointments, allowing him to push ahead with key parts of his agenda. But they also acknowledge that the political environment remains difficult, with many procedural tactics still available to Republicans intent on blocking his nominees."

Healthcare Industry Vested in Success of Obamacare from the Los Angeles Times
"Many in the industry have reservations about the Affordable Care Act. Even so, they have invested billions of dollars to help make the healthcare law work."

A Nuclear End to Denial (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post 
"What happened on Nuclear Thursday has more to do with the rise of an activist conservative judiciary than with the norms of the Senate. From the moment that five conservative justices issued their ruling in Bush v. Gore, liberals and Democrats realized they were up against forces willing to achieve their purposes by using power at every level of government."

California, Here We Come? (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"What would happen if we unveiled a program that looked like Obamacare, in a place that looked like America, but with competent project management that produced a working website? Well, your wish is granted. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you California."

This Chart is Amazing News for Our Health Cost Problem (Sarah Kliff) from the Washington Post
"The chart, from the Council of Economic Advisers, shows the Congressional Budget Office constantly revising downward how much it thinks the federal government will need to spend on health care costs over the next decade. That's because health care costs have been growing a lot more slowly over the past few years than they typically do. ... All told, health care costs have been growing more slowly over the last three years than any other time period since 1965. "
For those seeking some sane analysis of Obamacare, the Post's new health care correspondent/blogger Sarah Kiff has been doing some good work!!

Obama Is Wounded. Obamacare Is Unstoppable (Francis Wilkinson) from Bloomberg
"It's quite possible that Obamacare will be a sufficient liability to cost Obama his popularity and Democrats their Senate majority. The party and individual politicians may sink for a time. (They may also recover far faster than many suspect. We live in volatile times.) But unless Obamacare is far more troubled than it now appears, the law will not sink. It floats."

It's The Fundamentals, Stupid: Elections Aren't Determined By Short-Term 'Game Changes' (Ed Kilgore) from Talking Points Memo
"... both the Democratic October and the Republican November have been grossly premature illusions built more on hope and hype than anything durable."

‘Frozen’ Is the Best Disney Film Since ‘The Lion King’ (Kevin Fallon) from the Daily Beast
"Who needs Pixar? Frozen confirms that the House of Mouse is capable of melting hearts again."

8 Early Holiday Tips To Keep You Sane -- And Less Stressed from the Huffington Post
"Year after year we do the same things that result in us being miserable, stressed out and mad at ourselves for knowing better. And so, in following the lead of retailers everywhere who insist on putting up their Christmas items before Halloween, here goes our list of eight things we hope we don't do (again) this holiday season."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

News Nuggets 1339

DAYLEE PICTURE: Light of a sunset in Titusville, Florida.  From Smithsonian Magazine.

The Return of Russian Hard Power? (Michael Weiss) from the Daily Beast 
"As Russia plays war games on imaginary NATO targets and Putin pumps billions into the army, the country’s Eastern bloc neighbors are growing increasingly concerned about the return of Kremlin’s military muscle."
This story should come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog.  Here we've been tracking for some time the return of fascism to Europe in the wake of the Great Recession; and three of the key ingredients to fascism are (1) hyper-nationalism; (2) militarism; and (3) authoritarianism.  All of these elements are now clearly established in Russia (and are resurgent in nearby states such as Belorussia and Hungary). What's next?  What's predictable is a new race to rearm by central and western European powers -- it's my sense that Poland is already moving in that direction. Western European countries are completely asleep.

More analysis of Russia's moves in this area is here:
The Biggest Story You're Not Paying Attention to (Marc Ambinder) from The Week
"Some events change the world overnight. Others take years to gestate, and even longer to show signs of influence. They often escape our notice entirely.  Something very important just happened in Eurasia, and the U.S.-Russian relationship will be forever changed because of it. ... John Schindler, a military historian, put it succinctly on Twitter: "Since 1991, Ukraine's ultimate political destination — East or West — has been contested and up for grabs. It's over. Now we know.""

Backstage Brawl Over a Deal (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"The Israeli-Saudi mutual dislike of the Iran nuclear deal, and their de facto alliance against it, may weirdly prove one of the “silver linings” of this negotiation. Indeed, if the Israelis become a protector and defender of the Sunni Muslim countries, that could have lasting security benefits for Israel and might even open the way for progress on the Palestinian issue — without the usual American mediation."

Stuxnet's Secret Twin (Ralph Langer) from Foreign Policy Magazine
""The real program to sabotage Iran's nuclear facilities was far more sophisticated than anyone realized."

In Rural Kentucky, Health-care Debate Takes Back Seat as the Long-Uninsured Line Up from the Washington Post
"Places such as Breathitt County, in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky, are driving the state’s relatively high enrollment figures, which are helping to drive national enrollment figures as the federal health exchange has floundered. In a state where 15 percent of the population, about 640,000 people, are uninsured, 56,422 have signed up for new health-care coverage, with 45,622 of them enrolled in Medicaid and the rest in private health plans, according to figures released by the governor’s office Friday. If the health-care law is having a troubled rollout across the country, Kentucky — and Breathitt County in particular — shows what can happen in a place where things are working as the law’s supporters envisioned."

There’s a ‘November Surge’ in Obamacare Enrollments (Sarah Kliff) from the Washington Post
"Welcome to Health Reform Watch, Sarah Kliff’s regular look at how the Affordable Care Act is changing the American health-care system — and being changed by it. "

A Pebble Watches the Avalanche: First-hand Report from the Most Epic Netroots Victory Ever (Chris Bowers) from Daily Kos
"The result will be thoroughgoing, long-lasting change as the doors to the judicial branch of government are finally unlocked and thrown open to progressives. All the destructive court decisions we have recently suffered through on reproductive rights, on rights at work, on Citizens United, on the Voting Rights Act, on making the expansion of Medicaid optional to states and so much more—we now finally have a path to reverse all of that damage."

The (Really) Do-Nothing Congress from Politico
"Sen. Tom Carper had been wavering over the “nuclear option” for days — until one of his colleagues issued a blunt judgment of Congress. “My colleague said, ‘It’s hard to imagine it getting much worse because we’re not getting anything done,’” the veteran Delaware Democrat said. “If there was an a-ha moment, that was probably it.” Indeed, the 113th Congress is on track to go down as the least productive in history — a legacy that may be cemented after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gutted the filibuster on presidential nominees by deploying the “nuclear option.”"

Dear GOP, You REALLY Want that Filibuster Back? Here's How to Do It (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos
"If you care so much about minority rights, do something about it! ... if the filibuster is that important to you, add one to the House. Problem solved! Glad I could help. Hugs and kisses, kos"

In Immigration Battle, Advocates for Overhaul Single Out Republicans from the New York Times
"Representative Scott Tipton, a Republican of Colorado, rode a Tea Party wave to Congress, but now faces the pressure of his district's demographics."

Filibuster Change Clears Path for Obama Climate Regs Crackdown (Laura Barron-Lopez) from The Hill
"Green groups might be the biggest winners from Senate Democrats’ decision to gut the minority party’s filibuster rights on nominations.  Their top priority — President Obama’s second-term regulations on climate change — is likely to have a better shot at surviving legal challenges once Obama’s nominees are confirmed for the crucial U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia."

One Huge Effect of Filibuster Reform: Obama Can Actually Fire People (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"This became a standard excuse for why no one is losing their job over the debacle: Firing any of the appointees in charge would just trigger a disastrous confirmation process that would lead the agency rudderless and chaotic for months -- and possibly for the rest of Obama's term. Simultaneously, the rules change makes it far easier to hire new people."

The Filibuster Controversy: How Republican Intransigence Keeps Backfiring (Jon Terbush) from The Week
"The GOP has gone from the Party of No to the Party of Oops."

GOP May Be About To Fold In Protracted Food Stamp Fight from Talking Points Memo
"The perception on Capitol Hill is that House leadership would like to put the farm bill behind it and is even willing to pass a bill with a significant number of Democrats. The farm bill has been a source of serious embarrassment for the leadership this year."

Right vs. Left in the Midwest (Lawrence Jacobs) from the New York Times 
"... they began a natural experiment that compares the agendas of modern progressivism and the new right. Wisconsin elected Republicans to majorities in the Legislature and selected a bold and vigorous Republican governor, Scott Walker. Minnesotans elected one of the most progressive candidates for governor in the country, Mark Dayton of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party."

Ted Cruz Readies Second Attempt To Peg Obamacare Repeal To Budget Deal from the Huffington Post 
"Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a leader in the anti-Obamacare showdown that shut the federal government last month, is plotting how he might exploit the next budget crisis for another try at repealing President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. While members of Congress negotiate plans to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, Cruz, during a Bloomberg TV appearance Thursday, jumped at the opportunity to reiterate his steadfast disproval of Obamacare and said he remains focused on its repeal."

Slavery, Katrina and Watergate: The Right’s Obsession with Exaggerating (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"To unburden historical guilt, the right uses trumped-up charges against liberals. It's their form of blame-shifting."

Don't Give Up on the Lecture (Abigail Walthausen) from the Atlantic 
"Teachers who stand in front of their classes and deliver instruction are not "out-of-touch experts"—they're role models."

What 3,700-Year-Old Wine Tasted Like from the Atlantic
"Archaeologists reveal the "sweet, strong" flavor of ancient booze, and wonder whether they might be able to recreate it."

The World’s Most Jaw-Dropping Reality TV Shows from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Live sex, human Tetris, baby giveaways, and more."

Even Madder Men: A Review of Angry White Men by Michael Kimmel from the New York Times
"The characters populating Michael Kimmel’s new book, “Angry White Men,” are familiar types: Rush Limbaugh’s ditto­heads, neo-Nazis, wife beaters, rampaging shooters and the divorced rageaholics of the men’s rights movement. Crowded together under one banner, they make for a scary and unpleasant lot: full of fury and blaming everyone but themselves for their problems. Mostly, they blame women... Their sin, according to Kimmel, is a failure to adjust. These guys refuse to admit they’ve been handed
privilege all these years by a world that puts white men on top. White men, he writes, “have been running with the wind at our backs all these years,” and “what we think of as ‘fairness’ to us has been built on the backs of others.”"

This Is The Most Surreal Illinois Tornado Footage We've Seen Yet from the Huffington Post
"It is heart-wrenching to watch. Just before an EF-4 tornado hit his Washington, Ill. home on Sunday, Marc Wells' camera was still rolling -- and continued to shoot video as he and his daughter sought cover from the storm in his home's basement."

Friday, November 22, 2013

News Nuggets 1338

DAYEE PICTURE: The Ward Charcoal Ovens near Ely, Nevada.  From National Geographic.

The South’s New Lost Cause (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"... what is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States."

Nine Reasons the Filibuster Change is a Huge Deal (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"The filibuster now exists in what you might call an unstable equilibrium. It theoretically forces a 60-vote threshold on important legislation. But it can — and now, in part, has —been undone with 51 votes. Its only protection was the perceived norm against using the 51-vote option. Democrats just blew that norm apart. The moment one party or the other filibusters a consequential and popular bill, that's likely the end of the filibuster, permanently."

Harry Reid, Constitutionalist (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"Whichever party controls the government has to be able to govern. Our checks-and-balances system, crafted in the demographic and political realities of 18th-century, 13-state, slave/free, Eastern Seaboard America, and in many ways showing its age, did not ever contemplate a permanent blocking minority in the Senate as one of the regular "checks.""

The Nuclear Option and Bipartisan Fantasies (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The initial wave of reaction to Harry Reid’s swift limited-nuclear-option strike in the Senate — shameless bipartisan hypocrisy from Republicans and Democrats who argued the opposite position eight years ago — has given way to a different sentiment: the mournful cries of the Establishmentarians. Now that the filibuster has been scaled back, what will happen to comity? Tradition? The Constitution? The dinner-party scene in Georgetown?"

Senate’s Filibuster Rule Change Should Help Obama Achieve Key Second-term Priorities (Zachary A. Goldfarb) from the Washington Post
"The Senate vote Thursday to lower the barriers for presidential nominations should make it easier for President Obama to accomplish key second-term priorities, including tougher measures on climate change and financial regulation, that have faced intense opposition from Republicans in Congress."

Harry Reid’s Gambit (Manu Raju) from Politico
"When the seismic moment finally came, shell-shocked senators in both parties couldn’t believe that Reid pulled the trigger — and were grasping to understand the far-reaching ramifications. ... a high-stakes gambit that could have enormous implications for future presidents, reshape an institution he’s served in for 26 years, and ultimately define Reid’s legacy as one of the longest-serving Democratic leaders in history — one with a penchant for bare-knuckled tactics."

Why The Filibuster Change Is Fantastic News For Obama from the Talking Points Memo
"Obama's second-term agenda largely runs through the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which often has the final word on matters of White House and executive branch authority. That's the strongest tool Obama has to still get things done, because as long as Republicans control the House, his legislative agenda isn't going anywhere. The Senate rules change clears a path for the president to confirm his three stalled nominees to vacancies on the conservative-leaning court, and make it less hostile to his executive actions."

Boom! What the Senate Will be Like When the Nuclear Dust Settles (Sarah Binder) from the Washington Post
"Will GOP senators retaliate by blowing up every remaining bridge in sight? This has historically been a viable threat that has undermined majorities’ efforts to go nuclear.  But such retaliation clearly did not dissuade Reid and his colleagues from going forward.  As he said on more than one occasion, how much worse can the Senate get?"

Nuclear Fallout: The Real-World Consequences Of Senate Filibuster Reform from the Huffington Post
"As for the future, with an ascendant multicultural coalition making Democrats the favorites in 2016, Republicans are looking at the possibility of more than a decade of Democratic lifetime judicial
appointments, which could go a long way toward Democrats winning back control of the judicial branch after decades of being outmaneuvered by better-organized conservative legal scholars."

The Right Fight for Obama and Democrats (Jonathan Capehart) from the Washington Post
"Use of the “nuclear option” sends a clear message about President Obama’s second term."

The Right-Wing Attack Machine Was Made For Moments Like This (Jason Sattler) from the National Memo
"This is exactly why former TV producer and Nixon operative Roger Ailes created a nationwide “conservative” news network. This is why right-wing “think tanks” spend millions creating and disseminating talking points. This is how Republicans won a massive landslide in 2010, as America was in the midst of a Great Recession, two wars and record deficits—all things a Republican president had led us into."

Cancer survivor: Obamacare Got Me Covered (Lori Greenstein Bremner) from CNN
"I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia as a college student. After nearly five years of aggressive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, bone marrow harvests and more, I was cancer-free. My cancer has never returned, but since then I have waged a battle of a different kind -- a three-decade struggle to obtain quality, affordable coverage."

'FLASH PRESIDENT DEAD': How News Of The JFK Assassination Broke In Real Time from the Huffington Post
"To watch the coverage of the Kennedy assassination 50 years later is to see just how raw and unformed so many parts of the news media that we now take for granted were, and to marvel at the ways in which our technology has utterly transformed our relationship to current events."

C.S. Lewis, our Guide to the Good Life (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post
"Any writer finds reading Lewis a joy. He wrote so lucidly on such a range of topics, from medieval literature to modern education to church music to nuclear war. But for some of us, Lewis’s arguments also involve a sudden, jarring reorientation of perspective."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

News Nuggets 1337

DAYLEE PICTURE: A sunset over flowing lava in Kalapana, Hawaii.  From the Smithsonian.

Democrats Go ‘Nuclear,’ Eliminate Filibusters on Most Nominees (Update) (Niels Lesniewski) from Roll Call
"Senate Democrats succeeded Thursday in deploying the “nuclear option” to make the most fundamental change to floor operations in almost four decades, ending the minority’s ability to kill most presidential nominations by filibuster. The Senate voted, 52-48, to effectively change the rules by rejecting the opinion of the presiding officer that a supermajority is required to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on executive branch nominees and those for seats on federal courts short of the Supreme Court."
Here is Daily Kos's take on what has just occurred here and here.

The Senate has Gone Nuclear. Here’s What’s Next (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Post
"This is a major, major, event. It changes how the nation is governed in a significant way. ... This change was basically forced by Republicans; the interesting question, I think, is why the group of Republicans who weren’t willing to push the Democrats over the brink in the summer decided to do so now."

Norm Ornstein: Republicans Forced Reid's Hand On The Nuclear Option from Talking Points Memo
""For whatever reason, the Republicans decided to go nuclear first, with this utterly unnecessary violation of their own agreement and open decision to block the president from filling vacancies for his entire term, no matter how well qualified the nominees," Ornstein told TPM in an email. "It was a set of actions begging for a return nuclear response.""

U.S. Optimistic about a Nuclear Deal with Iran (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"U.S. officials are cautiously optimistic that they are close to a deal with Iran to freeze its nuclear program as a first step toward a comprehensive agreement that would allow a limited Iranian civilian nuclear program, including some enrichment of uranium for civilian uses."

Gen. John Allen Praises the Terms of New U.S.-Afghanistan Agreement (Daniel Klaidman) from the Daily Beast
"The former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is encouraged by the terms of a security-pact agreement governing the withdrawal of U.S. troops. "

Mental Health Coverage Expands, but are there Enough Providers? from the Miami News-Record [of Oklahoma]
"Under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, widely known as Obamacare, all individual and small group insurance policies sold in Oklahoma and other states must provide a number of essential health benefits, starting Jan. 1. The essential benefits include mental health and substance abuse services such as individual counseling and psychotherapy."

3 Signs That Obamacare Is Slowing Health Care Spending from Talking Points Memo
"...the second goal of Obamacare, beyond expanding health coverage to the uninsured, was getting health care costs under control. Health care spending had grown by an average annual rate of 3.9 percent between 2000 and 2007, before dipping to 1.8 percent between 2007 and 2010. According to the new report, the average annual rate of growth from 2011 to 2013 dropped still further, to 1.3 percent."

The Ridiculous Obamacare Press Frenzy (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Monthly
"There’s just a lot of nonsense right now. Which is pretty much what happens when these press frenzies get started, but it’s very frustrating. ...  yes, there is a substantive story on health care reform here, but what the press are up to is mostly just fantasy."

Dems Try Going on Offense: It’s Obamacare versus ‘Cruz Care’ (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"While the punditry has focused on Dems supposedly “running away” from the law, what is really happening is they are adopting variations of the “keep and fix” message that will be central to the Dem approach next year. Dems like Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, and Mark Pryor are embracing various “fixes,” but they will be attacking GOP opponents for supporting repeal. Dems remain committed to sticking with the law..."

What the Cheney Civil War Says About America (W. James Antle III) from the National Interest
"A testament to how rapidly popular views on gay marriage have shifted."

RNC Needs Binders (Cheri Jacobus) from The Hill
"The establishment GOP, which claims to “get it” after two consecutive drubbings in presidential elections with their hand at the till, is made up almost exclusively of men. Despite polls showing the nation is right-of-center and slightly more female than male, we lose with women and therefore we lose the race."

Republican Governors Try To Seize Party's Mantle from the Huffington Post 
"Tired of being cast as members of the "party of no," Republican governors facing re-election next year are emphasizing their work to steer their states through tough economic times and trying to avoid the stigma of Washington gridlock. To that end, the 2014 elections could serve as a test case for the public's appetite for tax cuts championed by GOP governors, the curbing of benefits for public-sector unions and restrictions on women's access to health care."

Kennedy's Legacy of Inspiration (Robert Dallek) from the New York Times 
"Compared with other recent presidents whose stumbles and failures have assaulted the national self-esteem, memories of Kennedy continue to give the country faith that its better days are ahead."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

News Nuggets 1336

DAYLEE PICTURE: High tide along the Chioggia in Venice.  From National Geographic.

See me today on the Lynn Cullen Live program at 10am ... or you can stream it later!!

Obamacare Hyperventilation to Continue Forever! (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
This one is a must-read!
"National Journal will publish a story by conservative writer Josh Kraushaar arguing that Democrats in Congress are fleeing the law, and edging toward support for repeal. In fact, the opposite is occurring. ... The website is kind of working already. Lost in the Keep Your Plan imbroglio, it appears that has already reached a point of functionality."

Healthcare Plan Enrollment Surges in Some States After Rocky Rollout from the Los Angeles Times
"Despite the disastrous rollout of the federal government's healthcare website, enrollment is surging in many states as tens of thousands of consumers sign up for insurance plans made available by President Obama's health law. A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November, according to state officials."

The Best Of The Dish Today (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Dish
"Why is socialism so damn more efficient than capitalism when it comes to healthcare? I think the answer is a relatively simple one, and it was elegantly made by a commenter on Yuval’s piece at NRO. Money quote: ..."

Sorry, Republicans: No Big Drop in Obamacare Support (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos
"Despite the bad website roll-out, despite the controversy over the small percentage of the population getting a huge proportion of media attention for losing their current policies, despite the hyperactive media equating all this to Katrina, the American people are not abandoning support for Obamacare in any significant numbers."

In States Where the Website Works, Obamacare Works Too (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine
"It really is all about the website. In places where it's working, people are signing up and are pretty happy with what they're getting. Rate shock is an issue for a few of them, but not for a lot. The bottom line is the Republican Party's worst nightmare: Once Obamacare has been up and running for a while, it's going to be pretty popular."

Fix The Website, And The Political Problem Solves Itself (Gene Lyons) from the National Memo
"While much of their intended audience dozes, headline-hungry, ratings-driven, click-soliciting news organizations act increasingly like a litter of kittens in a room full of balloons—excitedly chasing the next big political scandal or a glimpse of Miley Cyrus’s nipple. Whichever comes first. That’s life at CLNN, “Where the Sky Is Always Falling.”"

Poll: Most Americans Oppose Obamacare Repeal Despite Rollout Troubles from the National Journal
"United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll finds public opinion on the health law holding steady with a narrow split emerging on its ultimate impact."

The Right’s in a Box: Here’s How GOP Loses Obamacare Fight (Brian Beutler) from Salon
"The amazing politics of Obamacare's success stories -- especially in Kentucky -- could cost the GOP their leader."

Why It’s Time To Start Talking About Reforming, Not Repealing, Obamacare (David Frum) from the Daily Beast
"If a "repeal ACA" president takes office in 2017, he or she will face a reality in which repeal means stripping millions of people—potentially up to 10 million—of a government benefit they will by then have enjoyed for more than three years. Such a move would be the most radical reduction in social coverage ever seen in a democratic country."

Republicans Will Keep Heading Right!: What the Media Doesn’t Comprehend (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"Chattering classes are convinced Chris Christie will move GOP to the center. This totally misunderstands history."

Finally, Some Good News for Democrats About ObamaCare (no, really) (Jon Terbush) from The Week 
"ObamaCare's debut was a disaster — but its second act may not be."

Voter Suppression Backfires in North Carolina, Spreads in Texas (Ari Berman) from Moyers and Company
"Shortly after passing the country’s worst voter suppression law, North Carolina Republicans targeted student voting. ...  these moves backfired badly on the North Carolina GOP in the 2013 local elections. ... The news on voting rights was much worse in Texas, where voters experienced many problems with the new voter ID law."

The Dance of Bubba and Obama—and How It Helps Hillary (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"The fates of the two presidents standing side by side at JFK’s gravesite today are intertwined—Clinton is now Obama’s life raft, and if Obama can recover, Hillary is the beneficiary."

Monday, November 18, 2013

News Nuggets 1335

DAYLEE PICTURE: Train lights in Tokyo, Japan.  From National Geographic.

Young and Educated in Europe, but Desperate for Jobs from the New York Times
"Five years after the economic crisis struck the Continent, youth unemployment has climbed to staggering levels in many countries: in September, 56 percent in Spain for those 24 and younger, 57 percent in Greece, 40 percent in Italy, 37 percent in Portugal and 28 percent in Ireland. For people 25 to 30, the rates are half to two-thirds as high and rising. Those are Great Depression-like rates of unemployment, and there is no sign that European economies, still barely emerging from recession, are about to generate the jobs necessary to bring those Europeans into the work force soon, perhaps in their lifetimes."

A Changing World Order? (Robert Kagan) from the Washington Post
"Overall, the much-heralded return of a multipolar world of roughly equal great powers, akin to that which existed before World War II, has been delayed for at least a few more decades. Absent some unexpected dramatic change, the international system will continue to be that of one
superpower and several great powers, or as the late Samuel P. Huntington called it, “uni-multipolarity.”"

The Stakes of an Iranian Deal (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"The Saudis now are blocking formation of any government in Lebanon, for example, to obstruct Iran’s ally, Hezbollah. In Syria, the Saudis seem ready to fight the Sunni-Shiite battle down to the last Syrian.  Better to seek a turn in relations with Iran through diplomacy that can limit its nuclear program, Obama reasons. He’s right."

Stay the Dogs of War on Iran (Leslie H. Gelb) from the Daily Beast 
"We don't know whether relations with Iran will go toward peace or war, but the interim freeze again under negotiations this week holds little risk and much promise. Don't let the hawks on both sides kill it, writes Leslie H. Gelb."

A Permanent Slump? (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"... what if the world we’ve been living in for the past five years is the new normal? What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?"

How Falling Gas Prices Could Accelerate Economic Growth from The Week  
"Incredibly, the U.S. is now on track to become the world’s biggest oil producer in just two years."

Economists Discover the Poor Behave Differently From the Rich (Brendan Greeley) from Businessweek
"It turned out that actual people didn’t behave like the imaginary proxy. Economists are learning that the poor and the wealthy respond differently to austerity and stimulus. This could present challenges to politicians. If people behave differently, then policy might have to treat them differently."

SHOCKER: Obamacare Is Working Best In States That Aren’t Trying To Sabotage It (Jason Sattler) from the National Memo
"Of the 106,185 people who have completed an application for health insurance, nearly 75 percent came from 14 states and the District of Columbia that both set up their own exchanges and expanded Medicaid. Unsurprisingly, California and New York combined for the bulk of the enrollments, 51,769. But the most promising news from the Golden State wasn’t even included in this report."

President Calls GOP and Insurance Companies' Bluff (Egberto Willies) from Daily Kos
"The fix the president has instituted is rather ingenious. More importantly it immediately ensured that Congress, the insurance companies, and the American citizens absorb responsibility for the solution."

Conservatives Confident America Rejecting Obamacare, Ready for Every-Man-for-Himself Care (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine 
"The Republican plan is to move as many people as possible from the kind of insurance they like to the kind of insurance they hate. Obama's plan is to make unpopular individual health insurance more like the popular employer-based health insurance, with lots of cross-subsidies from healthy to sick. The conservative plans propose to make popular employer insurance more like the unpopular individual market."

The GOP's Unhealthy Bias Against Obamacare (Norm Ornstein) from National Journal
"The Republican frenzy to trash the law has nothing to do with its fundamental purpose: providing health care to those who need it most. ... For every unfortunate story now of an individual losing his or her existing plan—each of whom will get replacement coverage, albeit some with higher costs—there are stories of those who discovered after it was too late that the coverage was not there when they needed it, or was canceled because of a real or imagined preexisting condition."

Tea Party Group Will Primary 87 Republican “Traitors” from Buzzfeed 
"The Tea Party Leadership Fund is hoping to find “credible challengers” to any Republican who voted for the shutdown deal in October. At the top of the list: House Speaker John Boehner."

7 Surprising Reasons You Wake Up Tired (Melanie Haiken) from 
"When you can't sleep, you know it. But what about when you can, yet you wake up feeling tired and achy or you're groggy again a few hours later? What's that about?"

Heroes and Crusaders: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s ‘Bully Pulpit’ from the New York Times
"If you find the grubby spectacle of today’s Washington cause for shame and despair — and, really, how could you not? — then I suggest you turn off the TV and board Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest time machine. Let her transport you back to the turn of the 20th century, to a time when this country had politicians of stature and conscience, when the public believed that government could right great wrongs, when, before truncated attention spans, a 50,000-word exposé of corruption could sell out magazines and galvanize a reluctant Congress."

Braves Leave Atlanta — And Fans — Behind (Jonathan Mahler) from the National Memo
"The real surprise isn’t that a sports team that doesn’t need a new stadium is getting one, or even that a county that can’t afford to pay teachers is planning to spend $300 million subsidizing a $629 million professional baseball franchise. It’s that a Major League team wants to move to the suburbs, which goes against pretty much everything we have learned since Camden Yards opened in downtown Baltimore in 1992, leading baseball back into the heart of America’s cities."

Benedict Cumberbatch Is a Gay Erotic God in China from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Why is the Chinese Internet obsessed with writing gay Sherlock Holmes fanfiction?"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

News Nuggets 1334

DAYLEE PICTURE:  A Black Bear Cub in the Wyoming Rocky Mountains.  
From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Medicaid is Health Overhaul's Early Success Story from the Associated Press
"The ugly duckling of government health care programs has turned into a rare early success story for President Barack Obama's technologically challenged health overhaul. Often criticized for byzantine rules and skimpy payments, Medicaid has signed up 444,000 people in 10 states in the six weeks since open enrollment began, according to Avalere Health, a market analysis firm."
Daily Kos does some good analysis of this issue HERE.

Longer School Days in Store for Children in Five States... and Why They Might Actually LIKE it from the Associated Press
"Extra hours will be used to study world cultures, healthy living, foreign languages, fitness.  The average school day in the U.S. is 6.7 hours.  Around 300 extra hours per year will be added in the 2014-15 schedule."

What Typhoon Haiyan Tells Us About Obamacare (Matt Miller) from the Washington Post
"If you feel it’s urgent to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, then deep in your heart you also support Obamacare. It’s possible you haven’t made this connection yet, so let me explain."

What the Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Really Tell Us (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"That confirms two things we’ve long known to be true: the website is a disaster, and short term enrollment figures are a serious political problem for the White House and Democrats. But to Larry Levitt, a vice president at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, another very telling number is this one: over 975,000 have been determined eligible for a marketplace but haven’t yet chosen a plan."

Obamacare is in Much More Trouble than it was One Week Ago (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
Klein lays out clearly the danger in "quick fixes" that are currently floating around Congress right now.  Can Obama et al., stave off these efforts and yet keep the public engaged?  
"The bill Landrieu is offering could really harm the law. It would mean millions of people who would've left the individual insurance market and gone to the exchanges will stay right where they are. Assuming those people skew younger, healthier, and richer -- and they do -- Obamacare's premiums will rise."

The New Politics of Evasion (William A. Galston & Elaine C. Kamarck) from Democracy Journal
"New thinking and favorable demography have largely addressed the Democrats’ old problems. Now it’s the Republicans who can’t face reality."

Four Years Later, the Tea Party has Learned Nothing (Jonathan Bernstein) from Salon
"After a few election cycles, they’re no longer a new entity. Yet, they haven’t grown at all – and that’s by design."

Tea Party Shocker: Even Right-wingers Become Liberals when They Turn Off Fox News (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"America's center is to the left, and even Tea Partyers are liberals when they turn off Rush and learn real facts."

How to Rain on the Chris Christie 2016 Parade (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"The New Jersey governor's re-election win has exacerbated hype about a GOP presidential nod. Let me burst the bubble."

The Jeb Bush Boomlet (Ben White) from Politico
"But there is growing chatter in elite New York financial circles that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is giving more serious consideration to getting in the race, especially if it appears at any point that Christie is not drawing big national appeal beyond the northeast. Several plugged in GOP sources said Bush has moved from almost certainly staying out to a 30 percent chance of getting in. The “70/30” odds pop up in so many conversations they almost seem like circulated talking points."
"New York financial circles" -- where else?  If the Bush people are floating this trial balloon now, the odds are probably more like 50/50 that he's going to run.  As regular readers know, I have long viewed Jeb as the most serious threat to Hillary in 2016.  He has none of the northeastern taint of people like Romney and Christie and has been exceptionally disciplined in not giving offense to the Tea Party & evangelical wings of the GOP.  At the same time, he and Christie will be competing for many of the same more "moderate" primary voters in 2016 and could easily divide that vote, creating an opening for folks like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.  Either way, Jeb will need a lot more love from folks outside the "financial circles" to really make a go of it in three years.

Netflix and Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’ and a Brief History of Black Superheroes (Chancellor Agard) from the Daily Beast
"Was Shaquille O’Neal’s turn in the ’90s dud ‘Steel’ really one of the only superhero movies with a lead black character? Get ready for Netflix and Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’ TV show."

Daughter pieces together the dramatic untold story of her parents' young love during WWII in 1,000 letters her father wrote from the warfront from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Arizona retiree Jane Bartow was shocked to find the reams of emotional letters her father sent her mother while the war kept them apart between 1941 and 1945.  She believes her deeply private father Darrow Beaton, who was in the Merchant Marines, accidentally included the letters in a box of photos he sent her before his death in 2008.  'He remembered kissing her in the snow that first night they met': Bartow has turned the amazing story of her parents' tragic separation and triumphant reunion into an historical novel about love during wartime."

The Secrets of the Woolly Mammoth Brain to be Revealed after 39,000 Years from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"The remains of 10-year-old Yuka were discovered in Siberia in 2009 and offers one the most complete example of a woolly mammoth brain ever found Researchers are now carrying out a full-scale mapping exercise in bid to significantly boost our knowledge about the mysterious species."