Friday, January 31, 2014

News Nuggets 1379

DAYEE PICTURE: Sunset at Riffelsee Lake near Zermatt, Switzerland.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

The Champion Barack Obama: How Black America talks to the White House (Ta-Nahisi Coates) from the Atlantic
"When Barack Obama steps into a room and attacks people for presumably using poverty or bigotry as an excuse to not parent, he is channeling a feeling deep in the heart of all black people, a frustration, a rage at ourselves for letting this happened, for allowing our community to descend into the basement of America, and dwell there seemingly forever."

Millions to Go Uninsured ... to Spite Obama? (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos
"38% say they are more likely to pay the fine the government will assess most Americans who lack health insurance. That 38 percent generally approximates the conservative fringe of America, you know, the ones who clung to George W. Bush to the bitter end, the ones who believe Obama was born in Kenya, the ones sickened by America's creeping communism."

Avoiding Obamacare Financially Difficult for Employers from the Pittsburgh Business Times
"It doesn’t make sense for employers to try and get out of the health care business completely in order to cut down on the costs that will come with the Affordable Care Act, said panelists in a discussion on the topic Thursday morning."

GOP is Melting Down: The Real SOTU Story (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"To work with Republicans Obama would need actual Republican leaders, and instead he’s dealing with hundreds of freelance potentates and kooks. The GOP is splintering in real time, and that’s a bigger story than anything the president said in his 70-minute address."

Civil War Cometh: GOP Prepares For Explosive Immigration Debate from Talking Points Memo
"Republicans are preparing for an explosive debate over immigration that appears likely to spark a civil war within the party. House GOP leaders are preparing to unveil a set of "principles" for reform as early as Thursday after discussing it with their members at their annual retreat in Cambridge, Maryland. The imperatives: No Senate bill -- or even negotiations on it. Enhance border security. Overhaul legal immigration. No "amnesty" -- however they choose to define it. And the most explosive part: legal status of some sort for the 11 million people living in the country illegally, a politically necessary component of reform."

How Pressure Mounted for Development in Hoboken from the New York Times  
"... according to newly obtained emails sent among the participants, the first topic of discussion on the agenda was “review of concepts for flood control measures at Rockefeller property,” a reference to a billion-dollar office complex proposed at the north end of town. The developer, the Rockefeller Group, which had long been trying to gain approval from local officials, sent two executives, two lobbyists and an engineer to the meeting."

BUSTED: Chris Christie Appointee Wildstein Says Governor Knew About Bridge Closings from Raw Story
"David Wildstein, the former Port Authority official who ordered the lane closures near the George Washington Bridge, said Friday that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) approved of what was happening. Wildstein claimed in a letter released by his lawyer that the lane closures were “the Christie administration’s order,” the New York Times reported."

Chris Christie Falls Apart (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"As a new report finds him looking at '16 general election, he loses a top promoter and polls show him fading fast."

Christie Scapegoat Fights Back (Joan Walsh) from Salon
Walsh gets a three-fer today!
"David Wildstein says "evidence exists" that Christie knew about Bridgegate, says he can prove Governor lied."

Stick a Fork in Chris Christie (Josh Kraushaar) from National Journal 
"If Chris Christie knew, his presidential ambitions are kaput. ... Friday's allegation that Christie knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closures, coming from the lawyer for his Port Authority official, David Wildstein, suggests he was lying during his epic two-hour press conference by claiming no knowledge of the situation."

Jeb Bush Still Undecided On 2016 Presidential Run from CBS Local [in Miami]
"Bush continued, “I’m deferring the decision to the right time which is later this year and the decision will be based on, can I do it joyfully, because I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits. It’s a pretty pessimistic country right now; and, is it right for my family? So I don’t even want to think about that till it’s the right time and that’s later on.”"
This early in the game, this is exactly what someone says when they are clear they actually are running.  
Why Jeb Bush is the Single Biggest Question Mark in the 2016 Sweepstakes (Sean Sullivan) from the Washington Post
"There are a great many unanswered questions about the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But at this point, none are as big as this one: Will Jeb Bush run?"
FINALLY!  A pundit asking the right question about the GOP race!

Climate Scientist’s Lawsuit Could Wipe Out Conservative National Review Magazine from Raw Story
"The National Review magazine, longstanding house news organ of the establishment right, is facing a lawsuit that could shutter the publication permanently. According to The Week, a suit by a climate scientist threatens to bankrupt the already financially shaky publication and its website, the National Review Online (NRO)."

How Richard Nixon Would Deter China (Zachary Keck) from The Diplomat
"By using the “madman theory,” the U.S. and its allies could inject a degree of risk into China’s strategic calculus."

Ancient Egyptian ruins unearthed of a once bustling barracks and port unearthed next to the Giza Pyramids from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Researchers have been excavating remains near the city of Giza since 1988. Last year they found a cemetery believed to contain pyramid builders. Yet, a large basin found nearby suggests the region may have been a port. There is also evidence of barracks just south of the Great Sphinx of Giza. Therefore the site may have been used by troops or sailors visiting the port."

From Michelle Kwan as a political wife to Nancy Kerrigan as a TV commentator: The surprising careers that famous Olympic figure skaters chose after winning gold from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Post-Olympics, though, the question often becomes – what do the figure skaters do now?"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

News Nuggets 1378

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Sea Star at Pomene Estuary, Mozambique.  From National Geographic.

Live-Blogging The SOTU 2014 (Andrew Sullivan) from The Dish
"If he persists on healthcare and persists on Iran and persists on grappling, as best we can, with the forces creating such large disparities in wealth, he will look far, far more impressive from the vantage point of history than the news cycle of the Twitterverse sometimes conveys. This was True Grit Obama. And it was oddly energizing."

SOTU 2014: Relaxed, Good-Natured, and Pretty Effective (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Before the speech, the big buzz was about how Obama was going to focus on executive powers. ... But in reality, there was very little of that in the speech itself. Obama repeatedly used phrases like "if Congress wants to help me, they can _____" but very few of them sounded to me like
ultimatums. They sounded like pretty sincere desires to work with Congress, and I'm pretty sure that's how they came across to viewers who listened to the speech..."

Obama’s Toughest Job (Jeff Madrick) from the New York Review of Books 
"By making jobs the centerpiece of the speech, President Obama gave one of his best, most politically adroit State of the Union addresses."

GOP Ready to Surrender on Debt Ceiling from Politico
"The reason for the shift in dynamics in this fight is clear. Congress has raised the debt limit twice in a row without drastic policy concessions from President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats, essentially ceding ground to Democrats."

Principles? What Principles? (Bill Keller) from the New York Times 
"To help appreciate the president’s speech, let’s take a preliminary visit to that citadel of reason, the Republican Party."

Obama and the One Percent (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"... there’s a danger, especially for progressives, of confusing the proposition that Obama’s billionaire haters are stark raving mad — which is true — with the proposition that Obama has done nothing that hurts the plutocrats’ interests, which is false. Actually, Obama has been tougher on the one percent than most progressives give him credit for. ... So the one percent does have reason to be upset. No, Obama isn’t Hitler; but he is turning out to be a little bit of FDR, after all."

Snow Job: It's Time to Blow the Whistle on Edward Snowden (Edward Lucas) from Politico
"In judging the action of whistle-blowers, three criteria apply. They must have clear and convincing evidence of abuse. Publishing the information must not pose a disproportionate threat to public safety. And the leak must be as limited in scope and scale as possible. Snowden failed all three of these tests."

The GOP is Ignoring its Right-Wing Base (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Conservative activists who brought Republican lawmakers to power are feeling betrayed."

Colleges Are Failing Their Biggest Group of Students (Lila Selim) from the Atlantic
"Adults who are juggling school, kids, and jobs aren't getting the support they need."

The New Nullification Movement (Ari Berman) from the Nation
"Some states are reviving disenfranchisement schemes that date back to the antebellum South."

Two Attacks on Hillary Clinton That Won't Work (Marc Ambinder) from The Week
"Both attacks have superficial plausibility. But if they're the best that Republicans have, then Clinton is an even stronger presidential candidate than she appears to be."

We Need a New Supply-Side Economics. Here Are 8 Things We Can Do (Josh Barro) from Slate
"These are policies that would would encourage more investment and job creation while supporting rises in standards of living for people with low and moderate incomes. In most cases, these policies don't have to wait: They could be implemented today, alongside demand-side policies that are still needed for now, such as emergency extended unemployment insurance."

Gallup Poll Finds Democrats More Compassionate; Republicans More Psychopathic from the Huffington Post
"Clearly, selfish fears swept concerns on the Republican side, whereas concerns for others (and especially the weak) swept concerns on the Democratic side."

Could YOU build a flatpack house? Home in a box costs just £6,500. But is it really as easy to build as an IKEA bookcase? We gave one brave dad a week to try from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"So when I heard that a British company has begun selling a flat-pack mini-house, which is said to be as easy to assemble as an Ikea bookcase, I couldn’t resist the challenge."

Monday, January 27, 2014

News Nuggets 1377

DAYLEE PICTURE:  A polar bear in Hudson Bay.  From National Geographic.

Tuesday will be a travel day for the Nuggetsman -- so look for the next posting on Wednesday at the earliest.

Emerging Markets Spook Investors from Marketplace
""It's been a pretty gloomy start to 2014, and I guess to sum it up in a nutshell, two reasons: less Fed, and less China," he says. "I think in particular, it's the less China that we should focus on, and the real worry is that Chinese growth is slowing. And that's why many analysts believe we're seeing the sea of red across the trading boards.""
A fairly innocuous headline masking a big story.  The nut of this story: analysts are beginning to question whether the economic numbers China has been reporting are accurate or not.  Regular readers here know we've been tracking this story for several years now -- and China's numbers are not accurate and often they have been substantially off!  To me, that any analysts are only now beginning to wonder about this is STUNNING!

Harry Reid Earns an Assist on Iran: The Nevada Senator Staved Off New Sanctions — for Now (Doyle McManus) form the Los Angeles Times
"The problem is that Iran has said it would consider passage of the bill as a violation of the agreement the U.S. signed in November, which promised no new sanctions while negotiations were underway. ... By last week, it was clear that Reid had prevailed; the Senate isn't likely to vote on new sanctions any time soon."

The Populist Imperative (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"If, as has been widely reported, President Obama devotes much of his State of the Union address to inequality, everyone should be cheering him on. They won’t, of course. Instead, he will face two kinds of sniping. The usual suspects on the right will, as always when questions of income distribution come up, shriek “Class warfare!” But there will also be seemingly more sober voices arguing that he has picked the wrong target, that jobs, not inequality, should be at the top of his agenda. Here’s why they’re wrong."

A Nation of Redistributionists and Class Warriors (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"With inequality and economic populism expected to be central to Obama’s State of the Union speech and Dem campaigns in the midterms, expect Republicans to argue Dems are wielding a familiar “class warfare” weapon to distract from the failure of the ”Obummer economy.” But a new Pew poll digs into public opinion on inequality in a way I haven’t seen before, and it suggests Dems are on solid political ground with this focus."

Who Says Liberal Arts Majors Can't Make a Good Living? from Marketplace
"A new study from the Association of American Colleges and Universities says liberal arts majors eventually close the earnings gap with workers who chose a “professional” major like accounting. Who knew? Given all the focus and support for STEM education, do the liberal arts need a campaign to fill prospective students and parents in on the facts? "

New Report Shows Few Finish Free Online Courses from Marketplace
"In a new report from Harvard and MIT faculty involved with the online learning programs there, researchers find that only about 5 percent of the more than 800,000 people signed up for the free courses through the online platform edX actually finished enough coursework to obtain a completion certificate."
Gee -- I'm so surprised.  It is my observation that online courses (even those you pay for) are the next step down from community colleges -- even if they are from MIT and Harvard.  Good learning happens in an active environment, not a passive one.  What's next?  Learn while you sleep.

Moral Mondays Rekindle the Civil Rights Movement (Jim Hightower) from the Progressive
I almost never post anything from this predictable knee-jerk progressive talking head -- but this is interesting.
"Steadily building broad grassroots coalitions of civil rights groups, labor, church leaders, students, teachers, environmentalists, retirees, and others, this movement is literally moving through southern states. It is gaining popular support by directly confronting the immorality of extremist governors, legislators, and corporate lobbyists who're denying health care to poor families, preventing both the elderly and students from voting, gutting state funding for public education, and generally legislating a permanent state of inequality and injustice for millions of people."

Democratic Candidates for Governor Unite Against Corbett, UPMC in Debate from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"UPMC was nearly as prominent a pinata as Gov. Tom Corbett as UPMC's employee relations and its standoff with Highmark were repeatedly denounced during a debate Sunday among eight Democratic candidates for governor. In the 90-minute forum at Carnegie Mellon University, the candidates were united in criticizing the Republican administration's education policies. Most voiced support for easing prohibitions against marijuana use in the state, and for stricter regulation and taxing of natural gas fracking. But some of the more affecting moments of the encounter came as the hopefuls were asked to describe failures in their lives."

FBI Questioning Witnesses Over Claims Chris Christie Threatened To Withhold Sandy Relief: Report from the Huffington Post
"The FBI has started questioning witnesses about whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) administration threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief money unless Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer (D) agreed to support a billion-dollar development project backed by the governor's office, reports Michael Isikoff at NBC News."

Painting Wendy Davis as a Bad Mother is Political Sexism at its Worst (Jessica Luther) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Davis is a Democrat running for governor of Texas. Opponents are trying to smear her life story, and the media isn't helping."

Old Democratic Name (Nunn) Stakes Bid on Shifting Georgia from the New York Times
"Two of his closest Republican friends, former Senators John W. Warner of Virginia and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, are now donors to Ms. Nunn. Mr. Warner attended the breakfast, he said, and walked away impressed. So did Mr. Nunn; watching his daughter tackle military policy questions changed his view of her race..."That morning," he said, "was when I said to myself, 'Hey, she's got as good a shot as anybody in this race, maybe better.' ""

Dinesh D’Souza’s Series of Unfortunate Events from the Daily Beast 
"Author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was indicted for encouraging fraudulent campaign donations—just the latest in a spiral that has all but sunk his career in the conservative movement."

Justin Bieber and Other Celebs You Didn't Know were Religious from CNN 
Yes, religious -- a surprising number of these folks are Buddhists.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

News Nuggets 1376

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Kocatepe Mosque in Turkey.  From National Geographic.

Investors Assail Income Gap as 68% in Poll Say Government Needed from Bloomberg
"International investors say the gap between rich and poor hampers economic growth and that governments should act to reduce income inequality, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll. Fifty-eight percent of global respondents say the disparity hinders the economy and 68 percent say governments should confront the problem, according to the Jan. 16-17 survey of 477 investors, traders and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers. U.S. respondents are divided over the issue."

Why Do the Smartest Cities Have the Smallest Share of Cars? (Derek Thompson) from the Atlantic
"What the metros with the highest percentage of non-car households tells us about driving and density."

Docs Reveal A Diocese’s Sins (Barbie Latza Nadeau) from the Daily Beast 
"The Chicago diocese of the Catholic Church has released a trove of 6,000 documents that show terrible child abuse by priests—and a coordinated effort to shield the predators from victims’ families and the law."

Substance And Style: How The Reforms Of Pope Francis Are Changing The Catholic Church from the World Post
"The pope’s insistence on simple living, his radical statements about economic injustice, and the arresting photos of him embracing others have effectively transcended religion, at once reflecting and furthering what his champions celebrate as progressive social change. But beneath the Pope's headline-catching rhetoric, he has delivered key administrative decisions over the past year that serious and substantial reforms are already underway within the Catholic church."

Uninsured Rate Drops Amid Obamacare Rollout: Poll from the Huffington Post 
"Based on interviews with more than 9,000 people, the Gallup numbers could be the first evidence that core provisions of Obama's much-debated law have started delivering on the promise of access for nearly all Americans. The overall drop in the uninsured rate would translate to approximately 2 million to 3 million people gaining coverage."

The Real Problem with the American Right: Aging, White Radicals (Brian Buetler) from Salon
"Everyone knows the GOP has been unable to moderate its image or agenda. But less understood is the true reason why."

Everything You Need to Know About the Chris Christie Investigations from the Washington Post
"With the New Jersey scandal count already at two for 2014, and with the number of investigations poking at said scandals increasing by the day, it's hard to keep track of all the variables -- and what each of the many key players stand to gain and lose based on the outcome. Here's an explainer on the many moving parts of Chris Christie's very sad scandals."

Poll: Christie Favorability Rating Drops after George Washington Bridge Controversy (Melissa Hayes) from the Record-Herald News [of northern New Jersey]
"The George Washington Bridge controversy has taken a toll on Governor Christie’s favorability ratings, with Democrats driving the falling numbers, according to a new poll. Christie’s favorability rating is now at 46 percent, down 22 points from a survey taken just before his landslide re-election victory last year,  a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today found."

Schumer to Poison Tea Party (Alexander Bolton) from The Hill
""The fundamental weakness in the Tea Party machine is the stark difference between what the leaders of the Tea Party elite, plutocrats like the Koch Brothers want and what the average grassroots Tea Party follower wants," he will say. Schumer will argue Democrats must defend popular government programs, such as extended unemployment benefits and student loan subsidies, to persuade Tea Party voters they could benefit from federal programs."

Rand Paul Is the 2016 Republican Frontrunner (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"Don't laugh. He has built-in advantages in Iowa and New Hampshire, a party moving in his direction, and formidable fundraising potential."

I Have Seen the Future of the Republican Party, and It Is George W. Bush (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Some pundits hopefully posited that the twin shocks of the economic crisis and the 2008 election might prod the GOP back to reality. It seemed, at the very least, that the party’s economic policy apparatus could not possibly get any worse. It got worse. Much worse."

Glenn Beck: “I Think I Played A Role, Unfortunately, In Helping Tear The Country Apart” from BuzzFeed
"The Blaze mogul told Megyn Kelly he regrets that his language wasn’t more “uniting” during his days at Fox News."

The 2,300-year-old Torture Chamber: Ancient Dungeon Containing a 'Bloody Well and Death Rooms' Unearthed in Turkey from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Archaeologists discovered 2,300-year-old dungeons in Bursa, Turkey from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"The dungeons were found to contain a bloody well and torture chambers.  Deaf and mute hangmen would have thrown prisoner’s heads into the well.  The bodies would then have been passed to the prisoner’s relatives. Chambers found during excavations set to become an open-air museum."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

News Nuggets 1375

DAYLEE PICTURE: An aerial view of the Namib desert in Namibia.  From National Geographic.

Health Insurers' Stocks, CEOs Feeling Good about Obamacare (Jon Perr) from Daily Kos
"Despite the troubled rollout of the ACA's health insurance exchanges, the CEOs of the biggest carriers seem confident that the growing pains for what is a small part of the businesses in 2014 will be overcome. While Cigna chief executive David Cordani reassured the JP Morgan event
attendees that "we're still in the early innings," CEO Joe Swedish of Wellpoint declared himself "cautiously optimistic.""

Most State Residents Favor Medicaid Expansion, Poll Says from the Rapid City Journal [of South Dakota]
"Despite a poll showing a majority of South Dakotans favor Medicaid expansion, Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office said Wednesday he has no plans to introduce legislation to expand health care in the state. In a survey released earlier this week by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, 63 percent of 400 state residents favored Medicaid expansion while 31 percent opposed it."

Maine Inching Closer to Expanding Medicaid (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos 
"Despite the adamant and incoherent opposition of Gov. Paul LePage, Maine's legislature is inching toward a Medicaid expansion, with Democrats saying they are close to having enough Republicans to pass it, and to override LePage's veto."

It's Official: Republicans are Done Trying to Kill ObamaCare (Jon Terbush) from The Week
"House Republicans have voted to repeal ObamaCare 47 times. They probably won't take a 48th crack at it."

Going the Distance: On and Off the Road with Barack Obama (David Remnick) from the New Yorker
"... after a miserable year, Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation since the Republicans took the House, in 2010, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming."

The Fallout of Dysfunction (Ruth Marcus) from Real Clear Politics
"... the congressional failure isn't total. Case in point: the Senate intelligence committee's just-released report on the "preventable" tragedy in Benghazi. When legislators choose careful oversight over political grandstanding, the results not only provide crucial evidence for the historical record -- they can help prevent the recurrence of such debacles."

The Republican Party’s Uphill Path to 270 Electoral Votes in 2016 (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"A recent conversation with a veteran of GOP presidential campaigns raised this question: Which, if any, of the recent battleground states are likely to become more Republican by 2016? The consensus: very few."

GOP Insiders Freak Out: Could Tea Party Blow Another Election? from Salon 
"2012 was just the beginning: Republicans are stuck in a civil war that threatens to derail even more winnable races."

Most Voters Skeptical Of Chris Christie's Bridgegate Claims, Poll Finds from the Huffington Post
"Most individuals who are aware of the scandal surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and the closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge doubt that the governor was not aware of his aides' involvement in the controversy."

How Bad Does the GOP Need Chris Christie? Really Bad. (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"Without the scandal-engulfed New Jersey governor, Republicans don’t have a candidate who could even come close to the votes needed to win the presidency in 2016."

Chris Christie: The End Game (Robert Kuttner) from the Huffington Post 
"Let me go out on a limb here. Chris Christie will not run for president, and he is very likely not to serve out his term as governor of New Jersey. The reason is very simple. Given everything we know about Christie's style of governing, it is inconceivable that he did not know what his underlings were up to."

First Thoughts: Christie's Two-Front War (Chuck Todd et al.,) from MSNBC 
"Christie's biggest political problem right now is that he's fighting wars on two different fronts, both of which increasingly look like wars of attrition. ... The biggest GOP beneficiary from Christie’s woes: Jeb Bush. ... if Bush were starting to really think about a presidential bid -- under the impression that the best time for another Bush to run for the White House would be in the year that another Clinton does -- the Christie news has to give him even more to consider. So don’t be surprised if you start hearing an establishment drum beat for Jeb in the coming months, as major donors who were enamored with Christie decide to start looking elsewhere for an electable savior."
I find it interesting that, even as numerous reporters, Clinton ex-aides and confidants are saying both on and off the record that they are certain Hillary is running in 2016, NO ONE seems to have an inside line on where Jed Bush is on a 2016 run.  All we know is that Barbara Bush does not want him to run.  Big whoop.  The thing is that IF he is going to run, he needs to start putting the pieces in place for such a run.  These days, organizing and running a top flight presidential campaign is like building an aircraft carrier.  It takes x amount of time and there is no way to cut corners.  If he wants the good talent, the good pollsters, the crack-a-jack state-level experts and primary activists, he needs to start lining them up, if not now really soon.  Are reporters, pundits and conservative election junkies tracking Jeb's moves  in this arena?  I actually don't get that anyone is really paying any attention -- so it leaves me wondering what's actually happening in Bush circles these days. 

There Is No 'Third Term Curse' For Dems In 2016 (Ed Kilgore) from Talking Points Memo
"I’d recommend that Sides and anyone else looking ahead drop the “third-term curse” as a predictive factor. It represents a dubious lesson from a very small sample, and should henceforth be regarded mainly as spin."
I completely agree with Kilgore's assessment here.

The Conservative War on Liberal Media Has a Long History (Nicole Hemmer) from the Atlantic
"Roger Ailes's success at Fox News is unique, but the project of creating a right-leaning alternative to established media stretches back to the 1940s."

How Kids Dealt With the Stress of Desegregation (Jennie Rothenberg Gritz) from the Atlantic
"Before Norman Rockwell immortalized Ruby Bridges in a painting, an Atlantic writer followed her for two years and reported on her daily battles."

Monday, January 20, 2014

News Nuggets 1374

DAYLEE PICTURE: Somalis gathering on the beaches in Djibouti near the horn of Africa trying to get phone signals so they can call Somalia.  From National Geographic.

Senate Intelligence Report Takes GOP Tirades About Benghazi Head-on (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"The Senate intelligence committee made headlines this week by reporting that the 2012 attack in Benghazi was preventable. But frankly, we knew that. The deeper message of the bipartisan report was that Republicans in Congress wasted a year arguing about what turned out to be mostly phony issues."

The Whistleblowers: Understanding the Real Motivations of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange from the New Republic
"In our upcoming cover story (available online Sunday evening), Sean Wilentz takes a deep dive into the histories of the world's most famous "whistle-blowers": Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange. What he uncovers—a "crazy-quilt assortment of views, some of them
blatantly contradictory"—should make their liberal supporters doubt their calls for clemency."

Hate Obama, Love Obamacare from Time Magazine
'How a skeptical Ohio family found plenty to like in health care reform. ... That Obamacare crashed on Stephanie and Sean Recchi, of all people, amid a torrent of misinformation about what the law could or could not do for them, epitomizes the calamity of the failed launch. But what has happened to the Recchis and their health care options more recently might be emblematic of the law's potential. .. They had seen all those stories on television, and because of their views about Obama, they believed what they wanted to believe--until they saw these policies and these numbers.""

Initial Thoughts on Today’s Ruling Striking Down Pa’s Voter ID Law on State Grounds (Rick Hasen) from the Election Law Blog
"This is a clear victory for opponents of voter id laws, with a finding that the implementation of the voter id law violated the law’s own promise of liberal access to voter id, that the implementation exceeded the agency’s authority to administer the program, that the voter education efforts were woefully inadequate, and that as a whole the Pa. voter id program violated the Pa. constitutional’s fundamental right to vote. In this regard, it is important to note that the court rejected Pa’s argument that the law was aimed at preventing voter fraud.:

Company Blamed For W.Va. Chemical Spill Files For Bankruptcy from Talking Points Memo
"The company blamed for a chemical spill that left 300,000 West Virginians without safe drinking water filed for bankruptcy Friday. Freedom Industries Inc., facing multiple lawsuits and state and federal investigations after the Jan. 9 spill, filed a Chapter 11 petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of West Virginia."
Boy, they couldn't get to the court house quick enough!

As Presently Constructed, GOP Cannot Win White House (Martin Longman) from the Washington Monthly
"Of course, Kerry did lose, but it appears that the 2004 election could be a real ceiling for any Republican candidate up against a competent Democrat. Roll the clock forward twelve years, and demographic changes make even a repeat of 2004 a very challenging task."

Romneyworld Buzzes over Chris Christie Troubles from Politico
"Rom-denfreude (noun) — The pleasure Mitt Romney loyalists are taking in the struggles of Chris Christie. The condition is prevalent, stemming from a range of perceived Christie slights towards Romney during the 2012 campaign, which several Romney loyalists ticked off quickly — and with still-evident bitterness."
You have to give credit where credit is due: in their VP vetting, (unlike the McCain people) Romney's team got the basic job done!

Yes, Chris Christie, the Feds Are Out to Get You. Take it from Me: I Ended Up in the Clink (Jeff Smith) from Politico Magazine
"Nothing is ever quite the same after you wake up to the feds pounding on your door. Trust me: I learned the hard way. ... other than New York’s Jonathan Chait, who recognized the cumulative weight of multiple investigations at multiple levels of government, most commentators are focusing on the wrong thing: the politics of recent revelations."

Maybe the Tea Party Really is Finished (Peter Weber) from The Week   
"The House easily passed the giant omnibus spending package, despite strong opposition from outside conservative groups."

The Real Reason the Tea Party Hates Chris Christie (Elias Isquith) from Salon
"It's not because of his supposed embrace of Obama; it's because he acknowledges a role for the New Deal state."

GOP Fundraiser Says Christie 'As A Person, Is Horrific' from Talking Points Memo
""The guy, as a person, is horrific," Brian Ballard, a lobbyist and former finance chairman for Mitt Romney said, according to the Miami Herald."
Now -- this article is more about the culture of GOP fundraising and hard-core GOPers in general than about Christie.  Why is Christie so "horrific"?  Here's the answer: "Ballard, a major Republican fundraiser in Florida, "resents" the New Jersey governor for effusively thanking President Barack Obama for coming to his state's aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to the Herald." These folks live in a world where partisanship trumps everything.

G.O.P. Advice for Christie: Pick a Better Team from the New York Times 
"Republicans around the country are offering pointed advice, sobering in its candor, for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, after his top aides were linked to the Fort Lee scandal."
Yes, a better team of people.  Very soon Christie will be desperate to have people with no tongues to wag and no mouths to open once their hosts get immunity.  Said another way -- it is too f#$@%$g late for this advice.

Christie Camp held Sandy Relief Money Hostage, Mayor Alleges (Steve Kornacki from MSNBC
"Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc."

The Forgotten Virtues of Tammany Hall (Terry Golway) from the New York Times
"Political machines served the people when the government didn’t."

Romney, on the Trail and Behind the Scenes (Ashley Parker) from the New York Times
“Mitt,” a new documentary about the former presidential candidate and his family, offers a look at the man who could never quite connect with the voters he so desperately needed to persuade."

Nazis Slaughtered my Brother and Sister with a Guillotine: German Woman, 93, tells how her Siblings Defied Hitler and were Put to Death for Treason in 1943 from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested by Gestapo for writing pamphlets. Their works decried Nazi war crimes and revealed Stalingrad defeat.  Seven decades on, their surviving sister Elisabeth tells her story.  It comes after the guillotine that killed them was discovered in a museum."

Inside Monopoly's Secret War Against the Third Reich from Eurogamer 
"This is where my grandfather sat out the war, in the company of a few friends, some jars of peanut butter an American charity had sent them in error - the Brits had never seen this exotic paste before, and assumed that it was shoe polish - and something altogether more thrilling. A Monopoly set!"

‘I’m One of the Others Now’: What Life Was Like for a Family in East Germany from Pushkin Press
"... we’re excited to share the first chapters from the forthcoming book Red Love: The Story of an East German Family by Maxim Leo. Growing up with bohemian parents in the GDR, Leo recreates their lives as rebellious artists in an increasingly restrictive world. Our thanks to Pushkin Press for sharing the book with the Longreads community."

Friday, January 17, 2014

News Nuggets 1373

DAYLEE PICTURE: French Station at Dumont d'Urville in East Antartica.  From Reuters.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Health Insurers Think Obamacare is Going to be Fine (Sarah Kliff) from the Washington Post
"Obamacare's troubled rollout hasn't scared insurers out of the marketplace. Instead, speaking to thousands of health-care investors gathered in San Francisco, plan executives describe the Affordable Care Act as, at worst, a fixable mess and, at best, a major growth opportunity. The executives' commentary was a reminder that the health-care industry doesn't set its watch by the election cycles which dominate Washington. They expected Obamacare to be a bit of a mess in 2014 -- but they're in it for the long haul."

Too Late, Guys (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"I don't want to be pollyannaish on this. I think supporters and opponents should be realistic. It's not a slam dunk; it's not "Mission Accomplished." But the effort to use guerrilla policy warfare to collapse Obamacare with a 'death spiral' has failed. The numbers show it. The stakeholders know it. The Obamacare dead-enders gave it their best shot, pushed the limits, spent lots of money. They even got a massive assist from the administration in the website debacle of October and November. But they failed. And now it's too late."

Obamacare Enrollment 'Surge' Continues Into 2014 In Some States from Reuters
"The late-December surge that pushed enrollment in private health insurance plans under Obamacare past 2.1 million people continued into 2014, officials of several state-run insurance marketplaces said on Wednesday. It was encouraging news for White House hopes of signing up 7 million Americans by March 31, the deadline for 2014 coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare law."

What Can Republicans Do If Obamacare Isn’t A Disaster? (Henry Decker) from the National Memo
"... there’s a question that should keep every Republican strategist up at night: What happens if health care reform isn’t the electoral albatross that Republicans assume? It’s not an unrealistic proposition."

Mideast Disasters (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"U.S. involvement has made things worse."

Lessons of Benghazi (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"The bipartisan report on Benghazi released Wednesday by the Senate intelligence committee should finally convince conspiracy theorists of the obvious: There is no there there. Administration officials did not orchestrate any kind of attempt, politically motivated or otherwise, to deceive the American people. In their public statements, including the infamous talking points, they relied on what intelligence analysts told them.

Pope Defrocked 400 Priests in Two Years from the Associated Press
"A document obtained by The Associated Press on Friday shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for sexually molesting children. The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked."

America is Becoming More Liberal (Rosenthal) from the Washington Post 
"The country is getting more diverse, and as the proportion of white voters shrinks, so, too, does the conservative base. As demographics shift, so do political preferences — in this case, toward the left. A close examination of U.S. attitudes in the past decade-plus reveals that the United States is steadily becoming more progressive."

McDonald's Can Afford to Pay More (Christopher Flavelle) from Bloomberg 
"The takeaway here isn't that a higher minimum wage won't increase costs for restaurants, though it's likely the association is exaggerating the magnitude of that effect. It's that even if a higher minimum wage pushes up prices by a few percentage points, the data show that most restaurants -- and fast-food restaurants in particular -- can pass those increases onto consumers without cutting into their revenue."

Poll: Utah (Utah!) Now Split Evenly on Whether Gay Marriage Should Be Legal (David Weigel) from Slate
"A new Salt Lake Tribune poll of Utah, four weeks after a court struck down Amendment 3, finds the state divided 48–48 on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, and totally decided—72–25 in favor—on letting gays form domestic partnerships. "

Goodbye (For Now) to Voter ID in Pennsylvania (Jamelle Bouie) from the Daily Beast
"A judge has struck down the state’s identification law, citing its violation of the fundamental right to vote."

Water-Relief Tankers Filled from Charleston Water System from the Charleston Gazette [of West Virginia]
"West Virginia American Water pulled its bulk water tankers out of service in Kanawha County Thursday evening, after complaints that the water being distributed to residents had the same odor as the chemical-tainted water from last week's Freedom Industries spill into the Elk River. ... Water company spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the tankers had been filled near the plant after zero levels of the chemical "Crude MCHM" were recorded."

Christie Lane Closure Aide says He'll Talk, but Only in Exchange for Immunity (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"David Wildstein, the former Port Authority official and Chris Christie appointee who was ordered by Christie's former deputy chief of staff to create "traffic problems in Fort Lee," says he'll talk — but only in exchange for immunity from prosecution."

Chris Christie’s Crisis Plunges Republican Party Deeper Into The Wilderness (McKay Coppins) from BuzzFeed
"The establishment freaks out as another favorite son falls from grace. “There are definitely people jumping ship.” ... the Republican establishment is warily scanning its bruised and bloodied field of potential 2016 standard-bearers — and many of the party poobahs are on the brink of panic."

The Right’s “Narrative Skewing”: How it Dupes Itself Over Obamacare, Benghazi and Christie (Brian Buetler) from Salon
"I don’t claim to be clairvoyant, but I think the likelihood that Obamacare is collapsing, Hillary Clinton is collapsing, and Chris Christie is brushing off Bridgegate, all at the same time, is about zero percent. And yet, judging by the things they say and write, conservatives are certain that all three things are true. This isn’t an accident."

GOP Leaders Lack Faith in their Own Agenda (Jay Bookman) from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
" Judging from their behavior over the past four or five years, Speaker John Boehner and other House leaders want nothing to do with actual bills or proposals. It's time to actually do something. Put it on the table, ladies and gentlemen. Let's see what you've been hiding for so long."

Tea Party Hatches Quiet-but-Insane Plot Against Democracy: Meet the “12 Percent Solution” (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"I listened in to a recent conference call with conservative activists. Their latest scheme? Nullify laws they hate."

Even Paul Ryan Can't Please Conservatives Anymore from the National Journal
"This week's spending-bill fight revealed deepening fractures within the GOP, spelling trouble for 2016. ... Ultraconservative groups are furious over the omnibus appropriations package that coasted through the Republican-led House on Wednesday."

Scientists Find Remains of Alfred The Great Or King Edward The Elder (Nico Hines) from the Daily Beast
"Archaeologists believe they have unearthed the remains of Alfred the Great, the 9th-century monarch who laid the foundations for the English Kingdom."

These 10 Spices That Will Instantly Make You A Better Cook from the Huffington Post
"For all of you out there who think you just can't cook, we have something to tell you: yes, you can. ... Stock your kitchen with the 10 spices below and you'll quickly see a change in the dishes you put together. These spices, when added to the right dish, will add flavor and punch where blandness existed before."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

News Nuggets 1372

DAYEE PICTURE: A nighttime view of molten sulphur at the Kawah Ijen volcano on East Java in Indonesia.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

First Thoughts: Benghazi vs. the Bridge (Chuck Todd et al.,) from MSNBC 
"... what the Senate Intelligence Report found is pretty much what we thought we already knew -- the State Department didn’t provide enough security, there was no advance knowledge of an imminent attack, and the U.S. military was not in position to respond in enough time. But what this report didn’t find: evidence of a cover-up and more importantly for Clinton, evidence that she directed one. ... so instead of simply letting the facts tell a bad story about Clinton and calling into question her leadership abilities, too many of her detractors have claimed a more sinister storyline. And when that storyline is debunked, it’s made the original bad story look less harmful in the public."

Push for Iran Sanctions Bill Losing Momentum? (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"Even Senators who support the measure are no longer pushing for any vote, and have no plans to do so for the foreseeable future, a Democratic Senator who favors the bill tells me. ... It’s unclear whether any of the bill’s Democratic supporters are even privately pushing for a vote on it at this point, in the wake of the recent announcement that the six month deal curbing Iran’s nukes is set to move forward."

The Sins of Bob Gates (Lawrence J. Korb) from the National Interest 
Korb is spot-on with his assessment of the Gates memoir and Gates himself. 
"Gates has always wanted to have it both ways, often been wrong on major issues, been prone to exaggerate his own reputation, demean others, and avoid blame for his own mistakes."

The U.S. Energy Boom (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"Market forces are helping drive up production."

Judge Rejects Lawsuit Aimed At Blowing Up Obamacare from Talking Points Memo
"A legal challenge seeking to cripple Obamacare suffered a huge setback Wednesday as it was defeated in federal court. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the challengers, who argued that that the text of Obamacare did not allow the law's premium tax credits to be offered on federal insurance exchanges -- that they must only be available through state-based exchanges."
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL!  Just yesterday, we noted how Obama and the Dems finally have the edge on this critical federal court -- and lo and behold, we get a decision like this!  Thank you President Obama!

Obamacare Isn't a Success -- or a Failure (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Post
"It’s a question driven by the Republican demands for repeal of the entire law. But those demands are long past their expiration date; the status quo ante, for better or worse, no longer exists and hasn’t existed, really, for some time now ... But the thing is: Just because the act won’t “fail” in this sense hardly means it will “succeed.”"

Desperate, Last-Ditch Effort for Obamacare Haters Fails (Brian Buetler) from Salon
"A federal judge's ruling suggests Obamacare foes are either dishonest or unable to read.  ... Obamacare mania isn’t an ailment that afflicts reasonable people, and so conservatives turned their attention to an even more far-fetched legal challenge. ... Well, a D.C. District Court judge has looked at this argument, and concluded that it’s total nonsense."

Triumph of Omnibus Bill Is Small Pleasure Indeed (Norm Ornstein) from National Journal
"So the triumph of the omnibus spending bill that the House passed Wednesday and that will soon be voted on by the Senate is a big deal--it is the first time in a very long time that House and Senate appropriators, Democrats and Republicans, did things the way they should be done, going painstakingly through the myriad accounts and allocating scarce dollars to fit priorities, making dozens or hundreds of trade-offs to satisfy both parties and their caucuses without destroying key programs or damaging the possibility of a broad bipartisan coalition in support."

Conservatives Form Their Own Caucus Because the RSC Isn't 'Hard-Core' Enough from the National Journal
"The most conservative House Republicans quietly build an invitation-only group, seeing the Republican Study Committee as devolving into a debate society."

How Rush Limbaugh Decides What Is True (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
As usual, Friedersdorf has a pretty insightful observation about what animates Limbaugh (and many other far-right blowhards).  The simplicity of it is breathtaking!
"Were Christie and his supporters all true conservatives, they would be assured that Christie is in the right. Whereas as non-conservatives, the only way to ascertain the truth is a dispassionate analysis, qualified with hedges such as, If he's lying about everything, then he isn't blameless after all. Christie may well be innocent, Limbaugh argues, but no one can know for sure because he isn't a conservative."
Said another way, if you are moderate or liberal, it is safe to assume that you are a craven, unprincipled lier -- no other evidence is necessary.  This definitely helps explain how certain lawbreaking or ethically challenged conservative GOPers (prime example: LA Senator David Vitter) get no heat from their base to resign while any Democrat simply accused of anything must resign or be impeached immediately.

Chris Christie Will Not Be the 45th President of the United States (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine
"It's not just Bridgegate. He simply has too many negatives to overcome. ... Here's my nickel list of why I've never thought Christie can win either the Republican nomination or—in the unlikely event he does—the presidency:..."

If Chris Christie Goes Down, Who can Republican Moderates Turn To? (Bill Scher) from The Week
"Christie is the last chance to save the party from Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. ... Former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.) would attract moderate support, but he is saddled with an unpopular last name and also is not doing much to suggest he's running."

More Subpoenas In Bridge Scandal Investigation Could Come Thursday from Talking Points Memo
"Lawmakers in New Jersey's General Assembly could send out a fresh round of subpoenas as early as Thursday afternoon in the scandal that has consumed Gov. Chris Christie's administration."

Mr. Smith Decides to Go Home (Jessica Taylor) from The Hill
"Sacrificing time away from often young families, all to get little — if anything — done and to rank among the least liked groups in the country, no longer seems worth the prestige and $174,000 annual paycheck. “I’d be hard pressed to find one person who likes their job as a member of Congress,” laughed one GOP campaign official."

Will Hillary Clinton Face Any Challengers in 2016? (Taegan Goddard) from The Week
"Hillary Clinton isn’t expected to announce her intentions about a presidential bid until after the midterm elections, but it’s already a real possibility she won’t face any real opposition if she decides to run."

Can Anyone Stop Hillary? Why Clinton's 2016 Candidacy-Without-a-Campaign Dominates the Political Galaxy (David Von Drehle) from Time Magazine 
"Clinton has not decided whether to run for President because to do so would only slow her down."
Can anyone stop her?  The most likely ones to do so are herself and Bill -- and I mean this both positively and negatively.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

News Nuggets 1371

DAYLEE PICTURE: Ice drifts near Antarctica.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Major Newspapers Speak Out Against Iran Sanctions Bill from the Huffington Post 
"The editorial boards of multiple major newspapers have spoken out this week against a controversial Iran sanctions bill. ... The New York Times editorial board declared that "dangerously misguided forces, including leading Democrats and Republicans in Congress, are working to sabotage" an agreement."

Humble Pope Is Firm in Reshaping Vatican from the New York Times
"Pope Francis has taken on a bureaucracy plagued by intrigue and inertia, subbing moderates for traditionalists and upending the career ladder that many have relied upon."

The Death of Obamacare’s Death Spiral (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"No one anywhere expected that the risk pool would be balanced by Jan. 1. Major health laws always follow the same pattern: The people who badly need insurance sign up first, and they tend to be older and sicker. Younger people sign up later -- typically right before the penalty hits."

According Animals Dignity (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
"There’s ample evidence of a whole new respect for the feelings of the furry and the finned."

Senate Confirms Robert Wilkins, Completes Overhaul Of Key Appeals Court from the Huffington Post
"The Senate has confirmed one of President Barack Obama's key judicial nominees. The confirmation of Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia completes an overhaul of the country's second most powerful court. The Senate voted 55-43 to confirm Wilkins. He gives Democratic appointees a 7-4 majority on the politically influential D.C. Circuit, which hears appeals on White House actions and federal rules and regulations."

'Spiritual but Not Religious': A Rising, Misunderstood Voting Bloc. No, They're Not Just Atheists (Steven Barrie-Anthony) from the Atlantic 
"But while the evangelical bloc seems to have frayed a bit and liberal mainline religion continues to lose influence, another major religious category is gathering force and deserves politician and pundit
attention—the “spiritual but not religious” vote."

What Chris Christie bridge scandal? Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi from the Editorial Board of the New Jersey Star-Ledger
They’re circling the wagons and shoveling Benghazi and other old news at the public to divert attention from headlines coming out of New Jersey. What’s the difference? Here are three reasons the unrelated Bridgegate and Benghazi stories aren’t getting equal time – and shouldn’t.

President Chris Christie? A Laughable Idea Even Before the Bridge Flap (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"Think for a moment who makes up the Republican Party, and most specifically the part of the GOP base that dominates the presidential nomination process. Think about the people they seriously considered for their party’s presidential nomination last time around. Think Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich. Now, quickly, think Christie. Now think Sesame Street: “One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn’t belong."
I completely agree with Cook's critique of the Christie-as-frontrunner meme.

If Christie’s Out, Is The GOP In Trouble In 2016? (Ed Kilgore) from Talking Points Memo
"So the ‘16 cupboard is suddenly looking a tad bare for the Republican Establishment. ... former Gov. Jeb Bush still gets some aged hearts beating quickly, but it’s increasingly hard to imagine him working the Pizza Ranch circuit in Iowa for two years to convince activists he’s not a Judas like his father and brother, before convincing a general electorate that they need a third Bush presidency."
As regulars know, I think Bush is very much looking at running. I suspect Jeb won't need to "work the Pizza Ranch circuit for two years" because by mid-2015, he may be the only plausible candidate out there who is neither a Tea Party/religious wingnut nor someone who has completely alienated that group.  My hunch is that if Bush decides to enter at all it will be a late decision and between now and then look for him to say very little.

It’s More than Likely Hillary Faces Little to No Dem Competition if She Runs (Chuck Todd et al.) from MSNBC
"It’s more likely that Hillary Clinton would face only gadfly opposition in a 2016 Democratic primary (we’re looking at you, Dennis Kucinich) -- rather than a competitive challenger."

Speed Read: 25 Extraordinary Roger Ailes Revelations From ‘The Loudest Voice in the Room’ (Lloyd Grove) from the Daily Beast
Ailes (not surprisingly) comes off as an exceptional swine of a semi-public figure.  Many of the disclosures here are almost unreadable. "You can see why he didn’t want it published. From allegations of violence and sexual advances to his controversial time at Fox, all the juiciest bits of the Roger Ailes biography."

Ancient Tomb of Unknown Egyptian Pharaoh ‘Senebkay’ found in Abydos from the Agence France-Presse
"US archaeologists have uncovered the tomb in southern Egypt of a
previously unknown pharaoh who ruled 3,700 years ago, antiquities
officials said on Wednesday. The discovery by a team from the University of Pennsylvania provides new evidence that at least part of Egypt may have escaped the rule of the Hyksos, invaders from what is now Syria who dominated the Nile Delta between the 18th and 15th centuries BC, the officials said."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

News Nuggets 1370

DAYLEE PICTURE:  A Minke Whale in the Ross Sea southeast of New Zealand.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

"The White House is eager to talk about its record of success, despite its complaints about long waits on confirmations that led Democrats to the nuclear option in the Senate. Obama has nominated, and the Senate has confirmed, more women, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and openly gay judges than any other president."

"In Gov. Tom Corbett's Pennsylvania, if it’s public and it’s education, burn it down!"

"Hill Republicans are starting to whip up their wish lists for the debt limit battle later this year. Missing from many of those lists: Obamacare."

"Obamacare has thus far done a decidedly mediocre job in getting young people signed up for health coverage -- though it's likely doing well enough that the law's finances should continue to work. For the first time Monday, the Obama administration released demographic data about the 2.2 million who have enrolled in private coverage through and its state counterparts. The top finding: 24 percent of them are between ages 18 and 34."
There has been a certain amount of hand-wringing around the number of young people registering into Obamacare.  People need to chill out!  These numbers really don't matter right now because their potential negative impact will not make any difference until 5 to 10 years from now.  Check in with these numbers in three to four years.  Don't obsess about them now.

Criminal Charges Not Expected in IRS Probe from the Wall Street Journal
"The officials said investigators didn't find the kind of political bias or "enemy hunting" that would amount to a violation of criminal law. Instead, what emerged during the probe was evidence of a mismanaged bureaucracy enforcing rules about tax-exemption applications it didn't understand, according to the law-enforcement officials.""

Changing the Subject Won't Work (Jamelle Bouie) from the Daily Beast 
"The conservative line on Bridgegate is to invoke Benghazi or the IRS scandal, but that doesn't make any sense. Here’s why."

"For the GOP to win in 2016, its candidate will have to win over people who dislike the party. Right now, Chris Christie is the only likely contender capable of doing that."

"Can this combative politician recruit and run a team that understands better what is acceptable in political combat -- and what is not? ... Christie has a style and sensibility that has brought him far as a politician. He's just received a sharp warning that this style and sensibility will take him no further. Conflict is intrinsic to politics -- but conflict governed by rules, written and unwritten."

Chris Christie Presidential Campaign Now Even Deader (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"I did not suggest that the bridge scandal by itself killed an otherwise flourishing candidacy. My point was that the apparently healthy Christie proto-campaign is teeming beneath the surface with deadly flaws, all of which are worsened by the bridge scandal."

"Even without Bridgegate, Chris Christie wouldn’t get the Republican nomination. That leaves a pack of conservatives vulnerable to Clinton." 

Fox News Creating its Own Political Cult (James Bookman) from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Bookman is so spot-on here.  The most interesting aspect of what he describes here is how, over the long term, the Fox News cultists, many of them lawmakers and big name analysts and pundits, end up gutting their own political effectiveness and judgment.  So long as FOX continues to lead large numbers of powerful people down this rat hole, their errors in the political arena will become bigger and bigger.  As I have repeated here quite often, the party wins who is most in touch with reality -- and the GOP is running in the other direction right now.
"Fox viewers feel oppressed and victimized because they've been told they are being oppressed and victimized, and if facts have to be twisted and even fabricated to justify those sentiments, they and the network are clearly willing to live inside that warped reality. ... In effect, they're insisting that 2+2=46, then whining that they're being discriminated against when the outside world points out that no, it really doesn't, because 2+2=4. And if you go even further and build a cultish political movement around the idea that 2+2=46, using various contrived "facts" as evidence, you pretty much ensure that outsiders will begin to look upon you as the political equivalent to Scientology."

The videos here are very creepy.
"The droid future imagined in new film RoboCop is already taking shape. 'Throwbots' are small drones that can be propelled into skirmishes. Google's Schaft - which won the recent Robo-Olympics - can climb ladders Alpha Dog can walk for 20 miles without a break and carry up to 400lbs."