Wednesday, April 30, 2014

News Nuggets 1437

DAYLEE PICTURE: A young monk in a Buddhist monastery in Old Bagan  in Myanmar.  From National Geographic.

Defense Policy Lessons from the W. Bush Era

Shaping Things to Come: America's Role (Simon Serfaty) from the National Interest
"Armed with America’s arsenal of unmatched capabilities, Bush went to Afghanistan the way Bill Gates would go to McDonald’s: with too much money for the place and too little taste for the food. And then, “because Afghanistan wasn’t enough . . . to make a point that we’re not going to live in this world that they want for us,” as Henry Kissinger reportedly said, and as Vice President Dick Cheney clearly believed, the war moved on to a new and even more disastrous theater."

The Middle East No Longer So Central to US Interests

Why Obama is Betting on Asia (Evan Osnos) from the New Yorker
"Obama’s visit to the Philippines is the last stop on a seven-day tour of Asia designed to underscore the Administration’s desire to “rebalance” America’s military, diplomatic, and economic resources away from the economic and political sinkhole of the Middle East."

Lots of Global Hot Spots Where the US Has No Stake

Don't Worry About Worried Allies (Paul Pillar) from the National Interest 
"... the United States has no such stake whatsoever and can only be ill-served by appearing to take sides in sectarian conflicts. Saudi unease about negotiations with Iran has to do with a post-agreement Iran becoming a stronger competitor to other oil exporters and giving the United States greater diplomatic and security options in the Persian Gulf region than it does now; again, U.S. interests on these subjects are quite different from those of the Saudis."

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy Today

50 Facts About U.S. Nuclear Weapons Today from the Brookings Institute 
"Their number and role in U.S. security have been reduced, but nuclear weapons still provide important security benefits to the United States and its allies. While the prospects for moving to lower levels than those in New START now appear limited, the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at Brookings put together an updated list of "50 Facts About U.S. Nuclear Weapons," originally published in 1998."

“Conservative Internationalism” and the Many Crises It Would Create

The Many Flaws of “Conservative Internationalism” (II) (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"He thinks that Ukraine should be prioritized for democracy promotion, and he says that this should be done by “exploiting powerful nearby free markets and democratic alliances.” This is what the EU thought it was doing in its own clumsy way, and it has produced a severe and foreseeable backlash from Russia. If the U.S. consistently followed Nau’s recommendations, it would help to create more crises like the one we’re seeing in Ukraine now. Nau’s “third way” remains a dead end."

EPA Victory at Supreme Court

EPA Hails Big Victory At Supreme Court from Talking Points Memo
"It's not every day that environmentalists notch up a victory in the modern Supreme Court, but that's what happened Tuesday in a 6-2 decision upholding the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to crack down on coal pollution that moves across state lines."

On Obamacare, GOP Lawmakers Confronted By Constituents

GOP Lawmakers Confronted By Constituents Demanding To Know Why They Won’t Expand Medicaid from Think Progress
"Over the past week, at several town halls intended to emphasize why Virginia shouldn’t expand Medicaid, GOP lawmakers have been confronted by constituents who are demanding to know why they’re denying health care from an estimated 400,000 low-income residents."

Obamacare By Any Other Name

The Republican Replacement for Obamacare is Fauxbamacare (Ezra Klein) from Vox
"Scott Brown, who's now running for Senate in New Hampshire, has found the perfect position on Obamacare. He's for it. He's just not for calling it Obamacare. In an interview with WBUR, he called Obamacare a "disaster." Then he was asked what he's for  — and he went on to describe Obamacare."

The Elusive Hunt for Obamacare Horror Stories Coninues

Scott Went Looking For Obamacare Horror Stories But Found Satisfied Seniors from Talking Points Memo
"There were 20 seniors who were assembled at a roundtable at the Volen Center in Boca Raton for Scott's visit, according to The Florida Sun Sentinel. But the seniors expressed satisfaction with their health care and even praised Obamacare."

Snowden Looking to Cop a Plea?

NSA Leaker Snowden Hires 'Well-known Washington Attorney' in the Hopes of Cutting a Plea Deal to Bring Him Back from Moscow from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"One year after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden retained the services of a well-known Washington defense lawyer in hopes of reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors, negotiations remain in the early stages with no agreement on the horizon."
Good luck, dude.  You'll NEED it!  I wonder if it actually doesn't work for the White House that Snowden stays in Moscow right now.  The longer he remains "protected" by Putin, the more discredited he becomes.

Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law from Talking Points Memo 
"A federal judge in Milwaukee has struck down Wisconsin's voter Identification law, saying it unfairly burdens poor and minority voters. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman issued his long-awaited decision Tuesday. It invalidates Wisconsin's law."

The Wonders That Await a Rand Paul Bid in 2016

Rand Paul's Problem: Self-inflicted Wounds from Politico
"Rand Paul’s 2016 prospects would look a lot brighter if he’d bring an end to one of his biggest problems: self-inflicted wounds. ... he has also had a series of stumbles that could threaten his ability to appeal to the same voters he’s trying to reach. And some Republican strategists say he’ll have to start showing more discipline if he does get into the 2016 race."


Pittsburgh's Lost Steamboat Serves as an Accidental Time Capsule from Essential Pittsburgh
"How did a 19th century steamboat made in Pittsburgh wind up perfectly preserved in a Kansas cornfield? This is just one of many questions that emerges from the story told by Leslie Przybylek, lead curator for the Treasures of the Arabia Exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The Arabia is known as Pittsburgh’s lost steamboat and serves as an accidental time capsule. In its hull, were dozens of hats, shoes, pants, even edible food stuffs, all more than 150 years old."


'Decoding the Hidden Circles of Suburbia: Photographer takes stunning pictures of America's urban sprawl from the sky from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
An aerial photo of a suburb in Clark County, Nevada.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

News Nuggets 1436

DAYLEE PICTURE: A Manatee along the southeastern coast.  From the Daily Mail [of the UK]

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Where Will Big GOP Donors Go in 2016?

Wall Street Republicans' Dark Secret: Hillary Clinton 2016 from Politico 
"Two dozen interviews about the 2016 race with unaligned GOP donors, financial executives and their Washington lobbyists turned up a consistent — and unusual — consolation candidate if Bush demurs, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t recover politically and no other establishment favorite gets nominated: Hillary Clinton."

War is NOT Folly -- But a Good Economic Development Program!

In the Long Run, Wars Make Us Safer and Richer (Ian Morris) from the Washington Post
"So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently."

Waking Up from Bush's 'War on Terror'

What Did We Learn from Abu Ghraib? (Karen Greenberg) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Now, the nation awaits the newest chapter in the torture debate without having any idea whether it will close the book on American torture or open a path of pain and shame into the distant future. No one yet knows whether we will be allowed to awake from the nightmarish and unacceptable world of illegality and obfuscation into which torture and the network of offshore prisons, or "black sites," plunged us all."

Good Jobs Continue to Decline

Report: Lower-Wage Jobs Continue To Grow, Mid- And Higher-Wage Jobs Lag Behind from the National Memo
"A new report by the National Employment Law Project reveals the slow and ongoing jobs recovery that the private sector has experienced since the 2008 recession, and underscores the notion that an economic recovery has not yet been fully achieved."

Pope Francis and Piketty's Theory

Pope Francis: 'Inequality Is The Root Of Social Evil' from the Huffington Post
"Could it be that the Pope is weighing in on the fervor sparked by French economist Thomas Piketty's current bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century? It's unclear. But the tweet's timing -- days after the book sold out on Amazon, where it is currently the best-selling book in the U.S. -- could suggest the Pope's support for Piketty, who posits that an unregulated free market creates an ever-widening wealth gap."

The Latest on the Student Loan Bubble

Student Debt is a Drag on U.S. Housing and the Economy (Robert Davis) from the Roanoke Times [of Virginia]
"... the percentage of those loans that have fallen into default, reaching 11.5 percent in 2013. Seven in 10 college graduates now finish college with debt, and one in five households carry some form of student debt; this is double what it was 20 years ago. New research findings show student debt may be having a significant impact on the overall U.S. housing market that could translate into long-term effects for the U.S. economy."

ANOTHER BIG NUGGET: Confessions of an Obamacare Skeptic

ACA Misinformation Nearly Killed Me (Brian Buetler) from the New Republic
"Dean Angstadt hated the Affordable Care Act with intense partisan fervor until it saved his life. ... Now he's proselytizing for Obamacare. "A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA," the 57-year-old Angstadt said."

ACA Attitudes Shifting in Republican Districts

Obamacare's Poll Numbers Improve In Republican Districts from the Huffington Post
"Attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act continue to shift in the law’s favor, even in Republican-held congressional districts, a new poll released Monday by a Democratic firm shows."

The Decline of the GOP's "Repeal" Message

Scott Brown’s Obamacare Repeal Follies (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"Here’s another sign that the stance on Obamacare held by many GOP Senate candidates — whether you call it “repeal,” or “repeal and replace with something-or-other to be specified later” — is becoming increasingly unsustainable and could get harder and harder to explain as these
campaigns intensify."

Battleground States See Growing Support for Obamacare

Dem Poll: Support for Implementing Obamacare Rises in Battlegrounds (Denver Nicks) from Time Magazine    
The data bodes well for Democratic strategy heading into the midterms in November. ... Support in battleground congressional districts for implementing Obamacare has increased sharply in recent months, according to the Democratic pollsters at Democracy Corps."
The Dems in these states better start to get a clue about this -- and start pushing Obamacare and their support for it.  Don't be surprised if the weak ones on this perish in November.

New Fronts on Gay Rights

Gay Rights Push Shifts Its Focus South and West from the New York Times 
"The country’s leading gay rights groups and donors, after a decade focused on legalizing same-sex marriage, are embarking on a major drive to win more basic civil rights and workplace protections in Southern and Western states where the rapid progress of the movement has largely eluded millions of gay men and lesbians."

The Bundy Standoff: "And Freedom ... for Some"

High Plains Moochers (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"At the heart of the Cliven Bundy standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom."

Voter Suppression Tactics: How Dems Are Responding in NC

How North Carolina’s Voter ID Law Could Actually Help Democrats This Year (Kate Nocera) from Buzzfeed
"The race is on to register voters. ... as the 2014 election draws closer, where vulnerable Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is up for re-election, minority activist groups see a high potential for the law to mobilize and actually increase voter turnout in a low turnout year, especially among African Americans."

The Democratic Senate: Not Dead Yet?

Dems' Hopes Rise to Keep Senate (Juan Williams) from The Hill
"The sunlight breaking through that gloomy forecast for Democrats came last week from a New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll. A Times analysis concluded that the Democrats now have a 51 percent chance of retaining their majority. The Times also noted, “The Republicans’ chances have been declining in recent weeks, falling from a recent high of 54 percent. This is mostly due to some unfavorable polls in Arkansas and Iowa.”"

The Shrinking Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin Soldiers on as a Diminished Figure in the Republican Party from the Washington Post
"Palin is today a diminished figure in the Republican Party. Even as she travels to Iowa and elsewhere to bolster her handpicked candidates, her influence in these midterm elections has been eclipsed by a new class of stars ..."
What a shame.  The GOP circus just won't be the same without this particular clown.

Why is Palin Diminished? Go No Further:

The Sacrilegious Sarah Palin (Rod Dreher) from the American Conservative 
"Palin: “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” OK, stop. Not only is this woman, putatively a Christian, praising torture, but she is comparing it to a holy sacrament of the Christian faith. It’s disgusting — but even more disgusting, those NRA members, many of whom are no doubt Christians, cheered wildly for her."


Dog Rescue Caught on Camera - Please share! from Hope-for-Paws

Monday, April 28, 2014

News Nuggets 1435

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Breithorn region of Switzerland.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: THE 'Trickle Up" Theory

Here’s Why This Best-Selling Book Is Freaking Out the Super-Wealthy (Rana Foroohar) from Time Magazine
"The main reason is that it proves, irrefutably and clearly, what we’ve all suspected for some time now —the rich ARE getting richer compared to everyone else, and their wealth isn’t trickling down. In fact, it’s trickling up. ... Result: people with lots of investments take a bigger chunk of the world’s wealth, relative to everyone else, with every passing year."
Piketty's book is making a LOT of news -- appropriately so in my view!  More analysis follows in today's nuggets.

Saving Russia ... from Itself

Who Will Influence Whom? (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times 
"The popular Ukrainian journalist, Vitali Sych, erupted: “Did anyone ask us whether we wanted to be part of his buffer zone?” Sych’s question cut right to the core of what is unfolding here. ... “This has become an existential fight for everybody,” explained Pavlo Sheremeta, Ukraine’s new economy minister, who added that his liberal Russian friends are calling him, saying: “Please hang on. Don’t betray us.” Don’t let Putin crush the model that Ukraine is trying to build, otherwise Russia will never change."

Preparing for Where China is Headed

U.S. Military Must Prepare for China’s Rise—and Fall (Steven Metz) from World Politics Review
"Rather than moderating Beijing’s assertiveness, economic decline might intensify internal problems and make China aggressively belligerent and prone to miscalculation. If so, the real danger is not managing China’s rise but weathering its eventual decline.  History is littered with instances when declining nations lashed out because they felt long-term trends were against them ..."

How Can the GOP Respond to Piketty?

Paul Krugman: Thomas Piketty’s Got Conservatives Running Scared (Elias Isquith) from Salon
"The New York Times columnist argues the right has no idea how to offer a legitimate policy response to inequality."

Welcome to the Piketty Revolution

Capital in the 21st Century is a Game-Changer (Even if You Never Read It) (Sean McElwee) from Salon 
"Capital in the 21st Century is an unexpected bestseller that could actually change the world."

How a “Makers vs. Takers” Culture Poisons our Ethics

Capitalism’s War on Christianity (Elizabeth Stoker) from Salon
"When every economic priority is reversed from what an ethical commitment would require, the results look like this."

The Misplaced Allure of Homeownership

It's Time to Kill the American Dream of Homeownership (Ryan Cooper) from The Week
"The myth of the white picket fence has only led millions of Americans to make a terrible investment."

‘Happy Days’ No More

Middle-class families squeezed as expenses soar, wages stall from the Washington Post
"...for the Johnsons and many other American families, being middle class means living paycheck to paycheck. The couple’s retirement savings are meager. The college fund? Nonexistent. The Johnsons, whose blended family includes three children under 18, are part of a drawn-out, disquieting shift that is recasting what it means to be middle class in America."

The Global Marketplace of US Higher Ed

Getting Into the Ivies (David Leonhardt) from the New York Times
"Why is it harder than it used to be? Colleges are globalized."

Progressive Mayors Chart the Future for the Dems

Progressives Take Manhattan, and Many Other U.S. Cities (Harold Meyerson) from Washington Post
"Twenty years ago, half of America’s dozen largest cities had Republican mayors. Today, just one does. Of the 30 largest U.S. cities, 26 have Democratic mayors — the greatest partisan imbalance perhaps since the presidency of James Monroe, when the nation had only one political party. ... Some Democratic mayors — Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, for one — cling to a 1990s-vintage Clintonian centrism. But most of the mayoral newbies were elected on platforms that called for higher minimum wages and universal preschool, as well as building energy-efficient affordable housing."

The GOP: Taking on the "Evils" of Renewable Energy

In States, ‘Trench Warfare’ on Pollution Rules (Steven Mufson and Tom Hamburger) from the Washington Post
"Powerful conservative groups are taking on renewable energy, seeking to roll back rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gases. The surprise: They’re losing."

The Changing Election Politics of Obamacare

Here’s Why Obamacare Will Help Democrats and Hurt Republicans (Joshua Green) from Bloomberg/Businessweek
"I think the health-care law will still prove to be a net plus for Democrats in many races—a few this fall, and many more in future elections. The reason why is easier to understand if you flip the issue around and look at it from the Republican side.

Winning on a Pro-Obamacare Message

Obama's Right: Democrats Can Win on ObamaCare (Taegan Goddard) from The Week
"Republicans have no alternative. They insist they still want to repeal the law but after half a decade of debate, they still have no idea what they'll put in its place. And some GOP lawmakers are starting to worry."

The Shelf Life on the GOP's Obamacare Scare

Obamacare Scare Won't Frighten Forever (Jonathan Bernstein) from Bloomberg 
" I’ve always believed this is arbitrary. Republican voters will always be motivated by whatever issue that Republican politicians, opinion leaders, and party-aligned media choose to emphasize."

Obama Signals a Shift on Obamacare Messaging

Hey, Conservatives: Obama Is Trolling You on the ACA (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic
"Here’s a sign that the politics of Obamacare are changing: The president is using the law to troll his political adversaries."

Dem Governors Stalled in Medicaid Expansion

Trio of Democrats Stuck in Medicaid Morass from Politico
"All 21 of the nation’s Democratic governors support Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, and, for the most part, they got it done — even when the odds were against them. Three didn’t. ... In Missouri, Montana and Virginia, Democratic governors and Republican Legislatures have battled each other to stalemates, preventing hundreds of thousands of low-income people from getting covered."

Mouldering GOP Talking Points

Six Studies That Show Everything Republicans Believe is Wrong (Sean McElwee) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"It's time for the right wing to stop lying about the minimum wage, taxes, global warming and more."
Normally, I try to avoid posting items that are hyper-partisan - at least on their face.  This one, however, provides a nice concise crib sheet for progressives looking for a one-stop shop of counter-talking points to the most "talked up" reasons people put forward for being Republicans or conservatives in the first place.

Stalling on Keystone XL: A Non-Decision Decision

A Delay Worth Celebrating (Elizabeth Kolbert) from the New Yorker
"It’s difficult to applaud the White House for dragging out the Keystone XL decision. And yet, on balance, the stalling is beneficial."

Mobilizing Moms for Gun Control

The NRA Meets Its Potent New Foe: Moms (Mark Follman) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Watch as parents and survivors brandish a new weapon: the gun lobby’s own words."

Burned by a Right-Wing Flash in the Pan

Bundy Saga Reveals the Risk of Cozying Up to Extremists (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"The anti-government strain of thought that Bundy advanced has been intertwined with racist and anti-Semitic views over several decades.  ... Because the federal government has been the protector of minority rights, states’ rights have long been used to justify discrimination."

Nominating a Sane Candidate and Keeping the Tea Party Engaged in 2016

What if the Tea Party Decides to Walk Away from the GOP in 2016? It Could Happen (Chirs Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"... the broader issue raised by Galen is whether the loser -- assuming it is the tea party wing -- will simply fold itself into the Republican party or go its own way. Data suggests that the answer is far from resolved."
Y'know, it is amazing to see how long it sometimes takes the DC punditry to ask the most obvious questions.  I've been predicting for some time that the GOP could easily face precisely this dilemma in 2016.  If the "establishment" gets one of theirs as the nominee, will the Tea Party types stay engaged for the general?  Whoever the nominee is, in order for that person to win, those folks MUST turn out; they must volunteer, and vote in huge numbers.  It would be no surprise to me if lots of them chose to stay home.

Damage to the Christie Campaign? Not So Bad

Is Christie Damaged Goods? (Sean Trende) from Real Clear Politics
"He’s taken on some water from the bridge scandal, but it really isn’t that much more than we’d expect from the normal ebb and flow of the business cycle."
This pundit's musings: The sound of one desperate person clapping?

Forgetting the Bush Legacy

How the Bush Family Went From Hated to Hipster from National Journal 
"Between socks, biking, and bather-selfie paintings, the Bushes know how to make people forget about their legacy."
If Jeb wants to run in 2016, he will definitely need to have a lot of skill in this area!

The GOP: A Magnet for the Misguided

The GOP’s Bad Fling with Cliven Bundy (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"Well, of course they would disavow racist remarks. But they also never should have aligned themselves with someone who not only flouts the law but also has armed himself against government agents, indicating his willingness to protest through violence. What’s next, a shootout in Statuary Hall?"


Dogs (and Cats) Can Love (Paul Zak) from the Atlantic
"Neurochemical research has shown that the hormone released when people are in love is released in animals in the same intimate circumstances."


The 17 Most Amazingly Epic Places on Earth from the Huffington Post 
"Do the usual cities and beaches leave you a bit... underwhelmed? Well, we're here to bring you to a magical realm of bubbling volcanoes, cliff-top castles, and roaring waterfalls."


Stunning Travel Posters Depict Holidays Around the Solar System from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Have you always wanted to fly to the moon? Or perhaps you're curious to see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars? The lyrics of Frank Sinatra's famous tune have now been brought to life in a set of stunning posters that depict travel around the solar system in the iconic art deco style of the 1930s."

Friday, April 25, 2014

News Nuggets 1434

DAYLEE PICTURE: A crocodile in Queensland, Australia.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: O.D.D. - Obamacare Delusions Disorder

Obamacare: The Hate Can’t Be Cured (Garry Wills) from the New York Review of Books
A long excerpt is in order!
"He made the mistake of thinking that facts matter when a cult is involved. Obamacare is now, for many, haloed with hate, to be fought against with all one’s life. Retaining certitude about its essential evil is a matter of self-respect, honor for one’s allies in the cause, and loathing for one’s opponents. It is a religious commitment. ... Such people understandably think their own best self was given over to defeating the hated thing. ... The irrelevance of evidence in the face of sacred causes explains the dogged denial of global warming, the deep belief that the Obama Administration was responsible for the killing of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Benghazi and that Obama is not a legitimate American. ... The best preservative for unreason is to make a religion of it."

OMG! China Has "More Clout Than Ever"

China Splurging on Military as U.S. Pulls Back (Christopher Bodeen) from the Associated Press
"China's navy commissioned 17 new warships last year, the most of any nation. In a little more than a decade, it's expected to have three aircraft carriers, giving it more clout than ever in a region of contested seas and festering territorial disputes. While Beijing still lags far behind the U.S. in both funding and technology, its spending boom is attracting new scrutiny at a time of severe cuts in U.S. defense budgets that have some questioning Washington's commitments to its Asian allies, including some who have lingering disputes with China."
NOTICE how this author never mentions how many carriers the US already has and masks the gloss-over with foggy generalizations.  As we noted last week, the US has NINETEEN carriers.  To this author (and so many others just like him) I ask, why the circumlocution?!  Answer: because it completely undercuts his vaguely hawkish argument that the US is "pulling back" and that the Chinese have "more clout than ever"!

The Soviet's Past Resurfaces

Let the Past Collapse on Time! (Vladimir Sorokin) from the New York Review of Books
"Yeltsin’s revolution ended up being “velvet”: it did not bury the Soviet past and did not pass judgment on its crimes, as was the case in Germany after World War II. All those Party functionaries who became instant “democrats” simply shoved the Soviet corpse into a corner and covered it with sawdust. “It will rot on its own!” they said. Alas, it didn’t."

The US MUST Intervene ... to Advance Someone Else's Cause

Mindless Interventionism Is Bad For America (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"They can’t see any good reason not to, and they’ll dismiss any reason that others might give them. It doesn’t seem to matter whether doing these things serves any discernible U.S. interest, nor does it matter what the costs or possible negative consequences might be. According to this view, the U.S. should intervene again and again because it may advance someone else’s cause. This sets up the U.S. to be suckered into one conflict after another with no end in sight ..."

Letting Go of Empire

The Best Of The Dish Today (Andrew Sullivan) from The Dish
"It doesn’t matter that the US is buried in debt, that the public’s opposition to hegemonic meddling is deep and broad, that there is no global ideological struggle to wage, and no genuine external state threats to counter. We just have to be everywhere. Letting go of empire is never easy. But the prudent, minor unwinding of global hegemony that Obama has managed deserves more respect than this."

The Foundations of the New Gilded Age

Why We’re in a New Gilded Age (Paul Krugman) from the New York Review of Books
"It therefore came as a revelation when Piketty and his colleagues showed that incomes of the now famous “one percent,” and of even narrower groups, are actually the big story in rising inequality. And this discovery came with a second revelation: talk of a second Gilded Age, which might have seemed like hyperbole, was nothing of the kind. In America in particular the share of national income going to the top one percent has followed a great U-shaped arc."

Religious Intolerance in Europe and the US

Enlightened Intolerance (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) from the Economist [of London] 
"The way Ms Hirsi Ali talks about Islam strikes American liberals as strangely intolerant, but it has its roots in the prevailing discourse on religious freedom and Islam in the country where Ms Hirsi Ali first began seriously tackling these issues: the Netherlands. ... [In the US] once-open prejudices against Catholics and Jews were gradually wrung out of the public sphere in a process that started in the 1940s and was essentially wrapped up by the 1970s."

Bogus Obamacare Cancellation Stories

Obamacare Cancellation Stories were Mostly Hype (German Lopez) from Vox 
"A new study shows lots of people canceled their health plans before Obamacare became law."

At Least SOME Dems are Embracing Obamacare!

Democrats Race to Embrace Obamacare in Pennsylvania Primary from Politico 
"Democrats across the country have been fleeing the health care law, fearing it will sink them in the midterms in the face of relentless GOP attacks. Apparently they didn’t get the memo in Pennsylvania. Democrats vying to be the swing state’s next governor are trying to one-up each other in showing their support for the law ahead of the May 20 primary ..."
GOOD for them!!

Different Lives from Black and White Wealth

In Reality, Middle-Class Blacks And Middle-Class Whites Have Vastly Different Fortunes (Matt Bruenig) from Demos
"Middle class blacks and whites are not in similar economic situations. In fact, up and down the entire income ladder, blacks are in far worse shape than their white peers. The black-white gap is not just about differential racial concentration among economic classes; rather, it manifests itself within every single economic class."

GOP Donors and Working-Class Voters

The Class War Inside the Republican Party (Alex Roarty) from the Atlantic 
"Even as its candidates remain dependent on wealthy donors, the GOP's base is built on blue-collar votes and sentiments."

Private Money Pouring into Senate Races ... to Little Effect?

Kochs Pissing Away their Money (Markos Moulitsas) from Daily Kos
"I want to keep hammering this home: conservatives are spending a shit-ton on ads, and yet they are getting ZERO from them. The entire point of an attack ad is to drive a candidate's support down, and yet nothing here suggests its working."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

News Nuggets 1434

DAYLEE PICTURE: Desert palms in the Lucerne Valley in California.  From National Geographic.
Listen to my guest appearance on the Lynn Cullen Live program yesterday HERE.  The Nuggetsman will be traveling on Friday so the next posting will be over the weekend at the earliest.

Arkansas' Medicaid Enrollment Surging

Arkansas' Medicaid Enrolled Almost 70 Percent of Eligible Residents (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos
"About 225,000 Arkansans are too poor to qualify for a subsidy to buy health insurance on the exchange, and too "wealthy" to qualify for the state's traditional Medicaid. But because the state expanded, using a "private option" to provide coverage, 155,567 of them now have insurance."

Repealing Obamacare -- and Who Now Wants this?

NYT Poll: Even These Southern States Don't Want Obamacare Repealed from Talking Points Memo
"Residents in Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina chose improving the law over repealing it and replacing it by significant margins: 52 percent to 41 percent in Kentucky, 52 percent to 44 percent in Louisiana, and a whopping 60 percent to 35 percent in North Carolina."

IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party

New Records: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party from Think Progress
" The 22 “Be On the Look Out” keywords lists, distributed to staff reviewing applications between August 12, 2010 and April 19, 2013, included more explicit references to progressive groups, ACORN successors, and medical marijuana organizations than to Tea Party entities."

New Polls Challenge Conventional Wisdom on '14

Conventional Wisdom About 2014 Takes Another Hit (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"The Upshot has just released a batch of new polls of key Senate races that really scrambles the conventional wisdom about 2014 once again."

Some Challenging Numbers if the GOP is Going to Take Back the Senate

New York Times Poll Shows Close Senate Races in Four Southern States (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"These sorts of numbers underscore what kos wrote last week when he showed why it won't be as easy as Republicans think for them to win control of the Senate. In all likelihood, they need to win each of these four races to achieve their dream of a Red Senate, but these polls show them trailing in 3 of the 4 contests and with a Republican incumbent up by only one point in the fourth while falling well below the 50 percent threshold."

GOP Looking to Help the Dems in Georgia Senate Race?

GOP Threatens to Push Self-destruct Button in Georgia Senate Race (Benjy Sarlin) from MSNBC
"The solid red state is shaping up as a key boost to Democratic hopes of retaining the Senate thanks to a GOP primary field both sides believe could produce a nominee too hobbled, too extreme, or too gaffe-prone to win in November."

Jeb Announces That He's (Thinking About) Running in '16

Crowd Goes Wild after Jeb Bush Announces He's 'Thinking About' 2016 (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tells a New York crowd that he's "thinking about running for president" in 2016 and then: After his answer, the room went wild, and then someone said they hoped he would take the step."
WHAT a surprise!!

And Who in the GOP wants a Bush Candidacy in '16?

Why is he thinking about running? One needs to ask given these numbers: 
Poll: Just 18% of Conservatives Want Jeb Bush to Run in 2016 from the Washington Examiner
"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, considering a 2016 presidential bid, does not have the support of his party's base, with just one in four Republicans eager for him to run and an even worse 18 percent of
self-identified conservatives backing his bid."

The Shelf Life of an Overripe Dope

Cliven Bundy Just Ruined His Cause (Brian Resnick) from National Journal
"After Bundy's overtly racist remarks, let's see how far politicians run away from him."
Now think back to how some criticized Obama and the BLM leadership for pulling away from direct confrontation with this dope.  Now we see -- they knew (I suspect) that nitwits like this will self destruct.  Sure enough.  This overripe fool's shelf life has probably already passed it's sell-by date.


It's Not Just Frozen: Most Disney Movies Are Pro-Gay from the Atlantic 
"By preaching acceptance and questioning gender, the company's kids films offer a queer-studies crash course."
For decades, it has been fashionable among east coast liberals to look down their noses at the Disney media/culture machine.  However, as this article suggests (and I have argued for some time), the Disney Company has been at the FOREFRONT since the 1980s of promoting broad cultural
acceptance and the embrace of diversity -- this includes ethnic/racial/gender (to some extent)/sexual orientation (to some extent) and other forms of diversity.  We have had two generations of young people raised on the deep diversity messaging that has come through Disney movies, the Disney channel, and other modes of consumer education.  We now look out on a landscape of under-30 voters who have moved decisively to the left on cultural issues.  As much as many liberals may hate to say so, the Disney Company deserves some meaningful credit for this -- and I do not believe it was an accident.


Let’s Break into the FBI! Before Snowden and Manning, there was “1971" from Salon
"Four decades later, lefties who stole secret files and got away with it come clean on a heist that changed history."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

News Nuggets 1433

DAYLEE PICTURE: Pushkar Lake in India.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Obama, LBJ and the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency

The Most Enduring Myth About the Presidency (Norm Ornstein) from Politico
"The Green Lantern theory just won't go away. ... In a nutshell, it attributes heroic powers to a president—if only he would use them. And the holders of this theory have turned it into the meme that if only Obama used his power of persuasion, he could have the kind of success that LBJ enjoyed with the Great Society. ... Johnson deserves credit for horse-trading (for example, finding concessions to give to Democrat Wilbur Mills, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to get his support for Medicare), but it was the numbers that made the difference."
Hear, hear!!

What May Really Be At Stake in Ukraine

In Ukraine, It’s All About May 25 (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"There are real democratic roots here, real civil society institutions and the magnet of the European Union next door. With a little help, we can do this. The more I learn here, the more I think they’re right. Something very consequential has happened here. In fact, I think the future of Ukraine is one of the most consequential foreign policy challenges of the Obama presidency because it will not only determine the future of Ukraine but of Russia."

On Ukraine, Obama Must Do More ... Empty Posturing?

Thoughtless Rhetoric and Foreign Crises (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"Corker is unhappy with the actions that the administration has taken and wants an even more aggressive policy than the one that the U.S. is pursuing. This is as predictable as it is wrongheaded. If the problem is the gap between “tough” (i.e., careless) rhetoric and mild action, the smart way to remedy this is to cut back on making toothless condemnations and declarations."
For those not familiar with this columnist for the American Conservative, they should put him on their list of pundits to watch.  At this reliably right-wing pub, he is quite an interesting dissenting voice!

GOP Foreign Policy: Many Directions - All Bad

The Angry Republican Foreign-Policy Mess (Ramesh Ponnuru) from Bloomberg 
"Republican politicians are at war over the world. ... Republicans vying for the 2016 presidential nomination are pushing the party toward one of two extremes on the issue -- neither of which will do the party or the country much good."

Cities: Laboratories for Progressive Policy and Politics?

The Revolt of the Cities (Harold Meyerson) from the American Prospect 
"During the past 20 years, immigrants and young people have transformed the demographics of urban America. Now, they’re transforming its politics and mapping the future of liberalism. ... it’s Pittsburgh’s new government—Peduto and the five like-minded progressives who now constitute a majority on its city council—that is turning the city into a laboratory of democracy."

Class and Opinions on Cutting Government

Today In American Exceptionalism (Paul Waldman) from the American Prospect 
"Almost nowhere else is there such a tight link between class and opinions about cutting government."

Obama's Mass Clemency Initiative

Justice Department Prepares for Clemency Requests from Thousands of Inmates from the Washington Post
"The Obama administration is beginning an aggressive new effort to foster equity in criminal sentencing by considering clemency requests from as many as thousands of federal inmates serving time for drug offenses, officials said Monday. The initiative, which amounts to an unprecedented campaign to free non­violent offenders, will begin immediately and continue over the next two years, officials said."
Ah, what you can do if you are not running for president again!!

Obamacare is Working: What a Disaster!

Ted Cruz's Worst Nightmare Is Coming True (Richard Kirsch) from Politico 
"Cruz’s nightmare, and the left’s long-held dream, has come true. Finally, after years of failed reform efforts, the U.S. government is actually trying to provide affordable health coverage for all. And it’s working, despite Republicans’ relentless attempts to deep-six the law. As a result, the politics of Obamacare will never be the same."

How Red States Are "Fixing" Obamacare

Red States Hatch Plans To Block Obamacare Even If Dems Take Over from Talking Points Memo
"Under bills passed in Georgia and Kansas recently, even if a Democratic candidate were to pull off an upset and take the governor's seat, they would not be able to expand the program without the consent of the state legislature -- which will almost certainly remain Republican. In other words, GOP lawmakers have taken steps to guarantee that many of their poorest residents will remain uninsured under the health care reform law, no matter what happens in the gubernatorial election."

Doubt on Doubtful Senate Democrats in 2014

Incumbent Southern Democrats Are Less Vulnerable Than You Might Think (Nate Cohn) from the New York Times
"The question in 2014 is whether Democratic incumbents can keep winning in an increasingly polarized and Republican region. In recent cycles, there has been a stronger relationship between how a state votes in Senate contests and how it voted in recent presidential elections."

Pittsburgh on the List for Dem Convention in 2016

Democrats Solicit 15 Bids for 2016 Convention Site from CNN
"The cities that received a formal request for proposal, as first reported by CNN and confirmed by RealClearPolitics, are Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City."

GOP Turn Against Common Core Leaves Moderate Hopefuls Isolated

Bush And Christie Stand Alone Amid GOP's Slow-Motion Revolt On Common Core from Talking Points Memo
"After this slow-motion riot against Common Core, two potential 2016 candidates stand in splendid isolation in favor of the once noncontroversial initiative: Chris Christie and Jeb Bush."

Monday, April 21, 2014

News Nuggets 1432

Strawberry fields in Juyuk, Turkey.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Low Times for Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh Is In Ruins - Bad News Coming From Every Direction - Including The Right (Leslie Salzillo) from Daily Kos
"Two years ago, newer groups like BoycottRush/FlushRush/StopRush began a massive national boycott movement that is exposing Limbaugh and crushing his career. Here are four new recent developments:"

The Anomalous Time of Gorbachev and Yeltsin

Is Confrontation with Russia Inevitable? (Fareed Zakaria) from CNN  
"... it does appear to me, looking back, that the Russia of the late 1980s and early 1990s – of Gorbachev and Yeltsin – may have been a special conciliatory moment in its history, a time when Russia was weak, its leadership enlightened, and its populace worn out by decades of communist failure."

Pop Francis and the GOP

How This Pope Is Remaking the GOP (Michelle Cottle) from the Daily Beast 
"The wildly popular Francis is offering cover for a few Republicans, including Jeb Bush, to start speaking out in favor of some deeply unpopular issues within the party."

Snowden Losing His Halo

Edward Snowden Is Russia's Puppet Now (Benjamin Wittes) from the New Republic
"Any shred of heroism was lost at Putin's press farce. ... Snowden’s appearance on Russian television yesterday in a highly-scripted propaganda stunt for Vladimir Putin does not settle the question of whether he was originally an FSB tool. But it sure does settle the question—at least in my mind—of his role now."

Obama Continues to Tout Obamacare Successes

Obama Declares Obamacare Victory (Jonathan Chait) from the New York Times 
"President Obama held a press conference today to highlight the news that the new health insurance exchanges have not signed up 7 million customers, as previously believed. They’ve signed up 8 million. It turns out that lots of people who don’t have health insurance would rather have health insurance. Who knew? ...  Ross Douthat has a column today retrenching the definition of failure. The most notable thing about it is the conservative ground he’s surrendered."

Obama a Changed Man with Obamacare

President Revels in Latest Obamacare Success (Geoffrey Cowley) from MSNBC 
"What a difference three months make. The Barack Obama who wore “ACA” like scarlet letters for the last quarter of 2013 sounded like a changed man during Thursday’s press conference on the Affordable Care Act. Rather than re-apologizing for the troubled launch of, he reveled in numbers well-chosen to undermine the GOP’s 2014 campaign plans."

Obamacare Rising!

Good News for Obamacare Is Bad News for Conservative Pundits from National Journal
"Conservatives were sure at every turn that Obamacare would fail, but as the numbers roll in, those convictions are looking increasingly ideological. ... The warnings that insurance premiums will skyrocket next year look increasingly hyperbolic."

Better Obamacare Numbers!

The Affordable Care Act Comes in with Better-than-Expected Numbers from the Editorial Board of the Washington Post
"OBAMACARE’S CRITICS have had a bad week. ... But the initial figures are encouraging, and Mr. Obama is right to insist that continued Republican demands for repeal are unproductive and unwise."

Hard Now to Predict Obamacare's Role in November Elections

Obamacare Bashing or Bust (Charles M. Blow) from the New York Times 
"Regardless of whether you agree with the Democrats or Republicans on health reform, it could have profound implications on the midterm elections."

Bush, the Only Real Competition the GOP Might Have?

Why the GOP Needs a Return to the Bush Leagues (Robert Shrum) from the Daily Beast
"Does anyone really believe Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Chris Christie can contend against Hillary Clinton? At least Jeb, the establishment’s establishmentarian, would put up a fight."
This has been my view all along.

Wisconsin: A Secessionist Hotbed

Secession, a Tournament for GOP (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post 
"March’s NCAA playoffs are behind us, but the madness continues. From Wisconsin, cradle of the Progressive movement, comes news that the state Republican Party — the party of La Follette! — has advanced a pro-secession agenda. The party’s Resolutions Committee voted earlier this month in favor of a platform saying the GOP “supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.”"


Woman Finds Dead Body During Easter Egg Hunt from the Huffington Post 
"A Tennessee woman says she made a grisly discovery while hunting for Easter eggs in her back yard with her 3-year-old son: a dead body."
No surprise.  The E Bunny has been on America's Most Wanted for years! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

News Nuggets 1431

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Tamis River near Pancevo, Serbia.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Naval Defense Policy in a Nutshell

Chart of the Day: Aircraft carriers. U.S. Has More than Everybody Else Combined, and Then Some (Meteor Blades) from Daily Kos
"Each of the icons in the graphic is an accurate depiction of the flight deck as seen from above, all drawn to the same scale. Each of the middle column of ships is roughly the size of the Empire State Building."
Regular readers know I've been going on about this disparity for quit some time.  It has been one of the central issues we've talked about here in assessing and getting informed on US defense policy.  This chart speaks volumes.

US, Russia and EU Strike Reach an Agreement on Ukraine

U.S. and Russia Agree on Pact to Defuse Ukraine Crisis from the New York Times
"The United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union reached an agreement here on Thursday evening that calls for armed pro-Russian bands to give up the government buildings they have seized in eastern Ukraine and outlines other steps to de-escalate the crisis."

"A Compromise of Sorts" on Ukraine

Has the Ukraine Crisis Been Defused? (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"Has the Obama administration really found the famous “exit ramp” in Ukraine that will provide an eventual diplomatic resolution of the crisis? It’s too early to know, but there were certainly signs of progress Thursday in Geneva, where seven hours of negotiations produced what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called “a compromise, of sorts.”"

With Sanctions, Russia Facing 'Profound Impacts'?

Why Sanctions Will Cost Russia More Than America (Alex Rogers) from Time Magazine
"Secretary of State John Kerry has emphasized that sanctions on Russian industries due to Russia's incursions into eastern Ukraine will have a "profound impact" on that country's economy, but will also be felt at home."

A New Mission for NATO?

NATO’s Back in Business, Thanks to Russia’s Threat to Ukraine (Mark Thompson) from Time Magazine     
"But its efforts are limited to protecting itself, not saving Kiev."

With Pro-Russian Militias, Anti-Semitism Returns to Ukraine

Jews in East Ukraine Are Being Threatened, But By Whom? from the Daily Beast
"The grand rabbi of Donetsk talks to The Daily Beast about fliers ordering Jews to register or be deported from the pro-Russian “republic” proclaimed there."
I am curious to hear more about this angle and what exactly is happening here.  I will also say, sadly, that given the re-emergence of right-wing fascism in Europe generally, it doesn't surprise me that the old chestnut of anti-semitism should emerge as well.  

Obamacare -- Recovering Very Nicely

Obamacare Is On a Winning Streak from the National Journal
"Obamacare hasn't "won"—but it's making a pretty impressive run. The headlines about the Affordable Care Act have turned positive lately, and they're starting to pile up. The most dire predictions from the law's critics simply haven't panned out, and now Democrats are headed into another big health care fight—the confirmation of a new Health and Human Services secretary—with stronger real-world evidence than they've had before."

New Breakthrough for Obamacare

Obamacare Sign-Ups Hit 8 Million In Remarkable Turnaround from the Huffington Post
"In a remarkable rebound from the botched rollout of Obamacare, 8 million people have signed up for private health insurance via the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act since October, President Barack Obama announced during a press briefing at the White House Thursday."

The Basics of 'Replacing Obamacare'

Nobody Believes There is Any GOP Alternative to Obamacare (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"... the Republican Congressman excoriates his own party for failing to offer its own health reform plan, admits Republicans are unlikely to change this before the election, and even says Republicans have lost “credibility” on the issue, turning it into a loser for them."

No Bad News on Obamacare? Just Make It Up

House GOP Leaders Take Up The Banner Of Obamacare Trutherism from Talking Points Memo
"The supposedly unanswered questions -- intended, as the headline of McCarthy's release makes perfectly clear, to call the official numbers into question -- are familiar to the budding enrollment trutherism movement. "

The Reality of Obama's Immigration Policies

Court Deportations Drop 43 Percent in Past Five Years from the New York Times
"New statistics present a different picture of President Obama’s policies than the one painted by many immigrant advocates. Above, a rally against deportation in Arizona."

Obama Trolls the GOP

The Refined Cynicism of the President (John Dickerson) from Slate
"CBS's Major Garrett writes in National Journal about a new version of the “stray voltage” theory of communication in which the president purposefully overstates his case knowing that it will create controversy. Garrett describes it this way: “Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness.” The issue last week was the pay gap between men and women."
OMG!! There's politics going on in the Oval Office!

Lessons for the GOP From 1964

Barry Goldwater’s Loss Should be a Warning to the GOP, Not a Rallying Cry (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post
"The problem comes in viewing Goldwater as an example rather than as a warning. Conservatives sometimes describe his defeat as a necessary, preliminary step — a clarifying and purifying struggle — in the Reagan revolution. In fact, it was an electoral catastrophe that awarded Lyndon Johnson a powerful legislative majority, increased the liberal ambitions of the Great Society and caused massive distrust of the GOP among poor and ethnic voters."

Is the GOP 2016 Field Really This Wide Open?

Your 2016 Republican Field, by the Odds (Albert R. Hunt) from Bloomberg 
"If you want to wager on who the 2016 Republican nominee will be and have only one choice, the best bet may be former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. However, the odds overwhelmingly suggest the former governor won't win the nomination -- assuming he even runs. This underscores, more than any other time in memory, how unformed the contest for the Republican nomination is. "It's absolutely wide-open," said Tom Davis, a former Virginia congressman who also served as head of the National Republican Campaign Committee."

A Nightmare Candidate ... for NeoCons

Rand Paul Gives an Interview that Will Haunt Him (Jennifer Rubin) from the Washington Post
"Hillary Clinton would eviscerate him on that point and win over a chunk of Republicans. Whatever her faults on foreign policy, at least she understands that we can’t allow Iran to get a bomb and that suggesting we could consider it destroys our negotiating position and military threat."
This article showcases the exceptional disconnect between the DC establishment (both democratic and Republican) and the rest of America.

The Party of Pessimism

Jeb Bush’s Optimism School (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post  
"The Republican Party faces a long-term challenge in presidential elections because it is defining itself as a gloomy enclave, a collection of pessimists who fear what our country is becoming and where it is going. ... there is a rule in American politics: Hope and optimism nearly always defeat fear and pessimism."


Images from a Liberated Denmark Show How Kidnap Squads Hunted and Abused Women Who Had Slept with Germans from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Black and white images were taken during liberation of Denmark in 1945.  Pictures depict members of Danish Resistance rounding up suspected conspirators."


The Holy Grail of Cars! Prototype Firebirds Worth Half a MILLION Discovered Rotting Away in Connecticut Garage from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
Called '#1' and '#2,' cars were base for the classic 1967 Pontiac Firebird.  Each underwent roughly $200,000 in restoration before being sold for $650,000.  Discovery host Rawlings calls it biggest muscle car find in  20 years"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

News Nuggets 1430

DAYLEE PICTURE: White Pocket Canyon in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona.  From Amusing Planet.

US Trying to Alter Putin's Calculations in Ukraine

Here’s What the CIA Director Was Really Doing in Kiev (Eli Lake & Josh Rogin) from the Daily Beast
"The head of the CIA just made a secretive journey to Ukraine—to do what, he won’t say. But the answer could change the power equation in the hottest of geopolitical hotspots."

What Would Putin Face in Ukraine?

CIA Director’s Trip to Kiev Was a Warning to Putin (Leslie Gelb) from the Daily Beast
"If Russia’s really thinking about invading Ukraine, it should think about the cost of fighting a prolonged guerrilla war there."

Changing Political Landscapes in Israel ... and the US

Not the Same Old, Same Old (Thomas L. Friedman) from the New York Times 
"We’re not dealing anymore with your grandfather’s Israel, and they’re not dealing anymore with your grandmother’s America either. ... Kerry, in my view, is doing the Lord’s work. But the weight of time and all the changes it has wrought on the ground may just be too heavy for such an act of friendship. If he folds his tent, though, Israelis and Palestinians will deeply regret it, and soon.""

Stealth Drones and How They May Change Warfare

The Killer Drone Goes Stealthy—Just in Time for a New Cold War (Zach Rosenberg) from the Daily Beast
"Forget the Predators, the iconic unmanned aircraft of the last war. The next generation of robot planes will be deadly, and very, very difficult to find."

Dems Edge GOP on Health Care

Americans Increasingly Prefer Democrats on Healthcare: Reuters/Ipsos Poll from Reuters
"Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats' plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. This marks both an uptick in support for Democrats and a slide for Republicans since a similar poll in February."

Putting Money Where Your Gun Is

Bloomberg Plans a $50 Million Challenge to the N.R.A. from the New York Times
"Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association."

Gay Marriage: How Obama's Views 'Evolved'

How the President Got to ‘I Do’ on Same-Sex Marriage from the New York Times
"As he watched the president move from table to table at the St. Regis, chatting and smiling and taking questions, Griffin waited for his turn. When Obama finally arrived, he willed himself to be direct. “Mr. President,” he said, “how can we help you evolve more quickly?”"

How to Humiliate an Anti-Gay Bigot

“You’re Leaving? Are You Effing Kidding?” An Anti-Gay Bigot Gets Humiliated from Salon
"Peter LaBarbera came to my college to "expose" the "gay agenda." He wasn't expecting what would happen instead. ... Dozens of people, of their own volition and for myriad reasons, showed him that the tide has turned. It’s just a matter of time. Love will always win."

Why Jeb May be Reluctant to Run in 2016

Jeb Bush’s Wife, Family Issues Key to 2016 from Politico
"Columba Bush has long been deeply averse to the spotlight, especially after an embarrassing encounter with U.S. Customs while her husband was still in office. ... Donors also wonder whether Bush is willing to subject his family and their personal lives to the inevitable scrutiny that comes with a national campaign. Two of his children have been in the news in past years for arrests linked to drug problems and public intoxication."

GOPers Thrash Paul on Foreign Policy

Conservatives Lash Out At Rand Paul Over Foreign Policy from the Huffington Post
"Rand Paul's noninterventionist foreign policy views aren't currying him any favor with conservative pundits, who have recently attacked the Kentucky senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate as naive and immature."

Wing-Nut Contest Seems to Favor Cruz for Now

Ted Cruz Is Beating Rand Paul in the Tea Party Primary (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"The two men's presidential hopes rest on appeals to the right-wing grassroots—and those voters seem to prefer Cruz."


The Whole World Inexplicably Loves Captain America (Zachary M. Seward) from Quartz
"America’s greatest export is entertainment, and its improbable brand ambassador is now Captain America. The second installment of Marvel’s movie franchise is drawing huge audiences outside the United States, even in areas of the world that might ordinarily reject a jingoistic superhero clad in red, white, and blue."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

News Nuggets 1429

The Carpathian Mountains near Kolochava village in Ukraine's Zakarpatska region.  From the National Geographic.  

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Best Reason for the GOP to Nominate Rand Paul

Rand Paul for President: Because What the GOP Needs is a Humbling Landslide Defeat from the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal  
"... what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.  This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes."

Ukraine Acts Against Pro-Russia Militia

Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport From Pro-Russia Militiamen from the Huffington Post
"Heavy gunfire rang out at the airport near the town Kramatorsk. Russian state television reported four to 11 people had been killed, but there was no independent confirmation of any casualties. Much of the shooting appeared to have been warning shots into the air."

Can the EU Really Respond to Russia?

Not Even the Threat of War in Europe Can Unite the E.U. from Time Magazine 
"European countries with strong trade ties to Russia remain reluctant to impose stiffer sanctions even as the conflict in eastern Ukraine worsens."
What little hair Obama has, he must be pulling it out right now because of these folks!

Another French Revolution?

France is the New Cauldron of Eurosceptic Revolution (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard) from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"France is a country “animated by a spirit of rational liberty”, to borrow from Edmund Burke, and it has always seemed obvious to me that it would not fore ever tolerate mass unemployment, fiscal infeudation to Berlin-Brussels, and a state of affairs that has become so noxious in so many ways. It is hardly surprising that it is at last in the grip of a fresh revolution."

Are We Seeing (FINALLY) a New Narrative on Obamacare!?

Obamacare’s Victory Lap (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post  
"It’s all over but the shouting: Obamacare is working.  All the naysaying in the world can’t drown out mounting evidence that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, is a real success. Republican candidates running this fall on an anti-Obamacare platform will have to divert voters’ attention from the facts, which tell an increasingly positive story."

Obamacare Costs Expected to Drop Over Time

Lower Premiums (yes, really) Drive Down Obamacare’s Expected Costs, CBO Says (Jason Millman) from the Washington Post
"The health-care law's expansion of insurance coverage will cost $104 billion less than projected over the next decade, according to revised estimates from nonpartisan budget analysts Monday. Obamacare's lower-than-expected costs will come largely because premiums will be cheaper than previously thought."

Brighter Obamacare Skies to Come

Insurers See Brighter Obamacare Skies from Politico
"Health insurers got their first taste of Obamacare this year. And they want seconds. Insurers saw disaster in the fall when Obamacare’s rollout flopped and was a mess. But a strong March enrollment surge, along with indications that younger and healthier people had begun signing up, has changed their attitude. Around the country, insurers are considering expanding their stake in the Obamacare exchanges next year, bringing their business to more states and counties."

Obamacare Dramatically Exceeds Expectations

Obamacare, The Unknown Ideal, Continued (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"The current state of public opinion on health reform is really peculiar. If you’ve been following the issue at all closely, you know that the Affordable Care Act is one of the great comeback stories of public policy: after a terrible start, it has dramatically exceeded expectations. But hardly anyone seems to know that."

What to Expect if the Dems Lose the Senate in November

If Republicans Win the Senate, What Crisis Will Mitch McConnell Cook Up Next? (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"It may seem implausible that Republicans would simply refuse to allow Obama to appoint any justice to such a vacancy. That is only because things that haven't happened before are hard to imagine. But such a confrontation is not only a logical outcome but the most logical outcome. Voting to flip the Supreme Court would be, if not a political death warrant for a Republican Senator, then certainly taking one's political life into one's own hands. Politicians do not like political death warrants -- certainly not for the benefit of the opposing party's agenda." "The modern pattern in American politics is that tactics that are legally available, but never used for reasons of custom, eventually become used. The modern pattern is also that the Republican Party, which is the most ideologically cohesive and disciplined party, leads the way."

2016 Hopefuls: GOP's 'Unusual Suspects'?

The GOP’s Amateur Hour (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post
"If you compare Paul to Republican presidential nominees of yesteryear, you can get an idea of just how far the GOP has sunk. ... Little wonder then that its presidential candidates range from the callow to the comedic. (I exempt Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush from this group.) Rand Paul is in the former category — a gaggle of ideas untethered to practicality or practical experience. He remains a voice in the wilderness. He should stay there."

Is Fracking a "Winning Issue" in PA?

Inside Democrats' Plan to Oust Pennsylvania's Governor from the National Journal
"Tom Corbett is very proud of Pennsylvania's fracking boom, and the Republican governor hopes to ride it to a second term in office. Democrats have other plans: They think they can use the boom—or rather, Corbett's handling of it—to oust the incumbent."


Restoring Balance to LBJ's Presidency (Albert R. Hunt) from Bloomberg 
"A few years ago, I raised Johnson's presidency in the class I teach at the University of Pennsylvania, and my bright Ivy League students could identify him only with the war. A confluence of events may redress this imbalance."