Friday, May 30, 2014

News Nuggets 1450

DAYLEE PICTURE: The waterfront in Fenghuang county in China.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Are Horrific Gun Crimes Even News Anymore?!

There is No Catastrophe So Ghastly that America Will Reform its Gun Laws (Tim Kreider) from The Week
"We as a nation don't care about any number of murdered children, no matter how many, or how young. We want our guns."

Obama's Internationalism Well Suited for Today's Messy World

Obama’s Leadership is Right for Today (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"... what is needed from Washington is not a heroic exertion of American military power but rather a sustained effort to engage with allies, isolate enemies, support free markets and democratic values and push these positive trends forward. The Obama administration is, in fact, deeply internationalist..."

Obama's Standing in the World

Is the World Losing Faith in Obama? (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic 
"The president's critics fret about America's image abroad, but the numbers tell a different story."

More Action Needed to Deal with the European Right

Europe’s Dangerous New Fault Line (Matthew D'Ancona) from the New York Times
"The disturbing trend of right-wing xenophobia demands more than just handwringing."

The European Right: The Neo-Nazis Meet the Tea Party

What Fueled the Rise of the Euro-Right (Harold Meyerson) from the Washington Post
"A number of these parties are openly racist and anti-Semitic. A few — notably Greece’s Golden Dawn – are effectively neo-Nazi, down to their belief in violence as an appropriate, and apparently satisfying, form of political action. Europe’s new far right is, at one and the same time, the continent’s analogue to our own tea party and the leading cheerleader for Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Calculating the Military Costs We Didn't Spend

The Wars Not Fought (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"We owe Mother Jones, the magazine, a public service nod for a graphic tour last year of all the countries that John McCain has wanted to attack. Spanning the globe, the fist-first senator has called for violent regime change in more than half a dozen nations, ranging from all-out ground invasions to airstrikes to arming sides in endless sectarian conflicts."

Comparing Obama to Ike

He's Like Ike (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"Obama, haunted by war and skeptical of heroics, echoes Eisenhower's foreign policy."
I completely agree with Beinart's comparison here.

What's Happening With Gun Control?

When Congress Won’t Act on Gun Control, Individual Groups Will (Michele Richinick) from MSNBC
"House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Wednesday that House Democrats are considering attempting to add gun control measures to an appropriations bill this week. But liberals across the country aren’t holding their breath. Instead, they’re focusing their energies on doing what Congress won’t: preventing another tragedy like Saturday’s mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif."

The GOP's Retreat on Obamacare - Part I

GOP Candidates Show Signs of Retreat on Full Obamacare Repeal as Midterms Approach from the Washington Post
"The changing tactics signal that the health-care law — while still unpopular with voters overall — may no longer be the lone rallying cry for Republicans seeking to defeat Democrats in this year’s midterm elections."

The GOP Retreat - Part II

GOP Retreat on Obamacare Continues Apace (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"Opinion on the law is sharply polarized; most Americans want Congress to work to improve the law rather than repeal it and most want to move on from this debate; only Republicans want repeal and only Republicans want the debate to continue; and the real advantage the law gives Republicans is it drives their base into more of a frenzy than it does the Dem base."

What Has Improved for African Americans Under Obama

How Barack and Michelle Have Normalized Black Prominence (John McWhorter) from the Daily Beast
"The right loves to note that Obama hasn’t made black people wealthier. Maybe not materially. But in ways they can’t see, much has improved."


At The ToonSeum, a Little Golden Books Exhibit Brings Back Memories from the Pittsburgh City Paper
"Even if you've never picked up a Little Golden Book, the artwork still impresses."


A Heart Warming Story - Happy Birthday Mamma Rosie's Pups from Hope for Paws

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

News Nuggets 1449

DAYLEE PICTURE: Yuanyang rice terraces in Yunnan Province, China.  From National Geographic.

Benefits of Obamacare Continue to Unfold

For the First Time in 50 Years, Health Prices are Barely Growing (Sarah Kliff) from Vox
"... health care prices are actually growing at the slowest pace they have in decades, according to charts from the Council of Economic Advisers."

The Real Scandal in VA Health Care

There’s Another Scandal in American Health Care (Ezra Klein) from Vox 
"... the people living in states that refused the Medicaid expansion aren't just waiting too long for care. They're not getting it at all. They're going completely uninsured when federal law grants them comprehensive coverage. Many of these people will get sick and find they can't afford treatment and some of them will die. Many of the victims here, by the way, are also veterans. So here are 24 health-care scandals that critics of the VA should also be furious about:..."

GOP is Losing the Obamacare War

What a New Lie Reveals About the Law’s Success (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"What happens when a program in your state is really popular, but you're on record opposing it? Total humiliation."

The Disconnect Between College Education and Jobs

Congrats on That Diploma. You May Not Need It (Richard K. Vedder) from Bloomberg
"...increasingly, today’s college graduates face an uncertain future, and many will end up taking jobs historically done by those with high school diplomas or even less -- construction workers, taxi drivers, restaurant wait staff, janitors. ... this is a long-term problem: There are simply more college graduates than jobs requiring college degrees. The problem will probably get much worse in the next decade."

Rethinking How to Make Companies Flourish

Time to Remake Shareholder Capitalism (Harold Meyerson) from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
"Actually, that money locked away abroad could be put to more uses than buying back shares or paying dividends if those companies brought it home. They might fund more research and development, or start a new product line, or even give employees a raise. But The Journal story has it right. American big business these days is in the business of rewarding shareholders ..., to the exclusion of any other activity that might help companies flourish."

Politics Really Is More Broken Than Ever

Admit It, Political Scientists (Thomas Mann) from the Atlantic
"Scholars restrain themselves out of fear of being seen as partisans, but what's happening now is different, and false equivalence is no virtue."

GOP Budgets Provide Fodder for Dem Candidates

How Republican Candidates Have Made Life Easier for Democratic Senators (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"Providing fodder for endless attack ads, challengers to Democratic incumbents in three tough Senate races voted for a budget even more draconian than Paul Ryan’s."

Conservative Lead on Social and Economic Ideology Shrinking

On Social issues, 34% Identify as Conservative and 30% as Liberal (Jeffrey M. Jones) from Gallup
"More Americans continue to identify themselves as conservatives than as liberals on economic and social matters. However, the conservative advantage on each dimension is shrinking from higher points in recent years, down to 21 points on economic policy and four points on social policy."


Pit Bull gets rescued and makes an amazing recovery from Hope for Paws

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

News Nuggets 1448

DAYLEE PICTURE: Mount Fuji overlooking Lake Kawaguchi in Japan. From National Geographic.

Far Right Wins Big in European Elections

Fringe Groups Gain in European Voting from the New York Times
"After four days of voting in a sprawling election with nearly 400 million eligible voters spread across 28 countries, fringe political groups pugnaciously hostile to the European Union scored dramatic gains in voting for the European Parliament and delivered a blow to the bruised but still dominant mainstream parties."

Right-Wing Victories in France and Elsewhere

French Far Right in 'Earthquake' Win as Europe Votes from Reuters
"Marine Le Pen's far right National Front scored a stunning first victory in European Parliament elections in France on Sunday as critics of the European Union registered a continent-wide protest vote against austerity and mass unemployment."

France: Retreating Into Rancor

The Banality of Anger (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"Nowhere is the crisis of modernity felt more acutely than in France where for a quarter-century now globalization has brought moroseness and mistrust on an epic scale. Uneasy with capitalism, uncomfortable with flexibility, unpersuaded by the so-called Anglo-Saxon model, France has retreated into its rancor. Immigrants and openness have constituted threat more than possibility."

Putin and Pro-Russian Rebels

Is Putin Losing Control of Ukraine's Pro-Russia Rebels? (Max Fisher) from Vox
"What seems perhaps more likely is that the pro-Russia rebels, buying into their own propaganda, are stepping away from Moscow's control and staged today's attack in spite of the Kremlin's recent efforts to make nice with Ukraine."

Dem Candidates Unsure How to Discuss ACA

Dem Candidates Slow To Embrace Obama's Health Care Offensive from the Huffington Post
"Democratic candidates are trying to figure out whether to embrace or avoid President Barack Obama's health care overhaul — or land somewhere in between. The president says his party shouldn't apologize or go on the defensive about the Affordable Care Act. Candidates aren't so sure."
Senate incumbents are going to "unsure" themselves into a early grave in November.  Sad.

A New Agenda for Education Reform

Education Reform Has Failed; Here Are Four Lessons From Abroad to Make It Succeed from the Huffington Post
"If you could change the education system today, what would you create? Where would you start? Doesn't it seem logical to start by studying what the top performers in education do? Only when the United States does this, and learns the right lessons from these countries' practices, will the era of education reform truly arrive. The top performers worldwide in education have several things in common according to Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform, by Marc S. Tucker. Some of these things include the following four points: ..."

On Higher Ed, the Trigger Warning We Need

College is a Scam Meant to Perpetuate the 1 Percent (Thomas Frank) from Salon
"Elite university students must be warned about “classism”! Not on course syllabi or the cover of a book as though it’s comsymp lit or something. No, they need to see it in big red letters inscribed on those elite universities themselves — stamped on every tuition bill and financial aid form and diploma they produce, spelled out in the quadrangle pavement, flashing from a neon sign above every dormitory so no one can miss it: “Warning: This place exists to enforce class distinctions.”"

“Cosmos,” Christians, and the Battle for American Science

Neil deGrasse Tyson vs. the Right (Sean McElwee) from Salon
The real reason conservatives are freaking out about Neil deGrasse Tyson: He's laying bare their worst hypocrisies."

Conservatives Struggle To Keep Fighting Gay Marriage

On A Losing Streak, Conservatives Struggle To Keep Fighting Gay Marriage from Talking Points Memo
"Between the streak of court victories for marriage equality and the rapidly shifting tide of national public opinion, conservative guardians of traditional marriage are struggling to keep the cause alive, if not conceding defeat. ... Pennsylvania is a microcosm of what's happening across the country as federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma, Oregon and elsewhere knock down gay marriage bans."

Republicans ... Playing a Base Game that Will Keep it Shut Out of the White House.

How Republicans Lose by Winning (Todd Purdum) from Politico
"Establishment Republicans had a good night in Tuesday’s round of primaries, but they did so in part by adopting positions at odds with the long-term need to broaden the party’s support and move away from litmus-test issues. A wide range of Republicans see the party courting the same disaster it did in 2012, playing a base game that will keep it shut out of the White House."

How Republicans Became the “Stupid” Party:

Turning Right, Refusing to Recognize Facts and Change (Edmund Fawcett) from Salon
"We once had two centrist liberal parties. Here's the story of how the GOP fringes took over the mainstream."

Christie Will Never, Ever be President After this Bad Month

Put a Fork in Chris Christie (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"It's not a good time to be Christie: Downgraded debt, Bridgegate coverup, weak GOP establishment ends his '16 dream."

Obama ... Out of the Bubble

'The Bear Is Loose!' Obama Goes Out And About from the Huffington Post 
""The bear is loose!" Those were President Barack Obama's words as he ditched his motorcade and left the White House on foot, favoring the fresh air in a walk toward the Interior Department."

Saturday, May 24, 2014

News Nuggets 1447

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Svalbard Cliffs of Norway.  From National Geographic.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!!  The News Nuggets will return in the middle of next week!

In Europe, Where Are the Major Democracies Going?

Europe's Democratic Deficit Is Getting Worse (Matt Ford) from the Atlantic 
"Voter participation in European Parliament elections is low—and getting lower."

Great Powers Heading in Very Different Directions

A Great-Power Outage (Vali R. Nasr) from the New York Times
"... each power center interprets the goals and instruments of international strategy — power politics or economic interdependence — differently. That makes resolving disputes more uncertain. And that’s the danger."

Skills, Education, and the Rise of Earnings Inequality

Skills, Education, and the Rise of Earnings Inequality Among the “Other 99 Percent” (David H. Autor) from the journal, Science
"...  the component of earnings inequality that is arguably most consequential for the “other 99 percent” of citizens: the dramatic growth in the wage premium associated with higher education and cognitive ability. This Review documents the central role of both the supply and demand for skills in shaping inequality, discusses why skill demands have persistently risen in industrialized countries, and considers the economic value of inequality alongside its potential social costs."
Here's a very interesting observation from reader Keith:

The eye-popping charts paint a bleak picture for the undereducated. But is not only the case that high school grads are unprepared for employment, it  is that they lack the acumen required to simple comprehend this highly  technical, knowledge based culture. Having material lives that are  essentially centered around consumerism, the undereducated are dead meat  for advertisers, predatory lenders, manipulators, and influencers of every  species. The college educated are far better prepared for this complex  society, yet they really only have a different life style with the same  values, ie, BMW's vs. Big Shiny Trucks. Yet the educated are better  prepared to survive the vicissitudes of life by dominating the lower  classes with the technical skills and parasitic strategies they hone in  college. Sadly, what never occurs to either is the distinction between the  pursuit of a quality of life vs. the struggle for a standard of living.
Keith goes on to say:
A parasite is an organism that derives its sustenance solely from it's host. American business colleges instill in students an ethos that wealth creation is it's own justification. This is largely accomplished by strategies such as gutting pension funds, engineering highly profitable bankruptcies, cutting benefits, or shattering companies for their individual assets. And this is to say nothing of the arcane machinations of commercial banks. These are sophisticated financial and legal operations that would not be possible without the accumulated knowledge of university faculty. 

Lower-Rung Workers FINALLY Getting a Leg Up?

Lower-Rung U.S. Workers Get Leg Up in Bankers' View: Economy (Shobhana Chandra) from Bloomberg
"Five years into the economic recovery, better days are finally arriving at the bottom of the job market. Since late 2013, unemployment has declined more rapidly for workers with a high school education than those with some college, and incomes for less-skilled and lower-paid employees have grown faster than for those near the top of the ladder, according to government data analyzed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc."

The GOP Establishment has Already Sold Its Soul

The GOP is Still Swallowing the Tea (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"What’s happening in the Republican primaries is less a defeat for the tea party than a surrender by the GOP establishment, which is winning key races by accepting the tea party’s radical anti-government philosophy. Anyone who hopes the party has finally come to its senses will be
disappointed. Republicans have pragmatically decided not to concede Senate elections by nominating eccentrics and crackpots. But in persuading the party’s activist base to come along, establishment leaders have pledged fealty to eccentric, crackpot ideas."

The Urgency of Conservative Reform

What’s My Problem With Conservative Reformers? (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The challenge facing the conservative reformers is the yawning gap between their ambition — crafting a Republican platform designed to address real-world problems rather than redeem ideological fantasies — and the stark political reality of the Republican coalition. They are
attempting to soothe a suspicious beast. The difficulty of the task merely serves to underscore its urgency."

PA-GOV: What Are Corbett's Chances in November

How Likely is Governor Corbett to be Unseated? from Essential Pittsburgh  
"In the run up to Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Gubernatorial democratic primary election, Philadelphia Daily News Political Columnist John Baer has written about Corbett’s chances of reelection. He said although Corbett has accomplished much of what he proposed in his initial campaign, the Governor’s policies are not politically popular overall."


In New Exhibit of After-hours Gay Clubs, Local Historian Unearths the City's LGBT Legacy (Charlie Deitch) from the Pittsburgh City Paper
"Apple is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon, artist-in-residence at CMU's Center for the Arts in Society and a public historian. For the past two years, he's been engaged in "queer archeology," studying gay social life in Pittsburgh between the 1960s and early 1990s. Along with his adviser, CMU's Tim Haggerty, he developed the Pittsburgh Queer History Project, an oral-history and archival project focused on the local LGBT community."


J.R.R. Tolkien Reveals TRUE Meaning Of 'The Lord Of The Rings' In Unearthed Audio Recording from the Huffington Post
"I am one of those lucky Middle-earth lovers who has listened to this magical magnetic tape, and I happily declare that it is awesome. For it proves once and for all that Professor Tolkien was, in fact, very much the hobbit that we all suspected him to be."


You'll Never Believe Which Famous Authors Hated Each Other's Writing from the Huffington Post
"For every great author, there’s another great author eager to knock him or her down a few pegs. Although the writers on this map are typically deemed canonical by literary tastemakers, there wasn’t much mutual admiration amongst them."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

News Nuggets 1446

DAYLEE PICTURE: Lake Ada in New Zealand.  From National Geographic.
Check out my monthly appearance on today's Lynn Cullen Live! program.  The full video and audio are available HERE.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Neo-Neo-Con View Rising From the Ashes

The Big Debate (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"It’s now clear that the end of the Soviet Union heralded an era of democratic complacency. Without a rival system to test them, democratic governments have decayed across the globe. In the U.S., Washington is polarized, stagnant and dysfunctional; a pathetic 26 percent of Americans trust their government to do the right thing. In Europe, elected officials have grown remote from voters, responding poorly to the euro crisis and contributing to massive unemployment."
Oh, here we go!  Ah, the latest neo-con musings!  Brooks feels the need to come up with a new working over of the same tired justifications for bloated military spending, under-informed interventions, and America-as-God-in-the-World thinking. The lack of humility, clear-eyed reflection, and reasoned self-criticism is stunning!

Putin Looking to Re-assert It's Influence in Other Parts of the World

Russia’s Elusive Quest for Influence in Asia (Sergey Radchenko) from The Diplomat
"Putin arrives in Shanghai desperate to reorient Russia’s Asia policy amid tensions with the West and China’s rise."

Putin and the Larger European Flirtation with Fascism

Decrying Ukraine’s ‘Fascists,’ Putin Is Allying With Europe’s Far Right (Bob Dreyfuss) from the Nation
"Russians seems resigned to the idea that Ukraine will hold its presidential election this Sunday, May 25. And the pro-Russian separatists who’ve declared various “people’s republics” here and there in Ukraine’s east are losing steam, thanks in part to the work of a local billionaire who’s apparently decided that his coal and steel empire prefers Western outlets and credit lines, rather than Russian ones. ... But, please, Mr. Putin, stop with the talk about Ukraine being run by “Nazis” and “fascists”—at least as long as you’re in league with actual pro-fascist parties in Europe."

China and Russia Are Getting Closer

Get Ready World: China and Russia Are Getting Closer (Nikolas K. Gvosdev) from the National Interest
"... is Putin now coming to Beijing as a supplicant, anxious to show that he is not isolated by Western pressure and has options? Or is he planning to offer the Chinese the vision of a new world order where the two great powers of Eurasia can, in concert, work to rewrite many of the rules of the international order laid down by the Euro-Atlantic world?"

Washington's Rules ... for Obama

Four Lessons for Barack Obama from George Washington (Paul J. Saunders) from the National Interest
"What the 44th president really needs is not to copy the 43rd or 42nd, however, but to look to the 1st: George Washington. ... here are four lessons from George Washington’s Farewell Address—a contemplative and self-conscious message to the country and to future generations. Obama would do well to ponder them."

PA-GOV: Corbet Will Not Appeal!

Pennsylvania Won't Appeal Same-Sex Marriage Case from the Associated Press 
"Pennsylvania's governor ended his fight Wednesday to stop same-sex marriage in the state, allowing a growing number of couples to proceed with their wedding plans with greater peace of mind."

New Polling Gives Some Hope to Senate Dems

Who Will Win The Senate? from the New York Times
"According to our statistical election-forecasting machine, the Democrats have a slight edge, with about a 57% chance of retaining a majority."

Can the GOP Suppress Its Right-Wing id?

The American Right, Not the 'Tea Party,' Is the GOP's Big Liability (Brian Beutler) from the New Republic
"... the questions now are whether the current crop of GOP candidates can actually suppress the right wing Id, and, secondarily, whether the winning candidates of the American right can durably embed themselves into the political system."

How Are Tea Partiers Left After Their Dismal Performance on Tuesday?

How the Tea Party Is Still Hurting the GOP (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic 
"The Republican establishment is beating back right-wing challengers this year, but victory comes at a cost."

WI-GOV: Walker in More Trouble Than Aniticipated

New Marquette Law School Poll Finds Wisconsin Governor's Race Race Tied from the Marquette Law School Poll
"A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that the Wisconsin governor’s race has tightened to a dead heat, with both Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters, while 6 percent are undecided or say they do not know whom they would support."

GA-SEN: Georgia's Demographics and the State's Present and Future!

Narrow Path to Senate for Michelle Nunn in Georgia (Nate Cohn) from the New York Times
"In the racially polarized South, where white voters have been trending Republican for more than a generation, the Democratic route to 50% is mainly a matter of racial demographics. Democrats must wait for more nonwhite voters to overcome their disadvantage with white voters. ... That wait might end soon in Georgia, but not in this November's election."

Monday, May 19, 2014

News Nuggets 1445

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Plain of Temples in Bagan in Myanmar.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Is Obama Foreign Policy Jujitsu Working?

Obama's Strategy of Letting Putin Hang Himself is Working (Max Fisher) from Vox
"The official US position has been to threaten broader sanctions that seem unlikely to get the European support necessary to make them hurt, while arguing that Russia's actions will be so self-defeating that the problem would just sort itself out. It sounded silly, a shrug of a policy. ... But it also turns out to be working surprisingly well. ... This has been so effective, and has apparently taken Putin by such surprise, that after weeks of looking like he could roll into eastern Ukraine unchallenged, he's backing down all on his own."

Putin's Growing List of Reasons to Pull Back

Why Putin Really Will Pull Back (Anna Nemtsova) from the Daily Beast 
"The Russian president has announced once again that he’s backing his troops away from the Ukrainian brink. This time he probably means it, and he has good reason."

China's Over-reach in the South China Sea

China's Big Strategic Mistake in the South China Sea from the National Interest
"China's newest escalation in the SCS represents a serious miscalculation by China's policy makers. They have made four strategic mistakes. ..."

Poverty ≠ Lack of Character

Poverty Is Not a State of Mind (Charles Blow) from the New York Times 
"... the statement makes a basic and demeaning assumption about the poor: that they suffer a deficiency of friendship, accountability and loving relationships. That, sir, has not been my experience. Poverty is demonstrative not of a lack of character, but a lack of cash."

Conservative GOPers Pushing Back Against the "Establishment"

Conservatives Seek to Regain Control of Republican Agenda from the Washington Post
"... some of Washington’s leading conservatives gathered Thursday to privately vent frustrations about what kind of party they will be left with after November. The group, alarmed by a resurgence of the GOP establishment in recent primaries and what activists view as a softened message, drafted demands to be shared with senior lawmakers calling on the party to “recommit” to bedrock principles."

Texas: An Opportunity for Democrats?

Grass-Roots Group Backs Candidate in Quest to Turn Texas Blue from the New York Times
"Texas, with its 38 electoral votes and its changing demographics, offers a tantalizing opportunity for Democrats to flip the state that is the bulwark of any Republican presidential campaign. That is why after Mr. Obama’s re-election, Jeremy Bird, the campaign’s national field director, started Battleground Texas, a grass-roots political organization whose goal was to make Texas competitive"

Why Some Dems Are Rooting For Jeb

Why Democrats Are Aching to Run Against Jeb Bush (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"Establishment Republicans are attracted to his steadiness, but the Bush brand remains badly tarnished with most voters—and you can’t easily Sister Souljah your own brother."
Now -- WHY would any Democrat be anxious to take on Jeb in '16?  What if Hillary is NOT the nominee in '16? Yes -- Jeb has the Bush name and a number of weaknesses -- but Dems take him lightly at their peril.  I have yet to see any Republican prospect that could wage as strong a general election campaign against Hillary or any other Democrat than Jeb.  I want the Republicans to nominate the biggest clown in their circus; I want to see a 1964-style whipping that will finally get the GOP to begin to turn away from the extremism we've seen during the Obama years!  With Jeb at the top of the ticket, it will be competitive and look more like the McCain and Romney defeats -- but without the needed routing that the Republicans need to set them on a new course.


The Great Society at 50 from the Washington Post
"LBJ’s unprecedented and ambitious domestic vision changed the nation. Half a century later, it continues to define politics and power in America."


Firenados, So Hot Right Now: It's Like a Sharknado, Only with Fire from the Daily Beast
"With wildfires raging in Southern California, video has surfaced of an unusual, jaw-dropping, little-known natural phenomenon: a fire tornado, or firenado. Which obviously made us search for more footage of swirling infernos. Here, we present you with a firenado mashup. It's insane."


Wyoming Storm Time-Lapse Shows The Breathtaking Side Of Thunderstorms (VIDEO) from the Huffington Post
"Even at its worst, nature can still be incredibly beautiful. A group of storm chasers recently proved as much with a stunning storm time-lapse that shows the formation of supercell thunderstorm in eastern Wyoming."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

News Nuggets 1444

DAYLEE PICTURE: An Easter procession in Trapani, Sicily.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Military Intervention: The Real Reasons Neo-cons Love It

Noonan’s Sentimental Jingoism (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"Noonan’s column is a good example of how not to think about the use of military force in other countries. ... In the end, that’s what interests Noonan–making us feel good about ourselves and giving us a reason to be proud of using the military overseas. It doesn’t really matter whether or not it would make the situation in Nigeria worse."

The Two Sides of Mr. Geithner

The Hot Seat: A Review of Stress Test, by Timothy F. Geithner (Michael Lewis) from the New York Times
"Geithner is clearly more at ease, and more himself, on the page than on the stage or the screen -- which is, for an American public figure, both odd and charming. So much so that I finished his book half wishing he had just skipped all of the public performances required of him as Treasury secretary and instead written out what he had to say and handed it to an actor -- say, Denzel Washington -- to perform."

The Long-Term Unemployed Need Not Apply

Why It's So Hard to Get a Job (Virginia Postrel) from Bloomberg View 
"The new figures imply good news for most job seekers, but underscore a worrisome long-term trend. Jobs are staying vacant for longer and longer periods even as unemployment is still high and labor-force participation is down. Employers aren’t willing to fill their job slots with the long-term unemployed."

The Preposterousness of GOP "Science"

This is Another Perfect Example of Why Scientists Don't Vote Republican (Ryan Cooper ) from The Week
"As I've been writing for a long time now, the reason that only a tiny minority of scientists are Republicans is obvious: Republican elites routinely endorse things so scientifically preposterous that they cause a strong adverse reaction in the scientific community."

How Gun Extremists Target Women

Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats (Mark Follman) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Welcome to the dark side of America's war over guns."

Politically Correct Extremism

The Two GOP Establishments (E.J. Dionne) from the National Memo
"The fights this spring are not between “the grassroots” and “the establishment,” but between two establishment factions spending vast sums to gain the upper hand. Their confrontation has little to do with the long-term philosophical direction of the GOP. Very rich ideological donors, along with Tea Party groups, have been moving the party steadily rightward. Political correctness of an extremely conservative kind now rules."

A New Phase in the 2016 Presidential Prelims

The Clintons Fight Back, Signaling a New Phase in 2016 Preparations from the Washington Post
"Amid all the speculation about her political future, Hillary Rodham Clinton has cast herself as a global icon tuning out the noise of domestic politics. But this week, she and her husband have jumped into partisan combat. Under fire from Republicans over her record as secretary of state and her health, Hillary Clinton gave a robust defense Wednesday of her tour as the nation’s top diplomat."


Project Wizard: Dick Nixon’s Brazen Plan for Post-Watergate Redemption (Elizabeth Drew) from the Atlantic
"The disgraced president's plan to remake himself as a statesman shows how disconnected he was from reality—but also how resilient and effective he could still be."


Hero Cat who Saved Autistic Boy from Dog Attack Hits National TV (VIDEO) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Jeremy Triantafilo was outside his family's California home on Tuesday when the neighbor's dog escaped and grabbed him from behind.  But the family cat, Tara, jumped on the dog and chased it away.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

News Nuggets 1443

DAYLEE PICTURE: Horses on the Mongolian Steppes.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: A Manufactured Crisis in Iran?

The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare from Harper's Magazine
Gareth Porter on the true history of Iran’s nuclear program. "Are you saying that the claim of secret work on nuclear weapons is equally fraudulent, and that the Iranians have never had a nuclear-weapons program?  Yes. In Manufactured Crisis, I show that the claim of an Iranian nuclear-weapons program has been based on false history and falsified records. ... According to the worst-case scenarios conjured up by conservative U.S. think tanks and others promoting the myth, Iran has had the same theoretical capacity for breakout — a month or two — since 2010."
Regular readers know that I have been VERY skeptical of the real threat the Iran nuclear program has posed to the US or anyone else.  This author really puts the entire "bomb bomb bomb Iran" crowd on the spot.  We'll see if this book holds up under what promises to be a LOT of challenge.

How the Iran Negotiations Are Shaping Up

Defending the Iran Deal from the National Interest
"Nuclear talks have yielded a framework that buys time for negotiation and reduces the risk of miscalculation on either side."

More Benghazi Investigations: Just What ... Someone Wanted?!

New Benghazi Investigation Spooks GOP Leaders (Eli Lake) from the Daily Beast
"It’s not just the Democrats who are opposed to a new select committee looking into the Benghazi attacks. Many top Republicans are uneasy, too."

The Republicans' Obamacare Dilemma

GOP Suddenly has an Obamacare Problem: Why They’re Now on Defense (Simon Maloy) from Salon
"From Medicaid expansion to coverage for preexisting conditions, here's why all the analysis now looks premature."

Minimum Wage Laws Moving Forward

Vermont Passes The Highest State Minimum Wage In The Country (Alan Pyke) from Think Progress
"Vermont’s minimum wage will rise from $8.73 to $10.50 over the next four years under a bill that won final passage just before the legislative session ended on Saturday. The measure puts Vermont on track to have the highest minimum wage of any state in 2018..."

New Dimensions of AIDS Prevention

Advocating Pill, U.S. Signals Shift in AIDS Prevention from the New York Times
"Federal health officials recommended Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for AIDS take a daily pill that has been shown to prevent infection with the virus that causes it."

GOP Vote Scheme Finally Imploding

Why the End May be Here for Voter ID (Brad Friedman) from Salon
"Since that landmark ruling in the Badger State, new signs from top elected Republican officials in Pennsylvania and Iowa, and even in Wisconsin, suggest that the (at least) decade-long GOP “voter fraud” fraud may have finally peaked, and will now begin the inevitably long slide into abandoned, historical shame."

Immigration Reform, Hillary and the GOP

Republican Titanic (Fernando Espuelas) from The Hill
"... if Latinos' voter participation continues to grow cycle after cycle, eventually reaching the level of non-Hispanic white and African-American voters, the Latino vote would be decisive in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. In other words, Hispanics will be in the position to stop Republicans from being elected to statewide office (as has already happened in California) – or ever again reaching the White House. Republicans, meet your iceberg. ... Clinton not only tops every GOP candidate (including a "generic"
Republican) in every national poll, she is also a big favorite of the Latino community."

Can Voter Rage Offset Voter Suppression?

Rand Paul Was Right About Republican Vote Suppression (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The trouble, for Republicans, is that vote suppression creates an opposing force. It allows Democrats to (correctly) place Republicans within the history of odious tactics designed to limit the political power of minorities, and thus making the act of voting itself a form of
political protest. Conservatives like Ross Douthat have argued that vote suppression probably inspires more Democrats to register and vote than it keeps away from the polls."

Bush Acolyte Rubio Not Showing Much Loyalty Today

Rubio Hints at 2016 Bid Even if Bush Runs (Alexandra Jaffe) from The Hill 
"They have a longstanding political relationship dating back to Rubio’s 1998 run for West Miami City Commission, and many of Bush’s former aides worked for Rubio during his time as Speaker of the Florida House. And if they both chose to run, they would likely compete for the same universe of donors and supporters in their home state."
Oh Jeb, Don't mind that knife I just plunged into your back!  You needed something to take your mind off your kids' drug problems.  Ah, disloyalty -- thy name is Marco.  The most pathetic aspect of this is that (in my view) Rubio is so not-ready for prime time as 2016 candidate -- and yet he seems to be considering throwing the Bushes under the bus despite the years of support they have given him.

In Korea, a Tale of Two Countries

Amazing Photographs which Show the Stark Differences Between North and South Korea from the Daily Mail [of the UK]  
"German photographer Dieter Leistner captured images of the countries which used to be united before Cold War split.  The capitalist South is busy and prosperous but the communist North is poor and repressive.  Bustling streets of Seoul contrast with miserable scenes in Pyongyang."

Hillary Already Getting the GOP "Treatment"

Paging Dr. Rove! (John Dickerson) from Slate
"Karl Rove’s outlandish claim about Hillary Clinton’s brain is only the first of many bizarre charges she will face."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

News Nuggets 1442

DAYLEE PICTURE: North Sugarloaf in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  From the Huffington Post.

Putin's Not So Grand Strategy

Putin is Winging it on Ukraine (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"Putin’s actions are most likely a study in ad hoc policymaking rather than a precise strategy. He has been cunning and forceful but also wary of taking steps that could damage Russia, such as a military invasion of Ukraine or open destabilization of its planned election. He’s “winging it,” to put it in vernacular terms, trying to get the best advantage for Russia at the lowest cost."

China and Russia: Looking for Respect in All the Wrong Places

More Chopsticks, Please (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"Ukraine is struggling with how to deal with a declining Russia that is looking for dignity in all the wrong places — like in Crimea — and Vietnam is struggling with how to deal with a rising China that is looking for oil in all the wrong places — like in Vietnam’s territorial waters. Russia’s attitude toward Ukraine has been: “Marry me, or I’ll kill you.” And China’s toward Vietnam has been a variation of that line from “There Will Be Blood”: “I have a long straw, so I think I’ll drink my milkshake and yours.”"

The Problem with Thomas Piketty

“Capital” Destroys Right-wing Lies, but There’s One Solution it Forgets (Thomas Frank) from Salon
"After "Capital," we'll never talk income inequality or meritocratic myths the same way. But we must talk unions."

The New World Order ... on Drunk and Disorderly

Here Are The Drunkest Countries In The World [MAP] from the Business Insider
"Alcohol consumption varies widely across the globe, and the U.S. stacks up pretty well compared to some other countries. As the map below from the World Health Organization shows, Russians and their neighbors drink more than almost everyone else in the world."

GOP Machine: Do They Need a New Message on Obamacare?

GOP Goes Quiet on ObamaCare from The Hill
"The lack of action highlights the GOP’s struggle to adjust its message now that enrollment in the exchanges beat projections and the uninsured rate is going down. Insurers also report that 80 to 90 percent of new policyholders are paying their premiums, contradicting a frequent criticism from the GOP.  This dynamic was laid bare last week as Republicans failed to land punches against the healthcare law ..."

Obamacare Under Any Other Name...

In Polling Obamacare, A Label Makes A Big Difference from NBC News
"... when Kentucky voters were asked to give their impression of "kynect," the state exchange created as a result of the health care law, the picture was quite different. A plurality – 29 percent – said they have a favorable impression of kynect, compared to 22 percent who said they view the system unfavorably. Twenty-seven percent said they hadn't heard of kynect, and an additional 21 percent said they were unsure. “Call it something else, and the negatives drop,” said Marist pollster Lee Miringoff.

The Demographic Trap for the GOP: Coming Fast in Florida

How the 2016 Election Was Rigged More Than 200 Years Ago (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Florida encapsulates the demographic trap encircling the Republican Party. They have deeply alienated Latino voters there, and the first step in the party's elites' grand strategy to gain a hearing with them -- taking immigration policy off the table -- is nearly dead. Republicans right now would need a major electoral wave to win Florida, and without Florida, they have almost no viable path to prevail in a close election." ... "And, of course, they could always catch that wave with a well-timed recession or some other major political boon. Failing that wave, they are staring down a presidential electorate where the odds look increasingly dire.""

Dems Are Competitive in New Places!

Democrats Have A Competitive Chance In Three Southern States, Poll Finds from the Huffington Post
"While Americans are dissatisfied and the president remains deeply unpopular, the survey finds Democrats to be competitive in three key Southern races: Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky."

Answering Benghazi Questions ... Again

Hillary Clinton Already Answered The Benghazi Question Trey Gowdy Has For Her (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post
"Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said on Sunday morning that, as chair of the newly created select committee on Benghazi, one of the biggest questions he would like to ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is why the United States was still there. ... Clinton's answer may not have been satisfactory for some lawmakers. But the question was asked. And some of Gowdy's other lines of inquiry into Benghazi have already been explored, as well."


Has the Ship Columbus Discovered the New World in Been Found? from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
A wreck found off the coast of Haiti believed to be 500 year old Santa Maria Researchers 'confident' excavation will prove the ship's identity Ship could be raised on put on display in Haiti Museum Santa Maria was lost off after running aground on explorer's first voyage Investigation being turned into History Channel documentary."

Saturday, May 10, 2014

News Nuggets 1441

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Wulan Butong grassland in Inner Mongolia.  From National Geographic.

The Republican Scandal Machine: The Illusion of Doing Something Useful

Center Ring at the Republican Circus from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
A pretty hard-hitting piece from NYT ed board! A big excerpt is in order.
"... it’s the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand. They won’t pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration. On Thursday, they voted to create a committee to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to conduct an investigation of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The day before, they voted to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official whom they would love to blame for the administration’s crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can’t, because there wasn’t."

Regional Hegemony in Asia: Old Thinking in New Bottles

China’s Monroe Doctrine (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"China can “be expected to try to push the United States out of the Asia-Pacific region, much as the United States pushed the European great powers out of the Western Hemisphere in the nineteenth century. We should expect China to devise its own version of the Monroe Doctrine” — the 19th century keep-out-of-this-hemisphere message of the United States to Europe."

The Presidency: The Virtues of 'Muddling Through'

Obama’s Shades of Gray (Jon Meacham) from Time Magazine
"His critics say he’s weak and whiny. But he’s doing what most Presidents do: muddling through."

Insurers Fail to Back the Republican Narrative on Obamacare

Called by Republicans, Health Insurers Deliver Unexpected Testimony from the New York Times
"House Republicans summoned a half-dozen health insurance executives to a hearing Wednesday envisioned as another forum for criticism of the Affordable Care Act. But insurers refused to go along with the plan, and surprised Republican critics of the law by undercutting some of their arguments against it."

GOP Faces Big Dilemma on Health Care

As Its Obamacare War Fizzles: What Next? from Talking Points Memo
"Although the law will continue to exhibit flaws, Republican pollsters are openly warning that the political landscape has changed. A recent McLaughlin & Associates poll found that thrice as many likely voters want the GOP to produce an Obamacare alternative rather than simply push for repeal. "The message is clear. Republicans need a popular alternative to replace Obamacare," wrote GOP strategists John McLaughlin and Jim McLaughlin in the National Review. And that's where things get more worrisome for the party."

Obamacare's Results ... and the Pickle it Puts the GOP In

Why the GOP Is Headed for an Obamacare Crack-Up from US News and World Report
"There are plenty of reasons Republicans can't get their opposition to the health care law straight. ... new Gallup polling suggests a dramatic 13.4 percent decline in the number of uninsured. If true, it’s amazing. And a study of Romneycare in the Annals of Internal Medicine has progressive tongues wagging about how Obamacare could end up saving 10,000 lives a year."

Where the Republican Party is Going

The GOP Is Headed To Where Trey Gowdy Is From (Howard Fineman) from the Huffington Post
"Today’s Republican Party was born in and still pivots around upstate South Carolina, which is why the GOP’s choice of Rep. Trey Gowdy as its congressional poster boy for 2014 explains everything about the party’s midterm election strategy: to burrow into its base, its roots, in an act of mass political cocooning."

Georgia Shaping Up as a Critical Indicator State ... but Not in the Way Many People Think

AJC Poll: Carter in Tight Race with Deal, Nunn Leading GOP Senate Contenders from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
"The poll shows Gov. Nathan Deal (R) just three points ahead of Jason Carter (D) in the race for governor. In the Senate race, Michelle Nunn (D) "has sizable leads against each of the five top GOP Senate contenders in a potential November matchup, though her lead against businessman David Perdue is particularly narrow.""
This is very news-worthy.  It is easy to think that what's happening here is that the Dems chose candidates with lots of name recognition.  In my view, what we are really seeing here is the beginning (much earlier than predicted) of the demographic death that is heading at the GOP involving young and non-white voters.

Author Takes on Really Negative Internal Dialogues

Have Compassion for Yourself (Judith Ohikuaremay) from the Atlantic
""If someone talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you would have kicked them out of your life a long time ago." As journalist Anneli Rufus sees it, the self-hating person inhabits a world of muted despair that prevents him or her from ever feeling at ease in the world. In Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself, Rufus mines the intractable, negative perceptions that she and others have held about themselves, and analyzes the emergence of self-esteem as a goal that feels unattainable for many people."

Meet the Ancestors

Palaeoartist Brings Human Evolution to Life with Amazingly Realistic Sculptures from the Daily Mail [of the UK] 
"Palaeoartist Elisabeth Dayn├Ęs uses clay and silicone to make the models "She aims to give distant beings their face, identity and humanity back, from her Paris studio, where she has worked for around 20 years."


Rescuing a Pit Bull Who Just Wanted to be Loved. A MUST SEE! from Hope for Paws

Thursday, May 8, 2014

News Nuggets 1440

A Meerkat and pups at the Brevard Zoo in Florida.  From ZooBorns.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: BIG Savings Under Obamacare!

A $900 Billion Slowdown in Health Care Spending? Thanks, Obamacare (Joan McCarter) from Daily Kos
"The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has crunched those great Obamacare numbers from the Congressional Budget Office last month, and has figured out that there will be a $900 billion slowdown in federal health care spending, and it pinpoints where those savings come in."

Ukrainian Forces Move into the East

Ukraine Recovers Key Sites From Pro-Russian Rebels from the Huffington Post
"Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly claimed victories in capturing checkpoints surrounding the city, although such boasts have often proven overstated."

New Insights into the Great Meltdown of '08

What Timothy Geithner Really Thinks (Andrew Ross Sorkin) from New York Times Magazine
"There are those on Wall Street and in the plutocracy who feel that Geithner is a hero who deftly steered the country from economic ruin. To many ordinary Americans, however, he is considered a Wall Street puppet and a servant of the so-called banksters. And as much as Geithner hates to explain, he very much wants to be understood."

Putin: Assessing His Adversaries

Go Big, Get Crazy (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"Putin thinks he knows his adversaries better than they know themselves. He thinks the Americans will never be serious about energy, that the Europeans will never be serious about sanctions, that the Ukrainian reformers will never be serious about governance, and that he can control the separatist forces he’s unleashed in eastern Ukraine and dial them up or down as he pleases. The outcome of the Ukraine crisis rides primarily on whether he is right about all this. How’s his bet going so far?"

From JFK to FDR, Here’s How the Nation’s Memory Works

Obamacare Will be Vindicated by History from Salon
"From Gettysburg Address to space exploration, pitfalls of our nation's big moments rarely make the history books."

Obama -- Dealing with the World the Way it is

It’s Not Just About Obama (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times    
Friedman gets a two-fer today.
"Is American foreign policy today the way it is because Obama is the way he is (cerebral, cautious, dispassionate) or is Obama the way Obama is on foreign policy because America is the way America is today (burned by two failed wars and weakened by a great recession) and because the world is the way the world is (increasingly full of failed states and enfeebled U.S. allies)?  The answer is some of both, but I’d put a lot more emphasis on the latter."

Latino USA: Not as Catholic as They Used to be

The Catholic Church Isn't Doing So Well With Hispanic-Americans (Emma Green) from the Atlantic
"Why the U.S. Church's largest population is quickly converting away from the faith."

Sorry GOP, Obamacare Customers Paid First Premiums

Insurers Say Most Obamacare Customers Paid First Premiums from Bloomberg 
"Three large health insurers including WellPoint Inc. (WLP) and Aetna Inc. (AET) say that a high percentage of their new Obamacare customers are paying their first premiums, undermining a Republican criticism of enrollment in the program."

Dispatches from the GOP Alternative Universe: Duped by Bogus Obamacare Enrollment Figures

Insurance Execs Humiliate Wingnuts (Simon Maloy) from Salon
"After hailing "report" claiming just 67 percent of Obamacare enrollees paid premiums, here's why they're silent now."

Hollowing Out Schools and the Common Core

The Wingnut War On Common Core Is A Plot To Destroy Public Schools (Caitlin Dickson) from the Daily Beast
"The Common Core Standards Initiative has been hotly debated since it was first introduced in 2009. But a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that conservatives are pushing a radical fact-free agenda that aims to destroy public education as a whole."

Americans are Losing Faith in Science

Spin Nation from the Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"An unhealthy skepticism has crept into the average American’s perception of long-established scientific consensus."

A New Type of "Family Economics"

Nobel Prize-Winning Economist: We're Headed for Oligarchy (Rebecca Rosen) from the Atlantic
"Robert Solow on powerful families’ threat to democratic institutions."

Aging in America ... and Just About Everywhere Else

America Is About to Get Really Old (Derek Thompson) from the Atlantic 
"The rest of the developed world is about to get even older."

Economic Justice and the Future of Religious Progressives

Faith In Equality (E.J. Dionne et al.) from Brookings
"The persistence of poverty, the decline of social mobility and rising inequality in the U.S. all demand new departures in policy and politics. Yet the electorate and Congress are polarized and trust in government is at an all-time low.  Religious Americans have been essential to the success of movements for justice throughout American history. Today, they have an opportunity to sustain a movement for economic justice."

Reflections on Harry's Reid's Nuclear Option

McConnell's Nuclear Blunder Haunts Republicans (Jonathan Bernstein) from Bloomberg
"I’m sure that some Republicans have added Reid’s nuclear action to their list of Obama-era grievances, but for most people, the change in Senate procedure is long forgotten. The same would have been true if Republicans had changed the rules in January 2017 if they had a Senate majority and the White House. If Democrats win in 2016, however, this blunder will continue to harm Republicans."

Tea Party Candidates and the Role of "Outside" Groups

The GOP Has Finally Found a Way to Defeat the Tea Party (Josh Kraushaar and James Oliphant) from National Journal
"In March, McConnell told The New York Times he was going to "crush" outside conservative groups that dared to take on Senate incumbents. Tillis isn't an incumbent, but he is nonetheless an early beneficiary of the emerging establishment strategy to engage its own roster of outside groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a coordinated effort to ensure that the most electable GOP candidates get nominated, especially in pivotal Senate contests."

What Hillary is Saying Now May Make a Big Difference in '16

Clinton Can Win 45 States (Brent Budowsky) from The Hill 
"Ignore the vast wasteland of political “reporting” about a potential Clinton candidacy, such as the idiot punditry about Monica Lewinsky and the irrelevant bromides about who is allegedly up or down on Planet Hillary. Consider carefully, instead, what Clinton is saying this week."

Obama ... and Hillary's Chances in '16

The Hillary Difference (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post
"The key question for the 2014 elections is whether voting this fall — and Obama’s approval ratings — can come into line with the electorate’s broader Democratic leanings. There is also this: Obama’s difficulties do not appear to be hurting Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the
presidency in 2016."

The Right’s 1990s Problem

Hillary Clinton’s Unique Ability to Provoke Wingnut Lunacy (Jim Newall) from Salon
"Raising old Clinton scandals doesn't hurt Hillary as much as it exposes the insanity of folks like Laura Ingraham."

Saturday, May 3, 2014

News Nuggets 1438

DAYLEE PICTURE: Yalta in Ukraine overlooking the Black Sea.  From the Huffington Post.

The Nuggetsman will be on vacation for several days.  Postings may be periodic but will return on a regular basis by Thursday, May 8th.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Courts and Voter ID Laws

Why Wisconsin’s Voter ID Decision Is a Very Big Deal (Jamelle Bouie) from Slate
"A judge just eviscerated the conservatives’ favorite weapon for voter suppression."

Recession Returns ... to Russia

Russia Experiencing Recession Now, says IMF from the BBC
"Russia is "experiencing recession now" because of damage caused by the Ukraine crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said."

Can the US and its Allies "Stop" Russia?

The Unhappy Truth About Ukraine (Leslie Gelb) from the Daily Beast 
"For now, there’s nothing that can or will be done to stop Russia from playing ugly games with its non-NATO neighbors. But in the long term, Moscow can be made to regret its folly."

Sanctioning Russia, A Delicate Balancing Act

Challenging Putin’s Values (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times 
"Can Moscow ever define its interests differently under Putin? If not, how do we deter him without also weakening Russia to the point of instability? And if we do induce such instability over time with sanctions, do we know what comes next and will we be better off?"

Nostalgia for "Easy Hegemony"

Letting Go Of Global Hegemony (Andrew Sullivan) from The Dish
"... this analysis misses one core fact: Americans, in polling, really do not want to be policing the world ... They both want withdrawal from the world but feel nostalgic for the heady post-Cold War days of easy hegemony, a budget surplus and a global reputation not stained by military occupations and torture. Robert Kagan had a shrewd column a month ago on this strange confluence of a president pursuing popular policies and becoming unpopular as a result."

Global Geo-Politics and the "Division of Labor"

China's Mediterranean Presence Is an Opportunity for NATO (Christina Lin) from Real Clear World
"... many European countries saw Asia as a region too far, preferring a division of labor to focus on territorial defense and Europe's own backyard. ... This division of labor is gradually emerging, with the MENA region becoming a greater European concern, and responsibility for Asia falling primarily to the United States. But this raises practical questions over whether Europe can secure its neighborhood without U.S. support."

Foreign Policy and the Paradox of Public Opinion

Is Attacking Obama’s Foreign Policy a Winning Strategy? (Andrew Kohut) from Politico
"Most notably, the same public that criticizes Obama’s lack of assertiveness is now saying in record numbers that the United States should mind its own business and let other countries get along as best they can."

Benghazi Fever and Its Delusions

Why There Is No Cure for the GOP's Benghazi Fever (David Corn) from Mother Jones Magazine
"The latest outbreak of Benghazi-mania on the right shows the virus is only growing more resistant to reason."

When Economics Doesn't Matter

Why Economics Failed (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"... the result has been a vast economic and human catastrophe, with trillions of dollars of productive potential squandered and millions of families placed in dire straits for no good reason."

New Mayors and Expanding Opportunity

Will Liberal Cities Leave the Rest of America Behind? (Thomas Edall) from the New York Times
"Decades of globalization have been accompanied by diminishing opportunity for those in midlevel jobs; by stagnant wages, especially for men without college degrees; and by the virtual collapse of private-sector unionization. Standing in opposition to these adverse trends, a wave of newly elected mayors from New York to Seattle has taken office committed to deploying the power of city government and aggressive wage and tax policies to attack inequality and revive social and economic mobility."

The Poor: Falling Further Behind

Changed Life of the U.S. Poor: Better Off, but Far Behind from the New York Times
"Despite improved living standards, the poor have fallen further behind the middle class and the affluent in both consumption and income, and crucial services remain unattainable."

Confirmation Hearings: A Golden Opportunity for the Dems

Republicans Plan Yet Another Anti-Obamacare Circus (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"A new report this morning confirms that Republicans intend to use upcoming confirmation hearings for Obama’s HHS nominee to breathe new life into political attacks on Obamacare in advance of the 2014 elections. Democrats should absolutely relish this development."

Freedom of Speech ... and Its Consequences

The Sobering Message from Cliven Bundy’s and Donald Sterling’s Words (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"... such potential exposure forces us to more carefully select our words and edit our thoughts. This isn’t only a matter of survival but is essential to civilization. Speaking one’s mind isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be, as any well-balanced person reading the comments section quickly concludes. Ever wonder who those people are? I have some thoughts but my finely tuned self-editing skills prevent my sharing."

Christian Groups Slamming Palin

Large Christian Organization Starts Petition Against Sarah Palin (Leslie Salzillo) from Daily Kos
"Faithful America is the largest and fastest growing online community of Christians, putting faith into action for social justice. They have watched the right-wing political agendas highjack the true messages of Jesus, and this faith-based organization will no longer be silent. In her ever smug and sarcastic way, Sarah Palin, made an incredibly hateful, bizarre, and insensitive statement during the annual NRA/NRAAM event."
Large non-wingnut Christian organizations have been silent for WAY too long in the political arena.  Glad to hear there is at least ONE speaking out.

Broad Unpopularity for Politicians and Institutions

Where Have All The Popular Politicians Gone? (Chuck Todd et al.) from NBC News
"Where have all the popular politicians gone? President Obama isn’t the only American politician who’s struggling these days. In fact, unlike others, his favorable/unfavorable numbers are actually above water -- the first time for him since Oct. 2013. Consider these politicians,
institutions, and companies our most recent NBC/WSJ poll measured (from best to worst):"

Hillary Clinton leads Jeb Bush in theoretical matchup

Poll: GOP presidential race wide open (Philip Rucker and Scott Clement) from the Washington Post
"The 2016 Republican presidential nominating battle is shaping up as the most wide-open in a generation ... The picture is very different on the Democratic side, where former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton is the clear front-runner. In a hypothetical matchup, Clinton leads former Florida governor Jeb Bush — seen by many GOP establishment figures as the party’s strongest general-election candidate — 53 percent to 41 percent."

Friday, May 2, 2014

Christie Budget Talking Point Falls Apart

N.J. Budget Shortfall Grows to $800 Million from The Record [of New Jersey]
"Governor Christie’s predictions for tax collections have missed the mark, amounting to an $800 million shortfall that leaves little time and few places for the governor and lawmakers to find savings."
Another nail in the Christie presidential coffin.