Monday, June 30, 2014

News Nuggets 1465

DAYLEE PICTURE: A volcano on Reunion Island off of France.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Who Destroyed the Neocon's Credibility -- They Don't Have to Look Far

Dick Cheney Just Buried the Bush Doctrine (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"The former vice president rejected democracy-promotion in the Middle East. And today's conservatives agree with him."

The "New Normal" for the US Economy ... and Others

Get Ready for the Perma-Slump (Daniel Altman) from Foreign Policy Magazine 
"Sorry to be a downer, but the American economy’s best days are behind it. (And China’s are too.)"

Armed and Loaded Torpedoes Aimed at Our "Recovery"

Central Bankers Issue Strong Warning on Asset Bubbles from the New York Times
"Investors, desperate to earn returns even as official interest rates are at or near record lows, have been driving up the prices of stocks and other assets with little regard for risk, the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, said in its annual report published Sunday."

It is incredible that central bankers have the chutzpa to suggest making it “easier to fire people” and effectively tighten credit by “raising more capital”. The origins of this malaise can be traced to Bush’s success in funding the Iraq War entirely through debt.  The common sense “Guns or Butter” principle was jettisoned for supply side fantasy. In fact, Americans were engaged in an orgy of credit fueled consumption at the height of war spending. Of course these profits went straight into the pockets of the wealthy. The resultant crash, triggered by inflation and nefarious financial practices, resulted in further upward wealth transfer. First the wealthy were forgiven the vast majority of their corporate debt, and then they snapped up securities, real estate and commodities at fire sale prices, largely by leveraging zero interest government securities (government securities only available to the wealthy). Keep in mind, at these financial levels, there is no distinction between corporate and personal wealth. The wealth transfer to the 0.01% over the past 6 years is tantamount to the sacking of Peru by the Conquistadors.
 Posted by: hopeandespair

The Enduring Power of Bad Ideas

Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times 
"Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. ... And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed. But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt. ... The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people."

GOP WIse Men - Not So Wise Anymore

Where Did the GOP’s Foreign Policy Wise Men Go? (John Dickerson) from Slate
"They better speak up. Because Dick Cheney and Rand Paul are speaking for them."

The Past (and Future?) of GOP Noninterventionism

1952 All Over Again (Michael Gerson) from National Journal
"It's been more than six decades since Republican noninterventionists were this influential. They lost the battle to control the party then—and chances are, they're going to lose this time, too."

The Consequences of a World with Many Older People

The Shifting Shape of Age Around the World (Uri Friedman) from the Atlantic
"Age breakdowns used to resemble pyramids. Now they're rectangles."

It’s not hard to figure out what happens to all the baby boomers. Just take a look around and you’ll see them working lousy minimum wage service jobs everywhere. Many boomers dreams of retirement have become nightmares of financial insecurity. Boomers have been fleeced by their corporate masters, ruthlessly targeted by the parasitic “retirement planning” industry, and have undermined their own financial security through a life of excessive consumption. Many if not most of the corporate retirement plans boomers were counting on have been, or soon will be, transferred to the wealthy through bankruptcies, takeovers, mergers, and other forms of corporate legerdemain. Even municipal and state retirements are in jeopardy; it appears that Federal retirement is the only unassailable nest egg. Now the very same financial companies who engineered this colossal theft, have not missed the opportunity to profit from the fear and insecurity they themselves created, by selling fleeced boomers “retirement products”, parasitically managed little spoonful’s’ of money which provide nobody a decent retirement save the charlatans who created them. Add to all this the pathetic state of the average boomers personal spending and savings habits, and the result is a 70 something grandma or grandpa, earning minimum wage to stock shelves at Wal-Mart just to make the Medicare co-pay. It used to embarrass me to have an exhausted grandmother serving me cheeseburgers, but it has become so common that I hardly notice it anymore.
Posted by: hopeandespair

The Meanings of "Meaningful Work"

What Jobs Do People Find Most Meaningful? (Rebecca Rosen) from the Atlantic
"For meaningful work and high pay, become a doctor. For work that doesn't feel meaningful, become a lawyer."

The Legacies of the Boomer Generation

As Leaders, Boomers are a Bust (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post 
"Generational boundaries are inexact. McConnell, Reid and Nancy Pelosi are all, technically, the last of the Silent Generation, though their uncompromising, values-based politics are closer to that of the boomers they lead. Obama, though technically one of the last boomers, is in his detached leadership more representative of Generation X. But if the dates are fuzzy, the damage the boomers have done to our politics becomes clearer all the time."

Clinton's Real Strength in the Democratic Party

How Hillary Won Over the Skeptical Left (Noam Scheiber) from the New Republic
"The surprising source of Clinton's invincibility."

Why the Tiny House Movement is Taking Off

Living Large in 150 Square Feet from Salon
""It's not about the tiny house, it's about the life you're going to lead in it""

The Sources of Hillary's Problems and Her Promise

A Unified Theory of Hillary (Peter Beinart) from the National Journal  
"To understand what kind of president she would be, consider that her greatest successes and worst failures have the same explanation."


Billy Beane’s Ascendant A’s Are Playing a Brand-New Brand of Moneyball (Will Leitch) from New York Magazine
"Beane’s A’s are comfortably atop the American League West—the division they’ve won the past two seasons—and have the best record in Major League Baseball. They’re still in the same stadium, with the same uncertainty, with the same owner. They have the sixth-lowest opening-day payroll in the game. Everyone knows their old tricks. And yet here they are: on top of the baseball world again.  How have the A’s done it?"


A Frightened Homeless Dog gets Rescued During a Firework Display from Hope for Paws

Friday, June 27, 2014

News Nuggets 1464

DAYLEE PICTURE: Chinchaycocha Lake at Junin in Peru.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.
With the Independence Day holiday approaching, postings next week may be spotty.  It is a surprisingly busy news time so I will be getting something out but not every day.  Also note, we have a new voice here at the News Nuggets: hopeandespair (along with yours truly) will be posting to the main page in the future -- so we will have new views, more analysis etc. and provide new insights.  See hopeandespair's first posting.  Feel free to give feedback in the comments section.  --  Nuggetsman

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Controversy is Far More Profitable than the Truth

If You Were An Iraq War Critic, You're Probably Not Being Asked To Go On TV from the Huffington Post
"Despite catastrophic misjudgments -- that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that U.S. forces would be greeted as liberators, that the war would pay for itself with oil revenues -- the Iraq war boosters keep getting booked, while those politicians and journalists who were skeptical of the Bush administration's “slam dunk” case for war remain largely on the sidelines. ... Though Cheney and Wolfowitz “got things so disastrously wrong,” he said, the media gives them platforms “to create controversy, and that controversy will be enhanced by whatever they say, irrespective of whether it's accurate or not.”"

The Ghosts of World War I Now Haunt the Middle East

The Middle East That France and Britain Drew Is Finally Unravelling.  And there's very little the U.S. can do to stop it (John Judis) from the New Republic
A big excerpt is in order here:
"... these various bad actors are bit players in a drama that goes back at least to World War I. What is happening is that the arrangements that the British and French created during and after World War I—which established the very existence of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, and later
contributed to the creation of Israel—are unraveling. Some of these states will survive in their present form, but others will not. ... The British and French created the future states—not in order to ease their inhabitants’ transition to self-rule, as they were supposed to do under the mandate of the League of Nations, but in order to maintain their own rule over lands they believed had either great economic or strategic significance."


The Problem with "Warfare Queens" from the Daily Show
"You know what, I'm worried. I'm really worried about the Republicans. Their inability to wean themselves off of military intervention. They have a culture of defendency, if you will. And I believe it's turned them all into warfare queens. (audience laughter) And I think we need to cut them off for their own good. (audience cheering and applause)"
I think we have a new term for the neocon nutjobs who have been filling your TV screen for the last two weeks! Nuggetsman

So Much for Obamacare Not Working

The Incompetence Dogma (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"... it’s worth pointing out just how completely ideology has trumped evidence in the health policy debate. And I’m not just talking about the politicians; I’m talking about the wonks. It’s remarkable how many supposed experts on health care made claims about Obamacare that were clearly unsupportable."

Who Gets Heard in Today's Media Cesspool?

No, Republicans Won't Impeach Obama (Ezra Klein) form Vox
"There's a real problem in American politics where people of one party get overexposed to —and end up overweighting marginal voices in the other party. It's a function of a more politically polarized media environment: there's more audience in highlighting the most offensive comments from the other side than there is in highlighting the most important. The result is liberals end up with an incorrectly extreme view of the Republican Party, and vice versa."

Understanding Where Things Are with the IRS "Scandal"

The Maddening Illogic of the IRS 'Coverup' Conspiracy Theory (Brian Buetler) from the New Republic
"... the basic illogic underlying the right's embrace scandal politics. Republicans are no longer investigating allegations. They're assuming the conclusion that a scandal is afoot, and working backwards to prove it."

Clinton, the Obama Presidency, and What to Say in 2016

Hillary Clinton’s Truly Hard Choice: Change or Continuity? (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"Today the country is in a slow recovery and President Obama’s approval ratings are low. This might suggest that the best course would be for Clinton to distance herself from her former boss. But Obamacare and other policies of this president are very popular among many Democratic groups. Again, the three people in her shoes who won all ran on continuity."

A More Nuanced Political Spectrum in the US?

America's Ideological Splits Aren't As Simple As Left, Right And Center from the Huffington Post
"The report divides the American public into eight groups, many of which defy the traditional liberal/conservative boundaries. Of those, the three most consistently partisan are also the most over-represented in the political sphere, making up just a combined 36 percent of the public, but 57 percent of the politically engaged Americans who regularly vote and pay attention to the news."

I took the online test and came out as a solid liberal, as I expected. But where I am in a distinct minority (5%) is my view that peace comes from military strength more than diplomacy. I believe that the mere threat of overwhelming force is enough to cause most states to carefully consider the consequences of their actions. The Dayton Accords that successfully ended the Bosnian War were held at a massive U.S.A.F. base, not a Vancouver cannabis café. If civility and comity where more critical to world peace than arms, New Zealand would be known more for the arbitration of world affairs than as the filming location of the Hobbit.
Posted by: hopeandespair

The big caveat I would add here is that you have to do both the military and diplomatic pieces, and you have to do both of them well!  Looking back on the 2nd Bush administration, they did the military part with gross incompetence and ... simply didn't do diplomacy at all.  While I could be wrong, looking back on W's eight years in office, there were zero (0) diplomatic breakthroughs at any of the world's hotspots (or even lukewarm spots).  Based on the hysterical invective being directed at Obama for the last six years around his diplomatic missions, I've concluded that the core of the Republican Party and the far right foreign policy "establishment" right now simply don't believe in diplomacy.  Period.  The thing that is most concerning to me around this development, is that it has been SO LONG since Republicans actually caused anything diplomatically, that the how-to-do-it-effectively chops are beginning to pass out of their institutional memory.  Think about it. Bush 1 did this stuff pretty effectively.  That was twenty-two years ago!!  When was the last time you saw Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, or even Colin Powell (on a foreign policy matter)?  The "effective ones" are persona non grata while the authors of a "total fail" approach get ALL the air time! -- Nuggetsman


Virginia Republicans Broke Into Governor's Office To Block State's Medicaid Expansion from the Huffington Post
"On June 15, without the permission of administration officials or the Virginia State Police, House Speaker William J. Howell (R) enlisted the Capitol Police and clerks from the office of the House of Delegates to break into Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) secure office suite to deliver the state budget when the governor was not around. The break-in was part of an ongoing effort by Virginia Republicans to block McAuliffe’s promise to expand Medicaid in the state."
THIS is exactly what I was talking about yesterday when I said that GOPers will resort to more and more desperate, possibly criminal acts as they continue to swim in the ocean of hysterical, Obamacare-is-communism, Democrats-are-evil rhetoric.  If this is what the law-makers in one state are doing openly, you have to wonder what is going on behind the scenes.


What Happened When One Woman Had Her Picture Photoshopped In 25 Different Countries from the Huffington Post
""Make me look beautiful.” That's what Esther Honig asked 40 photo editors to do -- in over 25 countries. Using the service-sharing site Fiverr, Honig, a human interest reporter, sent a picture of herself to be photoshopped around the world to see just how much cultural values are applied to standards of beauty. The results throw the idea of "the perfect woman" into sharp relief."


The War to End All Wars? Hardly. But It Did Change Them Forever (Steven Erlanger) from the New York Times
"World War I destroyed kings, kaisers, czars and sultans; it demolished empires; it introduced chemical weapons; it brought millions of women into the work force."
Check out the commemorative series of articles the NY Times is running on World War I HERE.  -- Nuggetsman

Thursday, June 26, 2014

News Nuggets 1463

DAYLEE PICTURE: Aerial photo of the river delta over Hvitarvatn near Langjokull glacier in Iceland.  From National Geographic.

Catch my appearance yesterday on the Lynn Cullen Live! Program.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET!!: Putin Turning Away from Invading Ukraine?

Putin Waves a White Flag on Ukraine from the Daily Beast
"Russia’s president signals he won’t invade, but that doesn’t mean he’s really serious about ending the crisis there."

On Defense: Europe Needs to Carry More of the Bag

Europe Needs to Get Serious about Its Defense (Zachary Keck) from the National Interest
"America has spent the better part of the post–Cold War era urging its European allies to spend more on their militaries. ... There are two reasons why the Europeans have neglected their own security."

More Tastes of Recession in This "Recovery"

Economy in First Quarter Was Worse Than Everybody Thought (Neil Irwin) from the New York Times
"A combination of shrinking business inventories, terrible winter weather and a surprise contraction in health care spending drove the first-quarter decline, which is the worst since the first quarter of 2009, when the economy shrank at a 5.4 percent rate."

Some of the For-Real Costs of Global Warming

Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming from the New York Times
"More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil. That is a picture of what may happen to the United States economy in a world of unchecked global warming, according to a major new report released Tuesday by a coalition of senior political and economic figures from the left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration."
Ah, a quick glance shows that they're all communists.  Global warming, after all, is just another reason these folks have found to raise taxes and ruin good-paying mining jobs. -- Nuggetsman

Global heating will be the context that orders virtually all economic activity. Consider the resources and manpower needed to deal with the gradual flooding of coastal cities alone, (basically 90% of the world’s major metropolises).  Add to this the prospect of the continuous relocation and replacement of building and infrastructure, the cost of complete unpredictability in agricultural systems, and the price of historically unprecedented population dislocations, and you begin to appreciate the astronomical scale of the problem. Ironically, all the solutions we can currently envision require the generation of massive amounts of energy based on what else, fossil fuels.
 It is humanities complete and total lack of knowledge about energy, and how it is produced and consumed, that is the very essence of this looming catastrophe. One square meter of sunlight now, can never replace the oil and coal created by hundreds of millions of years of the same meter of sunlight. As a physicist friend of mine pointed out, “If you want to know how much energy a gallon of gasoline contains, just push your car to the supermarket and back home again”. Carbon based consumption is the very heart of our civilization.
 posted by:  hopeandespair

Big LGBT Decision in the Federal Courts!

Federal Court Rules That Gay Couples Have Constitutional Right To Marry from the Associated Press
"A federal appeals court ruled for the first time Wednesday that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, extending the movement's legal winning streak and bringing the issue a big step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court. The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they choose a partner of the same sex."

MS-SEN: Cochran Gets Help from Unexpected Source

Thad Cochran Escapes Bitter Tea Party in Mississippi (Ben Jacobs) from the Daily Beast
"The Republican establishment dodged another potentially embarrassing Tea Party challenge with the help of Mississippi’s African-American voters."


"Why Cantor's Loss Caught Journalists Flat-footed (Richard Benedetto) from Real Clear Politics
"Rather than simply inform voters about who the candidates are and what they stand for, our stories sometimes appear designed to show our colleagues in the media and the politicians we cover how much we know about the game. Or worse, we often paint overly negative portraits of the candidates and contribute to voter malaise.  We have forgotten who we should be writing for: real people."

Bridge-Gate II ... Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

2nd Bridge Inquiry Said to Be Linked to Christie from the New York Times
"While the inquiries were prompted by the apparently politically motivated lane closings at the George Washington Bridge last year, these investigations center on another crossing: the Pulaski Skyway, the crumbling elevated roadway connecting Newark and Jersey City. They are being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission."

Hillary and the GOP's Platform for 2016

Hillary Clinton Just Tipped Her Hand About Her 2016 Platform from the New Republic
But Republicans are too busy cheering her gaffes to notice (Brian Buetler) from the New Republic
"...  if Republicans really think Hillary Clinton's current tone deafness is going to make her the Mitt Romney of 2016, then they both fundamentally misunderstand Romney's actual liabilities as a candidate, and will likely remain ill prepared for the welcome awaiting the party's policy agenda, which remains fundamentally plutocratic."

“Poll Watchers” Head to Black Voting Sites

Crazy Mississippi Runoff Turns Ugly (Jim Newall) from Salon
"Thad Cochran needs black voters to stave off the Tea Party. Now Tea Party "poll watchers" are entering the fray."

What Do You Mean You Couldn't Win with GOP Votes Alone!? What a Thought!

Thad Cochran’s Mississippi Strategy Can Work for Both Parties (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"Cochran’s campaign was thus a model not for other Republican candidates but for Democrats who are too wary of saying outright that government does a lot of good. This pro-government message drew African Americans but also various establishment figures in the state well aware of the benefits of Washington’s largess."

Colorado Becoming More Blue ... or More Polarized?

Colorado's Primary: a GOP Addicted to Crazy Can't Paint it Red in November (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"The legend of Tom Tancredo will not continue. But is this really a state turning purple, or one turning blue so fast it just looks moderate?"

The REAL Voter Fraud Scandal!

Shorewood Resident Charged with 13 Felonies Over Alleged Multiple Voting from WisPolitics
"According to those records, Monroe was considered by investigators to be the most prolific multiple voter in memory. He was a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker and state Sen. Alberta Darling, both Republicans, and allegedly cast five ballots in the June 2012 election in which Walker survived a recall challenge."
It is certainly interesting that GOPers have been the most vocal and active in screaming about voter fraud -- and yet in the last decade and more, by my memory, the ONLY people who have been accused of serious voter fraud ... are Republicans!  My guess about this is that in the conservative alternative universe, the Dems have been engaged in and gotten away with MASSIVE voter fraud for years -- and that what theses poor GOP multi-voters are doing is simply a tepid push back in the face of wholesale donkey lawlessness.  Never mind they have NO evidence of Dem voter fraud.  None.  If my guess is correct, this speaks to the larger problem of what Republicans will do and may be capable of if their world view is one where Democratic criminality is all-pervasive: it justifies rabid Republicans in taking very extreme measures to "save America."  Something to watch for in November and in 2016!

Clear Channel Continues to Hemorrhage Money

Snap! Rush Limbaugh's 'Radio Daddy' Clear Channel Reports $309 Million In 4th Quarter Losses from Daily Kos
"It's no surprise the Bain-owned media giant, home of Rush Limbaugh's vile commentary, continues to fail on Wall Street. Since Limbaugh's 3-day on-air attack of then unknown Sandra Fluke, two years ago, the public protests against 'hate radio' have only strengthened and grown in numbers."


Dog Shows Baby How to Crawl from Buzzfeed

Monday, June 23, 2014

News Nuggets 1462

DAYLEE PICTURE: Cibiana Pass in the Dolomites in northern Italy.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Accountability Coming to the NeoCons?

Reporter Who Was Wrong About Iraq: Stop Criticizing Those Who Were Wrong About Iraq from Talking Points Memo
This may not seem like a "Big Nugget" kind of story, but I think it showcases exactly the conversation that should be accompanying the analysis of how things are now going in Iraq.  People need to start telling the truth about the history of the Iraq conflict.  A big excerpt is in order here:
"Fox News contributor Judith Miller, whose reporting on Iraq's weapons of mass turned out to be stunningly wrong, said Friday that the media has been too hard on other individuals whose pre-war pronouncements also turned out to be stunningly wrong. ... "What the media should be doing is encouraging everyone who has a view of what to do now in Iraq to come forward and discuss it rationally," Miller said. "But they're doing the opposite. They're trying to shut down people like Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney, all of the 'neoconservatives' who brought us this war. It's not helpful."
No. No. No.  This is PRECISELY the time to bring some accountability to the grossly irresponsible blathering these people did ten years ago -- and, golly gee, I'm so sorry that that is now interfering with their efforts to continue to cash in on their misplaced notoriety and (in Miller's case here) resurrect your career.  Historical note: while I was certainly  young in the 1970s and early 1980s and not the news hound that I am now, it is my recollection that, following the Vietnam disaster, folks like MacNamara, Bundy, and Westmoreland et al., had the good grace to go away and shut up for the most part.  In fact, I will have to say, my opinion of George W. Bush has risen SUBSTANTIALLY during Obama's years in office because he, at least, has had the good grace to be silent and to let others try to undo the damage he and his people did. 

Learning the Lessons of War

Republicans: Now is the Time to Admit You were Wrong about the Iraq War (Michael Brendan Dougherty) from The Week
"The GOP must undo the damage to its foreign policy brand."

New Iraq Conflict Requires New Alliances

A Winning Strategy for Iraq and Syria (Leslie Gelb) from the Daily Beast 
"It’s time for the U.S. to form an alliance between Baghdad, Damascus, Tehran, and Moscow—and divide Iraq and Syria into semi-autonomous ethnic regions."

Neocons Never Learn

Why Their New Warmongering is So Shameless (Simon Richter) from Salon
"The same hawks who suckered us into war with Iraq are at it again. It's time they be held accountable."

Neo-Cons Live in an Invented Past

Armchair Hawks Still Cling To Fantasies About Iraq (Cynthia Tucker) from the National Memo
"Cheney’s ahistorical analysis reminds me of the old Soviet Union, where apparatchiks routinely erased previous party leaders out of photographs in an effort to persuade observers that they never existed. But evidence of the former vice president’s attempts to rewrite the past abounds."

Insurers Pressuring Big Pharma on Prices

Health Insurers Pressing Down on Drug Prices from the New York Times 
"Determined to slow the rapid rise in drug prices, more health plans are refusing to cover certain drugs unless companies charge less. There are signs the strategy is working."

How to Expand Medicaid in Deep Red States?

Va. Governor to Bypass Lawmakers, Expand Medicaid from the Associated Press
"Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vowed Friday to bypass the General Assembly and expand Medicaid eligibility for about 400,000 low-income residents on his own. ... "Let me be crystal clear, I am moving forward to get health care for Virginian citizens," McAuliffe said at news conference at the capitol."
It'll be interesting to see if McAuliffe gets away with this.  If PA Governor Corbett (R) loses as predicted in November, his replacement may be faced with the same option next year.  Indeed, there are many GOP dominated states where there is little or no prospect of the legislatures flipping Democratic anytime soon -- but there are few states where a Democratic governor is so unlikely.  There could be a roadmap here for how those governors in the future might bring Obamacare to those right-leaning states.

We're SHOCKED! SHOCKED! Obamacare Helps the Poor!

Republicans Finally Admit Why They Really Hate Obamacare (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"... in the months since the law has come into effect, a steady stream of far more solid data has come in, and the doomsaying predictions are being hunted to extinction. The right’s ideological objections to Obamacare remain, but I can’t think of a single practical analytic claim they made that still looks correct. ... Conservatives don’t like transfer programs because they require helping the less fortunate with other peoples’ money."
Check this article -- it debunks just about EVERY meaningful criticism of Obamacare!

The Continuing Resilience of the Klan

This Map Shows All 160 KKK Chapters in the US from Vox
"Wise County's experience is a reminder that the KKK isn't some silly relic of the past, but still real and potentially dangerous in many places around the US. The SPLC has identified 160 chapters of various Klan orders around the country, and NewsOne put them all on this map:..."

Battle The Wicked Or Fight For The Needy?

Conservatives Clash (Jon Ward) from the Huffington Post
"The placement of a Barack Obama figurine in a urinal at a conference for Christian conservatives Friday captured why these gatherings have become so damaging for the Republican Party. The Faith & Freedom Coalition's conference, like the Conservative Political Action Conference and the Values Voter Summit, has attracted thoughtful conservatives but also politically tone-deaf, fringe right-wingers, and put the latter on display. The media broadcast their behavior to the country, and they come to represent all conservatives everywhere."
The only problem with this analysis is that the world awaits for "conservatives everywhere" to put these people in their place, to condemn them in no uncertain terms, and to embarrass them as the lunkheads they are.  When it comes to Obama, the last serious attempt I saw of a mainline conservative doing this was McCain -- in the '08 election.  Non-fringe conservatives, lawmakers, and pundits have otherwise been almost completely silent and indeed have been perfectly happy to reap the short-term rewards of the rhetoric of the over-the-toppers for ... six years now.  

All the GOP is Left With This Year: Attacking Obama

A Year of Living Negatively (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post 
"The prospect of months of attacks and more attacks reflects the depth of disillusionment with Washington. This is the best thing Republicans have going for them, but it might also provide Democrats with their clearest path to holding the Senate."

After Primary Battles, 2014 Elections Takes Shape

Here are the 12 Most Competitive Senate Races in the Country (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"Below we’ve ranked the 12 most competitive Senate races in the country. The No. 1 race is the most likely to switch party control."


Why Free Play Is the Best Summer School from the Atlantic
"The more time children spend in structured, parent-guided activities, the worse their ability to work productively towards self-directed goals."


A Terrified Abandoned Dog Gets Rescued from Hope-for-Paws

Friday, June 20, 2014

News Nuggets 1461

DAYLEE PICTURE: Polperro in Cornwall in the UK.  From the Huffington Post.

Neither Bush Nor Obama "Lost" Iraq: Sykes-Picot was the BIG Loser

The New Map of the Middle East (Jeffrey Goldberg) from the Atlantic 
"Why should we fight the inevitable break-up of Iraq?"

What Will Make Any Difference in Iraq?

An Enclave Strategy for Iraq (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post  
"Today, across the region, from Libya to Syria, that structure of authority has collapsed and people are reaching for their older identities — Sunni, Shiite, Kurd. Sectarian groups, often Islamist, have filled the power vacuum, spilling over borders and spreading violence. In Iraq and elsewhere, no amount of U.S. military power can put Humpty Dumpty back together."

The Years of Imperial Thinking

George W. Bush and the Birth of a Nightmare (Tom Englehardt) from Salon
"There's perhaps no greater influence on the history of modern Iraq than the world-historic hubris of Bush 43."

The Loneliness of the Tyrant

The Loneliness of the Tyrant (Robert Kaplan) from Real Clear World 
"The overthrow of the Romanian dictator during Christmas of 1989 had terrified al Assad like no event in the Middle East could have. For if a tyrant who ruled in the manner of a Stalinist totalitarian could be violently toppled, then no dictator was safe on his throne. At this moment the diplomat, an acquaintance of mine, saw in all its intensity the utter loneliness of absolute power."

Surprise, surprise! Anti-Semitism on the Rise in France

A New Wave of Anti-Semitism Rises in France from the Washington Post 
"From comedy shows to political discourse, Jews in France are facing hate speech and violence in what community leaders are decrying the worst climate of anti-Semitism in decades."

Other Dimensions of Our Current "Recovery"

The Asset-Rich, Income-Poor Economy (Warsh and Druckenmiller) from the Wall Street Journal
"The Fed's balance-sheet recovery hasn't stirred business investment, an opportunity killer for workers. ... The Fed's extraordinary tools are far more potent in goosing balance-sheet wealth than spurring real income growth. The most recent employment report reveals the troubling story for Main Street. While 217,000 jobs were created in May, incomes for most Americans remain under stress, with only modest improvements in hours worked and average hourly earnings"

To Straight And Back

My Life as an Ex-Ex-Gay Man (John Paulk) from Politico
"In fact, for more than ten years I was one of the nation’s leading spokesmen for the “ex-gay” movement. ... But I was in denial. It wasn’t in fact true, any of it. Worse than being wrong, it was harmful to many people—and caused me years of pain in my own life."

The Quiet in the Democratic Primary Season

The Left's Quiet Advance in Democratic Primaries (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"Progressives tout their victories as proof they're successfully pushing the party to adopt bolder ideological stands."

Growing Isolation of the Tea Party

Tea Party Stands Alone on Key Issues (Chuck Todd et al.,) from NBC News  
"There’s the Tea Party -- and then there’s everyone else."

NJ-GOV: Bridge-Gate Investigators Closing in on Christie

Exclusive: Prosecutor is Closing in on Gov. Christie from Esquire Magazine 
"Indictments against four cronies are near certain, sources say. Only question is if David Samson, Christie's longtime mentor, will flip."

WI-GOV: Walker's 'Criminal Scheme' in Wisconsin?

John Doe Prosecutors Allege Scott Walker at Center of 'Criminal Scheme' from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Prosecutors allege Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups to help his campaign and those of Republican state senators facing recall elections during 2011 and 2012, according to documents unsealed Thursday."

WI-GOV: Walker's Emerging Fundraising Scandal

Prosecutors Allege ‘Criminal Scheme’ Involving Gov. Scott Walker (David Freelander) from the Daily Beast
"Freshly unsealed court papers suggest the Wisconsin governor was illegally fundraising and coordinating with Karl Rove, the Club for Growth, and Koch brothers-backed groups."

Why Criminal Probes and Infighting are Taking Over the Party

GOP’s Sudden Scandal-mania (Simon Maloy) from Salon
"From Walker and Christie's falls from grace, to revived Tea Party hostility, here's why the party is coming apart."

Cantor's Loss: A Pyrrhic Victory for the Tea Party?

The Tea Party Won the Cantor War — but Lost the Peace (Matt K. Lewis) from The Week
"What good is winning if you can't govern?"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

News Nuggets 1460

Oneonta Gorge in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.  From National Geographic.
The Nuggetsman will be traveling the next couple of days -- new nuggets will appear later this week!

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Judging Presidents by Their Achievements, Not their Press

Yes He Could (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
Krugman captures much of my central message about the Obama administration! 
"Several times in recent weeks I’ve found myself in conversations with liberals who shake their heads sadly and express their disappointment with President Obama. Why? I suspect that they’re being influenced, often without realizing it, by the prevailing media narrative. ... But this is all wrong. You should judge leaders by their achievements, not their press, and in terms of policy substance Mr. Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction."

NeoCons Have One More Undeserved Encore Appearance

'The Past Is Never Dead,' Bill Faulkner Told Us—but He Didn't Know About the Iraq War (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"Some people have earned the right not to be listened to."

The Iraq Conflict: Hard to Find Support for Renewal Anywhere

Could the U.S. Have Stopped the Collapse of Iraq? (Joshua Keating) from Slate
"Given that he was elected in large part to end the war, and that the war continued for three years and hundreds more soldiers died under this presidency, it’s not very realistic to expect that he would have expended much effort and capital prolonging a military operation that neither the Iraqi government nor the American people supported anymore."

Iraq Conflict Divides Some Big GOP Voices

Glenn Beck: 'Liberals, You Were Right' About Iraq War from the Huffington Post 
"There are many things you'd never expect Glenn Beck to say: "Barack Obama is a great president," "the Affordable Care Act was a huge success," "amnesty for all undocumented immigrants!" But "liberals, you were right" tops them all. And yet:..."

Obama Bans Workplace Discrimination Against LGBT Community

Obama Drafting Executive Order On LGBT Job Discrimination from the Huffington Post
"President Barack Obama has directed his staff to draft an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors, a White House official told The Huffington Post. The move is the clearest indication to date that the administration is prepared to take action on LGBT rights where Congress has fallen short."

The Phenomenon Called "Beltway Blindness"

Eric Cantor’s Defeat Exposed a Beltway Journalism Blind Spot (Robert Carr) from the New York Times
"It’s now clear why the primary defeat of the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, came so completely out of the blue last week: Beltway blindness that put a focus on fund-raising, power-brokering and partisan back-and-forth created a reality distortion field that obscured the will of the people. But that affliction was not Mr. Cantor’s alone; it is shared by the political press"

What We Need Now from the War Hawks of a By-Gone Day...

Fool Me Once (Jamelle Bouie) from Slate
"Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, and their fellow neocons botched Iraq. Now they want to tell you what they think. Ignore them."

Cantor's Fall a Death Rattle for th GOP?

The Tea Party's Defeat of Cantor Wasn't a Political Earthquake (John Aziz) from The Week 
"Republicans and the Tea Party aren't going to be able to win forever by pushing harder to the right. In the more liberal country that America is becoming, the Tea Party's political menu of Know-Nothing anti-immigrant fervor, continuous re-investigations into Benghazi, government shutdowns, Voter ID laws, and Ayn Rand fetishism will appeal to a smaller and smaller base."

GOP in Disarray at the State Level

GOP Meeting As Party Hits 'Rock Bottom' from the Huffington Post 
"The Idaho Republican running for House majority leader had to adjourn the state GOP convention on Saturday without accomplishing much of anything, after infighting brought the meeting to a total standstill."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

News Nuggets 1459

A baby swan at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: In the 21st Century Media, Being Consistently Wrong is NO PROBLEM!

On Iraq, Let’s Ignore Those Who Got it All Wrong (Paul Waldman) from the Washington Post
"We have now reached the rather ironic situation in Iraq where we find ourselves allied with Iran in an effort to save the corrupt and thuggish government of Nouri al-Maliki, while the army we spent eight years training falls apart. I'm not going to pretend to have unique insight into Iraqi politics. ... But there are few people who understand Iraq less than the Republican politicians and pundits who are being sought out for their comments on the current situation."
Will this happen?  Hardly.  In fact, this Sunday's talk shows will be completely filled with these clowns!!

The Iraq Gov't Gets a Serious Vote of "No Confidence"

Maliki and Iraq's Disaster (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"The stunning gains this week by Iraq's Sunni insurgents carry a crucial political message: Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, is a polarizing sectarian politician who has lost the confidence of his army and nation. He cannot put a splintered Iraq together again, no matter how many weapons the Obama administration sends him."

Sunken Cost Logic Did Not Justify Staying in Iraq and It Doesn't Justify Going Back

America: Stay Out of Iraq (Benjamin H. Friedman) from the National Interest
"The major reason using force to defend Iraq’s government is a bad idea is that it always was. Advocates of going into Iraq, like advocates of staying in Iraq in past years, tend to employ sunk costs logic, where the pursuit of a good idea before somehow makes it sensible now. Invocations of dead and wounded Americans’ sacrifice give such thinking added resonance but do not make it sensible."

The Best Way to Protect US Interests: Blame Obama!

As Iraq Implodes, Neocons Still Have No Plan Except ‘Blame Obama’ (Joe Conason) from National Memo
A long excerpt is in order:
"... the Iraqis wanted our troops out – even the tiny force of roughly 3,000 advisors that Obama hoped to provide. He was left with no choice because the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki refused to grant legal immunity from prosecution to any U.S. troops. Imagine what McCain and Graham would have said had Obama decided to leave American officers and troops vulnerable to arrest and imprisonment by local Iraqi warlords – especially when such an incident inevitably occurred. ... Neither McCain nor any of the other trash-talking statesmen on the Republican side has much useful advice to offer the president. They say we shouldn’t have pulled our troops out, but they sure don’t want to send them back in. Drop some bombs on the jihadist camps, they suggest – knowing very well that won’t do much to clean up this horrific mess."

Is it Constructive (or Even Possible) for the US to Shape Outcomes in Iraq?

Iraq and the Illusion of Control (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"This suffers from the same flaw that mars the rest of Salam’s article, which is the expectation that an American military presence gives the U.S. the ability to “shape” political outcomes in a significant and constructive way."

Saudi Arabia Experiencing Big Religious Changes

Atheism Explodes in Saudi Arabia, Despite State-enforced Ban (Caryle Murphy) from Salon
"In the "cradle of Islam," a growing number of people are quietly declaring themselves nonbelievers."

Obamacare's Best Week Yet!!

Everything’s Coming up Aces for the ACA (Steve Benen) from MSNBC
"The news surrounding the Affordable Care Act has been so good this week, it’s almost hard to know where to start. ..."

ObamaCare Looking Better to Key Players

More Insurers Joining ObamaCare from Roll Call
"A growing number of insurers say they intend to offer coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges next year. Insurance plans in New Hampshire, Michigan and Illinois are planning to enter into the federal marketplaces after deciding not to participate during ObamaCare’s first enrollment period, according to news reports."

NRA’s “Really Big Problem”

Why it’s Dependent on a Dwindling Fringe (Elias Esquith) from Salon
"Gun lobby is now reliant on an increasingly radical right-wing sect -- and that spells trouble, an expert explains."

Right-Wing Activists: Freedom of Religion = Freedom to Discriminate

Right-Wing Activists: Yep, ‘Religious Freedom’ Protects Discrimination Against Jews (Jay Michaelson) from the Daily Beast
"In two separate incidents, conservative activists have been unable to explain why their desired ability to discriminate against gays wouldn’t also apply to Jews. Then they finally admit it: there’s fundamentally no difference."

The Base's Message to GOP: STOP Making Deals!

Conservatives Don’t Hate the Immigration Deal. They Hate All Deals. (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Conservative Republicans may not hate immigration reform, but they hate compromise in general. By an 82-14 margin, liberals want their elected officials to make compromises. By a 63-32 margin, conservatives want elected officials not to compromise. Republicans simply don’t trust bipartisan deals. It’s an ideological trait that goes beyond mere hatred for Obama, which is considerable."

How Obama Uses the Minimum Wage Battle

Working the GOP’s Weak Spot (Paul Glastris) from the Washington Monthly 
"How Barack Obama is following Bill Clinton's minimum wage game plan to try to hold onto the Senate."

GOP Divisions Not Based So Much on Ideological Differences

How The Godfather Explains GOP Leadership Politics (John Pitney) from Politico Magazine
"Commentators frequently describe GOP leadership elections as fights between moderates and conservatives. That dividing line is important, but such contests are seldom just about ideology. They involve a wide range of personal relationships and political strategies."

The Right's History of Grievances with the GOP

Alternative Memories of the Bush Administration (Ed Kilgore) from Washington Monthly
"... there’s an important aspect of conservative grievances with the Republican Establishment that makes all the talk of immigration reform or the Ryan-Murray Budget or Defunding Obamacare being the catalyst for revolt more than a little short-sighted."

The GOP are All Know-Nothings Now

Ugly, Paranoid, Divisive Politics (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"David Brat's victory over Eric Cantor represents the triumphant return of an awful GOP strain best left to history."


The Adoption Turnaround (Megan McArdle) from Bloomberg
"The foundling charities' aim was just to have their charges survive long enough to be sent west for adoption in the labor-hungry territories. These days, adoptable infants are so rare that parents wait years and pay tens of thousands of dollars to get one. What explains the change?"


Anatomy of an Assassination: Two Fateful Days that Sparked Decades of Horror (Gordon Martel) from Salon
"A century ago this month, the world was plunged into war by one man's murder. Here's how it happened."

Friday, June 13, 2014

News Nuggets 1458

The town of Saint Magdalena, Italy below the Dolomite Mountain Range.  From National Geographic.


McCain: We Won Iraq, Obama Lost It from the Daily Beast
"“We had it won,” McCain said. The U.S. “had the conflict won thanks to the surge… We had a stable government.” McCain also said he believed that “if we left the residual force behind, we would not be facing the crisis today.”"
OMG!!! Will these people ever stop!?  Having gotten us into Iraq under false pretenses and kept our forces there for 10 years (to the sole benefit of our good friend, Iran), we now get an even riper slice of bologna: the US "had the conflict won" and we should have kept tens of thousands of US troops there to prop up our incompetent, tone-deaf puppet regime.  And, tell us Mr. McCain, how long should US troops have stayed in Iraq? Answer: he doesn't care.  It would be fine with him if they were still there 100 years from now [his answer from the 2008 campaign].  Can McCain and his stand-ins ever learn from actual experience?!  It seems not.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: In Iraq We're Getting the Gov't We Deserve

Who Lost Iraq? The Iraqis Did, with an Assist from George W. Bush (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"Whenever the United States has asked this question — as it did with China in the 1950s or Vietnam in the 1970s — the most important point to remember is: The local rulers did. ... The same story is true of Iraq, only much more so."
THANK YOU, Mr. Zakaria for stating this so clearly! Zakaria goes on to recall some of what the neo-cons SOOO want you to forget: "Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed."

Prime Minister Maliki Panics as Insurgents Gain

Iraq in Peril from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"... military action seems like a bad idea right now. The United States simply cannot be sucked into another round of war in Iraq. In any case, airstrikes and new weapons would be pointless if the Iraqi Army is incapable of defending the country."

Prepare Yourself ... to Meet the Americans

How to Explain Americans (Beppe Severgnini) from the New York Times 
"“Americans are great to work with, but they have their manias, just like us,” I started out. “They are obsessed by three C’s: control, competition and choreography."

New GOP Leadership May be Even More Unprepared to Govern

Race For Majority Leader Throws House GOP Into Chaos from Talking Points Memo
""One of the things that people have to remember, as a deputy whip right now, you've got to get people to vote for things like procedural votes. You've got to get people to make difficult decisions on things like the debt limit and how we're going to keep the government open," Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), a deputy majority whip, told reporters. "So if you don't have a history of voting for those things it's going to be very difficult to convince yourself and others to do that.""

A Tragic Fall -- Followed by a Shark Tank Feeding Frenzy

Eric Cantor’s Instant Burial (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post 
"If Cantor’s unbridled ambition was what brought him down, his colleagues weren’t getting the message. They saw his fall only as a means to another’s rise."

The Resurgent GOP "Establishment" ... Suddenly Cowering in the Corner!

Eric Cantor and the Tea Party Purge (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post 
"After an electoral earthquake that shocked the party’s system, the GOP’s top brass will be scrambling to figure out what lessons they should draw. Unfortunately, they’ll probably absorb the wrong ones. Rather than taking on the tea party and battling for a more moderate and popular form of conservatism, they are likely to cower and accommodate even more."
Did you ever see a political meme evaporate as fast as that "Resurgent GOP Establishment" storyline!?  I had been saying for months that I thought that narrative was wishful thinking.  AND I would say now that the beltway Republicans are not the wimpy milquetoast they seem today.  This is simply the latest episode in the internal war that is going on in party.  Look for the corporatists to up the amount of money they will throw at the law-makers they already have a mortgage on -- and the Tea Party folks will continue to rally to turd blossoms like Bart.  There WILL be more surprises as this election year unfolds.


CBS News says ‘Republican strategist’ suffices for Frank Luntz disclosure from the Washington Post
A breath-taking statement on the quality of GOP polling outfits!!
"“Right now there are 230 House Republicans who are waking up praying that they do not have Eric Cantor’s pollster. Honestly, and I’m one of them, we Republican pollsters suck. We have no ability to be able to analyze the electorate.”"
You have to ask yourself: what the hell is the point then of hiring a GOP polling company?!  It has been an open secret for years that these companies consistently produced overly optimistic results (from a Republican point of view).  This was showcased with Romney's baseless optimism going into the 2012 election day and with the absurd "unskewing the polls" dumbness that preceded it.  

It is my guess that the whole purpose of these organizations was NEVER to produce accurate numbers. Rather, their PRIMARY mission (beyond making the founders filthy rich) was to fill a key role in the right-wing counter-narrative media machine, to create story lines that made it possible for Republicans to claim that their law-makers, their policies, etc. were more popular than they really were in reality.  What does it say about a propaganda machine when the ones most fooled are the creators of the machine? Incredible!


8 Movies From The Last 15 Years That Are Super Overrated from the Huffington Post
"Recently, HuffPost Entertainment presented a list of so-called terrible movies that we simply adore. Now we're flipping the coin to tear down championed films we just can't get behind."


Marvel’s Secret Formula: How the studio seized on American political anxieties to make itself a blockbuster machine from Salon
"From "Iron Man" to "Avengers," Marvel built a cinematic empire on channeling our age of partisanship and paranoia."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

News Nuggets 1457

Hell skiers on the Bugaboos Mountains in British Columbia, Canada.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: What It Means to Be a 'Movement Conservative' - Time to Move On!

Fall of an Apparatchik (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
A big excerpt is in order here:
"... being a movement conservative in good standing meant considerable career safety: even if you or the politician you worked for lost an election, there were jobs to be had at think tanks (e.g. Rick Santorum heading up the “America’s enemies” program at a Scaife-backed think tank), media gigs (two Bush speechwriters writing columns for the Washington Post, not to mention the gaggle at the WSJ and Fox News), and so on. In other words, being a hard line conservative, which to be fair involved some career risks back in the 60s and into the 70s, became a safe choice; you could count on powerful backing, and if not favored by fortune, you could fall back on wingnut welfare. And Eric Cantor, who got into politics long after the Reagan revolution and for the most part made his career post Gingrich, came across very much as a movement conservative apparatchik. "
Krugman makes a point here that is largely being missed in the herd-like postmortems being put out there on the Cantor defeat.  Liberals and Democrats have long been awake to the bankruptcy of principle and commitment to "real conservative" policies at the top of the GOP.  The Cantor defeat suggests that significant numbers of average Republicans are beginning to wise up as well. The evidence for this shift has been apparent for several years now.  I began to notice it when Tea Partiers began relating to the GOP as "them" rather than "us," -- they began treating the Republican Party with almost as much contempt and fury as they directed at the Dems.  Cantor's opponent, Bart has showcased for all these disaffected voters how to take down even the most entrenched "establishment" leader -- many of these folks have been just as blatantly feckless and self-promoting as Cantor.  Remember: Bart spent only about $100K on his race while Cantor spent close to $5 MILLION -- and Cantor lost by almost 10 points!  If Bart can walk to victory in this fashion, none of the GOP leadership can rest secure.  Right-wing polling groups like Rasmussen will be raking in the cash in the coming months.

A related (and more important) point: for those old-style "establishment" Republican law-makers running in November (even those that get through the primaries), will the activist base turn out for them both as volunteers (the real muscle and bone of winning campaigns) and as voters in the numbers required?  Or will they just say "f--- you!" and stay home?  The GOP establishment candidates MUST have these people turn out to have any chance of taking back the Senate or of winning the presidency in '16.

Iraqis Not Fighting for the Gov't They Never Wanted or Asked For. How Strange!

After Mosul (Fred Kaplan) from Slate
"One problem always was, and still is, that Maliki had no interest in conciliatory politics on a national level. And that’s why he’s now facing a monumental, even terrifying armed insurgency. His troops in Nineveh province simply folded when they came under attack, not because they weren’t equipped or trained to fight back but because, in many cases, they felt no allegiance to Maliki’s government ..."

Reader Keith comments: There is one thing you can be absolutely certain about when it comes to Iraq. The United States will continue to shovel tens of billions of dollars down this rat hole. If you figured in the cost of our oil wars from Yom Kippur 1973 to the present, a realistic price for a gallon of gas would probably be north of $100.

My response: I completely agree -- and so long as it is just money, I can be with that. For the neo-con dullards who learned absolutely nothing from the Iraq/Afghanistan nightmares, more "action" is needed. Action to accomplish what? To save this widely discredited government that is tottering after ten years of US training and hundreds of billions in cash. Prediction: massive air retaliation (which Obama suggests that we are not doing) will only defer al-Malaki's day of reckoning. Al-Malaki's only hope is massive numbers of US boots on the ground -- and Obama doesn't need to say anything there - that is NOT happening. As many commentators have noted, what is happening in Iraq (and in Syria) is a war between the Sunnis and the Shias as Islam grapples with which sect will dominate the region and be the force that confronts the dislocations caused by western modernization. While I appreciate that the US has a stake in maintaining stability in the region, I simply do not believe, for all our military force, it will have anything but a negative impact on what's already going on. This matchup will not be put off. I feel bad for the people in the region -- but the US does not have a dog in the hunt over which branch of Islam is going to triumph here.

One other note: be wary of those who declare that the "rebels" are an army-sized version of Al Qaida in Iraq. The ONLY reason Al Qaida in Iraq (AQIR) existed in the first place was because the US was in Iraq. With little or no US presence, these folks become just another version of the Taliban -- in other words, VERY conservative Islamists whose focus is on waging war in Iraq, not conducting terrorist acts against the US or anyone else. Deeply conservative Islamists CANNOT be locked out of governing in Iraq -- which is what Al-Malaki did in the face of US admonitions against it. Al-Malaki chose to ignore us, so what now? Are we going to salvage his regime? I don't think we should do it -- and I'm dubious that we can even if we wanted to.

Downward Mobility Moving Upward

The Downward Ramp (Thomas Edsall) from the New York Times
"New evidence produced by Paul Beaudry and David A. Green of the University of British Columbia, and Ben Sand of York University, demonstrates that the collapse, between 1980 and 2000, of mid-level, mid-pay jobs — gutted by automation or foreign competition (and often both) — has now spread to the high-skill labor market."

Lives Still Collapsing in the "Recovering Economy"

This Is What Barely Making Ends Meet In America Sounds Like from the Huffington Post
"The responses voice the anxiety and exhaustion of living in the space between just getting by and watching your life collapse -- a gap so narrow that bringing toilet paper home from work can help make ends meet, while any unexpected expense can send you over the edge."

The Satanic Majority

To Right-Wing Nutjobs, Ordinary Voters Are The Enemy (Gene Lyons) from the National Memo
"To the nutball right, ordinary Democratic voters have become the main enemy. Their apocalyptic theology requires a Satanic enemy, and it’s the majority. Some won’t rest until they get the violent confrontation they think they want."

Deep Trouble Ahead for the GOP After Cantor Loss

Cantor’s Loss a Bad Omen for Moderates from the New York Times
"While the most conservative members saw immediate validation in Mr. Cantor’s defeat, more conciliatory members saw deep trouble ahead. A chastened House leadership will struggle to do the most basic functions of governance — increasing the debt limit, funding the government and passing routine bills — further alienating Congress with the middle of the electorate, said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York."
The money quote: "“The results tonight will move the party further to the right, which will marginalize us further as a national party,” Mr. King said."

Anarchy in the GOP

The End of Authority in the Republican Party (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"Even as the once-regimented party descends into chaos, the ordinarily fractious Democratic Party has achieved unprecedented order and unity."

The Downside of Extreme Anti-Gov't Rhetoric

The New Nihilism Is Stifling the Republican Party (Norm Ornstein) from the Atlantic
"It's not just Eric Cantor. Reformist conservatives have good ideas, but until they drop the idea that all government is bad, they'll never be realistic."

Cantor Killed His Own Reelection Bid, Not Immigration

Cantor Loss Reflection of Unpopular GOP Leadership, District Supports Immigration Reform from Public Policy Polling
Be wary of the prevailing meme about immigration causing Cantor's loss in Virginia.  The evidence is NOT there.
"A new Public Policy Polling survey conducted in Eric Cantor’s district last night finds that both Cantor and the  GOP House leadership are deeply unpopular, even with Republican voters, and that likely led to his loss.  Despite much speculation that Cantor’s position on immigration reform might have cost him the election, it is actually quite popular in his district and voters want to see Congress act on it this year."

What the Cantor Loss May Mean For Jeb and Marco

What Eric Cantor's Loss Could Mean for the GOP (Chuck Todd, et al.) from MSNBC
"Cantor’s loss last night is yet another sign that the Republican Party is fractured heading into the next presidential election. If you’re Jeb Bush -- who supports comprehensive immigration reform and Common Core -- does the result out of Virginia make you think twice about running in 2016? What about Marco Rubio ..."
Bush-Rubio are non-starters ... only if you buy the prevailing meme that it was immigration that killed Cantor's reelection. As the story above suggest, the meme is, at best, overstated.  

Eric Cantor -- Who Was He?

Eric Cantor’s Shocking, Richly Deserved Primary Defeat (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Cantor went out the way he carried himself throughout his career: making comically disingenuous attacks. ... Cantor actually managed to underestimate the intellectual discernment of his voters. In any case, he had ceded all the premises of the argument to his opponent even in the course of smearing him. Cantor was, finally, Cantor'd. He will not be missed."

The GOP Moving Right ... right off a cliff

The GOP's Habit of Eating its Own (Todd Purdum) from Politico
"Eric Cantor’s defeat in Virginia’s GOP primary stunned the Washington political world. But in historical terms, it should not have come as a shock. House Republicans have been eating their young since the Eisenhower era, and the race has been always to the right."


Engage Warp Drive! Nasa Reveals Latest Designs for a Star Trek-style Spacecraft that Could make Interstellar Travel a Reality from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"A Nasa scientist in Houston worked with an artist to create the concept.  The interstellar spacecraft builds on previous designs that thoeretically allow distant travel by bending space-time.  Called IXS Enterprise, it is similar to the Star Trek ship of the same name."


Two falling nukes almost obliterated North Carolina in the 1960s from The Week
"Two nuclear bombs plummeted from a splintering B-52 bomber in January 1961 and plopped down outside Goldsboro, North Carolina, according to newly-declassified government documents. And though the plane's disintegration triggered the "fuzing sequence" in both weapons, neither went off because of miraculous technical issues."