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Saturday, December 26, 2015

News Nuggets 1543


Dragon's Blood trees on Socotra Island off of Yemen.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Obama's Climate Deal

The Paris Climate Deal Is President Obama’s Biggest Accomplishment (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The pact is a triumph of international diplomacy shared by diplomats across the planet. It also represents the culmination of a patient strategy by the Obama administration that unfolded over years, and which even many sympathetic journalists long dismissed as fanciful. Obama’s climate agenda has lurked quietly on the recesses of the American imagination for most of his presidency. It is also probably the administration’s most important accomplishment."

Obama's Oncoming Liberal Era

Why America Is Moving Left (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"Republicans may have a lock on Congress and the nation’s statehouses—and could well win the presidency—but the liberal era ushered in by Barack Obama is only just beginning."

America's Energy and Power Equation

LNG Exports the Most Powerful Demonstration of US Geopolitics in Decades from Real Clear Energy
"In just a few weeks a major step change in the world energy order will take place and the main response from many will likely be either a yawn or a shoulder shrug. Such reactions are understandable, given how the US public’s attention is now being bombarded with other news, both foreign and domestic. It would be a mistake, however, to underestimate how important the long-term benefits of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are to the US economy, and how powerful a weapon of economic diplomacy it may become in future decades."

No Light at the End of Putin's Tunnel

Putin’s New Prudence (Anders Aslund) from Project Syndicate
"Russia’s economy was stagnating even before the bottom fell out of global oil prices, and most experts expect energy prices to remain low for years. This confronts Putin with a challenge he has never faced: leading Russia at a time when there is no light visible at the end of the tunnel."

The Forces Coalescing Against China

The Forces Awakening Against an Antagonistic China from the National Interest
" In an effort to augment its sovereignty claims over what it considers as its national “blue soil,” China has inadvertently encouraged a growing number of nations to coalesce against it."

The Unworkability of Anti-Obamacare Arguments

Sorry, Conservatives, Obamacare Is Still Working (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"To bolster this case, Douthat makes four points against the law. Here they are in order. Individually, and collectively, they present a wildly misleading picture of a law that continues to work very well."

Proudly American... and Muslim

I am a Muslim. But Trump’s views appall me because I am an American (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"I think of myself first and foremost as an American. I’m proud of that identity because as an immigrant, it came to me through deep conviction and hard work, not the accident of birth. I also think of myself as a husband, father, guy from India, journalist, New Yorker and (on my good days) an intellectual. But in today’s political climate, I must embrace another identity. I am a Muslim."

Nominating Trump -- What's the Impact on the GOP for 2020?

If Trump wins the nomination, prepare for the end of the conservative party (George Will) from the Washington Post
"... this avatar of unfettered government and executive authoritarianism has mesmerized a large portion of Republicans for six months. The larger portion should understand this: One hundred and four years of history is in the balance. If Trump is the Republican nominee in 2016, there might not be a conservative party in 2020 either."

Cruz: Better Than Trump?

Ted Cruz is even less electable than Donald Trump (Matthew Yglesies) from Vox
"People know that Cruz is extreme. But few people fully recognize exactly how unpopular the Cruz policy agenda is likely to be once it is exposed to the light of day."

Why Cruz is the perfect candidate for the right-wing’s alternative reality

The fantasy world of Sen. Ted Cruz (Elias Isquith) from Salon
"What Cruz is offering to Republican voters, in effect, is permanent residency in the movement’s preferred alternative reality. For the first time perhaps ever, he is offering them the chance to vote for a viable primary candidate who not only pays attention to the Limbaughs and Hannitys, but lives in the fantasy with them. And because GOP elites are increasingly terrified that Donald Trump really will win the nomination, Ted Cruz, the Alternative Reality Candidate, is starting to look to them like the lesser evil...  Is it any wonder, then, that Cruz is rising? Most of his competitors are offering GOP voters a strong chance to defeat Hillary Clinton. Cruz, on the other hand, is offering to let them stay in a make-believe world they vastly prefer to our own."

The Perils of Radical Genie-ism

Which country do Republicans want to bomb next? Hint: It's just a magic carpet ride away from Daily Kos
"While typical liberals are too politically correct to call out radical genie-ism for what it is, this is a serious matter. Per Eric Peoples, it won’t be long before we have to set up a no fly(ing carpet) zone. "

R.I.P., GOP

Party of old, disillusioned white people is dying a slow death (Sean Illing) from Salon
"Changing Demographics will be the death knell for the Republican Party — even though it may take White House in '16."

Ryan: Barely Two Minutes in Office and Already Under Fire

Fury of the Right Falls on Ryan (Scott Wong) from The Hill
"Outside the Beltway, the right is livid with new Speaker Paul Ryan’s trillion-dollar spending deal with Democrats. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter says Ryan, just seven weeks on the job, is ripe for a primary challenge. “Paul Ryan Betrays America,” blared a headline on the conservative site Breibart.com. And Twitter is littered with references to the Wisconsin Republican’s new “Muslim beard.”""
So much for any prospects of a brokered convention where the GOP turns to Ryan for their salvation.

Rubio: Is He For Real!?

Why Isn’t Marco Rubio Winning? 5 Theories (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"If Republican scientists were revealed to have built a cyborg designed to win the presidency, everybody would immediately suspect it was Rubio. His failure to draw first-rank polling numbers has become an important campaign mystery. Theory No. 1: He’s too lazy. ..."

INTERESTING BUILDING NUGGET!!

Slalom House: Ski slope could be built on top of apartment block from CNN
"It's not quite a cozy chalet ensconced in the Swiss Alps' snow-peaked caps, but for residents of Kazakhstan's capital Astana the Slalom House residential project -- an eye-catching new winter sports facility -- could bring the slopes to their front door."

DOG NUGGET!

10 Ways Your Dog Shows Just How Much They Care from Discover
"We know that we love our dogs and so do our friends and family. But do they love us back?"

Sunday, December 13, 2015

News Nuggets 1542


DAYLEE PICTURE: A climber in Iceland's Gljufrabuil Canyon.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Obama's Critics Are Right: Obama Has Pretty Much Gotten His Way All Along!

Obama: Chessmaster, not Pawn (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"Many of the president’s supporters fear that he hasn’t really known what he is doing. Many of his critics worry that he is all-too-skillful at attaining his ends. There’s increasing evidence that the critics may be right."

Obama's Deal-making Skills Shine Through

How Obama’s Undercover Statecraft Secured Three Major Accords (Mark Lander) of the New York Times
"Three of President Obama’s top diplomatic achievements — the reopening of ties with Cuba, announced this week; the interim nuclear agreement with Iran; and the climate-change pact with China — resulted from secret negotiations. Some were conducted in exotic locales like the Vatican and the Arab sultanate of Oman; others in less exotic places like Boston. Not since Henry Kissinger’s secret trip to China in 1971 has a president embraced undercover diplomacy with the enthusiasm of Mr. Obama. For an administration that likes to promote its transparency, this White House has concluded that some deals are best pursued with all the openness of a drone strike against distant terrorists."

Russia's Behavior Keeps NATO Expanding

In the Balkans, NATO has outmuscled Russia from the Economist [of London]
"Montenegro’s accession fills in one of the few remaining gaps in the Western alliance."

The BRICS All Coming on Hard Times

No, the BRICs Aren’t Overtaking America from the Daily Beast
"Despite 15 years of hype, developing countries still have a long way to go to claim the 21st century as theirs."

Russia's Middle-East Ally Heading for the Exit?

Iran Retreating From Syria Fight (Eli Lake) from Bloomberg View
"... they are seeing significant numbers of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps troops retreat from the Syrian combat zone in recent weeks, following the deaths and wounding of some of top officers in a campaign to retake Idlib Province and other areas lost this year to opposition forces supported by the West and Gulf Arab States. As a result, the Russian-initiated offensive that was launched in September seems to be losing an important ally."

The Millennials' Shift Away from Faith

Millennials and religion: The great disconnect from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"The generation’s shift away from faith raises questions about values and the business of church."
More bad news long term for the GOP's base.

The Extremists' Strategy: Destroy the Republic to Save it?

The GOP on the Eve of Destruction (Bill Moyers and Michael Winship) from Billmoyers.com
"... go back to the slave-holding Democrats of the 1840s and 50s who were prepared to destroy the Union if necessary to protect and expand the brutal system of human slavery on which their economy and way of life were built. The extremism and polarization engendered made it impossible for politics peacefully to resolve the moral dilemma facing our country. If the Republicans – and the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln — had not championed and fought to preserve the Union and its government, the United States would have been no more. Now it is the Republicans who are willing to wreck the country to maintain the gross inequality that divides us – inequality which rewards the party leaders and their donors, just as slavery rewarded white supremacists. They would tear the Republic apart, rip to pieces its already fragile social compact, and reap the whirlwind of a failed experiment in self-government."

Movement Conservatism at a Crossroads

A Trump nomination would be the end of the GOP as we know it (Matthew Continetti) from the Washington Free Beacon
"Whether Trump wins or loses a general election against Hillary Clinton is less important in this analysis than the effect his nomination would have on the composition and philosophy of the Republican Party. That effect would be profound. Political parties are not static. They are born, they grow and change, they shrink and die. ... Homegrown terrorism, demographic panic, racial tension, income stagnation, and Trump’s persona may catalyze a political realignment along the lines we have seen before in our politics and see currently in Europe’s. Have conservatives and Republicans thought through what would happen next? What choices we might have to make? Or are we too afraid to acknowledge the possibility that the movement and party to which we belong is no longer our own?"

Win or Lose, Trump Recastes the Primaries and the Republican Party Itself

Republicans 2016: The Presidential Shake-Up Continues (Larry J. Sabato) from Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball
"There is remarkable unanimity behind the scenes that a Trump-led GOP would not just forfeit the White House but produce a Democratic U.S. Senate and see substantial Republican losses in the U.S. House as well. This is heresy to Trump’s devoted followers, but we’re inclined to believe that experienced Republicans who’ve actually won elections have solid instincts in these matters.  The Trump effect is now probably long-term, meaning that even if he falls by the wayside in the nomination contest, he will continue to be a factor. Maybe he will run as an independent. Maybe he will make life difficult for the eventual GOP nominee from his permanent headquarters on Twitter. Or maybe it’s simply the accumulation of his offensive statements on videotape that will be used by Democrats to taint the fall Republican ticket."

MUST-SEE POLITICAL VIDEO NUGGET

I am a Trump supporter: Voters speak out (VIDEO) from CNN
"Citing the "Republican Party's impotence" and marveling at Trump's "unvarnished" persona, nine Trump supporters shed light on what's behind their allegiance to Trump in an extended interview on "New Day" with CNN's Alisyn Camerota Thursday."
The Washington Post has a similar focus group HERE.  Their comments are quite revealing!!

Trump and Fascism

I asked 5 fascism experts whether Donald Trump is a fascist. Here's what they said (Dylan Matthews) from Vox
"Far-right populism is much more common, and much more dangerous, than neo-fascism."

Trump ... and the Coming Crack Up of the Conservative Movement?

Why conservative pundits hate Donald Trump (Damon Linker) from The Week
"... if Trump ends up as the nominee next summer. So what would the conservative pundits do? Most, I think, would choose to go into exile, withdrawing their support, at least temporarily, from the Republican Party. And that would be an event every bit as significant as the split in the Republican electorate that a Trump candidacy would reflect and intensify. It would mark nothing less than the crack-up of the conservative movement as it's been constituted for the past 35 years."

The Republican Primaries: Just Another Insurgency?

The Republican Civil War (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest
"The GOP’s current identity crisis is the product of a long tradition of conservative insurgency."

Trump: A One-Man Demolition Crew

The Man Who Would Destroy the Republican Party (Dov Zakheim) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party — something the Democratic political leadership and mainstream party, with the exception of its radical fringe, have never attempted and have, of course, never accomplished. Trump, with the support of a highly polarized, liberal media that has consistently paid him inordinate attention and provided him with an outsized platform, is a one-man demolition crew. He is calling forth the worst elements of the GOP base to the detriment of the party’s domestic and international image. It is almost as if Trump were on the Democrats’ payroll."

Trump the Fascist. Which Fascist?

Know Your Fascist Dictators (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"As long as we're on to the subject of fascist dictators and Donald Trump is now being compared to Adolf Hitler in major urban newspapers, I thought I should speak up on behalf of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini as the true proto-Trump. Mussolini wasn't just a fascist dictator. He was the fascist dictator."

The Donald Loves Polls -- Do Polls Have a Love for Him?

The Polls May Be Underestimating Trump's Support (Henry Olsen) from the Atlantic
"Data suggests the appeal of anti-immigrant policies to working-class voters is much deeper than most American elites want to believe. And because Trump draws the bulk of his support from less-educated, working- and middle-class voters, he may be positioned to do even better still—for now. Polling data from Europe shows that parties with similar voter profiles to Trump’s consistently do better in both online polls and at the ballot box than in live-interview polling. And currently Trump is far ahead online."

Rubio's Secret Weapon: A Weak Ground Game?!

Rubio’s Weak Campaign Organization (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"The weakness of Rubio’s campaign organization is one of several reasons why he isn’t likely to do all that well once the voting begins. It is understandable that he hasn’t been able to build an organization in the early states because of his relatively low fundraising, but that itself shows how limited his support has been so far. The odd thing is that Rubio’s lack of a ground game seems to be a deliberate gamble that it isn’t necessary:"

Why The GOP Can't Derail Donald Trump

Nothing's Gonna Stop Him Now from Talking Points Memo
"With just two months until the Iowa caucuses, it may be time to recognize the reality that the myth has been obscuring: No strategic intervention is going to stop Trump now. "If anyone is going to kill Trump, it is Trump,""

With Trump Comes the Down Ballot Blues

The Trump Effect Begins to Hit Congress (Jonathan Bernstein) from Bloomberg View
"The upshot of all this is that Republican politicians and all those who care about continuing Republican control of Congress have strong incentives to ramp up their efforts to defeat Trump. Now."

Another Benghazi Dud from Fox News

They have no shame: It’s confirmed, Fox News lied egregiously (again) in its latest Benghazi “bombshell” (Simon Maloy) from Salon
"Newly released document confirms that Fox News (with an assist from the GOP) flagrantly lied about Benghazi."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

News Nuggets 1541


DAYLEE PICTURE: Turbines on the Panachaiko mountain range near Patras, Greece.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: What Obama ReALLY Thinks About the Threat of ISIS

How Obama Thinks About Terrorism (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"At the core of Barack Obama’s terrorism speech on Sunday night lay a contradiction. He gave the address to convince an increasingly fearful nation that he takes the terrorist threat seriously. But he doesn’t, at least not in the way his political opponents do."

TODAY'S SECOND BIG NUGGET: The Trump Trap

GOP struggles to escape Trump trap from Politico
"Republicans condemn their poll leader but don't lift pledge to support his nomination, should he win it. ... Trump's latest gambit, far more outlandish than building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border or any others, has ratcheted up the pressure on GOP officials to find a way to protect their party brand before it becomes irrevocably tarnished by a man who could be their nominee. They can't snatch away his campaign cash or limit his media exposure; they can't keep him off ballots. The party brass can’t reason with Trump and can't afford to alienate him to the point that he runs as an independent. And they must swallow the reality that many self-identifying Republicans prefer Trump’s nativism and bombast to their more mainstream, inclusive style of conservatism."

THANKSGIVING NUGGET!!

Thanksgiving: In A Time Of Malevolence, Renewed Appreciation For Barack Obama (Joe Conason) from the National Memo
"... on the other side of the world, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees seeking only to save themselves and their children from murder and enslavement know that much of the supposedly civilized world, including many political leaders in this country, is coldly turning them away. That is why I want to express thanks that Barack Obama is president of the United States."

THANKSGIVING NUGGET #2!!

Arlo Guthrie on ‘Stupid’ Politicians and 50 Years of Thanksgiving Classic ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ from the Daily Beast
"The eccentric folk singer reflects on the five decades since his iconic counterculture song, and tells The Daily Beast what he thinks of the current state of American politics."

ISIS's Script for the US and Europe

Following the Terrorists’ Script (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"The Islamic State is trying to create a religious divide and an anti-refugee backlash, so that Muslims will feel alienated and turn to extremism. If so, American and European politicians are following the Islamic State’s script.  Let’s be careful not to follow that script further and stigmatize all Muslims for ISIS terrorism."

The Masterson Test in Syria

The Refugees & the New War (Michael Ignatieff) from the New York Review of Books
"Strategists will tell you that it is a mistake to fight the battle your enemies want you to fight. You should impose your strategy on them, not let them impose theirs on you. These lessons apply to the struggle with the leaders of ISIS. We have applied pressure upon them in Syria; they have replied with atrocious attacks in Ankara, Beirut, and now Paris. They are trying to provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with the Crusader infidels. We should deny them this opportunity."
Some of you may recall the great musical, Guys and Dolls.  In it, the #1 gambler, Sky Masterson tells a highly relevant story: When he was a lad, his father came and told him: "One day, son, someone will come to you with an unopened deck of cards with the seal still on it, and he will BET YOU that he can make a Jack of Spades leap out of that deck and squirt cider in your ear! Son, you do not accept this bet because sure as you are standing here, you will end up with cider in your ear."  ISIS (and their ilk) are betting that with their tactics, the the US will have to send in huge numbers of troops into Syria and Iraq and that their presence there will substantiate ISIS's message, be the best recruiting tool in the work for their cause -- and that they will be able to get the US bogged down in the region for another ten years slowly bleeding to death for no good purpose.  Obama (thankfully) perceives that this bet does not pass the Masterson test and, if he has ANY SAY in the matter, the US will not end up with cider in its ear. -- Nuggetsman

The New "Containment" Policy

Obama Got It Right on the Islamic State from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The United States can't defeat the jihadist group — it can only hope to contain it."

Syrians, Muslims, and Obama's Legacy

Why Obama Is Standing by the Syrian Refugees (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"The president isn’t speaking to his opponents—he’s talking to history."

Renew or Perish: The Conclusion Among Energy Execs

This Is The Beginning Of The End Of The Fossil Fuel Industry from the Huffington Post
"Oil and coal companies are either going to have to invest in renewables, or perish.  ... as world leaders gather in Paris for the month-long COP21 climate talks, the fossil fuel industry's future is in jeopardy. There may be an abundant supply of oil, gas and coal and -- at least for now -- a strong demand for these products, but there is a growing urgency among business leaders and policymakers to stem usage before the effects of global warming worsen dramatically."

No Work + Racial Resentment: A Toxic Mix in the White Working Class

What Happened to the White Working Class? (Barbara Ehrenreich) from the Nation
"Downward mobility plus racial resentment is a potent combination with disastrous consequences."

Church Doors Opening Wide ... for Syrian Refugees

Christian groups break with GOP over Syrian refugees from Politico Magazine
"Evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more broadly, are a core group in the Republican electoral base and are among the most passionate advocates for aiding refugees."

The Road to America from a Syrian Refugee Camp

Here's What It Actually Takes For A Syrian Refugee To Enter The U.S. from Talking Points Memo
"Lawmakers and more than half of U.S. governors, mostly Republicans, have raised questions about the vetting process for Syrian refugees being brought to the United States. Some said they were worried that Islamic extremists may try to take advantage of the U.S. refugee process. Here are a few things to know:"

Why "Radical Islam"?

The GOP’s Obsession With ‘Radical Islam’ (Brian Beutler) from the New Republic
"Republicans say they call it as they see it—until the tables are turned on them."

Where Have All the White Christians Gone?

Pew: White Christians no longer a majority from Politico
"According to the latest results from Pew Research Center's Religious Landscape survey published Monday by National Journal's Next America project, just 46 percent of American adults are white Christians, down from 55 percent in 2007."
Thank God!

The Decline of White Advantage?

You Can't Understand American Politics Without Reading This Study (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"Let's put this clearly: the stressor at work here is the perceived and real loss of the social and economic advantages of being white."

What's Missing from the Nightly News? A Remotely Informed Audience

America Is Too Dumb for TV News (Matt Taibbi) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"Trump and others are proving it: we can't handle the truth."

George Wallace Re-dux!

Donald Trump is running the most explicitly racist campaign since 1968 (Paul Waldman) from The Week
"After decades of rhetorical evolution from Republicans on matters of race, Donald Trump is now running the most plainly, explicitly, straightforwardly racist campaign since at least George Wallace's third-party run in 1968, and maybe even Strom Thurmond's in 1948."

The Impact of Right-Wing Rage on GOP Foreign Policy

Terrorism in the Age of Trump (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"A few days after the attacks, Politico reported the firm convictions of party stalwarts, who confidently asserted, "The reemergence of foreign policy atop the Republican agenda will force voters to reevaluate the outsider candidates, particularly as both [Donald] Trump and [Ben] Carson display a lack of knowledge about national security and the terrorist threat." But that, it turned out, was wishful thinking. Far from sobering up the Republican electorate, the attacks served instead to ­intensify its state of frothing rage."

A liberal plan to defeat ISIS

Here’s how we avoid Ted Cruz’s religious police state from Salon
"Military intervention is a disaster. Propping up dictators made a mess. Our "allies" play a double game. Now what?"

Latinos Migrating ... Out of the US

More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S. from the Pew Research Center
"Net Loss of 140,000 from 2009 to 2014; Family Reunification Top Reason for Return."

The Party with "Nothing But Fear"

This is the entire GOP plan: Credibility destroyed after Bush debacle, their only strategy is to scare us (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"The party of security tanked the economy and unleashed Middle East disaster. Now they have nothing but fear itself."

GOP Pundit: A Trump Nomination "a Disaster"

The GOP really might nominate Donald Trump. That would be a disaster (Edward Morrissey) from The Week
"It is time to consider what a Trump nomination would mean for the GOP. Because it really could happen. And if it does, it will be a disaster for conservatives. Make no mistake: Donald Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton."
A right-wing pundit hits a few correct notes here.

What Passes for Media "Neutrality" in 2015

The Real Reason the Media is Rising Up Against Donald Trump (David Roberts) from Vox
"The conceptual space for neutrality has all but disappeared. Media outlets are being forced to take sides, and facing the grim possibility that even if they do, they have no power to affect the outcome. Their twin idols — objectivity and influence — are being exposed as illusions."

The "Strong" Republican Bench?

Anyone but Ted Cruz (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
"He’s clearly brilliant — maybe smarter than any of the others. He’s a whirlwind of energy. And man oh man can he give a presentation. On any subject, he’s informed, inflamed, precise. But then you talk with people who’ve worked with him at various stages of his career. They dislike him. No, scratch that. They loathe him."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

News Nuggets 1540


DAYLEE PICTURE: A Blue Dragon Sea Slug in Queensland, Australia  -- from the Daily Mail of the UK

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: How France Will Probably Proceed

NATO’s Turn to Attack (James Stavridis) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"There’s a time for soft power and playing the long game. But the attacks in Paris prove the Islamic State is overdue for eradication."
An excellent roadmap of how France will probably proceed.

Understanding ISIS ... and Stopping Them

What ISIS Really Wants (Graeme Wood) from the Atlantic
"The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it."

America and Its Allies: The Danger of Doing ISIS's Dirty Work for Them

ISIS can only succeed if we overreact — so we shouldn’t (Ezra Klein) from Vox
"It can only hope to make us so afraid that we do something stupid that either helps it or hurts us. ISIS can only succeed if, blinded by rage and terror, we achieve its goals for it. There are at least two ways that might happen — and one of them is already happening."

ISIS Hates America ... and US Efforts to Help Syrian Refugees

Turning back Syrian refugees isn't just wrong — it helps ISIS (Zack Beauchamp ) from Vox
"ISIS despises Syrian refugees: It sees them as traitors to the caliphate. By leaving, they turn their back on the caliphate. ISIS depicts its territory as a paradise, and fleeing refugees expose that as a lie. But if refugees do make it out, ISIS wants them to be treated badly — the more the West treats them with suspicion and fear, the more it supports ISIS's narrative of a West that is hostile to Muslims and bolsters ISIS's efforts to recruit from migrant communities in Europe."

Republicans Attack Obama's Fantasy Record

Cruz, Obama, and American “Leadership” (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"While they could attack Obama for his real policy errors, hawks have always opted to criticize a fantasy record full of “apology tours” and “appeasement” that never happened because they can’t admit that Obama’s failures overseas have typically come from pursuing some version of the policies that they support."

Russian Standards of Living Going into the Dumper

Russians experience first ‘horrible’ sustained decline in living standards in 15 years since Putin became president from the National Post [of Canada]
"Russians are experiencing the first sustained decline in living standards in the 15 years since President Vladimir Putin came to power. The ruble has fallen by half against the dollar, driven by the plunging price of oil, the lifeblood of Russia’s economy. As a result, prices of imported goods have shot up, making tea, instant coffee, children’s clothes and back-to-school backpacks suddenly, jarringly expensive."

Obama BIG foreign policy goal: Avoiding Stupid Wars

On Foreign Policy, Obama Has the Right Target (David Ignatius) from Real Clear Politics
"Obama sometimes seems overmatched in a world of power-players such as Putin and China's President Xi Jinping. But in his foreign policy, Obama has been experimenting with the hard questions: How does America calibrate its power to the realities of the world, after its unsuccessful invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan ... Obama has sometimes fired blanks in his foreign policy. But he's shooting at the right target."

The American Dream, a Nightmare of Economic Dispair

Despair, American Style (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"In a recent interview Mr. Deaton suggested that middle-aged whites have “lost the narrative of their lives.” That is, their economic setbacks have hit hard because they expected better. Or to put it a bit differently, we’re looking at people who were raised to believe in the American Dream, and are coping badly with its failure to come true."

News from 9/11: Bush et al Ignored A LOT of Warnings

‘The Attacks Will Be Spectacular’ from Politico
"An exclusive look at how the Bush administration ignored this warning from the CIA months before 9/11, along with others that were far more detailed than previously revealed."

GOP Voters No Longer Buy Most of what Their Party is REALLY Selling

Trump exploits a crack in the GOP’s foundation (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"In a smart essay for Politico, Michael Lind argues that the modern Republican Party has built its ideology around three planks: economic conservatism, traditional social values and hard-line foreign policy. The problem for the GOP is that in all three areas, its followers no longer believe in the party’s long-standing ideology."

Establishment worried Carson or Trump might win

Time for GOP panic? from the Washington Post
"Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands. The party establishment is paralyzed. Big money is still on the sidelines. No consensus alternative to the outsiders has emerged from the pack of governors and senators running, and there is disagreement about how to prosecute the case against them"

Jeb's Collapse Makes Room ... for Another Stunningly Weak GOP Contender

10 reasons to believe Marco Rubio would lose in a general election from Salon
"After Jeb's collapse, Republican elites are ready to crown the Florida senator. He's destined to disappoint them."

Bush's Toothless Campaign Snarling at Rubio

Bush Allies Threaten Wave of Harsh Attacks on Rubio, an Ex-Mentee from the New York Times
"Seething with anger and alarmed over Mr. Rubio’s rise, aides to Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, and his allies are privately threatening a wave of scathing attacks on his former protégé in the coming weeks, in a sign of just how anxious they have become about the state of Mr. Bush’s candidacy."
Given the track record of these supposedly smart people so far, I doubt that Marco is cowering in his boots. So far, the bone-headed, so-twenty-years-ago campaign Bush is running will send some rockets at Rubio -- only to have missies come right back at them.  

Carson -- Another Sarah Palin on Foreign Policy

Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say from the New York Times
"Faced with increasing scrutiny about whether Mr. Carson — who leads in some Republican presidential polls — was capable of leading American foreign policy, two of his top advisers said in interviews with The New York Times that he had struggled to master the intricacies of the Middle East and national security and that intense tutoring was having little effect."

Monday, November 9, 2015

News Nuggets 1539


DAYLEE PICTURE: A dog sitting in front of the Yaquina Head lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: When it Comes to "Death to America", Oh, Never Mind

Iran Ayatollah: 'Death to America' refers to US policies from the Daily Beast
"Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that exclamations of “Death to America” refer to dislike for American policies—not an actual wish for the destruction of the country. Khamenei reportedly discussed the slogan while meeting with students for the anniversary of the Iranian hostage crisis."
I actually view this statement as a really good sign on the diplomatic front.  The Supreme Leader has been making noises in the last month or so suggesting that he opposed the nuclear deal.  This suggests not only the exact opposite, but that he's actually trying to counter the hard right opposition to the agreement among Iran's clerical ruling class.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Revolution in the Vatican

Pope Francis’s Radical Authenticity Is Revolutionizing the Catholic Church (Elizabeth Bruenig) from the New Republic
"In these turbulent times, he's gained mass appeal with a simple message."

The Clinton Haters Come up Empty Again

Key Clinton emails did not contain highly classified secrets, inquiry finds from Politico
"The U.S. intelligence community has retreated from claims that two emails in Hillary Clinton’s private account contained top secret information, a source familiar with the situation told POLITICO. The determination came from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s office and concluded that the two emails did not include highly classified intelligence secrets. Concerns about the emails' classification helped trigger an on-going FBI inquiry into Clinton's private email set-up."
Is anyone surprised?  More gas-bagging from the Clinton haters.  However, it has to be said: for two people who are so touted for their political acumen, the Clintons have never shown any aptitude for heading off a scandal before it catches fire.  When will they learn?! -- Nuggetsman

Training the Washington Press Corps to Just Shut Up

Will the Press Recognize the Existential Threat and Fight Back, or Buckle Under? (David Atkins) from Washington Monthly
"The press is facing an existential threat. With Republicans increasingly unashamed to tell grandiose lies and respond to any press criticism with derogatory insults and whines about media bias as well as blackmail threats to cancel appearances if the questions are too tough, the press must decide how to respond on two fronts. First, it must decide how to present an objective face while acknowledging that both sides do not, in fact, behave equally badly. Second, it must determine whether it will continue to ask the tough questions that need answers regardless of the threats made by the GOP, or whether it will meekly submit to the demands for kid-glove treatment."
Atkins is completely spot-on here.  Since the 1960s, right wingers have been carefully constructing an expanding truth-free zone where reporters, college professors, think tanks, and more recently scientists, regulators, all lawmakers are completely discredited in the eyes of 40+ percent of the electorate.  Next target: debate moderators and the Washington press corps in general who have the temerity to ask tough, annoying questions.  Sarah Palin and her handlers in '08 showed the GOP that it MAY be possible to run and win without EVER having to answer tough questions.  The CNBC debatergate is the latest chapter.  The goal: get moderators and their network bosses to self-censor themselves ahead of time and to allow candidates to simply say whatever pops into their heads.  Oh, but wait!  On the latter point, that's already what we're seeing this cycle! -- Nuggetsman

The GOP’s anti-modern rage

What Republican anger at the CNBC moderators tells us about the party from Salon
"Why the GOP furor over last week's debate? The right bristles at idea its claims should be tested against evidence."

Inside Insurgent Voters Disrupting the GOP

White Republicans are revolting: They keep winning elections, and keep getting angrier (David Jonas) from Salon
"Want to understand the roots of modern GOP anger? Look no further than white, male, religious insecurity and fear."

Trump, Bush and Now Cruz Taking Aim at Rubio

Rubio's Racking Up Enemies (Francis Wilkinson) from Bloomberg View
"Trump wants to bruise Rubio in part because the Florida senator is on the rise, and in part because Trump knocks people down just because he can. Bush wants to remove Rubio from the presidential field in particular because Rubio is getting traction in inverse proportion to the degree that Bush is losing it. Now, in what can only be an unpleasant development for Rubio, Ted Cruz has decided to make it a three-pronged attack."

The sad and gruesome history of a frontrunner who never was -- and the GOP’s zombie apocalypse

Jeb! Agonistes (Andrew O'Hehir) from Salon
"Shed no tears for the Bush dynasty, who reap what they have sown. But the undead, crazy GOP isn't finished yet. ...  the reanimated GOP, stuffed with Kochian cash, has built an impregnable congressional majority, paralyzed the legislative process and pushed the national policy agenda ever further to the right. To the zombie party, impending doom is a great victory, and the political corpse of the last Bush is its greatest trophy."

Conservatives Who Make No Sense: Not the Ones You Think

Days of Desperation (Michael Lind) from Politico
"There’s a reason Bush, Kasich and other establishment Republicans aren’t gaining traction. Their conservatism no longer makes sense."

Why GOP Establishment is powerless against the ultra-right’s onslaught

The GOP establishment is cooked (Sean Illing) from Salon
"Stick a fork in the GOP graybeards. The latest fracas over debate rules shows how they've completely lost control."

The Devolution of a Great National Party

As Bush Slips, So Does His Party (Francis Wilkinson) from Bloomberg View
"The devolution of one of the nation's two major political parties, and its sanction of nonsensical beliefs on taxes, science and other issues, is the most important political development of our era. ... Indeed, on the Republican stage, Bush appears as Dylan's Mr. Jones, an earnest square surrounded by tie-dyed merry pranksters. ... When Bush declined to support trading $10 in spending cuts for $1 in tax increases, he was essentially saying the bridge had collapsed. Try as he might, he can't span the chasm between the real world and the Republican world. And if Bush can't, who can?"

Why the GOP’s extremist fringe is mobilizing against Rubio

Marco Rubio is in big trouble (Heather Digby Parton) from Salon
"The same forces that deposed Eric Cantor from the House last year are now showing signs of movement against Rubio."

SCI-FI TV NUGGET!!

New 'Star Trek' TV Series In The Works For 2017 from Huffington Post
The show "will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

News Nuggets 1538


DAYLEE PICTURE: Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: A Cold War History Nugget!

The 1983 ‘war scare,’ was real: Soviets feared surprise nuclear attack by U.S. by U.S. (David E. Hoffman) from the Washington Post
"An exercise by NATO prompted fear in the leadership of the Soviet Union that the maneuvers were a cover for a nuclear attack by the United States, triggering a series of unparalleled Soviet military re­sponses, according to newly declassified documents."
One of the biggest near-misses of the Cold War and one that most people, even historians, know little about.  Check out this primary source, the U.S. assessment that concluded the Soviet leadership feared an American nuclear strike in 1983.

Laying the Legal Grounds for Killing Bin Laden

How 4 Federal Lawyers Paved the Way to Kill Osama bin Laden from the New York Times
"While the Bin Laden operation has been much scrutinized, the story of how a tiny team of government lawyers helped shape and justify Mr. Obama’s high-stakes decision has not been previously told. The group worked as military and intelligence officials conducted a parallel effort to explore options and prepare members of SEAL Team 6 for the possible mission."

The Grim Politics of the TPP

Myths and Realities of the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the National Interest
"One problem regarding the politics of free trade accords is that there are always winners and losers, even if the result is a net gain for a nation’s economy. The losers generally know who they are and mobilize in opposition, but who the winners will be tends to be less clear."
The politics of the TPP are tough.  In my view, the TPP is much more about the US retaining global economic advantages for the foreseeable future ... or surrendering really soon those advantages to the trade pact the Chinese were trying to organize around the Pacific rim, one that disadvantaged the US BIG TIME!  The US was facing a take-it-or-leave-it circumstance as the Chinese were closing in on securing their deal with most of the major countries in the Pacific, excluding the US.  The TPP has all the same players sans the Chinese.  Is the TPP a bad deal for US workers? Probably.  But it's nothing compared to how bad the Chinese deal would have been for US workers. -- Nuggetsman

The Limits on Training "Local Forces"

Why Is the American Military So Bad at Teaching Others How to Fight? (Fred Kaplan) from Slate
"The task goes far beyond what U.S. soldiers are trained to teach.,,,  If the goal is to turn the fighting completely over to the local armed forces, then training must also involve teaching them how to conduct and call in air strikes, gather intelligence and apply it to tactical operations, move soldiers rapidly from one area to another (which involves flying helicopters or small transport planes), resupply soldiers when they’re deployed far from the base (logistics), and plan operations on a strategic or theater-wide level. "

The IRS "Scandal": Oh ... Never Mind

DOJ: No Charges for Former IRS Official Lois Lerner from the Daily Beast
"“We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik wrote in a letter to Congress."
REALLY!?  I am SOOO surprised.  Another Obama administration scandal exposed as a non-scandal.

The Budget Deal: A Major Win for Obama

Obama Wins on Budget Deal as John Boehner Cleans Out the Barn from the New York Times
"The budget agreement struck late Monday between the White House and Congress hands President Obama a major victory, vindicating his hard line this year against spending limits that he argued were a drag on the economy and also buying himself freedom for the final 14 months of his term from the fiscal dysfunction that has plagued his presidency."

"Good Factory Jobs" - Not What They Used to Be

'Good' Jobs Aren't Coming Back (Alana Semuels) from the Atlantic
"In the last several years some American companies have moved their operations back to the states, but the resulting factory work isn't providing the prosperity and security that such work once did."

GOPers Looking for Their Own "Obama"

Republicans have a serious electability problem — and Marco Rubio is not the answer (Paul Waldman) from The Week
"Perhaps the reason is that at the end of eight years suffering under a president from the other party, emotions are too raw and resentments too deep for that kind of pragmatic thinking. In that way, Republicans in 2016 are in a position similar to that of Democrats in 2008 at the end of George W. Bush's two terms. I'm sure more than a few Republicans would like to find the candidate who can make them feel the way Barack Obama made Democrats feel then ..."

Perverse Cosmic Justice Visited on the Bushes & their Clique

Bush at 91: Irritated and Invigorated by ’16 Race from the New York Times
"...  the elder Mr. Bush was fuming at the news of the day: Mr. Trump had belittled Sen. John McCain of Arizona for being taken prisoner in Vietnam. “I can’t understand how somebody could say that and still be taken seriously,” said Mr. Bush ... “I have no feeling for the electorate anymore,” said John H. Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor who helped the elder Mr. Bush win the 1988 primary there and went on to serve as his White House chief of staff. “It is not responding the way it used to. Their priorities are so different that if I tried to analyze it I’d be making it up.” ... ... Contempt for Mr. Trump runs deep in the clan. ... Jeb Bush’s brother Neil has also vented privately about how bad Mr. Trump is for the country, ... And their father has been highly irritated by Mr. Trump’s ridicule."
It is sooo fitting the the Bushes and their compatriots are perplexed and upset by Trump and the way the race has gone.  When W was running in 2000 and '04, these people were perfectly happy to exploit the hard right to get elected. I find it INCREDIBLE that any of them bitch about what Trump said about McCain -- given what they were selling about John Kerry in '04!!  It's a perverse form of cosmic justice. -- Nuggetsman

The Hard Right: A Party Within a Party?

GOP right wing acts like its own party (Juan Williams) from The Hill
"The Freedom Caucus and the people who sent it to Washington want to sit at the big table and decide on their own deals. All that is required now is that the rebels pick their own leader and begin negotiations with the Republicans and Democrats. But first they have to officially divorce the GOP and form their own party.  There are enough hard-right Republican voters who agree with this call for independence from GOP leadership to back a new party under the name of the Freedom Caucus."

New GOP Focus: Bringing Trump Down

Panicked establishment gets ready for war against Trump (Byron York) from the Washington Examiner
"The Republican establishment, for the first time, is saying, off the record, this guy can win," noted Joe Scarborough on MSNBC Monday morning. "I've heard that from everybody. I don't hear anybody saying he can't win the nomination anymore." That doesn't mean Republicans have made their peace with a Trump victory. On the contrary — some are preparing to do whatever it takes to bring him down. Which could lead to an extraordinary scenario in which GOP stalwarts go to war to destroy their own party's likely nominee."

The GOP's Election Year Tech is No Where Near the Dems

The GOP Has a Tech Talent Problem It Might Not Solve from Wired Magazine
"... when Walker’s funding dried up, and he announced that he was pulling out of the race, Oczkowski fully expected the whole tech and digital staff would be scooped up by another campaign. But that never happened. For Oczkowski, that was sign—a sign that the rest of the GOP field isn’t building and prioritizing tech as vigorously as the Democrats are."

To Get Trump Out, Jeb Must Go First

3 Reasons Republicans Must Pull The Plug On Jeb If They Want To Stop Trump (Eric Kleefeld) from the National Memo
"All of this squabbling among the candidates has made one thing abundantly clear: If establishment Republicans really want to stop Donald Trump, they must first get Jeb out of the way. Here are some reasons why."

The Polite Pretense Surrounding the Bush Candidacy

Jeb Bush is completely toast: Donald Trump and Jake Tapper just ended all White House dreams (Amanda Marcotte) from Salon
"... when it comes to Bush, voters may be picking up on something that the party elite do not understand: Bush faces a brother-shaped albatross hanging around his neck that will, in fact, turn out to be a real problem in the general election. Worse, Bush’s way of handling the issue suggests he hasn’t given it much thought, clearly expecting everyone to politely pretend that we’ll all forgotten about that 9/11 and Iraq War thing."

The Benghazi Witch-Hunt

The Benghazi Witch-Hunt Against Hillary Is Backfiring Just Like Bill Clinton's Impeachment ... And its chairman, Trey Gowdy, just got caught red handed from The Nation
"Ever since Watergate, Republicans have been consumed with the certainty that a similar scandal will one day befall Democrats, and have gone to great lengths to make it so. But when their inquiries run aground, or devolve into partisan witch hunting, they eventually relent, and allow the investigations to fizzle out. The Benghazi committee is flirting with the same fate."

Are Conservative Issues Losing Their Edge?

The GOP's Problems Go Way Deeper Than the Speaker Mess (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Republicans aren't the party of no ideas—they're the party of no escape. ... The failure of Obamacare's foes is a sign of a larger trend: A lot of traditional conservative issues are losing their momentum...

Are Ethics and Character Questions in Marco's Future?

Dirt on Rubio in Jeb Bush's Campaign Blueprint? from US News
"A 112-page internal document provided to U.S. News includes more dirt on Marco Rubio, Iowa vote goals and a January advertising plan. ... Additionally, while the slides released to the media outlined Bush's overarching argument against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – that he's the GOP's Barack Obama – the complete offering contains more biting, detailed slights, pointedly questioning the character and ethics of Bush's home state rival."

For Latinos, It’s not just Donald Trump

Latino voters are down on Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, too (Sophia Tesfaye) from Salon
"According to a new AP-GfK poll, the entire Republican party’s feeble rebrand effort following the 2012 election was a complete dud.  Even the GOP's "outreach" candidates are underwater with Latinos."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

News Nuggets 1537


DAYLEE PICTURE: A solar eclipse gleams over the mountains of Spitsbergen, Norway.  From National Geographic.



TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Louisiana’s nasty Bobby Jindal hangover

GOP failure is giving new life to Democrats in the unlikeliest of places from Salon
"The party's disastrous bids for president could change the complexion of the whole country. Just look at Louisiana. ...  Increasingly, the GOP’s base is confined to the south and to pockets of rural America. But even in a conservative state like Louisiana, Republicans are being challenged by Democratic candidates. While it’s unlikely that Louisiana becomes a blue state anytime soon, there are some compelling indicators that the political winds are shifting."

ANOTHER BIG NUGGET: The Modern GOP: "Elected Leaders of Jaw-dropping Incompetence"

The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"... this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal. ... This anti-political political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence."

Sweet Jesus, David Brooks is finally making sense

How Fox News & the GOP insanity caucus pushed David Brooks over the edge (Sean Illing) from Salon
"In his New York Times column this morning, he appears to discover what at least half the country has long known: The Republican Party has been hijacked by unruly nihilists."

George W. Bush’s military lies

The real story about the undeniable service gaps Bush got away with (Paul Rosenberg) from Salon
"In the final analysis, the record clearly and convincingly proves he did not fulfill the obligation he incurred when he enlisted in the Air National Guard and completed his pilot training, despite his honorable discharge. He clearly shirked the duty he undertook in 1968 upon enlistment and in 1969 upon completion of his flight training at Moody AF Base….. “The CBS story, and the furor that caused, buried the story so deeply that you couldn’t possibly disinter it in 2004,” Robinson told Texas Monthly’s Joe Hagan for a comprehensive retrospective story in 2012. “Inevitably, the only candidate who ended up with a serious credibility problem about his military service was John Kerry, who had absolutely nothing to hide or be ashamed of,” Robinson said. “To me, in a close election — and it was a close election — who knows, that could have been the difference.”"

America's Newest "Illegals"

Young, Illegal, and Alone (J. Weston Phippin) from the Atlantic
"Their parents sent them to the United States to escape brutal violence. But to stay, they need to convince courts that sending them here constituted child abuse."

Russia and Iran: The New Masters of the Middle East? NOT!

Stop swooning over Putin (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"Washington’s foreign policy elites have developed a mind-set that mistakes activity for achievement. They assume that every crisis in the world can and should be solved by a vigorous assertion of U.S. power, preferably military power. Failure to do so is passivity and produces weakness. By this logic, Russia and Iran are the new masters of the Middle East. Never mind that those countries are desperately trying to shore up a sinking ally."

Exxon's Rapacious Short-Sightedness Revealed

Exxon's Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels' Role in Global Warming Decades Ago from Climate Change News
"It assembled a brain trust that would spend more than a decade deepening the company's understanding of an environmental problem that posed an existential threat to the oil business.  Then, toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial."
This is potentially HUGE news! If true, Exxon et al., face the identical legal peril that the tobacco companies faced (and LOST) when pressed about if they believed that cigarettes were addictive.  We know how that went.  The analysis suggests that both sides are lawyering up!

The Newest Route for Syrian Refugees

Slovenia: The New, Tiny Pathway to Western Europe from the Atlantic
"After Hungary sealed its border with Croatia, thousands of refugees are being diverted to the Massachusetts-sized Alpine country."

How Hillary emerges from the first debates

Why the GOP Should Fear Hillary Clinton (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest.
"One thing seems certain: the new Clinton that emerged last night is unlikely to be taken down by House Republicans poring over her emails."

Hillary's Organizational Advantage

Hillary Clinton Bets on Future With Spending Spree to Build Campaign Infrastructure from the New York Times
"Three months before the first nominating contest, Mrs. Clinton has built a cash-hungry campaign juggernaut that is more far-flung and more expensive than anything else on the horizon.The goal is to overwhelm her rivals for the Democratic nomination — including those who are still considering a bid — before  the first flowers of spring, and to amass an organizational advantage that no Republican rival will be able to match by Election Day."

How the Iran Nuclear Deal is Playing ... in Iran

The Struggle for Iran’s Soul from Foreign Policy Magazine
"An unplanned handshake between Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and President Barack Obama has triggered a battle between reformists and hard-line opponents keen on sabotaging the nascent rapprochement with the United States."

The most shocking contrasts between the Democratic & Republican debates

Trump’s America vs. Hillary’s America (Heather Digby Parton) from Salon
"If there's one thing last night's debate made clear, it's that our political parties are living on separate planets.  ...

The GOP's Wheels-off-the-Track Moment

What The Big GOP Meltdown Reveals From A Guy Who Saw It All Coming from Talking Points Memo
"The modern Republican Party had been careening toward this kind of wheels-off-the-track moment for a long time. Its knee-jerk rejectionism, high-stakes brinksmanship, strict demands for ideological purity, and willingness to take hostages had been on display in one form or another in a series of political clashes since the 1990s."

Some Folks Are Running Out of Cash...

Some Presidential Campaigns Are Running Out of Cash, New Filings Show (Russ Choma) from Mother Jones Magazine
"... the Clinton and Sanders campaigns are in stellar shape compared with the finances of some of the GOP candidates, who are spending money faster than they are raising it."

Why it’s high time Jeb gave up his presidential fantasy

Jeb Bush’s epic implosion (Gary Legum) from Salon
"Let's face it: Jeb sucks at this whole running-for-president thing, and he's just wasting our time now. ... Not that any of this will stop him from shambling forward through Iowa and New Hampshire like the most preppily-dressed zombie on “The Walking Dead.” After all, zombies don’t know they are dead until you drive a stake through their brains."
Ah, to badly paraphrase Robert Frost, Bush has millions to burn before he sleeps...

Rubio's Future? Promising ... But FULL of Holes

Marco Rubio's wake-up call (Kyle Cheney) from Politico Magazine
"For all the buzz surrounding his campaign, the Florida senator isn't raising enough money and hasn't yet built much of a field organization. ... Rubio may be slowly rising in the polls, but his third quarter filing revealed a campaign that's also out-manned by many of its rivals in the early-voting states. His staff is largely concentrated in Washington, with just a small umbrella of on-the-ground, early-state operatives -- and he's already at a disadvantage because he hasn't invested the time in early-state visits that some of his opponents have."

Welcome to the conservative apocalypse!

First David Brooks, now the party chairman figures out right-wing clusterf**k from Salon
"Brooks doesn’t quite follow his insight to its logical conclusion, though. If he did, he would have conceded that the GOP is essentially done as a viable and productive national political party. Brooks, one assumes, still has hope that Republicans can course-correct before it’s too late."

The Cruz Alternative?

Why Republicans Need to Nominate Ted Cruz (Stuart Rothenberg) from Roll Call
"As a spokesman for the no compromise, anti-establishment wing of his party, Cruz would be the ideal presidential nominee for conservatives tired of Republican leaders. He could ask a like-minded governor, possibly Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, to join his ticket, giving voters the clear choice that conservatives claim they never have. But could Cruz win? I don’t think so."

A Real Look at the House Freedom Caucus

Meet the Right-Wing Rebels Who Overthrew John Boehner (Tim Dickinson) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"The House Freedom Caucus is an ideological and uncompromising band of anti-government radicals. And they're just getting started."

The GOP battle over Paul Ryan and conservatism grows nasty

Burn it down? (Howard Kurtz) from Fox News
"“Personally, given Washington these days, I think the default should be to burn it to the ground (metaphorically speaking), but you know what I mean. Rep. Paul Ryan will give the veneer of conservatism to whatever he touches.” Burn it to the ground. No wonder Ryan doesn’t want the job. And whether he gets it really could determine the party’s future."

Trump's BASIC Argument: Even a Buffoon Like Me Can Do Better

The Serious Problem with Treating Donald Trump Seriously (Michael Kinsley) from Vanity Fair
"The trouble with Trump is that he is, by temperament, by experience, and by character, utterly unqualified to be president of the United States. He is a buffoon. That's why his campaign is a joke, not the merits or otherwise of his alleged policies.... Trump stands for the proposition that you don't need to know much to run the government. You just need to use your common sense and to grow a pair, as Sarah Palin so memorably advised. "

The Trump "Machine" Taking Shape

Donald Trump's building a long-term operation from Politico
"His campaign has developed the infrastructure to put up a real fight in the earliest primaries and beyond. ... The campaign has taken its organization in many of these states to the next level, announcing the hiring of state directors in, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama in recent weeks. It has also brought on state directors for Illinois and Florida, which vote on March 15."
This is REALLY BAD NEWS for Bush et al.  Through this dark summer of discontent with the "establishment", the Bush/Kasich/Grahams and even the Cruz/Rubio subset have BANKED on that somehow that organizational strengths, campaign "professionals," and the smart money would win out in the early primaries.  Guess what? Looks like Trump will not be seriously lacking in this area! -- Nuggetsman

The Writing on the Wall Begins to Appear for the GOP Also-Rans

Six cash-strapped Republican White House hopefuls face tipping point from Reuters
"They all spent more than they took in during the third quarter, according to campaign finance reports filed on Thursday. The six are: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former New York Governor George Pataki, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum."

Trump to SNL? Reality: SNL BECOMES the GOP!

Donald Trump to Host 'SNL' November 7 from NBC News
"Live from New York, it's Donald Trump!  The GOP presidential frontrunner and real estate magnate will host NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on November 7, the show announced Tuesday. His appearance comes almost exactly a year before Election Day, which will fall on November 8, 2016."

The Costs of the Ongoing GOP "Insurgency"

Republicans Gone Wild: Q&A with Mann and Ornstein (Francis Wilkinson) from Bloomberg
"Norm's response underscores the reality of asymmetric polarization, which the mainstream media and most good government groups have avoided discussing -- at great costs to the country. As we wrote, Republicans have become more an insurgency than a major political party capable of governing."

Monday, October 12, 2015

News Nuggets 1536


Rice paddies in southern China.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Cold War Ghosts Waiting for Putin in Syria?

Russia Is Repeating Cold War Mistakes in Syria (David Lesch) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"In 1957, the Soviet Union’s ally Egypt intervened in Syria’s messy politics. It didn’t go well. Why does Putin think this time will be different?"

Putin in Syria -- Just Leave Him There

Syria, Obama and Putin (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"Putin stupidly went into Syria looking for a cheap sugar high to show his people that Russia is still a world power. Well, now he’s up a tree. Obama and John Kerry should just leave him up there for a month — him and Assad, fighting ISIS alone — and watch him become public enemy No. 1 in the Sunni Muslim world. “Yo, Vladimir, how’s that working for you?”"

The Dilemma of Owning Real Estate in Syria

In Syria, whose side is the United States on? (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"Whom is the United States for in this struggle? ...  The West is against almost every major group fighting in Syria, which makes for moral clarity but strategic incoherence. ... The U.S. Army could easily defeat the Islamic State, which has a lightly armed force of fewer than 30,000 men. But then it would own real estate in Syria. Who wants to govern that territory, protect the population and be seen by locals as legitimate?"

Hunting for Moderates and Unicorns in Syria

Syria and the Bizarre Need to Take Sides (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"The fact that the U.S. can’t support any of them should make it clear that the U.S. has no business being involved in the conflict at all. The hunt for the elusive “moderate” opposition has been driven by the weird desire to find some faction in the civil war that the U.S. can support without openly endorsing jihadists."

The Bigger Strategic Picture with TPP

America's Grand Strategy to Contain China: The Trans-Pacific Partnership? from the National Interest
"There is a strategic dimension to the American push to conclude the TPP, but it's not about containing China. Rather, the TPP is part of the Obama Administration's broader Rebalance strategy to update and reinforce the liberal international order in the Asia-Pacific."

Putin's Wrecker Legacy

Is Putin Winning? (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times
"To be clear: Putin is a Russian nationalist, not the leader of Spectre or the League of Shadows. He doesn’t want chaos for its own sake, and he no doubt believes that a weakened NATO, a divided E.U. and a crumbling Pax Americana are necessary preconditions for his own empire’s return to greatness. But that return seems far out of his reach, and what’s closer to his grasp is something more destructive — a wrecker’s legacy, not Peter the Great’s, in which his own people gain little from his efforts, but the world grows more unstable with every move he makes."
A pretty fair assessment from this right-wing pundit.

Helping the Migrants: The Germans ... and the Serbs?

Why Serbia Is a Country to Watch (Joel Weickgenant) from Real Clear World
"Collective memories of the mass displacement of the Yugoslav wars have also opened people's hearts; many Serbs themselves are refugees from Croatia and Bosnia. When Hungarian police used water cannons and tear gas on refugees rioting on the Serbian side of the frontier, Aleksandar Vucic, the Serbian prime minister, said Hungary was guilty of ‘brutal' and ‘non-European' behavior.""

Strife in the Benghazi Panel

Suit Over Firing Exposes Strife Within Benghazi Panel from the New York Times
"A former investigator for the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi plans to file a complaint in federal court next month alleging that he was fired unlawfully in part because his superiors opposed his efforts to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in the Libyan city rather than focus primarily on the role of the State Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Debates About Obama as a "Black Leader"

The Paradox of the First Black President from New York Magazine
"As the historic administration nears its final year,African-American leaders debate: Did Barack Obama do enough for his own community?"

The Plummeting Price of Solar Energy

Solar Energy Sees Eye-Popping Price Drops from National Geographic
"Solar electricity's price tag has plummeted 70 percent, says a new report, as SolarCity rolls out a low-cost, super-efficient panel."

What the Guns Are Really For

The Cult Of The Second Amendment from Talking Points Memo
"...  to a remarkable extent, the default position of conservatives has less and less to do with arguments about the efficacy of gun regulation or the need for guns to deter or respond to crime. Instead, it’s based on the idea that the main purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep open the possibility of revolutionary violence against the U.S. government."

McCarthy Deals Serious Blows to the Whole Party

The New McCarthyism is dead on arrival (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"The consequences of McCarthy’s sleight of tongue can’t be overstated. It wasn’t just a Washington gaffe — when someone accidentally tells the truth. It was a self-inflicted, potentially fatal wound, not just to McCarthy but to Republicans more broadly, including those running for president."

Revolt, the "New Normal"

Kevin McCarthy’s implosion signals a full-blown Republican revolution (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"If you are Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich, what happened on Thursday in Washington should put a lump in your throat. The Republican establishment has been operating for months -- really since the rise of Trump -- under a belief that, eventually, things will return to "normal" and that the party will put forward an establishment candidate for president. That was the same wrong-headed thinking I heard constantly in the run-up to today's speaker vote: Yeah, sure, conservatives weren't sold on McCarthy, but the alternatives weren't any good or serious, and so he would win. Nope."

For the GOP, Signs of Impending Doom

The Party’s Over (Matt Latimer) from Politico
"For months on end the GOP establishment has continued to ignore all the signs of its impending doom. It’s been living in a delusion—thinking that they were in charge even as all the evidence made clear that their grasp of reality was not much better than Randy Quaid’s. Sure, their supporters are mad at them. But they’ve been mad before, like when they bailed out Wall Street in 2008, while the rest of the economy tanked. It will all blow over. But it won’t. And largely this is a problem of the establishment’s own making. Time and again, the GOP and its consultant class has overpromised to win votes and then underperformed once the votes were won."

The embarrassing truth about the unqualified, underprepared GOP field

Let’s be honest, they’re idiots from Salon
"Build a wall! Let Russia fight ISIS! GOP ideas are so simple-minded that they almost can't be serious. They're not."

Trump's Attention-Grabbing Act is Killing Bush

Jeb Bush Just Sunk to His Lowest Point Ever.  And it’s all because of Donald Trump (Jim Newell) from Slate
" Trump doesn’t have to win the nomination to execute this trick; he’s done enough already by changing the contours of what Republicans want on a fundamental level. The Bush campaign came into the election knowing that it would have to address concerns about dynasty and being considered a member of the establishment. It likely didn’t expect a bombastic (to put it generously) figure like Trump to come along and seize polling front-runner status by amplifying these weaknesses through gaudy but attention-grabbing performance art."

County Commissioners Beg to Be Saved from Gay Marraige

Tenn. county to consider resolution begging God to spare them ‘His coming wrath’ over same-sex marriage from Raw Story
" On Monday, the Blount County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution asking God to spare their region from “His coming wrath” because the “lawless judiciary” of the U.S. is forcing them recognize same-sex marriages. ... Presumably God will hold off His wrath until the resolution can be considered as it is listed as seventh on the docket — right after the board takes up compensation levels for Blount County School Board Members."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

News Nuggets 1535


DAYLEE PICTURE: Snow-covered pines in Norway's Laponia Wilderness Are.  From National Geographic.