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."


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."