Friday, July 31, 2015

News Nuggets 1525

 man skiing near the summit of Kreuzkogel in the Austrian Alps.
From National Geographic. 

Flames of Hate Haunt a Nation

Is the Ugly German Back? from Der Spiegel [from Germany in English]
"During the first six months of this year, right-wing extremists in Germany committed attacks against places housing asylum-seekers on an almost daily basis. Many refugees living in the country fear for their lives."

Choosing Peace

Why History Gives Obama the Benefit of the Doubt on Iran (James Fallowes) from the Atlantic
"U.S. presidents of both parties have often shown better judgment in knowing when to accept diplomatic solutions than in choosing to go to war."

Can the GOP Kill the Iran Deal? Probably Not.

The GOP has no good options for killing the Iran deal (Zack Beauchamp) from Vox
"The truth is that Republicans are in no real position to kill the Iran deal — probably not in Congress, and probably not even if they take the White House in 2016. Nor, really, should they want to: At this point, even if you are an Iran hawk who hates the deal, unilaterally torpedoing it would hurt your goals rather than advance them."

Kansas Takes another Step into the Dumper

Kansas Underfunded Education And Cut Tenure. Now It Can't Find Enough Teachers To Fill Classrooms from the Huffington Post
“In the next three years I think we’ll have maybe the worst teacher shortage in the country -- I think most of that is self-inflicted. ... Amid what some see as attempts to de-professionalize teaching -- in February a bill passed the state Senate that would make it easier to jail teachers for teaching materials deemed offensive, while another new program lifts teacher licensure requirements in certain districts -- some superintendents say teacher morale is at an all-time low. ”
More blowback from Gov. Sam Brownback's attempt to turn Kansas into a conservative fiscal wonderland.  Cut taxes and wait for the economy to take off and make up the difference through simple growth.  Oops!! Gee, it didn't work.  We're $400 million in the hole! Cut, cut, cut.  Endstory: the state is a financial mess, the economy is still in the duldrums, and NOW the schools are going into the dumper.  Good job, Sam!!  Next up -- Scott Walker's Wisconsin!

How did this Monster get Created?

The Decades of GOP Lies that Brought us Donald Trump, Republican Front-runner (Heather Cox Richardson) from Salon
"Donald Trump did not happen overnight. He's the product of a dangerous, cynical GOP strategy that dates back years. ... Trump is the product of a deliberate Republican strategy, adopted by Richard Nixon’s people in 1968, to attract voters with an apocalyptic redemption story rather than reasoned argument.  It has taken almost 50 years, but we have finally arrived at the culmination of postmodern politics in which Republican leaders use words to create their own reality."

Conservatives ARE Holding a Conversation About Race

An Ugly Term—“Cuckservative”—Crystallizes a Republican Party Crisis (Jeet Heer) from the New Republic
"Gregory Hood, writing in the white nationalist website American Renaissance, offers both a useful definition of cuckservative as well as inadvertent clues as to its psycho-sexual appeal. “Grassroots Republicans who thought they had retaken the government are confused, angry, and powerless,” Hood writes. “They worked for Republicans in good faith, but get only scorn and contempt. They’ve been deceived, cheated, and exploited. In short, they’ve been ‘cucked,’ or cuckolded.” Yet for Hood, it’s not just political and policy defeats that make mainstream conservatives cuckolds but the fact that they seem to take a perverse pleasure in losing."

Trump Supporters Optimistic About His Chances

New Hampshire Voters Explain the Appeal of Donald Trump from Bloomberg View
"A Bloomberg Politics focus group of Donald Trump supporters in the Granite State helps illuminate the billionaire's rise in the polls. ... By and large, however, the group seemed optimistic about Trump's chances of reaching the White House, in part because of his status as a Washington outsider."

Trump's Spirit of Anti-Politics

Donald Trump Leaves Indelible Mark on Republicans (Edward Luce) from the Financial Times
"There is no logic to his platform. Mr Trump’s success is based on the spirit of anti-politics — the dislike of poll-tested campaigns, scripted candidates and the political classes in general. Consistency is a vice. Coherence spells dishonesty. ... These are the angry swaths of America that feel left behind, belittled and insulted. They want to take their country back but cannot put their finger on what exactly they mean. For them it is evening in America. Nobody argues their case."

The Trump beast the GOP Can't Slay

Trump Has The GOP Establishment’s Number (E. J. Dionne) from the National Memo
"The problems that bother us most are the ones we bring on ourselves. This is why Republicans are so out of sorts with Donald Trump. The party created the rough beast it is now trying to slay."

When it Comes to Trump, Who is Disappointed with Who?

Trump’s Waterloo? Don’t count on it from Politico
"The Donald’s supporters are disappointed — in John McCain, the media and the GOP establishment. Not in Trump."

How Generations of Americans Have Been Tricked into an Angry Cult-like Devotion to a New Conservative Lord

How Fox News Made My Dad Crazy from the Daily Beast
"A new film produced by Golden Globe-winning actor Matthew Modine fires shots at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the right-wing media machine. ... The Brainwashing Of My Dad also warns of how generations of Americans have been tricked into an angry cult-like devotion to a new conservative lord and savior: Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Her case study? Her own dad."
Read the whole thing.  It is the story of my father.  I can't wait to see this film. -- Nuggetsman

Sunday, July 19, 2015

News Nuggets 1524

A unique view of Yosemite.  From National Geographic.  

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Obama's Second Term: More Productive Than the First?

Barack Obama’s Long Game (Todd Purdum) from Politico Magazine
"A month of victories has transformed the President’s second term. ... “Obama may be singular as a president, not only because of his striking background,” says Kenneth Adelman, who was Ronald Reagan’s arms control negotiator with the Soviets three decades ago, and who has his doubts about the Iran deal. “It may turn out that unlike virtually any other president, his second term is actually better than his first.”

GOP Disconnect from Reality Shows with the Iran Deal

Why the Iran Deal Makes Obama's Critics So Angry (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"The nuclear agreement highlights the limits of American power—something the president’s opponents won’t accept. ... In life, what matters most isn’t how a decision compares to your ideal outcome. It’s how it compares to the alternative at hand. ... "

The Big Picture on How the Iran Deal Plays in Different Countries

I Think He's Got a Lot of This Right (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"I think this deal represents the first step of US disentanglement from the machinations of Middle Eastern politics and background control of much of what goes on. Here is my assessment of what is happening, by nation: ..."

Historic Aspects of the Iran Deal

The Iran deal is historic. And only Obama could have gotten it.(Amanda Taub) from Vox
"In his view, foreign policy isn’t a matter of showing strength or trying to make sure that every US action furthers its interests around the entire world. It’s a moneyball approach to foreign affairs: Don't focus on playing a beautiful game, focus on racking up points at the lowest possible cost. To Obama, that's how you win. By contrast, much of US foreign policy has been about playing a beautiful game: pursuing the loftiest possible goals — transforming regions, unseating hostile regimes, ensuring that no threat to US interests or allies goes unanswered — and viewing any compromise of those goals as a defeat."

Conservatives have opposed every diplomatic breakthrough for decades

Iran nuclear deal (Matthew Yglesias) from Vox
"Well, if you want to understand the deep intellectual and psychological roots of conservative opposition to Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, it's useful to take a step back from the details and look at a newspaper ad campaign conservatives ran in 1988. ...  Conservatives don't believe in talking to your enemies."

Reflexive Belligerence and Partisanship - the True Guiding Principles of GOP Foreign Policy

Iran-Deal Opponents Don’t Know What It Does, Don’t Care (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"The Journal, a prestigious voice of the conservative intelligentsia, in this sense perfectly represents conservative thought on the Iran issue. It is driven by reflexive belligerence and partisanship, unburdened by logical consistency or any grounding in relevant fact."

For the GOP, Any Iran Deal is a Bad Deal

Conservatives Hate the Iran Deal Because They Hate All Deals (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"... the conservative case against the Iran deal is hard to take seriously because the right has made the same case against every major negotiation with an American adversary since World War II. If there is such a thing as a deal with an enemy state strong enough to satisfy conservatives, no American president, Democratic or Republican, has ever been shrewd or tough enough to strike it."

Greek Democracy Doesn't Matter

German-Led Eurogroup Launching Coup Against Greek Government (Ryan Grim) from the Huffington Post
"... on Sunday night, it marched into Athens with an offer to Greece that would end the idea that capitalism and democracy can survive together there. Reads the offer, provided by a source close to the talks , from the European financial elite, which call themselves the institutions: "The [Greek] government needs to consult and agree with the institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament." It would be a government in name only. Not only would the Greek people be forced to accept the kind of deal they rejected overwhelmingly at the polls just a week earlier, but they'd be blocked from implementing any future policies Germany disapproved of."

The European Project ... Betrayed

Killing the European Project (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"... this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for."

"Big Picture" Questions on China's Market Crash

The True Danger of China's Crash (Robert Samuelson) from the Washington Post
"China's spectacular stock crash poses three questions. First, what caused it? Next, will it harm the "real" economy of spending and hiring, inside China and beyond? And, finally, how will it affect China's Communist Party and its economic strategy?"

The Perils of Globalized Defense Industries

Portents of World Cyberwar (L. Gordon Crovitz) from the Wall Street Journal
“Ghost Fleet” is a fictional warning that real-life technologies could expose the U.S. to a devastating attack. ... "“Ghost Fleet” portrays Beijing paralyzing the U.S. military by inserting malware into chips manufactured in China for use in American warships and planes. When the Chinese activate the chips to cripple U.S. fighters, planes from the 1970s are redeployed because they don’t have Chinese chips."

America's New Centers of Poverty: The Suburbs

Suburbs and the New American Poverty from the Atlantic
"More people with low incomes now live outside of cities, and some areas are ill-equipped to deal with the influx of the poor."

The Rhetoric about Workers "Choosing" Not to Work

The Laziness Dogma (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"The real source of his remark was the “nation of takers” dogma that has taken over conservative circles in recent years — the insistence that a large number of Americans, white as well as black, are choosing not to work, because they can live lives of leisure thanks to government programs. You see this laziness dogma everywhere on the right."

Trump's Haunting of the GOP

Donald Trump is the monster the GOP created (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"It has been amusing to watch the brands — the PGA, NBC, Macy’s, NASCAR, Univision, Serta — flee Donald Trump after his xenophobic remarks. Who even knew The Donald had a line of mattresses featuring Cool Action Dual Effects Gel Memory Foam? But there is one entity that can’t dump Trump, no matter how hard it tries: the GOP. The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party."

What Separates Trump from Other Republicans

Trump’s Got the GOP by the Balls (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
" Trump is different from Bachmann, and even from fellow entrepreneur Cain, in one major respect: He doesn’t give a crap about the Republican Party. He cares about Trump. And don’t forget he has the power singlehandedly to make Hillary Clinton president."

How is the Partisan War Going?

Conventional warfare: Why Democrats won (Joe Scarborough) from Politico
"... impressions are created amid confetti and cable coverage that reach political civilians (another way of describing normal Americans) that, together with the autumn debates, tend to clarify — and even decide — presidential elections.Which is why Republicans should be particularly glum this weekend. ... Many of those same Republicans are in no mood to hear how badly their party was outperformed by the Democrats this week during the prime-time performances that millions of Americans watched."

Shifting Preferences by Voters

Voters are shifting to Democrats, flashing a warning for Republicans from the Washington Post
"... the findings add to a series of data points that underscore the challenges ahead for a party trying to keep pace with a rapidly changing country. The latest numbers essentially mark a reset that returns party affiliation to its modern historical norm. Democrats long have enjoyed the advantage over Republicans in Gallup’s measures."


Organization sets out to help senior dogs find forever homes from WFSB Channel 3 News [in Hartford, CT]
"Kahan rescued Bella with the help of  The Mr. Mo Project, which is named after a dog rescued in 2012. The New York-based non-profit connects people with older shelter dogs who don't have a lot of time left and could sure use some "late-in-life" love.  ... "It's great to adopt older pets, you kinda know what you're getting into as far as their size and how to care for them," Dr. Kristin Haviar with Animal Hospital of Rocky Hill, said. "But it can be a bigger expense because different illnesses and diseases can pop-up that can be quite costly." But with the Mr. Mo Project, there's no cost for the people involved. The project runs on donations and they cover all medical costs associated with the dogs."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

News Nuggets 1523

Baobob trees in Madagascar.  From the Huffington Post

What Europe's "Austerity Program" has Reaped

This Is What The End Of European Democracy Looks Like (Daniel Marans and Ryan Grim Ryan Grim) from the Huffington Post
"Underlying the question of whether European leaders and the Greek state will be able to come to terms amid the financial crisis is one even more fundamental: Is there room in Europe for democracy?"

More Troubles in Russia's New "Empire"

Kremlin Fears a Revolution in Armenia (Leonid Bershidsky) from Bloomberg
"The demonstrations in Armenia are watched closely in Moscow and Kiev, however, because they reflect unusually intense dissatisfaction with Russian power in a post-Soviet nation that had seemed to be securely in the Kremlin's grip."

Obama's Really, Really Good Week!

This was the Best Week of Obama’s Presidency (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"And, it served as the coda to Obama's single best week as president -- a week filled with developments, both practical and symbolic, that will reverberate well beyond not only this week or month but his entire presidency."

Looking at Obama's Charleston Speech

Obama’s Grace (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"The president delivers his single most accomplished rhetorical performance, and it’s one you should watch rather than read."

Obama - A Relay Swimmer?

Ten Days in June (David Remnick) from the New Yorker
"Obama described himself to me then in terms of his limits—as “a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history.” More than a few columnists believed that Obama was now resigned to small victories, at best. But pause to think of what has happened, the scale of recent events."

Reassessing Obama's Presidency

Barack Obama is Officially one of the Most Consequential Presidents in American History (Dylan Matthews) from Vox
"After Thursday's Supreme Court ruling, there's no longer any doubt: Barack Obama is one of the most consequential presidents in American history — and he will be a particularly towering figure in the history of American progressivism."

Insights into the Gay Marriage Opposition

The Real Reason Why Conservatives Like Ross Douthat Oppose The Gay Marriage Ruling (Amanda Marcotte) from Talking Points Memo
"It’s not because straight people won’t want to get married if gays are doing it, too. It’s because it redefines marriage as an institution of love instead of oppression. But it’s also telling that even though Douthat is willing to get closer to the real argument, he still pulls back from stating it bluntly. That’s because he knows and we all know that this isn’t even really a debate anymore. Liberals and feminists have already won this round. The longing for traditional gender roles and female submission has to be communicated covertly, because blunt statements in favor of it are treated, in mainstream America, like fringe right wing craziness."

Gay Marriage Resistance? The GOP Can Have It!

Resisting the Gay Marriage Ruling would be a Losing Battle for the GOP (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"After the Supreme Court’s historic 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Southern politicians adopted a strategy that became known as “massive resistance.” It doomed the South to a losing battle against not just the court but also a majority of Americans. Some GOP conservatives may be on the verge of making a similar mistake in the aftermath of the court’s ruling last week supporting same-sex marriage."

The Nonexistent Gay Marriage Backlash?

Why There Won’t be a Gay Marriage Backlash (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post
"... the fundamental difference between abortion and same-sex marriage, as much as opposition to both is fiercely felt. For those who believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is therefore tantamount to murder, abortion poses a clear harm and an identifiable victim. For those who believe homosexual conduct is sinful and marriage is a sacrament limited to one man and one woman, the potential damage posed by an expanded definition of marriage is much harder — indeed, essentially impossible — to articulate."

On Marriage Equality, Which States Are Not Complying?

Alabama, Texas, and North Dakota slowest to comply with marriage equality ruling (Kerry Eleveld) from Daily Kos
"Which states are moving the slowest on Friday's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage? Alabama (no surprise there). But North Dakota edging out Texas for second—we barely knew you, ND. From Ballotpedia's handy dandy scorecard:"

The Post-Ownership Society

How the “sharing economy” allows Millennials to cope with downward mobility, and also makes them poorer. (Monica Potts) from the Washington Monthly
"I never expected to be rich, but I did expect to someday have real furniture and maybe even a house. Achieving those things was always in the future, at some relatively well-moneyed point that I was expecting would roll around— until I realized the future had dawned and the financial stability hadn’t appeared."

The New Meaning of "Retirement"

Will Baby Boomers Change the Meaning of Retirement? (Nancy Cook) from the Atlantic
"Many older Americans want and need to keep working, but that requires a major shift in the way the country thinks about the elderly."

Obama Looking to Use his Clemency Authority

Obama Plans Broader Use of Clemency to Free Nonviolent Drug Offenders from the New York Times
"Sometime in the next few weeks, aides expect President Obama to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up on nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, he will probably commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century."

Nixon Deserves a Closer Look

The Complexity of Being Richard Nixon (Evan Thomas) from the Atlantic
"Often remembered as a brooding, vengeful, and almost cartoonish figure, his life was far more complicated than its caricature."

Closer Scrutiny Reveals the Nixon We've Always Suspected

Richard Nixon Was Not Misunderstood (Elizabeth Drew) from the Atlantic 
"Many authors have been tempted into writing revisionist histories of the 37th U.S. president, but these counterintuitive takes often do not hold up under closer scrutiny."

Is the Party Over?

Republicanism is Dead. Maybe. (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post 
"The party’s other recent difficulty is being on the wrong side of just about every social issue you can think of."

The Fraud of Gay Conversion Therapy

Gay Conversion Therapy Is A Fraud, New Jersey Jury Says from the Huffington Post
"A jury has ruled that a New Jersey nonprofit that offers so-called gay conversion therapy violated the state's consumer fraud act. The jury found Thursday that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing and group co-founder Arthur Goldberg made false promises that it could turn gay men straight."

Supreme Court Ruling Showcases GOP Regression on Social Issues

The Grand Old Party’s Future Shock (Glenn Thrush and Kyle Cheney) from Politico Magazine
"Friday’s Supreme Court ruling shows Republicans fumbling for answers in an America changing faster than they are."