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. "


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 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. ..."


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."


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
"... 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."


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."


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: 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."


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."