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Sunday, April 24, 2016

News Nuggets 1554


DAYLEE PICTURE: Morning mist settling over Bhutan.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.;

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Difference Between Allies and "Clients" Around the World

The Bankrupt U.S.-Saudi Relationship (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"The choice is between indulging the Saudis in their worst behavior or changing the relationship so that it is much more balanced and consistent with the very few benefits it affords us. As I keep saying, it is important to distinguish between clients and allies, and we shouldn’t treat them the same. Saudi Arabia isn’t a “stable ally.” It is a largely useless client state that is actively working to destabilize other countries in the region."
One of two VERY INTERESTING takes by Larison on America's relationships both with Saudi and other countries!  -- Nuggetsman

US Allies Around the World: Who Needs Who in the 21st Century?

Ryan and the ‘Reassurance’ Racket (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"While some of the client governments may dispute the claim that they are free-riders, the main reason why Obama’s statements have been greeted with such alarm in some foreign capitals is that these governments are not accustomed to being called out for their dependence and uselessness in public. They know very well just how little they do for the U.S. and how much the U.S. does for them, but they don’t want anyone calling too much attention to that imbalance for fear that their racket will be shut down.  The key to keeping the “reassurance” racket going is maintaining the illusion that the U.S. has great need of its clients, when the truth is that they are the ones that need us far more than we need them."

Who's in the Hunt to be Clinton's Veep?

Who Might Hillary Clinton's Running Mate Be if She's the Nominee? from the New York Times
"Here are some likely contenders — according to allies and advisers of the Clintons and prominent Democrats — and a look at their strengths and weaknesses."
I hate to say it -- but none of these people light me up.  Mark Warner of Virginia?  THAT'S the best they can do?! Who knows? Maybe when the time comes they will convince me that they are worth getting excited about.  I hope so!  Nuggetsman

Sanders' Pledged Delegate Dilemma

No matter how you measure it, Bernie Sanders isn’t winning the Democratic primary from the Washington Post
"It is not true that Sanders is having trouble catching Clinton “because of her overwhelming lead with ‘superdelegates.’ ” He is having trouble catching her because he trails her badly with pledged delegates (as on that sign at Clinton headquarters), and the states he keeps winning are smaller states with fewer delegates given out. In fact, by every possible democratic measure, Clinton is winning."

The GOP Delegate Selection Process Under Unprecedented Scrutiny

GOPers Face Wave Of Threats From Trump Fans Incensed By Delegate Counts from Talking Points Memo
"... the current backlash from Trumpites portends some dark days ahead if Trump is denied the nomination.  From Indiana to Colorado to Tennessee, those involved in the delegate selection process are receiving harassment and even death threats from Trump fans who believe that the system has been “rigged” against the real estate mogul."

Middle Class America's On-going Financial Crisis

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans (Neal Gabler) from the Atlantic
"Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them. ... According to research funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, the inflation-adjusted net worth of the typical household, one at the median point of wealth distribution, was $87,992 in 2003. By 2013, it had declined to $54,500, a 38 percent drop. And though the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008 certainly contributed to the drop, the decline for the lower quintiles began long before the recession—as early as the mid-1980s, Wolff says."

PC Critics: What They Really Want to Say

How to win against 'political correctness' (David Akadjian ) from Daily Kos
"One of the things that comes up a lot is “political correctness.” They are really angry about political correctness. So I wanted to hear what they had to say about PC. Instead of arguing, I asked, “What is it that you want to say but don’t feel you can?”"

Pope Francis: Pushing the Church Away from the Culture Wars

Faith’s Mysterious Ways in the 2016 Campaign (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"The 2016 election is transforming the religious landscape of American politics. ... The pope didn’t change church doctrine on gay marriage but was offering another sign that he’s pushing the church away from cultural warfare and toward a focus on poverty, economic injustice, immigration and the plight of refugees."

The New "Magical Thinking": Great Universities Are Possible ... Without Funding

The Pillaging of America's State Universities (Jonathan Cole) from the Atlantic
"A type of delusional thinking seems to convince American policymakers that excellent public colleges and universities can continue to be great without serious investment. ... these education investments have a very high payoff for states, the nation, and the larger world. All this amounts, arguably, to a pillaging of the country’s greatest state universities. And that pillaging is not a matter of necessity, as many elected officials would insist—it’s a matter of choice."

The BIGGEST Supreme Court Case in 100 Years!

United States v. Texas, the biggest immigration case in a century, explained from Slate
"When it takes up the question of whether President Obama's 2014 immigration executive actions were constitutional, the Supreme Court will throw out its typical playbook.  United States v. Texas is one of the most — if not the most — important cases before the highest court this term. It's certainly the most important immigration case the Supreme Court has taken up in a generation (or, arguably, a century). And the Court is treating it accordingly."

Cruz's Behavior in the Senate Now Haunting His Presidential Bid

Ted Cruz's Senate Outreach Isn't Going Well from Talking Points Memo
"Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has decided he may want some help from Washington after all to stop Trump. But alas, his entreaties to his Senate colleagues aren't going very well. ...  Ultimately, Cruz is little more than a polarizing colleague asking individual senators to go out on a limb for him on his long-shot bid to deny Trump the nomination."

GOP Base Voters: Not Your Father's Republicans

GOP elites think stealing the nomination from Trump will be a cakewalk. They're wrong. (Ryan Cooper) from The Week
"The Donald Trump insurgency has demonstrated several things. First, there is a large constituency among Republican primary voters for outright bigotry and xenophobia; second, the commitment to traditional conservative economics among many Republican base voters is totally ephemeral. It turns out that hardscrabble racist white people aren't actually interested in gutting Medicare, privatizing Social Security, or Olympus Mons-sized tax cuts for the rich. ... Now Trump has blown the scam wide open."

Obama: Trump and the GOP - One and the Same

Obama plays the Trump card on the GOP (Edward-Isaac Dovere) from Politico
"“This notion that Donald Trump or Ted Cruz are outliers and that now suddenly the Republican establishment wants to—they're embarrassed by them,” Obama said, beaming at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. ... The crowd laughed along with him, then started applauding as he cast crushing defeats in November as something reasonable Republicans should be rooting for along with them.  “I want a Republican Party that is rational and well-functioning,” Obama said. “But that's not what we have right now. And that’s why this election is so important.”"

The End of the Road for the Sanders Campaign

Bernie Sanders Is Even Less Competitive Than He Appears from FiveThirtyEight
"Sanders fans seem to be conflating the pledged delegate count and the “will of the voters,” when in fact the two are far from interchangeable."

The Lost Moral Compass of the GOP

Republicans Need a New Party, Not a New Candidate (Gary Younge) from the Nation
"Whether they choose Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, bigotry and immorality have already won the day in the Republican Party."

Has NPR Lost Its Way?

The Fight for the Future of NPR from Slate
"A slow-moving bureaucracy. An antiquated business model. A horde of upstart competitors. Can National Public Radio survive?"

And at the other end of the radio quality spectrum...

Rush Limbaugh's contract is up, his benefactors are broke, and his audience 'toxic.' Next? from Daily Kos
"Let us all take a moment to celebrate the fall of Rush Limbaugh, previous Republican kingmaker who is still filthy rich, thank you very much, but whose contract is up this year and whose previous radio benefactor is now teetering on the edge of penny-stock status."

Saturday, April 9, 2016

News Nuggets 1553


DAILY PICTURE: A morning view in Malaysia.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

The Conflicts Frozen in Time in Russia

The Soviet Union Is Falling Apart Again (Leonid Bershidsky) from Bloomberg View
"Armenia and Azerbaijan have announced a truce after three days of fierce fighting in the secessionist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, but the flare-up is proof that the post-Soviet frozen conflicts are not really frozen. At any moment, they can be ignited by the realignment of international alliances and loyalties, and people will start dying again. There are four post-Soviet frozen conflicts."

The Shifting Balance of Economic Power in Africa

Africa’s Petrostates Are Imploding (Luke Patey) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"And that’s setting off a dramatic shift in the economic balance of power on the continent. ... Africa is witnessing a gradual shift in the continental balance of economic power — away from petrostates like Nigeria and Angola and toward less flashy but more diversified economies like Ethiopia and Tanzania."

The GOP's Forbidding Electoral Map in November

Electoral Map Is a Reality Check to Donald Trump’s Bid from the New York Times
"Donald J. Trump’s presidential candidacy has stunned the Republican Party. But if he survives a late revolt by his rivals and other leaders to become the party’s standard-bearer in the general election, the electoral map now coming into view is positively forbidding. In recent head-to-head polls with one Democrat whom Mr. Trump may face in the fall, Hillary Clinton, he trails in every key state, including Florida and Ohio, despite her soaring unpopularity ratings with swing voters."

Obama's Legacy on the Partisan Political Landscape

Obama’s Greatest Triumph (Daniel Henninger) from the Wall Street Journal
"He is six months away from destroying both the Republican Party and Reagan’s legacy. ... Barack Obama will retire a happy man. He is now close to destroying his political enemies—the Republican Party, the American conservative movement and the public-policy legacy of Ronald Reagan."
A very biased and often off-base analysis by a never-say-I'm-wrong conservative columnist -- but I suspect the headline will HOLD!

Why there are Muslim ghettos in Belgium, but not in the US

Why there are Muslim ghettos in Belgium, but not in the US from the Boston Globe
"Why, despite the efforts of Islamist pressure groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations — a Muslim supremacist operation that masquerades as an advocate for civil rights — are most American Muslims intent on adopting America’s customs and way of life? The United States has been far more successful at assimilating and integrating Muslim immigrants into American society and culture than has Western Europe."

The Upside of Downsizing the Import of the National Security Council

How the NSC Hijacked U.S. Foreign Policy from the National Interest
"In the last year, the Obama administration began a little-noticed process that should be embraced by the next president: the downsizing of the National Security Council (NSC). ..., while the paring back of the NSC is unlikely to feature in presidential debates or stump speeches, it is a consequential initiative that, if supported by the incoming administration, will help the next commander-in-chief more effectively deploy America’s diplomatic resources."

Too Much Bad Blood Now in the GOP

GOP nears the breaking point (Jesse Byrnes) from Roll Call
"I believe that we're beyond the point in the campaign where we feel we can unify. There’s been too much bad blood that's been created," said GOP strategist David Payne, who said he would like to see Cruz win the nomination before the convention."

The House Just Around the Corner?

Can Trump become so unpopular that Democrats take back the House? from the Washington Post
"It’s one of the most controversial things to say on Capitol Hill, sparking looks of shock and disbelief: The House majority is in play this fall."

All Roads Seem to Lead to Chaos in Cleveland

How the Republican Race Could End (Norm Ornstein) from the Atlantic
"Regardless of which scenario prevails, there’s likely to be conflict in Cleveland."

Understanding the Clinton Email Controversy

The Truth About Hillary Clinton's Emails Is That The Truth Is Elusive (Dan Kennedy) from WGBH (Boston)
"With an eye toward settling in my own mind whether or not the email story—I hesitate to call it a scandal—could derail her candidacy (or worse), I spent some time on Monday reading two in-depth accounts of exactly what occurred and whether it could lead to legal trouble."

Convention Chaos a Formula for Voter Defection in November

A Party Divided Is a Party Defeated -- Usually from Roll Call
"History has bad news for Donald Trump and the fracturing GOP.  ...  Over the past four elections, according to exit polls, between 6 percent and 9 percent of self-identified Republican voters have voted for the Democratic nominee for president. That “normal” defection rate could at least double if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, and just as important, Republican turnout could plummet, drowning down-ballot Republicans along with the top of the ticket."

Trump grasps the embarrassing reality that most Republican voters are not driven by real ideas

Donald Trump Versus the Republican Brain (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
" The conservative movement has succeeded for decades by channeling racial resentment, nationalism, and authoritarianism into traditional policy proposals that can be justified in white papers on foreign policy, welfare, crime, taxes, and so on. Trump has made a mockery of this whole process, substituting boundless faith in his personality for a policy architecture constructed over generations. Conservative intellectuals understand and care about these ideas. They have articulated serious reasons for, say, restricting immigration levels, but Trump grasps the embarrassing reality that most Republican voters are driven by base animus toward immigrants. The rupture he’s opened does not divide one set of ideas from another. Trump has simply pitted the Republican brain against the Republican brain stem."

The GOP is the party of stupid, but its voters are the deluded ones

Republicans really fall for this nonsense from Salon
"In assessing the candidates in both parties, Politifact finds that Hillary Clinton edges out Sanders as the least dishonest (let us frame it this way rather than say “most honest”). While she underplays her opposition to Wall Street, her falsehoods are, for the most part, on the order of “We have more jobs in solar than we do in oil.” She favors the phrase “empirical evidence,” which Mr. Addison would no doubt approve. Yet in televised punditry, the most often heard critique of Hillary is that she lacks the fundamental honesty of Sanders. The real difference in honesty is that which separates the opposing parties."

The Mythic Past for "Family Values" Voters

Decades On, Advocates Of ‘Family Values’ Still Miss The Point (Mary Sanchez) from National Memo
"You can’t make America great “again,” a la Donald Trump, if you are clueless to what work life really looked like for most of the 20th century. You can’t restore traditional family values, a la Ted Cruz, if you start with an interpretation of family that never existed in America."

Clinton fires up voters more than Bernie does, so why is no one talking about it?

The strange silence about Hillarymania (Amanda Marcotte) from Salon
"More Clinton supporters are enthusiastic than those backing Sanders, but the media won't tell you that.  ...  Gallup released a poll showing that actually, her supporters love her more than any other candidate besides Donald Trump, a man who literally expects everyone around him to act like he’s God’s gift. And yes, Bernie Sanders supporters were polled, and fell about 10 points behind Clinton supporters in the enthusiasm department. Over half of Clinton supporters — 54% — rated themselves as “extremely enthusiastic” or “very enthusiastic.” Only 44% of Sanders supporters could say the same. Sixty-five percent of Trump supporters are high on enthusiasm"

Trump is Becoming MORE Unpopular

Trump's popularity nosedives in critical stretch from Politico
"As he inches toward the GOP nomination, Donald Trump is becoming more and more disliked among American voters."

Rush Limbaugh’s primary from hell

Even conservatives are finally turning on the famous blowhard from Salon
"Trump has exposed him for the fraud he's always been. Critics and listeners alike won't let him hear the end of it" ... The current primary battle is the most bitter in recent memory. It’s also threatening to implode the Republican Party — and to a degree, the entire conservative movement as we know it — as Trump angles to secure the party’s nomination while breaking free from core beliefs that have been considered sacrosanct for generations by Limbaugh’s listeners. The host, meanwhile, has become a piƱata, as conservatives line up to take whacks at him in a way we’ve never really seen before.

Adjunct teaching: Ain't it Wonderful!

Universities think I’m disposable, but my non-tenured status makes me a better teacher from Salon
"As an adjunct, I'm in the institution but not of it, an often-invisible loose end; I wouldn't have it any other way."
In academe these days, even the best teachers are easily replaceable.  This author just hasn't been replaced enough times in her career.

No Revival in Nixon's Reputation

The Disaster of Richard Nixon (Robert G. Kaiser) from the New York Review of Books
"Is Nixon’s historical reputation doomed forever? These books suggest that it is."