June 13, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 5:27 AM


Obama campaign's erratic behavior concerns some Democrats (Karen Tumulty, 6/12/12, Washington Post)

[S]ome Democratic veterans are wondering whether the reelection campaign, run by the same tight-knit group that led it four years ago, is equipped for what lies ahead.

"The bad thing is, there is no new thinking in that circle," said one longtime operative in Democratic presidential campaigns who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

Eight other prominent Democratic strategists interviewed shared that view, describing Obama's team as resistant to advice and assistance from those who are not part of its core. All of them spoke on the condition of anonymity as well.

The latest alarm came in a memo Monday from Democracy Corps, a research group headed by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and political consultant James Carville.

Based on their analysis of focus groups conducted late last month among swing voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, they wrote that the current campaign message -- which stresses the fragile progress of the economic recovery -- is out of touch with the daily pain voters are feeling.

"We will face an impossible head wind in November if we do not move to a new narrative, one that contextualizes the recovery, but, more importantly, focuses on what we will do to make a better future for the middle class," Greenberg, Carville and pollster Erica Seifert wrote. They added: "They know we are in a new normal where life is a struggle -- and convincing them that things are good enough for those who have found jobs is a fool's errand."

The memo came days after Obama handed the Republicans new ammunition with his declaration at a news conference that "the private sector is doing fine."

...is that team, had lost to John McCain until the credit crisis blew up and the House GOP gave away the election.

Posted by orrinj at 5:15 AM


How Robin Roberts' Breast Cancer Treatment Could Cause More Cancer (Casey Schwartz, Jun 12, 2012, Daily Beast)

"As many of you know, five years ago, I beat breast cancer," said a shaky Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Monday morning. "Sometimes treatment for cancer can lead to other serious medical issues and that's what I'm facing right now."

Clutching George Stephanopolos's hand on the sofa next to her, Roberts announced that she has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a relatively rare blood disease that Roberts herself said she'd never heard of until she was diagnosed with it. Likely even more unfamiliar for many viewers than the name of her condition was Robert's startling remark that cancer treatment can result in other serious health problems,  including different forms of cancer,  several years after the initial cancer is in remission.

But in the medical world, it has been known for decades that cancer treatment carries with it the risk of causing another kind of cancer to develop. "We always think of the drug as a double-edged sword, where there is a benefit from the drug and there is a harm from the drug," says Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "It's actually one of the reasons why I'm one of the folks who's been very outspoken about being conservative and only using chemotherapy when we absolutely need chemotherapy."

Posted by orrinj at 5:11 AM


The European Atrocity You Never Heard About: In the largest episode of forced migration in history, millions of German-speaking civilians were sent to Germany from Czechoslovakia (above) and other European countries after World War II by order of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union. (R.M. Douglas, 6/11/12, The Chronicle Review)

Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians--the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16--were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland. As The New York Times noted in December 1945, the number of people the Allies proposed to transfer in just a few months was about the same as the total number of all the immigrants admitted to the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation.

Most disturbingly of all, tens of thousands perished as a result of ill treatment while being used as slave labor (or, in the Allies' cynical formulation, "reparations in kind") in a vast network of camps extending across central and southeastern Europe--many of which, like Auschwitz I and Theresienstadt, were former German concentration camps kept in operation for years after the war. As Sir John Colville, formerly Winston Churchill's private secretary, told his colleagues in the British Foreign Office in 1946, it was clear that "concentration camps and all they stand for did not come to an end with the defeat of Germany." Ironically, no more than 100 or so miles away from the camps being put to this new use, the surviving Nazi leaders were being tried by the Allies in the courtroom at Nuremberg on a bill of indictment that listed "deportation and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population" under the heading of "crimes against humanity."

By any measure, the postwar expulsions were a manmade disaster and one of the most significant examples of the mass violation of human rights in recent history. Yet although they occurred within living memory, in time of peace, and in the middle of the world's most densely populated continent, they remain all but unknown outside Germany itself. On the rare occasions that they rate more than a footnote in European-history textbooks, they are commonly depicted as justified retribution for Nazi Germany's wartime atrocities or a painful but necessary expedient to ensure the future peace of Europe. As the historian Richard J. Evans asserted in In Hitler's Shadow (1989) the decision to purge the continent of its German-speaking minorities remains "defensible" in light of the Holocaust and has shown itself to be a successful experiment in "defusing ethnic antagonisms through the mass transfer of populations."

Even at the time, not everyone agreed. George Orwell, an outspoken opponent of the expulsions, pointed out in his essay "Politics and the English Language" that the expression "transfer of population" was one of a number of euphemisms whose purpose was "largely the defense of the indefensible."

Posted by orrinj at 4:59 AM


Not Jeb Bush's GOP: Does the Republican hero and former Florida governor have a place in his own party? (John Dickerson, June 11, 2012, Slate)

It's not just that Bush's policy prescriptions on topics like immigration and tackling the deficit are a challenge to party orthodoxy. He also describes a more pragmatic vision of leadership--where accomplishments are valued over ideological purity--that seems deeply at odds with conservative calls for maximum constancy. This is perhaps the freedom enjoyed by those who are not running for president. But the formula Bush offers does reflect on the man who is running: Jeb Bush is describing a hole in American politics, and Mitt Romney is not necessarily the man to fill it. 

"We're in decline which distinguishes us historically from where we've been," says Bush, who sees the economy shuffling along with anemic growth for the next year, no matter who wins in November. His solutions for getting out of the rut are less policy-specific--he doesn't have a grand plan about Medicare vouchers or getting rid of the home mortgage interest deduction. He's more focused on the temperament of governing.  

As a former governor, it's not surprising where he finds the best examples of leaders who are free of Washington orthodoxy and getting things done: "Just about any statehouse in the country." He singles out Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for their effectiveness. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also gets praise. Among his qualities: He knows how to "cut a deal." Bush is not making a pitch for moderation or watered-down conservative principles, but for conservatism that goes beyond a talking point.

"Ronald Reagan would have ... a hard time if you define the Republican Party--and I don't--as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, adding that he views the partisan sclerosis as "temporary."

"Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time--they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support," he said. Today Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."

Nothing typifies the maturity of the GOP so much as nominating a governor this cycle.
Posted by orrinj at 4:57 AM


Disqus 2012 - The Web's Favorite Discussion Platform from Disqus on Vimeo.

Posted by orrinj at 4:55 AM


The Classic 1956 Oscar-Winning Children's Film, The Red Balloon (Open Culture, June 12th, 2012)

Many Americans remember seeing The Red Balloon for the first time as a 16mm film projected in elementary school classrooms and cafeterias. With the 2008 release of the Criterion Collection DVD, many are rediscovering the movie-and perhaps over-analyzing it-from the perspective of adulthood. "An adult watching The Red Balloon will not find it difficult to see the title character as a symbol of spirituality, friendship, love, transcendence, the triumph of good over evil, or any of the countless other things that a simple, round red balloon can represent," writes Selznick.

The boy and the balloon are the triumph of evil.
Posted by orrinj at 4:51 AM


Christie's Favorability in New Jersey Is on The Rise  (Shushannah Walshe, 6/12/12, ABC News)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose name is mentioned most often these days as a potential VP candidate on the Republican ticket, is gaining in popularity in his home state. A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll out Tuesday reveals he is more popular than he has ever been since taking office in January 2010.

Half of New Jersey voters say they have a favorable view of the veepstakes contender, up four percentage points since March. Garden State voters with an unfavorable opinion of Christie declined to 39 percent, while 11 percent have no opinion of the tough-talking governor. August of last year was the governor's low point, with 47 percent viewing him unfavorably and 45 percent favorably.

More good news from the latest poll: Just over half of voters now say New Jersey is going in the right direction, also up four points. Those who believe the state is going in the "wrong direction" remained at 40 percent in the survey while nine percent were unsure.