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  • TRUNCATE OFTEN? Charles...

    TRUNCATE OFTEN? Charles Krauthammer wants us to believe that if Iran builds a nuclear bomb, it will launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on Israel. As his evidence, he cites the fact that Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani once observed that "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam." This quotation has also made an appearance, so far, in two New Republic articles. One quick point to make is that given that the Iranian president doesn't control the country's security forces, and that Rafsanjani isn't president of Iran, it's a little odd to be citing his statements as authoritative policy pronouncement. Another point is that, as I laid out here , that's a very misleading truncation of what Rafsanjani said. If you read the statement in context, he was clearly saying that a nuclear bomb would give Iran the capacity to deter Israel , not the capacity to launch a first strike. The longer thing to say is that it's inane to...
  • BETTER COVERUPS NEEDED....

    BETTER COVERUPS NEEDED. Just a brief remark on the Patrick Kennedy situation: Since when did "I was wacked out on pills" become an acceptable cover story ? Why is that better than just being drunk? --Matthew Yglesias
  • THE NAME GAME....

    THE NAME GAME. Some commenters, in response to this post on George Allen 's turn as a Confederate officer in a 2003 movie, are alleging that Allen's child Forrest Allen was named after Nathan Bedford Forrest , a Confederate cavalry officer who was a founder of the Ku Klux Klan after the war and whose name remains a byword for racially-charged controversy . The same allegation has been leveled anonymously on other blogs, such as NotLarrySabato , RaisingKaine , and the Commonwealth Conservative , and repeated over at Virginia blog Bacon's Rebellion . A reader, upping the allegations, e-mails: It's even worse than that. The other two kids are named Brooke and Tyler . Robert Charles Tyler was the last Confederate general slain in battle. John M. Brooke was Confederate commander of ordinance, and a munitions specialist in Richmond. He defected from the Union Army to join the Confederacy. I have no knowledge of why Allen's kids are named as they are, but it should be noted, in his defense,...
  • Are Wages Rising?

    Like everyone else, the media have been confused on this basic question, with the main data sources providing very different answers. Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the employment cost index (ECI) which showed a sharp slowing in the rate of nominal hourly compensation growth in the first quarter to an annual rate of just 2.4 percent. This is well below the rate of inflation, which, depending on the course of gas prices, will be in the range of 3.0-4.0 percent for this year. On Thursday, BLS released productivity data, which showed that hourly compensation was rising at an annual rate of 5.7 percent for the same quarter. Further complicating the picture is the employment report that BLS released this morning showing wages rising at a 4.7 percent annual rate over the most recent three months (compared to the prior 3-month average). The picture is not quite as confusing as this may appear. First, the quarterly compensation data from the productivity report...
  • WHEN CHICKENHAWKS CLUCK....

    WHEN CHICKENHAWKS CLUCK. Annoyed by complaints of chickenhawkery, Warren Bell posts an email from Greg Pollowitz who complains: "I got called a chickenhawk the other day. I think one of the greatest missed opportunities since 9/11 is that the govt. didn't create a way for 30+ year old guys who want to help, but really can't, to serve." But, actually, they did. Welcome to the National Guard , where all citizens between the ages of 17 and 40 are eligible for service. --Matthew Yglesias
  • POSSIBLE GOOD NEWS....

    POSSIBLE GOOD NEWS. According to this latest dispatch from Abuja, Nigeria, both the Sudanese government and the disparate Darfuri rebel factions have agreed to sign the peace accord. The details of the accord are not yet available, but presumably the agreement entails the absorption of rebel fighters into the Sudanese armed forces and some sort of power-sharing arrangement The accords are certainly a step in the right direction. However, before I get my hopes up, it�s best that we in the commentary class -- and more importantly the United States and interested international parties -- reserve our final judgment on Abuja. This agreement could very well turn out to be not worth the paper it is signed on. After all, the Sudanese government signed a ceasefire with the rebels back in 2004. But since then the rebels have taken up arms, and more significantly, Khartoum has continued its campaign to purge Darfur of Darfuris. Now, with the rainy season approaching, Khartoum could do as it did...
  • THE CULTURAL CONTRADICTIONS...

    THE CULTURAL CONTRADICTIONS OF CAPITALISM. This sure is weird. Even weirder, while it looks like a parody ad, as best I can tell it's totally real . Where are the indecency police when you need them? Surely Big Razor isn't the most powerful lobby in town. --Matthew Yglesias
  • BUILDING A BRIDGE...

    BUILDING A BRIDGE TO THE 19TH CENTURY. Boy, George Allen is really into this wanna-be Southern secessionist thing. A tipster informs me that the junior senator from California, I mean Virginia, didn't just cotton to the rebel flag , he's also dressed up in the uniform of the old slave states in film . According to this 2003 CNN story , Allen played the role of a Confederate officer in 2003's Gods and Generals . Click here (scroll down, on the left) for the picture of Allen dressed in period garb, captured in old-school sepia tones. Now, there were other representatives in the film as well -- but none of them have plans to run for president in 2008. IMDb has more . No matter what affection Southerners have for their heritage and ancestors, and they do, I think about the last thing America is going to want in 2008 is someone easily painted as a Californian obsessed with refighting the War Between the States. Racial matters aside, that's kooksville territory on the campaign trail. --...
  • POLLACK ON IRAN....

    POLLACK ON IRAN. Since Ken Pollack seems to have re-emerged as a figure of controversy , I thought it might be worth noting what his actual views on Iran are. He thinks we ought to invade just like in Iraq engage in some diplomacy. Or to quote from his essay "A Grand Strategy for the Middle East" in the Progressive Policy Institute's book, With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty , "It is crucial that the United States engage with like-minded states to develop a multilateral approach that would impose graduated economic sanctions on Iran if its intransigence continues. At the same time, the United States should offer Teheran security guarantees, properly safeguarded nuclear energy, and economic incentives (including the lifting of U.S. sanctions) if Iran is willing to sever its ties to terrorist groups, renounce its efforts to develop the nuclear fuel cycle, and accede to a comprehensive inspections and monitoring regime to verify their...
  • BACK IN THE...

    BACK IN THE DAYS OF AWESOME. I figured I�d wait until cubiclemate Sam left the office for lunch to launch a brief rebuttal . As one of his commenters pointed out, there is much more to rock criticism than parsing through lyrics. And what makes Neil Young �s Living With War magnificent is the album�s coarse and hard-driving edginess. Layered on top are some brilliant lyrics that astutely capture the mood of liberals in the spring of 2006. Take for example, the lyrics to the track �Shock and Awe.� In the parlance of our Supreme Leader, I�d say this epitomizes zeitgeisty. Back in the days of shock and awe / We came to liberate them all. History was the cruel judge of overconfidence/Back in the days of shock and awe. Back in the days of "mission accomplished" / Our chief was landing on the deck. The sun was setting on a golden photo op/Back in the days of "mission accomplished." Thousands of bodies in the ground/Brought home in a boxes to a trumpet's sound. No one sees them coming home...

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