Suzy Khimm

The very literate and cultured foreign and military affairs commentator Max Boot--as opposed to the not so literate and cultured others--goes back into the literature on (and of) piracy. Yes, much of this history traces to the Arab sultanates who foraged the seas for boats that had actually come to the trade. So what's new? But Boot reminds that there was plenty of ocean pillage in the waters of south and east Asia. Is there much now? What to Read on PiratesMAX BOOT is the Jeane J.

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Today, the liberal blogosphere slammed Republican Senator Susan Collins for leading the charge of "GOP Know-Nothings" who stripped funds for pandemic-flu preparedness from the stimulus bill. "[T]hey bet that they would be able to score their political points without any consequences," blasted The Nation's John Nichols, railing against the "supposedly moderate" Collins.

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Teddy's Bear

Orrin Hatch, health care reform's stealth champion?

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And it won't allow that Dalai Lama to speak...or even let him into the country. So the question is: will Sudanese President al-Bashir be there? And will the police of the republic hand him over to the International Criminal Court?

Marching in a circle outside AIG's Washington office, their pitchforks--er, protest signs--raised to the sky, a dozen left-wing activists chanted their demands. "Jail them, don't bail them!" they shouted outside the insurance giant's building on K Street. "Stop the bonuses, stop the crime, AIG crooks must do time!" Organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, with assistance from the anti-war ANSWER Coalition, today's midday protest was intended to send the message that slashing the bonuses wouldn't be enough to quell the popular fury against the banks.

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The Economist: The infamous bonuses were offered because "people were weighing offers from other firms, and AIG executives feared that too many departures could lead to disaster...The much-vilified Rush Limbaugh has been pointing this out for days. Panicky Republicans and Democrats have not explained that AIG was bailed out in the first place because it was collapsing, and bringing down countless investors and homeowners in the process. If the bonuses kept AIG working, then they had a purpose. But few people with political power are really saying this.

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This week, Republican leaders have leapt to join the populist outcry against the bonuses that ailing insurance giant AIG has awarded its executives. But such rants against executive earnings mark a remarkable about-face for the right flank of the party, which condemned President Obama's decision to set limits on executive pay just last month. "I really don't want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do." Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC News in February, when asked about Obama's proposed limits on executive compensation.

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As Jonathan pointed out last week, it may be strategically wise for Obama to remain vague on his plan for health care in the budget--thus keeping "potentially hostile lobbies from going ballistic" and buying the Democrats more time to keep everyone on board. This strategy at least seems to have succeeded with the Business Roundtable, the powerful lobbying group that came out strongly against Clinton's 1993 health care plan. You'd imagine that a lobby representing major corporations would be livid about the proposed tax hikes for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

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Conservatives often dwell on "the young invincibles"--young adults who opt out of buying health insurance not because they can't afford to do so, but because they don't think they need to be covered. On Fox News's "Hannity & Colmes," for example, Dick Morris claimed last year that most of the uninsured "are for the most part young, single people who don't want health insurance and haven't bought it because they don't want it." And if people are voluntarily choosing to be uninsured, the thinking goes, we don't really need to enact sweeping reforms that would make coverage more available.

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Hillary Clinton has indicated that the United States is considering a major shift in its policy toward Burma, most notably by lifting the economic sanctions that have restricted trade and investment in one of the world's most brutalizing regimes.

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