Geneva

It would be hard to overstate the importance of the Frankfurt School in recent American thought. Philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists like Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, and Max Horkheimer—to name just the best-known members of the group—helped to develop a subtle and powerful way of thinking about the problems of modern society.

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Former Vice President Cheney says that President Obama's reversal of Bush-era terrorism policies endangers American security. The Obama administration, he charges, has "moved to take down a lot of those policies we put in place that kept the nation safe for nearly eight years from a follow-on terrorist attack like 9/11." Many people think Cheney is scare-mongering and owes President Obama his support or at least his silence. But there is a different problem with Cheney's criticisms: his premise that the Obama administration has reversed Bush-era policies is largely wrong.

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 From MEMRI: According to reports in the West, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toned down his speech at the Durban Review Conference, held April 22-24, 2009 in Geneva, due to public criticism. However, when he returned to Iran he stepped up his anti-West and anti-Israel statements.

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Dear Mr. President

You are very wise to have kept the U.S. delegation to the Durban II "human rights" conference in Geneva at home. Indeed, your statement about wishing that yourself and the country could "be involved in a useful conference that addressed the continuing issue of racism and discrimination around the globe" speaks for almost all Americans. Alas, the first hours of the five day conference proved the sagacity of your skepticism.

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I just landed in Geneva, where I will be spending the next week reporting from the UN Durban Review Conference. The confab is a follow-up to the 2001  World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (which took place in Durban, South Africa). For most of our readers (okay, mostly for the Jews out there), "Durban" has become short-hand for the anti-Semetic and anti-Israel debacle that erupted there and compelled the American and Israeli delegations to storm out in protest.

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The ideas that keep Hugo Chavez in power.

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The Obama administration sent a delegation to Geneva to see if the United States could participate in any way in Durban II. Well, it wasted some air fare and hotel charges. But it found that there was no way that American could or should join in what was clearly to turn into a hate fest: against western democracies, liberals, Israel, Jews and--surprise--the United States itself. The decision to stay away from the April gathering was made last night and has just begun to filter through Washington. I think the metaphor used to me was that I was being looped in.

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Contra Expectations

On his first day in office, President Barack Obama will head to the situation room for a video conference with his most important commander, General David Petraeus. If the conversation is chilly, it is not just the awkwardness of virtual chatting. Obama and Petraeus have a history. While Obama has called for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, Petraeus oversaw the deployment of more than 30,000 additional troops. To win support from the left, Obama postured as a skeptic of the general's Iraq strategy during congressional hearings.

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He was, in short, a modern medical doctor.

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Neo-McCain

I have liked John McCain ever since I met him almost a decade ago. At the time, I was writing a profile of then-Senator Fred Thompson, who was rumored to be considering a run for the presidency. I had been playing phone tag with the press secretaries of senators friendly with Thompson and was getting nowhere. I decided that, instead of calling McCain's office, I would drop by. I spoke to one of his aides, who asked me whether I had time to see the senator then.

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