Bourne Again, Again

Mickey replies to my criticism of his description of The Bourne Ultimatum as "anti-American": Yes, there is a Joan Allen character who says "This isn't us," and helps foil the the CIA's scheme. But she's a cardboard plot mechanism. The film's heart and energy go into depicting the evil U.S. bigwigs. There is no sense of who is "us." I don't really agree. To my mind, Allen is every bit as vivid as, say, David Strathairn in the film.


Deep in his sorrow, George Bush has called Alberto Gonzales "a talented and honest man." Now, how would the president actually recognize those threats? Am I not mistaken, on the other hand, that when--given other alternatives (perhaps Harriet Miers)--many Democrats yearned for Gonzales as a moderate Hispanic who'd be quite good for the Supreme Court?

The steps outside the U.S. Supreme Court can be a pretty strange place--especially when the Court is hearing an abortion case. But it looks like we've got nothing on Pakistan. From today's NYT story about the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to allow former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return from exile and run for office: Mr. Sharif's supporters hugged each other and poured out of the white marble building onto the main avenue, where they slaughtered four goats in celebration. As blood spilled on the asphalt, Mr.


Not long ago, a wild-eyed man came up to me in a large city, pushing a piece of paper into my hand and saying, in an alarmingly loud voice, "DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE IDEA OF THE UNITARY EXECUTIVE COMES FROM?" I couldn't help but laugh, because I do know (more or less), and the answer isn't quite what he said (which was Hitler, or it might have been Stalin). The idea of the unitary executive is much in the news; it is likely to come in any new Supreme Court confirmation struggle; and the next president will have to come to terms with it.


There's some terrific news about Republican silliness today. First, regarding the recent radio interview in which Mitt Romney was grilled over his Mormonism and views on abortion, Mark Hemingway in (surprisingly) National Review Online has a piece on the nuttiness of one of the obscure figures Romney and the host bonded over: W.


Of my day, at least, since this came out a little while ago. Who got the most Q2 money from donors who listed their employer as the U.S. military? Ron Paul. --Eve Fairbanks

Just a quick thought about Jon's post below. He writes: The primary debate leading into the Iraq war, remember, centered around legitimacy. War critics argued that it was illegitimate for the United States to undertake a war without the consent of the United Nations Security Council.Daalder and Kagan write that the U.N. Security Council cannot be the final arbiter of American interventions, which is a major concession for Daalder. But they also write that the United States needs some legitimacy for its actions, which is a significant concession for Kagan. The failures of the U.N.


Occupational Hazard

'Take off your veil!" the Somali soldier shouted at the woman in the mostly empty street. Steadying his assault rifle with his right hand, he ripped away the woman's black niqab with his left. "Why are you coming so close to us? You have explosives?" He leveled the muzzle of his gun against the bridge of her nose. Her mouth, suddenly embarrassed and exposed, broke into a jester's forced grin. "I just want a juice," she pleaded. Except for a handful of armed soldiers, the only other person on the deserted street was a man selling mango juice from behind a table.


The Ivy Gang

At my back-in-the-day former employer, the Boston Phoenix, Steven Stark laments John Edwards's chances at the nomination. Why? Edwards, you see, didn't go to Harvard or Yale. In the Democratic landscape of 2007, that doesn't seem as if it should be a problem. But you'd have to go back to 1984 to find a Democratic nominee (Walter Mondale) who didn't attend one of those elite universities for either college or graduate school. Before that, a number of Democratic also-rans, including Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, and Jerry Brown, were also graduates of either Harvard or Yale.


A Big Mess To Fix

The New York Times Magazine had a fascinating piece yesterday written by an Iraqi "fixer." As anyone who has ever worked with a fixer (savvy locals who translate, drive, arrange interviews and generally keep their clients--reporters--from getting killed) can relate, these people are the unsung heroes of international journalism. The former Times fixer who wrote the piece, Ayub Nuri, is now studying at Columbia University. Despite his stellar credentials, it wasn't easy for him to get there.