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‘With Them or With Us’
November 05, 2009

Almost three decades ago, a group of radical Islamist students, dressed in army fatigues or covered in scarves and black chadors, forced their way into the American embassy in Tehran. According to some accounts, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then a student at a second-tier technical college in Tehran, was invited to join the hostage takers. He declined, saying he would join only if they would also occupy the Soviet embassy in Tehran.

V: Tea Party TV
November 04, 2009

I didn’t watch much television as a kid. But when the miniseries “V” came out in 1983, when I was eleven years old, it was event television for the entire family. The sci-fi series used an alien invasion of Earth under friendly guise as a metaphor for fascism. Rather than Jews, the aliens targeted scientists (whose knowledge made them dangerous) as scapegoats. By the standards of early 1980s television, which were quite low, “V” was gripping drama. Last night, ABC aired the pilot episode of a remake of “V.” I had to watch. The episode was so-so.

Abdullah vs. Karzai
November 03, 2009

Kabul, Afghanistan  The spectacle of Afghanistan’s presidential elections seems to be finally entering its final act. Pulling out of the runoff race at the last minute, Abdullah Abdullah has cleared the way for Hamed Karzai to be the winner by default.  Both men appear to have achieved many, if not all, of their original goals. Karzai, of course, has retained his seat for another five years. Abdullah, the underdog, has denied Karzai the much-needed legitimacy that a second round of voting was supposed to confer.

Boehner: "Not Inclined" to Tell the Truth
November 02, 2009

House Minority Leader John Boehner recently released a memo arguing, among other things, that the House Democrats' health care bill would result in "massive cuts to Medicare benefits for seniors" and "a negative impact on seniors' benefits and choices." It's nothing the Republicans haven't said before. But this time, to justify the claim, Boehner said he was relying in part on a finding finding from Factcheck.org.

‘He Hasn’t Lost Anything Yet’
November 02, 2009

It was Halloween 2001, and Kennesaw State freshman Nick Ayers was sitting anxiously in an Atlanta airplane hangar. A friend had recommended him for a campaign position with Republican state senator Sonny Perdue, who was mounting a long-shot gubernatorial run against Democratic incumbent Roy Barnes. The portly, middle-aged politician disembarked his Bellanca Super Viking and, as Ayers recounts the story, walked down the stairs holding a lid-less cup of coffee. Eager to make a good first impression, the nervous blonde teenager extended his hand for a firm shake.

Brave Man
November 01, 2009

An Iranian student criticizes Supreme Leader Khaminei to his face, in public: It was near the end of a meeting Wednesday between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and a group of university students when the man who is Iran's highest political and spiritual authority asked if there were any other questions.

Weight Watchers
October 31, 2009

In New Jersey, any candidate for high office can count on getting smeared over taxes, corruption, the economy, or all of the above. But in this fall's hard-fought gubernatorial race, an unlikely issue has popped up amidst the usual mud-slinging: the portly physique of Republican challenger Chris Christie. Ever since Jon Corzine released his now-infamous attack ad, in which a disdainful voiceover claims Christie improperly "threw his weight around" as a U.S. Attorney, neither candidate has managed to entirely escape the politics of fat.

Who Came out of the Honduran Crisis Looking the Best? Hillary.
October 30, 2009

Francisco Toro and Juan Nagel write the Venezuelan news blog Caracas Chronicles. A version of this post originally appeared there. The Honduran tragicomedy that has consumed the hemisphere's diplomats for months is at an end (read the details here).

Is There a Middle Way?
October 20, 2009

General Stanley McChrystal's request to send more troops to Afghanistan has induced sticker shock for many Americans--including, apparently, President Obama. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy that McChrystal wants to pursue has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse.

The Front
October 19, 2009

On July 25, Najibullah Zazi, a lanky man in his mid-twenties, walked into the Beauty Supply Warehouse in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. The visit was captured on a store video camera. Wearing a baseball cap and pushing a shopping cart, Zazi appeared to be just another suburban guy. Of course, not many suburban guys buy six bottles of Clairoxide hair bleach, as Zazi did on this shopping trip--or return a month later to buy a dozen bottles of "Ms. K Liquid," a peroxide-based product.

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