Napoleon

How many biscuits did it take to beat Napoleon? 83,428.

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Do Readers Give Infographics a Free Pass?

Why we need to learn to scrutinize them like any other journalism

Why we need to learn to scrutinize them like any other journalism

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When 500 million Europeans receive their Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, here's why they really will deserve it.

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What's next for Navy's SEAL Team Six?

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Some weeks I gamble with this column. I don’t know what to write about, so I wait in the stupid assurance that something will turn up. This happened on the night of Sunday May 27. I was remoting through the television channels, somewhere in the 500s, when I was stopped by the stricken indigo holes of Helena Bonham Carter’s eyes. The film was only a few minutes old, and I had never seen it before, so I stayed with it. It was called Conversations with Other Women, though on the poster the word is Conversations (s). We are at a wedding in a Manhattan hotel. A man and a woman meet.

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The professional Obama-hater Dick Morris said today on Fox News that if President Obama is elected to a second term after the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare (as is looking more likely) then "he’ll move to a single payer system." Morris elaborated: "I think the Supreme Court decision—that I expect—will throw out this mandate, but single payer of course is legal under the taxing authority. Total socialized medicine...."  Jeez, that would be terrible! Morris reminds me of the Russian sergeant in Woody Allen's Love and Death.

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At the G20 Summit last week in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy held only four private meetings. One was with Barack Obama and a second was with Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India.

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This weekend in Little Rock, Bill Clinton and an all-star cast of political alumni will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his formal entry into the 1992 presidential race. But the candidate decision that did the most to bequeath Clinton the Democratic nomination did not occur until December 20, 1991.

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Twenty-six years ago—as part of the price for raising the federal debt ceiling to a shocking $2 trillion—Congress, in a wave of fiscal self-flagellation, approved the Gramm-Rudman bill. If a spendthrift Congress failed to meet prescribed deficit targets, then Gramm-Rudman would slice the budget with the across-the-board subtlety of Sweeney Todd.  That was the theory anyway, although legislative maneuvering left about half the budget (including Social Security, Medicare, and Defense contracts) off limits to meat-cleaver deficit reduction.

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For Bismarck, politics was the art of the possible, while Napoleon would always ask of any general, “But is he lucky?” Put the two together and we can see politics as a game somewhere between chess and poker. Any politician has to gamble and take risks. He needs judgment, he needs nerve, but he also needs luck. Over the first weekend of May last year, Nick Clegg showed considerable skill in playing a poor hand. The voters had just delivered a somewhat oracular verdict in the British general election.

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