December 11, 2007
The Can't-Win Kids
The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran presents an interesting paradox: Though almost certainly the product of rigorous assessment and questioning, it may actually leave us less secure over time. How can such an improved product of spycraft have such a negative effect? It can when it frames the issue mistakenly and is not combined with statecraft. I don’t question the assumptions or analysis in the NIE, or for that matter, its main conclusion. I accept that the Iranians suspended their covert nuclear weapons program in 2003. But I am afraid that misses the point.
Cuban: Tax Me!
Warren Buffett isn't the only highly successful, fabulously wealthy entrepreneur who wants a more progressive tax code. So does outspoken blogger (and Dallas Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban: It makes absolutely no sense that [Buffett], or I should pay a smaller percentage of our income than those who go to work 8 hours a day and have to save as much as they can to afford a vacation every year and stress out about whether or not they can pay their rent, mortgage or college for their kids.
Two Views On Abu Zubaydah
Kevin Drum posts two conflicting accounts of the CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in the weeks after 9/11. According to Ron Suskind's sources, Zubaydah was a schizophrenic low-level operative who, after being beaten, waterboarded, and deprived of medication, started blabbing incoherently about thousands of utterly fantastic plots.
December 10, 2007
A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities, released by the U.S. government earlier this week, has stunned the world by announcing “in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” and assessing, with moderate confidence, that the program is still on ice.
The Battle of the Book
At last, American society is getting around to the real villain in American culture, the one whose deleterious influence has so far escaped the magical transformation that technology, and its religion of velocity, is visiting upon all of American life: the printed book. Damn the printed book! In many places, and for many reasons, one hears the cry.
WASHINGTON -- Want a preview of coming attractions in next year's elections? Listen to a television ad from Bob Latta, who is trying to hold on to a traditionally Republican congressional district in Ohio's special election on Tuesday. "Broken borders, and Washington does nothing," the announcer intones. "Had enough? Bob Latta wants to get tough."The announcer then describes Latta's "plan" this way: "No amnesty for illegal immigrants. Secure our borders. No driver's license. Cut off taxpayer-subsidized welfare benefits.
Just three months ago, the world watched, transfixed, as thousands of Burmese monks marched through the streets of Rangoon. Their demands for change after decades of harsh military rule elicited almost universal sympathy and impassioned calls for solidarity. The United Nations hastily sent its special envoy into Burma.
'primary Colors,' Then And Now
The funny and underrated 1998 film Primary Colors, based on Joe Klein's stump saga of the same name, offers a host of dramatic dispatches from the land of Jack and Susan Stanton, a southern power couple making a break for the White House. The whole cast--especially Billy Bob Thornton--does a credible job with a difficult task; that is, maintaining the paper-thin barrier between the campaign drama and Bill and Hillary Clinton's reality. All in all, the movie is hugely entertaining; an excellent intersection of pop and politics.
The Supreme Court On Crack
It's stellar news, no doubt, that the Supreme Court decided to let lower courts deviate ever-so-slightly from federal sentencing guidelines that, until now, have punished crack dealers as harshly as someone who sells 100 times as much powder cocaine. (Harlan Protass recently wrote a fine Slate piece summing up why the 100-to-1 disparity is such an outrage.) But the disparity's far from gone: The defendant, Derrick Kimbrough, will get a 15-year sentence instead of 19 years—still more than he would've gotten for possessing powder cocaine.
Gore Receives His Prize
Al Gore may have given one of the finest speeches of his career. It had poetic resonance but was rooted in real science. It was politically visionary but was animated by an, alas, secure sense of climatic disaster. It was quite plain-spoken about the economic realities that made global warming so ordinary but argued the hope that suicidal habits were good for no one, not even the greatest suicidalists, China and, most significantly, the United States. It is my view -but maybe not Al's- that in the end, however, America will be more persuadable than "Peoples' China," whose impetus for domin