Hassan Nasrallah Wants Ariel Sharon Back
May 02, 2007

In a Tuesday speech in southern Beirut, Hassan Nasrallah, the cunning head of Hezbollah, announced that he "respected" Ariel Sharon. He also commanded ... demanded ... that Ehud Olmert resign. Maybe this is good news for Olmert and his chances to stay. As for Amir Peretz, the mishap of a defense minister, Nasrallah made a shrewd joke at the former trade union leader's expense. It is so true and so devastating that the comment might just push Peretz out the window within days, if not within hours. All of this is reported today on the Jerusalem Post web-site.

What's Your Excuse?
May 02, 2007

It's almost possible to forgive Alexander Cockburn's latest column in the Nation, denying the fact that humans are warming the planet. I mean, here's a writer who doesn't know much about science, frolicked around on a cruise ship with some old dude who once worked for the Navy, and was dazzled by his spiel about how "CO2 changes have always lagged behind global temperatures" (misleading) and how climate scientists don't account for water vapor in their models (um, false).

Wolfowitz's Slimy Critics
May 01, 2007

I have my differences with Paul Wolfowitz, serious differences, in fact. But I also know some of his critics, many of whom are really just his tormentors. For the obvious reasons, one of which is not that he tried to give a pay boost to his girlfriend. After all, the lady was at the Bank before him. Was she to be punished because her boyfriend became head of the Bank? The pros at the World Bank measured their success by whether they got the cash out of the building, not whether the money did any good.

The Yoga Pander
April 30, 2007

Yesterday's Times Magazine had a Q&A with hip-hop guru (and now self-help author) Russell Simmons--in which he had the following exchange about the upcoming presidential campaign: Q: What do you make of Barack Obama, who recently said that rap musicians should reform their lyrics? A: What we need to reform is the conditions that create these lyrics. Obama needs to reform the conditions of poverty. I wish he really did raise his money on the Internet, like he said. I wish he really did raise his money independently. Q: What are you saying?

Mezzo "sopranos"
April 30, 2007

I confess I've found the last half-season of "The Sopranos" to be something of a letdown so far, especially after the bravura season opener at the lake house. Taken individually, the episodes have been fine. But that's just the problem: You basically have to take them individually. Apart from the Phil Leotardo storyline, which has been progressing in the (sometimes distant) background, there's been almost nothing in the way of a broader narrative arc.

Ted Kennedy On The Rocks
April 27, 2007

GQ has made available on its website former TNR editor Michael Kelly's classic "Ted Kennedy on the Rocks," one of the best pieces of political reportage I have ever read. As the article clearly demonstrates, Chappaquiddick did not do much to stave Ted Kennedy's recklessness, but, since marrying again in 1992, Kennedy has tempered his behavior. Interestingly, the article also features Kennedy carousing with current long-shot presidential candidate Chris Dodd. According to Roll Call's then-gossip columnist Bill Thomas, "[Kennedy]'s off the reservation ... out of control ...

April 26, 2007

Reality show producer Mark Burnett is apparently planning a web-based contest show about politics to air during the height of primary season. The details are a bit convoluted so far, but basically, it seems, the winner of the show would get cash to donate to his or her presidential candidate or PAC of choice. According to the LA Times, MySpace users would run for office by submitting videos and conducting virtual campaigns for votes. The top 100 or so would make it to the TV series, which would end with debates.

Romney, Nukes, And Genocide
April 26, 2007

Jason, Romney's plan to create an ambassador-at-large dealing with nuclear terror sounds like a fine idea, although I'd like to see more details. But I'm actually more struck by his embrace of another idea: "a new body of international law that would make nuclear trafficking a crime against humanity, on a par with genocide and war crimes." When I first saw this idea in a March Washington Post op-ed it struck me as a fine one, and I suggested that some 2008 candidate turn it into a "new idea" of their campaign.

Three Steps To Take In The Aftermath Of The Virginia Tech Massacre
April 23, 2007

by Jeffrey Herf Here are three more steps readers of the Open University can take in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre. 1. If Federal law had been enforced in Virginia, the killer would not have been able to purchase those two handguns. Faculty, students, and staff at colleges and universities and parents of students attending them should ask their administration--deans, provosts, and presidents-- how their institution complies with the federal laws that prohibit people who have been diagnosed as mentally ill from purchasing or possessing guns.

Army In The Red
April 23, 2007

CongressDaily (sus req) today has a dispiriting analysis of the Pentagon's just-released National Defense Budget Estimates for FY '08: The impartial numbers show that [Lyndon] Johnson spent $2.1 trillion in FY08 dollars on the American military from FY64 through FY68 when both the Vietnam and Cold wars were raging. He put more than 500,000 troops on the ground in Vietnam from an active duty force of 3.5 million men and women, many of them low-cost draftees.