By now, the Arab Human Development Report produced under the sponsorship of the UN Development Program is an annual event, an unusually liberating and truth-telling event. Already three of them have been issued, and in December a fourth, on the status of women in the Arab world, was released in Yemen. The introduction to the report is a bit of apologetics, exculpating Islam for the grim position of women in the most significant spheres of the Muslim orbit. Still, you will learn a lot from the document and even from the report on the document appended here. It is not a pleasant picture.
by Cass Sunstein In recent years, many people have been concerned about the risk that citizens will use the Internet to construct echo chambers, or information cocoons, in which their own views are constantly confirmed or reinforced. A real problem with echo chambers is that those who live in them tend to become more extreme.
So Ford Motor Company posts a staggering $12.7 billion loss in '06 and all the usual explanations make the rounds: SUV sales slumped thanks to high gas prices; Toyota and other rivals have been making better cars; the company's weighed down by health and pension costs. No doubt. But here's yet another theory, via Focus on the Family's always-fabulous newsletter: The American Family Association (AFA) said last year's $12.7 billion loss by Ford Motor Company is no surprise.
He may not be running for president, but John Kerry's clearly trying to position himself as the leading anti-war voice in the Senate. Here's his new website: www.setadeadline.com. --Jason Zengerle
Matthew Yglesias challenges my manhood here. Well, okay, here goes. (If you don't like long, self-involved internet pissing matches, you should probably skip on down to the next item.) Our dispute began when Matt wrote a column defending Wesley Clark's assertion that an American war with Iran is likely because rich Jews are pushing for it. Matt argued that Clark was only saying obvious things that everybody knows to be true.
by Geoffrey Nunberg Now it's a "plus-up" in Iraq. Over recent weeks, the term has been popping up in stories in The Atlantic and Time and on Fox News and CNN, as well as in remarks by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Tony Snow: Our local commander believes that a couple additional U.S. battalions, basically a plus-up -- net plus-up of about 4,000 would enhance our ability to help the Iraqi forces there exploit the opportunity. Granted, "plus up" is a long ways from driving surge to the sidelines. But it's clearly a comer.
I'm hesitant to get into a full-blown debate about Iran and Israel because I don't want to preempt Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren, whose upcoming piece addresses the subject thoughtfully and in great detail. Unlike me, Yossi and Michael actually know what they're talking about. So I'll leave the big questions to them. But I do want to make a few narrow points. Brad, you note that Khamenei has issued a fatwa against developing nuclear weapons. But just about every reputable observer--left, right, dove, hawk, American, Israeli, European--believes that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Upon reading in Saturday's Times a front page article, by Mark Mazzetti and headlined "Leading Senator Assails President Over Iran Stance," I rushed to the website of Senator John (Jay) D. Rockefeller IV to see what accomplishments of his I hadn't known of that made him a truly "leading" senator. Now that I have looked, I still haven't a clue. He's "worked hard" and "fought" (even "tirelessly") and "co-sponsored" and "consistently supported" and "been instrumental" for all kinds of white bread liberal legislation which, generally, are to my liking.
Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Saturday that she was beginning a "conversation" with the American electorate. But her actual announcement was as far from a conversation as anyone can imagine. Or, as Susan Milligan reported in the Boston Globe on Sunday, it came "in an Internet video statement" without reporters or citizen questioners. OK, a conversation this campaign won't be.
Brad, you note below that Ahmadinejad's power is waning and the country's supreme leader Ali Khamenei appears to be reasserting control over foreign policy. You take this development as evidence that "Iran is much like any other country, with its own concerns and political disputes, not just single-mindedly obsessed with the destruction of Israel and the West." But for that to be right, you would have to show that Khamenei is significantly less committed to Israel's destruction than Ahmadinejad. And that isn't true.