THE DAYLEE PHOTO: A Two-Tailed Pasha or Foxy Emperor butterfly. From National Best Photography Magazine.
As usual, Democracy Journal's latest collection of articles is first rate. Here are a couple of good ones:
Our Foreign Policy Blind Spots (Leslie H. Gelb) from Democracy Journal
"Responses to attack or threat or crises usually begin well, in a shower of patriotism and unity. Then, with the help of revenge seekers, the country flies into a political and policy rage, followed by rash actions in and toward countries about which our leaders and experts know little. Inevitably, the wrong lessons are learned."
The Future of Al Qaeda (Fawaz Gerges) from the Democracy Journal
"... like bin Laden himself, Al Qaeda—the very embodiment of what “terrorist organization” has come to mean in the minds of Americans—no longer exists. It has all but vanished, or at least dwindled to the palest shadow of its former self."
Satellite Image Shows Devastation Caused by Iran Blast They Said was an 'Accident'... as ANOTHER Explosion Rocks Country from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"This satellite image shows the devastation caused by a mysterious blast at an Iranian missile base earlier this month. Its buildings are destroyed, mountains of debris are scattered in courtyards and roads are severely damaged. ... Now, with a further blast yesterday in the western city of Isfahan, observers are questioning the competence of those in charge of the country's missile programme."
I find the general silence on this story from the large media outlets to be ... interesting. It very much reminds me of the original Stuxnet story -- and I think it is no accident that many of the same news sources that broke the Suxnet story are covering this one (the Guardian of the UK). My suspicion is that only a few media outlets have any real sources on Iran ... but it strikes me that with these explosions there is a *very important story or set of stories* developing around Iran's nuclear facilities that is largely passing under the media radar. What is going on!? We shall see.
US May Abandon Pakistan Supply Routes (Amir Mir) from the Asia Times [of Hong Kong in English]
"The United States may abandon Pakistan as a major supply route to Afghanistan unless the blockade on provisions to coalition forces is ended, after Islamabad turned down a request to allow crucial food and military hardware to transit to neighboring Afghanistan ..."
Homs, Syria: Inside the City of Fear (James Harkin) from Newsweek
"James Harkin is one of the few non-Syrian journalists to get into Homs. There, in the midst of murderous civil strife, he befriends a brave 18-year-old who dreams of a free Syria."
Embassy Assault in Iran Dramatizes Internal Feud from the Wall Street Journal
"Students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran in response to new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, an attack stemming in part from the fight for political control between Iran's conservatives."
As part of our occasional primer on US Defense spending and policy, there's the following entry. As regular readers know, I have cast a critical eye on the extraordinary size of the US Navy compared to others in the world. Kaplan is the first analyst I've seen who addresses this question directly. I'm still skeptical -- but I do want to hear the case for the big navy.
The US Navy Fostered Globalisation: We Still Need It (Robert Kaplan) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"There is a big difference between a 346-ship US navy and a 250-ship navy – the difference between one kind of world order and another."
US House Prices Continue to Slide (Johanna Kasel) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"US house prices fell by more than expected in September, again dashing expectations that the housing market will stabilise and posing a continued threat to economic growth in 2012."
A World Apart: Is America Becoming More Integrated? (Ryan D. Enos) from the Boston Review
"As the United States has grown more diverse, it has moved from being “two societies, one black, one white,” in the words of the famous Moynihan Report, to two societies, white and nonwhite"
Some unexpected results discussed in this interesting article!
President as Piñata (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"... as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for."
The Brainless Use of Pop Psychology to Diss Obama (Robert Shrum) from The Week
"Critics claim to get inside Obama's head, and proclaim that the president is an indecisive failure. Nothing could be farther from the truth."
GOP Is Set to Self-Destruct Over Payroll Tax (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"In rejecting an extension of the payroll-tax cut, Senate Republicans show beyond a doubt that their party favors the wealthy over ordinary Americans, says Michael Tomasky."
The Generational Divide That Will Define 2012 (Michael Crowley) from Time Magazine
"To a large degree, it seems, the split represents two very different reactions to change in American life. Pew found that seniors are unhappy about trends like immigration and diversity, and gay and interracial marriage. In one of the survey’s most striking facts, fewer than half of them say the Internet has been a positive development. And few things provoked livelier replies from the many seniors interviewed in Florida for this story than the impact of technology on American life. “Kids are running amok!” one told me. Millennials, by contrast, barely even register the idea that the Web might do more harm than good: only 11% call it a change for the worse. More relevant for the 2012 election, 30-and-under Americans largely embrace the social changes that their elders reject."
The whole story is really quite interesting and explains a lot.
More Now Disagree with Tea Party – Even in Tea Party Districts from the Pew Research Center
"Since the 2010 midterm elections, the Tea Party has not only lost support nationwide, but also in the congressional districts represented by members of the House Tea Party Caucus. And this year, the image of the Republican Party has declined even more sharply in these GOP-controlled districts than across the country at large."
As I've argued for some time, the Tea Party's time has passed.
Romney's Fading Popularity from Public Policy Polling
"You want to know the biggest reason Mitt Romney hasn't surged at any point in the Republican Presidential race this year? It's because the more GOP primary voters across the country have been exposed to him, the less they've liked him."
Why Conservatives Like Newt Gingrich (Ben Adler) from the Nation
"Why would a movement nominally dedicated to preserving traditional marriage prefer Gingrich, a serial adulterer, to a devout family man such as Rick Santorum? What is it that makes Gingrich at all appealing on his own terms? The answer lies in what many in the mainstream media tend to perceive as a weakness, rather than strength, of Gingrich’s: his over-the-top rhetorical condemnations of Democrats and liberals."
Herman Cain’s Media Base Leaves The Cain Train from Talking Points Memo
"Herman Cain may be quietly reconsidering what to do next with his campaign, but some of his most ardent defenders on the right have already made up their minds."
Was Herman Cain’s High-Risk Campaign Fueled by Testosterone? (Michelle Cottle) from the Daily Beast
"As Cain weighs whether to quit the presidential race amid allegations of a 13-year affair, it seems testosterone put him in a position where exposure was all but guaranteed."
PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY NUGGET!!
Kennedy, Reagan, Loved for All the Wrong Reasons (Robert Dallek) from Bloomberg News Service
"What gives Kennedy and Reagan such a strong hold on American imaginations is not what they did but what they said and still stand for."
I agree with Dallek's headline -- but don't share some of his reasoning. I think both Reagan and Kennedy are worthy of praise but not for many of the reasons touted by their most avid supporters. As a rule, I think US presidents deserve a lot of credit -- when they get right the big (but rare) existential threats to the US and the world. Example: Kennedy screwed up a lot -- but he got the Cuban Missile Crisis right. Presidents rarely face missile-crisis-like challenges -- but the bottom line is: if they get it wrong, the consequences are almost incalculable! Lincoln could have made a hash of the Civil War many different ways and lost the conflict. US and global history would have been fundamentally different if it had gone that way. The same is true for Kennedy.
SENIORS BOOK NUGGET!!
On Aging Baby Boomers, and the Question of Where to Live from the New York Times
"A new book by an architect and a gerontologist collects examples of homes designed to bridge the distance between one’s vital and declining years."
US HISTORY BOOK NUGGET!!
The Not-So-Invisible Empire: A Review of 100 Percent American: The Rebirth and Decline of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s by Thomas R. Pegram (Kevin Boyle) form the New York Times
"No longer would it be enough to target African-Americans, not when there were Catholics, Jews and immigrants to hate as well. They also added an aggressive political pitch, seizing on the hyperpatriotism of the recently concluded World War to turn the Klan into the champion of “one hundred percent Americanism,”..."
MOVIE REVIEW NUGGET!!
David Thomson on Films: The Most Tender Tribute Marilyn Monroe Has Ever Received from the New Republic
"Some time towards the end of this delightful entertainment, the realization dawns of how much courage Michelle Williams needed in accepting the offer to play Marilyn Monroe."