TUESDAY MORNING MUSINGS AND SOME GOOD THINGS TO SAY ABOUT WILLIAM SAFIRE

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Folks will have to bear with me today. I have a rotten head cold, and my temperament is set on the “difficult curmudgeon” setting this morning — sort of like William Safire on most days. There is so much that can be said about William Safire, and many in the progressive community are saying them. But let me venture into the mine fields for a moment to say some good things about this curmudgeon at the New York Times. And…

EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION? AMERICA OUTSOURCES TORTURE

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In the film, Guarding Tess, Secret Service Agent Doug Chesnic (played by Nicholas Cage) shoots the foot of the man who kidnapped the President’s widow (Shirley MacLaine). Chesnic makes the bad guy (Austin Pendleton) think that he won’t hesitate to shoot him dead right there, and then the kidnapper confesses and reveals the place where the former first lady is hidden. The fans cheer Chesnic rushing over this moral and legal line and crushing the resistance of this evil-doer. I…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO <a href="http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com">TALKING POINTS MEMO</a>

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Many of you who stop by to read The Washington Note are very familiar and may have even begun your journey to my site through Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo. His site turned four years old on November 12th, but he forgot until today to note his anniversary — which we too want to salute. My own foray into blogging would have been impossible without Josh Marshall’s strong nudging and logistical help. So, congrats Josh — and thanks for getting…

CAN THE PATHETIC STOCK VALUE OF TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS BE IMPROVED?

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I gave a talk at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany a few days ago and was impressed with the city and the quality of thinking demonstrated by the students. While my talk was billed as one in a series looking at transatlantic challenges and America’s relationship with Europe, I focused on the foreign policy impacts of the election, blind spots of this administration — particularly in the economic arena, and pondered whether this administration would be able to…

AL QAEDA 2.O: THE CONFERENCE

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Peter Bergen, my colleague who interviewed Osama bin Laden in 1997 and wrote the book Holy War Inc.; Karen Greenberg of the Center on Law and Security at New York University; and I have been working for some time on a conference that is pulling several of the world’s leading experts on transnational terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism together for a conference taking place this next Thursday in the Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington. It is…

ANOTHER ERA OF POSITIVE SHOCKS: NOT IN OUR LIFE TIME

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In January 1998, Federal Reserve Board Deputy Governor Laurence Meyer gave a talk at the Economic Strategy Institute titled “The Economic Outlook and Challenges Facing Monetary Policy.” Commenting on the what some then called America’s ‘miracle economy,’ Meyer said that the country’s phenomenal economic strength over the last decade had been the result of “an era of positive shocks.” He presciently warned that it was beyond the bounds of reason to expect a never ending spiral of positive circumstances and…

THANKSGIVING — MUCH TO THINK ABOUT

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I have just arrived back in the U.S. from a trip from Hamburg that took me through Frankfurt, then JFK Airport, then had an interesting taxi cab ride to La Guardia — and then the bumpiest flight I’ve had in years from La Guardia to Reagan National. But, I’m back. I have a lot to be thankful for, but I know that there are many folks having a tough time with this economy right now — and many on the…

HOW TO CREATE A WIA: A WORTHLESS INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

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Tom Engelhardt and Chalmers Johnson have a must-read double hitter on the CIA on the TomGram today. Chalmers Johnson’s article, “HOW TO CREATE A WIA: A WORTHLESS INTELLIGENCE AGENCY,” follows Engelhard’s thougtfully provocative introduction. After reporting what has been widely reported about Porter Goss’s politicization of the intelligence staff and their objectives, Johnson reminds us that this is not in fact a new behavior for CIA chiefs. Chalmers Johnson writes: This approach is not new, even though former CIA analyst…

TYING DOWN THE AMERICAN LEVIATHAN: SOON TO BE AN EASY PROSPECT

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If there is one gap between Americans and the rest of the world that I immediately notice whenever I travel and talk politics, it is that the rest of the world is often irritated by and envious of American self-confidence. Others see Americans as walking boldly through the world without regard for constraints, whereas citizens and nations through the rest of the world are all too aware of the constraints on themselves, their hopes and actions. To some degree, America…