Tom Friedman: We Need Constitutional Amendment Called “Can I Go Now?”



New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman was one of the headliners at a star-studded annual “Opinions Award” dinner sponsored by The Week in partnership with the Aspen Institute on Tuesday night. On stage, Friedman made a tongue-in-cheek proposal in response to a question from George Stephanopoulos who asked: “Are we just treading water for the next 22 months until the Bush administration leaves office?” Tom Friedman responded: We need a new constitutional amendment called “Can I Go Now?”…

Hagel and Gordon Smith Vote for Iraq Withdrawal Timeline



Interesting. In a 50-48 vote, proponents of an Iraq withdrawal timeline prevailed against an attempt by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) to rip out that language in the Iraq supplemental spending bill being debated and voted on today. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) joined the Dems. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) voted with the Republicans. And shock of all shocks, Ben Nelson (D-NE) actually voted with the Dems on this one too — though Mark Pryor (D-AR) defected. I…

Cheney Lurks as Threat to Bush’s Efforts and Middle East Peace Super Summit



Cheney and his team are disurbingly impressive in their ability to constantly get away with sabotaging the work and efforts of President Bush and his team. The New York Sun‘s Benny Avni reports: As her aides anticipated an important announcement about Israeli-Arab diplomacy yesterday, sources in Jerusalem and Washington said Secretary of State Rice has encountered enough resistance from all sides to lower her expectations for a breakthrough. Israeli officials have spoken to a top White House official in recent…

Bird Flu Tug of War Underway



AP is reporting a very important story today about Indonesia’s battle for control over H5N1 avian flu strains with the World Health Organization. WHO should have access to the viral material and should share it with pharmaceutical companies working on a vaccine. But Indonesia’s gripes are legitimate and deserve to be taken seriously. A scenario could indeed play out in which Indonesia, which has suffered more confirmed bird flu-related deaths than any other country, shares its information and then cannot…

Chuck Hagel: George W. Bush ‘Could’ Face Impeachment if He Ignores Congress on Iraq War



Senator Chuck Hagel has fired a warning shot across the White House’s bow. On George Stephanopoulos’ This Week, Senator Hagel expressed frustration that Bush was ignoring Congress’s steps to drive a new direction in America’s Iraq engagement. From a Reuters report: “I think Congress is going to play a role now like we’ve not played before,” said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a critic of Bush’s Iraq policy from his own Republican Party. Bush’s weekend radio address in which he threatened to…

Japan’s Shinzo Abe: History Denier or Visionary Leader?



Last year, I wrote an article in the Washington Post, “The Rise of Japan’s Thought Police,” suggesting that Japan’s right-wing was harassing important intellectuals, political leaders, business leaders, and other important voices that were engaged in a fair debate about Japan’s relations with China and about the future character of Japan’s imperial institution. The fact that my piece ran in one of the more important national papers of opinion in the United States meant that the article was going to…

Woolsey Watch: Oil and Anti-Semitism



Former CIA Director James Woolsey is speaking at Yale University next Thursday afternoon. If you are nearby, you should go. Woolsey will be speaking for he Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism on Thursday, 29 March, at 4:15 pm in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, Room 101, 63 High Street in New Haven. His topic: “Energy, Security and the Long War of the 21st Century.” I think Jim Woolsey’s work to support greater energy independence in the U.S. is laudable —…

Frankenstein’s Husband: Insights on America’s Future If We Don’t Improve Our Act



There is a great website out there, Poem of the Week, that is run anonymously by a good friend of mine. This week’s poem is Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was born in 1792 and was “a renowned atheist and proponent of ‘free love’ when such things were decidedly unfashionable.” Percy Bysshe Shelley is probably best known as husband of the brilliant author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. When I read this poem, the image that came to mind was…

House Iraq Funding Bill Requiring 2008 Pullout Passes



It was heavy-lifting all the way, but the House funding bill that funds America’s operations in Iraq but requires withdrawal in 2008, passed today in a 218-212 vote. I haven’t seen the floor statement yet, but Representative John Murtha was apparently quite emotional — on the verge of tears — speaking about the successful passage just after the vote. I think that the Senate will be an insurmountable challenge to this legislation as Dems will not be able to muster…