Sergeant Hagel Still: Talking with the Secretary of Defense

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Recently, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a 904-page book to Egyptian Army Commander-in-Chief Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, with whom he has had over twenty conversations since assuming his Pentagon role.  The book, Washington: A Life, won for its author Ron Chernow the Pulitzer Prize.  Rather than suggesting he read it all, Hagel emphasized to General Al-Sisi the chapter on Washington giving up his power at the end of his presidential term thus securing for the young nation one of the key pillars…

US-Iran Initiative: Big Consequences if it Fails

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My quote in today’s Financial Times article by Geoff Dyer on the latest in US-Iran relations: It is not getting carried away to say this is an extraordinary moment because rapprochement with Iran would be the biggest positive shift in global affairs since the end of the Cold War and the normalisation of relations with China,” says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “But if the US does not take this opportunity, it would be the…

When Everyone Knew the Horror of Chemical Weapons

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In these times, it may be useful to some to go back and read the poems of Rupert Brooke, Ezra Pound, Wilfred Owen and others who captured and froze in time the horrors of chemical weapons in the world’s first great war. Wilfred Owen died in November 1918, the last week of World War I. While the world seems to have developed a substantial degree of amnesia about gas attacks, poems such as the one that follows by Owen are…

Bezos Might Also Like. . .

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My Atlantic colleague Marc Ambinder tweeted an Amazon like set of options for Jeff Bezos, who is making a wow wow wow purchase of the Washington Post: Marc Ambinder ‏@marcambinder Based on your previous purchases, Jeff Bezos, you might also like: — The Los Angeles Times — The Orlando Sentinel — Newsweek Based on your interest in this post, you might also like to check out at Amazon Marc Ambinder’s Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry.

Why Would the Muslim Brotherhood Believe in Voting Now?

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Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are heading to Egypt, apparently as symbols of democratic magnanimity that losers in political contests should not be rounded up and thrown in prison. Graham told CNN that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry believed it would be useful to send Obama’s presidential opponent to Egypt to reinforce to Egypt’s military a message of political inclusiveness. Senator Graham said: I think it really does demonstrate how democracy works. They didn’t…

Hindery Report on Real Unemployment

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For those interested in following the “real unemployment” rate, which businessman Leo Hindery and others have been promoting as a better measure of unemployment than the more limited data on official unemployment which the government and media tend to prioritize, I attach his letter: In July 2013, the number of Real Unemployed Persons decreased by 412,000 to 22.2 million and the Real Unemployment Rate decreased by 0.25% to 14.0%, as summarized below. Friend, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced…

Deception in Counting the Unemployed

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Leo Hindery, Jr. is one of those big personalities in real life that we see characters trying to play in the movies.  He sees himself as a larger than life change agent, working to rewire America’s social contract to be more fair to American workers. A former CEO of cable firm TCI, then AT&T Broadband, Global Crossing, and the Yankee Entertainment Sports Network, Hindery helped lead firms to rationalize their assets, streamline staffing, and pump up productivity. From a CEO…

Norquist & Emanuel on Immigration Debate

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(click on right corner above to expand to full screen) It is a really, really bizarre time in American politics when on one side of a debate — in this case, the immigration policy debate — stand folks like the anti-tax scourge of Democrats Grover Norquist, Chicago Mayor and most likely presidential Democratic Party aspirant Rahm Emanuel, GOP “architect” Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton and other high octane Dems and Republicans — while the…

What is the Menendez Plan on Syria?

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez takes on Washington Post veteran reporter Walter Pincus this morning with a Syria-related letter to the editor in this morning’s paper. Menendez writes “his wrongheaded commentary fell into an oversimplified story line that Congress is broken.” I think Menendez doesn’t get what Pincus is saying, which was: I have enormous respect for the committee’s power to influence foreign policy when it plays its rightful role, but I also believe the actions of the…

Gays, Guns, and Doing the Right Thing

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Senator Joe Manchin and Margaret Carlson at New York IDEAS 2013 on FORA.tv Joe Manchin, soon to become the senior Senator of West Virginia after Jay Rockefeller‘s retirement, was interviewed by Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson about his efforts to close gun show loopholes and push broader background checks on gun purchasers.  The interview took place earlier this week at New York Ideas 2013 presented by The Atlantic, the Aspen Institute, and the New-York Historical Society. During this interview, Manchin said that…