Today, there was “less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.” Mark Serreze, a senior researcher at the center, said that there “is very strong evidence that we are starting to see an effect of greenhouse warming.”
“Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol. … And the shortages are resulting in prices as much as double what departments were paying just a year ago.”
Last week, Korean War veteran Nyles Reed, 75, learned he had earned a Purple Heart for “injuries he sustained as a Marine on June 22, 1952.” But instead of a medal, he received a form that said the Purple Heart was “out of stock,” and he could either “wait 90 days and resubmit an application, or buy his own medal.” “I can imagine, of course, with what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s a big shortage,” Reed said.
“Abu Ghraib was reprehensible for its sexual roguery and gratuitous humiliation, but the real military problem of that prison has been the serial release, not American mistreatment, of Islamic murderers,” writes neoconservative Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review today.
Props for this. I recall having read somewhere, though, that most African-American Muslims these days actually aren’t NOI and don’t necessarily like it when people assume they are.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted that White House Press Secretary Tony Snow revealed that he will not be “going the distance” and will resign before President Bush’s term is over. Today, CNN reports that it has “independently learned that it could be as early as September when he actually leaves his job.” Watch it:
When my brother and I were teenagers, my dad used to have a joke about how we should be made to hold up “irony” signs when we said something around the dinner table that we didn’t intend to take seriously. Maybe I should start using one for Noah Pollack’s benefit. He’s apparently an admirer of the work of Martin Kramer, who holds the view that the mainstream of the field of Middle East Studies does bad work. Or, as Pollack puts it, that “they’ve become enamored of post-colonial academic fads.” Because Kramer thinks their work is bad, he takes the view that the views of mainstream scholars in the field should be marginalized in our discourse and our policy process.
I disagree, and glossed this ironically as the view that “the problem with U.S. Middle East policy is that it’s unduly influenced by people who are knowledgeable about the Middle East.”Pollack then decides to prove that if you take that literally, it’s not literally true.
At any rate, if you were sitting around in December 2001 looking at the dispute between the Middle East Studies mainstream and the Kramer-style revisionist camp, you might have a hard time making up your mind. The mainstream is the mainstream, and there’s a lot to be said for following the academic consensus. The consensus, however, could be wrong. Maybe academic fashion really has just gone astray. Fortunately, though, we’ve actually had the experiencing of living now for the past five or six years in a country that’s made drastic policy decisions in the Middle East that have been heavily influenced by interpretations favored by people and institutions — Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, etc. — firmly in the revisionist camp. It’s all turned out to be a huge disaster.
By contrast, while mainstream Middle East Studies folks (Juan Cole and Marc Lynch probably the ones best-known to the blogosphere) haven’t been right about everything, their commentary over these years has held up quite well. It looks like maybe the mainstream views are mainstream because they’re correct! It’s also telling that in many respects what Middle East Studies scholars have been telling us about the Bush administration’s policies is broadly similar to what international relations scholars have been telling us. But as I say, at this point the proof is in the pudding, and the revisionist pudding is terrible.
The AP reports that beginning next week, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show will be airing reports from Iraq:
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” whose phony news coverage has long included phony “remotes” from war-torn Iraq, will be reporting from Iraq for real next week.
Giving its green screen a temporary rest, the Comedy Central series will air “Operation Silent Thunder: ‘The Daily Show’ in Iraq,” several onsite dispatches filed by Senior War Correspondent Rob Riggle.
Riggle will provide what the network calls “in-depth coverage and insights from the front lines.” Scheduled to be back in New York this weekend, he begins his reports as soon as Monday.
UPDATE: Riggle, who joined the cast in 2006, is a major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve who served in Liberia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
Contradicting previous claims by the military that soldier’s personal blogs (milbogs) “needlessly place lives at risk,” a series of audits by the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell between January 2006 and January 2007 “suggests that official Defense Department websites post material far more potentially harmful than anything found on a individual’s blog.” The audits found “found at least 1,813 violations of operational security policy on 878 official military websites” compared to “28 breaches, at most, on 594 individual blogs during the same period.”
Earlier today, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who was formerly the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House, officially announced that he will not seek re-election to Congress in 2008.
In an interview with the Daily Herald yesterday, Hastert also hinted that he may leave his seat before his term expires. “I haven’t ruled out anything,” he said.
While news of Hastert’s departure only broke this week, speculation that he would leave office began soon after the 2006 mid-term elections when Hastert was ousted from his leadership position. But in January 2007, Hastert denied those rumors, telling CBS’ Chicago affiliate “I’m going to stay“:
In an exclusive interview with CBS 2 Dennis Hastert said he can deal with the demotion, and that, contrary to many rumors, he will not quit Congress.
“I just think that was wishful thinking on the part of some people,” Hastert said. “Some even had me being an ambassador someplace, which had no founding at all.”
“I’ve made a commitment to run, and I’m going to stay here to get going here, and I can do some things on energy — I think energy is certainly important for Illinois,” he said.
Now that he’s in the minority as a rank-and-file congressman, Hastert — dubbed a “reliable ally” of Jack Abramoff’s — has been forced to change his lifestyle. Stricter ethics rules make many of the perks of his job harder to come by, such as the ability to turn a profit using federal earmarks. The former wrestling coach, seemingly not content to live by new rules, is throwing in the towel and heading home.