Pundit Wire

Voice of…Reason

vintage-radiosThere wasn’t much to do in Brazzaville in 1980. The little People’s Republic of the Congo faces the immense Zaire (the other, capitalist “Congo”), its capital Kinshasa visible in the distance
across the mighty Congo River.

I was supposed to be teaching English at the Université Marien Ngouabi, which disdainful expats called “Le Lycée…”

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My Three Weapons

amt_hardballer_by_dalttt-d6ku6uoIt went like this:  a smile, a business card, and a camera. With these three WMDs we faced down an armed police squad and ran them off a property they had invaded.

Yaoundé, 2006.  Jim (not his real name) had picked Cameroon off the internet and came on a one-way trip to perform a religious mission.

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Bronx Cheer for a Danish Court

5In a world of metastasizing injustices, Denmark would be one of the last places to get a red flag for public policy abuse.

Still, the Danish Supreme Court stepped in it June 3 in a case against Bent Jensen, who conveyed declassified records into a publication in 2007. The outcome has Danish writers and publishers running for cover.

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Some Still Don’t Know What We Knew Then and Aren’t Sure What We Know Now

Jeb_Bush_at_CPAC_2015,_National_Harbor,_MD_05“…every other real or imagined candidate felt compelled to jump in with their response to what they would have decided twelve years ago based on what we knew then or what we know now or what we thought we knew then or think we know now but didn’t know then.”

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Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, General, History, Political Rhetoric, Politics, U.S. | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Looking before you Leap

IMG_20150514_102213At $50.3 billion (FY 16 projected), the U.S. budget for diplomacy and overseas development is a pretty good deal.  One-tenth the spending of the Department of Defense and well below two percent of national public expenditures, it comes in almost unnoticeable by people like me, baffled by zeroes.

Even so, it’s real money and needs to stand up to scrutiny.

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One Nation Under God, So Divisible

4393394365_d8030ae996_oIn years past, when national leaders talked about victory, they meant the United States — the entire United States — would defeat enemies overseas and overcome serious problems at home. Now their definition of victory is one political party winning over another.

Photo: DonkeyHotey

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“Worse than a crime…”

Tom_Cotton_113th_CongressCurrent calls to prosecute the 47 Republican senators who signed the “Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” under the Logan Act are just so much hot air.

The Logan Act reads as follows: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

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The True Believer, Revisited

15916The New York Times ran a front page article on February 18, chronicling the lives of three Egyptian youths, one of whom turned jihadist and went to fight for ISIS in Syria.

The three young men were friends. All of them came from middle-class backgrounds. All of them were devout Muslims, and all of them struggled to square the strictures of puritanical Islam with the attractions of the secular world—in particular, the sexual impulses they shared as normal young men. All of them had difficulty finding work in Egypt’s uncertain economy, and all of them were disillusioned when Egypt’s army took power and suppressed the militant Islamic Brotherhood.

Photo: Harper & Brothers

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