Pundit Wire

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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A Half-Finished State of Our Union

Unknown-15When President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech on January 20, he addressed Republican House members holding the largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president.

A record number of Americans believe the legislative process in Washington is, for all intent and purposes, broken. Political discord rules the day. Cooperation is a sign of weakness.

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PULLING OUR PUNCHES IN PARIS AND BEYOND

images-6The circulation numbers for the first issue of Charlie Hebdo since the Paris massacre have reached 7 million, according to news reports — which means the next group of jihadists will have to buy a helluva lot more ski masks.

I wouldn’t put it past them, though. Jihadists hate leaving a job unfinished, as we learned in 2001. And now that 7 million people have a cartoon image of the prophet Mohammed resting on their coffee tables and toilet tanks, they have a lot more work to do.

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The Ghost of Christmas Past

Former Vice President Dick Cheney Speaks At Luncheon On Long Island…when Dick Cheney reappeared to defend the practice of torture, it was the worst specter of Christmas past.

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President Obama’s UN Speech: Negotiating with Terrorists

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 5.25.40 PMThe speech by President Obama at the UN General Assembly this year did not please everyone…

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Believing is Seeing

IMG-20140909-01939 September 10, President Obama rolled out his new anti-IS intentions.  Meanwhile two high-octane intellects separately discussed their appraisals of Obama’s foreign policy.  I won’t say “tautology,” but each made perfect sense in its own framework, each might have frayed if confronted with the other.  I would say, “It would have been fascinating to have them in the same room,” but I am not into reality TV.

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The news summer from hell and the end of optimism

globe By this point in the summer, a sane person could reasonably conclude that the world is going nuts.  Spiraling out of control, descending into darkness, making optimism a delusional last recourse – that kind of feeling.

“What fresh hell is this?” – the question Dorothy Parker asked when her doorbell rang – now applies to the news.  If you’re staying informed, you’re licking the razor.  Unfortunately, not following what’s happening in the world isn’t really an option.  These horrors seize our lizard brains; we’re hard-wired to pay attention to danger.

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Remembering Todman

todman The August 17 Washington Post carries a fine obit on Terence A. Todman, deceased August 13. No quibbles with Emily Langer’s synthesis of this remarkable man, my first boss in 1986 in the Foreign Service.  Just a few footnotes to add:

I was Ambassador Todman’s press officer the day he gave his fateful news conference in Copenhagen, denying that his future posting would be South Africa…

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