Why Ron Paul’s new role as the head of the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve is disconcerting (even to libertarians): “[W]hen you look at his speeches, he doesn’t understand anything about monetary policy. He might actually understand it less than the average member of Congress. My personal opinion is that he wastes all of his time on the House Financial Services Committee ranting crazily.”
Surprise: Michael Steele to run for a second term as Republican National Committee chair. “I come to my bosses with a record that only you can judge, based upon directions you made clear to me from the very beginning. Yes, I have stumbled along the way, but have always accounted to you for such shortcomings. No excuses. No lies. No hidden agenda. Going forward, I ask for your support and your vote for a second term,” Steele announced in an e-mail last night.
Richard Holbrooke: April 24, 1941–December 13, 2010. The New Republic has an excellent tribute to the legendary diplomat as well as a compilation of articles written about (and by) him.
European papers are reporting that the Stockholm bomber was radicalized in Britain, raising concerns about whether British universities have done enough to combat home-grown terrorism: “His parents were even a little worried that he was having too much fun. But then he went to England to study in 2001 and everything changed,” a friend of Stockholm terrorist Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly told the Telegraph. “When he came back he had grown a beard and he was very serious. He talked about Afghanistan and religion and did not want to hang out with his friends.”
Is WikiLeaks a force for good? Reason magazine spoke to four experts who gave their uncensored views on the controversial website.
Reason‘s Michael Moynihan has the scoop on an under-reported terrorist attack that occurred yesterday:
Two explosions rocked the downtown shopping district in Stockholm this evening as holiday shoppers crowded the chainstore-clogged area around Drottninggatan. According to early Swedish media reports, a car parked on the busy shopping street exploded at just after 5PM today, wounding two passersby. Two minutes later, say investigators, a second explosion was heard from a nearby street, where police found a bag stuffed with nails and the body, it appears, of the bomber.
According to this report in the tabloid newspaper Expressen, the Swedish security service and TT newswire (the Swedish equivalent to the AP) received a threat “against the Swedish people” ten minutes before the explosions. In a letter and audiotape, the bomber wrote that “Now your children, daughters, and sisters die like our brothers and sisters die.” He continued: “Our actions speak for themselves. As long as you don’t stop your war against Islam, and you degrade the Prophet, and your support for that stupid pig [cartoonist Lars] Vilks.”
Indeed, their actions do speak, repulsively, for themselves.
Liberals may still be grumbling about Obama’s tax-cut deal with Republicans, but Charles Krauthammer argues that the president actually won the face-off with the GOP: “If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. Stimulus I was so reviled that the Democrats banished the word from their lexicon throughout the 2010 campaign. And yet, despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years. Two-thirds of that is above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts but includes such urgent national necessities as windmill subsidies.”
As China escalates its crackdown on the media in preparation for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo today, Obama has issued a statement (as Pete noted here) urging China to release the laureate: “One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize — an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.”
Furthering his image as a “James Bond villain,” Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks office is literally carved into the side of a cliff 100 feet below a Stockholm park. The New York Post has photos.
With the recent masthead change at the New Republic, Ron Radosh suggests that the magazine start embracing a less-statist approach to domestic issues.
The bill to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” didn’t make it through the Senate last night, but Politico warns not to discount the legislation just yet: “[I]n a strange twist fit for a zombie movie, proponents of dismantling the law emerged from the bewildering defeat on Capitol Hill declaring that an end to the ban on gays in uniform not only isn’t dead—but that victory may finally be within sight. While that might be a tad optimistic on their part, the fact that appeal still mustered a pulse was a testament to the persistence of repeal advocates, the political risks even some Republicans see in offending gay voters, and the unpredictability of the closing days of a lame-duck congressional session.”
Hugo Chavez’s Socialist Party is seeking to censor online media in Venezuela. A bill making its way through the parliament yesterday would ban websites that the government believes could incite “violence” against Chavez.
If someone were to ask you to compose the most unlikely beginning for a story from the French news agency AFP it might go something like this:
World leaders, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on Thursday hailed Baghdad’s progress in combating violence and stabilising Iraq.
A declaration adopted by 100 delegations at a Stockholm conference said the participants “recognised the important efforts made by the (Iraqi) government to improve security and public order and combat terrorism and sectarian violence across Iraq.”
It also acknowledged political and economic progress made, and said that “given the difficult context, these successes are all the more remarkable.”
At least, that would have been a good try. The three paragraphs above are taken from a story put out today by AFP.
The piece goes on, rightly, to note the fragility of such progress. But the larger point is critical: Iraq, long written off as an unsalvageable disaster, is being officially recognized for its “remarkable” progress. And by whom? The UN and other world leaders whose respect we had supposedly squandered. The only people who need convincing that Iraq has seen extraordinary political progress are the Democrats who’ve hitched themselves to the anti-Bush bandwagon. If a Democrat makes it into the White House and is still so interested in world opinion, he or she may have to finally acknowledge that Iraq has changed. They wouldn’t want to “reinforce the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time.”
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Two people were arrested Wednesday after a worker was stopped at the entrance of a Swedish nuclear plant with a bag containing traces of an explosive which has been used in terror attacks.
Police said a welder was stopped during a random security check at the facility. Plant spokesman Roger Bergman said a second suspect was arrested because “there is some uncertainty about who owns the bag.”
The full story is available here. This could be nothing, but if it’s not nothing, it would be a very big deal.