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Please begin with an informative title:

Ramzy Mardini is not on the McCain Train (and now, Obama train) of supporting the Syrian rebels.

The recent recapture of the strategic town of Qusair by forces loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad and the White House’s public acknowledgment that chemical weapons have been employed by the Syrian regime — thereby crossing a “red line” — persuaded Mr. Obama to adopt the doctrine of intervention and provide arms to the rebels. He shouldn’t have.

Lacking a grand strategy, Mr. Obama has become a victim of rhetorical entrapment over the course of the Arab Spring — from calling on foreign leaders to leave (with no plan to forcibly remove them) to publicly drawing red lines on the use of chemical weapons, and then being obliged to fulfill the threat.

But... but... the optics, man, the optics! What's involving the country in another war vs. looking like a wimp?

Eh, come on in. Let's see what else is worth talking about.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Maureen Dowd knows it's all about the wuss factor.

Clinton told John McCain during a private Q. and A. on Tuesday in New York that Obama should be more forceful on Syria and should not rationalize with opinion polls that reflect Americans’ reluctance to tangle in foreign crises. McCain has been banging the gong on a no-fly zone in Syria for some time.

The oddity of Obama’s being taken to the leadership woodshed by the Democrat who preceded him and the Republican who failed to pre-empt him was not lost on anyone. When Obama appointed Clinton “the Secretary of ’Splaining Stuff,” he didn’t think Bill would be ’splaining how lame Barry was.

Let me say something that I don't think I've said before: Bill Clinton needs to shut his damn pie hole. I don't care how smart the man is, this time he's being an idiot. If we're really making or foreign policy decisions based on what looks most macho, we deserve to join the dodo. Maureen Dowd loves all this inter-administration bickering because... well, because she's Maureen Dowd, and she still thinks the government and sixth grade are the same thing.

Doyle McManus offers a more sensible lesson from the Climton years than the one Clinton is pressing.

As President Obama contemplates his many bad options in Syria, he may want to consider the Aspin Doctrine, an argument for intervention abroad made by President Clinton's first secretary of Defense, Les Aspin.

In 1993, the Clinton administration was wrestling with a seemingly insoluble conflict in Bosnia, where Serbian-backed troops were besieging cities and slaughtering civilians.

Aspin's advice was straightforward: Let's bomb the Serbs and see what happens.

Critics objected that military action would put the United States on a slippery slope toward deeper intervention, but Aspin rejected that thinking as outmoded.

"If it doesn't work," he said, the United States could simply "back off." "Take it one step at a time, and see where we end up," he said.

That's the Aspin Doctrine: Military intervention doesn't have to be a slippery slope as long as you keep the option of walking away.

The Washinton Post thinks that not only should we go into Syria, we need to do more, much more. Which may be the best evidence that we shouldn't go near the place.

The New York Times pops the myth of the unskilled workforce.

There is a durable belief that much of today’s unemployment is rooted in a skills gap, in which good jobs go unfilled for lack of qualified applicants. This is mostly a corporate fiction, based in part on self-interest and a misreading of government data.

A Labor Department report last week showed 3.8 million job openings in the United States in April — proof, to some, that there would be fewer unemployed if more people had a better education and better skills. But both academic research and a closer look at the numbers in the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey show that unemployment has little to do with the quality of the applicant pool.

Sarah Carr looks at what happens to communities when school reform becomes issue #1.

In New Orleans, this single-minded focus on school improvement has given new hope to many low-income families, but it has also destabilized the broader community in some unanticipated ways. Consider the cost to many veteran educators, who formed the core of the city’s black middle class. After the flood, officials fired 7,500 school employees. An unknown number were ultimately rehired by the reconstituted traditional and charter schools, but they often found themselves working in a very different environment. ...

For teachers it has meant a bias toward a kind of youthful idealism that prevails in many New Orleans charter schools. The consummate teacher willingly works 70-hour weeks, consents to daily feedback on everything from lesson plan to tone of voice, and takes full responsibility for his students’ successes and failings. Young principals pump up their even younger teachers, telling them, “What you do is the most important work in the world.” Staff meetings can feel like a cross between summer camp and cult revival, as teachers gather in circles, praise one another for redirecting a wayward student or helping an overwhelmed colleague, and recite one another’s names in unison.

This mentality has attracted ambitious, talented young teachers from across the country. But it has also risked turning teaching into a missionary pursuit. At a few of the charter schools I have reported on over the last six years, less than 10 percent of the teachers came from New Orleans or were older than 35. “I think a lot of people who come to New Orleans want to change New Orleanians,” said Mary Laurie, a veteran school administrator and principal of O. Perry Walker High School.

Dana Milbank looked so, so hard for people on the left who were against the recently revealed NSA programs, but just couldn't find any, dammit, because we're all hypocrits. Dana is very, very disappointed in you.

Can you improve heart function in adults by reactivating the gene that promotes heart development in children? The language is technical, but the answer seems to be at least a limited yes.

Peter Tse makes the case that there's a biological basis to free will.

Free will. Philosophers tell us it is logically impossible. Neuroscientists argue that it is an illusion because they can predict which finger you will move before you are aware of willing to move. But I am convinced that a new understanding of how neurons "realise" information can reveal how free will works in the brain.

We have been thinking in the wrong way about how neurons encode and transmit information. The conventional view is that this neural code is based on neural firings called spikes. According to this view, the ability to turn thoughts into subsequent thinking and actions is the result of spikes cascading through neural circuits. This is not wrong. It just neglects half the story.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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