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The Derp and the Horror

In this post from yesterday, I flagged what appears to be the eerily and disturbingly militarized nature of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department, a small agency just outside St. Louis. We have a few issues here potentially: the militarization of police work, counter-terror pork and finally the way that the military is passing off its surplus to small town police departments - with results that manage to be both Guffmanesque and terrifying. When I saw that picture out of Ferguson I immediately thought of this bizarre story out of Johnson County, Indiana.

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Lauren Bacall Dead at 89

This sucks. Lauren Bacall died.

Our picture of the day: Lauren Bacall and Harry Truman, 1945.

Three thoughts.

1. Go watch The Big Sleep. Period. Just watch it.

2. Bacall and Shimon Peres, the former Israeli Prime Minister and President, were first cousins.

3. Outlive the guy who writes your obit. From the end note of the AP obit: "Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent, Bob Thomas."

Some Pictures Say a Lot

We can only infer so much from photographs. There's clearly been looting and an element of crowd violence in Ferguson, Missouri. But there are quite a few photos and videos of heavily armed and armored police facing clearly unarmed civilians who often have their hands in the air to show they are not armed.

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Does 'Iron Dome' Actually Work?

We've been inundated with reports about the almost miraculous success of Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile defense system. To my Israeli relatives, its success is an absolute article of faith. But does it actually work? A very credible ballistics expert - who played a big role debunking the early reports about the success of the Patriot Missile - says the success rate is around 5% rather than the 85% claimed by the IDF (the Israeli military). We don't come to a definitive conclusion. But this is a must-read because what we've been told may be totally wrong.

Maliki Stands Down?

You're pretty isolated as a Shia Prime Minister of Iraq if the Iraqi Kurds, the Iraqi Sunni Arabs, the US and Iran all say you're done. There's been extreme concern that former-kinda-still Prime Minister Maliki might try to use the military to hold on to power. Now he's telling the army to keep out of politics and let the parliamentary crisis find a political endgame.

Dangerous Games, Pt 2

Last night I noted the perilous game Hillary Clinton was playing, attempting to put distance between herself and President Obama's foreign policy at a time when his foreign policy is under attack. Now David Axelrod is swiping back about Clinton's Iraq War vote in 2002.

I'm not interested in litigating the ins and outs of this. But suffice to say that this is an example that once you starting seeding these memes you are not in control of where they go.

Recipe For Trouble

Like many of you, I've been watching as the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, has spiraled out of control, from the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager to a mix of peaceful protests and looting from the local population to what looks like an extremely heavy-handed response from the city police. Pictures aren't always representative. But what has stuck out to me is that that protestors seem almost all black and the cops seem to be almost all white.

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Hillary's Delicate, Dangerous Game

Let's start by affirming a few points. After a bruising and devastating defeat to Barack Obama in 2008, Hillary Clinton went on to serve his administration ably, loyally and well for four years. It's also true that it's entirely natural for a future presidential aspirant to find ways to separate herself from the current president, especially one with flagging popularity. Indeed, it is incumbent on a would-be president to make clear what she would have done differently and what she would do if she were elected. As President Clinton has said many times, elections are always about the future.

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