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So Many Layers

Few if any other Confederate memorials stand out like Stone Mountain, Georgia. The modern Ku Klux Klan was founded there in 1915. In the 1920s, under the auspices of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an enormous sculpture of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson was carved into the rock face of the mountain by Gutzon Borglum before he began Mount Rushmore. Now the president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP says the sculpture should be "sandblasted" off the face of the mountain.

Taking Stock of the Nuke Deal

With an actual deal, with definitive text and conditions, now in place, I wanted to share a few initial reactions. I have not seen all the details and many of them are technical and not ones I'm well-suited to judge. To get a general sense of my take on the equities and stakes involved, see this exchange I did with David Frum back in April. This was on the basis of the tentative agreement. But most of the discussion remains as relevant today as it was then.

There are many things to say. But here's the one I want to focus on for the moment. As I said, many of the issues involved in these deals are technical. And as much as people pretend otherwise, most of us are dependent on technical experts to make sense of who got the better of different compromises. With that said, at a basic level I trust the people negotiating on the U.S. side, subject of course to hearing anything over the coming days that gives me some reason to rethink that assumption.

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Missouri County Treats Same-Sex Marriage Like National Tragedy

This is my candidate for most inappropriate way to show your resistance to the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same sex marriage: The county commission in Dent County, Missouri voted unanimously yesterday to lower the flags at the county courthouse periodically for the next year to officially mourn traditional marriage. Late reports are it will now reverse that decision, out of respect to veterans. Oops. More soon.

More Clemency, A Lot More

You may have seen here that President Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. This is part of the administration's general push for prison and criminal justice reform - particularly in relation to the drug war. It is welcome news on all those fronts. But there's a slightly different issue I want to focus on.

Over the last several decades, the presidential pardon power - which includes a broad power to pardon offenses or simply commute sentences - has all but disappeared. The controversy over President Clinton's end-of-term pardons played some role in that. But the trend was already well underway.

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Trainwreck Alert

Catherine Thompson with two great pieces on the Jade Helm military exercise, which gets underway this week and has spawned more conspiracy theories than your tinfoil hat can count. She has the full rundown of the latest conspiracy mongering (come on, Russia helping Mexico reclaim Aztlan is the BEST!).

But there was also news over the weekend that a self-appointed group of volunteers have taken it upon themselves to monitor the military during the exercise, especially as the anticipated takeover of Texas unfolds.

"If a team member sees two Humvees full of soldiers driving through town, they're going to follow them," a leader of the volunteer effort said. "And they're going to radio back their ultimate location."

What could possibly go wrong?