Tuesday, August 23, 2011
- The battle for Tripoli continues today. Qaddafi's whereabouts are still unknown; of his purportedly captured sons, Saif appeared at the Rixos Hotel yesterday--it was unclear whether he escaped or was never captured--and Mohammed escaped from house arrest. The sudden rush on the capital was facilitated by NATO bombing and coordination with the national armed services of several NATO countries (if not NATO itself). The pincer movement the rebels have executed has opened space in the east for rebels to take Al-Akila and move on Ras Lanuf.
- Turkey has launched more raids into Northern Iraq, killing some 100 members of the PKK.
- "Cattle raids" between rival tribes in South Sudan have resulted in at least 600 deaths, according to the UN.
- The New York prosecutor in the Strauss-Kahn case has asked the judge to dismiss the case.
- Colin isn't the only conservative unhappy with the GOP field.
- Chaffetz out.
- The Obama administration is setting out to reduce the costs of the regulatory state -- Cass Sunstein has led-up the effort, making administrative law geeks everywhere happy.
- And the slow death of the fairness doctrine is over.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Professor Cole provides this analysis of Libya's nearly fulfilled revolution.
Moreover, those who question whether there were US interests in Libya seem to me a little blind. The US has an interest in there not being massacres of people for merely exercising their right to free assembly. The US has an interest in a lawful world order, and therefore in the United Nations Security Council resolution demanding that Libyans be protected from their murderous government. The US has an interest in its NATO alliance, and NATO allies France and Britain felt strongly about this intervention. The US has a deep interest in the fate of Egypt, and what happened in Libya would have affected Egypt (Qaddafi allegedly had high Egyptian officials on his payroll).
I would add only that the United States also has an interest in not boxing-in states and leaders in such a way as their only option is to play a destabilizing role in the international system. The only tolerable endgame after the West moved to isolate and marginalize Qaddafi was his ouster--sooner rather than later.
- LIBYAN REBELS ENTER TRIPOLI, rename Green Square as Martyrs' Square, and heavy fighting breaks out in Qaddafi's last redoubt. 3 of Qaddafis sons are in custody and the ICC Prosecutor already wants custody of Saif.
- After five days of clashes, sometimes spilling over into Egypt, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza.
- Over the weekend, Iran sentenced two American hikers to 8 years in jail for entering Iran without permission.
- The D-Trip pulled in slightly more cash than the NRCC in July.
- The Democrat and Union-led Wisconsin recall, though unable to swing the legislature, has caused Scott Walker to recalibrate--and it's reverberating in Ohio.
- Politico considers the GOP's Libyan dissonance (and incoherence) and its putting them on the wrong side of history (once again).
- And Jon Huntsman showed up to fight.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Qaddafi addressed the Libyan people, today. The desperation of his situation is patent in his remarks, suggesting for the first time that he recognizes his position even as he calls for a levee en masse:
You possess all sorts of weapons. Those of you without a weapon should come and receive a weapon. All the weapons depots must open and the masses must be armed. Thousands must receive weapons now. Open the depots. I give the order to open the depots to arm the masses.
I am with you now, I am with you in Tripoli. There shall be no retreat - we will not retreat until the last inch of land we want to liberate.
Events appear to be accelerating as rebels close in on Tripoli -- and Qaddafi's regime appears to have only days left.
After Libyan rebels took Zlitan, Zawiyah, and Gharyan, effectively encircling and cutting off Tripoli, an uprising broke out in Tripoli. Opposition groups in Tripoli, mostly quiet since Qaddafi's brutal crackdown in February and March, launched an uprising codenamed "Mermaid Dawn." At the same time, the Libyan rebels who have made rapid advances over the last two weeks to bring them to Tripoli's doorstep have pushed into Tripoli itself. Qaddafi's grip over Tripoli, at least, seems to be nearly broken. It remains to be seen whether Sirte, Qaddafi's hometown, and its environs will fall easily in the wake of Qaddafi's ouster from Tripoli or whether it will remain a redoubt of pro-Qaddafi support.
Friday, August 19, 2011
- Israel launched airstrikes against Hamas security installations in the Gaza Strip, following yesterday's attack in southern Israel that left 8 Israelis dead.
- The UN human rights chief is urging the UN Security Council to take action against the Syrian government following several days of government violence. The call follows President Obama's call for President Assad to step down.
- A suicide bomber struck a mosque in the Khyber region of Pakistan killing 40. The attack was made more heinous, not only because it was an attack on the mosque, but also an attack on a mosque following Friday prayer during Ramadan. No group has claimed credit for the blast.
- Reflecting on Russia that threw off communism, nearly found democracy, but is backsliding into authoritarianism.
- Republican Congressmen are asking Gov. Perry to avoid rhetoric that suggest people are "treasonous" or that Obama isn't a patriot. Rep. Roskam (R-IL) said, "That's not something you want to lead with if you're trying to get independents to come your way." Your editor wonders which Republican primary Rep. Roskam is referring to in referencing outreach to independents.
- An exhibition game between the Georgetown Hoyas and a pro team in China ended in with a brawl yesterday.
- Ezra Klein talks about how Hitler and monetary policy ended the Great Depression.
- Matt Yglesias reminds us that a smart, national regulation is better then a patchwork of state regulations.
- Baobab on economic development through beer in Ethiopia.
- A sad report from the American Immigration Lawyers Association reveals the ugly side of the ID laws in states like Arizona.
- Suzy Khimm shows us a chart that breaks down how much federal money flows to each state. This tempts your editor to ask Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia "can we have it back."
Thursday, August 18, 2011
- The United States stood up today and called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. A good, if late, first step.
- Libyan rebels made further gains today, taking the city of Sabratha as well as the oil refinery in Zawiyah.
- Terror in Israel led to cross-border exchanges.
- Georgetown's exhibition basketball game in China against the Bayi Rockets was ended early after it descended into team-on-team (and crowd-on-Georgetown) violence. Thank God it wasn't Duke, am I right?
- Elizabeth Warren, the woman who should be the head of the Consumer Protection Bureau, has filed exploratory papers in Massachusetts for a potential run for U.S. Senate against Scott Brown.
- The Dow dropped 420 points today. So there's that.
- NPR's Talk of the Nation hosts, bar none, the worst conversation about free speech I've ever heard. Not only are the people talking not lawyers, they're not even knowledgeable about the law. Neither of them. Regardless of whether you agree with BART's decision to shutdown cell service to prevent protests, at least build your arguments around, you know, the law. C'mon NPR!
Our friend Colin at To Get Rich Is Glorious posted a two-part blog (one and two) over the weekend encapsulating his theory of governance. It is remarkable both for its scope and for its relative brevity, coming in at just about 2,600 words it addresses everything from democracy (the least bad option of governance) to politicians (which come in two varieties: malevolent or incompetent) to legislation (sausage) to bureaucracy (in gross, worse than politicians; in detail, victims of their own occupation). It is worth a read. It is also worthy of response. Because my own theory of government is not as fully developed as Colin’s, I will try only to respond to a few points.
Voters are Irrational. Colin adheres to this well worn trope of wisdom and subscribes to its insipid logic: voters are irrational ergo democracy is fatally flawed. He then points to all sorts of phenomena as evidence that voters are irrational—for instance, Barack Obama was endorsed by celebrities, therefore voters are irrational; Kennedy looked better than Nixon on TV and that influenced the election, therefore voters are irrational; and concludes that Obama’s victory over Sec. Clinton in the 2007–08 Democratic Primaries is attributable to youth, good looks, race, or oration (and, therefore, voters are irrational).
As someone who has spent a rather large amount of time interacting with voters and attempting to persuade them—and worked against the Sen. Obama in those very same primaries—I am sympathetic to the notion that voters are sometimes influenced by what we more policy-oriented folks view as insubstantial factors. But this being true for some voters does not render it so for other voters. In fact, a Project Vote analysis of the 2008 electorate found that the electorate that pushed Sen. Obama into the White House was more strongly progressive than the normal electorate, explaining both the gains of Democrats in 2008 and the retrenchment in 2010 when this electorate stayed home. In fact, these voters, by casting a ballot for the most progressive candidate in the race, acted rationally. (Notably, the same survey reveals that Tea Party adherents represent an extraordinarily small portion of the electorate—a true outlier community: lily white, well educated and fully employed or retired, upper middle-class to upper class, generally older and possessed of the notion that the poor or unemployed should be left to fend for themselves).
Nor is it true that a voter who votes based on a single issue is irrational—Colin may disagree with that particular voter’s calculus but the voter has surveyed the field of issues, weighted those issues, and accorded an overwhelming weight to the single issue that moves him or her to the polls. If one selects as the baseline of rationality doing something that garners to you the outcome you desire, then single-issue voting is not assailable as irrational.
Putting aside whether voters are or are not rational, and whether their relative rationality is uniform or even a fair characterization in gross, let us assume that they are all irrational. In this respect, Colin’s theory of government is the most curious. He argues (generally) that the market is the salve for all problems. Yet the free market is premised on the idea that economic actors (let us call them consumers) are rational. Who are these consumers? Well, by and large, they are the same as the voters. Why then would an individual behave rationally when making consumer decisions but not rationally when making electoral decisions? Is it any accident that political campaigns and products manufacturers both use advertising firms—sometimes the very same advertising firms—to win over consumers (voters) to their products (candidates)? Does this then suggest that consumer are not rational actors because they purchase Crest (Kennedy) over Arm & Hammer (Nixon)?
Worse, the market is premised on the notion that there is no information disparity between economic actors. This is of course ridiculous—it is, after all, an ideal; I will leave to another day the discussion of whether this particular ideal is more ridiculous than ideals in general. Democracy requires no such premise to function but, of course, prefers well-informed (although not fully-informed) voters.
Bureaucracy and Legislation. I will lump these two topics together because it is worth noting that the bureaucracy developed to fill the very gaps in the efficacy of legislation that Colin highlights. However, rather than acknowledging this, he unironically trots out progressive critiques of legislatures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, used to argue for the administrative state. He then attacks bureaucracy with stereotypes that mostly ignore how the administrative state functions or how administrative law operates.
Bureaucracy may indeed connote those adjectives Colin ascribes it, however it denotes the specialization of government. It is intended to rectify the very problems Colin points out by alleviating the legislature’s burden of grappling with complex, technical questions beyond the ken of most if not all legislators. Is it perfect? No, of course not. No human construct is perfect, not even the market. But does it do a good job? By and large, the answer to that question is yes, it does do a good job. You may disagree—Colin certainly does—with the policy choices made by various administrations and the administrative state they have managed but is water and air cleaner today than it was 40 years ago? Yes. Are our cars safer to drive? Yes. Has malaria been effectively driven out of the United States? Yes. Do thousands of farmers rely on—and appreciate—the USDA’s Extension Service? Is our military the most advanced in the world? Yes. Have we explored more of the cosmos than the any other state—or collection of states—on the planet? Yes. What about land-grant universities, like Nebraska? Or a university established for the education of civil servants, like George Washington? These are all products of the administrative state. In fact, your ability to read this blog post right now is a product of the administrative state.
Now, because I’m a fair minded person, and because I’m committed to using this space not merely to advance progressive ideas but to actually engage in debate, I must acknowledge that there have been failures of the administrative state. Indeed, the failure of the enforcement side of the administrative state has played a significant role in the most egregious domestic crises we have witnessed over the last 10 years. But of these, several—Deepwater Horizon, Katrina, the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster—are not the product of the administrative state per se but a product of an administration committed to the destruction of bureaucracy. Unable to achieve that de jure it set about to do so in a de facto manner. And in so doing it was quite successful. And in its success we have had terrible results.
Quibbles. Finally, I must quibble with a few characterizations. First, the government to Apple analogy—though it never gets tired despite its patent baselessness—is flawed. The various departments of Apple are not akin to Congress. Rather, they are like the administrative agencies within the Executive Branch. Instead, the Board of Directors plays a more Congress-like roll (though this is still imperfect). And while Jobs need not get the buy-in of every department in Apple to pursue a new product, neither does the President need to get the buy-in of all the agencies. But as surely as the President needs the support of Congress to carryout those things that are not accorded to him, so does Jobs need the support of the Board of Directors to do those thing for which he is not solely empowered. Let us not forget, however, that ultimately both the Directors and Jobs are accountable to the shareholders. Who vote. Like in a democracy.
Second, the incentives argument, though persuasive on its face, ignores how the FDA (or most bureaucracies) actually function. There are numerous good lay and casebooks on this subject.
Third, the empire building critique can be leveled at anything. At literally any entity. Should we expect administrative agencies or corporation to commit suicide? Should this be valued? Or should we instead leave it to voters (and their agents) and shareholders (and their agents) to render these decisions. Ah, the very essence of democracy.
Finally, the critique of politicians—and the broader critiques leveled in the “Theory of Government”—is generally directed at the federal government but seems to cherry pick bad examples from local government, leaving the reader with the impression that 1) the federal government shutdown a lemonade stand; and 2) that bureaucracy across levels of government is somehow monolithic. More worrisome, though, is that the critique seems to conflate flawed politicians with flawed elections. The two certainly exist. But it is overbroad to say that all politicians are bad or incompetent—but, if you truly believe that, then perhaps you should run for office or at least find and go work for a candidate in whom you believe. As for elections, one solution to the problem of competitive elections would be to institute national election standards rather than allowing each state to parochially tweak its election code to suit established interests.
- Two separate attacks in southern Israel have claimed five lives. The first attack was against a bus and a second involved a roadside bomb where Israel military patrols.
- The UN tribunal that investigated the assassination of Rafiq Hariri is called on Lebanese authorities to move more aggressively to apprehend the suspects named by the tribunal.
- Gang violence in the Pakistani port city of Karachi has claimed 37 lives in the last 24 hours according to media reports.
- Vice President Biden is in China to advance the U.S. relationship with the economy that is poised to overtake our own to be the largest in the world.
- Perry doubts global warming, but as recently as June, Romney said he believed it was real and we are contributing to it. Also, kudos to Philip Rucker, the reporter for that story who says, "There is a broad scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions released by human activities such as fossil fuel burning helps account for climate change in recent decades, though this remains a source of fierce political debate within the GOP."
- Michele Bachmann's aides are ultra confrontational toward journalists and have reportedly threatened violence.
- Oh that cheeky Ron Paul, taking a shot a Perry and giving praise to Jon Stewart.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
- Yemeni opposition groups have formed a revolutionary national council made up of political parties and youth groups who are trying to advance and consolidate the Yemeni revolution.
- The opposition noose around Qaddafi tightens.
- Turkey launched attacks against PKK targets inside Iraq. And I, for one, am interested to see Turkey's next step vis-a-vis Syria and its brutal crackdown. R2P anyone?
- Bachmann claims she'll drive gas below $2/gal but provided no details as to how -- maybe she'll have a national pray for cheaper gas day ala Perry. The GOP can't do better than this? [As an aside, personally, I think Perry's problem is that he didn't invite J.J. Grey and MoFro]
- ThePage (terrible, on vacation) asks as its parting shot who is stronger electorally, Perry or Romney. I gotta go with Perry on this one -- Texas is a 38 EV strong prize that falls in his column automatically.
Earlier today, I asked why the Council on Foreign Relations had been mum on the resignation of Turkey's military leadership at the end of July. I tweeted the post at CFR and they responded via twitter literally within hours with two links, including this piece by Steven A. Cook that was published on August 3rd at ForeignPolicy.com. In the column Mr. Cook breaks down what happened, why it happened, and what it could mean for the future of Turkey. In short, he wrote the piece I had been looking for. It's a big internet out there and I just missed it, so clearly now neither CFR, nor I missed something regarding Turkey.
I was always told if you were wrong, you should say so. I was wrong about CFR missing it. Even more then that Mr. Cook wrote a great column that builds on my digest version of Turkish history.
Read any newspaper, magazine, or journal article about Turkey over the last few decades, and the odds are that the Turkish military establishment was described as “staunchly secular,” “powerful,” “autonomous,” “dominant,” or all of these things. At times, it seemed that observers were in awe of the Turkish commanders, armed as they seemed to be with an uncompromising ideology and a will to act to ensure the security of Turkey’s republican and, importantly, secular political order...The military’s reputation (some of it deserved, but also clearly exaggerated) is a function of the fact that between 1960 and 1997, the officers got rid of four governments that the general staff did not like. That’s what makes the Friday, July 29, resignation of the military’s most senior officers, including its chief of staff, all the more surprising. In Turkey, it is usually the military that pressures the government and forces the politicians to resign, not the other way around.Hey, that's basically what I said. Please continue Mr. Cook.
Erdogan’s demonstration of strength and control only reinforced initial assumptions that the officers’ move reflected the manifest political weakness of the Turkish armed forces and the ascendancy of civilian power. After all, the resignations did not destabilize the country, the financial markets remained steady, and there was no outpouring of public support for [resigning Gen.] Kosaner and his colleagues. Turkey did not miss a beat. The only possible conclusion analysts can draw from this episode: Erdogan has won. The prime minister, buoyed by a recent election that saw his Justice and Development Party (AKP) win an unprecedented 49.95 percent of the vote, has finally mastered civil-military relations, paving the way for a potentially more democratic future.What I tend to think this means is that the coup that wasn't in the late 2000s was the beginning of the end of the Turkish military's predominance in Turkish politics. Mr. Cook thinks this is a net positive for Turkey as democratically elected governments should be allowed to govern, regardless if the military are their biggest fans or not. I would tend to agree and as Mr. Cook says, "The odds are, though, that last week’s resignations were the dying gasp of the Turkish general staff’s autonomy." Sounds right to me, now if only I'd seen this before I shot off at the keyboard.
Several weeks back all of Turkey's military leaders resigned at once. The resignations has been tied to the continuing prosecution of military leaders unhappy with the AKP government. I subscribe to the Council on Foreign Relations google reader so I waited. Surely they would provide some analysis on this monumental event, and yet as of today, nothing. Nothing has come across their google reader about Turkey, so I went to their website and search for articles on Turkey and none of the hits are about the mass resignation of Turkey's military leadership. In fact, this article from Time published on Monday speaks at length on Turkey's strategic role and even its military capacity but doesn't even mention the resignation that occurred at the end of July. And so I'm left with a question: did I miss something or did CFR?
For those that don't follow Turkey the obvious question is: why is this a big deal? It's a big deal because the military has been the preeminent institution in Turkey since modern Turkey's founding in the 1920s. When the Turkish republic was founded the military leader that had led Turkey to freedom, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (you may know him as Attaturk) pushed through major changes to society and dragged Turkey somewhat reluctantly into staunch secularism. No where did this secularism take hold more then in the military. Throughout the 20th century the Turkish military was a check on any government it deemed inappropriate and there were three separate coups perpetrated by the Turkish military between 1960 and 1980.
Then in 2002, Recip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP), came to power. They were vaguely Islamist, but trod lightly initially. However over the past decade or so the party has strengthened its grip and while it has not been Islamist in the kind of boogeyman ways a jingoist American commentator might fear, it has been more then what Turkey's military had accepted in the past. There was even a scandal of sorts when the military boycotted events with AKP leaders and their wives because their wives worse the hijab (headscarf).
The hijab issue made many wonder if the Turkish military would again step in and overturn the AKP government during the latter part of the 2000s. But a coup never came to pass, no doubt in part because the AKP held and still holds a great deal of popular support. In fact, little had been mentioned of the past row until the mass resignation last month. Prime Minster Ergodan used the opportunity to install military leaders more accommodating to the AKP then the previous leadership, effectively wresting civilian control of a military that had been fiercely independent in the past.
And yet, this major realignment didn't illicit anything from CFR. Perhaps this is the natural transition of a blossoming democracy that a military falls under civilian control. Perhaps the military had long been neutered as the defenders of Attaturk's secular legacy and the resignations just made it official. Perhaps the big story was the coup that didn't happen in the latter 2000s, and this is just the closing act. Perhaps Greg Gause is right and Middle East experts just aren't paying attention to Arab militaries anymore, course Mr. Gause's article did appear in the journal published by CFR. But I remain surprised that CFR didn't have anything on this given Turkey's prominence in NATO, its status as a friend but not devotee of the United States, and its strategic significance in light of the Arab Spring.
- The UN has released details of the Hariri tribunal's indictment. The four men named are all members of Hezbollah.
- The Syrian government claims it has withdrawn from Latakia, but the Turkish foreign minister and several reporters on the ground have contested this claim.
- The Libyan rebels continue their advance to isolate and encircle Tripoli.
- Talks of more closely linking the eurozone economies has failed to calm the markets.
- AP is reporting sources that say a major jobs speech is forthcoming from President Obama immediately following Labor Day. Additionally, the White House will outline a specific deficit reduction plan along the same timeline.
- To drill or not to drill in off the coast of Alaska.
- Democrats held two recall state senate seats in Wisconsin.
- Some Republican presidential hopefuls are taking a second look at running in 2012. Our regular foil is discontented with the field, which may indicate space and oxygen for another candidate.
- Abe Sauer breaks down how the Tea Party's interest in economics is merely a brief detour from the Christian right's interest in culture wars.
- Andrew Exum brings you Hezbollah's response to the shelling of a Palestinian refugee camp by Syrian government forces.
- Brad Plumer considers Texas government expansionism during Perry's tenure as Perry's presidential aspirations arise just in time for the Texas bill to come due.
- E.G. over at Democracy in America digs a bit deeper into the "Texas Miracle" to question the narrative advanced by Paul Krugman and by the Perry campaign.
- China isn't a natural resource puppet master in Angola, according to Baobab.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
- Pressure is growing on the Obama administration to take a stand on Syria even as the brutal crackdown there gets worse and Syrian protestors demonstrate extraordinary courage.
- Despite their withdrawal from Mogadishu earlier this month, al-Shabbab is still hampering famine relief there. It's important to recognize that famine relief would likely not be necessary if Somalia had even a shadow of a functioning government -- the TFG has been an unmitigated failure.
- For at least the second time in two months, Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced his impending return to Yemen. This Editor continues to doubt he will ever return and cannot imagine that his return will do anything positive to that ever more restive failing state.
- The Syrian government continues to attack Latakia and reports of the dead are climbing.
- Qaddafi's forces fired a Scud missile that crashed harmlessly in the desert, but the move is widely seen as an intent to escalate as Qaddafi finds himself increasingly isolated.
- Israel announced it will build additional homes as part of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Israeli air strikes killed 5 after a missile was fired toward Israel from inside the Gaza Strip.
- In El Salvador, the president warns that gangs like MS-13 are being co-opted by Mexican drug cartels. Meanwhile, the view from on the ground in El Salvador.
- President Obama has asked senior advisers to come up with a plan that would keep the federal government involved in a good number of home mortgages.
- Gov. Rick Perry said Fed Chair Bernanke would be committing a "treasonous" act if he printed more money. Of course the Fed doesn't actually print money, but does assist in regulating the money supply.
- The supercommittee could rankle some lesser committees' chairs by stepping on their turf. And Congress becomes like West Side Story. Survey question: Who would be Tony? Follow-up: Who would be the Maria that Tony sings longingly for?
- Some Congressmen (notably only Republicans are mentioned), including the GOP budget wunderkind Paul Ryan, are charging constituents admission to events to ask their congressman a question.
- Michelle Bachmann playing a little loose with the facts on government employee salaries.
- Abu Muquwama considers what the American military has learned from the Israeli military.
- Matt Steinglass agrees that California needs to pull the plug on high speed rail, but he doesn't think it' snot a worthwhile investment elsewhere.
- Ezra Klein suggests you read Rick Perry's book. Matt Yglesias is catching flack from the National Review for quoting Gov. Perry accurately. Abu Muquwama address the double-standard between Obama and Perry and an advisers connection to the terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
Monday, August 15, 2011
- Libyan rebels make steady progress in the west as they try to isolate Tripoli. There are reports that a Qaddafi security chief has flown with his family to Cairo(NYT), defecting from the regime.
- The Syrian government continues to brutalize its own citizens as Navy gunboats shell the port town of Latakia.
- Attacks in Iraq have killed 70, in one of the deadliest days the country has seen this year.
- There are few arrows left in the quivers of Chairman Bernanke and Secretary Geithner to stave off another market calamity, as the markets roil under the burden of euro debt and gridlock in Congress.
- Following Thursday's debate, Saturday's Iowa Straw poll (Which Rep. Backmann won), and Gov. Rick Perry's entering the race, while Gov. Tim Pawlenty got out of the race, the Republican primary begins to come into focus.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
One of the most bizarre developments since the birth of the Arab Spring has been the parade of former Bush administration officials claiming that the Spring has vindicated the horror of Bush-era foreign policy. The ridiculousness of these claims is patent and need not be addressed. Yet, nothing underscores the absurdity of these claims like Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, scion of the so-called Bush freedom agenda, coming out in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his brutal crackdown on protesters there.
Adding irony to insult, of course, is the steady movement of Iraq's government into Iran's orbit--along with Syria--to finally give birth to the then-fictional alignment termed the "Axis of Evil."
Thursday, August 11, 2011
- The U.S. will call for Syrian President Assad's resignation following weeks of popular protest and government violence. At the UN a Syrian envoy called the criticism aimed at his country "western hypocrisy" and compared the violence in Syria to the riots in London.
- In London, the riots may be flagging but the frays of racial tension may extend well into the future.
- The U.S. is reporting that they have killed the insurgents responsible for the downing of a Chinook helicopter over the weekend that claimed the lives of over 30 service members. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a roadside bomb claimed the life of 5 NATO fighters.
- The man accused of the 2002 bombings in Bali is back in Indonesia after being extradited from Pakistan.
- A fuel shortage and long supply lines is slowing the rebel advance in Libya.
- President Saleh is warming to the Gulf Cooperation Council's power transfer idea that would see him removed from power. Saleh has not been exercising any authority over the country since he sought medical treatment in Saudi Arabia several months ago. Saleh has previously agreed to the transfer of power only to back out at the last moment.
- The roller coaster continues in the markets as on Wednesday they gave up Tuesday's gains. The American people don't have faith in Washington to lead us through this crisis.
- A lot of old hands are filling up the deficit reduction super committee and with Rep. Pelosi's choices still outstanding, only Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) voted against the debt ceiling compromise.
- A panel at the Energy Department will offer a qualified endorsement of shale gas exploration.
- Brad Plumer explains that your flight could be delayed because the FAA hasn't been able to invest in the air traffic infrastructure to streamline operations.
- Will Wilkinson fears the American people aren't prepared to make the tough choices, so why should they think the politicians they elect will?
- Matt Yglesias concedes a Chinese aircraft carrier to a bit worrisome, but reminds us it takes more then a ship to make a fighting force.