“Iraqi officials on Saturday announced an all-day Sunday curfew in Baghdad and four provinces, fearing that the expected announcement of a verdict in the trial of former leader Saddam Hussein could inflame nationalist and sectarian passions and escalate the daily deluge of violence.”
John Burns has an article in today’s New York Times basically making it clear how untenable the U.S. position in Iraq has become. Super-hack Andy McCarthy links to the article only to use it as a pretext for grinding axes against other unnamed Times reporters he doesn’t like. Jonah Goldberg, by contrast, at least acknowledges that since Burns is for some reason (he seems good to me, too, and it’s not obvious to me what his special appeal to conservatives is supposed to be) a rightwing-approved foreign correspondent, his article is especially “despression”.
Josh Kurlantzick’s September article warning about the emergence of a new Russia/Venezuela/Iran axis of oil-producing states struck me as a bit implausibly alarmist at the time. I mean, sure, countries have interests, which means they sometimes have interests in common with other countries, so they work together now and again. But the three names states seemed to me to lack any kind of underlying ideological program that would really make this worrisome. Or so I thought.
Susan alerts me to this music video for “Vostochnaya Skazka” an international super hit from Russian girl group Blestyashie in which they collaborate with Iranian pop sensation Arash. The resulting song is bad. Very bad. Troublingly bad. It’s especially disturbing that Arash appears to live in Sweden, which has traditionally been the Anglosphere‘s main ally in the quest to make the world safe for non-awful popular music. If they defect to the Eurasian Crap Pop Bloc, all may be lost.
The man leading the effort to ban affirmative action in Michigan, Ward Connerly, welcomes the support of the Ku Klux Klan. Connerly said, “If the Ku Klux Klan thinks that equality is right, God bless them. Thank them for finally reaching the point where logic and reason are being applied, instead of hate.” Watch it:
Connerly, “defended his remark in a statement, saying he accepts support for banning affirmative action wherever he finds it.” According to Mark Bernstein of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, the Ku Klux Klan is the “only large organization” to endorse Connerly’s ballot measure.
Last month, Connerly was photographed shaking hands with John Raterink, chairman of the Michagan chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white separatist organization. The CCC “opposes most immigration and ‘all efforts to mix the races of mankind.’”
As you may have heard, the world is scheduled to run out of fish in about 50 years. I don’t generally recommend libertarianism as an ideology, but it has very smart things to say about fisheries management and the management of economically valuable natural resources generally. Thus, I think John Tierney’s column on this subject was pretty good and he’s basically correct — the problem here is that we need to assign some property rights. Owners of fish (or of fishable patches of ocean) have incentives on both sides — they can make money by killing fish, but they can enhance the value of their property by growing fish stocks. That’s the right incentive structure — some fish come to market, but not so many fish as to destroy the fish stocks. Under a no property regime, the incentive is always to kill more fish.
That said, Tierney’s claim that “You can get all the beef — or buffalo meat — you want from Western ranchers” isn’t really true. You can certainly get all the beef you want, but at this point pure-bred American Bison are extraordinarily rare. What’s available is “beefalo”, a cattle/bison hybrid. So I think his fatalistic optimism on this score is a bit off-base. It’s true that America eventually solved the tragedy of the commons that superficially seemed headed toward a meat-less plains, but this happened rather late — too late to really save the classic buffalo. Similarly with the fish. We can be fairly confident that seafood won’t actually disappear. But a lot of specific fish species actually might go extinct unless people take action to implement some kind of system of property rights in time to prevent that from happening.
Is it okay to be disappointed by a comedy that, at the end of the day, is genuinely very funny? Expectations for this were sky-high and even though it was good, I feel they weren’t meant. This was definitely a movie worth seeing, but not a timeless comedy classic. I thought Talladega Nights‘s send-up of Americana was, ultimately, superior just among films released in 2006. Also, I know this is sort of part of the joke, but I’m not really sure why SBC made Borat from Kazakhstan. The country being satirized seems to be a Slavic backwater — someplace like Belarus or just rural Russia — rather than Muslim, Turkic-speaking Kazakhstan.
You know the situation’s getting desperate when the GOP decides it needs to point to allegedly strong economic performance as its main election argument. The idea here is supposed to be that a Democratic congress, by partially reversing George W. Bush’s tax policies, would wreck the bountiful prosperity we’re all currently enjoying.
This is, on its face, fairly absurd. By what measure has economic performance during the Bush years been better than it was before his policies were implemented? Jobs aren’t being created at a higher rate. Wages are going up faster. The poverty rate isn’t declining. The stock market isn’t growing faster. What is it about the pre-Bush economic status quo that we’re supposed to be afraid of? I don’t see this working at all. The old GOP argument was that the economy was doing well enough that voters should focus on Republican national security policy and its vital role in keeping the country safe. Now it turns out that Republican national security policy is a bad joke and voters are supposed to be quaking at the prospect of a return to Clinton-era economic performance? I don’t think so.
On Monday the Army Times will be publishing an editorial calling on Don Rumsfeld to resign. Of course, as we’ve seen, Rumsfeld has no intention of resigning and Bush has no intention of asking him to resign. The only way he’s going out of office is if the Democrats win the midterms, are able to implemenet some oversight, and thereby manage to uncover further information that makes his job untenable. One could imagine, in other words, him getting dragged out of the Pentagon in handcuffs. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen.
“Measurements coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization indicate that the global average concentrations of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide will increase this year too, said Geir Braathen, a climate specialist at the Geneva-based agency.”