Pakistan People’s Party’s new chairman will be a nineteen year-old whose main qualification is that he’s Benazir Bhutto’s son. I was going to say something snarky about how that reflects on the PPP’s credentials as tribunes of liberalism and reform, but of course the odds of us going Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton in the White House look pretty good so there’s really no call for jokes. The Times, meanwhile, looks further afield and refers to “an abiding dynastic streak in South Asian politics — three generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family have dominated politics in India, and hereditary politics pervade Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as well.”
It seems the RIAA believes it’s illegal to rip CDs onto your computer:
The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.
Radley Balko points out that Hillary Clinton has said that she has Beatles songs on her iPod, songs that she couldn’t have purchased through the iTunes store, and wonders if the RIAA will show the courage of its convictions and sue her.
Also during his Meet The Press appearance today, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said that as President he would seek to “find some way to sanction” doctors “who took money to provide abortions to women if he succeeded in outlawing the procedure.” “I don’t know that you’d put him in prison,” added Huckabee. He said that he would “not support penalizing women who sought abortions even if they were outlawed” because he considers a woman who seeks an abortion to be “a victim, not a criminal.”
UPDATE: A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization found that criminalization is ineffective in lowering abortions, and that the procedure is most “dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely.”
In the recently released annual survey of worldwide privacy rights by Privacy International and EPIC, the United States has been downgraded from “Extensive Surveillance Society” to “Endemic Surveillance Society.” As Glenn Greenwald notes, this is “the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia.” In general, “the 2007 rankings indicate an overall worsening of privacy protection across the world, reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance of privacy safeguards.”
Elizabeth Bumiller leads her retrospective on Benazir Bhutto with wise words: “Benazir Bhutto always understood Washington more than Washington understood her.” This is the kind of thing I was driving at when I observed that “it’s much easier for Pakistani actors to manipulate US policy than the reverse.” We don’t have American political leaders who speak fluent Urdu, went to Pakistani schools, and count a wide swathe of influential members of the Pakistani elite as among their personal friends.
We can and should take steps to improve the US governing class’ understanding of foreign countries, but we shouldn’t have any illusions about our ability to totally upend the imbalance in Pakistani elites’ ability to understand the US versus our elites’ ability to understand Pakistan. Our efforts to meddle can have a big impact (since the United States is a very large, rich, and powerful country) but they seem unlikely to have the intended impact.
A few good things elsewhere:
Steve Clemons observes that “the fact that the leading Democrat contenders had nothing to say about the Annapolis Summit raises legitimate questions about whether they have the commitment and wherewithal to tackle the complexity of America’s defining challenge in this era.” I think that’s true. At the same time, the political calculus that led the leading candidates to completely ignore the summit is pretty straightforward. And I wouldn’t really want to have a nominee (or, for that matter, a president) who couldn’t do basic politics. In other words, you actually want a certain level of craveness from your political leaders. But you don’t want too much. You want the person who’ll take risks at the right time not the one who never takes risks or the one who shoots from the hip all the time.
This was an interesting poll result I found on Polling Report showing that, contrary to the fears of some, the public is basically aware that the reason “congress” isn’t getting anything done is that Republicans are preventing anything from happening. It is, however, a pretty outdated poll. Anyone seen anything more recent on this?
On NBC’s Meet The Press this morning, host Tim Russert asked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee if he believed “people are born gay or choose to be gay?” “I don’t know whether people are born that way,” responded Huckabee, “but one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice.”
Huckabee conceded that “people who are gay say that they’re born that way,” but added that he believed that “how we behave and how we carry out that behavior” is more important. Watch it:
As ThinkProgress has noted before, Huckabee has a record of using the power of government to discriminate against the choices that gay Americans make in their private lives. As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee pushed to strengthen the state’s anti-sodomy laws in order to “protect the traditional family structure”:
In 1997, Huckabee requested an amendment to a state Senate bill stating “that it is Arkansas public policy to prohibit sodomy to protect the traditional family structure.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/23/1997]
Huckabee is also fervent in his efforts to deny gay men and women the right to choose to marry the ones they love. Recently, he told GQ that “civilization” may not survive if “what marriage and family means” is “rewritten” to allow gay marriage.
Russert also pressed Huckabee on his comparison of homosexuality to necrophilia, which he described as “publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations.” Huckabee claimed that he was not saying they were “equivalent,” but was only “pointing out” that they “are deviations from what has been the traditional concept of sexual behavior.”