Palinology

by on 2008-10-02- Leave a reply

In an interview from a few months ago, Palin discusses the Supreme Court's decision to limit the damages payed by Exxon for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. While she's not saying anything that requires an advanced degree, she's articulate, poised and confident.But in the CBS News footage last night, she's incapable of naming a Supreme Court decision, other than Roe v. Wade, that she disagrees with.The contrast is simply remarkable. Is the McCain campaign playing some high-level head fake to make what will likely be a decent performance by Palin in the debate seem like the work of a superhero?
Continue reading

A better job at telling the story…

by on 2008-10-01- Leave a reply

David Leonhardt does a better job than most explaining the significance of the ongoing economic crisis and its parallel to the great depression. He finally understands the need to connect the dots, from bank failure, to credit crisis to impact on your household economy.The crucial point is that a modern economy can’t function when people can’t easily get credit. It takes a while for this to become obvious, since most companies and households don’t take out big new loans every day. But it will eventually become obvious, and painfully so. Already, a lack of car loans has caused vehicle sales
Continue reading

This Just In: Somali Pirates Are Definitely Human

by on 2008-10-01- Leave a reply

No sooner did I blog about the growing security threat posed by maritime piracy than several powerful militaries took notice... not because I was particularly persuasive, but because a Ukranian freighter loaded down with $30 million worth of tanks, grenade launchers and other military equipment was captured by marauders off the coast of Somalia.Two dozen crew members are still hostage aboard the MV Faina, now anchored off the Somali coast, while the pirates repeatedly isuse a series of ransom demands - though it's not obvious to me to whom. (Also, their demands have fallen, like the global stock market, since
Continue reading

Neo-Bolivarianism in Lain America

by on 2008-10-01- Leave a reply

One of my classes is currently doing a unit on "Prospects for US Primacy." It follows my usual design for such sequences: some balance-of-power theory applied to unipolar orders, followed by hegemonic-order theory, and then a smattering of the "US Empire" debate.Today we worked through some different conceptions of power and balancing, before winding up on a discussion of soft balancing. Next week we're going to mostly eschew lecturing--I did too much of that today--and discuss a series of questions and issues related to the themes of the unit, as well as a few "policy and punditry" pieces I had
Continue reading

Bailing out the bailout

by on 2008-09-30- Leave a reply

Rachel Maddow just asked perhaps the most insightful question of this bailout to date: Is this economic crisis global warming or the Iraq War? Is it a real crisis that builds slowly that people fail to acknowledge, or is it a bunch of hype and hysteria over what is, in the end, nothing.Laura D'Andrea Tyson says that this credit crunch is real and real bad, and your job is at risk. Its not a bail-out, but a rescue of a broken market.Therein lies the rub. I think there are two fundamental issues that have doomed the bailout bill earlier today.First,
Continue reading

Russia wants a return to the post-9/11 status quo?

by on 2008-09-28- Leave a reply

This is truly a fascinating bit of rhetoric from the Russians:Russia called Saturday for a revival of the global anti-terrorism coalition that formed after Sept. 11, 2001 but started to unravel with what it called the subsequent domination by a single power — a veiled reference to the United States."The solidarity of the international community fostered on the wave of struggle against terrorism turned out to be somehow `privatized'," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting.Lavrov cited the U.S. invasion of Iraq "under the false pretext of fight on terror and nuclear arms proliferation"
Continue reading

Debate reaction – a few more thoughts

by on 2008-09-27- Leave a reply

1. McCain did make one major strategic mistake in the debate. Although he may have thought that he was pushing his "change" theme by invoking his status as a "Maverick," distancing himself from Bush, and talking about earmarks, he dropped it as a framing theme in favor of "experience." He needs to at least stay competitive as a "change agent" if he wants to win the election. I assume that he'll return to this frame in later debates, but he needed to do more of it last night.2. If the polls are still at Obama +5-6 by the next debate,
Continue reading

Is McCain about to lose the post-debate?

by on 2008-09-27- Leave a reply

It sure looks like it. The good (unreliable) instant polls for Obama are already framing the narrative in an interesting way: given how many pundits called the debate for McCain, the question is why undecided voters saw things differently. This, in conjunction with the absence of "defining moments," seems to be driving a growing focus on issues of demeanor and body language. And here we find some real problems for McCain: his almost total lack of eye contact with Obama and his facial expressions while Obama was talking. Such behavior fits, unfortunately for McCain, into preexisting frames about his temper
Continue reading

Debate reaction – Nexon

by on 2008-09-27- Leave a reply

Peter's already made some good points about the debate, but I thought I would weigh in as well.I should start out with a confession. I'm a politics junkie and an international affairs geek. But I was bored stiff by this debate. And if even I was bored stiff, I imagine a lot of people out there tuned out of the debate before it ended.Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me turn to some quick impressions.Worst MomentsObama: "Well, let me just make a closing point. You know, my father came from Kenya. That's where I get my
Continue reading

Lets Debate the Debate

by on 2008-09-27- Leave a reply

Really, I think it ends up a push. Both candidates held their own, both got in some solid points, both responded to direct attacks.So, tactically a push. Strategically, though, I think the tie goes to Obama. Foreign policy is McCain's strong suit, and where Obama is seen as the weakest. Obama is significantly ahead in the polls. McCain needed a knock-out blow, and he didn't get it. Obama needed to keep his position and look like he could be president, and I think he did that.I also think that there are going to be a few things, like "John is
Continue reading

Mid-Debate thoughts

by on 2008-09-27- Leave a reply

The further it goes, the more I like this free-wheeling style that allows the candidates to actually go back and forth a bit, responding to each other. I think it gives a bit of insight as to how well they can box their own corner.Again, Obama says "McCain is right..." I think this might be one of those things that plays better to non-pundit viewers than it does to the talking heads, in that it makes Obama look agreeable. Obama is able to start with an acknowledgment of McCain but then assert his own position. We'll have to see on
Continue reading

Ducking the Debate

by on 2008-09-26- Leave a reply

Who needs a MSNBC when you can have these guys giving post-debate analysis?!?!?!If this prompts a moment of nostalgia, try this.
Continue reading

Be very, very, very, very afraid

by on 2008-09-26- Leave a reply

The FDIC just took over Washington Mutual.Meanwhile, the Kabuki continues.Question for Brad DeLong: is this the painful end of the Age of Central Bankers?
Continue reading

For What It’s Worth

by on 2008-09-25- Leave a reply

Paranoia strikes deepInto your life it will creepIt starts when you're always afraidYou step out of line, the man come and take you away---- Buffalo Springfield, 1967The Army Times reported on September 8 that the Army has a brand new mission -- and potential battleground: American soil.The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be
Continue reading

Those must have been some ugly internal polls

by on 2008-09-24- Leave a reply

I can't imagine how postponing the Friday debate will have any substantive impact on the nature or character of the bailout negotiations, so I'm going to go with the conventional wisdom and assume that this is basically a very dramatic attempt to get Rick Davis out of the headlines, give McCain a chance to close those 10+ points on economic leadership, and shift the momentum of the campaign.But really now, could the 2008 election get any more bizarre?... Apparently, yes. What is this, some sort of poker game? Obama: "I bid two bipartisan chips." McCain: "I'll see your chips.... and
Continue reading

Metaphor for an Endgame

by on 2008-09-24- Leave a reply

While I am never one to question the wisdom of the great Yogi Berra, we're starting to get a picture of how this Presidential election will play out--and it looks like Obama is clearly in the driver's seat.*Take Nate's analysis of the electoral map and today's Washington Post poll that gives Obama a 9 point lead.Two factors are working in Obama's favor. First, historically, early September polls--after the convention bump has dissipated-- tend to give a pretty solid read on the eventual outcome (PDF). Despite the high profile of the Debates, endless important speeches, millions of dollars worth of advertising,
Continue reading

Defending Hamdan

by on 2008-09-24- Leave a reply

Complex Terrain Lab is hosting a series of blog posts on the Salim Hamdan trial by Professor Bryan Glyn Williams this week. Williams acted as an expert witness for the defence of Bin Laden's driver, and has chronicled his insights about the US military commissions process:In this five-part series, running each day this week, Brian Williams describes how he became involved in Hamdan’s legal defence. This was a journey of discovery and revelation for Williams, and one in which he came to understand America’s critical responsibility for upholding the values for which the ‘War on Terror’ purports to be fought.
Continue reading

Monday’s piece of shallow analysis…

by on 2008-09-22- Leave a reply

With an enormous bomb nearly decapitating the Pakistani state and the Pakistani military shooting at US troops, I think it's safe to say that the situation is "not good."
Continue reading

Real money

by on 2008-09-22- Leave a reply

Bailing out Bear Stearns: $29,000,000,000.A government stake in AIG: $85,000,000,000.Creating near consensus among academic and pundit bloggers: $700,000,000,000. Demonstrating that the correct translation of "deserving poor" is "Wall Street"? Priceless.Update: Good.
Continue reading

Bestir Yourselves, Ye Councils of Nations, and Smartly

by on 2008-09-20- Leave a reply

International Talk Like a Pirate Day ends at midnight, and once again pirate lovers around the world are gleefully splicing the mainbrace with their mateys and poking fun at the bilge rats who don't get that it's, well, Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Pirate Dictionary here for the uninitiated; a superior and more scholarly resource is George Choundas’ A Pirate Primer.)While that's all in good fun, the time seems right to remind ourselves that maritime piracy is resurgent globally (the International Maritime Bureau reported rates of four attacks per week in April) and that it represents a scourge, not something
Continue reading