Kabuki theatre, part something-or-other

by on 2008-09-17- Leave a reply

Oh, goody. Another celebrity interview.Bored now.
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In other news

by on 2008-09-15- Leave a reply

Bolivia remains on the brink of falling apart.... and the Ukrainian government collapses. Can't say that I'm surprised.
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Be very, very afraid

by on 2008-09-15- Leave a reply

After the start of the Great Depression, the US government adopted a number of regulations, institutions, and safety-net policies designed to prevent a recurrence of an event that nearly destroyed capitalism and liberal democracy. In the 1980s and 1990s, many of those regulations, institutions, and safety-net policies were eliminated or curtailed. Some call this the triumph of capitalism and freedom over excessive government regulations, others call it "the great risk shift."Now, I'm not saying any of this is directly responsible for the fact that our financial system is teetering on the edge of total collapse at the same time that
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Election perspective

by on 2008-09-14- Leave a reply

The 2004 September 13-15 CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll had George Bush over John Kerry by 14 points. George Bush won the election by around 2.5 points. Current polls give John McCain a -1 to +3 lead over Barack Obama. This election could go in any direction between today and November 4.
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Hurricaine Ike

by on 2008-09-13- Leave a reply

Apropos my earlier post, it can be all too easy to become obsessed with terrorism and, in doing so, ignore other threats (some, in many ways, much more dangerous) that kill, wound, and displace people... not just in the United States, but in the world at large. Today Hurricane Ike is sweeping into Texas, after leaving in its wake a second round of destruction in the Caribbean. Image source: the AP
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September 11, 2001

by on 2008-09-13- Leave a reply

I know it is a little late, but having looked at some other bloggers' "September 11" posts, I thought I should repost the one I wrote two years ago.September 11 - a blogging personal historyOn the morning of September 11, 2001, I drove my wife to the Nanuet train station. We said goodbye and she got on the train to begin her commute into Manhattan. I went home and took a shower.Sometime later that morning I went downstairs to the basement of our townhouse, which doubled as my office. I started working on one of my projects. I can't recall
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“Kill the invaders”

by on 2008-09-12- Leave a reply

The Australian is reporting that Pakistani troops have been told to fire upon US troops attacking from Afghanistan: KEY corps commanders of Pakistan's 600,000-strong army issued orders last night to retaliate against "invading" US forces that enter the country to attack militant targets.The move has plunged relations between Islamabad and Washington into deep crisis over how to deal with al-Qa'ida and the TalibanWhat amounts to a dramatic order to "kill the invaders", as one senior officer put it last night, was disclosed after the commanders - who control the army's deployments at divisional level - met at their headquarters in
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Henry Paulson as “The Stabilizer”

by on 2008-09-12- Leave a reply

The US bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was a massive government intervention into the securities market. Why do this?Dan Drezner gives some insightful instant analysis, noting how the fall-out has reverberated through the global economy, hitting China, Russia, Sovereign Wealth Funds, and many other key international actors. The US Government: is also trying to soothe financial markets and-more important-please foreign creditors. China is far and away the largest foreign investor in long-term U.S. government agency debt-more than $375 billion. In the past month Chinese officials had warned about the implications of a collapse of the two housing giants.Beijing
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More smoke than fire

by on 2008-09-12- Leave a reply

I think Nate is doing some of the best analysis of the current electoral map, and today he makes a critical point: despite all the hype and attention that Palin has given to the McCain ticket, the electoral math is for the most part unchanged from the pre-convention period. Palin has brought home those Republicans who didn't really believe McCain was one of them, but the McCain bounce in the polls is greatest in states where he is already popular. As a result, the electoral college math (which is what really matters, so resist the urge to worry about national
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Georgia, Framing, and the Aftermath of the Conflict

by on 2008-09-11- Leave a reply

A friend emails me to say:I just watched video of Saakashvili's press conference with Sarkozy. Still claiming outright that the Russians started it and that the Russians are the invaders. Speaking English, naturally. Russians are of course indignant about this claim. Georgia is like the younger sibling who constantly pokes and prods the older and then runs to mommy to complain when the older eventually hits back. Then when the older gets grounded for hitting, hides behind mommy's legs and sticks his tongue out at the older. Russia's reputation as a bully (plus the fact that mom likes the younger
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I’ll say…

by on 2008-09-10- Leave a reply

"'Big Bang' Experiment Passes Key TestsLet's see.... No non-metaphorical black holes in Europe yet.Yay!Let's celebrate with some some xkcd....
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Pakistan and Afghanistan: misguided strategic priorities

by on 2008-09-10- Leave a reply

A fantastic commentary by Troy at Abu Muqawama.If you haven’t seen it already, the New York Times magazine has an excellent article by Dexter Filkins on the Taliban in Pakistan. It is a longer piece, but well worth the read.A fair amount of it covers ground that should be familiar to anyone who has been watching South Asia for the past couple of years: * Taliban factions are in control of Pakistan’s tribal areas * The Pakistan Army and ISI are actually supporting the Taliban while pretending to cooperate with the U.S. to control the militants * By way of
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The 2008 Presidential campaign trainwreck

by on 2008-09-10- Leave a reply

Over the last two days the Presidential campaign imploded. The McCain campaign has gone completely Rovetastic. Obama's caugt a virulent strain of foot-in-mouth disease. And don't get me started on how the Palin pick has provided the media with a perfect excuse to avoid the hard task of talking about, you know, issues and, instead, to focus on triviality.Meanwhile, the emerging contours of the horse race looks pretty much like a repeat of 2000 and 2004, with any net bump for McCain over Obama already gone from every national poll except for Gallup's political crack daily tracking poll.I can't help
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Pyongyang-ology

by on 2008-09-09- Leave a reply

North Korea often seems more than just Another Country, it often seems like another planet. It remains one of the most closed, authoritarian, and militarized states on the planet, and it is impossibly difficult to penetrate from a scholarly, cultural, diplomatic, or intelligence angle. As a result, many North Korea analysts are left to play Pyongyang-ology, parsing nuance in official statements, relying on tibits from the few outsiders and diplomats who are allowed into the country, and passive intelligence gathering platforms.Kim Jong-Il has been off the public stage for a while, but today we learn that he skipped out on
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The Wrong Palin

by on 2008-09-09- Leave a reply

I'm sorry, but I simply couldn't help but post this.* *My willingness to make fun of Sarah Palin should in no way be construed as an endorsement of some members of my party's more appalling rhetoric toward her and her daughter, which I frankly have found an embarrassment over the past eleven days. There are many good reasons to not want her at the country's helm; her commitment to her family and her daughter's exercise of her choice as a woman (a responsible one, you might even say) are certainly not among them.
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The market punished Russia

by on 2008-09-09- Leave a reply

Dan previously reported that the European Union decided not to impose economic sanctions on Russia -- at least for now. However, The New York Times had an interesting story on September 3 noting that the market was imposing its own penalty on Russia for its war versus Georgia....[I}nvestors are also unnerved by the aftermath of the five-day war in early August.Russian shares have lost about a third of their value since hitting record highs in May. Russian and Western bank analysts polled by Reuters have cut forecasts for Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves.As much as $25 billion in foreign
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Supersharks: a new threat from Svalbard… or an opportunity?

by on 2008-09-08- Leave a reply

The Scotsman reports on this frightening development:SCIENTISTS have been stunned by the discovery of a shark that had eaten a polar bear.Part of the jaw of a young polar bear was found in the stomach of a Greenland shark in Svalbard, northern Norway.Kit Kovacs, of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said: "We've never heard of this before."We don't know how it got there. We can't say whether or not the shark took a swimming young bear or ate a carcase."We don't know how active these sharks are as predators."But perhaps these sharks could prove a valuable ally in the coming struggle
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Breaking news from Russia – updated

by on 2008-09-08- Leave a reply

Do I write of Russian reaction to the US decision to cancel a proposed US-Russian civilian nuclear cooperation. No, I bring to your attention an important story in the Moscow Times:Putin Sexy but not the Most SexyBe sure to check out the Putin cheesecake photo. And note the mention of Putin's brave rescue of a television camera crew from a Tiger. British carping aside, it probably did happen. As a friend points out, if the whole thing had been staged, we would expect there to be video of the actual event.
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No Clone of Star Wars

by on 2008-09-07- Leave a reply

My son and I finally saw Clone Wars this weekend. Afterward, I went back through some of the reviews I'd been ignoring during the past month of moving and settling in. No one seems to think the movie was great, but people are disappointed for different reasons. David Germain of the AP writes: You'll know you're in a different galaxy within the first seconds of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," which substitutes the Warner Bros. logo and theme music for the familiar 20th Century Fox searchlight and fanfare. Whether because of its cartoony format or its relatively lightweight story, "Clone
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Practical problems

by on 2008-09-05- Leave a reply

Last night I walked into my house after my usual commute home to find that the house was much warmer than I expected. A quick glance at the thermostat showed that something was wrong, since the room temperature was about 10 or 15 degrees warmer than the thermostat setting. Further investigation revealed that there was no air coming out of any of the vents in the house. Behold, a practical problem.President Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet. The war in Iraq continues to be a divisive issue, and the presumptive Republican candidate stood and stands with Bush on that
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