Thursday, February 24, 2011

Community organizers

AP news report --

Having successfully toppled their own autocratic rulers, Egyptian and Tunisians are rushing to the aid of their Libyan neighbors with hastily organized blood drives, field hospitals and convoys of food and medicine.

While European countries and the USA focus on getting their own nationals out. 
There are war crimes happening in Libya as Eurocrats busy themselves with draft communiques. 

If they're not near the mosques, we should be fine

Wall Street Journal editorial --

But oil traders are already beginning to discount for the risks if the demand for more political freedom also spreads to the Kingdom [Saudi Arabia], which produces 10% of the world's oil. Karen Elliott House's recent piece on these pages explained in persuasive detail why that is not a far-fetched scenario. We hope the Obama Administration is making contingency military plans to protect those oil fields if it comes to that.

It's rarely set out so clearly. If the Saudi people mount a struggle for more political freedom, the US should invade and seize the oil fields.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011


Now we really do have an Arab country that needs a humanitarian military intervention.  After all, it is the Southern Neighbourhood.

Clown of the day

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini --

I am extremely concerned about the self-proclamation of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Benghazi. Would you imagine to have an Islamic emirate on the borders of Europe? This would be a really serious threat.

He delivered the quote in English at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers.  The above video is a similar quote in Italian on the way into the meeting.

The possibilities here are that Italy gets its Libyan analysis from Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and/or that the minister is an extremely gullible and excitable person.

But he's the person in the room making the decisions.  Seen in this light, Ireland's mess -- or at least the component of it due to EU decisions -- becomes easier to understand.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bloody Friday

Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain to CNN's Nic Robertson --

What we don't want to do like in Northern Ireland is to descend into militia war or sectarianism

Friday, February 18, 2011


The government of Iran should be under the same popular pressure as governments in the Arab states.  But all they have to do, it's increasingly clear, is to hang on long enough for it to become apparent that the guns in Bahrain will keep firing until the Shia stop complaining, and they'll have their geopolitical issue.  When we find, as seems likely, that the Bahrain operation is being pushed by Saudi Arabia, they'll be home free.   It's not inconceivable that we'll be discussing how to draw the line between an "invitation" for foreign help and an invasion.

Guglielmo and Monica

Neocon Michael Ledeen takes the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal to offer an oblique defence of Silvio Berlusconi, essentially that hey, it's Italy, and anyway it's mainly leftists and wimmin who are trying to prosecute him.  Going a step further than Ledeen does in the article, the sub-editor includes in the headline --

Imagine Dick Cheney being judged by three women from the Yale Law faculty.

whereas Ledeen had just focused on the politics of the Italian judiciary and compared it to Yale Law.  Incidentally, the headline writer's thought experiment means that Tiger Mom Amy Chua would be one of the justices.  Which is neither here nor there.

But anyway, noting Silvio's longevity, Ledeen says --

Three G-8 summits have been held in Italy in the last 17 years (1994, 1999 and 2009).

The point being that Silvio has presided for Italy at all of them.  But there's one revealing error here.  Italy didn't host in 1999.  It hosted in 2001, Genoa.  That was the summit where the Italians put up anti-aircraft weapons around the summit site because there was chatter that terrorists might try and crash a plane into the summit venue.

That was July 2001.

2 months later, attendees at that summit were claiming that no one had thought that had a plane could be used a weapon.  So a little weird that Ledeen has his years wrong on that one. 

So he sums up -- 

There are other legal moves available to him and his enemies, as well as purely political operations. The left is, of course, demanding he resign at once.  But they haven't convicted him yet, and the calls for resignation suggest anxiety among his opponents. My guess is that the trial will not be quite as "immediate" as some are hoping, and no savvy Italian is going to bet the villa on a guilty verdict.

There you have it.  The sex scandal is essentially a shrug of the shoulder affair in the land of the Latin lover.

Let's now cast our minds back to when Ledeen was channelling Machiavelli to write about the Clinton-Lewinsky imbroglio --

Ledeen is especially contemptuous of leaders he regards as weak and corrupt, such as Bill Clinton. In a 1999 article in the scholarly journal Society, he warned of dire consequences if Clinton were not impeached. "New leaders with an iron will are required to root out the corruption and either reestablish a virtuous state, or to institute a new one. . .," he wrote. "If we bask in false security and drop our guard, the rot spreads, corrupting the entire society. Once that happens, only violent and extremely unpleasant methods can bring us back to virtue."

Or, as he says in the article --

Leaders must therefore personify the virtues expected of others (or at least be perceived to be virtuous).

The choices therefore appear to be that Italy is rotten state headed for a bad end, or that Michael Ledeen is a political hack.   Must we choose?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Belgitude

Qatar News Agency --

HH the Emir Receives Flemish PM

HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani received at his Emiri Diwan office Thursday morning HE Prime Minister of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister for Economy, Foreign Policy and Agriculture Kris Peeters and his accompanying delegation on the occasion of their visit to the country. During the meeting, they reviewed ties of cooperation between the two countries and ways of developing them in various areas.

That sounds like a country!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Tuesday:

This is not a non-paper of the Council

 He's referring to the Charlemagne Pact (what it should be called), a Franco-German steamrolling of the economic autonomy of the other Eurozone countries.  Apparently despite its physical manifestation, it doesn't exist.

Image via Wikipedia to illustrate a distinctively Belgian usage

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Real tie-in, fair and balanced

On Egypt turmoil weekend, the line up on Fox "News" Sunday's flagship political discussion show --

Segment 1:     Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

Then, football “Fair and Balanced”, as we’re joined by two Super Bowl heroes from each team’s storied history.

Segment 2: Lynn Swann, Former Steelers Wide Receiver
Jerry Kramer, Former Packers Offensive Lineman

And, our Power Player of the Week takes us into the broadcast booth, as he preps for the big game.

Power Player:  Joe Buck, Fox Sports

Maybe the political content is coming from Lynn Swann.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Republican junket

Other than Hillary Clinton, it appears that Joe Lieberman, John McCain, and a bunch of Republican Senators including John Cornyn and Jon Kyl were at the Munich Security Conference to speak for America.  Who knew they won the US Senate in November?

Some curse or other

New York Times, Wednesday --

MANCHESTER, England — More than halfway through a soccer season in which the world’s most valuable sports team has yet to lose a match, the singing and banners proclaim, “We’re Man United, we do what we want.” 

Premier League, Saturday --

FULL-TIME Wolves 2-1 Man Utd

If only for an unquestioning cite of a preposterous figure that MU has 139 million "core fans", the article deserves its obsolescence.

Go Packers

Wall Street Journal editorial --

Take the Packers' fleet-footed quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He made $8.6 million in 2009, according to USA Today's database of player salaries. Of that, we calculate he paid roughly $680,000 in state and $3.1 million in federal income and payroll taxes. Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't earn as much, but he got to keep a relatively larger chunk of his haul—$4.6 million of his $7.7 million salary. (This excludes taxes paid to states that tax players visiting on away games.)  Unlike Wisconsin, which has a graduated income tax that charges top earners 7.75% on earnings over $220,000, Pennsylvania has a 3% flat rate. Even football players can behold the merit of a flat tax.

 This is an inadvertent expose of the lunacy of supply side economics.  Does anyone think that Aaron Rodgers puts in less effort or fewer hours because Wisconsin has a progressive state income tax? Indeed, if the Packers lose on Sunday night, will the fans blame the variation in state income tax rates for their loss? Instead, the situation is that both teams have assembled highly talented players who've complemented each other and with a bit of luck, have hit the earnings stratosphere.  And one state has figured out that they have a little bit of that pot without any disincentive effects.  When Vince Lombardi said that winning is the only thing, he didn't have an exception for a 7.75 percent marginal income tax rate.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Sarkozy's reading list

The French President arriving today at the European Union summit brought some reading material along with him.  One book is clearly John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (in French of course), an apt choice for our modern Great Depression.  But we can't tell what the other one is, despite the striking and presumably distinctive picture on the front.

Photo Credit: The Council of the European Union.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

They never learn

Neocon Catholic pundit George Weigel --

While the current upheaval in Egypt cannot be traced to recent assaults on the Copts there, the safety of this ancient Christian community, which played a major role in the country’s cultural life centuries before Islam (and almost two millennia before Mohammad el-Baradei), would be one important test of whether post-Mubarak Egypt has moved beyond one of the little-remarked but nonetheless odious aspects of Mubarak’s rule: namely, his appeasement of those Muslims who insist that there is no room in their country’s culture or public life for Coptic Christianity or indeed any other form of Christianity.

George Weigel in 2006 --

The Holy See’s opposition to the use of force in Iraq in March 2003 is well known. Perhaps less well known is the widespread conviction in the Vatican today that a precipitous American withdrawal from Iraq would be the worst possible option from every point of view, including that of morality. Senior officials of the Holy See with whom I discussed the issue in May share the view of American analysts who are convinced that a premature American disengagement from Iraq would lead to genocidal violence, Iraq’s collapse into a failed state, chaos throughout the Middle East, and a new haven for international terrorists. That all of this would make life intolerable for Iraq’s remaining Christians is pluperfectly obvious.

Note: Weigel was a strident advocate of the Iraq invasion, from a moral perspective, in 2002-03.

How's that approach of getting rid of the undesirable Arab strongman first and worrying about the Christians later working out in Iraq?

Bonus observation: Wall Street Journal news story ($) --
Coptic Christians Worry About Future Without Mubarak.