Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

If the Republican Party is to reclaim its historic status as a party of conservation, we must get over our corporate case of Al-Goraphobia soon and give the case for climate change the fair hearing it deserves. Gore has given Republicans an environmental excuse, a way to avoid analyzing the science because we can dismiss the messenger. As a GOP politician replied when I posed a non-leading question on global warming, "If Al Gore’s for it, I’m against it." For too many of us, that is the full extent of our thinking on “the environment.”

Gore, with his penchant for exaggeration and a lifestyle that can be labeled hypocritical, is an easy target. When the science hits a solid double, Gore yells "home run" from his luxury box, while conservatives in the outfield tell themselves it was a strike-out and refuse to pick up the ball. Fans, having heard the crack of the bat, conclude that the Republican response is more delusional (and dangerous) than the Goracle's hype.


The Washington Post says that Al Qaeda is boggled by Barack Obama.

The New York Times says the Pakistani government is boggled by the Taliban. This is a far more concrete and disturbing story, with tremendous downside potential. It seems clear that the Pakistani Taliban -- and we should begin distinguishing these guys, as best we can, from the Afghan Taliban -- are having a fair amount of success moving out from the Northwest Frontier Province into more mainstream Pakistani areas. And it seems equally clear that the Pakistani Army is either unwilling or unable to fight them. My guess is more the latter than the former. The Pakistanis have trained for a big-bang war with India and have no idea how to conduct low-intensity conflicts.

A Likud-led government would not build new settlements in the West Bank but would allow for natural growth, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told Quartet envoy Tony Blair in an apparent attempt to calm the international community before this week's arrival of George Mitchell, the newly appointed U.S. envoy to the Middle East.

"I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank," Netanyahu told Blair in a meeting Sunday. "But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements."

Iceland's coalition government has collapsed under the strain of an escalating economic crisis.

Conservative Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced the resignation of his cabinet, after talks with his Social Democratic coalition partners failed.

. . . Iceland's financial system collapsed in October under the weight of debt, leading to a currency crisis, rising unemployment and daily protests.

-- BBC
China's bilateral trade surplus with America has long been a lightning rod in Congress, and with unemployment up the protectionist pressure is sure to rise. The $800 billion stimulus package making its way through Congress already has dubious "Buy American" measures that demand government spending should be on American goods. By sounding tough up front, the logic goes, the Obama team will be better able to diffuse the more extreme protectionist sentiment.

Unfortunately, this strategy is dangerous on a number of counts. The basic economic analysis -- that a stronger yuan, on a trade-weighted basis, is necessary to rebalance China's economy away from exports -- is surely right. But the world's immediate problem is a dramatic shortfall in demand across the globe and that will not be righted by exchange-rate shifts.


More than six years after openings its doors, the International Criminal Court in The Hague began its first trial Monday, as Thomas Lubanga, a former Congolese warlord, took his seat in the dock, facing a crowded court and public gallery.

Mr. Lubanga, 48, once the leader of a powerful and violent militia, is accused of war crimes, including commandeering children under the age of 15 and sending them into war to maim and kill. He pleaded not guilty to the crimes, which prosecutors said occurred in 2002-2003 during ethnic fighting in the Ituri region of Eastern Congo.


Premier Silvio Berlusconi sparked outrage for suggesting that Italy's women were so beautiful they needed military escorts to avoid being raped.

Berlusconi made the comments in response to questions about his proposal to deploy 300,000 soldiers in the streets to fight crime. A series of violent attacks, including a rape in Rome on New Year's Eve and another outside the capital this week, have put pressure on the government to crack down on crime.

But Berlusconi said that, even in a militarized state, crimes like rape can happen. "You can’t consider deploying a force that would be sufficient to prevent the risk," the ANSA and Apcom news agencies quoted him as saying. "We would have to have so many soldiers because our women are so beautiful."

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