danalwyn: (Default)
Every cycle they tell you that this will be the most important election of your lifetime. They might have actually gotten it right this time.

Nobody really has a good idea of what's going to happen. Let's all hope for the best today.

Deja vu

Nov. 6th, 2016 08:42 pm
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Seriously, can the FBI just be done with this shit? I feel like I'm watching the election's worst moments eternally on rerun. Let's get back to the work of actually having an election here.
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There's a lot of tea leaf reading you can do in the Presidential Primaries in the US right now. A lot of it can be done with using the ghost votes (early absentee ballots and all that) cast for Republicans no longer in the race to predict who should have stayed in, and what the voters of a state really think. You can do entire pages of statistical analysis on this. That's on top of the reams of which poll results are likely to be altered because of which candidate's last minute ground game, etc., etc.

Probably more productive to just drink the damn tea. At this point, the Republican race is really up in the air (the Democratic less so), and everyone should accept that until after the conventions are over. Then it's time to start figuring out what to do for the actual race that half the country has forgotten about.
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So, if you are American, hopefully you have done your civic duty. It's probably too late now, but you never know. And if you missed this election day, you can always make it up by annoying your local government in person. It's what I do.
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You know, Tokyo used to have the 'crazy uncle' mayor, the guy who would sit down at the table and then suddenly erupt in a racist diatribe involving everything from Nathan Bedford Forrest to the KKK as a public service organization.

Well, Ishihara's not around anymore, but now it looks like (Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault) Osaka is getting into the race. How do we explain this? Is there some hidden article in the Japanese Constitution that requires at least one mayor to be so batshit they can mine him for guano? Is there some sort of crazy hat that they pass around? Is there a mayor's party where people get drunk and make bad bets, of which this is the result? Or more reasonably, is there something in the Japanese political system that requires these people to say outrageous things about subjects they have no control over to get noticed?

Either way, the lesson here is never trust a Japanese mayor. Because you never know when they're going to go around the bend, over the hill, and into the quicksand.
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So, looks like everyone's calling it. Not that it's that much of a surprise.

By coincidence, the election map, as of right now, looks almost exactly like the map that Nate Silver projected. My suspicion is that all the people who accused him of being foolish, full of overweening pride, and a moron for trying to predict the outcome of the election will now be busy accusing him of somehow controlling the results. Sometimes some people just need to learn some statistics.
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Note: I am about to make an argument with no regard to human values. That's on purpose. I'm not talking about helping people, but saving money. I can make an argument based on helping people too, and it's easy, but that's not this argument.

Everyone complains about the suburbs - it's become so common that it has passed through one end of cliche and out the other again. Environmentalists complain about suburbs. Drivers complain about suburbs. Urban planners complain about suburbs. Civil rights activists complain about suburbs. Cultural elites turn up their noses at the thought of the suburban cultural wasteland. Hipsters complain about suburbs as a matter of course. Teens complain about there being nothing to do out there - seniors grumble about how things were better when they lived wherever they did.

But one group that doesn't complain a great deal about suburbs is fiscal conservatives. This is because fiscal conservatives often seem to live in the suburbs, the bread and butter conservatives who fill the ranks of the Objectivist corps and the libertarian movement seem to prefer their nice house on a block full of identical houses, making suburbia the headquarters of the Independent American.

Which is odd, because there hasn't been a government social program that I can think of that has been funded at such a level for so long as the great suburban experiment. Of course there's no formal budget, but the US government spends an enormous amount of money on the suburbs.

How do they do that? Let's look at the ways:

This Is How Much a White Picket Fence Costs )
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As you've no doubt noticed, the internet is currently down.

Expect normal service to resume once Congress gets its head out of its ass.

Thank you,
-The Management
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I note that, in what was possibly the most important election of 2011, Pheu Thai is predicted to have won an overwhelming majority in the Thai parliament. Pheu Thai is led by Yingluck Shinawatra, whose unfortunately best qualification for the post is that she is the sister of former PM Thaksin, currently in exile due to corruption charges. Thaksin was a popular (and in some senses populist) politician who was ousted in 2006 in a military coup that involved the establishment (currently in charge), the monarchy, the royal circle, the estranged crown prince, and enough intrigue and scandal to fill every tabloid page for the next hundred years. The question now is whether the military will permit his sister to become PM quietly, or whether they will exercise their "shoot at people" veto.

In the meantime, Thailand may have its first female PM. I think we should wish her, and her nation, luck.
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I think that was about as close as a sitting President can come to saying "Afghanistan is good for tossing the Quaffle, but remember that the Golden Snitch is still in play".

He mostly said what I expected, which wasn't precisely what I wanted, but he is at least making an effort to adopt a medium-length view of where the US should go, and reminding us that in the long run what happens in Afghanistan may not be that important. Also he said some very good things about the fact that primarily this will end up being an Afghan problem, but I don't know how exactly he intends to handle this. I need to think about this for a while.
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Someone at the Latin America desk owes me a dollar over the Honduras. In Soviet Honduras, General fire YOU.

Then they owe me a contingency plan. Chavez is probably just talking out of his ass, but there's no point in taking chances.

Between this and the mess in Peru, it's going to be a messy week for the Latin America desk. I would predict what was going to happen in the Honduras, but all my Magic 8-ball is saying is "Answer hazy. Try again later."

ETA: Okay fine, it may or may not technically be a coup, but I'm still claiming that I was right.
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One thing that President Obama has failed to do is to adequately explain his approach to Iran. I believe this to be due to two reasons: A) anyone who needs to know his strategy should be able to figure it out, and B) stating it in public invalidates it.

So let me give it a shot.

The hardliners in Iran hate the US. The reformists may not hate the US, but they really don't like us. Neither of them wants to take the "Islamic" part out of the government. And all of them have long enough memories that they remember that we replaced their last popular government with the Shah. Any side that the US supports will be undermined, and discredited, in the eyes of the Iranian people.

The logical approach is to do nothing other then to offer the usual platitudes about the "will of the people", and sit this one out as long as the situation remains mostly peaceful. It's tempting to support the hardliners (and make them look really bad), but the reputation damage will be too great. Better to sit this out and hope for the best result then to completely discredit the reformists in the process. Which is what we're doing; waiting for the Iranian regime to make a huge, and fatal mistake that we can pounce on. You might think that the neo-cons would be smart enough to figure that out.

There is a time and a place for actively supporting the right side, but Iran with its complicated history and confused relationship with the US, is probably not it. Wolfowitz and Krauthammer will just have to live with it.
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If you were wondering if the world is still a fucked up place, well then I have your answer; it still is.

The survey size is small; the survey itself is geographically limited, but still. One in four? One in four? And more then once? I don't have to crunch the ugly statistics for you to get an idea of what this means on the victim side of the equation.

Witty and scathing are both failing me here. Maybe arson would be more apt method of demonstrating my opinion.
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In light of recent events I feel that I should point out that the US has spent billions of dollars (that's billions with a B) learning how to get the pro-Choice movement to beat the combined anti-abortion movements. Of course, don't tell them about it; the government for the most part hasn't got a clue that's what they spent the money on, but the US has been spending a lot of money learning how to deal with the sophisticated, multi-level propaganda attack that they got hit with by the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And nobody runs a fourth generation insurgency media campaign quite like the religious right. For years, they've been milking the same imagery, the idea of a group of brave, morally concerned freedom fighters doing the right thing, underfunded but with lots of willpower, in the face of determined attacks by the evil establishment. Well, the US has spent a lot of time and effort working a way to deal with that, and maybe the pro-Choice movement should take advantage of it.

What follows is a list of extremely amateurish suggestions that are the matter of personal opinion of a complete amateur, go on for a long 12 pages, and may have no real bearing on reality. Consider yourself warned.

Extremely, extremely long, tedious, and boring personal opinion follows. Seriously. I warned you. )

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] mergle for reading this once already.
danalwyn: (Default)
Who the hell is John Yettaw? And why did he give the Burmese government an excuse to jail Aung San Suu Kyi? Why did he breach the embargo on contacting her, not just once, but for a second time, swimming across a lake to do so?

The man has no internet presence, but speculation has to abound. Was he a well-intentioned foreigner with no comprehension of the fact that breaking the ban on visiting the activist would give them another excuse to jail her? Was he a self-centered fool seeking only to get attention? Was he an insane stalker? Or worse, was he a Burmese government stooge, a person paid to provide the junta with an excuse to put Aung San Suu Kyi back in jail? We may never know.

We were so close too. The charges against Suu Kyi were ludicrous, but even they would have run out at the end of May. The Junta would have had to invent another, equally ludicrous charge, to keep her under arrest. Now they're saved the effort of looking like total idiots by this man's stunt. Whatever his aims, he allowed the Burmese junta to have a pseudo-legal excuse to keep one of the world's most prominent democracy activists in jail, perhaps indefinitely this time.

So who are you Mr. Yettaw? And where do you come from, because if the Burmese ever let you come home, don't expect to find a friendly welcome waiting for you on this end.
danalwyn: (Default)
The Sri Lankan Army continues to attack the last stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) today, and nobody knows why.The LTTE, which once controlled basically all of northern Sri Lanka and massed an army of probably around 20,000 effectives, are now constrained to a square mile of territory in the northeastern part of the island, caught between the ocean on one side, and the Sri Lankan Army in three other directions. With the remaining hundreds of fighters are thousands of civilians, who either fled the Sri Lankan Army, or were forced to move by the LTTE, and are currently caught in the cross-fire.

Me Grumbling )

First Day

Nov. 5th, 2008 10:08 am
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Morning check. Party's over. Everything still in place? Keys? Wallet? Country? Right, deep breath.

Now we can begin the 21st century.
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Last week, Paul Krugman dug up one of The Economist's old cartoons from 1987 to explain the current state of the Economy. It seems that he predicted both sides of the coin being the same today as they were then back during last week's panic, which is the least of the qualifications that let him nab this year's Nobel Prize in Economics.

Picture behind cut )

Well, now that the markets have returned to their regularly scheduled schizophrenic mania, the news outlets will probably be looking for the next big panic. One of the opportunities, which I saw Fox News run a teaser for yesterday, is the imminent arrival of a squadron of Russian warships in the Caribbean to visit everyone's favorite South American strongman, Hugo Chavez. Possibly John McCain will be able to use this as part of his campaign, getting people to buy into his stronger anti-Russia Cold War stance. Well, in case you did want something else to worry about frantically at night, I'm here to spoil it for you, because I'm here to tell you not to worry about that either.

Boring Naval details behind the cut )

So that leaves you nothing to worry about except for the usual manic schizophrenia of the markets and the complete disaster that is our financial system. Which, if you ask me, is still plenty enough.
danalwyn: (Default)
So, while I was mucking around with other things, like Somalia, and not paying attention, I missed that as an offshoot to politics as usual, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang of South Africa got fired last week. Tshabalala-Msimang was famous to a select group of people for being a staunch opponent of retroviral drugs. Her most famous statement was that AIDS could be treated by lemon skin, beet root, and raw garlic, made at a Toronto International AIDS Conference in 2006.

There may be a place for people like Tshabalala-Msimang, but Health Minister for a country where 21% of the country are infected with HIV is probably not it. Good-bye, good riddance, and please, let the door hit you on the way out.


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