Thursday, June 23, 2016

Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

Britons are heading to the polls today for the Brexit referendum.

Polling stations have opened across the United Kingdom on Thursday morning after a closely-fought referendum campaign that neither side is confident enough to call.

A final rash of polls offered mixed predictions, with two putting remain ahead and two suggesting leads for leave. Most suggest as many as 10% of voters are still undecided, meaning much could hinge on turnout today.

Politicians on both sides made their final pitches yesterday, slaloming the UK in a last-ditch effort to win over waverers and opponents.

I really don’t have a dog in this fight, but based on the rhetoric I’ve heard from the Leave side, including some pretty Trump-like xenophobia, I’m inclined to come down on the Remain in the E.U. side.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Short Takes

Egyptians gather to protest Mubarak verdict in Tahrir Square.

Chancellor Merkel is the target of pleas to save the euro.

1,000 boats take to the Thames for the Queen’s Jubilee.

One dead, seven wounded in a shooting in a mall in Toronto.

Crude oil output is soaring as Iraq comes back into the market.

R.I.P. Kathryn Joosten, 72, actor who portrayed Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing.

The Tigers beat the Yankees.

Short Takes

Egyptians gather to protest Mubarak verdict in Tahrir Square.

Chancellor Merkel is the target of pleas to save the euro.

1,000 boats take to the Thames for the Queen’s Jubilee.

One dead, seven wounded in a shooting in a mall in Toronto.

Crude oil output is soaring as Iraq comes back into the market.

R.I.P. Kathryn Joosten, 72, actor who portrayed Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing.

The Tigers beat the Yankees.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Short Takes

Eight US soldiers have been killed in an attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Iran has the know-how to make a nuclear bomb.

Another typhoon hits the Philippines.

Ireland votes to affirm the E.U.

Inoculations for all?

Rough life — Gitmo detainees are in for a stark change if they are moved to the U.S.

The Mormons are coming — Plans are in the works to build the first Mormon temple in South Florida.

It all comes down to one game for the Tigers. Yesterday’s loss to Chicago tied them with the Twins.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Short Takes

G20: It went well, don’t you think?

Budget Passes — $3.5 trillion sounds like a lot of money.

Blagojevich Indicted — Nineteen counts against the former Illinois governor and his brother and business partners. Look for the wingnuts to try to link this to the president.

Mexican Standoff — Not much progress in talks between the US and Mexico over how to deal with the drug cartels.

Alaska GOP wants a new election now that Sen. Stevens is off the hook. And I want to reconsider my Super Bowl bet on the Lions last year.

Summer deals — The recession and lower oil prices get the airlines to offer low fares.

Not just Bernie Madoff’s boat — a lot of people are losing their watercraft to the repo man.

Sounds like fun: Little Richard and Chuck Berry perform for an L.A. benefit.

Two new stadiums open today — The new homes of the Yankees and the Mets host exhibition games.

Tigers beat the Jays 8-5 with three days to go before Opening Day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Short Takes

London Calling — President Obama meets with the G20 today in London.

Nuclear Disarming — Obama and Russia’s Medvedev report progress… and finally we have a president who can pronounce “nuclear.”

Still Too Close to Call — The lead held by Scott Murphy (D) narrowed a bit in the vote tally in upstate New York. The GOP is planning to challenge the results.

Boring — The $1 billion Miami truck tunnel project goes back to the drawing board.

Clouds over Sun-Times — Another paper files for Chapter 11.

Seizure — The feds scoop up Bernie Madoff’s boat and house in South Florida.

The Ed Show — Radio talker Ed Schultz gets his own hour on MSNBC.

Guiding Light to go dark — The longest-running soap opera will call it quits in September.

Tigers lose 9-4 to Braves; 4 days to go.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Short Takes

Did you re-set your clocks?

Outreach — President Obama mulls an overture to elements of the Taliban in order to end the war in Afghanistan.

Going Home — 12,000 troops leave Iraq.

Treading Softly — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes a cautious visit to the Middle East.

More Troubles — Two British soldiers killed in Northern Ireland.

A study in foregone conclusions — Parliamentary elections in North Korea.

Tigers Beat: Phillies 8, Tigers 2 in Clearwater, Florida. 29 days to opening day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Short Takes

Stimulated — The Senate passes the $787 billion bill; the president will sign it on Monday.

Rejected — Norm Coleman’s bid to stay in the Senate got bad news yesterday.

Testify, Karl — Rep. John Conyers will brook no more delay from Turdblossom.

Dinner on the Diamond was a little awkward this year at Alex Rodriguez Park at the University of Miami.

Vive La Difference — Straight French couples get civil unions, too.

Ship Ahoy — The Miami International Boat Show is in town this weekend, and so is Boatboy to take in the sights.

Saturday Morning TV: What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the boat show?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Follow the Leader

Go read Juan Cole’s excellent analysis of why Russia thought that they could invade Georgia.

An emboldened Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sarcastically likened Russia’s actions to Bush’s foreign policy. Pointing to the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Putin said, “Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages … And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed 10 Ossetian villages at once, who ran over elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilians alive in their sheds — these leaders must be taken under protection.”

In the run-up to the Iraq war, Bush officials repeated ad nauseam the mantra that Saddam Hussein had killed his own people. Thus, they helped create a case for unilateral “humanitarian intervention” of the sort Putin says Russia is now pursuing. Washington had failed to get a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a war on Iraq, and Iraq had not attacked the United States, so no principle of self-defense was at stake. But since all governments (even the United States under Abraham Lincoln) repress separatist movements, often ruthlessly, Bush was turning actions such as Saakashvili’s attack on South Ossetia into a more legitimate cause for an outside power (especially one bordering it) to wage war against Georgia.

Indeed, Putin’s invoking Bush’s Iraq adventure points directly to the way in which Bush has enabled other world powers to act impulsively. With his doctrine of preemptive warfare, Bush single-handedly tore down the architecture of post-World War II international law erected by the founders of the United Nations to ensure that rogue states did not go about launching wars of aggression the way Hitler had. While safeguarding minorities at risk is a praiseworthy goal, the U.N. Charter states that the Security Council must approve a war launched for this purpose or any other, excepting self-defense. No individual nation is authorized to wage aggressive war on a vigilante basis, as Bush did in Iraq or Russia is now doing in the Caucasus.

Shorter Putin to Bush: “Anything you can do I can do better.”

Monday, May 7, 2007

The French Election

I confess that I did not follow the French presidential election at all, so waking up and hearing that Nicolas Sarkozy will be the next president comes as no shock or disappointment. Others have a different view, and I defer to their superior knowledge of the issues and the situation to explain what this election means. The New York Times certainly seems to have made up its mind.

Arrogant, brutal, an authoritarian demagogue, a “perfect Iago”: the president-elect of France has been called a lot of unpleasant things in recent months and now has five years to prove his critics wrong.

But what is certain is that Nicolas Sarkozy, who won Sunday’s runoff election, is one of the most polarizing figures to move into Élysée Palace in the postwar era. He is a whirling dervish of ideas who inspires hope and fear. Even many members of his own party, the Union for a Popular Movement, are holding their breath in anticipation of what his presidency may bring. “Other politicians don’t want to take risks, but he will take any risk,” said Brice Hortefeux, one of Mr. Sarkozy’s closest friends and political allies.

Mr. Sarkozy is also a bit of an outsider, the first son of an immigrant to rise to the French presidency in a country struggling to integrate second-generation immigrants, the grandson of a Sephardic Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism in a country still riddled with anti-Semitism and a graduate of France’s creaky state university system in a country long governed by technocrats trained at a handful of small, elite “great schools.”

He has always been nakedly ambitious, pragmatic, calculating and not beyond betrayal to reach his goals.

He is full of nervous energy, often rocking on his toes when not at the center of attention — a habit that sometimes makes him look taller than he is in photographs but otherwise draws attention to his small stature.

One thing, though; having grown up when there was only one French president, Charles de Gaullele grande Charles — hero of World War II, prickly and independent, disliked by his allies, hated by many and the subject of many assassination plots (The Day of the Jackal), and watching his successors from both the left and the right attempt to be as unpredictable and as maddeningly Gallic as possible, I am sure that Monsieur Sarkozy, regardless of his right-wing positions and his admiration for President Bush, will find a way to piss off the Americans. C’est la vie.