Things tagged pol:

40 maps that explain the Middle East

Max Fisher in Vox:

Maps can be a powerful tool for understanding the world, particularly the Middle East, a place in many ways shaped by changing political borders and demographics. Here are 40 maps crucial for understanding the Middle East — its history, its present, and some of the most important stories in the region today.

A Game of Shark and Minnow - Who Will Win Control of the South China Sea?

Jeff Himmelman in the NYT:

Ayungin Shoal lies 105 nautical miles from the Philippines. There’s little to commend the spot, apart from its plentiful fish and safe harbor — except that Ayungin sits at the southwestern edge of an area called Reed Bank, which is rumored to contain vast reserves of oil and natural gas. And also that it is home to a World War II-era ship called the Sierra Madre, which the Philippine government ran aground on the reef in 1999 and has since maintained as a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison, the small detachment of Filipino troops stationed there struggling to survive extreme mental and physical desolation. Of all places, the scorched shell of the Sierra Madre has become an unlikely battleground in a geopolitical struggle that will shape the future of the South China Sea and, to some extent, the rest of the world.

It’s Not Just Political Districts. Our News Is Gerrymandered, Too

David Carr in the NYT:

I read an interview this last week with someone who gets his news from a narrow band of information providers.

He reads The Wall Street Journal, a really good newspaper that tilts right on its editorial page and sometimes in its news coverage. He also reads The Washington Times, a more reflexively conservative publication, and listens to “the talk guys” on the radio during his commute to work. We know which ones, because liberals don’t do well on the radio.

Even though he lives in Washington and works in government, he dumped his subscription to The Washington Post. He explained: “It was the treatment of almost any conservative issue. It was slanted and often nasty. And, you know, why should I get upset every morning?” He added that The Post was “shrilly, shrilly liberal.”

Just another guy in Washington who can’t stand hearing anything that doesn’t comport with his worldview? Well, this one happens to work on the United States Supreme Court.

Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Mass Transit and Walking - The New York Times

Elisabeth Rosenthal in the NYT:

While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Forecast 2010

James Howard Kunstler on his excellently titled blog Clusterfuck Nation:

One wild card is how angry the American people might get. Unlike the 1930s, we are no longer a nation who call each other “Mister” and “Ma’am,” where even the down-and-out wear neckties and speak a discernible variant of regular English, where hoboes say “thank you,” and where, in short, there is something like a common culture of shared values. We’re a nation of thugs and louts with flames tattooed on our necks, who call each other “motherfucker” and are skilled only in playing video games based on mass murder. The masses of Roosevelt’s time were coming off decades of programmed, regimented work, where people showed up in well-run factories and schools and pretty much behaved themselves. In my view, that’s one of the reasons that the US didn’t explode in political violence during the Great Depression of the 1930s - the discipline and fortitude of the citizenry. The sheer weight of demoralization now is so titanic that it is very hard to imagine the people of the USA pulling together for anything beyond the most superficial ceremonies - placing teddy bears on a crash site. And forget about discipline and fortitude in a nation of ADD victims and self-esteem seekers.

20,000 Nations Above the Sea

Friedman wondered: What if you could just move—not just you, but everything you own, including your home, and, if your neighbors agreed with you, your whole community? What if you could move all of it where no government would bother you at all, and you could make a new, better society?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Errol Morris:

During the last week of the Bush administration, I asked the head photo editors of these news services — Vincent Amalvy (AFP), Santiago Lyon (AP) and Jim Bourg (Reuters) — to pick the photographs of the president that they believe captured the character of the man and of his administration.

Via Daring Fireball.

What Sun Should Do

Tim Bray on Sun:

Sun is going through a lousy spell right now. Well, so is the world’s economy in general and the IT business in particular, but this is about Sun. This is my opinion about what my employer should do about it. [. . .] Sun should adopt a laser focus on building a Sun Web Suite and becoming the Web application deployment platform of choice. It’s a large space, a growing space, and one where we can win.

He is obviously absolutely right, there is no place for the old Sun in this world. However Sun does have some excellent tech, and importantly they seem to still have a lot of top engineers, so if they can manage a major restructuring they have a fighting chance.

Shirky on Coase, Collaboration and Here Comes Everybody

Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, talks about the economics of organizations with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. The conversation centers on Shirky’s book. Topics include Coase on the theory of the firm, the power of sharing information on the internet, the economics of altruism, and the creation of Wikipedia.

And a great bit of discussion on representative vs. direct democracy and the possibility that networks can enable direct democracy.

Via EconLog.


Migration Is Not a Crime

Government, Bound or Unbound?

Anthony de Jasay at Cato Unbound:

This paper is a sequel of an article I wrote twenty years ago that I now think can be put more tightly and clearly. That early paper was born of the irritation I felt, and continue to feel, at much of the classical liberal discourse about limited government. At least since Locke, that discourse sets out a normative ideal of government: the protector of “rights” its citizens are in some fashion endowed with, and the guarantor of liberty that ranks above rival values. Such government uses coercion only to enforce the rules of just conduct. This ideal is attractive enough to the liberal mind. The reason why it nevertheless irritates is that it makes it seem that the writing of a constitution of liberty is a plausible means for transforming the normative ideal into positive reality. The message is that “we” can have limited government in the above sense if only “we” understand why we ought to wish it. The “we” is crucial, for it suppresses the essence of collective choice. Collective choice starts where unanimity ends, and involves some deciding for all, where the “some” control the apparatus of government. It is the potential for some to benefit morally and materially at the expense of others that creates the bone of contention and that limits on government are meant to move out of reach. It is odd that little or no awareness is shown of the “incentive-incompatibility” (if we may use ugly but handy jargon) of limits that would exert real rather than illusory restraint.

Fairly simple and easy to read look at the impossibility of legislatively constraining government, and on the other hand the natural economic limits that do constrain all governments (though in a painfully wide band that they can and do tend to oscillate in).

Via EconLog.

The BLF brings us AT&T "In More Places"

“This campaign is an extraordinary rendition of a public-private partnership,” observed BLF spokesperson Blank DeCoverly. “These two titans of telecom have a long and intimate relationship, dating back to the age of the telegraph. In these dark days of Terrorism, that should be a comfort to every law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide.”

Via 27B Stroke 6.


Back by popular demand: the Minimal Compact

Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird:

Ever since went down for the count, I get a fair number of requests to repost this minifesto on “open-source constitutions for post-national entitites,” from 2003. It’s goofy, it’s naïve, it’s grandiose and pompous…and I present it to you now exactly as I wrote it then. Enjoy!

What is up with election coverage?

Posted to bramcohen.

The coverage of the current US primaries is mindbogglingly wrongheaded. Recent coverage has focused on who would ‘win’ New Hampshire among the democrats, and Huckabee’s ‘lead’ among republicans. The actual numbers can be found here. New Hampshire is not a winner-take-all state for democrats, and both Clinton and Obama got exactly nine delegates from there, making the declaration of a ‘winner’ extremely misleading, if not outright revealing of the declarer having dubious mental capacity. Among republicans, Mitt Romney now has the most delegates, with Huckabee in second, and the media is currently speculating that Romney will drop out because he’s so far ‘behind’.

Seriously, what is wrong with journalists? Are they not able to do basic arithmetic? Ideally I’d like to have meta-coverage discussing why some states are winner take all and others aren’t, and what on earth ‘super-delegates’ are, but I’d settle for even an accurate portrayal of what’s happening in the race as it unfolds.

But thank you CNN for putting up a nice site which gives accurate up-to-date information. Please expand it in the future with more explanation of what ‘super delegates’ are, and what happens to a candidate’s delegates if they drop out of the race.

Where Are Islam's Silent Moderates?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the NYT:

It is often said that Islam has been "hijacked" by a small extremist group of radical fundamentalists. The vast majority of Muslims are said to be moderates.

But where are the moderates? Where are the Muslim voices raised over the terrible injustice of incidents like these? How many Muslims are willing to stand up and say, in the case of the girl from Qatif, that this manner of justice is appalling, brutal and bigoted - and that no matter who said it was the right thing to do, and how long ago it was said, this should no longer be done?

Usually, Muslim groups like the Organization of the Islamic Conference are quick to defend any affront to the image of Islam. The organization, which represents 57 Muslim states, sent four ambassadors to the leader of my political party in the Netherlands asking him to expel me from Parliament after I gave a newspaper interview in 2003 noting that by Western standards some of the Prophet Muhammad's behavior would be unconscionable. A few years later, Muslim ambassadors to Denmark protested the cartoons of Muhammad and demanded that their perpetrators be prosecuted.

But while the incidents in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and India have done more to damage the image of Islamic justice than a dozen cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, the organizations that lined up to protest the hideous Danish offense to Islam are quiet now. . . .

When a "moderate" Muslim's sense of compassion and conscience collides with matters prescribed by Allah, he should choose compassion. Unless that happens much more widely, a moderate Islam will remain wishful thinking.

Via Jonathan Adler at Volokh.

Beeb is in trouble

The BBC is in trouble, political and economic. So what do they do? Make huge cuts in personnel and spending. Problem is that nearly everyone agrees that the reason they are in trouble is the quality of their programs are not where they should be, and of course the cuts are going to doom them. Some are standing up and shouting, is anyone listening?

We have had a series of cuts which will make it impossible to do what we have done up to now if they continue in the way they are continuing... And we are told there is going to be another massive cut over the next five years. The problem is, the BBC is in a whole range of things, it has many television channels, many radio stations, an internet presence and the rest of it. Maybe we are at a time when strategic judgments need to be made. If money has to be spent on the whole digital switchover for example, and building office blocks in Salford and all the rest of it, then maybe instead of cutting everything salami-sliced, then maybe we need to make judgments about the sort of things that we do, and maybe that does involve saying, reluctantly, and I hate to say this because it has been a wonderful institution, maybe we need to say perhaps we should be doing less better.

Via cityofsound.

Publish or Perish

The publishing outfit that produced LaRouche propaganda finally collapsed, and the whole organization probably will follow. Avi Klein has an interesting look back at the remarkably little impact LaRouche has had on american politics, despite the millions spent.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.