The economics and politics of instability, empire, and energy, with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean, plus other random blather and my wonderful wonderful wife. And I’d like a cigar right now.
It was not super respectful, but it was not out of bounds. And believe you me, gentle readers, I am hypersensitive about that sort of thing. I get angry at the use of “this” instead of “the” to refer to the President. I was no fan of President George Bush the Younger, in fact I was the opposite of a fan, and I didn’t even like to call him “Bush” instead of “President Bush” or “George Bush” because that did not show the proper respect. You gotta respect the President, man, even if you wish he would leave office yesterday. I think Governor Jan Brewer owes the current President an apology, a grovelling apology, as does Bill O’Reilly. (You ... do ... not ... interrupt ... the President!) The Congressman who yelled during the State of the Union should be made to beg forgiveness. And oh Sweet Mary has President Obama had to put up with stuff that no person should have to put up with, let alone the President of the United States. I take this stuff serious, old pre-hipster Brooklyn serious. And my wife more so.
So when we say that Clint was fine, then Clint was fine. Leave the man alone!
Anyway, if you were wondering how it played in Farsi, go here.
I am not sure what to make of watching Russia Today in a Miami hotel room as it questions global warming, makes fun of George Bush the Younger, and conducts an in-depth investigation into honor killings in Iraqi Kurdistan. Followed by someone with a British accent comparing NATO to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and calling for its dissolution and a story about Chinese knockoffs of Russian military hardware. “This plane is simply a Russian design stuffed with Chinese electronics! It’s a knock-off!”
Plus a story about a controversy over an Islamic charter school that the R.T. producers decided to call, and I am not kidding, “Intifada: NYC.” Gosh, my home town suffered an uprising and I only hear about it now?
The really surreal thing is the accents. A few of them are really quite good, practically native-born American; most have a faint faint barely-audible touch of Russian. Since the broadcast seems directed at a domestic audience (I would hope) that fact almost makes me feel Russian myself!
Why does the dude dubbing the voice of the Ingushetian president have a clear Scottish accent? I like to imagine that’s what an Ingushetian accent sounds like to a Russian from Moscow. Sadly, I am probably wrong.
Jussi, have you seen this thing? Who is it aimed at?
Anyway, I’ll try to catch up on posting. I just went from L.A. to N.Y. to Tulsa to Burlington to Miami and I’m off to Atlanta tomorrow. (I also managed to briefly get to Northern Mexico. Worrisome.) I have lots of stuff to report ... although recent criticism from the honorable profesora has made me much more perfectionist.
Crazy busy these days. Will try to post more, promise!
In the meantime, two things. First, I watched the first episode of Flashforward on ABC yesterday. Not bad! Despite being a little overly “cinematic,” my wife liked it too. To her surprise. The best thing? They had “Quiet Dog” by Mos Def playing when everyone blacked out. Awesome.
Second, this is old, but kinda cool. I think. Libby Dole and Lebed as the presidents? Huh.
More like 1989, actually. Or even 1984. I’m putting the final touches on two cases (one on Pemex, one on the Iraqi oil industry) with a little blue pen on paper printouts, drinking Busch Light from a can, and switching between MTV Hits (you know, which still plays videos) and the Pittsburgh-Chicago game. Break was eating my wife’s wonderful noodles. After a week where sleep really has been optional, this is the way to work.
One way in which digital technology is inferior to the old is in channel switching. Analog cable televisions would go bam! instantaneously from one channel to another, especially if you had one of those multiswitch remotes that plugged into the set. These new ones take a few annoying seconds to make the change. Strangely, I find myself disappointed to know that said new inconvenience will not be a permanent part of the future’s video experience.
Anyway, I had to turn on the internet and ruin it all. Thus, this post. More on the Canadian oil industry forthwith, but I need to finish these two cases. Sometimes deadlines are hard, even in academia.
Whatcha y’all doin’ on this not-so-lazy Sunday, gentle readers?
Hmm. I am somewhat ashamed to live in a country where the below is not a firing offense at a major television news network. No matter how dumb the show may be. I mean, in a decent country shouldn’t displays like the one below cost you so many viewers that the network simply has to let you go? For the bottom line, of course. (Hat tip: Salon.)
Apparently not in America. That said, my wife doesn’t think Brian Kilmeade is being serious. “He looks like he’s African, Italian, Moroccan, totally mixed up,” she says. “Clearly a joke.”
I am told that it can be difficult to get the Daily Show in Canada. So, under the assumption that you might not regularly tune it in on the internets, I present to my Canadian friends the following very insightful group of talking heads:
Translation: “I believe that the Tren Bala is a bigger rip-off than the Springfield monorail!”
Yes, that Springfield. The Simpsons are, I think, a bigger cultural phenomenon in Argentina and Mexico than they are at home. I have no idea what that means, but it has gotta mean something. Right?
It really is an odd project for a country in as much trouble as Argentina. Private groups estimate that CPI inflation has just hit 23%. Farmers are on strike over export taxes again. And strangest of all (since the currency is officially floating) Argentines are running out and trading in their pesos for dollars. The situation got so bad last week that the banks had a mini-crisis when a volcanic explosion delayed flights carrying planeloads of Benjamins from Chile.
It looks like average Argentines are looking at the inflation rate and figuring that the 3.2-to-one exchange rate can't last, even with the dollar's meltdown against the euro. The central bank --- which hasn't really been independent since 2002 --- has burned through a billion dollars propping up the peso this month. Now, that shouldn't be a big deal for a country with US$50 billion in reserves and skyrocketing export prices ... but a country with $50 billion in reserves and skyrocketing export prices should be facing the question of what to do about upward pressure on the currency, not figuring out how and when to devalue. Which isn’t to say that a fall in the peso isn’t what Argentina needs, given spiralling inflation ... it is to say that it’s pretty sad for the country to be in this situation so soon after Kirchner’s debt repudiation gave it so much breathing space.
An Argentine editorial cartoon with a slightly different take below the fold.
The paranoid style in American politics is always present, but it waxes and wanes. We're currently in a waning period, but it certainly hasn't waned as much as it has in the past.
Here is a 1984 ad from the Reagan-Bush campaign. It's about the Soviet threat, and aims to convince voters that the Reagan Administration has the correct approach.
To a modern viewer, this half-century old ad appears moderate, reasonable, and as intelligent as one would expect for a 30-second piece. It bases its argument on prudence against a potential threat, and clearly states what the admakers believe an adequate insurance policy to be. Contrast with this from the 2004 campaign:
A lie, an information-free bit of "contextual" information (six billion dollars!), an aversion, and a mention of an unspecified wolf-like program related activity that will presumably eat your children. It's quite horrible, and it's quite horrifying that the Bush-Cheney campaign believed such ads would be effective.
How the Clinton ad stacks up, then, depends on your point of comparison. As paranoid ads go, it's awful pandering compared to the artful 1984 ad that plays upon concrete fears with real prudence. But compared to the 2004 slanderous cesspool of a piece, it's quite mild. On the other hand, the Obama campaign's response manages to mock the whole paranoid trope while going to a whole new level of concrete in a 30-second spot. Go below and see for yourself.