10 April 2010

list of stories I do care about

1) Thailand continues its mini-revolution
2) Kyrgyzstan continues its mini-revolution. This is important, among other reasons, because I think I've finally learned how to spell Kyrgyzstan after many trivia games online which it was used for. It does sound a lot like we royally screwed up in backing a bunch of the post-Soviet era rulers (Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan) in our haste to be rid of Soviet-era rulers.
3) The Air Marshal services continues its mini-revolution. Not to pick too much on Miron, since I often agree with his conclusions, but it's hard to say that this service is preventing dozens of attacks, or even one attack a year as Miron demonstrates would be sufficient on a cost-benefit analysis, at the cost of almost a billion dollars a year, especially when the arrests it makes are like this. It is possible that it does justify its cost in the absence of effective, or at least expensive, airport security, but since we spend billions of dollars on that too, it's more often that you get them tackling some diplomat who is wearing robes or a turban in the same way that a Marine can tackle and attempt to detain a Greek Orthodox priest asking for directions because he thought he said "Allahu Akhbar" than they would be actually stopping attacks. We should note that two attempted attacks on airplanes over the last several years were stopped by...other passengers. This doesn't necessarily indicate the uselessness of Air Marshals (since they cannot be on every flight anyway), but it does indicate that it's possible that stopping potential terrorist incidents (or hijackings) can be achieved through other means.

4) New SCOTUS nominee forthcoming. That is interesting not because I care who gets appointed (which I do a little bit, but since I have no influence to stop or find some other more amenable choice to my persuasions...), but because it could be an odd political fight. The GOP has demonstrated a willingness to simply be obstructionist just to be obstructionist. I presume they think this may gain them Congressional votes in November (what will gain them votes is the usual anti-incumbent bias during mid-term elections and especially with a down economy), but I'm not sure what they think it will gain them as far as a Supreme Court nomination. Obama is not considered likely to actually pick someone considered as liberal as Justice Stevens, say, someone like Harold Koh?. And since he's replacing a liberal, he's not going to suddenly appoint the next Scalia or Alito anyway, so why bother fighting over this if Obama selects someone otherwise capable, and not something ridiculous like the Harriet Miers pick that Bush threw out (which, among other things was something so ridiculous that I sometimes forget it happened and then have to wonder how the hell that guy was elected and ever considered capable of making serious and effective decisions)? What gains does that obstruction and fight present either politically or judicially?

5) Polish leadership dies in plane crash. That's sad. They were on the way to a remembrance ceremony for a massacre of Polish officers by Soviet troops during WW2.

6) Word games Question pointed out by a friend which I tried also to block from my brain: why is swine on this list? Even if it was only looked up an average of 8 times per use, that's embarrassing.
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