Archive for April 2014
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first here’s my take. Foreign policy commands attention when it’s crisis management. A street revolt breaks out in Egypt or Libya or Kiev and everyone asks, how should the president respond?
Now these are important parts of America’s role in the world, but they are essentially reactive and tactical. The broader challenge is to lay down a longer-term strategy that endures after the crisis of the moment. The Obama administration has tried to do this with its Asia’s strategy, and the president’s trip this week is a part of that, but progress has been halting and incomplete.
So for all its problems, the real threat to a serious Asia strategy comes not from the administration but from Congress and maybe the American public. In fact, the difficulties in the execution of the Asian pivot raised the broader question — can America have a grand strategy today?
Obama’s basic approach is wise and in many ways a continuation of U.S. foreign policy since Bill Clinton’s presidency, including George W. Bush. On the diplomatic front, it has two elements — deterrence and engagement. All countries in Asia as well as the United States seek stronger and deeper economic ties with China and want to ensure that that country does not become an expansionist regional bully.
Now getting the balance between those two elements — engagement and deterrence — is hard to do and easy to criticize. There is, however, a broader aspect to Asia policy, one that is constructive. At the center of this is the Transpacific Partnership. It would not only be the largest trade deal in decades if it happened involving most of Asia’s large economies and perhaps eventually even including China but it would strongly reinforce America style rules about free and open trade worldwide.
Yet the president has not been able to get the fast track authority that makes it possible to negotiate such a trade deal. The Democratic Party, once the greatest champion of free trade, has long turned its back on it. A sad shift in a once open and optimistic party. And in recent years, Republican support for trade has also gotten much weaker.
America’s military strategy in Asia requires significant budgets, and these are under pressure from both sides of the aisle. Public support for any kind of ambitious, generous foreign policy is pretty low these days.
Now the most worrying obstacle to a serious American strategy might seem at first to be a highly technical issue. The administration has proposed reform of the International Monetary Fund which congressional Republicans are blocking. But reforming the agency is crucial to America’s future global vote.
Let me explain. The IMF governing board has long been dominated by the United States and Europe. As Asian countries have become a large part of the global economic pie, the Obama administration has proposed enlarging their votes on the board. Now this mostly would take power away from Europe, not the United States. And yet congressional Republicans have held up this plan for three years, and they show no signs of being ready to pass it.
This issue has united Asian countries from China to Indonesia to Singapore who see it a sign that the West will never let them share real power in these institutions. And you know what? They have a point. After World War II, the United States confronted Soviet communism but it also built a stable world order by creating many institutions that set global rules and norms, and shared power from the U.N. itself to the IMF and the World Bank.
The urgent task is to expand these institutions to include the rising powers of Asia. If Washington does not do this, it will strengthen those voices in Asia, especially in China, who say that their countries should not try to integrate into a Western framework of international rules because they will always be second class citizens, and they should, instead, buy their time and create their own institutions, played by their own rules and do their own thing.
And at that point, we will all deeply regret that we did not let these countries into the club when we had a chance.
CNN.com – Transcripts
The mass killing of Jews in the Holocaust was “the most heinous crime” against humanity in the modern era, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Sunday in his strongest remarks yet on the Nazi genocide.
The statement comes at a sensitive time for US-led peace efforts, with Israel having suspended faltering talks last week after Abbas reached an agreement with the Islamist Hamas movement to form a unity government.
In a statement in English and Arabic released just hours before Israel began marking Holocaust remembrance day, the Palestinian leader expressed sympathy with families of the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazi regime.
“What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era,” Abbas said.
He also expressed his “sympathy with the families of the victims and many other innocent people who were killed by the Nazis”.
His remarks, made in response to a question during talks last week with an American rabbi promoting Jewish-Muslim understanding, came as Israel and the Palestinians traded blame over the collapse of the peace talks.
“On the incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust Day, we call on the Israeli government to seize the current opportunity to conclude a just and comprehensive peace in the region, based on the two states vision, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Abbas said.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas says Holocaust ‘most heinous crime’ of modern era
Bill Maher and his Real Time panel ripped Democrats again on Friday for not setting themselves apart from Republicans when it comes to gun safety laws, pointing out that even Fort Hood shooter Ivan Lopez questioned how easy it was for a person with mental health issues to have access to firearms months before attacking the base.
“Our gun laws are so crazy, even crazy people know that they’re crazy,” Maher said.
Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon agreed, mentioning the bipartisan gun bill that could not make it into law despite overwhelming public support following the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
“They were trying to close a loophole reflecting mental health,” Avlon said. “It is so nuts that we aren’t able to get through a law with 90 percent support? That shows how paralyzed we are.”
Maher and Avlon also mocked Georgia Democrats for not standing up against the Republican-backed “guns everywhere” bill making it easier to carry guns into churches, public facilities and bars.
“Common sense left the building a long time ago when we talk about guns in this country, the Georgia law being the most obvious,” Avlon told Maher. “Guns in bars? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?”
Bill Maher: ‘Our gun laws are so crazy, even crazy people know that they’re crazy’
I had a great time seeing some of the music I wanted to see last night. It always takes a bit of time to come down from doing the radio show on Thursday nights, so getting up extra early on Friday was a challenge. I worked 8:30-5, got home and ate some dinner. A bit after 7 I headed out and walked over to Higher Ground. The ticket line went fast and soon I was in the small room with a couple of dozen others. It wasn’t long until The Sideshow Tragedy hit the stage. Despite being a duo, they filled the room with energy from the first note. Guitarist and singer Nathan Singleton had a wild look in his eye, and played some wicked, dirty, bluesy slide guitar. He’s a master showman who hits a stinging note in one moment and is using his hands to articulate the lyrics in the seamless next moment. Drummer Jeremy Harrell was cool and composed and could change the song tempo on a dime. They said they had just recorded a new album in NY and played a mix of new songs, and songs from their excellent album Persona. Every song got louder and louder cheers, as the audience filled in and was remarkably impressed. Singleton broke the barrier on the last song when he hopped off the stage and prowled the front of the audience. The band put on such a stunning show that I can barely describe it!
When they wrapped up, I realized the room was almost full. I found a little space to stand in and waited for the next band. I was pretty tired, and not up for the usual mosh pit, so I hung back a bit.
Soon enough, ROUGH FRANCIS hit the stage. In the back, the volume was down a little and the guitars were mixed down a bit so the effect was not as strong as usual. They played a few songs and it was good, but not over the top. When I realized people were more rocking out than moshing, I move towards the front. Being closer to the speakers helped, and the sound started coming along. They tossed in a cover of an Iggy Pop song and everything just came together. The band were locked into the fast song, the audience was getting more into it, and half way in, Paul jumped into the crowd and played guitar while moshing with a couple of people at the front of the stage. He hopped back onto the stage, but the four of five moshers did not stop until the show was done. The band cranked it up and played killer versions of Righteous and Black and Red, and it was just perfect. The packed room was having a great time, and the band were at the top of their game. When it was time, they started Comm To Space so slowly, that I knew it was going to end up as one of the epic versions. It built and built, then slammed into the end section that sounds like it’s going to wrap up, until that final note springboards back into the song, and we all get to rock hard for a bit more. It was a fun and glorious show.
I was dead on my feet, but really wanted to hang out for Waylon Speed. They did a pretty quick changeover and hit the stage with some country fueled rock and roll. They followed with Silver And Gold which had a nice epic build, that I would have loved if every fiber in my being did not want to crash. I made it about 4 songs then took the long walk home. I owe it to myself to go see them for real sometime soon. My limitations aside, it was a great night of music.
I had a great time seeing music last Friday at The Monkey House. I got out of work at 7 and the show was set to start at 8:30. I walked in about 8:25 and Phil Yates and the Affiliates were on stage getting set. They started almost exactly on time and played a great mix of the Oh So Sour album and new songs. Their quirky pop was a bit challenging at times but some parts just let loose and rocked. I had ecstatically kept up with the twists and turns and intricate rhythms. The bar was packed and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Late in the set they played an extra rocking version of Might As Well Settle that really lit up the room.
After they finished up there was a long changeover wait until Persian Claws hit the stage. Their super cool sixties spy music mixed with 2014 indie rock went over very well. La Dee danced and sang her heart out and drew the audience in. The bass, drums and keys kept a gorgeous and powerful flow of music going. Bill Mullins jr’s guitar playing was icy cold and stinging at the same time. Their songs are short and sweet and they kept us rocking hard for a half hour or so. They wrapped the set with Flypaper then I Hate Being In Love, and that was that.
I did not know much about headliner Holly Golightly but hung out to listen to their sound. She played acoustic and sang and a guy played guitar and used his feet on a drum. Their songs were stark and acoustic. The lyrics were dark and kind of subversive, so that was fun. Unfortunately, after two killer rock bands, to bring the music intensity so far down, left me a bit anxious. I wanted to keep rocking, and it was not to be. I finished my drink and slipped out the door, for the long walk home. I’m glad I checked out the headliner, but in the end, the two wonderful openers made the night for me.
Political figures who rallied to defend Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy must have known they were taking a risk. Indeed, much of the Republican establishment chose to do the exact opposite precisely because they were afraid to gamble on a man who doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the United States government.
But some prominent GOP officials rolled the dice anyway. Fox News and Glenn Beck celebrated the rancher as a hero, while U.S. senators like Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) cheered Bundy on, calling him a “patriot,” even as he declared an ability to ignore laws and court orders he doesn’t like.
It’s become increasingly difficult to maintain this posture. For one thing, anyone relying on the threat of violence to act above the law hasn’t earned the backing of anyone in the American mainstream. For another, some of the basic elements of Bundy’s claims now appear to be false.
Making matters considerably worse, the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney reports that Bundy spoke with supporters over the weekend about his views on a variety of societal issues.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids – and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch – they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Bundy: ‘I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro…’
I just got back from my local music radio show on internet only WBKM.ORG. It started rocking, went a little bluesy, rocked really hard, and fast, then caught a groove for a bit.
Song before: Outer Space – Ace Frehley
From our small city to the great big world, these are the Sounds Of Burlington. It’s that in between time when the new flowers and music are not quite out. They will be soon, but while we wait, let’s got back a bit to Psych For Sore Eyes. This is 6:00am by THE VACANT LOTS on WBKM, and this is Burlington’s Kind Of Music.
1.) 6:00am – The Vacant Lots
2.) Don’t Cough Me Out – Slowdim
3.) The Other Room – Elephants of Scotland
Another great song from Elephants and their new album Execute and Breathe. My friend Meghan Chiampa posted the Slowdim song today and I really liked it. I bought it and wanted to play it. Cool song from the Lots. They have a new album coming soon. That was from the last EP. Tomorrow I’m going to see these three bands at Higher Ground
4.) The Bet – The Sideshow Tragedy
5.) Self Divide – Waylon Speed
6.) Ruffians – ROUGH FRANCIS
Great guitar work by Sideshow. It’s going to be a great show tomorrow. Now it’s time for the next song on Dancing With The Big Guy.
7.) Kentucky Gunman Tells Co-worker – Ninja Custodian
8.) Shut Up – Gorgon
9.) Planning My Funeral – Poxy
Poxy broke up but are reuniting to play a women’s punk rock show in August. Gorgon will be there too. They just came back from a tour. OK, sometimes we like short hard rock songs. Sometimes we like bands to stretch out a little.
10.) Dannemora->Playing Patterns->Mold pt. 2 – Seth Yacovone Band
Man that guy can play guitar! I hope you enjoyed checking out the music of our town. Let’s do it again next week, shall we?
Song after: Raingods Dancing – Fish