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The Massachusetts mess January 18, 2010

Posted by Sverre in : Uncategorized, United States , add a comment

The Democrats may lose their supermajority in the Senate. A serious problem for health reform. Several bloggers have opinions on what this may signal that way or the other, particularly since this is a traditionally Democratic seat. Dan Drezner has an interesting take on the real reason why the race has suddenly gotten interesting: Both candidates are apallingly bad.

I quote:

[…]the candidates are God awful.  Seriously, they stink.  Just to review our choices:  Democrat Martha Coakley has a prosecutor’s complex that would make Javert seeem like a bleeding-heart liberal.  She is a God-awful politician so out of touch with  reality that she accused Red Sox hero extraordinaire Curt Schilling of being a Yankee fan (Schilling’s blog response is here).  Based on the ads I’ve seen, her campaign has also been, by far, the nastier of the two.

This leaves Republican Scott Brown, who based on this vacuous Boston Globe op-ed, is an empty shirt with no actual policy content whatsoever.  He was in favor of health care reform before he was against it.  He can’t stand the run-up in government debt, and wants to cut taxes across the board to take care of the problem — cause that makes perfect economic sense.   The one thing he is unequivocally for is waterboarding suspected terrorists.

It would be true political irony if all Obama’s blood sweat and tears over health reform should go to waste because of a mess like this. But that’s politics for you. Part of the reason why it’s so interesting…

Obama’s international relations theory December 12, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : International relations, United States, World politics , add a comment

Dan Drezner’s blog at Foreign Policy has a nice blog post about the international relations theory of Obama’s Nobel speech. As a treasure trove for IR lecturers, he claims to have seen clear traces of both Realism, Neoliberal institutionalism, Social construcivism, Democratic peace theory, Feminist IR theory and Human security theory. Personally, I can spot a few of those, but my knowledge of IR theory isn’t quite sufficient to cover them all.

But what is the moral of the story of Obama’s theory mixing? Logical inconsistency? No, that the real world is significantly more complex than what either of those theories portrays it as, and that any government drawing on just one way of analyzing the world has a much smaller toolbox to choose from when trying to understand what’s going on and what to do about it.

Just having an American president that has relaxed the hardcore neo-Conservative thinking of the White House seems to me to be important enough for world peace to justify a Nobel Peace Prize all on its own, regardless of the greatness of his future achievements.

On Fox and Obama October 15, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : United States , add a comment

The Daily beast brings a very interesting editorial piece about the struggle between Obama’s administration and Fox News. John Bathcelor points out that Fox isn’t primarily a news network, it’s an entertainment network that makes money from advertising. And they’re doing that very well right now:

None of what goes on in the evening has anything to do with government. The president and the Congress are discussed as omnipresent villains in a fairytale that begins with a happy kingdom of worthies, introduces an ogre, a witch, and a curse, and then interviews champions to come forward to rescue the frightened children and save the USA. All the while, Ming the Merciless, aka Rupert Murdoch, rakes up the ratings and the bucks.

The worst mistake Axelrod and Emanuel are making by confusing Fox News with the Republican Party is that they are confusing campaigning with entertaining and then letting this mistake blind them to the fact that the White House is for governing, not just staging.

Fox News is not in the news business; it’s in show business. The Republican Party, like its blood kin the Democratic Party, is in the campaign business. The White House is in the government business, though, from the evidence so far, it doesn’t know how to break out of the campaign business.

It all sounds rather logical to me. I’ve never been thought “taking on the media” was a particularly good idea. The winner in this struggle is surely Rupert Murdoch, who gets richer by the hour.

Nobel Peace Prize to Obama October 9, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : International relations, United States, World politics , add a comment

nobelprize

Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama is certainly an unexpected and interesting choice by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. On the one hand, awarding it to a person with a nine month history of involvement on the scene of international diplomacy may seem odd. On the other hand, awarding the prize based on work towards international diplomacy and multilateralism must be considered a return to the original intent expressed by Alfred Nobel in his will.

Some critics claim that awarding it to the man that advocated stepping up the military effort in Afghanistan is outrageous. Awarding the prize to someone who has shown himself willing to use military force is however nothing new. Theodore Roosevelt (1917), Henry Kissinger (1973) and Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) are examples of statesmen who aren’t remembered as always being soft when it came to the application of power. (more…)

How does Obama spend his time? September 30, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Methods in political science, United States , 1 comment so far

POTUS_trackerJust came across POTUS Tracker, an interesting little tool from The Washington Post that lets you track what Obama emphasizes by how he spends his time in meetings. Apparently foreign policy and the economy are what he spends most of his time on, with health care only clocking in at place no. 5.

(Hat tip to Pravda for finding this).