Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Search and Destroy

I'm always entertained to see who finds my blog through search engines. The latest: Global Review is result #7 on Google when searching review of global ladies. We work hard to bring you reviews of ladies all over the world!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two and A Half Cheers

For Barack Obama for denouncing Jeremiah Wright. He'd get three if he had done this the first time he had the chance!

A Winning Strategy, Redux

In November, before a single vote was matriculated, Global Review responded to a desperate letter from an undisclosed candidate for the presidency.
Dear Chops,

I have kissed babies and hugged grandfathers. I have lied glowingly about my love for ethanol. I have conducted push polls, opposed free-trade agreements with key allies, and pandered to the far *****. I have spent $50 per caucus-goer in Iowa. Yet I'm still mired in *th place in the polls. What do I need to do to really pull away from the pack?
As you may recall, Global Review recommended the ground-breaking step of picking a Vice President early - even before the primaries started. For the two candidates still competing, this remains good advice.
A well-balanced ticket is now far more valuable in primaries than in the general election. Vice Presidents have lost much of their cachet as "ticket balancers" in recent general elections, as polarity and national party machines overwhelm regional loyalty. It's possible that a selection from Ohio or Florida could swing a close election your way - but close elections are the exception, not the rule. Besides, the way you're going, you won't get the chance to run in the general election. But in the primaries, name-recognition is low and voters get to vote their hearts. Your VP selection will allow voters to swallow objections to your support for *****. It will also help them take your "change of heart" on ***** seriously. And if they're worried about your lack of ***** experience, a good VP has you covered.

Choosing a VP at this stage also signals electability and leadership. It's like an endorsement, but with real commitment. There's an old saw that in a ham-and-egg breakfast, the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed. An endorser is involved, but a VP is committed. Voters who respect the VP will take his or her commitment as a strong signal that you are electable. Picking a VP - provided the choice is not silly - also shows that you are thinking about January 2009 as well as January 2008. While your opponents are trying to distill their policy proposals into soundbites, you can decisively make one of the most important and digestible judgments of your presidency and submit it to the voters.
Clinton and Obama are completely stuck in their relative demographics, says David Brooks. Obama outspent Clinton 3-to-1 in Pennsylvania, but barely budged the polls. How can he edge her in the crucial contests of Indiana and North Carolina? By picking a running mate: an older, whiter, more experienced party dean (not Howard) who can assuage rural Democrats misgivings about the pretty boy from the big city. Politico suggests Bob Casey, but possibilities abound.

Clinton could do the same, though perhaps her choice is less obvious. Picking a black running mate might be most effective - but it would appear craven at this stage, and few high-profile blacks will line up behind her. Bill Richardson is her obvious choice, but he has little cachet in the remaining states. Clinton loyalist Evan Bayh is oft-mentioned, but naming him before Indiana votes would be crass, and naming him afterward would be ineffective.

Neither candidate has complete rein to pick the party's VP nominee - but if the selection proves effective in the primaries, the party convention is unlikely to veto the choice. As I wrote in November, an early VP selection actually augments the electoral process: voters are making a more-informed choice.
The new system - which everyone will adopt in 2012 after you win this nomination - promotes positive aspects of democracy, like compromise and balance, instead of the polarity of the old solo-primary system.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What Can We Do?

A bit more reading reveals the scope of the growing crisis. Aid agencies are able to purchase less food, which sends more of the poor to markets in near-famine areas, which push up prices and reduce supplies.

On short notice, what can we (Americans, mostly) do? North America is the world's breadbasket - we export 105 million tons per year on net, about 40% of all world trade in grain. If we go on a diet, will that ease supplies noticeably? Cutting out meat (which uses much more grain than grain does) might be a way to go. What about switching to cheaper local foods for the summer, cutting out the fuel costs of transport?

Alternately, is it much more cost-effective to give directly to aid agencies? Or should the entire crisis be allowed to work itself out - maybe the run on grain is just that, and when the harvest comes in prices will drop back to 2007 levels. After all, famine is a danger in many countries right now; the threat has yet to materialize.

I'm interested to read any ideas you may have or resources you may be aware of!

Asymmetric Globalization

This gut-wrenching look at Mauritanians on the brink of famine highlights the results of asymmetric globalization. Like many poor countries, Mauritania bought into globalization, with good results: manufactured goods are now much cheaper than they would be under protection.

But not everyone is playing fair. Argentina, Russia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and other middle-income countries have begun hoarding food, slapping high export duties on grain to the detriment of their own farmers and international consumers. For most of the world, this is a nuisance or a hardship, like the high price of oil. But for those at the margin of survival, the isolated increase in a good they must purchase on international markets forces them back to autarky: the bad old days of unfree trade.

Globalization works: Mauritanians can still buy food internationally. If they subsisted on their own production, they would have faced famine long ago. But in a world where all of us profit from global trade, magnanimity should be shown to those who have too little to offer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dispatches from the Stone Age

I have returned. It was a close call, but the lion did not eat me and the motorcycle drivers did not kill me. Nor did I drown in the Nile, contract a life-threatening illness, or perish in post-election violence.

Now that I'm back in the comforts of western civilization, I have time to read my email, such as this from the neighborhood watch:
This afternoon the dog from [omitted] was again running free... An elderly tenant of mine was apparently attacked, but not bitten, or if she was, the bite alone was not serious; however, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and may have suffered a heart attack. She was vomiting and did not look well when I arrived to see her being loaded into the ambulance.

Other neighbors were outside with clubs and a bow and arrow to ward off the dog.
Maybe when Rochester advances beyond the Stone Age we will domesticate dogs and use metal to create weapons.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In Case You Wondered...

I am in Nairobi. But don't look for me here - I'm heading to Kigali via Kampala tonight, and then back to Jinja and Busia and London over the next week or two. Be back on the grid around the 23rd or so.