December 02, 2009
When did Canada start acting like Saudi Arabia when it comes to climate change? As George Monbiot notes in the Guardian this week, the normally good-natured country now has the dubious distinction of being the only country to ratify Kyoto and then formally renege on its commitments. Not only that, but Canada's increasingly trying to obstruct the Copenhagen climate talks. So what's behind this shift? Probably the country's vast tar sands reserves, which have attracted increasing interest since around 2006: Refining tar sands requires two to three times as much energy as refining crude oil.
Losing the Democracies: Obama's Heart is With the Hooligans
November 24, 2009
At least, that's what many of our old and deeply democratic friends seem to feel. Now, it's hard to accept that the president of the United States would actually make that choice. He probably feels--but how do I really know? I actually don't--that the hooligans and especially the hooligans who produce our oil and the hooligans who buy our products are the folk we need court more than our historic allies. After all, what else can they do but stick with us? Tough darts! Obama's initiatives up to now--with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China--have been failures.
What'll It Take For Electric Cars To Catch On?
November 16, 2009
Via Elana Schor, a group of automakers, utilities, and shipping companies have banded together to form the Electrification Coalition, which will lobby for a massive federal push toward electric vehicles in the coming months. The coalition's extensive "roadmap" argues that plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles could make up a whopping 75 percent of all vehicle-miles traveled in the United States by 2040.
The Fork in J Street
October 31, 2009
The self-declared mission of J Street, the dovish "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" lobby that just concluded its first national conference this week, includes redefining the meaning of the term "pro-Israel." For too long, the organization's founders and supporters argue, right-wing elements in the Jewish community have abused the term to hijack the debate and tarnish mainstream, sensible advocates of a two-state solution. J Street's "pro-Israel" bona fides were questioned almost immediately after its launch, and with good reason.
A Semi-Defense of Bush's Buckraking
October 21, 2009
TPM and others are having a lot of fun over the fact that George W. Bush is heading out on the motivational speaking circuit.
The Susan in question is Susan Rice. And, according to a New York Times article by Neil MacFarquhar, it's Stewart Patrick who gives her the good grades. Rice is U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. So who is Patrick? He is one of those hundreds of I.R. wonks in Washington who moves from fellowship to fellowship, eating up foundation money, and ends up being an expert in what actually amounts to nothing or maybe, just maybe, the same thing: "multilateral cooperation in the management of global issues; U.S.
The Saudis Expect Us to Pay for Oil We Don't Buy
October 14, 2009
Yes, you read it right. Here is the essence: If the Saudis (and other OPEC producers) export fewer hydrocarbons, the buyers should still pay as if they were purchasing the old amount. They should pay what the Saudis could charge when the market was tight and the demand high, and the arrangements should not made in the Arab bazaar, but by treaty. It's a nice world that Riyadh lives in. Perhaps this is King Abdullah's gracious response to President Obama's servile bow. "Less global warming would be good, right?" ask Jad Mouawad and Andrew C. Revkin in a report in Tuesday's Times.
U.S., Egypt Co-Sponsor a Resolution on Freedom of Opinion and Expression. What the Hell is Going on? Only the A.P. Reported This: I Wonder Why.
October 05, 2009
This was the maiden sally of the United States at the U.N. Human Rights Council, a resolution under the rubric of "promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development." Phew! The measure was introduced by the U.S. and by Egypt, which, of course, has a long and sterling record as an insurer and defender of civilized liberties.
A Bit of Comic Relief From Official Saudi Television: An Important Sheikh Describes the Virgins of Paradise. And How Does He Know?
October 05, 2009
Special Dispatch | No.
The End of the Beginning
September 28, 2009
With apologies to Winston Churchill, President Obama may not have presided over the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last week in New York, but he seems finally to have marked the end of an embarrassing beginning to his Middle East diplomacy. The president and his senior advisors came to office nine months ago eager to say and do what George W. Bush didn’t.