Monday, August 23, 2010

Bits and Pieces - August 23, 2010

Places to donate to help flood victims in Pakistan.

We can hope that these will be the last words on Park51 and an attack on Iran, but somehow I'm afraid they won't be. Marc Lynch manages to make some points that haven't yet been made, including
The "war bluff" argument -- that we will be most effective at diplomacy if we can credibly threaten force, with Israel playing the "bad cop" to force Iran to deal with the American "good cop" -- only works if there is adequate trust between the U.S. and Israel. This is why the Obama administration has taken to consulting so regularly and at such high levels with Israel, in order to ensure that communication is clear and consistent. Goldberg's suggestion that Israeli officials would nevertheless be prepared to spring such a surprise undermines that trust.

If Israel truly felt such existential urgency, then wouldn't it be willing to make concessions on Gaza or the peace process in order to build international support and sympathy? If Israel hopes to build an international consensus, this has been an odd way to go about it.
Does a higher degree of income inequality cause financial crises? Or is it stupidity on the part of the bankers? Exhibit A:
“Cars go faster every year, and G.D.P. rises every year, but that doesn’t mean speed causes G.D.P.,” said Mr. Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and co-author of the coming book “Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity.”
Silly me; I thought that cars had sort of topped out on speed, since the highest speed limits in the country are maybe 75 mph, and have been for some time. But maybe that's not the case for the cars the bankers are buying. And yeah, I see that this brain trust is a professor. And I guess that my two questions aren't mutually exclusive.

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