World Beat

‘They’ Are Not Taking ‘Our’ Jobs

My neighbor two doors down flies a Confederate flag alongside his more conventional stars and stripes. He drives a pickup truck, sports a number of provocative tattoos, and is about as white as Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich. I don’t know if he would vote for either Sarah or Newt, but he’s a pretty conservative guy. Still, he gets along reasonably well with the interracial couple who lives between us. And his son-in-law, an immigrant from El Salvador, just spent the last two weekends replacing our damaged shed with one that looks a whole lot better than anything Home Depot offers.

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Dealing With Iran

It seems to be an open-and-shut case. Nuclear weapons are bad. It’s best for the world if no more countries acquire nuclear weapons. Iran is currently engaged in uranium enrichment that could eventually produce a nuclear weapon. It built a secret facility to advance this program and might now be building another one. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government makes all sorts of threatening statements about Israel, the United States, the West. We should therefore do everything possible to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

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Repackaging Assassination

Greetings from Yemen. It’s been a year since I corresponded directly with you. Perhaps you remember my 2009 memo in which I recommended outsourcing our assassinations – er, sorry, our “targeted killings” – to China. I suggested that China would do a better job of it than Blackwater. I never received a reply from you. I trust that this memo had nothing to do with my transfer from Shanghai to Sana’a. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to be in the thick of things here in Yemen. But I sometimes miss pork dumplings as well as reliable electricity and running water.

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My Weak Muslim President

Except for a few residual Know-Nothings, Americans wouldn’t think twice about voting for a Catholic president. In the last election, President Obama abolished the presidential race taboo. And we’re likely to have a woman president in the next decade or so. Of course, we haven’t elected a Catholic since Kennedy, we might not break the race barrier again for a while, and let’s hope our first woman president isn’t Mama Grizzly herself.

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Can We Talk?

Law became sexy in the mid-1980s. I still find this a bewildering transformation in American society. At the time, I thought that there could be nothing quite so boring as a court case or a legal brief. But then the TV show L.A. Law debuted in 1986, and lawyers never looked so good. The following year, Scott Turow published Presumed Innocent, and several years after that John Grisham brought out his second novel, The Firm. U.S. publishing was never the same.

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When Reality Shows Collide

The big news in the reality TV world is the intersection of Sarah Palin and Kate Gosselin. The Alaska governor is preparing her own show called “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” while Kate Gosselin runs her own pimp-my-children show called “Kate Plus Eight.” Kate has reportedly brought her kids up to Alaska for a big scramble through the woods that will be filmed for all to see in the fall.

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War in Eastasia

July was the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan. In Iraq, while political factions continue a five-month squabble over who will lead the government, insurgent violence is growing. The WikiLeaks info-dump of more than 90,000 documents, in addition to proving to the few who had not yet realized that the United States is in deep doo-doo, have shown that our ally Pakistan is collaborating with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to plan attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.

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Obama: Faking Right?

President Obama, who played on a high school team that claimed a state championship, knows basketball. He famously sank a three-pointer during a 2008 campaign visit to U.S. troops in Kuwait. He continues to play at the White House, where he has installed a basketball court on the South Lawn. And he has imported some of his basketball moves into the policy world. With his stimulus package and health care reform, the president faked right and feinted left before driving down the center of the court for a lay-up. He scored his points, but his critics called foul.

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