Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Politics & Asia

A RECENT BUSINESS trip to Asia has forced me to neglect Just Inside the Beltway for a couple of weeks. But my whirlwind trips to Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Thailand did enable me to catch a glimps of politics, Asian-style. It's nice to know that democracy is good and strong in all parts of the world. Here's a breif synopsis:

In Bangkok the past several weeks have been marked with mass demonstrations demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shiniwatra. Protesters have demanded that he resign before the scheduled elections in early April. What makes these protests interesting is that it appears Thaksin has a good deal of support outside Bangkok. That doesn't seem to matter much, however, to those who live in the capital city. They have vowed to continue protesting until Thaksin resigns. More in the International Herald-Tribune.

Hong Kong...well, they're still plugging along with relative calm. The city is recovering from a slight economics downturn and businesses are once again coming back to the city. In recent years companies have been moving from Hong Kong to other Asian hotspots including Singapore and Taipei -- mainly because those cities are cheaper. I did talk with one British businessman from Hong Kong who said that the emergence of smaller Asian countries into the global marketplace (countries like Vietnam) will help Hong Kong remain the leading city in Asia in terms of business and economics.

Meanwhile, in Taipei the people are trying to understand where they stand in terms of independence and the future of their economy. Taiwan is struggling to change their economy from a manufacturing powerhouse to a world-wide service provider. The results have been mixed, although signs show marked improvement in recent years. Those favoring independence argue that a strong global economy is the best way to free themselves from China -- but that comes at a price, namely a widening gap between the richest and poorest segments of the population. The fear is that the have-not's in the country will ultimately loose faith in the independence movement since the movement has, in many respects, left them far behind.

Ah yes, global politics. Isn't is grand?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

HIgh School Basketall: The Business

IN RECENT WEEKS, both the Washington Post and the New York Times have been writing fascinating (disturbing?) articles about prep schools across the country that seem to be doing little more than churning out Division I college basketball players. As a former high school teacher, I've been following the stories with more than a little bit of interest. They're worth reading, if only because the issue of basketball 'prep schools' is going to be something that NCAA is going to have to take a serious look at in the near future. And it probably won't stop there. If the NCAA is unable to get control of this issue, there is no doubt that legislatures will step in.

Check out the stories in the Post and the Times. These links have links to other stories in the series. The story in the Post about GW's Omar Williams is especially good -- and controversial (you should read the letters to the editor the story generated!)

George Washington guard Omar Williams

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Kill the Gays

HERE'S A FUN story from WTOL-TV in Toledo, OH. Apparently there is a Democratic US Senate candidate who thinks homosexuals should receive the death penalty. Now that's what I call progressive.

TOLEDO -- Merrill Keiser, Jr., is a trucker by trade, and he's hoping his next journey takes him all the way to Washington. His goal is a seat in the US Senate, but first he has to make it through the primary that will determine which Ohio Democrat will be on the November ballot.

The Fremont man is causing some controversy with one of his beliefs. He tells News 11 homosexuality should be a felony, punishable by death. "Just like we have laws against murder, we have laws against stealing, we have laws against taking drugs -- we should have laws against immoral conduct," Keiser says.

Keiser has no political background. He says the only reason he's running as a Democrat is because that's how he was registered the last time he voted.

Keiser will face Democrat Sherrod Brown in the May primary.

I'm putting my money on Sherrod Brown.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Here Come the Attacks

IN MY PREVIOUS post I speculate (partly in jest, I might add) that the GOP Discrediting Team will pounce on Abramoff by early next week in response to a new Abramoff interview in Vanity Fair. Boy was I wrong. It didn't take them that long! Today, a spokesman for Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) said that Abramoff is 'a pathological liar who has no credibility and belongs in jail.'

You can be sure this is the first of many attacks that will come as a result of the interview. I'll try to keep track of them all and keep a running tab.

Abramoff in Vanity Fair

JACK ABRAMOFF HAS been off the front pages for a couple of weeks, but that's likely to change when he gets a chance to tell his story in Vanity Fair. In an issue set for release next week, Abramoff tries to clear up some issues related to the 'doesn't-yet-have-a-cool-name' scandal. One issue he tries to clear up is who he knew and who knew him. The TPM Muckraker has a little preview:

President Bush, who claims not to remember meeting Abramoff - the lobbyist says Bush once joked with him, "What are you benching, big guy?"

RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, who said he didn't really know Abramoff - it turns out he had Sabbath dinner at Abramoff's house, did him political favors, and even offered to pay Abramoff's tab at Signatures, the lobbyist's restaurant.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), who says Abramoff never influenced him - "Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns' committee] we got. Our staffs were as close as they could be. They practically used Signatures as their cafeteria."

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose spokesman says Newt wouldn't have known Abramoff "if he fell across him" - "I have more pictures of [Newt] than I have of my wife."
The official GOP Discrediting Team should be running full throttle by early next week. Stay tuned to Fox News for more...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The DC Baseball Saga is Over...For Now

WELL, AT THIS hour the NFL labor agreement looks to be in severe jeopardy, but there is good news if you're a baseball fan in DC. Major League Baseball today signed a lease for the Nationals use of a $611 million dollar stadium deal. If you've been following the DC Council v. MLB story you know that this means...absolutely nothing. I've written at length about this saga in this space [read more]. We've had deals before, only to be screwed up by the DC City Council.

But despite my skepticism, it looks as if this may be it. Baseball may have a formal, final deal to stay in Washington. I'll believe it when I'm sitting in the new stadium with a hot dog and a coke on Opening Day 2008..or 2009...or...(remember, we have the DC Council)...2010.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Funny Onion

I KNOW I'M a little late on this, but it's worth posting. The Onion has a great story about how some in Washington are worried that the Democrats will take political advantage of some of the recent mis-steps by the Bush administration. Some highlights follow, with a link to the full story.
"We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. "It will take some doing, but we're in this for the long and pointless haul" the full story at The Onion.
"Some rising stars with leadership potential like [Sen. Barack] Obama (D-IL) and [New York State Attorney General Eliot] Spitzer have emerged, but don't worry: We've still got some infight left in us," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said. "Over the last decade, we've found a reliably losing formula, and we're sticking with it."