Obama speaks Bahasa Indonesia

“You can hear several brief passages of Obama in Bahasa in the first minute of the clip below, and the Ich bin… sentence that brought the house down begins at around 2:00. For expert analysis of how Obama handles the language, see Ben Zimmer at Language Log, here. To my ear, after the two years my family spent living in Malaysia with its very similar language, it sounds as if he can handle the distinctive Indonesian “R” sound way better than most foreigners, for example me. (You can hear this with some names in the first 20 seconds, and when he gives his step father’s name at about 2:30.) Also, even in his pronunciation of the name “Indonesia” in the first few seconds, you hear local-version vowels rather than normal American pronunciation.”


Political Capital

Daring Fireball points out:


Saudi Arabia Friday rebuffed President Bush’s request to immediately pump more oil to lower record prices, saying it does not see enough demand to increase production.

Eight years ago:

Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude.

“I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.”

The Queen is Dead: Bhutto and dynastic politics

Moni Mohsin for Prospect Magazine:

Despite all the acquired veneer of western education, whether it is the Bhuttos or the Gandhis, as long as there is an adequate supply of willing family members, south Asian politics remains dynastic; family brands once established (through the ballot box and personal tragedy) transcend regional concerns to bind complex polities. This “demand for dynasty” transcends social divides. While Pakistanis living abroad find it jarring that democracy can be dictated by inheritance and bequeathed from the grave, this is readily accepted by local labourers and intelligentsia alike, who are grateful for any short-term fix to immediate danger.

The full piece is actually a bit more of a sympathetic portrait of Bhutto than this quote would let on.