I’ll see your “change we can believe in” and raise you some COIN

There is a scourge upon the earth known as Joseph Kony.

Since the late 1980s, he has led the quite blasphemously named Lord’s Resistance Army in a brutal insurgency nominally targeting the Ugandan government. I like blasphemy as much as the next person but next to Kony my jokes about gay angels and their role-playing fetishes sound like Sunday morning hymns.

For decades, Kony and the LRA have terrorized northern Uganda and environs by laying waste to towns, killing and maiming civilians, abducting and arming children, and generally recreating the goriest parts of the Old Testament.

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Water, Water, Everywhere, Even on Megan Fox

Are you one of my intellectual readers? One of those people who wonders why they keep coming back to a blog that talks about Lady Gaga more than USAID?

If so, I implore you to hit the back button. Pretend this post never happened. It’s okay because you already know everything I’m going to talk about. You know that over a billion people go without clean water. You know how essential water is to human life. You know that as water becomes scarcer, the idea of an international water war becomes likelier. Come back in a few days, I’ll have something new, astute, and worthy of our shared intelligence.

The rest of you—we need to talk.

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In Which I Ask Lady Gaga for $1.15 Billion

You know what really grinds my gears? No, not people quoting sophomoric cartoons they watch on a daily basis like they’re a 14 year-old boy.

Senator Tom Coburn really grinds my gears. And not in any good or dirty way you might want to take that.

He really pisses me off.

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Your Ashley Judd Post

I didn’t forget. Before heading out to last week’s Clinton Global Fun Week—I mean, Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting—I promised you something about Ashley Judd. So let’s get this over with before I launch into something (or two things) about Haiti and Wyclef, and Sean, and Misha, and….

But I promised you something about how wrong Ashley Judd would be. I promised you that because she’s a celebrity and an activist and so absolutely destined to be wrong. Celebrities are wrong and I am right. It’s the way the world works.

Turns out Ashley and I were both wrong.

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The Invisible Hand Axe

At this week’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, in every keynote speech, panel discussion, breakout session, and line in the ladies’ room a phrase that was uttered over and over again was “public-private partnerships.”

Given the nature of the panels and their varied makeup, it makes sense. During a panel on rebuilding Haiti that includes representatives of Haitian NGOs, the Prime Minister of Haiti Jean-Max Bellerive, and the head of Royal Caribbean cruise lines, the topic of private investment in Haiti’s future is going to arise. Bellerive, in fact, made the point that aid dollars alone will not rebuild Haiti. The Royal Caribbean guy, not surprisingly, agreed and said more resort hotels can help. Fact. Overall, Bellerive’s point was that the private sector must be involved if Haiti’s economy is to recover and eventually grow. (More coverage on Haiti forthcoming, naturally. Even a Wyclef Jean sighting to go with it!)

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This Week in New York

This week, along with many of the bloggers to whom I look for inspiration (i.e., they have ideas I like to steal), I’ll be in New York covering the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and various events around the United Nations General Assembly and the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. I am, to say the least, very excited to have this opportunity.

To my dear readers, I hope you’ll forgive me for what I presume will be a spastic week of blogging ahead. Short ones, long ones, inane ones, well-reasoned ones—anything is possible. You may have come to expect long, drawn-out treatises on Why I’m Right And You’re Wrong, but this coming week may only entail a barrage of quick, insightful posts on Why Ashley Judd Is Wrong. (Is she A-list? I hope not. I don’t know that I’ve graduated all the way to A-list celebrities yet.)

Fair warning, though: if any panelist at any time uses the phrase “rape cellphone” or “rape laptop” to describe the mineral trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (it’s happened before,) I plan on leaving the conference immediately and heading to the nearest bar. The entries posted after such a hypothetical incident would, of course, be most entertainingly bleak and ranty just so some good could come out of a terrible, terrible situation. In fact, you may want to follow me on Twitter just in case it all goes to hell.

If there are international development or advocacy issues you think are due for targeting by the particular brand of ire and and condescension I bring to the table, please let me know. Issue areas on tap: Haiti, youth education, empowering women and girls, Ashley Judd, and whatever is happening in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

Who Are You Calling Shallow?

I’ve had the sick, sadistic pleasure of watching college-aged kids learn how to swim. It’s very similar to watching little kids learn how to swim, but for me the flailing and wailing of a six-foot-two, 20 year-old man faced with three feet of water is much more entertaining than the same ruckus coming from a diminutive 5 year-old girl. Hence: sick. Sadistic. But you knew that.

After a few lessons, though, the swimmer, be he or she 20 or 5, will eventually take those first tentative strokes towards the deep end. Spend enough hours in the water and a person who first came to a pool more likely to sink than swim will end up jumping off the high-dive.

But everyone starts in the shallow end, their toes reaching for purchase on the pool floor, their noses firmly set above the water.

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