Happy days are near again

Today, it’s all good news in the world… Remember back a couple weeks ago when the G-20 leaders agreed to get rid of subsidies on fossil fuels? Well, guess what? So far not much has happened here on that front … not surprising perhaps since the “commitment” by the G-20 leaders did not include a ...

579399_091013_mayan2.jpg
579399_091013_mayan2.jpg
K'in Garcia (L) of the Mexican Lacandones ethnic group takes part in the Rising Sun ceremony in front of the Mayan Inscriptions' Palace at the Palenque archaeological site, in Chiapas state, in the framework of the "Meeting of the Indigenous People to Save Mother Nature" on March 10, 2008 with the participation of 68 ethnic groups of Canada, United States and Mexico. AFP PHOTO/Omar TORRES (Photo credit should read OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images)

Today, it’s all good news in the world…

Remember back a couple weeks ago when the G-20 leaders agreed to get rid of subsidies on fossil fuels? Well, guess what? So far not much has happened here on that front … not surprising perhaps since the “commitment” by the G-20 leaders did not include a timeline. But one bold, shining light has emerged that is leading the way for us all. Who should Barack Obama and his fellow statesmen call for advice? Why their old pal Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Because just this past Sunday the Iranians moved to cut back on their subsidies for fuel (and food) in the interest of trying to trim their budget. Admittedly, the money they save will be used to attempt to make a big hole in the ground where Israel is, but since this is Good News Tuesday, let’s focus on the upside. Today, Tehran is our good governance pick of the week.

Have you seen those promos for the latest movie by catastrophe specialist Roland Emmerich, 2012? They’d be pretty horrifying even if they did not, as pointed out in Entertainment Weekly, use collapsing twin towers as one of their money effects. But fortunately, it turns out that we don’t have to go see the movie in order to help prepare for the doomsday it suggests was predicted by ancient Mayan calendars. According to an AP story yesterday, the Mayans that are still with us say this end of days frenzy is just an over-wrought misinterpretation of the calendars which do note that late in 2012 some unusual astronomical developments will take place. This may, they imply, be worth a visit to the backyard with a telescope but it doesn’t warrant hiding in the basement with a year’s supply of franks and beans. Or going to see 2012, which according to early reviews is itself such a disaster, it’ll have audiences wishing for the real thing before they’ve finished their popcorn.

What’s better than good governance in Iran and the fact that the world’s not going to end in three years? How about something that seemed impossible just a few months back: economic recovery? Yup, according to Larry Summers, the president’s top economic advisor, in a letter to Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, happy days are near again. Consumer confidence is coming back and the housing market is stabilizing. But, for most Americans, an even more credible source than a senior government official who happens to be one of the world’s leading economists has emerged: TV ads. Yep. According to a front-page story in today’s New York Times, “While economists and investors study housing starts and gross domestic product predictions to measure economic vibrancy, General Electric, Bank of America and other companies are using commercials to proclaim America’s future is bright.” And if they say it in a TV ad, you know it’s true. Otherwise how do you explain all the ShamWows and that Popeil Pocket Fisherman in your basement?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reported following talks with Secretary of State Clinton that there is a “good chance” of cutting a deal with Iran on its nukes. He also called the threat of sanctions “counterproductive,” revealing a resolute and moving faith in the fundamental decency of mankind … and especially in the Iranians despite a track record that would and has made lesser nations doubters. State Department spokespeople said that they didn’t seek anything from the Russians during the trip, which provides us with more good news since nothing is precisely what they got.

In today’s Washington Post, Anne Applebaum, almost certainly their best regular commentator, finally digs deep enough to find the positive spin on our favorite prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. This is important because without Berlusconi, newspapers would be dull grey things … er, even duller, greyer things. We need a buffo world leader and I suspect we can all agree he’s the perfect guy in the perfect place given his special breed of apparently corrupt ludicrousness and the not unimportant fact that Italy is probably the largest country we could trust to such a clown without really dire consequences to the planet. Writes Applebaum, seeking to explain his popularity, “Besides, with Berlusconi as your prime minister, you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to trouble yourself with geopolitics or the state of the planet, or poverty and failed states. You can stay at home, remain unserious and argue about the latest legal scandal. And maybe that too, is part of the prime minister’s appeal.”

And in other good news: The five short-range missiles tested by North Korea yesterday were only short-range missiles, while the recent spate of bombings in Pakistan have been tragic they do serve as a useful reminder that our real problems in that neck of the world are not in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the Baucus health-care bill doesn’t actually fix a single one of the problems it sets out to address according to members of the House of Representatives it may actually get a helpful makeover in conference, Nicolas Sarkozy loves his 23-year-old son enough to advance him for a job running a good chunk of Paris’s financial district, and perhaps most upliftingly the founder of Cirque du Soleil returned safely from a trip to outer space today thus guaranteeing the world more of his trailblazing work creating the theatrical equivalent of Muzak. Next up: why not an evening of bad jokes, young scantily clad women, acrobats, plastic surgeons and opera music called “Berlusconi!”

OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

David Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017. Twitter: @djrothkopf

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