Friday, December 30, 2016

It's Time for a One-State Solution


Israel is an apartheid state.  Mahmoud Abbas has no more real power over Palestinian areas than tribal chiefs had over South Africa's "Bantustans" in the 1980s.  Workers are funneled through barrier walls to provide cheap labor for Israeli businesses.  The expansion of settlements into the West Bank continues apace. Functionally, there is only one state: the "two-state solution" is a chimera.

It is time to stop paying lip service to bygone fantasies, and recognize the facts on the ground: there is only one state, and that state is Israel.  In that state, a large minority is denied the rights and privileges of citizenship, an unjust situation that must end.  Just as the world pressured the government of apartheid South Africa to recognize the natural rights of its black population, it must pressure Israel to recognize the rights of its Palestinian minority.  Nothing but full Israeli citizenship for West Bank Palestinians will suffice, including voting rights and all the legal protections that citizenship provides.

Jews have their own history with marginalization and repression.  If Israelis choose to forget the history of the Jewish people, it no longer can call itself a Jewish State.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Briefly

Peace talks
Turkey, Iran, and Russia (as a surrogate for Assad) have been discussing a plan to end the war in Syria.  It's an odd grouping, to be sure — they've been at each other's throats for decades.  In fact, they seem to have only one goal in common: preventing the establishment of anything resembling an independent Kurdistan.  Personally, I believe it is time for the USofA to stop toadying to the likes of Erdogan and Abadi and back the idea of a Kurdish state in Iraq and Syria — perhaps even with an eye towards parts of Turkey.  The Kurds are the most dependable friends we have in the region, and will remain so unless we betray them.

Nuclear Arms Race
If there is any more dangerous combination than belligerence, ignorance, and vanity, I can't think of it right now — although I suppose we should be grateful that Tr*mp, unlike many of his supporters, at least is not looking forward to the Apocalypse.

Settlements
I was pleasantly surprised when Obama instructed Samantha Power to abstain from, rather than veto, the Security Council vote condemning Israel's expansion of settlements on the West Bank.  It won't  make any difference on the ground, of course, but the president certainly must have enjoyed poking a parting stick into Netanyahu's eye.

The Berlin Aftermath
Angela Merkel's political future is looking dim, and so is the outlook for the EU.  Still, the waves of migration won't be stopped, driven by climate change and the brutal struggles for resources it foments.  As right-wing xenophobes come to dominate the West, any unified response to common threats seems less and less likely.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

So Much Shit

Apprehension tumbles into despair.  Despair is a poor response, albeit understandable in the face of so much shit.  A brief review of recent saprogenic events:

Cabinet picks
From a comment in the New York Times:
Let’s see, so far we have a guy from Alabama dedicated to upholding the fine Southern tradition of voting prevention heading up the Justice Department, an alleged reincarnation of Patton affectionately known as “Mad Dog” for defense secretary, a general who wants to expand the Al Qaeda terrorist training camp in Guantánamo for Homeland Security, a conspiracy theorist as national security adviser, a fast-food billionaire who opposes health care benefits and better wages as labor secretary, a guy with a plan to dismantle health care access as Health and Human Services, a neurosurgeon with zero leadership experience for Housing, a billionaire who wants to divert funds from public schools for Education, a climate-change denier from fracking earthquake country for the Environmental Protection Agency, an interior secretary who wants to sell off public lands and half of the top management of Goldman Sachs for the rest.
What could go wrong?
Conflicts of interest
If the President-elect fails to divest himself of his financial holdings, he will be in clear violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause.  The only legal remedy is impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate.  Will it happen?  (The Magic 8-Ball says, "Don't count on it.")

Syria
The fall of Aleppo is a clear indicator that Assad, backed by Russia and Hezbollah, will win his war.  It is conceivable, though, that the Kurds can carve out and control a piece of the north, which has the potential to inspire an Assad-Ergogan alliance.  How would our president-elect respond?  Might a promise to end current efforts to change the name of Tr*mp Towers Istanbul influence his opinion?  (The Magic 8-Ball says, "Signs point to yes.")

Israel
Tr*mp's selection of David Friedman as ambassador to Israel signals the last gasp of "the two-state solution." A Tr*mp-endorsed Israeli annexation of the West Bank might have the unintended consequence of making clear that Israeli policy towards the Palestinians under its control is a policy of apartheid, and create international pressure to grant Palestinians full Israeli citizenship — possibly the best solution to seventy years of conflict. (The Magic 8-Ball says, "Reply hazy try again.")

Russian hacks
Did Russian interference deny Hillary the presidency?  There's no way to know, but Russophobia remains a conditioned reflex among many Republicans in Congress.  The "pivot towards Russia" may prove more difficult than Tr*mp and his heartthrob Putin anticipate. (The Magic 8-Ball says, "Ask again later.")

Death of a hero
Larry Colburn died this past Tuesday.  He was the last survivor of the three-man helicopter crew that intervened in the My Lai massacre, the 1968 atrocity that shook America's faith in its moral superiority.  Colburn testified against Lt. William Calley, the only man convicted for the slaughter of roughly 500 women, children, and elderly men.  Calley was sentenced to life in prison; he served three-and-a-half years under house arrest.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bait and Switch?

There's a lot of noise being made about the nomination of Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and his confirmation may be problematic.  Personally, I can think of quite a few candidates who would be a lot worse.  Say what you will, Tillerson is a pragmatist.  Some of his pragmatism at the helm of Exxon-Mobil certainly seems horrifying to those outside the company, but that same pragmatism enabled him to face down an assembly of khaki-clad religious bigots and persuade them that the Boy Scouts of America would be accepting gay members.

Tillerson just might be competent — unlike some other nominees for cabinet positions like unprincipled opportunist  Scott Pruitt, "slow kid" Rick Perry, and the frighteningly delusional Lt. General Michael Flynn.  Tillerson, though, may face opposition by some of the more Russophobic Senate Republicans.  If he fails to be confirmed, waiting in the wings as candidate for Assistant Secretary will be unrepentant neocon and rabid badger John Bolton (left), who did his best to destroy the UN when he served as W's ambassador there.

Call me paranoid, but I can't help wondering if the Tillerson nomination is a bait-and-switch.  Not only would his rejection just about guarantee the job to Bolton, it would be enough of a show of Republican "bipartisanism" to assure confirmation to all Tr*mp's other nominees.  Very scary!

Friday, December 9, 2016

#BoycottHardeesCarlsJr

What's the equivalent of putting Josef Mengele in charge of the Human Rights Commission?  Making Andrew F. Puzder Secretary of Labor comes to mind.

In nominating Puzder, CEO of the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. restaurant chains, Tr*mp is not merely poking a stick into the eye of working people — he has opted for a hot poker.  A virulent opponent of any increase in the minimum wage, Puzder welcomes increased automation because machines are "always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex, or race discrimination case."  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka characterizes Puzder as "a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people."

I strongly encourage anybody not already avoiding Hardee's and Carl's Jr. for the sake of avoiding the vast quantities of salt, fat, and calories that characterize the stores' menus to find alternative routes to obesity.  A boycott of Puzder's grease mills can be one more signal to Tr*mp and his plutocratic entourage that Americans refuse to roll over and play dead.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fake News

I meant to use this space for an uproariously funny, thoroughly ludicrous fake news story, but the competition was just too great.  How could anybody surpass the story about Hillary Clinton as leader of a pedophile ring operating out of a DC pizzeria?

Yes, I know we urban elites are supposed to stop characterizing Tr*mp's base as profoundly stupid and ignorant, but surely stupidity had a role in inspiring that North Carolina man with an assault rifle who invaded the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria last Sunday.  It's likely that stupidity also factored into a Twitter post by Michael G. Flynn, son of future National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn, observing that the "Pizzagate" story should not be discounted until it was proven false.

You'd think that some of the urban elite types of the Tr*mp transition team might have discouraged young Flynn — given that he was one of their own — but somehow they got to it too late.  You'd also think they should have been forewarned, since both young Flynn and old Flynn spent a good part of campaign season spreading fake conspiracy stories.  Mikey G. was fired, but nobody around Tr*mp seemed especially embarrassed.

The latest "news" is that the gunman was an actor, hired by the Clintons to distract attention from all the child molestation going on behind the pizza ovens.  Plenty of people will believe that, of course, but heaven forbid we should characterize them as idiots.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Elsewhere

I was looking for some No-Tr*mp news, which is hard to find these days.  Here's what I found:

Gambia
People who pay attention to such things were stunned last week when Yahya Jammeh, who has been president of Gambia for 22 years, not only lost an election but accepted the results!  This is the first time I can recall that a long-time African autocrat voluntarily ceded power.  Perhaps Mr. Jammeh decided he has looted enough cash for a comfortable retirement, but whatever his motivation, it is an extraordinary precedent.  Will 92-year-old Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe follow suit? Not likely.

Austria
In Austria's election, Alexander van der Bellen soundly defeated neo-Nazi Norbert Hofer, to become Europe's first Green Party president -- despite Austrian concerns about Muslim immigrants.  Okay, he ran as an independent, not as a Green, but he still trounced the populist rabble-rouser.  Maybe that's a good sign for Angela Merkel.  It's certainly a good sign for the EU.

Italy
Alleged "populists" of both the Left and the Right rejected constitutional changes that would have "streamlined" Italy's political system by shrinking and weakening the Senate, and Matteo Renzi has resigned.  Personally, I suspect this reflects an Italian belief in the principle of "that government governs best which governs least," and that similarities to the US presidential results and Britain's Brexit are strained, at best.  Immigration was not an issue, and the Five-Star Party is not poised to take power.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Briefly


Fidel
It's the end of another era.  One of my adolescent heroes, Fidel Castro, managed to yank the chain of US presidents for over fifty years.  I still chuckle over the Mariel boatlift.  Adios, Fidel.  You pretty much won.

Betsy DeVos
While most of the Left is caught up in bemoaning the appointment of Stephen Bannon, I'm a lot more upset by the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.  DeVos has been trying to "reform" public education in much the same way the Islamist State has tried to "reform" the Yazidis: extermination.  An advocate of public funding (vouchers) for the "Christian academies" that proliferated in response to desegregation, she also supports charter schools as a path towards the complete privatization of education.

The State Department
Romney? Giuliani?  It's hard to imagine Tr*mp settling on either of those.  Maybe he's setting us up for a "compromise" — like John Bolton, perhaps: just as rabid as Giuliani, but with more of Romney's "look of a statesman."  He wasn't terribly statesmanlike when he was W's ambassador to the UN, but I guess you could call his raucous stint there "experience."

Conflict of Interest
There is no way the Tr*mp family can effectively detach itself from its financial entanglements in foreign countries, but can it resist self-dealing?  I am reminded of Aesop's fable about the scorpion and the frog: "It's my nature," the scorpion replied.

Saving the Iran Nuclear Agreement
Trump Tower Teheran?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Outlook outlook

This post was supposed to be the foreign policy outlook, but who the hell knows?  First, I figure, our esteemed leader-to-be has to figure out who is a safe bet to do it for him.

In the meanwhile, it's nice to see backtracking on a bunch of campaign promises.  Somebody probably mentioned that a special prosecutor for Hillary, or  an investigation of the Clinton Foundation might look bad when nobody can find any malfeasance, and it turns out they actually can't "lock her up."  Better to express "pity for the vanquished."  Is it conceivable that the USofA might adhere to the Paris agreement on climate change, or are we just being teased?

This is not to say that plenty of damage won't be done in the name of "law and order" -- Jeff Sessions has the potential to make the concept of civil liberties seem quaint.  Add to that a resurgence of mandatory minimum sentences and a new surge of voter suppression, and the triumph of vindictive moralism will be nearly complete.

Are there two Republican Senators with enough conscience to hold back the worst of the worst?  Maybe.  Probably not.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sociologic Outlook

Stephen K. Bannon.  Need I say more?  Probably not.  Nevertheless, I shall.  I doubt that any of us seriously considered the possibility of a crypto-fascist dictating social policy in the USofA, but now it's time to get serious.  I know I swore off making predictions, but some things are pretty obvious:

WOMEN
It's unlikely that Bannon himself could care less about the right of women to have control over their own bodies, but it's important to a major segment of the Tr*mp coalition: Evangelicals.  Women's reproductive rights will be in serious trouble with any Tr*mp appointment to the Supreme Court, unless one of the sitting conservative Justices is too conservative to approve overturning a decision that's been in place since 1973.  As for birth control, protection from sexual assault, equal pay for equal work, etc., the Magic 8-Ball says, "Uh-oh!"  Opposition is mounting, but will it be enough?

BLACKS & LATINOS
Clearly, disenfranchisement of black and Latino voters through voter suppression will continue, especially since it worked so well in the recent election.  "Law & Order" policies in Republican dominated states and localities will breathe new life, and the prosecution of killer cops will continue to be distressingly rare.  The only bright spot may be some degree of criminal justice reform, since prisons are just too expensive for the tax-cut zealots.  Lobbyists for private prisons, though, continue to spend freely, claiming "cost savings" that don't exist.

IMMIGRANTS
The "huddled masses" will keep right on "yearning to breathe free."  While the "wall" will remain a figment of xenophobic imagination, Bannon's Breitbart followers and the National Border Control Council (the pro-Tr*mp union that represents border control agents) will keep up the pressure to expand Obama's already onerous deportation policy.  The budget deficits this will entail will be significant, leading to devastating cuts in funding to more productive areas of government.

LGBT
The various permutations of gay and trans Americans can expect their rapid gains in civil rights to come to a screeching halt.  Although Tr*mp says that marriage equality is "a settled issue," presidential opinions don't count for much when a conservative Supreme Court issues its rulings.  Hopefully eighty-year-old Anthony Kennedy is in good health.  Meanwhile, the green light is lit and burning brightly as far as gay-bashings and attacks on the transgendered are concerned.

EDUCATION
Look for state funding of private and religious schools, defunding of public education at both the K-12 and university levels, new lawsuits challenging affirmative action in admissions, and all federal aid to education provided in the form of block grants with no strings attached.  States will accelerate takeovers of "failing" schools, ensuring that they continue to fail.

HEALTH
Tr*mp's ideas for maintaining the popular parts of Obamacare while eliminating the rest is obviously untenable.  Forget about reining in Big Pharma.  Drug rehabilitation programs will succumb to Evangelical moralism, despite the enormous impact of the heroin epidemic on rural America.  Bannon probably would like to end CHIP, since that would lead to more deaths among the "mud people," but it's probably safe because Tr*mp is too much of an approval whore to countenance killing children.  Congress will delight in defunding the NIH and the NIMH.  Don't get sick!

WELFARE
Did I hear somebody say "block grants?"  The Earned Income Tax Credit is safe, but no longer likely to be expanded to childless families.

CULTURE
Season one of "Political Apprentice" will continue to earn high ratings on cable news.  Intellectuals and artists, both left and right, will be on their own.

NATIONAL UNITY
What?  Are you kidding?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Economic Outlook

Although the Times still is publishing an extra section to cover election "news," and a lot of young people in urban centers haven't figured out that you're supposed to organize and get active before bad things happen, the dust is beginning to settle.

Somebody seems to have assured Wall Street that our next president will not be starting any trade wars, so the markets have stabilized.  Given Tr*mp's anti-regulatory instincts and the promise of even more tax advantages for the rich, a bit of a bull market certainly isn't out of the question.  Economically, it looks like Republican-as-usual on the horizon.

The narrow Republican majority in the Senate means that Obamacare, such as it is, will be safe for a while — although steady defunding seems inevitable.  In a way, it's a shame: the total elimination of Obamacare could pave the way for genuine national health insurance down the line.  The biggest beneficiaries of the ACA were those newly qualified for Medicaid, and it's pretty clear that letting market forces determine health spending continues to be unworkable.

I wonder how successful Tr*mp can be in moving expensive infrastructure projects past the deficit hawks.  They even might balk at a substantial expansion of border controls.  Forget the "wall" altogether: if there is any real progress towards seizing remittances to Mexico, invest in virtual currency exchanges — or, perhaps, organized crime cartels.

The biggest damage will be done to the fight against climate change — but even there, it seems to be too late to save the coal industry.  Hopefully, though, the industry's last gasps won't be a prelude to our own.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

oh shit...

Well, it's over.  I guess we have no choice but to wait and see what happens next — for example, who actually will be running the country.  We are in for some interesting times.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Comey

Obama appointed James Comey Director of the FBI in yet another of his misguided attempts to "reach out" to Republicans.  Like all his other attempts, this one too came back to bite him in the ass.  Nobody wants to say that Comey was motivated by animus towards Clinton or Democrats in general, but the animus was pretty evident in his earlier summary of the email investigation.

Is it possible Comey's latest actions are nothing more than arrant cowardice in the face of blustering Republican Congressman?  Maybe.  I'm willing to let Comey decide for himself whether history records his actions  as malicious or merely craven.  One way or the other, his reputation is shot.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Malheur Siege Acquittal

Am I wrong to believe that had the Bundy brothers and their supporters been Muslims they would be starting 35 year sentences in federal prison about now?  How incompetent was the prosecution?  How much impact did the well-armed protesters outside the courthouse have on the jurors?  Is everybody tr*mping crazy?

If Cliven and his boys aren't convicted in Nevada, what little confidence I have left in our legal system will be gone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Elsewhere


The Levant
So Erdogan is supporting our Kurdish allies in Iraq, where he's not wanted, while killing them in Syria, where he is wanted?  With friends like that...

Yemen
The role the US is playing in Yemen is not quite the same as the role Russia is playing in Syria, but the parallels are too close to ignore.

Venezuela
Thanks to the drop in oil prices and the incompetence of the Maduro government, the class war in Venezuela is heating up; but the US blew its leverage back while Chavez was alive.

Nigeria
Nobody is sure exactly why Boko Haram released 20 of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls.  Meanwhile, President Mohammedu Buhari is having marital problems.

The Philippines
Rodrigo Duterte is a prime example of what you get when you elect an insane populist president.  One wonders if Xi Jinping will manage him any better than Obama can.  Not likely.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Briefly


That tape
I've been wondering who might have been the source of the "Pussygate" tape, why it was not released during the primary season, and how it came to be perfectly timed as an "October surprise."  It's hard to believe that the timing was purely coincidental.

DDoS
Now, the internet is threatened by our baby monitors, thermostats, and refrigerators  Aside from the threat to the internet, we might be well advised to consider the threat to our baby monitors, thermostats, and refrigerators.

Recovery?
The pundits wonder why, despite the much vaunted economic "recovery," so many people continue to report economic insecurity.  The obvious answer is job insecurity, with so many new jobs defined as temporary or 1099 independent contractor, and unionization efforts effectively blocked in most states.

The Revolution
Even a Tr*mp presidency would do nothing to constrain the inside-the-Beltway echo chamber of "experts" who control American foreign and economic policy.  There is no revolution.  There will be no revolution.  Sad.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pussygate

I suppose we should not be surprised that it took a sex scandal to bring low a presidential candidate who is, in so many other ways, thoroughly despicable.  America, the eternally adolescent, is unfazed by mere hatred and calumny.  America requires misbehavior that can be expressed in dirty words.

Many of Tr*mp's supporters, of course, are happy to accept that a vast "establishment conspiracy" has plotted against him, and that his "locker room talk" was just an innocent example of "boys will be boys."  After all, talk radio has fed them similar conspiracy theories for many years.  Others, predictably, don't see sexual assault as disqualifying.  When you get right down to it, some Tr*mp supporters really are deplorable.  (Not half, though!  It's not nice to deplore people for their intellectual disabilities!  Or am I being too "politically correct?")

As for the Podesta emails, they've been largely ignored partly because much of the public finds them too hard to understand.  The rest of us just shrug and say, "So what else is new?"  Looking forward to a Clinton presidency, I anticipate the same old absence of transparency and the inevitable tack to the right.  The revolution has been postponed once again.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Second "Debate"

The presidential debate in St. Louis would have been just as informative and moderately more amusing had the candidates been dressed in clown suits and armed with seltzer bottles, although that format might have done even more damage to hard-working birthday clowns already suffering from the latest "creepy clown" panic.  If Tr*mp hoped to get past his latest predatory image, he didn't do himself much good by stalking around the stage striking intimidating poses.  Clinton looked like she would have preferred to be anywhere else — and who could blame her?

The "town hall" format was meaningless, because those few "undecided" citizens who got to ask questions were largely ignored.  Tr*mp almost immediately accused moderators Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper of being "against" him, even though they did a competent job of concealing their disgust.

One interesting Clinton tactic was an effort to tie Tr*mp to Vladimir Putin.  Granted, Putin might prefer to deal with an internally weakened USofA under a President Tr*mp, but it is hard to accept that Tr*mp has invited or encouraged Putin's interference in the American election: sociopaths do not automatically stick together.  In truth, I see more of the paranoid stylings of Erdogan or Duterte in Tr*mp than the icy manipulations of the Russian leader.

Most Americans will breathe a sigh of relief when this election is over, but the disruptive and destructive impact of the election will not end soon.
*            *            *
We lost one of the best with the death of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. His efforts to review and correct the injustices of the past were unprecedented, and should serve as a model for law enforcement officials everywhere.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Musings

Hey!  Didja hear?  Tr*mp is a pig! (So, what else is new?)  And Clinton sucks up to bankers! (Uh huh.)  And Putin's hackers are trying to help Tr*mp!  (My goodness!)  And Gary Johnson is burnt!  (Oh, really?)  And Paul Ryan wishes he could crawl into a hole and never come out!  (Do it!)

Where did they find a houseful of "uncommitted" voters for Sunday's debate?  Guantanamo?  Mars?  Just how ignorant does a person have to be to remain "uncommitted" at this point?  I suppose the committee could have found plenty of people who hate both their guts — and that could make for a pretty interesting "town hall."

I take a little solace from Clinton's comments on why she opposed CAFTA — the labor protections were not strong enough.  The truth about trade is that no significant tariff barriers have been in place for many years, and the main impact of the TPP would be to facilitate corporate lawsuits against governments to roll back labor and environmental protections, and to extend monopolistic corporate patents and copyrights.  Free trade is here to stay.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Enablers


Christie
Obviously Chris has abandoned all hope of continuing his political career, as signaled by his approval of a 27¢ per gallon gasoline tax increase for New Jersey.  Maybe Tr*mp will allow him to be a talking head on that new news network — albeit neither loyalty nor gratitude seem to figure much into Tr*mp's "temperament."

Giuliani
Rudy was a racist when he served as Mayor of New York City; but these days he's a louder racist.  It's cute how he's out there insisting Tr*mp is a "genius" who can fix the tax code because he's exploited it so well.  (Needless to say, Tr*mp's tax proposal would leave the outrageous breaks for commercial real estate developers intact.)

McConnell & Ryan
Mitch and Paul still seem to have difficulty gagging out support for "their" presidential candidate, but somehow they manage to do so no matter how embarrassing he becomes or how often he contradicts orthodox Republican policy.  Tr*mp may be inconsistent, but he sticks with cutting taxes on the rich — and that's what matters.

Cruz
I guess Ted has come to decide his wife must be ugly and his father really did help plan the assassination of JFK.  How else to explain his endorsement of Tr*mp?  Surely an individual of such high and noble ideals could not have succumbed to political pressure.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Very Briefly

The decision by Congress to allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia may lead to lawsuits against the US for consequences of CIA and military activities; I'm fine with that. 
Investigators have provided extensive proof that a Russian Surface-to-Air Missile was responsible for the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine; uh huh.   
Speaking of SAMs, isn't it time to start providing shoulder mounted SAMs to the Syrian rebels, even at the risk of them getting into the hands of Fateh al-Shah (al-Nusra)?   
To the dismay of vestigial Blairites, Jeremy Corbyn continues to lead the Labour Party sharply to the left; so, whither the Democrats? 
So now Peres is dead, along with Rabin, Arafat, and the Oslo Accord; Nobel prize points for trying, I guess. 
David Wildstein's testimony at the Bridgegate trial of Christie toadies Baroni and Kelly continues to provide a laugh a minute as corruption in state and local politics scarcely takes a breather; up next, the Cuomo administration.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Debate #1

For most of the American public, watching a presidential debate is a lot like watching a foreign movie with no subtitles: it's not what you say that matters, it's how you say it, and the overall impression you leave.  Hence, there is no reason to parse the candidates' words for meaning, much less to fact-check.

Clinton, as usual, left the viewer uninspired — she is not one to stir anything resembling a strong emotional response.  On the other hand, she was cool and willing to poke a few needles when the situation arose.  We saw no sign of weakness, so the net effect seemed positive.

One supposes Tr*mp's constant interruptions were intended to demonstrate strength, but they just came across as bad manners.  His insistence that the news media lied when they reported the chronology of his attitudes towards the Iraq war or his role in the birther campaign came across somewhere between bluster and paranoia.  The net effect, in my estimation, was negative.

So, my feeling is that the debate's impact on that substantial block of voters who dislike both candidates may have nudged the needle slightly in Clinton's direction — or, more accurately, further away from Tr*mp.  We'll just wait and see.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Tr*mp Foundation

Will Lester Holt ask Hillary about the Clinton Foundation "scandal?"  One certainly hopes so.  It would provide an opportunity for Hillary to contrast it to the Tr*mp Foundation, which has worked assiduously for the benefit of… you guessed it… Donald J. Tr*mp.

Disregarding the illegal Pam Bondi contribution, which may or may not have influenced the Florida Attorney General to drop a lawsuit against Trump University, there's plenty to talk about.  According to reporting in the Washington Post, contributions from his foundation were used to settle obligations incurred by Tr*mp in at least two lawsuits.  Then there were the two portraits of Tr*mp that were "donated" to… you guessed it… Tr*mp.

Another "contribution" went to Citizens United Foundation, to help finance a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who just happens to be suing on behalf of defrauded Trump University students and also launching an investigation of… you guessed it… the Tr*mp Foundation.

Since the Tr*mp Foundation has no website, it's hard to figure out where its money goes — or even where it comes from.  It hasn't come from Tr*mp himself since 2008, but wrestling promoter Vince McMahon kicks in annually; nobody seems too clear on just why, and McMahon isn't talking.  Much of what Tr*mp does disperse to charity is in the form of "free" rounds of golf at his Mar-a-Lago golf club, valued at an average of $2,500 per foursome — but only after the charity has paid $250,000 to the club for hosting their event.

Like Bernie, I'm sick of hearing about the "damned emails."  The Clintons donate about 10% of their annual income to charity, and get no personal benefit from the Clinton foundation.  Tr*mp donates… errr… well, maybe we'll find out if he ever releases his tax return.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Conspiracy Theory

Since I don't use Twitter, I'm a bit behind on my conspiracy theories, so I'm not sure what's out there regarding Saturday's bombing in Manhattan.  Just in case there aren't enough, I figured it might be amusing to formulate my own.

Ever hear of Tannerite?  Hardly anybody has, except for people who operate shooting ranges, where it is used to create exploding targets that add an extra thrill for those who enjoy shooting things.  As it happens, Tannerite was the explosive used in the pressure cooker bomb that injured 29 pedestrians on 23rd Street in Chelsea.  Who would think of using Tannerite, other than NRA operatives working to advance the presidential ambitions of Donald J. Tr*mp?

It makes perfect sense, especially given the enthusiastic response to the bombing from Tr*mp himself, lapdog Chris Christie, and others.  Clearly, they suggest, the bombing calls for expanding the police state and heightened persecution of American Muslims!

Like all conspiracy theories, mine is based on the flimsiest of evidence.  Well, who cares?  Please do your best to spread it far and wide!

Later:
Now that we know the bombs were planted by a Muslim chicken-fryer from New Jersey, do I apologize?  Of course not!  In the true spirit of conspiracy theorists, I double down!

Obviously, the guy the police shot and arrested was contacted and mock-radicalized by agents of the NRA, who provided him with the Tannerite and persuaded him to bomb the Chelsea area, which is full of Democrat hipsters, and even has the same name as Hillary's daughter!  This new information only serves to strengthen my original argument!  Could it be any more clear?

I ask anybody who already started spreading my theory to get back on Twitter and make any necessary clarifications.  This is no longer a theory!  Now, it's a fact!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Briefly


Deplorables
They are deplorable.  They're not in a basket, though, so they can't be drowned like unwanted kittens.  They're spread out across the United States, Europe, the world — less like kittens than stray cats, who breed faster than they can be domesticated.  They are human beings who have been subjected to extremely rapid culture change, which creates extreme anxiety.  Human beings don't like change, and they don't like other human beings who seem to be agents of that change: immigrants, racial, religious, and cultural minorities, the LGBT community.  Lots of them can't even tolerate each other, but that's only human — and they're not about to change.

Native Americans
If the Dakota Access Pipeline were so safe, why was it relocated downstream from Bismark (90% white) to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation?  Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, says the project will go through.  Over a thousand Native Americans have travelled to Standing Rock to stop it — but also to remind America that they are habitually shafted.  The deplorables have been deploring Native Americans for several hundred years, and the result has been tragic.

Oh, Syria! (again)
Nobody really expected the latest cease-fire to come to much, and it hasn't, albeit a short vacation from the bombing certainly isn't bad.  A big part of the problem is that Fateh al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra) is the strongest and best organized of the anti-Assad groups; and the other anti-Assad groups, including those supported by the USofA, depend on its cooperation.  Now we want to cooperate with Russia to destroy it (along with IS), but it is so integrated with our "friends" that our "friends" are wondering just who we are supporting.

Friday, September 9, 2016

No Comment


Painted on a wall;   Prague, Czech Republic

Monday, August 29, 2016

Syria

Oh, Syria!

I've been restrained in my comments on Syria for a very good reason: I have no ideas for how the Syrian civil war can be resolved.  We see the dreadful video, the death and suffering, and we want something to be done.  Anything we do, though, is likely to make matters worse.

Syria's is a civil war with too many sides and too many outside interests, all with too many divergent objectives.  As long as Russia, the United States, Iran, the Gulf States and Turkey, each pursuing different objectives, continue to arm and support their favored factions, the war won't end for lack of cash and munitions -- and since it's really not especially expensive to continue financing the carnage, there's no great pressure to stop.

The bombing runs by Assad and the Russians have been especially devastating.  Hillary Clinton has suggested creating a no-fly zone, but it's too late.  We can't have American planes shooting down Russian planes.  The only thing I can think of to reduce the bombing of civilian areas and food distribution centers and hospitals is a further escalation: providing shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles to selected rebel forces, to stop the helicopters dropping barrel bombs, at least, and to inhibit air strikes by plane.

A big problem with that is that the most dependable US allies are the Kurds, who would use their new weapons defensively against our NATO allies, the Turks.  Anyway, escalation rarely serves to reduce hostilities.  Our only available moral response is to accept and shelter far greater numbers of noncombatant refugees, with special emphasis on families with children.  That won't happen, though — too many paranoid xenophobes out there, and too many pandering politicians kissing their asses.

I wouldn't want to be Hillary Clinton come January.  She'll be expected to do something — and there's nothing to do.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Noteworthy


Yemen
Saudi Arabia's war on Doctors Without Borders, along with its many other war crimes in Yemen, has not discouraged the Obama administration from providing aid and support to the monarchy.  Some say it's a matter of "making up for" the nuclear deal with Iran, but the influence of lobbyists for the arms manufacturers may be more important.  There's an effort underway in Congress to stop an impending sale of tanks and armored vehicles to the Kingdom — more as a signal of disapproval than as a means of slowing the war effort — but that would miff arms merchant General Dynamics, so don't count on it.

Obamacare
Aetna got all pissy because the Justice Department is suing to prevent the insurance giant's acquisition of fellow insurance giant Humana, and will cease operations over most of the Federal Exchange.  It's conceivable that some in government will finally concede that there has to be a public option, at least, available on every exchange — but don't expect Hillary to come out for National Health Care while she's pandering to Wall Street.

alt-Right
Stephen K. Bannon of Breitbart News is now in charge of the Tr*mp campaign, signalling total abandonment of establishment Republicanism and complete embrace of the racist, white nationalist extreme of the Republican Party.  Having alienated everybody else, Tr*mp hopes there are enough proto-fascists in the USofA to give him a victory.  Failing that, he is looking for an investment opportunity in some "news" outlet where he can continue to indulge his narcissism.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bullish


The US bull market has lasted long enough to make investors nervous, making certain economists nervous.  It seems they're just not supposed to last so long.  Just the same, not only is there no sign of abatement, the chief threat to its persistence (Tr*mp) is fading fast.  I don't know why everybody is so amazed.  To me, the reasons for the steadily climbing indices are plain to see.

    • Some people have Too Damned Much money, and they have
        to put it somewhere.
     • Bonds are paying bupkis.
     • Some people have Too Damned Much money, leaving too
        little for the people who actually buy things, so there's no
        reason to invest in productive capacity.

 So what gets done with the T.D.M. money?  Mergers.  Stock buybacks.  Upward market pressure.  And what eventually will lead to some bearishness?  Higher interest rates would help, but the Fed is not about to change monetary policy in the absence of expansionary fiscal policy.

Both presidential candidates are promising major investments in infrastructure, but the national debt scolds are sure to dig in their heels against anything even close to sufficient.  Wait and see.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Briefly


The "Coup"
If any CIAgents were involved in the Turkish coup attempt, they should be fired for incompetence — if there actually was a coup attempt.  The bombing at Marmaris, where Ergodan wasn't, and General Hulusi Akar being held "at gunpoint" both sound extremely fishy to me.  Apply the principle of cui bono — who benefits — and the most likely "coup" plotter is Erdogan himself.

Economic Policies
The essentials of Tr*mp's "revolutionary" economic plan turn out to be the usual Republican model for further enriching the very rich.  All the talk about trade barriers is nothing but window dressing, since none of it would be enacted by any US Congress.  Clinton, essentially, is calling for more of what we've had so far, plus a few bells and whistles that would be blocked by a Republican House.  If the House happens to go Democratic, other means will be found to prevent the enactment of anything significant.

Kill Hillary
Tr*mp's lightly veiled suggestion that some yahoo assassinate his rival should she win the presidency is essentially meaningless.  Those particular yahoos certainly will have come up with the idea on their own.

Corrupt v. Crazy
It's not much of a choice, given that we're well-accustomed to corrupt.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Yeah. Right.

Now that Tr*mp's repeated efforts to self-destruct finally appear to be working, my concerns about Hillary in the White House are getting more acute.  Establishment Republicans are swinging her way as their party's candidate grows increasingly bizarre, and some are beginning to endorse her.  Will she look on this as "permission" to forget her commitments to the Left, getting back in touch with her true, neoliberal, Third Way soul?  Probably.  There's good reason that nobody trusts her.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the United States is getting the blame for the failed coup attempt.  I certainly hope we weren't responsible, because if we were it means CIA incompetence is far greater than previously suspected.  It also means that we are even more susceptible to Erdogan's blackmail than before, assuming that Incirlik Air Base is as important as the military makes it out to be.  (Note: if Fethullah Gulen is extradited, he will be tortured.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Well, THAT's over...

If Hillary's speeches to the banking industry were as eyes-glaze-over boring as her acceptance speech at the convention last night, she was vastly overpaid.  Shopping lists make for lousy oratory, even when they include a few of your own favorite goodies.  Chelsea's introductory attempt to "humanize" her mother kind of fell flat.

Finale notwithstanding, I suppose the Democratic Convention will be accounted a success.  The Obamas and Bill Clinton were predictably silver-tongued; Booker and Biden wound their stumps quite nicely; Warren and Sanders were workmanlike despite some sabotage by their own supporters; Bloomberg added a nice touch; the second-tier pols didn't embarrass themselves; and "all the little people" played their roles quite well.  (The "entertainment" was awful.)

Something was puzzling me about Tim Kaine's perky, quirky stylings, and it wasn't the digressions into español.  His mannerisms are — there's no other way to put this — gay.  Go figure.

Anyway, I hope Hillary's handlers let her be sarcastic, dismissive, and generally condescending to Tr*mp in the debates.  He does have a soft underbelly, and it does require some unconstrained poking, including below the belt.  You don't beat a bully with statesmanship.

And, yes, if New York looks safe enough in the Fall, I will be voting for Jill Stein.  It has to look quite safe though — otherwise I'll get out my very large clothespin and do what I must.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Conventional Wisdom

Nobody who was paying any attention at all is surprised that DNC Chair and Mean Girl Emerita Debbie Wasserman Schultz was seriously pulling for Hillary throughout the primary process, so those who appear to be amazed as well as aggrieved either are complete political infants or playing games of their own.  Hillary wasn't in on it because she didn't have to be— everybody just assumed it was inevitable because it was, well, inevitable.

The Russian connection is amusing, but I can't see any reason to suspect that the Tr*mp campaign had any part in the hacking of DNC emails — mostly because the campaign has been too inept to pull off anything quite so ambitious.  Yes, Paul Manafort did represent former Ukrainian leader and Putin sycophant Viktor Yanukovych, but the hacking began long before Manifort was hired by Tr*mp.  The timing of the release of the emails just before the Democratic convention also does not indicate Tr*mp involvement.  Of course Putin would like to have an irrational incompetent at the helm of Russia's main adversary, if only for the comic effect.

I'm beginning to get the idea that nobody actually is bothering to listen to Tr*mp anymore — not after that high decibel rant instructing all of us to be very afraid and to believe that He Alone can save us from ravening hordes of dark-complected cop killers.  Those who believe will continue believe, but I don't see any practical way for him to expand his base.

I'm anxious to hear what Bernie has to say tonight.  The right speech can leave a great many establishment Democrats in his debt.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cleveland

I've been watching as much of the Republican convention as I can tolerate, but I've been taking a lot of breaks.  A lot of the delegates are doing the same thing, we're told.

The truth is, it's been hard to take: fear, hate, more fear, more hate, and not much else.  I stuck with Rudy Giuliani for a while, not wanting to miss seeing him have his stroke, but after a few minutes I had to give up.  The black sheriff of Milwaukee County, who thinks "Black Lives Matter" is a terrorist organization, was especially despicable.  That first night, Melania's speech offered the only respite from the fear and loathing;  yes, it was especially amusing that a chunk was plagiarized from Michelle Obama.  Why not Margaret Thatcher — or even Tipper Gore?

I must have missed the "Work" part of the "Make America Work Again" themed second night, because all I heard were especially rabid attacks on Hillary, with the grand prize going to Chris Christie.  It was pretty much the same on night three, with a little Bible thumping from Pence, and a star turn by Ted Cruz, who apparently still hasn't forgiven the Donald for linking Ted's father to the Kennedy assassination.

I don't know if I'll watch Tr*mp's speech tonight.  I suppose, as an informed citizen, I should — but I might have to chug a little Pepto first.  Will there be a post-convention "bump" for the Republicans this year?  I won't be surprised if it doesn't happen.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Coup that Wasn't

I have to admit I was experiencing mixed feelings when I heard about the attempt to overthrow Erdogan.  It's hard to feel sympathy for a leader whose goal appears to be personal autocracy; who suppresses free expression; who persecutes and jails perceived enemies; who is trying to rewrite his country's constitution to magnify his own power; and who demonstrates frightening paranoid tendencies.  On the other hand, a military dictatorship like that of the 1980s and 1990s was not a particularly good alternative.

Needless to say, my opinions and apprehensions don't matter — but the coup attempt is almost certain to inspire Erdogan to redouble his drive towards authoritarian Islamism in Turkey.  I can't see a paranoid narcissist taking the coup attempt as a signal that, perhaps, he has been pushing a bit too hard and too fast.  He instantly began expanding his enemies list; and, since he couldn't blame the Kurds for this one, he has fallen back on blaming Fethullah Gulen, who almost certainly was not involved.   As John Kerry observed, “I must say it does not appear to be a very brilliantly planned or executed event.” A coup attempt by Gulen's people would not have been so incredibly inept.

There's another leader in the Middle East whose resemblance to Erdogan is striking: Benjamin Netanyahu.  Netanyahu is driven by political cupidity rather than paranoia, but the likely outcomes for both Israel and Turkey may be distressingly similar.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

This Week's Fatalities

I watched the video of Alton Sterling's death.  He was, quite clearly, under police control when the fat cop shot him.  The cop didn't even seem in any special hurry.  "You fuck with me, I swear to God..." he shouts.  Then he unholsters his pistol, points it down at Sterling, and pulls the trigger three times.  The video image veers to the right.  Three more shots are heard.  When the image returns to Sterling, he is not quite dead.  The second cop takes a gun out of Sterling's pants pocket where, apparently, it had remained throughout the incident.

The Philando Castile video begins after the shooting is over, but the police are saying he "looked like" an armed robbery suspect — presumably one who brought his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter along on the heist. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton thinks Castile would not have been shot were he white.  Dayton is probably right.

According to right-wing commentators, the murder of five police officers by the Dallas sniper, Micah Johnson, is proof that black men are fundamentally evil, and hence deserve to die.  Tr*mp is calling himself the "Law and Order Candidate," just in case there happened to be any straggling racists out there who weren't already supporting him.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Liars

"How can you tell if a politician is lying?"
"His lips are moving."

If one thing is certain coming out of the Clinton email fiasco, it's that Hillary is a liar.  Okay, nobody is surprised.  Is it on the same level as "I didn't have sex with that woman?"  Actually, it is, pretty much.  Like Bill, Hillary told lies of expediency, aimed at diverting immediate blame.  It's kind of on the same level as "The dog ate it."

Unlike Hillary, Tr*mp actually seems to believe his lies as he tells them — then believes his contradictions the next day.  It strikes me, at least, as pathological.

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage told a number of major whoppers in their campaign for the Brexit vote, most notably about the amount of money the UK would save by withdrawing from the EU, and the idea that said money would be used to shore up the National Health Service.  Both of them, however, had the good grace to duck out of the way when their lies were uncovered.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Next?


Those who think a little disruption can be a good thing — or a lot of it, for that matter — now have an opportunity to test their hypothesis.  The most notable outcome of the Brexit vote so far is the disruption of British politics.  Both the Conservatives and Labour are split, and the British are not especially enthusiastic about either party.

In response, ECB President Mario Draghi is suggesting that the time has come to move away from the austerity policies that have crippled Europe since the financial crisis and emphasize growth.  Draghi knows that what underlies working class discontent across Europe is not immigration.

European workers have suffered with wages that buy less every year, along with the erosion of the social programs that make limited incomes acceptable.  In the UK, unemployment is low, but wages have been stagnant or slipping.  In southern Europe, any work at all is very hard to find.  The problem has been austerity.

It is in the interests of banks, private equity and sovereign wealth funds, and other global capitalists to continue austerity, cutting government services to free up money that will be used to pay back risky loans.  It is in the interests of everybody else to renegotiate that debt and restore public services, shifting wealth from those who have accumulated entirely too much to those they robbed.

That will not be done by the current crop of disruptors — Farange, Johnson, LePen, Orban, Tr*mp, et al. — but sadly will not be done by the ruling Establishment either.  Mario Draghi offers some hope, and with backing from Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney, Janet Yellen, and others whose financial power does not depend on private capital, it is conceivable that something positive yet may be done.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Brexit

Thursday's vote on whether or not the UK stays in the EU has a lot of people nervous, even though the vast majority of Americans couldn't tell you what it is much less what impact it may have.  The British, at least, know what it is.  I'm not about to explain it here.

I do think it's interesting, however, how the two sides in the Brexit debate parallel the sides November's US election.  On one side are establishment neoliberals, continuing to invest irrational faith in the "rational markets" fallacy; embracing globalization with enthusiasm that entirely ignores its negative impact on people who actually have to labor for their living; and paying lip service to the social disruption arising from income inequality while imposing austerity measures to exacerbate it.

On the "other side" are proxies for pretty much the same economic elite, but offering a different approach to keeping working people subjugated.  They are the political leaders who pander to xenophobic and racist nationalism to achieve the power to accumulate excessive wealth.  They understand that people with inadequate education (a large majority) will feel comfortable if they can have scapegoats (the "other") for their powerlessness and financial distress.

Is one side better than the other?  Possibly, but neither is a good choice.  It's "heads they win, tails we lose."  All we can do is forget the lose-lose economics and apply our personal value systems to where they each stand on whatever social issues we count most important.

Sigh.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Gun Control

I got a call from some gun control organization a couple of days ago, and decided my contributions would be better spent elsewhere.  The truth is, I think it's too late for gun control in the USofA.

After allowing some Senate Democrats to grandstand for a while, Republicans decided to permit a vote on a couple of "gun control" amendments to an unrelated bill: one that would stop individuals on the terrorism "watch list" from purchasing weapons, and one that would plug the gun show/internet sales loophole for background checks.  That second one will fail, of course.  The first, which makes a mockery of any idea of due process and probably is unconstitutional, will be replaced with a much watered down version acceptable to the NRA.

Some are calling for reinstitution of the assault weapons ban, but even if that happened (it won't), that leaves us with at least five million rapid-firing semi-automatic rifles already out there.  Buying them back at market value (as Australia did when it banned such weapons) would cost well upwards of $4 billion — and since rifles usually don't have to be registered, we wouldn't even know where to find them.

Are there more realistic ways to stop mass shootings?  If you think of any, let me know.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Trumpery

In his response to the horrendous attack on Pulse, the Orlando gay bar, Donald Tr*mp somehow contrived to ignore the fact that the victims were gay Latinos, pouncing instead on the assailant's religion.  This makes sense.  Among his Islamophobes, one would scarcely be surprised to find a sizable portion who are homophobic as well.  One does not wish to upset one's base.

Some commentators seem surprised that Tr*mp did not try to "walk back" his racist accusation against Judge Gonzalo Curiel, despite criticism from within the Republican Party.  I suspect those commentators failed to think it through.  Curiel is virtually certain to find against Tr*mp in the lawsuit being tried, given that the eponymous "University" was, indeed, a con game.  When the judgement is delivered, Tr*mp will be able to say, "I told you so!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Whither the Berners?

Now that everybody agrees that Hillary is the Democratic nominee, and Bernie has fired most of his staff, some are wondering what will become of Bernie's supporters — especially the young ones, previously not especially interested in matters political.  Well, it depends, I suppose.

To what extent did their support for Bernie lead those young people to educate themselves on policy matters?  I haven't seen any data, but I suspect that most of the Berners were paying attention to his message and not merely along for the exciting ride.  Hopefully, many went beyond Bernie's campaign materials for their education.  Campaign materials are necessarily simplistic, and the emergence of a new and better progressivism in the USofA requires more than slogans.  Encouraging is that some are speaking of becoming politically involved at the local level, where Democrats (as well as Republicans) are inclined to be hacks beholden only to local special interests.

There is enough sophistication among them so that some will support Jill Stein of the Green Party, but only if they live in a dependably Democratic state.  This year, though, it may be harder to determine "dependability."  I voted for Jill Stein in 2012 and Ralph Nader in 2008, but I have certain qualms about New York this year — and some other states as well — given the general craziness of 2016.

All of us on the left would be a lot happier with Hillary if we could be assured that we won't be seeing yet another "New Democrat" administration like Bill's.  In his enthusiastic pandering to alleged "centrists" who would have been dependable Republicans fifteen years earlier, Bill Clinton did more to set back progressive politics than even Ronald Reagan.  A lot of us are afraid that Hillary will give us more of the same, and would love a strong commitment to true progressivism on her part.

Filing for divorce would be a good start.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Future of US Foreign Policy

In brief, prospects for ongoing US foreign policy are not encouraging.  The Donald's ineptitude is such that he is certain to defer to "the best generals" in matters of war and peace, and Hillary's stance in the 2008 primaries and as Secretary of State suggest that she will continue her ongoing attempts to prove she has enough "balls" to be "one of the boys."  Bernie Sanders will probably have significant impact on the Democratic platform, but the relationship between a party's platform and what happens when that party wins an election has little if any bearing on what its candidate does when elected to office.

The "War on Terror"
Tr*mp vacillates between isolationism and carpet bombing (along with use of torture and killing the families of terrorists), but his commitment to building the size and strength of the military makes one wonder if "boots on the ground" might be inevitable — the military-industrial complex would like that, since it could restore sales to 2010 levels.  Clinton has been largely silent on her suggestion of a "no-fly zone" in Syria lately, but her history on interventionism is troubling, including her vote for the war in Iraq and endorsement of intervention in Libya.  Neither has any fresh ideas for dealing with the Islamist State as an international threat, even if Obama's efforts to cut into the territory it occupies continue to make progress.

The Middle East
It seems clear that Clinton will maintain US support for the Arab autocracies, despite copious human rights abuses within their territories and Saudi war crimes in Yemen.  She also will be more friendly to Netanyahu's increasingly bellicose and repressive path for Israel than Obama has been, and the Palestinians will be out of luck, no matter what Bernie gets into the Democratic platform.  Tr*mp's support from Sheldon Adelson suggests that he will be even deeper in Netanyahu's pocket than Clinton; and his rejection of the Iran deal and insistence that the Saudi's "pay their own way" would be a recipe for a nuclear armed Middle East.  With regard to Assad, Tr*mp might be too conciliatory, Clinton too bellicose.

Europe
I don't know if anybody has considered problems that might arise from installing missile "defense" systems (against Iran? Yeah, right!) in Eastern European countries moving ever closer to fascism, but that probably can wait for 2020.  Neither US candidate has anything to offer Europe in dealing with its refugee crisis, and neither will use US influence over the IMF in an attempt to soften Europe's devastating austerity regime, albeit neo-liberal (aka neo-conservative) US bankers have a lot more influence than US political leaders.  Clinton certainly understands Europe's problems better than Tr*mp, but she's no less neo-liberal in her thinking than her husband was — and nobody knows what impact Tr*mp's affection for Putin might bring

Asia and the Pacific
The US Chamber of Commerce seems confident that Clinton will change her mind about support for the TPP as soon as she's president, and they're probably right.  Tr*mp seems to think he could negotiate a "better deal," but his confidence in his negotiating skills is just as inflated as his hair.  The Chinese, I suspect, couldn't care less which of them is elected because China's economic and military power is unlikely to be affected.  Tr*mp's fantasies of Japan and South Korea having their own nuclear arms would almost certainly remain fantasies, because not all Republicans are total idiots.

Africa
If Tr*mp can identify more than three African countries on an outline map, I'd be very surprised.  Clinton, at least, is aware of the mess that is African politics and economics, but is unlikely to move beyond Obama's very limited engagement there.  With either of them, Africa will remain on the back burner until something explodes.

Latin America
Haven't you had enough pessimism for one post?  It's certainly been enough for me, so I'll pass over Latin America — where the US has had virtually no policy at all since "our" dictators were overthrown — and save it for another day.  In the meanwhile, though, keep an eye on Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatamala, et al.  Tr*mp's "wall" won't keep the chaos south of the border.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Catch-up


Email
“If there’s any chance of her getting indicted, they shouldn’t even consider her for the nomination,” said Zachary O’Neill, 21, of Escondido. “We can’t have a criminal in the White House.” (NYTimes-5/28)

Young people can be so cute.  Of course, the email "scandal" arose more out of incompetence than chicanery.  One can use two email accounts from the same device, and if Hillary wanted to keep her badmouthing of Bill quiet, that's what she should have done.  Oh, well!  Too late.

Little Marco
So he's jettisoning any vestige of self-respect and endorsing Tr*mp.  Little Marco indeed.

The TSA
From its beginning, I was under the impression that the TSA was more a PR stunt than a genuine effort to stop potential terrorists.  Hence, I am never surprised by how ineffective it is at keeping guns and bombs off airplanes.

Let's speed up the lines by installing wide portals with "scientific" looking flashing lights; let people walk right on through; and occasionally pull some swarthy actor out of the stream and pretend we've caught him with a bomb.  I would like them to find more traditional looking bombs — the ones that look like cannonballs with fuses sticking out — so as to maintain the cartoon aesthetic


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Briefly


What's With Bernie?
"Surely," all the talking heads have been saying, "it's time for Bernie to cede the nomination to Hillary and unite the party!"  It hasn't happened, and if we need a figurehead for Bernie's problem with the Democratic establishment, look no further than Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  She and the DNC were looking forward to a coronation, and set debate schedules, fundraising procedures, and media connections to ensure it happened.  Well, it didn't happen, and Bernie is pissed.  Should anyone be surprised?

What's With Netanyahu?
Bibi is set to replace Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon with a nationalist, religion pandering, totally despicable psychopath by the name of Avigdor Lieberman.  It's not for the good of Israel — it's solely for the sake of maintaining Bibi's hold on power, and any chance for some belated reconciliation with the Palestinians will be destroyed.  The Army opposes the move.  We'll see what happens.

What's With Maduro?
Venezuela is in crisis.  People there can't even buy basic goods like toilet paper, but Nicolás Maduro is stubbornly refusing to accept that his own incompetence is largely responsible.  The only thing that can save the Bolivarian Revolution is a rapid jump in oil prices, and that just ain't happening.  Things have deteriorated so far that one even could justify calling in the IMF — and nobody has ever heard me say that before!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tr*mp Speaks

The New York Times questioned Donald Tr*mp regarding how he would deal with a visit by newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan, given his proposal to exclude Muslims from the USofA.

   "I was happy to see that," Mr. Trump said of Mr. Khan's election. "I think it's a very good thing, and I hope he does a very good job because, frankly, that would be very, very good."
   Asked why, Mr. Trump said: "Because I think if he does a great job, it will really — you lead by example. If he does a good job, and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing."
Those comments were characteristic of the Tr*mp style of dealing with an issue — any issue — to wit, winging it.  If only he were better at it...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Free Trade

A lot of people are bloviating about the evils of free trade.  Not me.  I'm not against free trade — just the agreements, with particular emphasis on those who negotiate the agreements.

The negotiators for the TPP and TTIP are overwhelmingly drawn from the corporate sector, and the regulations they negotiate overwhelmingly favor large corporations.  Usually there are a few pages about "labor standards" in the encyclopedic final documents, but benefits for workers are minimal and, even to the extent they exist, rarely enforced.

Workers guaranteed a living wage in Asia or Latin America or Africa do not offer the same degree of unfair competition to American workers as the quasi-slave labor forces that make out-migration of American jobs so lucrative for the world's plutocrats.  Opposition to the TTIP agreement comes primarily from European labor unions, who fear that the trade agreement could drag European labor standards down to the significantly inferior North American level.

Globalization has proceeded to a point where it cannot be undone, and moving away from greater world trade would have severe economic consequences across the globe.  What is lacking, though, is any genuine effort to use trade for the benefit of ordinary human beings, not just big business.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bigly

Donald Tr*mp, now the Republican nominee barring divine lightning strikes and such like, says he will win the November election "bigly."  Yes, he said he'd "win bigly."

I can't say I'm sorry to see the end of the Ted Cr*z campaign.  Cr*z's loss is a loss for the Christianist bigots, the most rabid "conservatives," and the self-righteous haters long the essential "base" of the Republican Party.  The "fact" that Cruz senior was involved in the Kennedy assassination (according to Tr*mp) seemed to have no bearing on the voting — probably because equal numbers of Republicans approved of that assassination as disapproved.

I'm also not unhappy that wolf-in-sheep's-clothing John Kasich dropped out.  The wealthy donors who supported him probably will start giving to Hillary's superPAC — the corporations never had many complaints about the last Clinton administration.

I don't much care for Hillary.  I suppose a lot of that arises from my dislike of Bill, but she's also a lot more of a hawk than Obama has been.  Also, I expect that she'll follow Obama's lead on defending government secrecy and persecuting whistleblowers.  Just the same, I'll vote for her in the general election, and I'm trying to persuade other Sanders supporters to do the same.  Trump is a complete unknown in terms of real policy beliefs, and his ignorance of everything except marketing his own brand makes him especially scary.

I'm also not confident that New York will remain a "safe" Democratic state this time around, so I guess Jill Stein of the Green Party will have to do without me this year.  Okay, I'll say it:

Vote for Hillary: It Could Be Worse!
 
It could be a lot worse.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fear and Loathing

If this has become a battle between fear and loathing, it appears that Republicans who know both candidates are deciding they’d rather be afraid. — Gail Collins
It's true.  Ted Cr*z is making Donald Tr*mp look reasonable by comparison, and that's extremely problematic.  Cr*z, after all, is despicable, genuinely despicable.  Even John Boehner — not the world's cuddliest man — calls Cr*z "Lucifer incarnate."  The danger of a Tr*mp who appears "reasonable," of course, is the possibility of President Tr*mp in 2017.

Hillary is hard to like, even now that Bernie has pulled her far enough to the left to be significantly out of her comfort zone.  She's the consummate politician, and we don't like politicians.  People just don't trust her.  (I don't.  Maybe I'm wrong to tar her with the same brush as that lying, plutocrat pandering husband of hers, but I can't forget Bill promising us "Two for the price of one."  Two of him?  Just kill me now.)

Anyway, I'll be reaching out to any young, idealistic Bernie supporters I encounter, and trying to teach them the hardest lesson of politics: sometimes you just have to hold your nose and swallow.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Is this offensive?


Say, has there ever been a man
With thinner skin than Erdogan?
With unabashed capriciousness
He jails his critics from the press,
And lately, the Sultanic Turk
Left Merkel looking like a jerk.
What motivates this lunatic?
(A teeny-tiny little dick.)

Okay.  So sue me.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Some women in the news

Dilma
By comparison with those impeaching her, Dilma Rousseff is not especially corrupt.  It seems that even while she was head of Petrobras, the national oil company, she didn't steal.  Granted, I'm somewhat prejudiced in favor of trained economists who once fought in socialist-inspired guerilla armies, but I still think she's getting a raw deal.

Hillary
Nobody is terribly surprised that Hillary Clinton seems certain to win the Democratic nomination, and I expect to hold my nose and vote for her in November, but I'm still having a hard time figuring out just what kind of economic policy she might pursue in office.  She's muddied the waters by claiming over 200 economic advisors, including Joseph Stiglitz (great), Gary Gensler (okay), and Alan Blinder (eh), but I can't help thinking that some Robert Rubin protégés are lurking in the wings.

Elizabeth II
Happy 90th birthday to her nibs, who has juggled the British crown jewels with noteworthy skill for over sixty years.  As a national symbol, she has a much tougher job than the bald eagle.

Harriet
Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty, which is a nice gesture, and some feminist leaders will find a place on the back of the ten.  Too soon for Margaret Sanger?  Duh.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Guns

Many years ago, a woman sat in her car outside the apartment building where he ex-husband's parents lived.  Her only previous claim to fame was as president of an Engelbert Humperdinck fan club.  When the elderly couple emerges from the building, she ran them down, killing both.  It didn't occur to anybody to hold General Motors (nor Engelbert Humperdinck) responsible.

At around the same time, though, gun control advocates were suing gun makers because their products had been used to kill people.  It seemed illogical, but in the United States anybody is allowed to sue anybody about anything — and given the right juries, some of the suits might have been successful.  In 2005, Congress gave gun sellers immunity from most such lawsuits.

This does not provide total immunity.  If your gun, due to some manufacturing error, blows up in your hand when you are trying to kill somebody, you can sue the manufacturer.  If an individual goes to a gun dealer and says, "I want to buy a gun to kill my inlaws," the dealer is responsible.  Just lawfully providing a gun to somebody who later uses it to commit a crime is not punishable — and it seems to me that that is the way it should be.

Guns are designed to kill.  When a product does what it is designed to do, it's hard to fault the manufacturer or the seller.  If we want to eliminate gun deaths, the logical thing to do is eliminate guns —  but it's much too late to do that, if ever there was a time when it was possible.  It's probably too late, even, to reinstitute the expired ban on assault weapons.  Too many already are out there.

So what can be done?  I don't think background checks will do much good — but if all guns must be registered (including rifles and shotguns), and the last registered owner of the gun is held responsible for any crimes committed with that gun, people may be more careful with their weapons.  It also could help to limit the quantity of guns any individual can register, to reduce the problem of "straw buyers."

Of course, that won't ever happen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A walk in the park

I was walking my dog in the park yesterday when I noticed a message scratched into the dirt pathway.  After examining it from several angles, I saw that it read:
Trump
2016
Needless to say, I immediately thought of counter-scratching, "Aaaarghh! Your hate speech has damaged my delicate infant psyche!"  I didn't, though, for several reasons.

For one thing, I don't have a delicate infant psyche.  Another is that I do have a delicate lower back, which would have been the worse for wear had I attempted to bend over to pick up a stick and write a fairly long message.  Also, the closest I come to scratching messages in the dirt is this blog.

Most important, though, is that I strongly believe in a person's right to be offensive.  We can't have freedom of expression if we permit restrictions — any restrictions at all.  I am willing to defend the release of "threats to our national security," every kind of pornography, and all varieties of out and out lies.  We can choose to punish the consequences of such expression if it is shown to have caused harm, but we cannot allow anybody to decide in advance what kinds of expression might do so.

I'm not a censor, so I didn't kick away the message in the dirt.  Others may have wanted to read it, either as an affirmation of their own beliefs, or for the giddy pleasure of feeling offended.  Me, I didn't experience either of those.  I just shrugged and walked on.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Corruption

The Mossack Fonseca leaks have shed some much needed light on a problem we cynics always assumed to be rampant, and the unknown leaker may be a greater hero than Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden combined.  It no longer can be denied that corruption among the rich and well-connected is endemic, and largely impervious to control.

Nobody is especially surprised that Sergei Roldugin, banker-buddy of Vladimir Putin, and Ukrainian president Petro O. Poroshenko are on the roster of the corrupt; nor Chinese Politburo members and other supposed "communists."  The involvement of the prime minister of Iceland and (sigh!) Jackie Chan is a bit more surprising.  Altogether, that one Panamanian law firm helped to hide over three trillion dollars, much of it illegal, the rest of it merely unethical.

Yes, some heads will roll, but there are a hell of a lot of other firms providing the same services as Mossack Fonseca.  I doubt there are a sufficient number of disgruntled employees out there to make a significant dent in the overall problem.  Oh, well...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Briefly...


Merrick Garland
From what I've been able to learn, Garland is not one to blaze new frontiers, closely basing his decisions on precedent.  Many would call that "conservative."  Would he be different if advanced to the Supremes?  Beats me.

Friedrichs
What's left of organized labor in the USofA dodged the bullet when a divided Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling affirming agency fee — the principle that non-members can be charged for services provided by a union, including collective bargaining, contract enforcement, and grievance.  Dead Tony would have rewarded the wannabe free riders with —what else?— free rides.

That iPhone again
It's been "leaked" that an Israeli security firm cracked Farook's iPhone.  I suppose people will feel better about that than if they heard the encryption had been cracked by the Russian based Kaspersky Labs.  Mostly, though, it sounds like the administration didn't want to risk losing to Apple in court.  It's also possible that the encryption wasn't penetrated, but the Obamites thought they'd punish Apple by saying it was.

"Allies"
The USofA should be embarrassed to have Turkey and Saudi Arabia as allies, and Likudniks have steadily been pushing Israel into that category as well.  While there never was a time when the USofA acted on its stated ideals rather than its immediate interests, it would be nice if Kissenger, Cheney, and realpolitik all dropped dead tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Counter-terrorism

Hillary gave a speech at Stanford in which she discussed her counter-terrorism policy.  It sounded good, but came down to "keep doing what Obama's doing."  Bernie, in an interview on PBS Newshour, said essentially the same thing, but it didn't sound as good because it was an interview rather than a prepared speech.  The Republicans continued their "tough talk," consisting mainly of commitment to racial profiling with some torture thrown in for good measure.

(Yes, it's racial, not religious profiling, aimed at brown people.  Blue-eyed blond Muslims from the Balkans would almost certainly escape Tr*mpian and/or Cr*zian notice.)

None of those approaches stands much chance of success, of course.  Everybody observes that We need more help from Them (Europe, the Arab autocracies) — something Obama has been trying to achieve, with very little success.  The Arabs really don't give a shit if Europe explodes, and the competing European agencies tasked with stopping terror attacks are all protecting their respective "turfs" — not even cooperating with each other, much less us.

Something that should have become obvious by now, but hasn't, is that motivations for the terror attacks have never been especially religious.  None of the attackers has been particularly observant of Shariah Law.  The Belgians, by and large, were petty criminals and drug offenders before they affiliated with Islamist State.  It looks a lot like economic, social, and racial discrimination, arising out of a long history of European colonialism, is a far greater motivating factor than any number of virgins waiting in the afterlife.  Religion just provides a platform that accommodates the grievances of this world.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Etc.


Refugees
Angela Merkel and the rest of the EU entered into a devil's bargain to deal with the flow of mostly Muslim refugees, the devil in question being Recip Tayip Erdogan.  I suppose they preferred to deal with a devil outside the EU rather than the nativist devils who put increasingly fascist governments in charge in Poland and Hungary, and are threatening the rest of Europe as well.

Brexit
See above.  The nativists of UKIP are eating away at Britain's Conservative Party, and the controversy over EU membership is threatening to split the Conservatives in much the same way that Tr*mpism is threatening to split the Republicans on this side of the pond.

"Our" Muslims
Obama is pissing off the Saudis.  Good.  It's about time.  Somebody has to do something to end the human rights abuses in Yemen, and cut into support for world Islamism.  While he's at it, maybe something can be done about the buildup of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, which now seems to include tactical nuclear weapons, and is vulnerable to Taliban attack.

Merrick Garland
Hopefully, the nomination is more a political ploy than a serious indication of the kind of candidate most Democrats want to see on the court.  We've had more than enough "moderation" from Obama himself, and we don't need a Justice who reflects Obama's illiberal views on the primacy of government over individual liberties.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

President Tr*mp?

I'm beginning to think it can happen.

True, the Donald has very high negatives.  So does Hillary, though, and it will be just as hard to prevent Hillary from winning the Democratic nomination as it will be to prevent Donald from winning the Republican.

Matched in a general election, Hillary will be the Establishment candidate, Tr*mp the "outsider."  Since Americans are justifiably sick and tired of the way their government operates, the "outsider," however potentially dangerous and patently bizarre, has the advantage.  The outcome might surprise a lot of people.

Hillary's disavowal of free trade pacts certainly is suspect, reversing decades of enthusiastic support.  How many of those working class Sanders supporters will switch their allegiance to Tr*mp if their alternative is another Clinton?  Labor will reflexively "endorse" the Democratic candidate, but how well will a former Wal-Mart board member serve Labor's interests, and how many rank-and-file union members will play "follow the leader?"

What will happen if voters, who tend to stick to a single party line on their ballots, fail to return the Senate to Democrats?  Who would Tr*mp nominate to the Supreme Court?  (Nobody has even a vague idea of the answer to that last question.)

Nobody seems to have asked any of the candidates how they might fill jobs like Secretary of the Treasury, chief economic adviser, Chair of the SEC, etc.  Tr*mp, hopelessly ignorant of the actual workings of government, would have to depend on "advice" from the likes of Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions.  Clinton is most likely to return to the charlatans of her husband's "economically successful" administration, meaning more acolytes of Robert Rubin.

Frankly, I think Bernie Sanders is America's best bet, despite the fears of Establishment black, labor, and "liberal" figures.  Compared to Hillary, Bernie is far more likely to win.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Europussies

Erdogan wins again.

One day after Turkey's increasingly despotic ruler took over Zaman, the only major news outlet in the country that still dared criticize his dismantling of Turkish democracy, Tusk and Merkel and crew agreed to pay big piles of euros to Erdogan so he will take back Syrian and other refugees who make the dangerous sea crossing to Greece.  Given that he previously has done nothing to stop the trafficking, and Turkish officials almost certainly are accepting bribes from the smugglers to look the other way, it's not much of a deal.

Turks also will get visa-free travel to Europe, and "accelerated" consideration for acceptance into the EU.  Europe may regret the visa agreement as large numbers of Turkish Kurds and liberals flee the country to escape Erdogan's abuses.  Previously, Turkish acceptance into the EU was conditioned on enhanced democratic institutions and a better human rights record.  Turkish blackmail over Europe's need to alleviate its refugee crisis seems to have put those on the back burner.

Why not send the pile of euros to Greece instead of Turkey?  Pay the Greeks to contain the refugees, and pay them well.  Let them build more permanent housing and provide enhanced refugee services, while employing Greeks in need of jobs and rebuilding the Greek economy.  The refugees won't be going home any time soon — not to Syria nor Iraq nor Afghanistan nor Libya nor the Horn of Africa.  Those shit shows will be with us for a long time, and accommodating fascists like Erdogan won't make things any better.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

That iPhone

Now that Defense Department officials are expressing concerns about FBI and administration efforts to force Apple to provide a "back door" to its iPhone encryption, and even the Obama crew is hesitant to ask for Congressional action to force Apple's hand (probably because Congress would be likely to go overboard in the ecstasy of patriotic orgasm), it's time to reconsider just what "vital information" might be available on the phone in question.

We should bear in mind that the phone's metadata has been examined, and Farook did not use it to contact anybody outside the United States.  The FBI knows who was in communication with the San Bernadino attacker, and presumably is thoroughly investigating those persons.  If there is any significant reason to suspect that any of them was involved, surely warrants could be obtained to search their phones.  Since they're not dead, their passwords are not lost; and given the propensity of individuals to give up their civil rights to "prove their innocence," Farook's communications could be read without penetrating his iPhone's encryption.

Face it: law enforcement just can't tolerate any restrictions on its ability to invade our privacy.  Fourth Amendment rights have been weakened enough already.  It's time to draw the line.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Race and the Race

Black Americans now are clearly behind Hillary, apparently either forgetting or choosing to ignore how Bill Clinton triangulated them into some very damaging welfare and criminal justice "reform."  Well, Bill wasn't actually racist — just acting to mollify that solid chunk of the American public that is actually racist.  Was Hillary behind him on that?  Her "super-predator" comment at the time makes it pretty clear.  Okay, forgive and forget.  Political expediency isn't real racism, is it?  Or is it?

Now the Republican establishment is wringing its hands over Tr*mp, who wasn't exactly prompt in his disavowal of David Duke and the Klan.  Well, all Trump has been doing has been saying out loud what the Republican establishment has been dog whistling since Nixon invented the Southern Strategy.  (Tr*mp supporters love that he says things "out loud")  It's crystal clear that racism is all the GOP has had to offer working class whites over the past half century or so.  Apart from racism, Republicanism consists entirely of giveaways to the super-rich.

Even though I've sworn off prediction, I have high hopes that a Tr*mp candidacy will hand the Democrats the Senate, and ensure a reasonable Supreme Court appointment after all the intermittent bullshit has been endured.  Still, I'm not too hopeful regarding a restoration of the Voting Rights Act or Affirmative Action.  Blacks have opted for incrementalism rather than revolution, which means that anything that does change does so glacially, at best.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Republicans Panic

What if Donald Tr*mp wins the Republican nomination for president?

Given Tr*mp's high negatives, it is very likely that Republican turnout in the general election would be low.  Democrats could retake the Senate, which would guarantee a liberal replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.  Even if Tr*mp won the presidency and Republican control of the Senate was maintained, a good deal of the Ryan program would be doomed.  No wonder Republicans are panicking.

Trump is the best bet for defeating the TPP, which he opposes.  (No matter what she says now, it's a good bet that President Hillary would eventually support it.  Let's not forget NAFTA.)  Despite his vocal opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Tr*mp supports the individual mandate.  Obamacare just might be saved.  Tr*mp's opposition to abortion is soft, and he has blustered some positive comments about Planned Parenthood.  Yes, he favors more destructive tax cuts for the super-rich and would be inclined towards institutionalized racism, but we'd be just as likely to get much the same outcomes from a President R*bio or a President Cr*z.  (You will note that I now have assigned Tr*mp's chief competitors to the category of "obscenity.")

If Bernie loses any possibility of winning the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday, I will seriously consider switching my party registration to Republican so I can vote for Tr*mp in the primaries.  A Tr*mp candidacy in November would destroy the Republican Party as we know it, and I'd be fine with that.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bernienomics

Yes, I know.  It doesn't add up.

A gaggle of liberal economists, including a group who worked in the Clinton administration, but also some others (like Paul Krugman) have run the numbers, and the Sanders budget is just as far off as the nonsense the Republican candidates have been putting out.

Well, there's a good reason for that: nobody gets elected president by telling the middle class they will have to pay more in taxes, and financing single payer health insurance, more generous Social Security, free tuition at public colleges and universities, paid family leave etc. etc. doesn't come cheap.

You can't say Bernie has been totally misleading, though.  He has told us he's a socialist, and pointed to the social democracies of northern Europe as templates for what the USofA might be.  Social democracies have much higher tax rates than neoconservative plutocracies — the super-rich, all by themselves, can't finance all the benefits Danes and Swedes and even Germans have come to expect.  Anybody earning more that $200,000 — maybe even $150,000 — could expect to pay a lot more.

The thing that keeps some of us with Bernie, though, is that we think what we get as a society will be worth vastly more than what we pay in increased taxes.  It would be a major change in the American way of doing things — yes, a genuine revolution — but people like Bernie and I have been chasing that dream for about a hundred years now, and it's beginning to feel like it might finally be within reach.

Friday, February 19, 2016

This v. That


McConnell v. Obama
Mitch McConnell did not have to announce that the Senate would not consider an Obama nomination to the Supreme Court.  If he didn't want an Obama candidate confirmed, he could have held hearings and had his party reject the appointment.  He's been doing that over and over with Obama appointments to the Court of Appeals.

I doubt that he acted without thinking, thereby inadvertently blowing up a political storm.  He wanted the public conflict, and he got it.  Presumably, he hopes it will motivate more Republicans to go to the polls in November, despite the fact that most of them will have supported candidates who lost in the primaries all the while developing a pretty intense dislike for the eventual winner.

Tim Cook v. FBI
FBI Director James Comey kept his agency's conflict with Tim Cook and Apple quiet for over a year, then decided to go public when he could exploit the San Bernadino shooting to force Apple to breach its customers' security.  Tr*mp isn't the only one exploiting fear to compromise civil liberties.

Don't blame Comey, though.  He's just the public face of the administration's ongoing effort to have easy and immediate access to all your personal data.  When it comes to violation of privacy and establishment of the national security state, Obama is second to none.

The Donald v. the Pope
Dissing the Pope will not do Tr*mp any damage at all.  Most of his redneck supporters probably hate Catholics anyway, and the Catholics among his supporters are pissed at Francis for "betraying" the virulently anti-Communist John Paul and Hitler Youth graduate Benedict; not to mention failing to lead the hate parade against Muslims and gays.

Me, I'm an atheist, but I'm still more of a Christian than Tr*mp.  Oh, well.  Except for Trump winning again, I expect the outcome of the South Carolina Republican primary to be largely inconclusive, so the merry chase will continue on towards Super Tuesday.