Sunday, August 31, 2014

Obama's Foreign Policy

Second guessing Our President on foreign policy seems to be the new national pastime, but none of the second-guessers seems to have an answer to the question, "Well, then what would you do?"  I sure don't.

McCain and Graham like to dance around like Yosemite Sam and sing their "Get tough" song, but really — invade Iraq again?  Go to war with Russia, perhaps?  Sometimes the options come down to few or none.

Arm and train the "moderates" in Syria?  First you'd have to find some, and you probably couldn't find enough to have any impact on the situation over there.  Apart from the Kurds, the Iraqis are pretty much worthless when it comes to fighting ISIL, and Haider al-Abadi looks to me like Nuri al-Maliki lite.  Okay, it would be very nice if the Kurds didn't have to rely on Soviet era weapons, but arming them with something better risks pissing off the Iranians and the Turks.  (The Iranians and the Turks?  No wonder Obama seems more than a little burnt out lately!)

How about arming and training the western Ukrainians?  It yet may happen, but didn't we fight enough proxy wars against Russia last century?  And think how successful those were!

As you know, I'm not a big fan of Barack Obama, but as far as foreign policy goes, I suggest he's muddling through as best he can — and no worse than anybody else could manage, under the circumstances.  Let's all just take a step back, and let him muddle.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Race in America

It's not pleasant to be black in America, especially if you happen to be young and male.  It's not even especially pleasant to be a Harvard educated, dark complected President of the United States raised in a middle class white household who won office with a ton of Wall Street money.  The die-hard racist elements in American society don't make any particular distinctions.

 Black Americans were jubilant when the Hawaiian was elected and re-elected.  It seemed like some sort of turning point.  It wasn't.

I suspect the biggest problem is that so many white people (and Asians as well) think young black men are just too damned scary.  George Zimmerman thought Trayvon Martin was so scary he just had to follow him and shoot him.  Police officer Randall Kerrick thought auto accident victim Jonathan Ferrell was so scary he just had to shoot at him twelve times, hitting him with ten bullets.  There are plenty of other examples, so we don't have to speculate on why police officer Darren Wilson just had to shoot Michael Brown six times — twice in the top of the head, suggesting that he might already have fallen down face first after the other four shots.

So why are young black men so scary?  Well, part of the answer is that a lot of them want to look scary.  They want to look like those thug rappers, perhaps, or they want to look scary so other people will just leave them the hell alone.  Maybe, sometimes, it works.

Sometimes, though, it doesn't.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Trouble Spots

Singar Mountain
Only rarely do I hear about a religious group I've never heard of before, so the Yazidis certainly caught my interest.  According to Wikipedia, they probably are a product of Middle Eastern syncretism, with aspects of Sufi, Zoroastrian, and other religious traditions.  Frankly, I don't think the author of the article knows very much, or has many dependable sources, since the Yazidis are supposed to be kind of secretive.

One thing we do know is that when confronted by the Islamic State with the proposition of "convert to Islam or die," they are greatly inclined to die.  Personally, I wouldn't fault anybody for a little hypocrisy when confronted with such a choice, but then I don't have any god to offend, much less a "Peacock Angel."  The alternative of "tribute," as in "the Koran, tribute, or the sword" (as they taught me in junior high school) apparently is unavailable to Yazidis, since a lot of orthodox Muslims (and some Christians as well) identify the "Peacock Angel" with the nefarious Shaitan (Satan), making them devil worshipers.

It seems that the recent military reconnaissance of Singar Mountain by United States forces, which reported that the state of emergency was over, only reconnoitered the north side of the mountain, where it was safe for helicopters: no problem there.  The south side, Yazidi voices tell us, is still a humanitarian catastrophe.

Eastern Ukraine

Putin's "humanitarian convoy," last I heard, was still on its way.  The International Red Cross was a bit confused as to whether or not it had blessed the operation.  Kiev had seized the crossing point Russia intended to use from pro-Russian forces; nobody knows what's in the trucks.

I have no faith in Putin, or in anything he says.  I have no faith in anything Plutocrat Poroschenko says.  I do, however, have concerns for the innocent people of Eastern Ukraine.  Ordinary people, just trying to live their everyday lives, do not deserve to be caught up in geopolitics — but, of course, they always are.

Ferguson, Mo.

Maybe there are more young black men committing crimes than young white men — I honestly don't know.  They certainly get arrested and jailed a lot more often, while young white men get a free ride.

What I do know is that if a cop is struggling with a kid for control of his hand gun, the kid doesn't wind up shot in the back from 35 feet away.

South Sudan

Nothing much has improved in South Sudan, and nobody is paying attention.  Pay attention!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I suppose you've heard about the Atlantic interview, where Hillary went all hawky and dissed Obama.  Personally, I'm not fond of either one of them, but I'm happier with Obama's foreign policy than Clinton's take.  Minimalism makes a lot of sense to me, after the past thirteen years.

So, I'm trying very hard to think of somebody who might present the Hill with a credible challenge in the Democratic primary.  I like Biden, but I don't think he could win.  I like Warren, but she says she won't run, and she's not a liar.  Still, I think we need a woman this time — I just can't think of whom.

Maureen Dowd, who shares my view of the Clintons (hyperpolitical shitheads), did a very nice "fuck you" column in today's Times.  Still, I don't think we could get Maureen Dowd to run.  Suggestions?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Islamic State? Jewish State?

Nobody in the USofA is especially happy with the Islamic State (formerly ISIS or ISIL).  Well, they're pretty nasty boys, especially when they encounter Christians, Shi'a, Abadis, and even Sunni Muslims who are not, at the very least, Salafist.  Somebody should be stopping them, but that asshole Nuri Kamal al Maliki, obviously, is out of his depth.

Personally, I think Kurdistan is the best bet for the USofA in that part of the world, even if it makes Erdogan fudge his underpants.  If nothing else, they're capitalists, and, at the moment, the pesh murga needs help.  It's still using ancient Soviet armament against the very latest US weapons looted from fleeing Iraqi alleged "troops."  Yes, I'm pro-Kurdistan.  No, I'm not a Kurd.

Personally, I think the very idea of an "Islamic State" is disgusting, but  I have no higher opinion of a "Jewish State."  Yes, I believe in the Holocaust, and I believe that Jews need a place they can be sure they won't be persecuted, but I don't believe a nation state should be founded around any religion.  States should be secular and diverse, so ideologues of whatever stripe find it more difficult to grab hold.  Think of those assholes who claim the USofA is a Christian country.  Kind of makes me sick.

So, no, I don't think the "two-state solution" ever is likely to work — and I'm sure Bibi, sensibly, shares my opinion on that matter, no matter how earnestly John Kerry babbles on.  That leaves Israel with two choices, pretty much Sophie-style: either continue the imperial occupation ad infinitum, with increasing international approbation; or fully integrate the Palestinians into Israeli society by becoming a truly secular state.

Me, I favor the One State Solution.  "But wait!" many will say, "The Palestinians will outnumber the Jews, take over Parliament, and where will the Jews be then?!"

Fear not, panicky ones.  The ultra-orthodox breed faster than the proverbial bunnies, and the real power — which is to say, the big money — will still be controlled by Jewish plutocrats.  We all know who's really in charge of our secular "democracies," and it sure ain't us.