Wednesday, March 30, 2016


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.

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.

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


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


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.

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


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.