Monday, August 29, 2016


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


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.

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.

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


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


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.)