Friday, June 27, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy, etc.!

Let’s see if I’ve got this right:

We would like to see Assad out in Syria.  But then when he bombs ISIS (who we don’t like) in Iraq it looks like a good thing?

We don’t want to see Iran expand its influence in Iraq.  But then when the Quds commander visits Baghdad for the purpose of providing support from Iran to Iraq it looks like a good thing?

After three years of being unable to sort out the good rebels from the bad rebels in Syria we’ve decided to give $500 million to the good rebels (whoever they are) and that looks like a good thing?

The Iranians (bad guys) have been supplying arms to Assad (bad guy) through Iraq (good guys?)  Now that ISIS (bad guys) control the Iraq/Syria border does that help or hurt the good/bad guys?

We would like to keep Iraq in one piece.  The ISIS Sunnis (bad guys) already control the north and west of the country.  Other Sunnis (anti-ISIS good guys) are opposed to the current al Maliki (bad guy) government.  Kurds (good guys) want their own government.  Shias, the majority, are divided with Shia militias (bad guys) more powerful than Shia army (good guys) and a lot of Shias just want to be left alone.

If Kurds (good guys) get their own government it will upset countries with Kurdish minorities like Turkey (good guys) and Iran (bad guys) as well as Iraq.

I hope this clarifies the situation. 

Monday, June 23, 2014


The World Cup is going well.  Some surprises, like Costa Rica.  Some disappointments, like Spain.  Some predictable failures, like England.  And some really good games.  Unless you’re a Yankee-hater, Portugal’s last minute goal against the U.S. yesterday was a dagger in the heart.  But with the tiebreaker in play, it is still likely that we will go through to the next round.

Iraq continues to go down the toilet.  To repeat what I’ve already said – for the U.S. there are no good options.  History will be the ultimate decider.

Would I like to see another establishment Republican incumbent, this time Thad Cochran, go down at the hands of a Tea Party renegade?  On the one hand, yes.  It will throw more fuel on the civil war within the Republican Party.  On the other hand, no.  It will likely put yet another crazy in the U.S. Senate.

I notice in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that 7% of Americans have confidence in Congress.  I think they’ve stuffed the ballot box.  7% seems awfully high.

I just finished reading “Narcopolis,” short listed for the Booker Prize in 2012.  Too much drug-addled stream of consciousness for me.  Why are Booker Prize nominees so often weird and hard to follow?

San Francisco is out of the running for the next America’s Cup.  Fine.  Let it go to San Diego or Chicago or Bermuda.  From a sailing and scenic point of view, no location beats San Francisco Bay.  From a financial point of view, no way as a taxpayer do I want to cover Larry Ellison’s shortfall.  So good riddance.

I’ve been a critic of the California Legislature forever.  But gotta give credit where it is due.  They got a decent budget passed on time and the Governor signed it.  Given how it has been in the past, this qualifies as a genuine breakthrough.

Friday, June 13, 2014


There are no good options.

A weak, corrupt, sectarian central government is on the defensive against an Islamic army that is to the right of Al Qaeda. 

It’s the thousand-year-old Shia-Sunni war writ large, and it goes far beyond the Iraq border.

As the clamor grows for the U.S. to do something, there are no good options.

We can try to prop up Maliki and his thugs in Baghdad.  In the end this won’t make any difference.

We can bomb the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria if we can find it.  In the end this won’t make any difference.

We can worry that Iran will go to the aid of Maliki in a Shia alliance, but should that happen our worry won’t make any difference.

And of course the blame game is out in full force.

It’s Obama’s fault.  He shouldn’t have left Iraq on it’s own.  This is what happens when we don’t step in soon enough.  We are weak.  He doesn’t have a policy. 

We are the powerful giant who wrings his hands when problems arise and refuses to act.

All these blamers and military geniuses and political hacks who can safely sit around Washington while others fight their fight and pay the bills (that’s you and me) can go on TV and say, “See, you should have listened to me.”

The end result of all this turmoil, which will take a while, will be fundamental changes in the Middle East.  The borders put in place after World War I will go away.  Iraq will probably end up divided in thirds – Shia, Sunni and Kurd.  Syria will be carved up.  Saudi Arabia and Iran will be the big players representing their Sunni and Shia selves.  Anti-Americanism will find several homes in this mess and we won’t be able to do anything about it.

There are no good options.

Monday, June 09, 2014


There are some subjects about which I don’t need to hear any more.  I have enough information.  I know what I think.  I don’t need to be endlessly bombarded with repetitive opinions about these things.  Enough!

Included on my “Enough” list are:

Climate Change/Global Warming.
Women’s Rights.
Abortion Rights.
The Tea Party.
Our Dysfunctional Government.
Football Concussions.
Gun Control.
LBGT Rights.
Gay Marriage.
Capital Punishment.

These will do for now.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Questions for Today!

In Europe they’ve introduced a negative income rate.  What is a negative income rate?

I’ve read several articles that explain what bitcoins are.  I still don’t get it.

I’m a baseball fan and I like statistics.  But tell me again what WHIP, WAR, ISO and OPS are.

Some people seem to care whether the Republican establishment does better than Tea Party candidates in the midterm elections.  Tell me again what the difference is.

Is there any clear evidence that cap and trade will have an impact on global warming?  Skeptics say it’ll help as much as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic did.

Not a day goes by without a shooting in a public place.  For the gun people, is this what they mean when they say ‘open carry’ is a good thing?

Remind me why we haven’t been able to close down the Guantanamo prison?

I hear there is some confusion about how best to carry out executions.  Apparently the drugs they use aren’t doing a good job.  We’re against inflicting cruel and unusual punishment but favor killing people.  I’m confused.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Knee Jerk!

It is tiresome.  The predictable knee jerk reaction from Republicans about everything Obama does or doesn’t do:

Free an American POW.  Bad!  Will endanger other soldiers.

Reduce carbon emissions.  Bad!  Will cost jobs.

Stay out of unnecessary wars.  Bad!  Shows American weakness.

Get out of Afghanistan.  Bad!  The Taliban will come back.

Negotiate with Iran.  Bad!  We are being duped.

Clean up the Veteran’s Administration.  Bad!  Should have been done years ago.

Keep assault weapons out of the hands of criminals.  Bad!  It’s a war on the 2nd Amendment.

Fix America’s decaying infrastructure.  Bad!  We can’t afford it.

Invest in research and technology.  Bad!  We can’t afford it.

Raise the minimum wage.  Bad!  Will cost jobs.

Raise taxes for the top 1%.  Bad!  It’s not fair.

Like I say:  Tiresome!