Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Not getting the point of this

I don't think it's a "cryptocurrency" if a government backs it. After all, "dollars" are an electronic currency as well as a physical one, but that doesn't make it a cryptocurrency. I am guessing this is just an effort to make electronic Tenge transactions use blockchain.

I'm not sure what the benefit of that would be. In order for Astana to regulate its TengeCoins it would need to destroy the two advantages that cryptocurrencies have over regular currency: not being tied to a government and anonymity. (Personally, I think both of those advantages are overblown and come with a lot bigger downsides that cryptocurrency boosters are willing to acknowledge, but they are the reasons that Bitcoin et. al. have been successful.)

Monday, October 16, 2017


This is a really big deal, but I wonder if our Trump-obsessed news media will pay much attention.

For years common wisdom has said that the Pesh Merga is the toughest/most competent fighting force in Iraq. When the U.S. trained Iraqi national army crumbled and fled from the rising Islamic State, the Pesh Merga fought back and (mostly) held their borders against ISIS's expansion. They also seized Kirkuk from the Iraqi central government when those troops left and kept the city from the Islamic State. Now the Iraqi Army is trying to take Kirkuk back. So far it looks like Iraqi forces are taking over the city without a big fight. But if the Kurds decide to hit back, it is not clear that the Iraqi army would be able to win.

As Juan Cole says, this is probably would not have happened if the U.S. president was paying any attention to stuff that isn't covered on Fox and Friends. But he isn't, so we have a new conflict in Northern Iraq.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Perhaps the dumbest thing about President Trump

As I mentioned in March, and as Atrios said this morning, it really is remarkable that a guy that has access to the expertise of the entire federal bureaucracy (not to mention 17 intelligence agencies) primarily gets his information from a cable news channel that traffics more in culture-wars-style entertainment than actual news.

That alone is pretty compelling evidence of moron status.

Monday, October 09, 2017

What's a little mass murder if we can have the highest bracket down by a couple of percentage points?

Atrios is right. "World War 3" means nuclear annihilation. If these guys were really concerned that Trump has a real chance of getting millions of people incinerated and their grandchildren (assuming any survive) finding themselves in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, why aren't Republican clamoring the remove Trump from office?

Either they don't really believe he will get us into a nuclear conflict, or their priorities are so fucked up that are willing to risk a little nuclear holocaust if it means cutting rich people's taxes. The latter is totally nuts, so crazy I even have a hard time believing the insane Republicans in Congress could be that bonkers. So does that mean that they don't really believe that Trump will get us into a nuclear war? If that's the case, then why the hell is Corker saying it?

Saturday, October 07, 2017

What exactly is this, and does it just apply to Tillerson?

I have heard that Rex Tillerson gets some kind of tax benefit if he remains as Secretary of State for at least one year. e.g.

Can someone explain to me how that tax advantage works, or give me a link that explains it? Does it apply only to Tillerson, or would it apply to Trump's other cabinet members? (I don't think this explains where the one-year rule comes into play)

I'm wondering if Tillerson will resign when the clock strikes midnight on February 1, 2018 or will we be facing mass resignation in early 2018?

Friday, October 06, 2017

I know! I know! Pick me! Pick me!

He hates it because Obama made it.

The Times article works too hard to find some intellectual objection that Trump might have against the deal. Sure you can find individual objections if you pour through all of Trump's remarks about the Iran nuclear deal. But that kind of review will also tell you that Trump has little idea what the Iran deal is or how it works.

I wish someone would just ask Trump how many parties there are to the Iran Nuclear Framework Agreement and who those parties are. I am willing to bet that Trump would not be able to answer that. He certainly talks about the deal as if it is just an agreement between the U.S. and Iran.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

oh shit

He's gonna do something impulsive, violent, and stupid.

I hope I'm wrong.

UPDATE (10/6/17): "He was just trolling you" is the new "he was just being an asshole."

We don't have a Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is what other countries call their Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is America's "top diplomat," meaning that his job is to represent the U.S.'s interest to the rest of the world by speaking on behalf of the U.S. to other countries.

But if the Secretary of State says something to another country and then is later overruled by the President, he is not really speaking for the U.S. anymore. If, for example, Rex Tillerson sets up a direct channel of communication with the North Korean government to discuss their nuclear program and then the President says that communication channel is a "waste of time," Tillerson avenue to discuss the issue with North Korean is no longer viable. Anything he says will be understood by Pyongyang to be outside his authority. If he doesn't have any authority to speak on behalf of the U.S. according to the U.S.'s ultimate decision-maker, he cannot do his job as top diplomat.

The problem isn't limited to that one North Korean example. Now the leaders of every other government know that just because Rex Tillerson says the U.S. is committed to something, it doesn't mean an actual U.S. commitment. The President could overrule him at any time. He has no real authority to negotiate with anyone about anything. He simply cannot represent the interests of the U.S. in any discussion so long as those interests can change on a whim by a moronic tweeter.

I keep hearing about all the stress that Tillerson is under because of Trump and how he has repeatedly considered resigning. But why won't he resign? He isn't the Secretary of State in any meaningful way right now. If he can't do the job, what is the point of sitting behind that desk? We are talking about a gazillionaire who does not need this job. He would do better for himself, and have more power (if measured by how much actual influence he has) if he just quit in a huff and wrote a book about it.

This headline draws an interesting distinction