Saturday, May 18, 2019

The price of a president who is a complete ignoramus

Of course the Trump Administration’s conditions for a nuclear deal with Iran look a lot like Obama’s nuclear deal that he rejected. The reason Trump called that agreement a “disaster” is because Obama made it. He could not cite specific problems with the details of the agreement, because he had no idea what those details were. So now that his war monger if aides are pushing him to attack Iran and the Administration is forced to articulate what Iran has to do to avoid confrontation, those conditions are going to be dictated by the same realities that produced the JCPOA. Except now Iran has even less incentive to believe the US would honor any new deal.

This is similar to what happened with NAFTA and the TPP. Trump also referee to those trade agreements as “terrible”. He backed out of the TPP and negotiated a replacement deal for NAFTA, the USMCA, that he bragged was much better.  Except the ways that the USMCA differs from NAFTA are largely lifted from the text of the TPP  Both Mexico and Canada are in the TPP. It looked like they took advantage of the President’s ignorance to get the US to abide by the TPP rules (at least as they pertain to those two countries).

Thursday, May 16, 2019

our corporate overlords will protect us

Trump makes a call to stupid people to let him use their social media account for his own purposes

I think my favorite thing about Trump's new snitch line is that in order to tell on social media, the snitch needs to enter his or her contact information, citizenship status, and social media accounts. Plus, by submitting the form, the rube snitch must consent to, among other things, allowing the government to edit the submitting party's social media posts.

The other reason that Trump's bluster won't bring Iran to the bargaining table

Aside from what Benen says, why would Iran ever enter into a deal with the U.S. about anything? The leadership took a risk with hardliners to enter into the nuclear deal, and then they upheld their side of the bargain only to have the U.S. abruptly withdraw from the agreement and punish Iran for no clear reason. The Trump Administration is a serial violator of international agreements. Why would any other country trust that we will do whatever we agree to do ever?

Even after Trump is out of office, I don't see how that will fix the problem. From now on whenever anyone enters into negotiations with the U.S. they will be thinking "sure, we trust the current leadership. But in less than 4-8 years they will be gone. How do we know the Americans won't elect another buffoon line Trump who will come in and rip up the deal?" America is simply not a credible negotiating partner anymore.

Unpopular mayor with no national following runs for president

I continue to be baffled by candidacies like this one. de Blasio's approval is underwater in his own city. Most of the rest of the country barely knows his name. We have an extremely crowded field in the democratic primary with several candidates that have a much higher national profile struggling to get their name out.

So what the frack is de Blasio thinking? Is he just trying to raise his national profile to maybe get himself a cabinet position later on? But how profile-raising can this contest be with so many candidates all hogging an increasingly small slice of the attention pie?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The quarter-century long honeymoon of Nazarbayev is finally ending with his exit from the Presidency

The problem with managed transition, is that they cannot be fully managed. Nazarbayev was popular because he brought perceived stability and economic growth (largely driven by oil prices). with growth stalled and a new generation of Kazakh's who are not craving stability like their parents who watched the Soviet Union collapse around them, a seat-warmer who promises more of the same doesn't have much of an appeal. That only makes the "managed" part of the managed transition seem all the more galling.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Trump will not invade Iran

I have no doubt that John Bolton is relentlessly pushing Trump to go to war with Iran. War with Iran is what Bolton has wanted for decades. I just don't think the Trump administration is competent enough to pull a war off.

Look at how the Bush administration got the U.S. to go to war in Iraq. They were trying to convince the American public to invade Iraq a year before the war started (the "Axis of Evil speech was delivered on January 29, 2002, 14 months before the U.S. invaded Iraq). The Congressional vote authorizing the war was passed in October 2002, five months before the shooting started. In the run-up to the Congressional vote and then the war itself, the Bush Administration was laser-focused on selling the war to the American public and its allies.

The Trump Administration has none of that focus. A confrontation with Iran has not been the top story. It is not even in the top five on most days. Trump doesn't seem to be building an international coalition to attack Iran (although there are several countries in the Middle East who would welcome a U.S. invasion). Plus, the Administration is also threatening to attack Venezuela.

Selling a war is harder than most people assume, even against a country as thoroughly demonized as Iran. I would not be surprised if Trump authorized an attack against Iran. But it is not going to invade and topple the government. No matter what Trump's inner circle might want, I don't think they are capable of pulling something like that off.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

gateway drug

I have no strong feelings about legalizing magic mushrooms. But if your priority is drug decriminalization as a whole, this will probably just end up being used as an argument against marijuana legalization elsewhere in the country.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

The posts that weren't

This happens to me fairly often. Sometimes I think I have some stunning point to make, then I start getting my links to support my point, only to discovery I am completely wrong after all. Other times just writing out a post will make it clear that my argument doesn't hold up, or I decide that, even if I am right, my point is dumb or pointless. For most of the history of this blog (as long as blogger has had that "save as draft" function) when I decide to abort a post I would not just delete it. Instead, I would save it as draft in case I change my mind about whether it is postable, or maybe because I wondered if some line or link in the unposted post might come in handy later. In the first almost decade of this blog, I accumulated more than a hundred saved but unpublished drafts. At one point I thought about making a 10th a blogiversary post about my decade of half-baked ideas. But instead, I just cleaned house and deleted all of them.

But old habits die hard. After I cleaned them out,.I went back to saving all my half written failed ideas as draft. so they have started to build up again, although I don't have nearly as many as I used to (I don't post as much as I used to either). I currently have 29 of those drafts. The oldest one was saved on July 19, 2013 and is titled "trapped." It refers to something that happened to me on that day, but I have no clue what it is. Clearly that's still a keeper.