“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In and out of the Syrian Disaster: John McCain and The yahoo school of US foreign policy

McCAIN On Syria Sep 6, 2013 guaranteeing Russia and Iran will not act in Syria:

House of Saud losing its head over Syria

Clear evidence that the Syrian conflict has reached a critical stage comes with the Saudi announcement that it is willing to send troops to Syria – along with the UAE and Bahrain – to help try and overthrow Assad under the pretext of fighting ISIS.

Just four months ago, the fate of the Assad government appeared all but sealed. After four years of unremitting conflict its army was battered and over stretched, struggling to hang on to main population centers in the east of the country despite the help of its allies, Iran and Hezbollah.

Polyglot opposition forces, dominated by various jihadi groups, in particular Jahbat al-Nusra, were slowly but surely gaining ground. Supplied via Turkey’s porous border, time was on their side as the question began to look more one of ‘when’ as opposed to ‘if’ Assad would fall. Such an outcome would have spelled utter disaster both in terms of the carnage that would ensue and a refugee crisis that would make the current one seem like child’s play by comparison.

An abyss of reaction

Along with Libya, Syria would have descended into an abyss of reaction with Lebanon and Iraq at serious risk of joining it. The likelihood of a major regional conflict erupting as Iran found itself more isolated and threatened than ever would be huge, especially as by this point the impotence of Washington when it came to exerting influence over its regional allies would be fully exposed. Even worse, the proliferation of terrorism across the world would be guaranteed: buoyed with success, foreign fighters would return to their countries of origin determined to wreak mayhem.
The aforementioned scenario and grim forecast underpinned the decision by Moscow to militarily intervene at the request of the government in Damascus. It was an intervention pregnant with risk, involving stakes that couldn’t be any higher, yet one that was absolutely necessary given the alternative.

Would the future of the region be sectarianism and marked by medieval butchery? Or would the forces of non-sectarianism prevail to provide hope of a return to stability and modernity?

Russia’s role and the disastrous record of Western intervention

Four months on, Russia’s action has completely transformed the situation on the ground. ISIS in the northeast close to the border with Turkey is being pushed back by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of various components in which the Kurds of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are dominant, supported by Russian airstrikes.
Combined with the loss of Ramadi and Sinjar in Iraq, and with its illicit oil trade via Turkey being interrupted by relentless Russian pressure, ISIS no longer appears the invincible entity it did just under a year ago.

The main focus of the conflict is currently taking place in and around Aleppo, the last major opposition stronghold and a city whose fortunes have acted as a barometer of the shifting balance of forces threatening Damascus throughout. Opponents of Russia’s intervention in the West have extended themselves in accusing Moscow of being more concerned with ensuring the survival of the Assad government than fighting ISIS.

The idiocy of this line of argument is instantly apparent when we consider that it is ISIS and al-Nusra that would be the major beneficiaries of the collapse of the Assad government. It bears repeating: there is no Western-style democratic alternative waiting in the wings to take power in Damascus; and certainly not one capable of forestalling Syria’s destruction in the event of the collapse of the Assad. This line of thinking has already resulted in Iraq being turned into a failed state in 2003, followed by Libya in 2011.

The yahoo school of US foreign policy

Yet despite this recent history of disastrous Western intervention, apologists for more of the same continue to occupy positions of influence in Washington. In advance of the Geneva peace talks in January, since suspended, US Senator John McCain issued a statement in conjunction with his Senate colleague Lindsey Graham. It reads in part: “We support the decision of the High Negotiations Commission to send a delegation to Geneva in order to advance a political solution in Syria, which will peacefully transition from the Assad regime to a democratic, pluralistic government which respects the dignity of all Syrians.”

The notion that a “democratic, pluralistic government” could successfully replace the Assad government at a time when jihadi groups committed to the country being turned in a mass grave is simply grotesque, if not perverse. Indeed, it is just about as perverse as McCain calling for an “end of Gadhafi’s rule and the beginning of a peaceful and inclusive transition to democracy that will benefit all Libyans" back in 2011.

John McCain is of course a special case, a product of the yahoo school of US foreign policy, wherein the world with all its complexity and challenges is reduced to the simplistic narrative of a low budget cowboy movie. Only when such people understand that the world is not a giant chessboard upon which governments are pieces they can move around and remove as they wish, will it begin to emerge from the chaos that has emanated from Washington in the form of US unipolarity over the past decade and more.

The poison of sectarianism

But let us now return to our friends in Riyadh, this clutch of medieval potentates responsible for spreading the poison of religious sectarianism across the Islamic world, who also happen to be the West’s closest Arab ally. When they aren’t massacring civilians in Yemen, the Saudis are engaged in a frenzy of head-chopping at home. In their wider objective of establishing a Sunni state in Syria they’ve been joined by their Gulf state partners and Turkey, where Erdogan continues to harbor ambitions of neo-Ottoman grandeur. The result has been the prolongation of the conflict and its mounting human cost.

However their duplicity has redounded, as Erdogan faces a tide of refugees fleeing the fighting in Aleppo and the Saudis realize that Washington is unsurprisingly unwilling to risk being sucked into a second Middle East quagmire since 9/11.

This is where we arrive at a probable motive behind the ludicrous idea of Riyadh sending troops to Syria. It bears all the hallmarks of an attempt to force the hand of the Obama administration into upping US involvement as a bulwark against Russia’s role in changing the contours of the conflict on the ground. It bears emphasizing that any Saudi intervention would be rolled out not with the stated aim of fighting ISIS but instead overthrowing Assad. This is the ultimate goal of the Saudi kleptocracy, one that has brought them to the very brink of insanity, reflected in the threat to send its own soldiers to certain slaughter.

In their gilded palaces the Saudi regime knows that time is running out. The patronage it has long relied on from the West to ensure its security is no longer providing it with the surety it once did. Of all the regional players involved in the conflict in Syria, the Saudis are least able to count on the loyalty of their own troops. Fighting poorly armed rebels in Yemen is one thing, facing battle-hardened forces supported by Russian air power in Syria is another altogether.
The likely result, if such an eventuality came to pass, would not be the overthrow of Assad in Damascus but rather regime change in Riyadh.


  1. In February, 2013, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain said, “I would ask again, both of you, what I asked you last March, when seventy-five hundred citizens of Syria had been killed. It’s now up to sixty thousand. How many more have to die before you recommend military action?”

    “We did,’’ Panetta said. McCain turned to Dempsey, who also said, “We did.” They were referring to a covert proposal to supply weapons to the rebels, which was also supported by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and the C.I.A. chief, David Petraeus. The proposal had been presented to Obama, and he overruled it. McCain told me that he was astonished: “There may be another time in history when a President’s entire national-security team recommended a course of action and he overruled them, but if there is I’m not aware of it.”

  2. We did supply the weapons to the rebels and they succeeded in taking Aleppo and incubating ISIS. The people of Aleppo suffer today because of it.


  3. Breaking: Kurds liberate Menagh Airbase in Aleppo

    ALEPPO (KDN) – Local sources on the ground claim that Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces captured Menagh Airbase in Aleppo province earlier today. YGP sources were not immediately available for comments. The reports have to be confirmed yet.

    Menagh Air Base (or Minnigh airport, Minakh Air Base ) was a Syrian Air Force installation located 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south of Azaz, Aleppo Governorate, Syria.

    The air base became a major target of the armed opposition in the Syrian civil war’s Battle of Aleppo. The air base was under siege by opposition forces from August 2012 until it fell to the militants of al-Nusra Front on 6 August 2013.

    The predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) have captured several villages in northern Aleppo these past few days, pushing their way to the outskirts of the strategic Mennagh Military Airport near the Turkish border-city of ‘Azaz.

    On Monday morning, the YPG – alongside Jaysh Al-Thuwwar – imposed full control over the villages of Kafr Antoun and Muraniz after a violent battle with the Islamist rebels of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham (largest rebel/Islamist group), the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and Jabhat Al-(Levantine Front).

    In addition to capturing the aforementioned villages, the YPG and their allies seized the Al-Ajjar Camp near Mennagh Airbase on Monday; this resulted in another large-scale retreat for the Islamist rebels.

    With the YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) capturing several villages in northern Aleppo, tensions between the Islamist rebel factions have begun to develop, as they blame each other for their subsequent losses.


  4. US Won't Intervene in Syrian-Russian Assault on Aleppo: Pentagon

    The U.S. military has no current plans to intervene against the Syrian regime and Russian assault on Aleppo or provide air drops to the starving civilians, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said Wednesday.

    "The situation in and around Aleppo has, in our view, become dire" but "our focus really is to defeat ISIL, so that's where our focus remains," Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, also known as ISIL.

    Warren echoed the policy of the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon that has rejected to date the pleas of human rights groups for the creation of a safe zone or a no-fly zone along the Turkish border to protect thousands of refugees fleeing Aleppo in northeastern Syria.

    The U.S. has also rejected calls to protect a safe route for aid columns to reach Aleppo. "The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations really have the lead for moving humanitarian relief," Warren said.

  5. The large ethnic group has been demanding greater autonomy for many years and the conflict between Kurdish insurgents and the Turkish government has, likewise, spanned decades, despite several failed ceasefires attempts for between the sides. Ankara has been blamed by a number of human rights groups for putting civilian lives in danger in Turkey’s own mainly Kurdish southeast.

    In August, Ankara launched a ground operation to crack down on Kurdish fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The violence ended a two-year truce with Kurdish militants who had been fighting a guerrilla war for independence.

    In one of the latest developments, up to 21 academics were detained by Turkish authorities in mid-January for signing a petition urging Ankara to abandon its military crackdown on the Kurdish rebels in the southeast of the country. As many as 1,200 academics signed the petition.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. .

      Likud MK: Palestinians can’t even say ‘P’

      Anat Berko doubts legitimacy of Palestinian statehood claim due to absence of consonant in Arabic; Meretz MK responds: ‘Are you an imbecile?’

      While the absence of the letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet has been used as an occasional point of ridicule by those who oppose Palestinian self-determination, it is not generally considered a serious political argument.

      Well, except at the old Elephant Bar.



    2. Properly they are called Arabstinians.

      Think hard, Quirk, and you can recall who made up the name 'Palestinians'.

      Martha Gellhorn had it right: the arabs of Palestine.

      There is no such thing as a Palestinian.

      There are arabs of Palestine....Arabstinians.

  7. My other computer screen went 90 degrees off womper.

    Does anyone know what buttons I push to get it back on proper womper ?

    My wife is asleep.

    1. And, no, Quirk, it is not I that am 90 degrees off womper.

      I'm on womper, it really is the computer that is off womper.

      This statement is called a 'defensive preemption'.

  8. The idea of Assad remaining in power should be repugnant to everyone.

    What to do about it and make it all better while not making it worse is another matter altogether, especially considering that about 90% of the people in the area are assholes.

    William Blake would, I believe, under these circumstances, recommend resting one's mind on some other more pleasant subject.

    Therefore I am going to go and check my e-mails, and go back to reading about USA politics.

    Cheers !

  9. Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson would go on and on about the Kurds.

    Now the Kurds are shoulder to shoulder with Assad and Hezbollah.
    Fighting their common enemy, the Islamic State.

    The same Islamic State that is supported by Israel, funded by Israel through the purchase of "Conflict Oil".

    What side does Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson now support.

    The Kurds and Hezbollah or does he want to see the Islamic State and Israel prevail?

    Inquiring minds want to know ...


    1. The Kurds, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson, are allied and aligned with Assad.
      Does that make the Kurds repugnant , too?


  10. According to a partially animated video on Sanders’ website, the Arab-Israel conflict is not about ideology, it is about land.

    Sanders states he is firmly in favor of a two state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he believes that both the Israeli and the Palestinian people want to live together in peace, and that “Israel has a right to exist in security,” and at the same time the “Palestinians should have a land of their own.”

    Sanders was an early supporter of the Nuclear Iran Deal, calling it a “victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East.”

    Sanders distinguishes between Hamas’ tactics and the Palestinians, and has supported U.S. legislation that provides aid for Palestinians. Similarly, Bernie distinguishes between Israel and its government. Although he is supportive of the State of Israel, he is “not a great fan” of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his tactics to address issues in the Middle East region.

    Sanders has condemned “— and sees as a barrier to peace — the terrorist actions of Hamas, including their practice of firing rockets into houses and urban centers.” He has also called Israel’s attacks on Palestinians “reprehensible,” particularly in the context of “Israel being the occupying power in the conflict.”

    Bernie is correct in his assessments.

  11. Here you go, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson ...
    The Kurds and Arabs working shoulder to shoulder to defeat the Islamic State and its allies, Turkey and Israel ...

    The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and its Arab allies expelled Islamist and other rebel fighters from the Minnigh air base and adjacent town, north of Syria's second city Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.

    The advance comes after days of fierce clashes that saw YPG forces advance east from the Kurdish stronghold of Afrin and take over a series of villages before reaching Minnigh.

    "With the defeat at Minnigh, Islamist fighters lost the only military airport they held in Aleppo province," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

    "Minnigh airport lies between two key roads that lead from Aleppo city to Azaz" to the north, giving Kurdish fighters a strategic launching pad for offensives against jihadists further east, Abdel Rahman added.
    Rebel groups are facing a dual advance by both Kurdish forces coming from the west and regime troops -- backed by a barrage of Russian air strikes --
    pressing an offensive north from Aleppo city.

    The Kurds, Assad's forces and the Russians, all working in concert.

    Do you support them, or are they repugnant?

    If you do not support the Kurds, Assad and Putin in Syria, you must support the Islamic State and their allies, Israel and Turkey who are working, together, to defeat Assad and subjugate the Kurds?.



  12. Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch.

    Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m.

    He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer -- the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges.

    The Bundy Ranch Facebook page reported Cliven Bundy was surrounded by SWAT officers and detained after his arrival from Nevada.

    He was arrested at 10:10 p.m., authorities said.

  13. Aleppo Notebook: the city’s terrorist besiegers will now be besieged
    Again and again I was asked: why is Britain supporting the terrorists in Syria’s civil war

    Peter Oborne

    I had been trying to get to Aleppo for ages, but was unable to do so because rebel activity had cut off the city from the outside world. Syrian government military successes at the start of January meant there was at last a safe road. I hired a driver, was allocated a government minder (very handy at checkpoints), and booked into a hotel. Driving north from Damascus, we picked up a 22-year-old Syrian army lieutenant called Ali, returning to his unit after eight days’ leave with his family.

    We drove through Homs — miles and miles of utter devastation — and then east on to the Raqqa road. Ali told me that he had been assigned to Kuweires military airport east of Aleppo, which was under siege for three years from Al Nusra and Islamic State forces. He spoke of daily firefights against Isis fighters. For long periods his unit was entirely cut off. When Ali was shot in the chest there was no question of being airlifted out. He convalesced in a field hospital. Eventually the siege was lifted and Ali could return home and see his parents for the first time in more than two years. ‘The secret behind Kuweires was the loyalty of the soldiers. We had no tanks. I lost 82 comrades,’ said Ali. Now his unit is mopping up Islamic State positions round Al-Bab to the East of Aleppo.


    1. {...}
      When we reached Aleppo there had been no electricity for 112 days and no water for almost two weeks. Improvised mortars — gas canisters explosive enough to bring down buildings — can fall anywhere. Seventeen of the giant student dormitory blocks at the university are now set aside for displaced families from rebel-held areas. All the families have terrifying stories to tell about intimidation and murder at the hands of fanatical Al Nusra, Isis or Free Syrian army forces. These refugees are everywhere. I knocked on the door of Baron’s Hotel, the famous establishment in downtown Aleppo where Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express. There I learnt the sad news that the charismatic owner, Armen Mazloumian, had died of a heart attack the previous week. His widow Rubina told me that he had refused to close down his hotel when the crisis began, opening his doors instead to victims of jihadi terror from the countryside.


    2. {...}

      Aleppo’s favourite film this winter is Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about Cold War espionage. It is a movie that Aleppans vividly understand. They live in a place where survival means crossing enemy lines to negotiate deals about water, electricity, hostages. Aleppo has characters whose lives are even more heroic than James Donovan, the lawyer played by Tom Hanks who crossed into East Berlin to negotiate the release of Gary Powers. At the education ministry I met a schoolmistress who had just made a five-day journey through endless Islamic State checkpoints to collect her pay cheque. She was about to return home, fully conscious of what lay ahead. Syrian Army troops are advancing on her town. ‘Islamic State will turn us into human shields,’ she told me.

      My time in Aleppo coincided with the turning point in the Syrian civil war. Assad’s forces, with the help of Russian air power, cut off the line of supply from the Turkish border to the jihadist forces encircling the government-held areas of the city. Deprived of fresh fighters, guns and ammunition from their Turkish sponsors, Al Nusra and other groups encircling the city are, over the long term, doomed. Islamic State, which sells its oil through Turkey, will start to run short of money. Think of Stalingrad in 1942: the besiegers are now the besieged.

      When I returned to London I read in the newspapers that this turn of events was regarded as a calamity. Of course, it does depend on your point of view. Government-held Aleppo was under siege from jihadi forces until late last year. That was never reported. Now the areas of Aleppo held by the rebels are coming under siege. That is reported in the western press as a catastrophe, and has brought a concerned response from the British Foreign Secretary.


    3. {...}

      Again and again I was asked: why is Britain supporting the terrorists? Western media rightly emphasise Assad’s atrocities. But the Aleppans I spoke to regularly pointed out that under Assad’s regime women can walk alone down the street and pursue a career; that a broadly liberal curriculum is taught in the schools; that Christians can worship at their churches and Muslims in their mosques. These Aleppans have lived under siege from groups hellbent on the imposition of a mutant version of Wahhabi Islam. They know that many of their fighters are foreigners whose ambition, encouraged by Turkish and Saudi sponsors, is to extinguish Aleppo’s tolerant culture and drive every last Christian out of the city. These Aleppans have a point. When the history of the Syrian civil war is finally written, historians will indeed have to confront the question: why has it been British government policy to turn the ancient city of Aleppo into present-day Kandahar?

      Peter Oborne is political columnist for the Daily Mail, and an associate editor of The Spectator.

  14. Why did the US support the terrorist?

    Why did the US media support the terrorists?

    Why did the US support terrorists and support Saudi and Turkish State sponsors of terrorism?

    Why did Hillary Clinton and US Neocons get away with supporting terrorists in their obsession to destabilize Syria?

    What was Obama thinking?

    Why is the US Zionist controlled media reporting the destruction of Islamic terrorism in Aleppo as a tragedy?

    Who benefits?

    1. ANSWER

      Trump is the only one who admits that Assad, flawed though he is, is preferable to those who would replace him and that the Iraq war destabilised the region and set the stage for ISIS's rise. There's a solid, bipartisan neoconservative consensus for regime change in spite of repeated catastrophic outcomes.

    2. Assad, Hezbollah and Iran, now with American, French and Russian help are slaughtering upwards of 470,000 arabs, causing over 14,000,000 to flee...

      IS that not enough of a catastrophic outcome?

      Oh wait, it's ok, because those palestinians being starved, those sunni arabs that are being barrel bombed are sunnis that stand against Assad and the Iranians....

  15. On February 10, the Pentagon reported that troubled US F-35 fighter jet needs more engine changes.

  16. American children by the millions have to drink water from one hundred year old pipes and the Pentagon builds billion dollar
    mini-cities military bases for our mercenary army in foreign countries to support the Empire.

    Cost of F-35 to date $400 billion.

    1. The Federal Reserve PRINTED over 19 TRILLION dollars in the last 8 years.

      That's 19,000 billon.

      The USA DEBT is 19 TRILLION.

      Obama submitted a budget of 4.1 Trillion dollars, double from when he took office.

      But the bright side? Obama has refused to increase Israel's military aid and intact has slashed anti-rocket funding..

      Will those billions not going to Israel's security help American kids drink better water?


    2. Here is a thoughtf

      Fuck Israel. Let them pay for their own dedense

    3. Here is an idea.

      How about America stop supplies Israeli's enemies with advanced weapons and cash?

      the Israel would net need any assistance.

      But I like the idea of Israel not getting any aid of any kind, as long as the USA stops all aid, and I mean ALL aid, to those committed to it's destruction.

      Of course be careful of what you wish for....


  17. In five years of civil war, 400,000 Syrians have been killed and another 70,000 have perished due to a lack of basics such as clean water and healthcare, the Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.

    With those injured in the conflict, that amounts to more 11 percent of the population, it said, citing the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

    The figure is almost twice the UN’s estimation of 250,000 deaths, which has not been updated since August 2015.

    The SCPR report calculated an estimated 1.9 million people have been wounded in the ongoing civil war since the violence began in 2011.


    Let's review..

    Gaza that holds about 1.4 million people, including about 250,000 Hamas members, fired over 10,000 rockets at the civilians of Israel had a few wars with Israel.

    in the last 2 wars combined the total of everyone in gaza, including men, women, children, human shield and terrorists is less than 4,800....

    Now compare that to Assad and Syria, with Iran and Hezbollah, now France, America, Shite militias from Iraq and Russia...



    1. I submit the following.

      IF the People of Gaza, IE Hamas led, had attacked any other people in the world (other than Israel) I bet the death toll in Gaza would be around 150,000 if not higher.

  18. If I remember correctly, Government Spending was about 3.6 Trillion when Obama took office.

    That would put his increase in spending at about 1.7% / year.

  19. You seem to gloss over why was Syria destabilized in the first place?

    Revisit General Clark on YouTube

    While your at it revisit the concept of partisan reaction to foreign invaders and occupation.

    It is rarely pretty

    1. We will have to get larger popcorn poppers if it is Israel that attacks Iran.

    2. Israel will not directly attack Iran unless Iran violates the Iran deal and starts assembling the nuke that it says it doesn't have.

      But over 50% of Iranians are NOT persian and they are quite pissed off at the "revolutionary guards" and their masters.

      No, Iran is next. internal strife. terrorism. bus bombings & IEDs

      All domestically bred.


    3. It's been an interesting few years.

      One by one the public enemies of the Jewish state have fallen on hard times.

      Nation and people after people have fallen into the toilet.

      Hard to feel bad for them...

      But you and other's still root for the destruction of Israel.

      Your pal rat used to do a count down.

      How's that working out?

    4. .Your pal rat used to do a count down.

      Provide a link tothat, if you can ...
      But, of course, you cannot because it never happened.

    5. Sure you did...

      Dont need to find it as you and I both KNOW you did..

      Now? You are just a grumpy old loser that everyone knows your're too ballless to own your own words.

    6. No, if you cannot find it, and I cannot remember it, it did not happen, "O"rdure

  20. Excuses for Iran starts in 3, 2, 1....

    US Navy rips Iran after new footage shows captured sailor crying

    Iranian state TV showed video Wednesday of one of 10 captured U.S. Navy sailors in tears while the group was being held by the country's Revolutionary Guard last month.

    The footage, which was shown on the official Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, was condemned by the Navy, who called the sailors' captivity "outrageous and unacceptable."

    On Thursday, social media users reported that the sailors' capture was being re-enacted as part of celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the U.S-backed Shah.

  21. .


    Watched Janet Yellen's testimony to Congress today. Wished I hadn't. For the last couple of years, I have said the FED had shot their wad and was out of bullets. Now, it looks like they are even out of ideas. Scary. Nothing I saw today changes my view that the FED requires some form of audit or, at least some type of legislation that requires more oversight of the FED or alternately demands more transparency by the FED.


    1. .

      I've been there for awhile but today's testimony was an eye opener. It would take too long to go into all the issues but just some of the topics where I was shaking my head were her views on

      - I thought the FED had no Plan B. Now I fear they may have one, negative interest rates.
      - Indications that they feel they have the right within the FED mandate to ignore current asset limitations on SIFA banks and that they are thinking of doing it.
      - Under Dodge/Frank there are penalties for not meeting guideline in developing the Living Wills required for SIFA banks. Under the new rules both the FIDC and the FED both have to agree that the banks Living Wills meet requirements. FIDC has already determined that some of the banks don't. Yellen failed to commit to make publc the reasons the FED doesn't agree with FDIC.

      It goes on her comments on subjects where even she agrees

      - Job growth has been skewed to the low paying end
      - The FED balance sheet remains large ($4 trillion).
      - Housing is a mixed bag
      - Productivity is slow
      - Productivity is hampered by an a lack of education in the forkforce; however, young people should be given a consumer warning by universities that outlines the fact that in many cases when they get out of college there may be no job waiting for them.
      - Student loan debt is a big anchor on productivity, housing, amd risk-taking
      - Economic growth remains slow

      As to

      ...our economy is growing...

      At a tepid rate.

      ...unemployment is steadily falling...

      According to Yellen, new employment is skewed more to the low price jobs and a good portion of the remaining unemployment consists of the long term unemployed.

      ...imcomes continue to rise...

      Enough to keep up with inflation.


    2. Interesting piece of writing

    3. .

      Good article in that it summarizes the fears very well.

      My problem with the FED is that they fail to see the fear that the financial crisis created. They have spent 7 years trying to increase lending and investment in the face of continuing weak demand and doing a piss poor job of it. They have tried to discourage saving and in doing so increased risk in the system. Their supply policies have done nothing but make the rick richer and the poor poorer. They don't seem to realize that the rich aren't going to spend or invest enough to get us out of the current problem nor that we need the middle class to do their part.

      The middle class and retirees had it stuck to them by eliminating the low risk investments. And their offering free money didn't get the banks and business to lend money or invest.

      The banks took the money and invested it in the same risky investments as before or in the carry trade. They took advantage of the FED's reverse repo program and picked up interest on their money. They tightened credit requirements and further reduced their risk. Business took the free money and their profits and instead of investing them they paid down debt and bought back stock.

      Can't blame Saudi Arabia's predatory pricing or China's retrenchment on the FED; but I find it funny that after seven years of offering the carrot they now are considering that they might be able to accomplish their goals by wielding the stick f negative interest rates.

      Frankly, I doubt it will happen here given our system, the importance of the banks and the money markets; yet, it still pisses me off they they would consider it.


  22. Unlike the rest of the world, our economy is growing, and our unemployment rate is steadily falling, while incomes continue to rise.

    I think we'd better leave Janet Yellen, and the Fed, alone.

  23. If the Republicans in Congress want to do something, they can pass legislation to Raise the Minimum Wage, and spend a Couple Hudred Billion on Renewable Energy, and other Infrastructure Projects.

    1. As I'm typing this, I look up, and the freakin' 10 yr. note is yielding 1.62%.

      If there's ever been a better time than this to borrow some money for an infrastructure project, I don't know when the hell it was.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. .

      Should have happened years ago. Wasn't a priority. Still isn't.


  24. I would not borrow a dime for infrastructure. Let the treasury issue currency specific for infrastructure only.

  25. SOUTHWEST ASIA, February 11, 2016 — U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

    Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

    Strikes in Syria

    Fighter aircraft conducted one strike in Syria:

    -- Near Manbij, a strike destroyed an ISIL structure.

    Strikes in Iraq

    Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 13 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Kirkuk, a strike destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tunnel.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck inoperable coalition equipment, denying ISIL access in support of coalition operations.

    Die You Sonsabitches, Die :)

  26. .

    -- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck inoperable coalition equipment, denying ISIL access in support of coalition operations.



  27. I wonder why Hillary wore her raincoat to the debate? :)

  28. Hillary Clinton wants Bernie Sanders to know she's got President Barack Obama's back.

    Much of the debate lacked the bitterness of earlier forums as Clinton and Sanders laid out differences on policy questions. But the confrontation during the PBS "NewsHour" Democratic debate simulcast on CNN flared into open anger in the final moments.

    Clinton accused her rival of not standing with Obama after he endorsed a book by CNN contributor Bill Press critical of the president. She said Sanders had called Obama "weak" and a "disappointment" in the past and she warned "the kind of criticism that we heard from Sen. Sanders about our president, I expect from Republicans.

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