The best of this year was a journey to Oz
Where grownups reside and advise without spin
How best to make due with subordinate clause
And go beyond shit to where pearls aren’t a sin
Yet death slapped down two, who deserved some applause
From those on the sidelines, an army all in.
What peers in the wind is the sight of our times
Remaining in view, and remembered in rhymes.
Archive for December, 2009
The best of this year was a journey to Oz
It’s been a rough week on the terrorism front, what with the underwear bomber and the deaths of 8 or more Americans by suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
The problem in Afghanistan remains the same: we’re not going to win a war against the Taliban so long as we: 1) continue backing a corrupt government that is doing nothing for the Afghan people, 2) cannot take the fight over the border to Pakistan, and 3) have no clear exit strategy beyond “surge, wait a year, hit and hope”.
The problem in the global war on terror, or whatever it’s being called this week, remains the same: we’re not going to win so long as we never bring economic development and a sense of hope to backward lands in the Middle East and Central Asia.
We don’t have enough troops or enough intelligence to succeed 100% of the time against suicide bombers, and our political leaders aren’t willing to tell Americans that life is full of risks, of which that of terrorism is infinitesimal.
Gorilla thinks it’s time to move on with some American reconstruction and development, at the time of the worst economic conditions since the Depression: “The GWOT don’t hit the spot!”
There’s not much scientific evidence behind any of these alternative medicines, other than strong support for the placebo effect.
Where’s the FDA on this?
What’s the difference between supplements/extracts/etc. and the patent medicines of the 19th century?
Gorilla answers: “These days, you just buy a scientist and a politician, then set up the magic bean shop!”
Sure, 26 years and billions of dollars later, the Chesapeake Bay dead zones remain.
They’re as good an example as any of why tackling climate change will be so difficult.
So, a government that has failed now says it will be getting tough with the states who have also failed.
The problem in a nutshell is that there are too many polluters around the watershed. These include farmers, real estate developers, and the fishing industry.
The obvious solution, to put an end to commercial and residential development permanently while significantly increasing the cost of pollution for those projects already completed, is of course not a politically viable solution.
Politicians don’t do pain and Americans don’t do shared sacrifice any more.
Gorilla thinks: “And so the merry dance of just cause and empty threat goes on!”
And our President praises the professionalism of his unprofessional, ineffective, fifth-rate intelligence agencies!
What else can he do? Engage in real reform? Abolish the FBI and CIA and start over? Surely you jest!
The problem, now as ever, is strictly one of accountability, from Wall Street to Langley Street: unless you know you’ll be fired, or go to prison, or be made bankrupt, or be zero’d out, there’s no incentive whatever to engage in anything other than business as usual.
Cover your ass to the end of days.
Gorilla sums it up: “Together we’re hanging separately, all they are is chads in the wind!”
Yep, it’s a systemic failure, demanding explanations, promising accountability and leading absolutely nowhere near reality.
Bottom line, trying to stop one lone terrorist is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Our government spends trillions on defense, it’s certainly the biggest middle class jobs program for the lucky employed, but can’t manage to overcome a few thousand bad guys with lots of time on their hands, the ability to create explosions, and a ready stable of suicidal young men and women who have no future.
The President should be saying clearly that terrorism is not a serious national security threat, and never has been, but that goes against the bipartisan narrative of fear, defense contracting, and just wars that gave America a lost decade of torture, lying, and economic disaster.
We’re still a country in arrested adolescence, it would be nice just once if our leaders decided to grow up, but don’t hold your breath!
Gorilla thinks: “The odds of a successful terrorist attack are far longer than the odds that house prices will recover in Detroit, but we don’t give a shit about our own people suffering, we’re too afraid of the other guy’s revenge fantasy!”
Have had a great run for a decade, can they possibly go higher?
Sure, so long as the dollar carry trade keeps ‘em afloat!
Borrowing cheap in the US to buy economic growth, debt, and anything else that’s tasty is what the big banking and hedge fund boys are doing.
Returns are astounding.
Sure, there’s the odd problem in places like Dubai, but that’s not gonna stop these engines of growth!
“Investors are starting to look at this asset class and realize that it is a pretty safe place,” said Kevin Daly, who manages $1.7 billion in emerging market debt at Aberdeen Asset Management.
Of course, this quote reflecting supreme confidence that it’s different this time means that these markets are likely heading for a fall.
The problem may come when another sovereign defaults, or interest rates begin to rise in the US and Europe, or somebody blows up the Saudi/Iraqi/Iranian oil fields.
Then the hot money flees to safe havens.
Emerging markets crash worldwide, while no growth developed countries start cringing again.
Oh well, this is what current US international economic policy is all about. We’ve had a couple of bubbles, now we need to find another one.
And the banks are certain that Uncle Sam will bail ‘em all out when they get too greedy.
Gorilla says: “It’s what happens when dishonesty is the only transparency!”
The KGB man in Moscow is a bit worried about US missile defense, and he’s delaying a final settlement in nuclear arms reduction talks.
Prime Minister Putin says that Russia must develop new offensive weapons systems to balance against possible US missile defense deployments.
President Obama said in September that he would scrap the proposed system in Central Europe, while retaining the right to deploy a sea-based system to protect against strikes by “rogue” states.
The difficulty here is that Russia still has not accepted that it is essentially a Third World dictatorship with a vast arsenal of weapons, a declining population, and a deep distrust of the West and democracy.
But it’s not an insurmoutable hurdle. A deal will be struck, because it’s in the interests of both sides.
Gorilla says: “The bear is growling but the flesh is weak!”
If there are Olympics to be had, you will be pardoned!
That’s the story from South Korea, where convicted fraudster and ex-Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee was given a free pass, the better to advance Seoul’s 2018 Winter Olympics bid.
Gorilla is impressed: “I just knew that chaebol would be more than a demonstration sport!!!”