The Financial Times reports on the ‘death’ of Qassem Soleimani. Political Observer comments

Its an American tradition to ‘meddle’ in Iran. Recall Kermit Roosevelt? The particulars here:

And his book Countercoup, a political self-apologetic.

Former senior adviser to the Obama administration and Council on Foreign Relations Iran expert, Ray Takeyh,[16] writing in 2014, states that “Contrary to Roosevelt’s account [in Countercoup], the documentary record reveals that the Eisenhower administration was hardly in control and was in fact surprised by the way events played out.”[17] William Blum wrote that Roosevelt provided no evidence for his claim that a Communist takeover in Iran was imminent, but rather “mere assertions of the thesis which are stated over and over”.[18] Abbas Milani wrote that “Roosevelt’s memoir inflated his own and, in turn, America’s centrality to the coup. He tells the story with the relish of a John le Carré knock-off. … Eisenhower, for one, considered reports like this to be the stuff of ‘dime novels.'”[19]

After Bush The Younger’s declaration of the War On Terror and an invasion and subjugation of Iraq, and the mendacious incompetence of Viceroy Paul Bremer, what need the reader think of the latest chapter in this murderous political melodrama?

Headline: Iran’s top military leader Soleimani killed in US air strike

Sub-headline: World powers call for restraint after killing fuels fear of fresh conflict in Middle East

Beside the usual cliche mongering, three quotations captured my attention:

US officials in the region said they were braced for Iranian retaliation across the Middle East. “It’s one of the most consequential assassinations in the Middle East in years and will have violent and first order implications primarily for the US, Iran and Israel,” said Aaron David Miller, a former state department official at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“The so-called shadow war will intensify with terror and additional assassinations,” he added. Mr Miller said there was a risk of full-blown war between the three countries.

Aaron David Miller is a stolid member of America’s Foreign Policy Technocracy : whose mendacity, and record of continuous failure, allied to bogus claims to that expertise can  be born out, by the exercise of the weakest of empirical tests.

Next, in order of appearance, is the certifiably comic political figure of Joe Biden:

Joe Biden said the president had thrown “dynamite into a tinderbox” with the assassination. Mr Biden, who is leading the Democratic nomination race to challenge Mr Trump in the November presidential election, criticised the air strike as a “hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region.”

Last to be quoted is former CIA analyst Helima Croft , now an employee of a global investment bank:

Helima Croft, a former CIA analyst who heads up commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said that the strikes increased risks for US oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron that are active in Iraq, should Iran retaliate.

“But it is not just Iraq,” she said. “Iranians have the ability to target Americans anywhere where their proxy groups operate.”

The central concern for this newspaper is always economic , or more accurately stated  the protection of profit over people.

Political Observer





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Dr. Pangloss predicts the future, in The Financial Times. Political Observer comments

Headline: Steven Pinker: what can we expect from the 2020s?

Sub-headline: Look beyond the gloom of the daily headlines and the case for progress is still strong

Dr. Pangloss’ essay  presents many compelling aperçus :

On Human Nature as Determined :

And our species evolved for advantages in the struggle to reproduce, not for happiness or wisdom.

On thinking about the future: 

The first step in thinking about the future is to reconcile human progress with human nature.

On Journalism: 

But this progress is invisible to most people because they don’t get their understanding of the world from numbers; they get it from headlines. Journalism by its very nature conceals progress, because it presents sudden events rather than gradual trends.

On Un-Reason:

It’s true that the parent ideal of reason is under assault by fundamentalism, fake news and conspiracy theories, as it always has been.

These just a sample of the Dr.’s pronouncements early in his long essay. The reader can only wonder at The Dr.’s choice of a publication to spread his good news, or should we call it a Gospel, on ineluctable human progress? Did he miss Mr. Rachman’s December 23, 2019 essay on the persistence of human anarchy ?

Headline: 2019: the year of street protest

Sub-headline: Mass demonstrations around the globe show no sign of fizzling out

Or the fact that a General Strike in France that began on December 5, 2019 is ignored by this newspaper, except to report on possible travel delays?

Headline:December strikes in Paris: travel disruptions to look out for

Sub-headline: Protests at pension reforms have disrupted rail and air links, plus national and international services

This paragraph demonstrates that the Dr. is suffering from an advanced case of political/economic myopia. Those ‘regulated markets’ were victim to the ascendant Neo-Liberal Swindle!

These gifts were amplified by ideas and institutions advocated during the Enlightenment and entrenched after the second world war: reason, science, liberal democracy, declarations of rights, a free press, regulated markets, institutions of international co-operation.

The Dr. betrays his particular form of apologetics for the political present , an admixture of fatalism and cynicism, masked as optimism, in this paragraph.

But — as the sustainable goalkeepers emphasise — “progress is possible, but it is not inevitable”. Poverty, disease and conflict are natural, not unnatural, parts of the human condition, and only the concerted application of reason, science and humanism can push back against their creep.


There is nothing more that the editors of The Financial Times fears, than the comments of its regular readership!

Comments on this artice have been disabled and will reopen on Monday’

Political Observer






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On the question: does political propinquity exist between Andrew Sullivan & Bret Stephens? Political Observer comments

Mr. Sullivan’s Anti-Trump hysteria seems to reach many denouements, here is part of his December 20, 2019 essay:

Headline: What We Know About Trump Going Into 2020

The two core lessons of the past few years are therefore: (1) Trumpism has a real base of support in the country with needs that must be addressed, and (2) Donald Trump is incapable of doing it and is such an unstable, malignant, destructive narcissist that he threatens our entire system of government. The reason this impeachment feels so awful is that it requires removing a figure to whom so many are so deeply bonded because he was the first politician to hear them in decades. It feels to them like impeachment is another insult from the political elite, added to the injury of the 21st century. They take it personally, which is why their emotions have flooded their brains. And this is understandable.

But when you think of what might have been and reflect on what has happened, it is crystal clear that this impeachment is not about the Trump agenda or a more coherent version of it. It is about the character of one man: his decision to forgo any outreach, poison domestic politics, marinate it in deranged invective, betray his followers by enriching the plutocracy, destroy the dignity of the office of president, and turn his position into a means of self-enrichment. It’s about the personal abuse of public office: using the presidency’s powers to blackmail a foreign entity into interfering in a domestic election on his behalf, turning the Department of Justice into an instrument of personal vengeance and political defense, openly obstructing investigations into his own campaign, and treating the grave matter of impeachment as a “hoax” while barring any testimony from his own people.

The editorial about Trump in Christianity Today: 

Character matters. This has always been a conservative principle but one that, like so many others, has been tossed aside in the convulsions of a cult. And it is Trump’s character alone that has brought us to this point. That’s why the editorial in the Evangelical journal Christianity Today is so clarifying. Finally — finally — an Evangelical outlet telling the truth in simple language:

And J.K. Rowling:

This is how J.K. Rowling tweeted her support of Forstater’s freedom of speech: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

Both play their parts in Mr. Sullivan’s rambling polemic, although he attempts to segue from subject to subject,  it always reads ‘as if’ it were just an extended rant. The most primitive part of his ‘thinking process’ wedded to his rhetorical skill.

On to Mr. Stephens, of December 26, 2019:

Headline: What Will It Take to Beat Donald Trump?

Sub-headline: It’s not what the progressive left is talking about.

Second, the progressive left’s values seem increasingly hostile to mainstream ones, as suggested by the titanic row over J.K. Rowling’s recent tweet defending a woman who was fired over her outspoken views on transgenderism. Third, the more the left rages about Trump and predicts nothing but catastrophe and conspiracy from him, the more out of touch it seems when the catastrophes don’t happen and the conspiracy theories come up short.

The most obvious point is not to promise a wrenching overhaul of the economy when it shows no signs of needing such an overhaul. There are plenty of serious long-term risks to our prosperity, including a declining birthrate, national debt north of $23 trillion, the erosion of the global free-trade consensusthreats to the political independence of the Federal Reserve, and the popularization of preposterous economic notions such as Modern Monetary Theory.

Mr. Stephens’ essay may not be a perfect match with Mr. Sullivan’s polemic, but the ‘attack’ on J.K. Rowling’s ‘defense of women’, and the perpetual political menace of ‘The Left’ , are two key points, to that proffered political moralizing propinquity. Recognizing that Stephens expands that list,  demonstrating the he is a more sophisticated moral/political/economic scold! I’ve rendered these portions of this run-on sentence in bold type. The reader must be impressed with Mr. Stephens’ mastery of such complex, indeed vexing questions, that he presents as ‘There are plenty of serious long-term risks to our prosperity… ! Where might he place the Climate Crisis ? Or is this a creation of malcontents,now led by a child Greta Thunberg? These ‘risks’ are framed in economic terms. So might the reader look upon Trump as the only political threat to us? Or are ‘the self-styled saints’ who are perusing the Impeachment an equal threat ‘to our prosperity’?

Political Observer














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@The Economist. Old Socialist comments on ‘The new anger’.

The new anger

Headline: 2019 in review: protest and populism in Latin America

Sub-headline: Scandals, autocracy and anger at inequality stir unrest across the continent

Under the rubric of ‘The new anger’ needs further explication provided by the headline and sub-headline of this ‘News Story’. The use of the lower case in this framing as ‘The new anger’ softens what looks like hysteria.  The causes this reader might offer for this ‘protest & populism’ are American Imperialism & its NGO’s subversion of the indigenous Reformers, on the Left,  by way of the Neo-Liberal cudgel. E.g. Macri’s utter failure & de Kirchner’s political rehabilitation provide an object lesson?  Note that Macri defaulted first, using the euphemism of payment delay, on the Argentine debt according to The Financial Times December 20.2019:

Headline:Argentina delays payments on $9bn in dollar-denominated debt

Sub-headline: New government asks bondholders to show ‘good faith’ amid wider restructuring talks

The last payment delay was announced by the previous government of Mauricio Macri, shortly after a primary vote result that signalled he would lose his bid for re-election in October’s national election, which sent the peso reeling and increased the cost of insuring against a debt default.

The announcement came as little surprise to investors, given Argentina’s record on debt repayment and the central bank’s dwindling stock of foreign reserves, used in the battle to control high inflation and a weak currency.

Should the reader take Argentina as a paradigmatic case of  Neo-Liberalism’s failure. An object lesson on how the IMF operates in that that ‘forgotten continent’?  Not to forget that the Posh Boys & Girls @TheEconomist are a reliable source for Capitalist Apologetics, heavily garnished with the pretense of something resembling prescience?

Old Socialist




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment on the year of street protests. Political Observer comments

Headline: 2019: the year of street protest

Sub-headline: Mass demonstrations around the globe show no sign of fizzling out

Call this an Opinion Writer’s jejune pastiche of History, that comes to this lackluster conclusion:

Above all, as the last 12 months have demonstrated, social unrest is now repeatedly breaking out in unexpected places, for unanticipated reasons.

Its ‘as if’ , Mr. Rachman’s hallowed ‘Post War Liberal Order’ and its various iterations, positive and negative,  can’t protect ‘us’ from the dangers of an inherent human anarchy?  This, an extemporizing on the themes of Herbert Spencer? Or, have I gone to far in providing an explanatory frame, for the intellectual sloth, that is the stock and trade of this Opinion Writer?

Political Observer

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@NYT New Cold Warriors have a Hanukkah/Christmas present for you! Old Socialist describes that ‘gift’

The New Cold Warriors @NYT can’t help themselves! With the ‘Impeachment’ on hold, under the direction of Schiff/Nadler , the best political duo since the Ev and Charley Show, and ‘I haven’t got the votes in the Senate’ Pelosi-I’m sorry I’ve wandered a bit!

Putin now enjoys the status once enjoyed by Stalin, as an all powerful, indeed ubiquitous force for evil: its all part of an exhumation of the 21 inch black & white World of 1952 , with a new cast of characters, who can’t leave the temptation of McCarthyism alone. Its an America Tradition. Its in the spirit of Cotton Mater and his use of ‘Spectral Evidence’ in the Salem Witch Trials. Please note how this photo and headline dominates the Front Page!

Old Socialist





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Niall Ferguson’s Christmas present for you: Myra Breckenridge warns the reader!

Before you gather the family around the T.V. to watch ‘Its a Wonderful Life’ with your mugs of Cocoa and that Tree all lit up, Ozzie and Harriet style: (Don’t pretend you don’t know who they are!) be sure to read Niall Ferguson’s contribution to Holiday Cheer at The Times.
Well! Its a burlesque of that Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ re-imagined, or just dragooned, into an American political context. Niall’s literary ambitions are sometimes subject to its maladroit exercise, to the chagrin of his readers.

Merry Christmas,

Myra Breckenridge


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